After the Credits Episode 106: Whistler Film Festival 2011 Preview

Did someone say Whistler?!?

The festival actually kicks off today with an opening night screening of Jason Reitman’s Young Adult but we, yes, I said we, are way too cool for Diablo Cody. Colleen (Mary Ostler Wood Butchery & Other Stuff) and I have been talking this festival up so much over the last year that we’ve even convinced Dale (Digital Doodles), among a few others, to join us for the fun. The line-up is spectacular (Dangerous Method, Manborg among others), the stars many (Michael Shannon and Jay Baruchel are both being honoured) and the booze will flow. Oh yes, there will be parties and I may actually make it out to one of them this year. Listen in for our rambling take on this year’s festival and stay tuned for a post fest wrap in a few days time! Full festival details by clicking on the banner below. It’s not too late to join the fun!

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Have a look at Daniel Day-Lewis with his Lincoln beard.

It has been quite some time since Spielberg has excited audiences – by my calculations, the last time was with his 2005 masterpiece Munich. Lately, it seems he is more interested in the producing side of filmmaking than the directing – although he now has The Adventures of Tintin and War Horse, neither of which excite me in the least, being released by year’s end.

Today though, I stumbled across a photograph that had me all excited. The photo, snapped by an onlooker, is simple: Daniel Day-Lewis eating out for lunch. But as you have already put together from the photo and the title of this post, this snapped picture has Day-Lewis sporting his best Abraham Lincoln beard – and boy, he looks awesome.

The long in the works Lincoln has evolved quite a bit over the past decade in which Spielberg said he was going to film it. Focusing on the last four months of President Lincoln’s life, it looks like the wait will be well worth it. Just to name a few of the other stars in the absolutely monster cast, the movie will include: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tommy Lee Jones, James Spader, Lee Pace, Sally Field, Jackie Earle Haley (Little Children, Watchmen), John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone, “Deadwood”), Jared Harris (“Mad Men”), David Strathairn (Good Night and Good Luck), Walton Goggins (“Justified,” “The Shield”), Hal Holbrook (Into the Wild, Water for Elephants), Tim Blake Nelson (O Brother, Where Art Thou?), Bruce McGill, and Joseph Cross.

What do think? Will you miss the original idea of Liam Neeson as Lincoln or is Daniel Day-Lewis going to crush this performance? Will this be Spielberg back in top form or should we hold onto our britches before getting too excited?

Mamo #229: Mugo Mamo Muppet Mo

Yanksgiving and Black Friday are squarely behind us, and the tripartite battle between November’s family films (and Breaking Dawn) is done! Let’s look at The Muppets, and Hugo, in an all-new podtacular Mamo.

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Cinecast Episode 236 – Ocular Coitus

While our friend Matt Gamble is still on the mend (not from a boating accident), Kurt and Andrew grew a bit tired of executing these shows together all alone and reached towards the heavens above for this episodes guest host: Aaron Hartung (aka the dude who lives upstairs). Aaron also happens to work for the best cinema chain in town, Landmark Theaters; not only does he seem to know his movie stuff, he’s got a voice for radio to boot.

We missed last week’s episode due to other obligations and illness, there is a LOT to get to this week. From Lars von Trier’s visually rich disaster/depression epic to the long awaited new Alexander Payne film (it has indeed been six years) we cover your auteur cinema-making-guys. But wait, there’s more: Fifties sex icons, furry-little-singing-nostalgia-engines(tm) and a whole lot of early cinema history enshrined in a Martin Scorsese ‘kids film.’ Enjoy this double-digest episode of the show: It’s time to start the music, it’s time to light the lights, it’s time to talk death, depression and the urgent need for knowing our history on the Cinecast tonight.

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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2011 Independent Spirit Award Nominees

Here we go again. The award season is upon us. Love them or hate them, movie awards season is just a part of a cinema-blogger’s life. You can take them seriously or take them with a grain of salt. Either way, you gotta take ’em. Probably taking things as least seriously as possible are the annual Spirit Awards. For the most part, these are the films that you didn’t see in the multi-plex, ergo probably worth taking note of.

Myself, I’m a big fan of many of the films on this year’s nominations list (Another Earth, Yay!). So it will be fun to see all these stars make their way down the very casual and sometimes drunken, red carpet in late February (the 25th, the day before the Oscars) to see who will make the biggest fool of themselves on stage.

For those of you keeping count, Take Shelter and The Artist were the two leaders in these nominations with 5 nods each. The Descendants came out with 4 (all three films up for best feature). But here are all of the nominees for this year’s awards. The “big” ones are up top, hit the jump to look under the seats and see the rest of the nominees. Then sound off in the comment section. Anything you’re particularly happy to see? Something you’re oh so happy did not make the cut? Something or someone that got snubbed (The Skin I Live In!!!?!??!)? I’m curious…

Best Feature:
Take Shelter
The Artist
The Descendants

Best Director:
Mike Mills, Beginners
Nicolas Winding Refn, Drive
Jeff Nichols, Take Shelter
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Alexander Payne, The Descendants

Best First Feature:
Another Earth
In The Family
Margin Call
Martha Marcy May Marlene
Natural Selection

Best Male Lead:
Demian Bichir, A Better Life
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Ryan Gosling, Drive
Woody Harrelson, Rampart
Michael Shannon, Take Shelter

Best Female Lead:
Lauren Ambrose, Think of Me
Rachel Harris, Natural Selection
Adepero Oduye, Pariah
Elizabeth Olsen, Martha Marcy May Marlene
Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn

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Finite Focus: How to Smoke a Joint (Taking Off)

Before Milos Forman was the Oscar-winning director of Amadeus and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, he was one of the foremost directors of the Czechoslovak New Wave, bringing French New Wave sensibilities to a Czechoslovak setting (but calling on universal themes) in films like Black Peter, Loves of a Blonde, and The Fireman’s Ball. In between those two career phases, he made his Hollywood debut with Taking Off (1971), made while he was still struggling with English and having to rely on writer/actor Buck Henry to help him with the line readings. But that doesn’t seem to matter too much, and the film, though something of an oddity, is more compelling than you might imagine.

