Doomsday Marathon: On The Beach

Doomsday Movie Marathon

On The Beach

Year: 1959
Director: Stanley Kramer
Written by: John Paxton based on a novel by Nevil Shute
Starring: Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire, Anthony Perkins
Duration: 129 min

On The Beach is a film that I randomly purchased as part of a cheap 10-film boxset, and to be honest I half expected never to watch it. There were better films in the set (Twelve Angry Men and The Apartment, two of my personal favourites), it looked like it would be very melodramatic and I’ve got far too many more interesting films in my collection that I’ve not got round to watching. However, when I was invited by the fine people at Row Three to contribute towards the site and was looking through the Doomsday Marathon listings for inspiration, it dawned on me. I had just the right DVD to review gathering dust in my overcrowded boxset section.

On The Beach, in content terms at least, is the ultimate doomsday film. It is, purely and simply, about the end of human life on Earth. The film is set in Australia, the last uncontaminated place on the planet after a global nuclear war. The plot basically follows a number of survivors gradually coming to terms with the fact that they will die within a matter of months. There is never any happy ending on the horizon, no last minute solution to the problem and no secret bunker or space-flight to safety. It may sound like I’m ruining the film, but you’d be a fool to expect anything else once you’ve got through the first half an hour or so.

As you’ve probably gathered, this is a pretty bleak film with a clear message. On The Beach was released in 1959 when the world was terrified of nuclear war and it’s horrific consequences. Dozens of films at the time tackled the issues of the Cold War and the atomic threat through thinly veiled metaphorical sci-fi plots such as Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Day The Earth Stood Still, but On The Beach went straight for the jugular and showed us what was going to happen if the worst came to the worst. It was surprisingly successful at the time, given the sombre tone, but then again it was a big budget film with an all star cast. It’s relatively forgotten these days though, I knew very little about it before I bought it, so the question is how does it hold up today?

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Mamo #156: Spicy Mustard


We finally come to you from the welcoming environs of my favorite Toronto restaurant, Caplansky’s Deli in the heart of the Kensington Market district. Between delectable bites of smoky cured meats we take a second pass at the relative success of Twilight: New Moon, the relative failure of The Fantastic Mr. Fox, and the before release backlash (Frontlash?!?) directed at James Cameron and Avatar. Enjoy the latest Mamo, now with the spicy mustard.

COMBO – Another BLU Animation

Almost two years ago now, we posted this little bit of animation by an artist known only as blu. Collaborating with artist David Ellis they’ve gone ahead and topped(?) their last outing. I like the use of three dimensional object and more color in this newest venture, but I personally like the older one better. For one, I don’t like seeing the artists in the stop motion. I prefer to just see the animation as it seemingly takes its form on its own. Still, this is some pretty impressive stuff. If you have a couple of minutes, definitely check this out.

produced by studio cromie
music by Roberto Lange


Review: Up In The Air


George Clooney has come full circle in his stardom. Getting a romantic and engaging ‘time-out’ with Jennifer Lopez after she blows off a couple of traveling corporate types flirting in the lounge, his character in the latest Jason Reitman comedy, Ryan Bingham, is exactly one of those transient and boring corporate drones. Being George Clooney (particularly in a suit) he still manages to find a willing and no-strings-attached lady friend in the gorgeous and mature Vera Farmiga. But I am getting ahead of myself here, Ryan makes a living downsizing employees for corporations timid (for personal or legal reasons) of doing the dirty work (involuntary severance packages). This means a lot of time on the road between auto companies and banking institutions, you know the places hit the hardest in late 2008.

Bingham has also downsized his own life, whether because of the emotional toll his job takes (albeit is is damn good at it), or for other less clear reasons, to become the self-described “wealthiest homeless man in America.” No long term relationships and little connection with his extended family, he is happy to only spend a small fraction of the year in his tiny barely adorned apartment. Instead his existence is all transience and freedom; in hotel suites, courtesy lounges and other travel-holding zones across America. All the while collecting loyalty points. Lots and lots of Loyalty points. It is not the money or the ability to travel around the world several times on his accumulated tally, it is the status of the thing. He is proud and confident to skip airport and check-in, to board and exit airports in the most efficient manner possible rewarded by his status, but also has the goal of hitting a point total that earns him a recognition only 7 other people have achieved in their lifetime (“less than have walked on the moon”) and he is well under 50.

