Cinecast Episode 452 – Too Much Pole Vaulting

Due to sleep deprivation for both of your humble hosts, neither were able to get the flicker house this week for a “new” review. However, DePalma is always accessible and we spend a good deal of time trying to figure out what the hell he was thinking by essentially doing a more sprawling version of Carrie with THE FURY just one year after wrapping up Carrie. Both this decision and the film itself is baffling – but ripe for body explosion and pole vaulting conversation. The Watch List is kind of all over the place as well. It includes book and video game talk as well as “Michael Bay isn’t that bad” conversation and a duplicate title from 1975 that you won’t ever find. Oh yeah, and Leland Orser takes the lead!

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

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DVD Review: Stalker

Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
Screenplay by: Arkadiy Strugatskiy, Boris Strugatskiy, Andrei Tarkovsky (uncredited)
Based on a Novel by: Arkadiy Strugatskiy, Boris Strugatskiy
Starring: Aleksandr Kaydanovskiy, Anatoliy Solonitsyn, Nikolay Grinko, Alisa Freyndlikh
Country: Soviet Union
Running Time: 155 min
Year: 1979
BBFC Certificate: PG


My trip through the work of art-house/world cinema heavyweight Andrei Tarkovsky continues with Stalker, from 1979. Like Solaris, this is one of his films I was simultaneously most looking forward to and most wary of. It’s highly regarded (as are all of his films) which got me interested, on top of the sci-fi focus, but it also sounded like it might be the slowest moving and most bleak title of his oeuvre. So, although I had no doubt that I wanted to watch and review the film, I was a bit hesitant to put it on once I’d received the screener. As is too often the case these days (due to having two young children) I was far too tired to take on such a heavy film and ended up watching it in two parts, but I made it through though and managed to appreciate the extraordinary work Tarkovsky had done.

Stalker is set some time in the future when a large area of the country (presumably somewhere in The Soviet Union) has been cordoned off with barbed wire and armed defences. Known only as The Zone, this area is off-limits to everyone and believed to be highly dangerous. Gifted individuals known as Stalkers have special abilities to be able to navigate it though, to take people to what is special about The Zone, The Room. The Room is believed to be a place that can make true the inner most desire of those who enter. Our protagonist is an unnamed Stalker (Aleksandr Kaydanovskiy), who has been hired to guide The Writer (Anatoliy Solonitsyn) and The Professor (Nikolay Grinko) to The Room. As they make the long, treacherous journey out of the city and across The Zone, the three of them argue about the meaning of their lives and the importance of faith, among other things, culminating in a dilemma as they reach the threshold of The Room.

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Sunday Video Essay: The Wide Shots In Michael Cimino’s Cinema

Michael Cimino / Wide Shot from on Vimeo.

I have been watching a fair number of Sergio Leone films as of late, and the Italian director’s ubiquitous use of wide shots (particularly of various desert locales in Spain) spurred my interest in directors who have a desire for the best big-wide compositions. And this brings us to essayist Jorge Luengo Ruiz’s silent, almost melancholic, assembly of the wide angle photography from various films of Michael Cimino. Of course Heaven’s Gate is very well represented, being the height of Cimino’s power and spending power, but also some quite remarkable compositions from The Deer Hunter, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, The Sicilian and even his lower budget works from the 1980s and 1990s.

R.I.P. Kenny Baker (1934 – 2016)

Famed British film and television star, Kenny Baker, died today at the age of 81 after a long battle with a respiratory illness and eventual lung failure.

Kenny Baker brought a lot of joy to people throughout the years. Obviously most prominently as the beloved R2-D2 from Star Wars. A role that never even reveals Baker’s face, his body or even his voice. One of only a couple(?) actors to portray a role through all six of the first Star Wars films (episodes IV – VI and episodes I – III). Besides Star Wars though, dude was in lot of films.

