Review: The Sunset Limited

Director: Tommy Lee Jones
Screenplay: Cormac McCarthy
Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Samuel L. Jackson
MPAA Rating: NR
Running time: 90 mins

There are very few living American authors as prolific and important as Cormac McCarthy. Notoriously private yet famously curious, McCarthy has had a career that has ranged nearly five decades, yet throughout the years he has subjected himself to only a tiny handful of interviews, while making himself extremely accessible to those who work at the Santa Fe Institute, a science research center where he has his own office (and is considered “resident faculty”) and spends much of his time studying the sciences and conversing with intellectuals. Until his recognition with the National Book Award for his brutal 1992 romantic western All the Pretty Horses, he was mostly a well-kept secret among literary snobs, but it wouldn’t be until his Pulitzer-winning and Oprah-approved The Road that he would reach serious widespread appeal and acclaim. The rest has been history as McCarthy, now in his late-seventies, is enjoying more success than he could have ever imagined and his works keep attracting the eye of Hollywood’s talent – and the latest adaptation of his work, The Sunset Limited (which he actually adapted for the screen himself), might be the most interesting adaptation of his work yet.

The Sunset Limited has only one set piece. It has only two actors. It has only one continuous conversation that plays out over the course of ninety minutes, yet when those ninety minutes end, you will wonder why the conversation was cut so short. The story begins with two nameless men, a evangelical African American ex-convict (Jackson) and a white atheist professor (Jones). Early on in their conversation, we learn that the ex-convict, whose New York City apartment the two are now at, has just saved the professor from committing suicide on a train platform. The remainder of the film, we watch the two as they discuss and debate God, life, death, and the justification of the professor’s suicide.

The film relies solely on the brilliantly theatrical performances of two extremely talented acting veterans and, more importantly, the writing by a real master of dialogue. It will come to no surprise to those who watch it that McCarthy’s original publication was subtitled “A Novel in Dramatic Form.” For those who have read any McCarthy, the tone and some of the discussion will be familiar, but the execution in The Sunset Limited is masterful. Written only in 2006, the discussions between these two polar opposites seem to be a culmination of everything McCarthy has distinguished concerning mankind over his long life, playing out right there on the screen for us to watch as we battle with the questions being discussed ourselves. For those who enjoy McCarthy’s writing and adaptations or philosophical, dialogue-driven films such as The Man from Earth (our review), this will be right up your alley – and it is bound to end up on many best-of lists come the end of the year.

VOD Review: Truth in Numbers?

My son recently had a french class project to do on foreign countries (his was Mexico) where the goal was to gather a lot of facts and points of interest in a simple table format. The suggestion was to go online and do research. While I supposed we could have gone down in the basement and blew the dust of the Funk & Wagnalls set that has not seen the light of day since the late 1980s, of course we just went to Wikipedia. All the information was right there. Of course, my son is in Grade 1 and it was more or less, ‘Just the Facts Ma’am,’ for this assignment. More challenging would be a grade 12 project on the life and politics of VP-candidate John Edwards or say the Abortion issue, but that will come later. For math, science and basic facts, Wikipedia is a magnificent resource for one-click shopping and links if you want to go deeper. Complex human social problems, and fuzzy ‘big issue’ science (climate change, cigarette smoking) or pretty much all of ‘capital-H’ History, well then the equation is not so simple.

Would you like to know more…?

Mamo #193: The Oscar Speech

James Franco! Anne Hathaway! Kirk Douglas! Natalie Portman’s unborn child! It was Oscar Night 2011, in which we “live”-podcasted throughout. If you weren’t here to follow along, you can now download the entire evening’s efforts in one easily-digestible, highly-caffeinated show. Thanks for listening!

To download this podcast directly, use this URL:

Mamo #192: Oscar Camp

Live from Podcamp Toronto 2011! Matt (@mattmovies) and Matt (@tederick) host an informal free-for-all Mamo on the Oscars, and podcasting in general, in a very echoey room – guest-starring a few old friends and a few new friends. Let’s call this experiment a success: ride the gain a little, and enjoy a crowd-sourced Mamo.

And please join us tomorrow night for our “live” Oscar show! In addition to our usual all-night podcast (available at, we’ll be participating in the CBC’s online Oscar chat – check it out!

To download this MP3 directly, use this URL:


83rd Annual Academy Award Winners [Oscars]

“Maybe, tonight,” sings Nicole Atkins, as the same thought runs through countless Hollywood celebs today as we gear up for the big night. Today sadly sort of officially marks the end of the 2010 movie season. But if you’re a glass is half full kind of person, it also marks the beginning of what is shaping up to be a glorious year for film in 2011. That’s right; Oscar night gets underway tonight at 8pm ET live on ABC at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood. Of course all of the awkwardness of the red carpet will be starting well before that. To get in on the action with the rest of us here in the third row, be sure to check out our Live Blog/Chat session and hang with all the cool kids.

With all the going on, this post will hopefully be updating the winners (in blazing red) as they are announced. So lots going on with everyone in the third row. Again, stop by the chatroom for all the action during the show. For post-ceremony banter, come back here and keep the conversation going in our comment section below.