Much like his life, his baggage is smallest of carry on bags packed efficiently with neat, anonymous suits and toiletries. Rolling smoothly along from town to town he also gives paid talks on how to be the most efficient business traveler, using an empty backpack as a metaphor for mobility and movement as a metaphor for life. Material things like a house or a car weigh you down, and relationships are the heaviest, he pontificates to the other road warriors. The philosophy he spouts in his ballroom seminars is practically a pithy and institutionalized version of Tyler Durden’s 20th century ‘freedom-from-stuff monologues’ in Fight Club. Ironic that Bingham (the shiny mirror image of ragged Durden) is often wearing that cornflower blue tie to match his pressed suits. Philosophy is so malleable these days.

Would you like to know more…?

Sundance Announces Competition Line-Up

Sundance Film FestivalFifty-eight films. 3,724 submissions. Four categories. Andrew’s already posted the Premier and Park City at Midnight Sundance line-ups, and yesterday the festival announced the competition films, in U.S. and worldwide narrative and documentary categories. It looks like it could be quite a good year in Park City this year, with a lot of indie darlings turning up for their dose of Sundance exposure.

I’m not going to make it to Sundance this year (someday, someday!), but I’ll be keeping a close eye on several of these once coverage of the festival starts trickling out. Those of you going better keep your Twitter accounts updated, that’s all I’m saying! I’m going to need to know if my How I Met Your Mother-inspired crush on Josh Radnor will survive a film with an overly cutsey title like happythankyoumoreplease. Or if a film (Hesher) starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Natalie Portman, and Rainn Wilson could be anything less than awesome (seeing images of JGL during filming actually makes me wonder…). And whether Mark Ruffalo can manage to get Orlando Bloom to act (Sympathy for Delicious) – perhaps with Laura Linney’s help, he can! And of course, which films come out of nowhere that end up being better than any of the ones with recognizable stars or directors. That I will also need to know.

U.S. Dramatic Competition

Blue Valentine (Director: Derek Cianfrance; Screenwriters: Derek Cianfrance, Cami Delavigne and Joey Curtis) —Blue Valentine is the story of love lost and love found told in two parallel moments in time. Flooded with romantic memories of their courtship, Dean and Cindy use one night to try and save their failing marriage. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams star in this honest portrait of a relationship on the rocks. Cast: Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams, Mike Vogel, John Doman, Faith Wladyka. World Premiere

Douchebag (Director: Drake Doremus; Screenwriters: Lindsay Stidham, Drake Doremus, Jonathan Schwartz and Andrew Dickler) —On the verge of getting married, Sam Nussbaum insists he escort his younger brother, Tom, on a wild goose chase of a journey to find Tom’s fifth grade girlfriend. Cast: Andrew Dickler, Ben York Jones, Marguerite Moreau, Nicole Vicius, Amy Ferguson, Wendi McClendon-Covey. World Premiere

The Dry Land (Director and screenwriter: Ryan Piers Williams)—A U.S. soldier returning home from war struggles to reconcile his experiences abroad with the life and family he left in Texas. Cast: Ryan O’Nan, America Ferrera, Wilmer Valderrama, Ethan Suplee, June Diane Raphael, Melissa Leo. World Premiere

happythankyoumoreplease (Director and screenwriter: Josh Radnor)—Six New Yorkers negotiate love, friendship, and gratitude at a time when they’re too old to be precocious and not ready to be adults. Cast: Malin Akerman, Josh Radnor, Kate Mara, Zoe Kazan, Tony Hale, Pablo Schreiber, Michael Algieri. World Premiere

Hesher (Director: Spencer Susser; Screenwriters: Spencer Susser and David Michod; Story by Brian Charles Frank)—A mysterious, anarchical trickster descends on the lives of a family struggling to deal with a painful loss. Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Natalie Portman, Rainn Wilson, Devin Brochu, Piper Laurie, John Carroll Lynch. World Premiere

Holy Rollers (Director: Kevin Tyler Asch; Screenwriter: Antonio Macia)—A young Hasidic man, seduced by money, power and opportunity, becomes an international Ecstasy smuggler. Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Bartha, Danny A. Abeckaser, Ari Graynor, Jason Fuchs. World Premiere

Howl (Directors and screenwriters: Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman)—A nonfiction drama about the young Allen Ginsberg finding his voice, the creation of his groundbreaking poem HOWL, and the landmark obscenity trial that followed. Cast: James Franco, David Strathairn, Jon Hamm, Mary-Louise Parker, Jeff Daniels. World Premiere

The Imperialists are still Alive! (Director and screenwriter: Zeina Durra)—Juggling the sudden abduction of her childhood sweetheart as well as a blooming love affair, a French Manhattanite makes her way as an artist in an indifferent, sometimes hostile world. Cast: Élodie Bouchez, José María de Tavira, Karim Saleh Karolina Muller, Marianna Kulukundis, Rita Ackerman. World Premiere

