Finally getting a US Theatrical Release: I Love You Phillip Morris

 

After sitting on the shelf for several years in North America with no theatrical release, and a baton-like passing of distributors, it seems Roadside Attractions are gearing up for a limited release on December 3rd, in 3 cities to start: NY, SF, LA) for the Jim Carrey, Ewan McGregor comedy, I Love You Phillip Morris. The film seems (from the trailer, anyway) to have a fair bit of tonal shifting going on from feel-good to broad slapstick to satire, and is based on the real life story of Steven Jay Russell. This is perhaps on a surprise when you consider it was directed by the two writers of Terry Zwigoff’s Bad Santa. Does it need mentioning that that is a handsome One-Sheet?

Steven Russell (Jim Carrey) leads a seemingly average life – an organ player in the local church, happily married to Debbie (Leslie Mann), and a member of the local police force. That is until he has a severe car accident that leads him to the ultimate epiphany: he’s gay and he’s going to live life to the fullest – even if he has to break the law to do it. Taking on an extravagant lifestyle, Steven turns to cons and fraud to make ends meet and is eventually sent to the State Penitentiary where he meets the love of his life, a sensitive, soft-spoken man named Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor). His devotion to freeing Phillip from jail and building the perfect life together prompts him to attempt (and often succeed at) one impossible con after another. Told with an uncanny sense of humor and a lot of heart, I Love You Phillip Morris is an oddball tale of what can happen when the legal system, a daredevil spirit and undying love collide.

2010 Foreign Language Oscar 65 Film List

 

While I do not think that something as edgy or unusual as Giorgos Lanthimos’ Dogtooth (David’s Review) will make the ‘final five’ short list, but kudos to Greece for throwing it out there. Perhaps something like Tetsuya Nakashima’s Confessions (Bob’s Review) will make the cut despite its similarly unsettling subject matter. Either way, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences did put out a big release yesterday with all of their Foreign Language film submissions, 65 of them in total even Greenland, from various countries:

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Cinecast Episode 186 – Happy Yummy Super Audience

 
 
Kurt makes a triumphantly verbose return to Western civilization after a week on the Spanish Mediterranean coast. With the 43rd Annual Sitges Film Festival coinciding with the trip there is much filmery to be discussed including the new Woody Allen, Zhang Yimou’s Blood Simple remake, Max Von Sydow’s seemingly advanced age in The Exorcist, dark social media experiments (no not Catfish or The Social Network, these are apocalyptic European takes on Web 2.0) and a Mads Mikkelsen time traveling thriller with The Door. Andrew sat down with some highly praised foreign fare from 2009 (including more Mads and the Oscar winning Argentinian entry, The Secret in Her Eyes) while Gamble also hits us with a sneak review of Helen Mirren shooting up cars in Red and reports on the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink camera work in a tiny box for 90 minutes with Ryan Reynolds in Buried. Playing off the Jackass 3D hype, quite the energetic discussion ensues on theater crowds and whether films are better with or without others around you. A few tangents here and there with loads of good stuff on DVD. All this and more in episode 186!

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_10/episode_186.mp3

ALTERNATIVE (no music track):
http://rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_10/episode_186-alt.mp3

 




 
Full show notes are under the seats…
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Mamo #182: War of the Supermen

Three Matts, no waiting! Our summer box office contest winner – and longtime listener – Matthew Fabb joins Matthew Brown and Matthew Price at the round table, for a freeform discussion of all things DC: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and the Flash.

To download this podcast use the following URL: http://rowthree.com/audio/mamo/mamo182.mp3

The Horror So Far…

ChildsPlay3_2

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A quick scan of some of the horror films I’ve been watching this month – 16 so far and all of them first time viewings. I try to mix them up – not only catching up with movies I’ve wanted to see for eons, but also ones I just stumble upon or had heard nothing about previously. It usually leads to an interesting and fun month of viewing:

 

Child’s Play 3 (1991 – Jack Bender)
Why start a month of horror with the third in a series of Chucky films? Well, even though I did like the first two more than I expected (not really as horror films, but they were self-aware fun), it was mostly to prepare myself to watch both “Bride Of Chucky” and “Seed Of Chucky” – two films I’ve been eager to pop in the player. I mean, I couldn’t watch them without the full back story now, could I? It was good to get the final installment of the initial trilogy behind me – it’s easily the worst of the bunch. Oh sure, The Chuckster gets off a couple of zingers, drops the old f-bomb a couple of times and even manages to use a walkie-talkie while throwing a hand grenade, but it’s not much more than that. Not a single human actor registers, the story is lame (Chucky is reanimated in a new doll and follows his old owner to military school still hoping to take over his body) and it isn’t scary or even tense for one moment. By this point in the series, though, I guess that’s not what the movies are about. There is some colourful art direction in the final showdown in a haunted house ride, so along with a foul-mouthed, heavily armed, freakish looking kid’s doll the movie does have a few things in its favour.