The Social Network
Black Swan
The Fighter
True Grit
Toy Story 3
The King’s Speech
127 Hours
The Kids Are All Right
Winter’s Bone

Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan)
David Fincher (The Social Network)
Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech)
Joel and Ethan Coen (True Grit)
David O. Russell (The Fighter

Colin Firth (The King’s Speech)
James Franco (127 Hours)
Jeff Bridges (True Grit)
Javier Bardem (Biutiful)
Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network)

Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right)
Natalie Portman (Black Swan)
Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone)
Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine)
Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole)

Christian Bale (The Fighter)
Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are All Right)
Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech)
Jeremy Renner (The Town)
John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone)

Jackie Weaver (Animal Kingdom)
Helena Bonham Carter (The King’s Speech)
Melissa Leo (The Fighter)
Amy Adams (The Fighter)
Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit)

Another Year
The Fighter
The Kdis are All Right
King’s Speech

127 Hours
Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter’s Bone

In a Better World
Outside the Law

How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
Toy Story 3

Would you like to know more…?

Independent Spirit Award Winners

Less money = more fun. At least that’s how IFC sees it. Looks like Black Swan pretty much ran away with it. Here are all of the nominees and the winners (in red) from today’s Independent Spirit Awards…

127 Hours
Black Swan
The Kids Are All Right
Winter’s Bone

Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
Danny Boyle, 127 Hours
Lisa Cholodenko, The Kids Are All Right
Debra Granik, Winter’s Bone
John Cameron Mitchell, Rabbit Hole

Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Greta Gerwig, Greenberg
Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone
Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine

Ronald Bronstein, Daddy Longlegs
Aaron Eckhart, Rabbit Hole
James Franco, 127 Hours
John C. Reilly, Cyrus
Ben Stiller, Greenberg

Ashley Bell, The Last Exorcism
Dale Dickey, Winter’s Bone
Allison Janney, Life During Wartime
Daphne Rubin-Vega, Jack Goes Boating
Naomi Watts, Mother and Child

John Hawkes, Winter’s Bone
Samuel L. Jackson, Mother and Child
Bill Murray, Get Low
John Ortiz, Jack Goes Boating
Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right

more categories/nominations under the seats…
Would you like to know more…?

If We Picked the Winners

As an excuse to post yet another list and to proclaim to the world that we think we know everything, the third row thought it might be fun to see who would come out on top in the various categories if we were allowed to pick the nominees and the winners. So for the best in film for 2010, forget about the schlocky and out of touch crew that is the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science and check out the definitive list of winners below decided upon by the admins here at RowThree. We fully expect David Fincher to drop by the studio one of these to collect any prize that might be coming his way (a DVD of The Social Network).

Aside from “Best Picture” (which you can see here), everyone here sort of just put forth a series of suggestions for potential nominees. I took the most mentioned nominees and made a short list of five. We then all voted and here are the declarative winners (nominations are presented in alphabetical order)…


And the nominees are:
Darren Aronofsky – Black Swan
Danny Boyle – 127 Hours
David Fincher – The Social Network
Mike Leigh – Another Year
Roman Polanski – Ghost Writer

And the winner is…
Darren Aronofsky – Black Swan


And the nominees are:
Katie Jarvis – Fish Tank
Jennifer Lawrence – Winter’s Bone
Leslie Manville – Another Year
Natalie Portman – Black Swan
Jackie Weaver – Animal Kingdom

And the winner is…
Leslie Manville – Another Year


And the nominees are:
Jeff Bridges / Matt Damon (duo) – True Grit
Colin Firth – The King’s Speech
Ryan Gosling – Blue Valentine
John Hawkes – Winter’s Bone
Mark Ruffalo – The Kids are Alright

And the winner is…
Ryan Gosling – Blue Valentine

The rest of the winners are under the seats…
Would you like to know more…?

Mamo’s Oscar weekend

Mamo has a lot going on this weekend! Here’s the rundown of where and when we’ll be doing what we do:

On Saturday, we’ll be attending Podcamp Toronto, and will present a session and record a show. Please follow us on Twitter (@tederick and @mattmovies), or keep an eye on the #mamopod hashtag, which we will be using to take live feedback during the day – and during the podcast. Our session is scheduled for 4:30 on Saturday, in RCC 203.

The show recorded Saturday will be our Oscar prediction / discussion show. If you can make it to Podcamp, please do! We will be taking live comments and wild theories and accusations from the crowd!

On Sunday night, we’ll be participating in an online chat on the CBC. That chat will be taking place here, if you’d like to follow along.

Also on Sunday night, of course, we will be doing our usual “live” Oscar show! As in previous years, this show is composed of short segments (3-5 minutes long) which we upload to our blogspot site all night long. You can download the segments as the show unfolds, or wait till the next morning, when an omnibus post will collect them into a single episode.

Enjoy Oscar weekend!

“That’s how dad did it, that’s how America does it… and it’s worked out pretty well so far.”