Lovers of Hate (Director and screenwriter: Bryan Poyser)—The shaky reunion of estranged brothers takes a turn for the worse when the woman they both love chooses one over the other. Cast: Chris Doubek, Heather Kafka, Alex Karpovsky, Zach Green. World Premiere

Night Catches Us (Director and screenwriter: Tanya Hamilton)—In 1978, complex political and emotional forces are set in motion when a young man returns to the race-torn Philadelphia neighborhood where he came of age during the Black Power movement. Cast: Anthony Mackie, Kerry Washington, Jamie Hector, Wendell Pierce, Jamara Griffin. World Premiere

Obselidia (Director and screenwriter: Diane Bell)—A lonely librarian believes love is obsolete until a road trip to Death Valley with a beguiling cinema projectionist teaches him otherwise. Cast: Gaynor Howe, Michael Piccirilli, Frank Hoyt Taylor. World Premiere

Skateland (Director: Anthony Burns; Screenwriters: Anthony Burns, Brandon Freeman, Heath Freeman)—In the early 1980s, in small-town Texas, dramatic events force a 19-year-old skating rink manager to look at his life in a very new way. Cast: Shiloh Fernandez, A.J. Buckley, Ashley Greene, Brett Cullen, Ellen Hollman, Heath Freeman. World Premiere

Sympathy for Delicious (Director: Mark Ruffalo; Screenwriter: Christopher Thornton)—A newly paralyzed DJ gets more than he bargained for when he seeks out the world of faith healing. Cast: Orlando Bloom, Mark Ruffalo, Juliette Lewis, Laura Linney, John Carroll Lynch. World Premiere

3 Backyards (Director and screenwriter: Eric Mendelsohn)—A quiet suburban town becomes an intense emotional terrain for three residents over the course of one curious autumn day. Cast: Embeth Davidtz, Edie Falco, Elias Koteas, Rachel Resheff, Kathryn Erbe, Danai Gurira. World Premiere

Welcome to the Rileys (Director: Jake Scott; Screenwriter: Ken Hixon)—On a business trip to New Orleans, a damaged man seeks salvation by caring for a wayward young woman. Cast: James Gandolfini, Kristen Stewart, Melissa Leo. World Premiere

Winter’s Bone (Director: Debra Granik; Screenwriters: Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini)—An unflinching Ozark Mountain girl hacks through dangerous social terrain as she hunts down her drug-dealing father while trying to keep her family intact. Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes, Dale Dickey, Garret Dillahunt, Kevin Breznahan. World Premiere


World cinema and documentary line-ups under the seat.

Would you like to know more…?

Beyond The Canon


As we near the end of not only 2009, but also the decade of “The Naughts”, we movie buffs turn our attention to lists. Glorious lists. Top 10s, Top 50s, Best ofs, Worst ofs and all the rest. Along with the lists though, come the anti-list brigades. The onslaught of comments about how useless lists are, how they always represent the same small crop of movies and how they don’t represent the complainer’s personal tastes (which leads one to wonder if the list did match their tastes, would they still complain?). Some people just really hate lists.

This was never more apparent than when the Online Film Community Top 100 films of all time was published a few years ago. The thought was an interesting one – gather numerous bloggers and online film buffs and have them put together their “canon” of top films to see how it compares to the same old same old lists that always have “Citizen Kane”, “Casablanca” and “Vertigo”. Nothing wrong with those films of course, but there was the idea that the online community might come up with something different…What hidden gems might the community rally around? How might this newer generation of film critics (mostly non-professional of course) expand the canon of great films? As it turned out, neither of those questions had hugely satisfactory answers – the resulting list was different in many ways than existing canon lists (pulling in more action/sci-fi/genre titles as well as recent features), but it didn’t really unearth any surprises since many of the individual “different” films selected were sifted out when the data was rolled up. Which is fair enough and should be expected since any list that pulls together more than, say, 10 people’s individual lists will weed out the stuff that is “different”. That’s just the nature of the task (and to be fair to the fine gentlemen who initiated the project, wasn’t really their intent anyway). The list, however, generated discussion – and movie geeks love discussion…


So Iain Stott thought he would try to generate some more discussion with a new list and to do it in a novel way. His idea was to come up with a secondary “canon” of films – something Beyond The Canon. He thought that some of the most interesting parts of these consolidated lists were the dark corners of the individual taste which contained those movies that the listmakers loved and thought deserved wider recognition, but never made the final cut because they wouldn’t receive enough votes. He wondered what would happen if we lopped off that top heavy section of “standard” favourites and found what lurked just below. Were there any commonalities in these bubbling under films? Was there a list that could serve to extend the canon? Iain’s approach was slightly different: he started by blacklisting any typical “canon fodder” from anyone’s list of 100 choices (by combining several sources of top films, he devised a list of films that contributors could not pick). The idea was that it would force the submitters to go deeper into their reserves of favourites and pick out some titles they thought might not get the recognition they so richly deserved. The final list would rank the films that were selected the most often (from unranked submissions).

