After the Credits Episode 195: September Preview

Andrea Arnold FTW. Every. Single. Time.

Andrea Arnold FTW. Every. Single. Time.

Chalk this up to a cautionary tale. When Dale (Letterboxd), Colleen and I (Letterboxd) gathered last week to record this show, IMDb seemed to be having some sort of crisis of database management, showing movies that were already out as new releases and leaving out a bunch of other titles. This week, the glitch seems to have been fixed but as a result, we missed a number of titles which are (apparently) opening this month.

If anyone out there can recommend another release schedule which may be more accurate, please let us know. As for this episode… the movies we DID talk about are listed below.
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After the Hype #155 – Back to School Battle

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It’s time for another battle episode. This time we go BACK TO SCHOOL with our pal Samantha Garrison and newcomer Kayla Tennity. The films all have one thing in common – they’re awesome. So sit back, grab your number two pencil, and enjoy this trip down memory lane!

SAM | SUPER HERO SAMPLER | FILM TAKEOUT

 

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Blu-Ray Review: From Bedrooms to Billions: The Amiga Years

Director: Anthony Caulfield, Nicola Caulfield
Writers: Anthony Caulfield, Nicola Caulfield
Starring: Shahid Ahmed, Rich Alpin, Brian Bagnall
Country: UK
Running Time: 152 min
Year: 2016
BBFC Certificate: E

A year or so ago I reviewed a crowd-funded documentary about the birth and growth of the British video games industry, called From Bedrooms to Billions. I was impressed by the film, which was much more than the fluffy nostalgia piece I expected. So when I heard they were releasing a follow up, focussing on the Commodore Amiga, I was eager to get a copy to review. It wasn’t only the quality of the previous film that attracted me to From Bedrooms to Billions: The Amiga Years though. Like a lot of Brits around my age, my introduction to video games didn’t come in the form of the Nintendo or Sega consoles. These tended to come out a lot later in the UK and weren’t the be all and end all that they were in the US. We had an alternative, and that was the Commodore Amiga. I had an Acorn Electron computer first, but the games on this were very basic and I was very young. Our family replacement to this was the Amiga 500 though and it opened the floodgates to video gaming for me. The graphics were great, many of the games fantastic and it was modelled on a PC in design, so was more flexible than a pure games console in terms of offering word processor or paint programs etc. I loved it and the computer/console has long held a special place in my heart.

The documentary opens by describing the early history of home video game consoles, particularly those offered by Atari and Commodore (with some mention of what Apple were doing on the home computing front). Some designers working with these companies at the time grew unhappy with the way things were moving and decided to branch out on their own to form a new company, called Amiga. They had plans for a console/computer that would blow their competitors out of the water in terms of power and capabilities, yet cost a fraction of the price of the expensive PC’s available at the time. They struggled for a time, coming up with brilliant ideas, but not having the backing to pull it off. After a successful demonstration at an important trade show however, Amiga got thrown in the middle of a bidding war between Atari and Commodore. This war was made even more messy by the fact that Atari had been taken over by Jack Tramiel, formerly one of the bosses at Commodore.

After the dust had settled and Commodore became the company to release the first Amiga, the computer was launched. The initial system, the Amiga 1000, came out in 1985 (though not widely released until 1986) and struggled to find a market. 1987’s cheaper model, the Amiga 500, was a huge success though (in Europe at least). The graphics and sound capabilities were groundbreaking, allowing for near arcade-quality games at a fraction of the price. The documentary goes on to praise the importance of some of the machine’s innovations and how they helped shape today’s video games industry.

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DVD Review: Nostalgia

Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
Screenplay by: Andrei Tarkovsky, Tonino Guerra
Starring: Oleg Yankovskiy, Erland Josephson, Domiziana Giordano
Country: Italy, Soviet Union
Running Time: 125 min
Year: 1983
BBFC Certificate: 15


I‘m approaching the end of my Tarkovsky marathon. There’s still one to go (The Sacrifice) and I’m running out of ideas for my opening paragraphs. I’ll sum up my journey at the end of the month when I tackle Tarkovsky’s final film, so all I can say about my approach to Nostalgia is that, after working through most of the rest of the director’s oeuvre these past two months, I’ve come to expect a slow, thoughtful, dreamlike style with striking visuals. Nostalgia (a.k.a. Nostalghia) is no different, although I felt it worked better and worse than the other titles in various aspects.