And strangely enough, I was just thinking the other day about how much I actually really like R2-D2 – especially as I get older. I appreciate the character’s limitations and how he overcomes them to always come through for his friends. He also seems to be a child at “heart” through all six films. He’s got a unique and interesting way of communicating and even if you can;t understand specifically what he’s saying, we can all understand him perfectly. In other words, he breaks language barriers around the globe. This sort of demeanor and personality mimics Baker’s outlook on life as I’ve been led to believe. Always smiling, always the optimist and always there for people.

Mark Hamill paid tribute to his friend today on Twitter:


As a younger boy, he was told that due to his dwarfism, he most likely would not live beyond puberty – medical innovation has come a long way since then. But here we are 81 years later and Mr. Baker lived a long and full life that brought joy to millions and will live forever in the annals of history. May the force be with you Kenny.

Friday One Sheet: Complete Unknown

An esoteric, but interesting poster for the new Rachel Weisz and Michael Shannon starring picture. When one considers this is the story of a woman who re-invents herself often (note the tagline: “You Are Who You Say You Are”), then the butterfly imagery, along with the play of shadows which compose noew shapes, makes a lot of sense. Whether or not one can figure this out without knowing anything about the movie is less important than that it is eye-catchingly different than most movie posters out there, and in a crowded multiplex lobby, this matters. It is also worth noting that Complete Unknown is the latest feature film from Joshua Marston, who made Maria Full of Grace to much acclaim, back in 2004.

After the Hype #152 – 10 Cloverfield Lane

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It’s time to open the mystery box with us as we talk about 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE. We’re joined by special guests Brett Weiner and Jackie Linke to discuss the movie that kind of came out of nowhere and took us by surprise. You won’t want to miss this episode!

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Don’t Breathe [red band trailer]

Not sure I totally believe the pull quotes this thing is dishing out; they’re pretty hyperbolic. That said, it looks like there maybe something special in here. If this isn’t just another run-of-the-mill home invasion slash splatterfest, there could be a lot of fun to be had here. A concotion of Inside, Hobo with a Shotgun, Blind, Green Room and 10 Cloverfield Lane could be interesting… or something. That’s just my weird brain building something out of something else.

And I kind of like Stephen Lang. Have a look.

Blu-Ray Review: Cry of the City

Director: Robert Siodmak
Screenplay: Richard Murphy
Based on a Novel by: Henry Edward Helseth
Starring: Victor Mature, Richard Conte, Fred Clark, Berry Kroeger, Shelley Winters
Country: USA
Running Time: 95 min
Year: 1948
BBFC Certificate: 12


After moaning about a lack of film noir releases in the UK a couple of months ago, I’m now being spoilt by a wealth of them. I even passed on the chance to review a couple Arrow are releasing soon (largely because I already own them on DVD though). The latest noir offering to take a spin my Blu-Ray player is Richard Siodmak’s 1948 film, Cry of the City. The director was one of the many German directors who fled the country when the Nazis came into power in the mid-thirties. After living with Billy Wilder in Paris for a few years and making films there, he left for America in 1940. There he grew to become one of the most famous film noir directors during the genre’s heyday, responsible for classic titles such as The Spiral Staircase, The Killers and Criss Cross. Cry of the City wasn’t as successful as those at the time, but these days its reputation has grown, so I was keen to check it out.

Cry of the City opens to show us Martin Rome (Richard Conte) at death’s door in a hospital. As his family hold a tearful vigil by his bedside, two policemen – Candella (Victor Mature) and Collin (Fred Clark), and a lawyer – Niles (Berry Kroeger) are skulking around, wishing to speak to him before he dies. For one, he died in a shoot out with the police which ended in the death of one officer, but also Niles wants to get him to confess to a crime his client is due to go to the chair for, the DiGrazia murder. Rome manages to survive the night and is transferred to a prison hospital, where Candella and Niles continue to hassle him to get answers. Rome keeps his mouth shut, but is concerned for the safety of his innocent girlfriend, Teena (Debra Paget), so breaks out of the hospital to try and get her to safety, whilst getting to the bottom of the DiGrazia case. There’s little chance for a happy ending for Rome though as the driven Candella closes in on him and his life-threatening wounds aren’t given chance to heal on the run.

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