VOD Review: Dark Places

Director: Gilles Paquet-Brenner (Sarah’s Key, Walled In, UV)
Novel: Gillian Flynn
Producers: Azim Bolkiah, A.J. Dix, Matt Jackson, Beth Kono, Stéphane Marsil, Matthew Rhodes, Cathy Schulman, Charlize Theron
Starring: Charlize Theron, Sterling Jerins, Nicholas Hoult, Christina Hendricks, Corey Stoll, Tye Sheridan, Chloë Grace Moretz
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 113 min.



My original posting of this review can be found on LetterBoxd

For an alternate take, Kurt’s festival review of the film can be found here.

After Gillian Flynn’s third novel, Gone Girl, and its subsequent David Fincher film adaptation, took the world by storm, it was only a matter of time before her two previous works were adapted to the screen in one form or another. While her debut work, Sharp Objects, is still in the process of being turned into a television series, the film adaptation of middle child Dark Places has finally been released after having been shot almost two years ago, and the results are less than impressive. Often times writers aren’t usually the best option when it comes to translating their work from the page to the screen, but with Gone Girl Flynn demonstrated a ruthless pragmatism in terms of what needed to be altered and excised for the new medium. Her hands are sorely missed in Dark Places, as director Gilles Paquet-Brenner (Sarah’s Key) takes on adapting duties as well, and misses the mark by a thousand miles.


Dark Places tells the exceptionally bleak story of Libby Day (Charlize Theron), the survivor of the brutal massacre of her family decades earlier, for which her brother Ben (Corey Stoll) was convicted, largely based on her testimony. Libby has coasted through her life of squalor on the donations of people who felt sorry for the poor young girl ever since, as well as payment from a hokey tell-all that she’s never read, let alone had actually written. As her finances begin to dry up, she realizes that the only people left who even care about this old tragedy are those belonging to a seedy underground society called The Kill Club. Led by Lyle Wirth (Nicholas Hoult), this group of makeshift detectives is obsessed with grisly true crimes, with Lyle in particular leading a faction to try and discover what truly happened that night at Libby’s Kansas farm so many years ago. Desperate for cash, Libby agrees to help Lyle investigate the truth and see if they can help free the brother who she helped put away. If he’s truly innocent, that is.
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Trailer: The Magnificent Seven

Oooh, MGM Logo!

Hit and miss action-director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, King Arthur, Olympus Has Fallen) has gone and remade The Magnificent Seven.

The 1960 version was itself, of course, a remake of Kurosawa’s bonafide cinema classic Seven Samurai.

Sony Pictures has assembled a superb cast consisting of Denzel Washington (in full Yul Brenner black attire), Chris Pratt (doing his thing), Ethan Hawke (with a mighty beard), Vincent D’Onofrio (Onofrissance!), Byung-Hun Lee (no stranger to western remakes, with his villainous turn in Kim Ji-Woon’s The Good The Bad and The Weird), and Peter Sarsgaard (always welcome in anything, particularly as a bad guy) combined with a sizable budget have yielded a frothy, high octane unabashedly modern version of the story looking to capitalize on the star power and production values that this property, in all its incarnations, has always had. I could do without the crap cover of House of the Rising Sun, in the below trailer, but that is just personal taste, this looks like a solid popcorn western. Maybe this will be the one to break the curse of westerns at the box-office.

You know the story: A small frontier town of desperate townspeople employ the protection from seven outlaws, bounty hunters, gamblers and hired guns who for a violent showdown that they know is coming.

Trailer: De Palma


“Being a director is being a watcher.” Indeed, in the decades of TIFF, it was not uncommon to see Brian DePalma in the regular public screenings at the festival taking in a variety of cinematic offerings. Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow shot filmed untold hours of conversation with Brian DePalma and edited it into a 107 minute documentary on the stylized, love/hate director of Sisters, Body Double, Carrie, Blow Out, The Untouchables, and so many more . The film is set to play HotDocs film festival in Toronto next week, and a trailer has landed. Not suprisingly, DePalma has a lot to say about the state and business of film-making today. Have a look.

A24 is releasing the film on June 10.

(If you are in Toronto, Hotdocs is playing the film in three festival screenings: Sunday May 1, Monday May 2 and Friday May 6)

Mondays Suck Less in the Third Row

Of course I must feel the need to warn you that not everything on here is totally SFW. Most of it is fine and there will never be anything crazy explicit, but in some cases there may be some slightly questionable content for the office. In this case, the goats and the teen dream phone have some audio cues that might raise some eyebrows.