ChildsPlay3_2
ChildsPlay3_3

 

Frozen (2010 – Adam Green)
The concept is an easy elevator pitch: “Three people are stuck on a ski lift with the resort closed for the following week”. Can it actually sustain itself for a feature length film, though, and keep it interesting and tense with occasional shiver-inducing moments? Apparently it can. Like many of these beautiful-young-people-in-danger stories, the opening can be a bit of a struggle as you try to figure out whether you care about these navel-gazing characters. Fortunately they do end up with some subtle shades and the premise gets underway in a fairly realistic way. Since it looks like they used an actual old style ski lift as a location, you can feel the height and the frigid surroundings almost as much as the characters. Sure it stretches itself out more than needed, but it captures the many scenarios that could play out – broken limbs, escape possibilities, frostbite and other natural obstacles are all thrown into the mix.

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Frozen5

 

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VIFF 2010 Review: A Film Unfinished

VIFF Reviews Headline

A Film Unfinished

In the 1940s, the Nazi’s shot an unfinished film about life within the Warsaw Ghetto, a film that for years was used as a document of life within the ghetto. And then a few years ago, a new, previously unseen reel of the film was found, forever changing the meaning of the images we’d previously seen and taken in as fact.

Yael Hersonski’s documentary A Film Unfinished, goes beyond the images on screen and provides a deeply researched, rich history of the film that changes not only the way we look at this sliver of history but how we observe and read images in general. Supported by interviews from individuals who survived the ghetto and recall the filming and even a camera operator who remembers the herding and directing of Jews, we learn the truth of life in the ghetto and the lengths the propaganda machine was willing to stretch to make its point.

What’s most fascinating about Hersonki’s film is that while she meticulously breaks down the film to uncover the fake images, she makes us question not only the validity of this document but of other historical documents through the years. What other bits of history have we misread or misunderstood? And perhaps most importantly, how can we insure that this doesn’t happen again?

A powerful, devastating film, A Film Unfinished isn’t an easy watch but a necessary one and an excellent counterpart to Errol Morris’ Standard Operating Procedure which also explores the meaning of images and how they are perceived.

See VIFF screening schedule for show times.

Trailer tucked under the seats.
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VIFF 2010 Review: The Ugly Duckling

VIFF Reviews Headline

The Ugly Duckling

FFrom Russia comes one of the best animated films I’ve seen in years. Based on Hans Christian Anderson’s story, animator Garri Bardin’s The Ugly Duckling is a gorgeous achievement in stop motion animation which brings to life the tale of a duckling who doesn’t quite fit.

Hatched from an egg that doesn’t quite belong, he doesn’t fit in the coop he lives in and is shunned by everyone around. We see the little duckling grow up into a still ugly little creature who is lonely but still has a golden heart and true to Anderson’s story, turns into a beautiful swan. Even if the story isn’t new, Bardin’s execution is unique. Told with nearly zero dialogue (outside of a few hilarious songs) and set to Tchaikovsky’s most famous ballets, The Ugly Duckling is a beautifully emotional tale of adversity one that also carries with it a tinge of political underpinnings that will bypass younger viewers but is likely to strike adults square between the eyes.

As with the best animated films, Bardin’s is successful in that it also captures adult audiences. Somewhere between the opening musical number and the hatching of the duckling, I was completely taken and immersed by the style and emotion of the story which seemed to enrapture everyone.

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VIFF 2010 Review: Into Eternity

VIFF Reviews Headline

Into Eternity

As the credits rolled and lights slowly rose after the screening of Michael Madsen’s documentary Into Eternity, the few hundred people at the screening, myself included, sat in stunned silence. I’m sure many were sharing the exact same thought I had: what are we doing about our nuclear waste?

Madsen’s film takes a look at Onkalo, the nuclear waste disposal facility currently under construction deep in the bedrock of Finland. With gorgeous and haunting visuals accompanied by an equally haunting soundtrack and more than enough silence to allow the contemplation of humanity, it manages to ask questions not only of the future of civilization but also urges us consider our history.

Onkalo is a massive undertaking. One hundred years to build, the facility will have to last 100,000 years before the material to be housed there is innocuous to living creatures. How does one plan for 100,000 years? The numbers are so immense that it’s easy to forget that we’re only at year 2,000. It’s unimaginable but for the people designing and building Onkalo, they have to think this far in advance. How do we communicate the dangers hidden within the rock? How do we remember to forget?

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