Review: A Dangerous Method

Director: David Cronenberg
Screenplay: Christopher Hampton
Producer: Jeremy Thomas
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen, Vincent Cassel
Runtime: 99 min.
MPAA: R

Cronenberg and psychoanalysis seem like a match made in heaven – few directors have probed the depths of the bizarre and cerebral as frequently or successfully as Cronenberg. While films like Videodrome and A History of Violence are generally known for their visceral brutality, such a view should not hold up beyond a perfunctory glance. Cronenberg’s films are quite dependent upon the neuroses and motivations of their characters, as well as the mindset of the viewer. Sure, there is quite a bit of shock value to be had … but the human mind and its hopes, wants, needs, and desires are consistently at the forefront of Cronenberg’s works.

At face value, A Dangerous Method is the perfect storm of subject matter and director; and this, without even considering the wonderful casting.

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Movies We Watched

Sometimes we watch stuff that we want to talk just a little bit about, not a full review worth. These are those films. If any of the films reviewed are available on Netflix Instant Watch (US or Canada) or HuluPlus (US only), we’ll note that by putting a direct link below the capsule.

The Long Good Friday

1982 UK. Director: John Mackenzie. Starring: Bob Hoskins, Helen Mirren, Paul Freeman.

Allow me to use a cliché that has garnered far too much use, yet applies here more so than any other film that comes to mind – The Long Good Friday is the best film you’ve never heard of. Or, perhaps, Bob Hoskins provides the greatest performance that you’ve never seen. In what may be the best performance of the 1980s (hyperbole alert), Hoskins’ turn as underworld kingpin Harold Shand is nothing short of fantastic. He is eloquent yet understated; cold and calculating, yet reckless; domineering, yet sympathetic. Hoskins’ ability to delicately craft such an in-depth character creates a pull on the viewer every time he graces the screen, leaving you tense with anticipation. The supporting cast is understandably a clear second fiddle, though the witty dialogue and staging prevents this from becoming a drag on the film. Francis Monkman’s score was quite good, albeit somewhat awkward within the context of the film, and the camera work (including an incredibly powerful tracking shot) was very strong.
-DOMENIC

Netflix Instant (USA)

 


 

Julia

2008 France/Mexico/USA/Belgium. Director: Erick Zonca. Starring: Tilda Swinton, Saul Rubinek, Aidan Gould.

Proving once again that Tilda Swinton is the worst ‘movie-mom’ in cinema (See also The Deep End, We Need to Talk About Kevin) here she is actually a kind of surrogate mother through a chain of events involving kidnapping, desperation and copious amounts of alcohol. A darkly disturbing, yet slightly absurd noir that makes Fargo look like a model of restrain, Julia is nothing if not unpredictable. Beginning with textbook case in how to not elicit empathy for your main character as she rocks out sloppily to the Eurythmics “Sweet Dreams (Are made of this).” It goes from bad to worse, as crime enters the equation, and a young child is abducted, drugged, tied up and dragged across the US/Mexican border in a stolen car. Things get kind of crazy from there, as the Helsinki syndrome sets in. Highly, highly, highly recommended – another example of a hidden gem in Ms. Swintons non-Hollywood filmography that seems more based on a dare to the viewer than any sort of commercial or even arthouse intentions.
-KURT

Netflix Instant (CANADA and USA)

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MorePop: The DC New 52

I‘ve never really been a comic book reader, other than gobbling up Archie and Uncle Scrooge when I was a kid, and delving into the occasional graphic novel more recently. But I’ve been more and more intrigued by them, and kind of fascinated with the idea of weekly comic reading. Mostly what’s stopped me from getting into comics is the sheer overwhelming nature of long story arcs, high issue numbers, and the feeling that I could never catch up sufficiently. So when I heard a few weeks ago that DC was going to reboot all of their series (and start a few new ones), it piqued my interest immediately. Granted, this is kind of a publicity stunt from DC, desperate to get new readers and pull lapsed ones back in, but whatever. It’s working (and not just on me – the New 52 has been selling much better than hoped, with most of the #1 issues going into second and third printings – how long that will last is anyone’s guess).

Now that all 52 series have released their first issues, I thought I’d run down the 13 series I read this first month. Is anybody else checking out the New 52? What are your favorites so far?

Swamp Thing #1

I had absolutely no intention of buying this book. I didn’t know the character, and I had little interest in finding out about a superhero version of the Creature from the Black Lagoon (my uninformed mental image of what this must be). But everybody, and I mean pretty much everybody I know who reads comics told me I had to check it out. And they were right. This is probably one of the best written books of the ones I read; it has a lot of voiceover text boxes, which I don’t always like, but in this case, the monologue is thoughtful and almost poetic – an inner voice that made me want to know about this man. The art is more than solid, too, with the introduction of the big bad done almost wordlessly in one of the most disturbing reveals of this subset of #1s. I will definitely be back for more.
Writer: Scott Snyder Artist: Yanick Paquette

Action Comics #1

I’ll confess, Superman has always been one of my least favorites of the major superheroes. I just find him kind of boring, with his eager do-gooder attitude and his essentially unbeatable powers. But this Superman isn’t boring – he starts off tearing up an office building and holding a crooked company owner over the balcony, threatening to drop him if he doesn’t answer for his mistreatment of the people of Metropolis. This Superman is young, volatile, unpredictable, and dangerous. You understand why the police want to catch him. I love that. I even love the jeans-and-Superman-t-shirt costume he’s wearing. Yeah, I’m in.
Writer: Grant Morrison Artists: Rags Morales, Rick Bryant

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Does Michelle Williams pull it off in the My Week With Marilyn trailer?

Well, I’m going to take a guess and say that the trailer for My Week With Marilyn does a pretty crummy job of representing the film. At least I hope so. Regardless, that probably is not why most people will be seeing this – it will be the curiosity over Michelle Williams’s ability to pull it off. By the looks of it, she very well may have her emulation down. We will find out on November 4, 2011 when it hits theater in the United States.

What do you think? Does Michelle have what it takes?

Cinecast Episode 230 – No Offense to All the Clowns Out There, But…

 
 
We start off this week’s show with a little Brothers news, a sneak review of Hugh Jackman in Real Steel and then a recap of Soderbergh’s Contagion, as Kurt is still playing catch-up from his TIFF hangover. Then, though a week or so late, we dive into a SPOILER review of Moneyball. What Cinecast would be complete with the watch list? This week it’s murder, drugs, abusive clowns, horrible theme songs, mad max drama, left wing politics, extreme religious fanatacism and… Tom Cruise. If that ain’t enough, there’s DVD and Netflix talk along with Matt Gamble’s recent brushes with fame. It’s good stuff for everyone. So gather up the whole famn damily, grab a bowl of popcorn, stoke the embers in the fire and settle in for a nice little movie discussion on whatever you’re using for a transistor radio these days. Ladies and gentlemen, Cinecast episode 230 is on the air…

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


 
 

 

To download the show directly, paste the following URL into your favorite downloader:
http://rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_11/episode_230.mp3

 
 
Full show notes are under the seats…
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DVD Review: Viva Riva!

Director: Djo Tunda Wa Munga
Writer: Djo Munga
Starring: Patsha Bay, Manie Malone, Hoji Fortuna, Marlene Longange
Producer: Djo Munga
Country: Democratic Republic of the Congo, France & Belgium
Running Time: 94 min
Year: 2010
BBFC Certification: 15

Viva Riva! has been hyped as spearheading a new wave of African cinema and is the first film from the Democratic Republic of Congo to receive U.S. distribution. Unfortunately, in my eyes at least, it’s not a great start.

Viva Riva! tells the story of Riva (Patsha Bay), a small time criminal who pulls off a big job, getting his hands on a truckload of fuel, which is gold dust in a state where it is running scarce. When he starts flashing his cash and throwing his weight around, muscling in on the local crime boss’ territory and trying to steal his girl he gets into a heap of trouble. Added to this, Cesar, an evil foreigner, is on the hunt for Riva and leaves a trail of torture and murder behind him as he draws ever closer. A local military officer and even the church get involved too along the way.

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Classic Horror Movies for People Who Don’t Like Gore

We’re into October now, so expect to see a concentration of posts about horror films from us this month – Bob has already started his annual horror capsule posts (see part 1 here). This particular post actually originates thanks to a friend asking me if I had a post anywhere talking about classic horror films that relied on atmosphere and creepy chills rather than gore and jump scares. Given that creepy atmospheric horror films are my favorite kind (in fact, the only kind of horror films I’d watch until a couple of years ago), I happily said I’d put one together this week, just in time to plan some classic Halloween viewing for the month of October. I’ve chosen fifteen films, ranged between atmospheric, disturbing, creepy, culty, and just plain enjoyable, trying to stay a bit off the beaten path, though there are a few quite well-known films in here. (Note that some may have a modicum of bloodiness, especially moving into the color films of the ’60s (Hammer, Bava, Corman), but it’s very restrained and unrealistic compared with the gorefests of later years.) I’m sure there are a lot more than just these – please feel free to add more in the comments. I’d love to find more films like these myself, since, as I said, they’re my favorite.

Haxan (1922)

There are a number of good silent film choices here, but this one is a little under-the-radar unless you’re a real classic horror or silent film aficionado. Benjamin Christensen’s Haxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages purports to be a documentary depicting the history of witchcraft from the middle ages through the Puritan era and to modern day (which Christensen connects via the modern “hysteric” – his thesis, such as it is, is that witches in earlier eras suffered from misdiagnosed mental illness, hardly an original thought with him), but really, it’s an excuse to gleefully show flights of fancy into the devil’s lair, detail objects of torture, and basically let his imagination run wild. It’s stylistically flamboyant, too, and though a lot of it is humorous now (the modern day parts are particularly earnest in a laughable way), a good portion of it is genuinely creepy and it’s definitely an unforgettable visual experience.
1922 Denmark. Director: Benjamin Christensen. Starring: Benjamin Christensen, Maren Pedersen.
Other silent films to try: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Nosferatu, The Phantom of the Opera.

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