Check out these links:
10 memorable moments from Kobe Bryant’s 20-year NBA career
These are a little more LOL worthy than these ^
This is your brain on LSD
Yuri Milner invests $100m to send a fleet of spacecraft to Alpha Centauri
Donald Trump is the star of every horror movie
Some more cool fan-made movie posters
Clever and gorgeous Star Wars photography using only toys

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Cinecast Episode 437 – It’ll Play Well in Europe

From nothing to see to too much to see. Such is the first world life in the third row. Luckily there is VOD and Kurt and Andrew can at least confer on the latest hype amongst the internet’s genre-film fanboys, The Invitation. From there, Andrew is suckered into the critical acclaim of the latest Jon Favreau joint, The Jungle Book and it really wouldn’t be a classic Cinecast without some tongue-bathing of Kevin Costner – yeah, he’s in a movie this weekend; you probably haven’t heard. Matt Gamble has all but vanished but we still managed to get into some movie experiences both theatrically and on the home screen worth mentioning. More Richard Gere is in store, Kurt heads back to the Y2K scare with Ralph Fiennes in sexy wardrobe and Angela Bassett in tight braids. Plus rep cinema VVitchy goodness in Toronto with 1983 occult gem Eyes of Fire.

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!



jungle-cinecast invitation-cinecast criminal-cinecast

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Sunday Video Essay: 100 Years 100 Shots

The Tribeca film festival and Jacob T. Swinney put together this super-cut through the past 100 years of (mostly American) cinema. Each year is represented by a single shot. Some shots pioneered a style or defined a genre, while others tested the boundaries of censorship and filmgoer expectations.

Irish Film Critic Mark Cousins is not likely to agree with this selection, but do you?

The full list of the films used is tucked under the seat:

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Trailer: The Birth of a Nation


Nate Parker isn’t new to the business–although you may not recognize him by name. Since his starring role in 2007’s The Great Debaters alongside Denzel Washington and Forest Whitaker, he’s taken on numerous roles in films such as Beyond the Lights, The Secret Life of Bees, Red Tails, Arbitrage, and Ain’t Them Bodies Saints. Then, a few years back, Parker decided to take his career down a different path. He’d write a movie. For those in the states who paid attention in high school history, you’ll likely recognize the name Nat Turner, the enslaved man who led a rebellion against slave owners in 1830s Virginia.

To write a film on such a complex human being with some pretty serious violence was certainly a task in and of itself. Parker also was tasked with convincing investors to finance his project and then he also planned to produce, direct, and star in the film.

As the Hollywood Reporter describes it:

[What Parker heard when writing the film was] all the reasons a movie about Nat Turner wouldn’t work: Movies with black leads don’t play internationally; a period film with big fight scenes would be too expensive; it was too violent; it wouldn’t work without a big box-office star leading it; Turner was too controversial.

Ultimately though, he secured $10 million in financing from investors and lined up a pretty impressive cast that included Gabrielle Union, Armie Hammer, Aja Naomi King, Jackie Earle Haley, and Penelope Ann Miller. The film, titled The Birth of a Nation, was coming together.

If you recognize that title, it’s no coincidence. D. W. Griffith’s 1915 revisionist racist garbage portraying the KKK as heroes of the south shares the same title, which was “very much by design,” Turner confirmed in an interview.

The Birth of a Nation has already won the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at this year’s Sundance before being picked up by Fox Searchlight. The film hits theaters stateside on October 7, 2016. From the early reviews out of Sundance (and the incredible trailer with the haunting Nina Simone vocals), I’d expect to see plenty of nominations for the film at next year’s Oscars.

Friday One Sheet: Tickled

Hotdocs is coming to Toronto, and this film has a little bit of buzz (from it’s Sundance debut), and a lot of ‘intentional mystery,’ about it. The film is ostensibly about ‘competitive endurance tickling’ (which, not surprisingly, is a thing) but clearly from the clawed hand in this poster, there is something sinister going on. What does this poster say to you?

After stumbling upon a bizarre “competitive endurance tickling” video online, wherein young men are paid to be tied up and tickled, reporter David Farrier reaches out to request a story from the company. But the reply he receives is shocking—the sender mocks Farrier’s sexual orientation and threatens extreme legal action should he dig any deeper. So, like any good journalist confronted by a bully, he does just the opposite: he travels to the hidden tickling facilities in Los Angeles and uncovers a vast empire, known for harassing and harming the lives of those who protest their involvement in these films. The more he investigates, the stranger it gets, discovering secret identities and criminal activity.

Friday Puzzler – The Jungle Book

Welcome, almost, to the weekend! Your last day at the office. What can you do to avoid as much work as possible and still make the time go faster? How about put this puzzle together. Each Friday RowThree will have a themed puzzle to coincide with the weekend’s cinematic releases.

Use your mouse to move the pieces (scroll wheel or arrow keys to rotate) and create the image you see below. Then discuss. Please note that the bottom third of the play space should be blank for placing loose pieces.

This week, since Jon Favreau is getting stellar reviews on his remake of the animated (classic?) film, The Jungle Book, we thought it would be fun to go back and take a look at the original!

Your final image should look like this: