• Blu-Ray Review: Late Mizoguchi: Eight Films 1951-1956

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    After releasing dual format Blu-Ray & DVD double sets of Ugetsu Monogatari with Oyû-Sama and Sanshô Dayû with Gion Bayashi, Eureka’s Masters of Cinema label is bringing all of these films together and adding the remaining 1950′s Kenji Mizoguchi titles they had previously released on DVD. So with Uwasa No Onna, Chikamatsu Monogatari, Yôkihi and Akasen Chitai and the aforementioned titles, you get Late Mizoguchi on Blu-Ray ready for every lucky cinephile’s Christmas stocking.

    Beneath the seats are reviews of the latter half of the films in the set and seeing as I’ve already posted reviews of the first Blu-Ray sets, I’ll just link back to my thoughts on those:

    Ugetsu Monogatari & Oyû-Sama

    Sanshô Dayû & Gion Bayashi

    Would you like to know more…?

  • Cinecast Episode 326 – Functionally Retarded, Yet Infectious

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    As it turns out, we discover as a very welcome surprise that this is Kurt and Andrew’s 300th episode together. So there’s reason enough to celebrate here. Kinda. But if you’re more into movies rather than nostalgia and landmarks, there’s plenty to get into with this episode. We have five, count ‘em five, theatrical reviews to get to as well as our respective festival titles and experiences to mention. All of this spirals into a very important homework assignment for the week. Matt Gamble comes aboard to talk about Ridley Scott’s meandering. We get into all manner of awesome, including Robert Redford’s double takes, Polanski spelling it out, Elijah Wood is perpetually twelve years old and Judd Apatow’s version of a Richard Linklater film. All of this and a helluva lot more in another mega-episode that spans nearly four hours.

    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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    Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!


    DOWNLOAD mp3 | 158 MB
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    Full show notes are under the seats…
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  • Second Trailer for The Wolf of Wall Street

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    The Wolf of Wall St.

    Focusing more on the progression of the story this time around and featuring a lot more (Academy Award Nominee) Jonah Hill, the second trailer for Martin Scorsese’s has as much bombast and excess (and slow motion) as ever. It’s great, and rather at odds with the litany of shoddy blockbuster/tentpole trailers of late, but rather than give us more images (and there are plenty more here) can we just get this movie in the cinema all ready?

  • Book Review: Pulp Fiction – The Complete Story of Quentin Tarantino’s Masterpiece

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    It will soon be twenty years since Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction was released and the film has reached almost mythical status. Like Lou Reed’s The Velvet Underground did for young musicians, Tarantino inspired an entirely new generation of potential filmmakers to take the risk and try to break into the industry. There’s no doubt, Tarantino’s influence on the industry has been more than apparent over the past two decades.

    Writer Jason Bailey (film editor at Flavorwire) has put together a massive 200-page examination of the film, how it was made, and its influence since its release.

    Frankly, this book is a must have for any self-proclaimed Tarantino junkie. This is a Tarantino Bible. The book is insane in the amount of detail it goes into from its examination of Tarantino’s early years and many pages dedicated to his own favorite films, to the writing process behind the script, to the making of the film, to the aftermath. Peppered throughout are independent essays, original art, and plenty of behind-the-scenes goodies that were new to me.

    Bailey’s book is sleek and stylish and would fit well on any film lover’s coffee table. It will be released on November 11, 2014. You can pre-order it over at Amazon.

  • Toronto After Dark 2013: Willow Creek Review

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    In the latest venture from former comedian Bobcat Goldthwait, we’re given yet another attempt to recreate The Blair Witch Project. Sadly, you can’t remake lightning in a bottle. Though it manages some moments of genuine tension, it starts too slowly, and ends too abruptly. What we’re left with is a film that’s great in theory, but can’t quite bring it together for a solid finish.

    Jim (Bryce Johnson) is a believer. Not in God, or vampires, but in Bigfoot. His girlfriend, Kelly (Alexie Gilmore), is not. A devoted couple, Kelly decides to accompany Jim on his trip deep into the heart of Bigfoot territory, home of the infamous Patterson-Gimlin footage. What they find, however, may be more than they’d bargained for.

    Willow Creek attempts to showcase the found footage genre as realistically as possible, with minimal edits. The fact of the matter is that untouched found footage is boring. The beginning is full of forceful exposition, and it slogs along, berating you with proof of its realism. It’s a tiresome and lumbering onslaught of shaky cam that could very easily rock you to sleep. Would you like to know more…?

  • Trailer: X-Men Days of Future Past

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    X-Men

    Fan service, or does the X-Men crossover pic actually have something actually to say? Who knows, but the trailer company they hired to cut this should be fired for slapping two of the most over-used trailer background music (from the Sunshine soundtrack and The Thin Red Line soundtrack). Both pieces have been used in far better trailers (The Adjustment Bureau uses the former and both Pearl Harbor and 12 Years A Slave, use the latter).