Now, I won’t lie, and this is going to add to some of my comments on previous Tarkovsky reviews that suggest I’m not up to film-buff scratch to be reviewing such lofty titles, but I had to look the film up to put together a short synopsis. It’s not a complicated film, by any means. Scenes and on-screen activity are rather minimal, but, possibly due to writing notes during a key bit of exposition or simply being far too tired to take it all in as usual, I managed to miss the film’s setup and some of the later details were a bit sketchy. From what I gathered afterwards, the film’s protagonist, Russian poet Andrei Gorchakov (Oleg Yankovskiy) is visiting Italy with a guide/interpreter Eugenia (Domiziana Giordano) to research the life of an 18th century Russian composer who had killed himself (this aspect of why he was there is what I missed). In a small rural town he comes across a seemingly crazy man called Domenico (Erland Josephson), who is famous (or rather infamous) for having imprisoned his family in their house for seven years for fear of impending apocalypse. Andrei is strangely drawn to this man, sensing a link between them. Andrei’s dreams of his home and family that he deeply misses become intertwined with dreams of Domenico’s past and when the older man gives the Russian an unusual task he feels duty bound to carry it out.

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Gene Wilder: 1933 – 2016

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Gene Wilder’s version of “Willy Wonka” is a thing of legend. He made us laugh. He freaked us out (i.e. some of us were scarred for life after that infamous boat ride). He made us feel. Good. If a musical chocolate man wasn’t your thing. Perhaps a Young Frankenstein was more your speed. Maybe it was an aging gunslinger fighting the injustice of racism and greed across the lands. A washed up writer road tripping to California to make it big(ger). A Broadway producer hell-bent on making the worst performance of all time. Or maybe just a simple deaf guy on an adventure with his old blind pal, the late, great Richard Pryor. Whatever your flavor, Wilder seemed to be able to always deliver.

Inspiration, “…my dear friends, is 93% perspiration, 6% electricity, 4% evaporation, and 2% butterscotch ripple.”

Sadly, the time has come for Gene to retire to that great big candy store in the sky. Free from all the Wangdoodles, and Hornswogglers, and Snozzwangers, and rotten, Vermicious Knids. Wilder passed away today at the age of 83 due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease. “He simply couldn’t bear the idea of one less smile in the world.” said his nephew in a press release. Well for me, he should have no fear. There’s plenty of Wilder still on my plate that I haven’t gotten around to yet. And I can still watch Willy Wonka 1000 more times and laugh just as hard as I did the first 1000 times I watched it.

So while there is still more to see, I’m saddened by this passing and the world will certainly miss his entertaining, big-hearted hysterics. Luckily, his legacy will live on and we really have nothing to frown about. You can rest in peace sir, knowing that you made a lot of children and adults very happy very many many years. And will continue to do so.

Blu-Ray Review: The Flight of the Phoenix

Director: Robert Aldrich
Screenplay: Lukas Heller
Based on a Novel by: Trevor Dudley Smith
Starring: James Stewart, Richard Attenborough, Hardy Krüger, Peter Finch, Ronald Fraser, Ernest Borgnine, Ian Bannen, George Kennedy, Dan Duryea
Country: USA
Running Time: 144 min
Year: 1965
BBFC Certificate: PG


