Cinecast Episode 479 – In Camera

It’s Friday; welcome to The Cinecast! Yes with a holiday weekend coming up and some conflicting schedules outside of that, we’re doing an end of the week show. Ergo, no new, theatrical releases this week. But there are some pretty big titles that are eating up the bandwidth on VOD this week. First up is Clive Barkarpenter’s The Void – yeah, it doesn’t make much sense to us either, but yay practical effects. Also, M. Night Shyamalan has gone back to basics and has re-started making his brand of film, The ones the made him. That’s right, Split (spoilers!) is pretty damn good film making.

Aside from another Shyamalan tie-in, Andrew has no Watch-List this week and leaves it to Kurt to monologue for an hour about a whole slew of cinematic goodies (and one podcast). There’s a “mental health” marathon [insert joke here], some studio not-Ghibli Japanese animation, a Netflix stand-up comedy special, some Quentin Tarantino, a 1970s precursor to American Movie and much more.

We’re a pretty great show to listen to while shopping for pudding. Have a listen!

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!

We’re now available on Google Play!



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A Second Gorgeous Trailer For The Bad Batch

I was a fan, but did not fall full head over heals for, Ana Lily Amirpour’s The Bad Batch when I caught it at TIFF. The film bold and sure is beautifully brutal. There is no doubt, by following up her first film, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, that the director has a unique voice with her brand of film-making, but, like her first feature, this one left me emotionally flat; when I have no doubt the intention was to make emotions soar. But each time they cut a new trailer for this movie, the second of which can be found above, I itch to revisit the film. I hope I can find the emotional resonance among all the stylish bravado and hipster-cool (Keanu’s sunglasses and porn mustache alone!) that glue this dystopian cannibal romance together.

Much like her L.A. contemporary, Sophia Coppola, Amirpour certainly has a great sense of ambient soundtrack. And that doesn’t even get into the Ace of Base moment in the film.

Trailer: Katheryn Bigelow’s Detroit

Katheryn Bigelow has, since The Hurt Locker, been effectively upping her game for complex pictures out of hot-button American issues. Here in the midst of a particular sharp peak of racial outrage over the past two years, comes her retelling of the Algiers Hotel murders and Detroit race riots in 1967. Detroit features John Boyega (Attack The Block, The Force Awakens and is unquestionably a high calibre movie star at this point), Anthony Mackie, John Krasinski, Jack Reynor (’71) and Game of Thrones’ Gilly, Hannah Murray, among many, many others. Seriously, the number of credited actors here is massive, as it was in the exceptional Zero Dark Thirty. I have no doubt the resulting film will command the ongoing conversation on racism in America when it is released this August.

On a technical level, this of course looks astounding, but I am probably safe in guessing that Detroit is going to pack some big intellectual and emotional punches. Here is a loaded line of dialogue: “It’s just a starter pistol, it starts races.”

Review: Going in Style

Director: Zach Braff (Garden State, Wish I Was Here)
Story: Edward Cannon
Screenplay: Theodore Melfi
Producer: Donald De Line
Starring: Joey King, Ann-Margret, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Alan Arkin, Christopher Lloyd, Matt Dillon, John Ortiz, Kenan Thompson
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 96 min.



My original posting of this review can be found on LetterBoxd


Hollywood has truly hit a point now where basically anything is ripe for a remake or reboot or revival, whatever they decide on calling it, with the end result ultimately being dredging up some title from the vault for a new coat of paint on the same old shell. We’ve gotten now to the extreme of seeing remakes of remakes, like last year’s Magnificent Seven and the upcoming Scarface. Instead of using acclaimed, still popular and widely seen sources like those though, which tend to give off the stench of being made primarily for monetary reasons, the more enticing remakes (which is admittedly a bit of an oxymoron) are ones of films that had solid concepts that maybe didn’t reach their full potential, or ones of films that have been long forgotten and aren’t known these days by the large majority of viewers. Going In Style would be an example of the latter, remaking the 1979 Martin Brest film starring George Burns, Art Carney, and Lee Strasberg, which was a minor hit in its day but has faded from the public awareness in the decades since.