    As for X-Men: Days of Future Past, the cast he is positively loaded with talent, but the issue was always too many cast members, now they have practically doubled things by moving across time lines. Judging from what we are teased with here, the whole thing is consistent with the X-Men franchise (now back to its original director, Bryan Singer) but offers little to get excited from beyond the excessive fanboy factor (and timeline continuity splitting was also recently done with the Star Trek reboot). Time will certainly tell as they cut better trailers for this property.

    From Wikipedia (on the comic-book source material which is impossible to tell if they radically rewrote the film or not, so take with a grain of salt):

    The storyline alternates between present day of 1980, in which the X-Men fight Mystique’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, and a future timeline, taking place in 2013, is caused by the X-Men’s failure to prevent the Brotherhood from assassinating Senator Robert Kelly. In this future universe, Sentinels rule the United States, and mutants live in internment camps. The present-day X-Men are forewarned of the possible future by a future version of their teammate Kitty Pryde, whose mind traveled back in time and possessed her younger self to warn the X-Men. She succeeds in her mission and returns to the future, but despite her success, the future timeline still exists as an alternative timeline rather than as the actual future.

  • Carlos’ Review Round-Up

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    Here’s a quick sampling of my week’s watches. You can find more of my reviews at Always Watch Good Movies.

     

    Escape From Tomorrow (2013)

    Directed by: Randy Moore
    Country: USA

    Randy Moore’s writing and directorial debut, “Escape From Tomorrow”, depicts a family’s troubled last vacation day in Florida’s Walt Disney World Resort; filled with strange adventures and presented in capricious, dreamy tones. Jim’s day starts in a lousy manner. He was fired with no reason by phone, got stuck on a hotel balcony and his overwhelming wife seems to drive them into a despairing marital crisis. Among acting childish, having weird thoughts and showing paranoid behaviors, that day would become a tempting trip to Jim, since he spent most of the day following two French young teenagers but ended up in bed with a weird woman who was revealed to be a witch. Instead of having a great time with family, Jim will spend the day as if in a nightmare composed by intense witchcraft, futuristic scenarios, and sickness. Some creativity has to be recognized here but that doesn’t mean that every move has been achieved properly, especially after the film falls into a sci-fi thriller, losing some of the initial direction. The super-contrasting black and white photography was well chosen to reinforce the intended dreamlike atmosphere, while the mix of tension and humor worked fine in several occasions. Roy Abramsohn had a good performance as Jim, a curious character who, in my eyes, could have been even better availed. More visually attractive than intellectually challenging or funny, “Escape From Tomorrow”, still can provide some entertainment through its fantasies and ghastly dreams.

    (3/5)

     


     

    We Are What We Are (2013)

    Directed by: Jim Mickle
    Country: USA

    Jim Mickle’s third feature film, “We Are What We Are”, gives continuity to the interesting experiences on horror/thriller that characterized “Mulberry Street” and “Stake Land”. Actually, the object of this review is much darker and moody than the two mentioned before. The story starts with the death of a woman whose body, when autopsied by Doc Barrow (Michael Parks), revealed to suffer from a very rare disease mostly present in particular tribes. This woman left a husband, the rigorous Frank Parker (Bill Sage) who also presents symptoms of sickness, and three children, little Rory (Jack Gore), the sensitive and angelical Rose (Julia Garner), and fearless Iris (Ambyr Childers). The family acts in a very reserved way, hiding a dark secret carried for long years. All this coincides with the discovery of human bones that are coming to surface after a big storm. The authorities believe they can be from one of the three girls who, in a span of 20 years, disappeared in town. Frank’s sense of family and tradition falls into madness and the story, in its final minutes, ends up in intensive gore, which impressed me somehow. Jim Mickle’s stupendous way of filming enhances the obscure atmosphere, creating a few mesmerizing images. The plot is surprising and its execution was able to extract all the coldness, agony, and suffering from the characters. With the sentence ‘It is with love that I do this. God’s will be done.’ as background, “We Are What We Are” is not so frightful as it could be, but surely is psychologically disturbing in many ways.

    (3.5/5)

     


     

    The Past (2013)

    Directed by: Asghar Farhadi
    Country: France / Italy

    Asghar Farhadi’s first cinematic experience totally made outside Iran wasn’t so rewarding as his previous two masterpieces “About Elly” and “A Separation”. Set in France, there is no question about “The Past” being an adult film, but the plot didn’t shake me or intrigued me, and I felt a sort of distance towards the characters. I watched it with eagerness for some kind of astonishing revelation or a better twist, but the film let me dry in the end. The story follows Ahmad who travels from Teheran to Paris to finish his divorce procedure with his wife Marie whom he didn’t see for 4 years. He stays in Marie’s place, taking the opportunity to be with her two daughters from two previous marriages. But for his surprise, Marie is pregnant and has been living with another Arab, Samir, whose wife is in a coma due to suicide attempt. Samir also has a son, Fouad, who is showing problematical behaviors and reveals a clear need of attention. Marie’s older daughter, Lucie, becomes a key-character in the story’s climax, hiding a relevant secret that justifies her deplorable state of depression. “The Past” ends up being a modest family drama that, taking all the aspects into account, seemed more planned that complex. Nevertheless, and in the same line as his prior works, the film conveyed great simplicity of processes, composed with sharp images that were quite appealing to the eyes. Farhadi’s direction was never in cause, in a story about breaking up ties with the past, that despite likable, failed to enrapture.