Watching Robert Aldrich’s 1965 film The Flight of the Phoenix for the first time last night presented me with a fairly unusual situation where I’d seen a remake prior to the original. I saw the 2004 Flight of the Phoenix (one of the changes was to drop the ‘the’) a few years ago and quite enjoyed it, but didn’t think it was anything special (incidentally, the making of documentary on the UK DVD made more of an impact, as I felt it was one of the best I’d seen for a modern release). This underwhelming response didn’t stop me from showing interest in watching the original though. On top of the fantastic cast, which I’ll come to later, having Robert Aldrich in the director’s chair appealed to me. I’ve not seen many of his films, but those I have, particularly Kiss Me Deadly and The Dirty Dozen, are very much in line with my tastes – i.e. thrilling entertainment with a dark edge. The Flight of the Phoenix wasn’t one of his most commercial successes, but it has garnered a fair amount of respect and acclaim over the years, so it was a title of his I had on my radar and I was keen to get my hands on a screener when my friends at Eureka offered me one.

The Flight of the Phoenix sets things up very efficiently, with a group of oil men and British soldiers sharing a flight across the Sahara desert, which soon comes into trouble (stylishly during the credits) as it hits a sandstorm and crash lands in the sand. Most of the passengers and crew make it through the crash alive, with only two deaths and one severe injury, but the survivors are left stranded in the harsh, unforgiving landscape of the Sahara, with little chance of rescue due to being 130 miles off their due course. Nevertheless, the group try to stay alive as long as possible and wait for a plane to pass by. A young German passenger, Heinrich Dorfmann (Hardy Krüger), has another suggestion though. He’s an aircraft designer and claims that another plane can be constructed from the remains of the aircraft that dropped them there. This is dismissed as madness at first, but the cold and calculated Dorfmann eventually convinces the desperate crew and they get to work, using what little strength and resources they have, to build ‘The Phoenix’ and fly back to civilization.

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Cinecast Episode 454 – What Won’t You Be Having?

We apologize profusely for the weird sound issues on this episode. We got a new rig in the studio and it might take an episode or three to get all of the kinks worked out. So please bear with us. In the meantime, we’ve got some good stuff to talk about this week. Indie “horror” kicks it up a notch in the silent but deadly, Don’t Breathe (SPOILERS!). Next up, the tragically underseen Hell or High Water (SPOILERS!) recalls some other contemporary westerns and steals from all over the place, yet still feels surprisingly fresh. Like we say on the show, if this ain’t on our top ten list at the end of the year, get ready for a helluva final three months in the cinema for 2016. Our DePalma retrospective continues this week with the delightfully crappy, Snake Eyes. How about that one continuous take for an opening eh? And how about that hurricane performance? We finish off with Kubrick making funny out of not funny, Mel Gibson doing what Gibson does best (getting angry and blowing things up) and some joyous music making from John Carney. Next week will see more DePalma and probably some Scandinavian genre fare from Stellan Skarsgård.

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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Sunday Video Essay: Memories of Murder

Adrian Martin and Christina Álvarez López wonderfully elaborate on the visual motifs and themes of art-house procedural (and my personal favourite South Korean film) Memories Of Murder. They sagely compare it to Zodiac, even though, in fact, Bong Joon-Ho’s film came out half a decade prior. Obviously there are spoilers in here, nevertheless, much like David Fincher’s film, the film is a difficult one to spoil in conventional ways. Want to know why I always point out and highlight (on the Cinecast) that Song Kang-Ho as a brilliant actor, you can see it even in the short snippets and contextual clips presented herein.

A Guest Appearance on The Cinereelist Podcast

Probably my favorite movie related podcast at the moment is The Cinereelists show. It’s gotten me back into chatting about lists again and using LetterBoxd for all its worth and glory as well getting to yell at my phone once in a while as the hosts struggle through some games.

This week I got to guest on not one, but two shows! On Monday James and Zach and I chatted for a bit about our Top 5 Litmus Test films – described in a little more detail on the show. And then for release today, we did a games episode that featured “Chain Reaction” as well as “Me, Myself and Irate.” We had a good time and I’m sure Kurt’s influence on me caused me to make this one of their longer shows in the archive.

Stop by Cinereelists.com and subscribe to their show! Or at least have a listen to the two episode I participated in if you’re running low of online movie discussion:

Andrew on Litmus Test Lists
Andrew on Movie Games Friday

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