Generally, it’s the story of a young girl who wants to be free from her parents’ loving but old-fashioned home and joins up with a group of free-loving hippies. But the film doesn’t focus on her, aside from a few sequences where we’re privy to a sort of impromptu concert from future stars like Carly Simon and a young Kathy Bates (billed as Bobo Bates), who provide a sort of wistful soundtrack. The rest of the time, we’re with her parents, searching for her fruitlessly, not really knowing where to turn until they stumble upon some other parents in the same situation and discover there’s a whole support group – the Society for the Parents of Lost Children, or SPLC for short. At one of the meetings of the SPLC, the leader suggests that everybody try marijuana – you know, to understand what their children are experiencing.

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This Thing I Need to Say about Film & Then I am Done

 – Falconetti in La Passione de Jeanne d’Arc

When it comes to jazz I am hopelessly tone-deaf, I understand it only as an absence of sensation.  Were I to rigorously devote myself perhaps I could, given enough time, feel it in my bones the way it is intended.  Or maybe it is a hardware issue beyond me to remedy, I don’t know.  I can accept that we may not all be wired the same way, and when it comes to aesthetics there are inevitable impasses.

I wish to write about a fugitive aspect of cinema that goes mostly unspoken in reviews and reduced to verbiage in academic papers.  It is sort of formless, messy, and brings with it nothing but shame and feelings of inadequacy to those who try to naïvely ensnare it with words; it seems unspoken for a reason, because it bears out its meaning like a zen koan: to point at it is not to capture it.  However, I am stubborn and frustrated with conversations I have had regarding the virtues of cinema that I shall go through with this stupid task.  The tone-deaf may read on blankly or click away.

In the final minutes of the behind-the-scenes documentary of the Criterion version of Soderbergh’s Che, the director laments the state of the modern day cinema-going experience: “There is no illumination anymore, people see a film and five minutes later they are preoccupied with where they are going to eat”. The issue lies squarely with the audience, not the product. The jazz is there, I just can’t hear it, and likewise the illuminations are there, but some of us can’t adequately experience them. I agree with this sentiment.  Differences of taste occur, and I am not here to deny them, but there is something to be said for a mutual foundational understanding of what modes of experience may be read within the frame, whether you like them or not. Taste ought not to trump experience, it shouldn’t blind one of the modes of experience available to a particular captured moment. I am not so clever that I can erase what Che involves in its presentation by writing a particular nasty review opposed to it; its resistance to conventions of biographical storytelling and its languid preoccupation with the lived-in moments of the protagonist’s life is not up to a matter of taste but palpable to anyone who has the faintest grasp of what came before. The stimuli for illumination is there just like the jazz notes are there, it is not a lack of examples, and therefore not a lacking in cinema, but of the character of those who gravitate to it.

So what is this alternative way through which cinema may be experienced?  Simply put: patiently, one frame at a time.  As viewers we have grown into the habit of privileging the aggregate meanings of a film over, and to the disregard of, the immediate.  We scarcely have a terminology for the micro-bursts of illumination, but we have libraries full of tomes written on their ciphers.

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DVD Review: Our Idiot Brother

Our Idiot Brother DVD Cover

Director: Jesse Peretz
Screenplay: David Schisgall, Evgenia Peretz
Producers: Anthony Bregman, Peter Saraf, Marc Turtletaub
Starring: Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer, Emily Mortimer, Rashida Jones, Steve Coogan, Hugh Dancy
MPAA Rating: R (14A in Canada)
Running time: 90 min.

Every family has one. A guy or gal who doesn’t fit in and that, if you didn’t know any better, you would swear didn’t belong to the family. In the case of the tight knit family at the centre of Our Idiot Brother, that person is Ned. Though the film’s title, Our Idiot Brother, bluntly states that suggests Ned an idiot, he’s really not. He’s just a bit of a hippie, a guy who doesn’t put much stock on money and whose joys in life are small: his dog, his girlfriend and his family. He’s also a bit too trustworthy and this trait gets him into a bit of hot water.

Our Idiot Brother StillWhile selling his wares at the local farmer’s market, Ned is approached by the local cop who gives Ned a sap story about a bad week that he needs unwinding from. He’s looking for a bit of pot and after some haggling, Ned gives in and offers the guy a bag-o-weed. The cop forces $20 on Ned before arresting him for the sale of narcotics. Oops. Ned heads off to jail where he spends eight glorious months working and making new friends. Upon his release he returns to the farm he shared with his girlfriend, a cookie cutter modern hippy who calls everyone “Dude,” to find that he’s been replaced by a guy even more clueless than he is. With his meagre belongings in tow, he heads to the city to bunk with his mother and to find some way to raise the $1,000 he needs to rent the chicken barn at the back of the farm all so he can be closer to his dog Willy Nelson who his girlfriend has, essentially, taken hostage.
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