The tale of three down on their luck pensioners who plot to rob a bank, this version stars Oscar winners Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Alan Arkin, and is quite bizarrely directed by Zach Braff of all people, from a script by Hidden Figures writer/director Theodore Melfi. Thankfully, Braff holds off on the whimsy and indie cliches that have defined his previous directing efforts, instead delivering a straightforward and feel good little comedy that banks on the appeal of its starring trio more than anything else. In that regard it works in spades, as all three actors bring a different flavor to the mix that makes for a pleasant concoction, and they have wonderful chemistry with one another. Freeman brings his sage wisdom and gravitas, Caine is the suave gangster with dry British wit, and Arkin (who oddly starred in the similarly themed Stand Up Guys a few years back with Al Pacino and Christopher Walken) is the boisterous wild card who gets all of the biggest laughs.
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Trailer: Thor 3 – Guardians of Ragnarok

I cannot believe I am taking the time to post a Marvel-Disney trailer. But Taika Waititi’s Thor movie has definitely been injected with the vibe of James Gunn’s Guardian of the Galaxy, a vibe I happen to quite like. And Waititi is a filmmaker I happen to like very much as well. I like his sense of humour, I like his editing and aesthetic choices, and I like it when he appears on screen too steal a scene or three. There certainly appears to be a joy at play here, with its Led Zepplin riffs (Obvious, sure, but can you really go wrong with it?) early 1980s vector fonts, and Chris Hemsworth channeling his Ghostbusters character as much as the hammer wielding title character. The film features an all-star roster of players including, Tom Hiddleston, a vampy, antler-sporting Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, glam-gorgeous Jeff Goldblum (!), Karl Urban, Mark Ruffalo and Anthony Hopkins.

The whole thing also reminds me a lot of Escape From New York (only with much more primary colours) and I am very forgiving for filmmakers who noodle around with that premise. For example, James Mather and Stephen St. Leger’s delightfully awful, Lockout from 2012.

Trailer: 6 Days

If you managed to catch the surprising Māori martial arts film from a few years ago, The Dead Lands, you will be well aware that Kiwi director Tao Fraser had big things ahead of him. His follow up picture, a 1980-set recreation of an Iranian hostage situation in the UK, 6 Days, just dropped its first trailer. There is a radical switch genre and aesthetic – out of the forest, and into the city, with sticks and tattoos replaced with flak jackets and rifles, but it is clear that the filmmaking is snappy and aims for adrenaline and impact.

In April 1980, six armed gunmen stormed the Iranian Embassy in Princes Gate, London, taking 26 people inside hostage. Over the next six days a tense standoff took place, all the while a group of highly trained soldiers from the SAS prepared for a raid, the likes of which the world had never seen before.

Teaser: Thelma

Norway’s answer to Olivier Assayas, already a master at his craft with only four features under his belt, Joachim Trier follows up the magnificent Louder Than Bombs, his English language debut, by returning to his native tongue and a supernatural sexual awakening story. Exhibiting a clean eye for visual film-making with an emphasis on people and character-study, I am curious to see what Trier can do with a more commercial project, than his past three films (which were firmly fixed on festival audiences).

Blu-Ray Review: The Lady From Shanghai

Director: Orson Welles
Screenplay: Orson Welles
Based on a Novel by: Sherwood King
Starring: Rita Hayworth, Orson Welles, Everett Sloane, Glenn Anders, Ted de Corsia
Country: USA
Running Time: 88 min
Year: 1947
BBFC Certificate: PG

Orson Welles blew everyone away with his ‘official’ directorial debut Citizen Kane (he made Too Much Johnson before that, but it was only originally produced to be integrated into a stage show and was never screened in cinemas until its rediscovery decades later). OK, it didn’t particularly make waves at the box office, but it was critically acclaimed and made people sit up and take notice of the precocious young director. However, Welles didn’t have much luck following that. From his follow up The Magnificent Ambersons onwards, his productions were plagued by interference from studios and he never managed to strike gold in the same way due to this. In an early review –, I argued that Touch of Evil might be a better film than Citizen Kane, but I saw the ‘director’s cut’ which had been re-edited in the 90’s from the original studio released version.

The Lady From Shanghai is one of these studio tampered films, with the original cut presented to the producers coming in an hour longer than the version we have today. Welles was also particularly vocal about his dislike for the score by Heinz Roemheld (a 9-page memo he wrote detailing changes which were never made can be found in this handsome dual-format set). Nevertheless, the film is regarded as one of the better studio films he made, so a Blu-Ray re-release like this is more than welcome. I’ve seen the film once before, but couldn’t remember a lot about it so was keen to revisit it.