    (3/5)

    Would you like to know more…?

  • The Story of Film on TCM: Chapter Eight

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    Film wasn’t just a window through which you saw characters and stories, it was a language and a way of thinking in itself.

    Just about every episode, I’ve lamented that Cousins had to rush through some things or wished that there had been a whole episode devoted to something he covered well, but briefly. Holy cannoli, this one is the ultimate example of that, at least so far. In the introductory interview, Robert Osborne asked him how you cut this topic down to an hour and still get everything in. Short answer: you don’t. Turns out Cousins’ original cut of this episode was three hours long. I bet even that was pretty hectic. As it stands, this episode is one of the least satisfying so far, simply because you barely get acclimated to each new place/filmmaker/situation before he jets off to the next one. It’s simply information overload, and almost none of it sticks. I will concede that perhaps some of it is my own ignorance of a lot of the cinema covered here – I can’t fill in the gaps mentally like I’ve been able to in some of the earlier chapters.

    After covering the French New Wave and the spread of new wave thinking into Italy last episode, Cousins shows how new waves spread across the world in this one, starting with Eastern Europe. Behind the Iron Curtain, film industries were closely monitored, and making the kind of personal films that the French New Wave advocated was in itself a political statement – many Eastern Bloc filmmakers faced political persecution for their films, which were seen as radical.

    Would you like to know more…?

  • Toronto After Dark 2013: Evil Feed Review

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    Evil Feed Poster

    Evil Feed makes its intentions known with little hesitation. It’s silly, funny, bombastic and bloody without remorse. Capable of being a no-holds-barred non-stop blood bath of fun vulgarity, it loses much of its power to juvenile production value. The fight scenes are lackluster, the racist jokes unnecessary, and the sound engineering shoddy at best. With some stellar performances and fun kill scenes, it still manages to fall short of its epic potential.

    The premise is simple, but exquisitely vulgar. Martial arts experts are slowly being kidnapped around the city, and forced to fight against almost unbeatable opponents. The loser is chopped up and served for dinner in a cannibalistic Chinese restaurant. Be careful when ordering the house special. Would you like to know more…?

  • Toronto After Dark 2013: Solo Review

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    Rudimentarily shot, predictably written, with mediocre performances and painfully stilted dialogue, Solo fails to thrill or scare. The story sets up far too many plot lines, and struggles to keep them together, making most of them irrelevant. Sadly, this was the weakest link at this year’s Toronto After Dark Film Festival.

    Gillian is a troubled teenager. Recovering from an undisclosed traumatic accident, she decides the best way to cope is to take a job as a counselor at a summer camp. As part of her training, and before her hiring can be made official, she must complete a solo camping trip on a nearby island. Told ghost stories by the other counselors, and hearing strange noises once on the island, terror begins to set in. Gillian may not be alone, and must fight to survive what lies within the woods.

    Horribly stilted dialogue forcefully gives us the details the writer’s were too ham-fisted to delicately lay out as the film progressed. Instead, we’re beaten over the head with the facts. Gillian (Annie Clark) is a troubled teen! She needs to get away! She’s done something bad! She’s angst-ridden! Okay, we get it. The problem is, we’re never made to care. As such, she fails as a heroine. Would you like to know more…?

  • Toronto After Dark 2013: Odd Thomas Review

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    Based on the acclaimed Dean Koontz novels of the same name, Odd Thomas, written and directed by Stephen Sommers (The Mummy, The Mummy Returns) is unfortunately flawed. While I haven’t read the books, and can’t attest to its strength as an adaptation, it fails as often as it succeeds as a film. With an incredibly strong lead cast in Anton Yelchin, Addison Timlin, and Willem Dafoe, it delivers outstanding performances, stellar chemistry, and piles of entertainment. Where it fails is in the overuse of CGI, a flailing supporting cast, and poorly executed plot twists. Nonetheless, in typical Sommers style, it moves a mile a minute and is a pile of fun.

    Odd Thomas is an odd 20-something young man. Yes, that really is his name. Odd. A clairvoyant with the ability to commune with the dead and sense looming danger, he attempts to keep a low profile by living in the small town of Pico Mundo, where little ever happens. That is, of course, until now. Something tells Odd that all hell is about to break loose on his little town, and it’s a race against the clock to figure it out and prevent the promised carnage.

    Odd Thomas is unfortunately one of those films plagued by stellar performances, and little else. Yelchin, Dafoe and Timlin all offer stellar chemistry, and manage to make the often stilted and forced dialogue appear as charming as was likely intended. Would you like to know more…?




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