So, how did it turn out? Pretty good if you ask me…The list is not an amalgam of rare and surprising choices – in fact, there’s some very popular and straightforward titles on it. But what other list will have a Top 25 consisting of Polanski’s The Tenant, Preminger’s Laura and Welles’ F For Fake? Or Eric Rohmer’s The Green Ray at number 33 (aka “Summer”), Wim Wenders’ Alice In The Cities at 47 and Jacques Rivette’s La Belle Noiseuse at 87 (3 films I have not seen, but am now eager to search out). In addition to the 100 most popular, Iain has also created a weighted list of films called Further Beyond The Canon – a list of some of those films that really aren’t that well known, but still received more than just a smattering of votes.

So have at it. Explore the site and the individual contributors lists and the list of films that got 4 or more votes and even this guy’s negative feedback about the whole idea (I agree with his thought that people should extend their comfort zones when watching film, but I love lists far too much to agree with him beyond that). I’ll admit my bias here – I was one of the contributors to the list. And I’d do it again.

Note: Top and bottom images (“Eyes Wide Shut” and “Mulholland Drive”) finished 1-2 on the list. Middle two images from “The Tenant” and “La Belle Noiseuse”.


The 40 Year Old Virgin Who Knocked Up Sarah Marshall and Felt Superbad About It

That is an actual title to a movie that is coming out. No joke. I’m not sure if a movie trailer has even given me such an urge to break people, to just punch them right in their ugly faces and make them apologize for all of their sins. But hey, apparently, to some stupid simple-minded fucks, having a movie full of completely recreated scenes from other comedies and actors doing awful impersonations is comedy gold. I am mostly pissed, because this assclown has made a feature length movie and I haven’t. Does he have no shame?

Now, I offer writer and director Craig Moss a chance to write me an apology for wasting my time on that trailer and pay me lost wages of $0.22 for repercussions. Otherwise, I will see you in court.

But no, I don’t wish death upon any of the people involved like many people across the internet, certainly not, that’s absurd. The embarrassment of having their names attached to this for the rest of their lives should suffice as punishment. “Hi, can I get a gin and tonic?” “Oh sorry, no, we don’t serve assclowns here.” Still, fuck you Craig Moss and fuck you 20th Century Fox for distributing this. I hope that you know the shame you have brought on your family.

Bookmarks for December 3rd

  • On Pixar and Finding Nemo: Teamwork, Friendship and Egalitarian Dictatorships
    “In the world of classic Disney animation, opposites commonly attract each other in a romantic way. That’s the core of the chemistry in Disney films from “Cinderella” to “The Little Mermaid” or “Aladdin.” In the world of Pixar, opposites like Marlin and Dory attract in a platonic way, as seemingly mismatched friends who have very different but very complimentary skills, and though “Finding Nemo” is ultimately a story about fathers and sons, the film’s most emotionally devastating moments are the ones that test the bonds between great friends.”
  • Coen’s True Grit to Shoot in Austin
    The deets: Release Date – 2011; cast – Matt Damon, Jeff Bridges and Josh Brolin; the story – a reboot of John Wayne’s 1969 western.
  • P.T. Anderson’s latest film is in the very early stages and at this point, it sounds like an interesting update of John Huston’s Wise Blood
    “A period drama to star Philip Seymour Hoffman as a founder of a new religious organization in the 1950s. [..] Hoffman, who has played supporting roles in most of Anderson’s past films, this time will be at the center, playing “the Master,” as in “master of ceremonies,” a charismatic intellectual who hatches a faith-based organization that begins to catch on in America in 1952. The core is the relationship between the Master and Freddie, a twentysomething drifter who becomes the leader’s lieutenant. As the faith begins to gain a fervent following, Freddie finds himself questioning the belief system he has embraced, and his mentor.”
  • Lukas Moodysson’s Mammoth Undertaking
    “I felt this was a meditative film rather than an angry film, so I was surprised by the controversy because I thought it was smooth and warm. You never really know what kind of film you’ve made until it’s finished.”
  • Totally Recalled: Your Fave ’90s Sci-Fi Flicks
    After Wired released its 50 greatest sci-fi flicks of all time, many readers cried foul and so we’ve put together a list of (not) forgotten sci-fi from the 90s