The Lady From Shanghai opens with Irish rogue Michael O’Hara (Welles) happening across the beautiful Elsa Bannister (Rita Hayworth) and soon after saving her from the hands of some muggers. They share a sexually charged horse carriage ride, following which Elsa offers O’Hara a job on her yacht. He initially refuses this as he discovers she’s married, and to a criminal lawyer to boot. However, her husband Arthur (Everett Sloane) comes to see O’Hara and persuades him to take the job. O’Hara and the audience can smell something fishy, but the hard-headed Irishman decides to risk it and heads along on the couple’s cruise. Of course, he gets into a mess of trouble as Arthur and his associate George Grisby (Glenn Anders) drag him into a faked murder plot.

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Blu-Ray Review: Brotherhood of Blades

Director: Yang Lu
Screenplay: Yang Lu, Chen Shu
Starring: Chen Chang, Shih-Chieh Chin, Dong-xue Li, Shi Shi Liu, Yuan Nie, Qianyuan Wang
Country: China
Running Time: 112 min
Year: 2014
BBFC Certificate: 15

Decent new martial arts films from China or Hong Kong have been getting thin on the ground of late after the boom they enjoyed in the early 2000’s. That’s why I got very excited when the recent Call of Heroes ended up meeting my high expectations. Hot on its heels (in terms of a UK release date at least) is Brotherhood of Blades. Directed by Yang Lu, a newcomer to action movies, and featuring none of the big martial arts stars, I was nonetheless excited to check it out, as word of mouth was good and the marketing made it look impressive.

Brotherhood of Blades is set in late Ming Dynasty China and follows three friends, Shen Lian (Chen Chang), Lu Jianxing (Qianyuan Wang) and Jin Yichuan (Dong-xue Li), who are skilled members of the Imperial Assassins. All three of them are struggling with personal problems which could be solved with a large amount of money. Well, luckily for Shen Lian, when the three assassins are assigned with the mission of killing Wei Zhongxian (Shih-Chieh Chin), Shen is offered the chance of taking bags full of gold away with him in return for faking Wei’s death. When he takes up the offer however, he makes life incredibly difficult and dangerous for himself and his two friends as their honesty is put into question and they realise they’re being used as pawns in a much larger game.

This film didn’t impress me quite as much as Call of Heroes did unfortunately, but it’s still a solid entry to the wuxia genre. It’s handsomely presented – lit and shot beautifully with some lavish period production design.

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Leon Kowalski @ 0

“Describe in single words. Only the good things that come to your mind. About your mother.”

“My mother… I’ll tell you about my mother.”

The Nexus-6 replicant (Combat/Loader model) who had an itch he couldn’t scratch, and is sensitive in regards to questions about his parentage, would have been born today, April 10, 2017. Happy Incept-Day, Leon!

Blu-Ray Review: Swiss Army Man

Director: ‘The Daniels’ – Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert
Screenplay: Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert
Starring: Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Country: USA, Sweden
Running Time: 97 min
Year: 2016
BBFC Certificate: 15

Swiss Army Man is a film that rode in on a wave of hype after several festival screenings, but I feel it’s hype that both helped and hindered it. Becoming known as ‘the farting corpse movie’, or variations of that, helped give the film a great amount of publicity, but I think many might have dismissed it due to this over-simplified description. Sounding like an even lower brow version of Weekend at Bernies, the film can’t have appealed to the more ‘sophisticated’ cinephiles out there. But, having now watched the film, I’d say they’re missing out on something truly special.

Swiss Army Man opens showing Hank (Paul Dano) stranded on a desert island, preparing to kill himself as he’s given up hope of rescue. However, just as he’s about to do it, he spots a dead body (Daniel Radcliffe), washed up on the shore. This is no ordinary body either. It’s rather flatulent, which initially merely distracts Hank from his suicide attempt. When the farts get more powerful though, Hank realises this ‘wind’ can be harnessed more effectively and uses the corpse as a jet-ski to reach a neighbouring lush island which is littered with rubbish, suggesting it may be inhabited.

Once on the island, Hank struggles to find any more signs of civilization, but develops a great bond with the corpse (named Manny), who miraculously comes alive (if not mobile) after a while. Manny has no memories of his life before though and has many questions about the world around him. This prompts Hank to teach him, using the limited resources around them, whilst simultaneously altering his view of his own miserable existence. In particular, the two of them discuss the subject of love, as they tackle how to approach the elusive girl on the bus, Sarah (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who seems to be a part of one or both of their memories.

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