Screen Shot Quiz #188

Everyone who said Sleuth was correct on Friday. If you enjoy beautifully shot movies with very few actors playing off of each other with very little outside influence then you really do need to check it out. Today’s quiz is another movie that I don’t feel ever got the recognition that it deserves. It wasn’t really panned by the critics or anything but is more of one of those unheard of gems that is really enjoyed by those who have seen it.

I will post the answer to the quiz tomorrow along with the next quiz. Please feel free to discuss the movie once you have made your guess. Even if you are wrong we’d love to discuss you guess.

Film on TV: April 12-18

Pan’s Labyrinth, playing Sunday the 18th on Sundance.

Among the newly featured films this week: two very different but very good thrillers in Se7en on Monday and The Crying Game on Wednesday, both on IFC; some classic sci-fi in The Thing from Another World on Thursday; zany comedy Airplane! on Friday; underrated Hitchcock film Strangers on a Train on Saturday; and a bunch of stuff on Sunday, from classic silent comedy Steamboat Bill Jr. to visionary contemporary fantasy Pan’s Labyrinth. And a lot of great repeats, from French crime (Bob le flambeur repeating throughout the week on Sundance) and Golden Age musicals (On the Town and Singin’ in the Rain) to Italian neo-surrealism (Nights of Cabiria, and yes, I made up that term, it’s not a real thing) and mind-bending Lynch masterpieces (INLAND EMPIRE).

Monday, April 12

9:45pm – IFC – Secretary
Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Spader – making sado-masochism fun since 2002! But seriously, this was Maggie’s breakout role, and it’s still probably her best, as a damaged young woman whose only outlet is pain. And despite the subject, Secretary is somehow one of the sweetest and most tender romances of recent years.
2002 USA. Director: Steven Shainberg. Starring:James Spader, Maggie Gyllenhaal.

10:00pm – Sundance – Bob le flambeur
Jean-Pierre Melville’s noirish crime film about an aging gambler/thief who takes on one last job – knocking over a casino. Melville was the master of French crime films, and an important figure leading up to the New Wave – Godard name-checks this film in Breathless, mentioning Bob le flambeur (Bob the Gambler) as an associate of Michel’s.
1956 France. Director: Jean-Pierre Melville. Starring: Roger Duchesne, Isabelle Corey, Gérard Buhr, Daniel Gauchy.
(repeats at 3:00am and 7:45am on the 13th, and 8:15am and 5:30pm on the 17th)

11:45pm – IFC – Se7en
A taut and dark film, as you might expect from David Fincher, of a pair of homicide detectives hunting a serial killer who uses the Seven Deadly Sins as a template for his murders, seeing himself as a righteous justice-dealer against those who indulge in these particular sins. Good performances all around as well as the intricate script and solid direction take Se7en a notch above the average serial killer thriller.
1995 USA. Director: David Fincher. Starring: Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kevin Spacey.
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Review: The Vicious Kind (with trailer)

Director: Lee Toland Krieger
Screenplay: Lee Toland Krieger
Producers: Neil Labute
Starring: Adam Scott, Brittany Snow, J.K. Simmons, Alex Frost
Year: 2009
Country: USA
Duration: 92 min

In the opening minutes of Lee Toland Krieger’s The Vicious Kind, Caleb Sinclaire (played grizzly by my new favorite actor, Adam Scott) imparts upon his little brother some unsolicited advice on the true nature of women. Steeped in misogyny, the monologue sets the stage for what we are to come to expect of Caleb: a chain-smoking, ball-breaking, sleep-deprived ‘vicious kind’ that on a bad day would make even Patrick Bateman wince.

As we come to learn during the film, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree; the Sinclaires are a family at war with themselves. Caleb’s nemesis and one-time father, Donald (played mostly straight by J. K. Simmons), bears his own vicious tendencies. Caught between them is Caleb’s younger brother, Peter, a timid Switzerland to their eight year Cold War. Not exactly the ideal family to introduce your new girlfriend to, but Peter is left with just such a task; the arrival of Emma into the mix makes what was already to be a dysfunctional Thanksgiving all the more toxic.
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Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: Mean Streets (1973)


Mean Streets was another rewatch for me, this time because I was really distractible the first time I saw it, and I wanted to give it another chance to make an impression on me. And it did. It really, really did.

You don’t make up for your sins in church. You do it in the streets. You do it at home. The rest is bullshit, and you know it.

MeanStreets_4.jpgHarvey Keitel is Charlie, a junior member of the New York mafia, in charge of shaking down local business for protection money. But Charlie, though he’s good at his job and enjoys a good reputation among his peers, isn’t personally invested in moving up in the organization’s power structure, and would rather take a more legit position overseeing a restaurant (one seized from the struggling owner in the mafia’s version of foreclosure). Meanwhile, he’s handling the careless Johnny Boy (Robert DeNiro), who is always in debt and doing very little to pay off those debts except getting Charlie to convince his creditors to back off. Plus, he’s secretly dating Johnny’s cousin Teresa (Amy Robinson), a relationship that would be frowned upon by his superiors.

All three of these characters are kind of outsiders in the family/organization; Johnny Boy because he’s basically a feckless bum, unable to make good in any way and in fact ends up causing a great deal of trouble to everyone, and Charlie and Teresa because they both ultimately want to escape the life, get out of the organization. The tension among the three of them as well as between them and the others in power is as electric as any of Scorsese’s later films, and has an added touch of raw vitality. If The Godfather is the epic story of the upper levels of mob leadership, Mean Streets is the microcosm of how it plays out on the streets.

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XXX Lebowski

If you’ve browsed the shelves of your local video store any time in the past couple of years you might’ve cum across some of the ‘R’ rated versions of sex parodies of popular movies. The Pirates franchise probably being the most popular. The Pirates movie’s time of infamy may be over however, due to the newest incarnation of porno greatness: The Big Lebowski: A XXX Parody.

Welcome to Saturday night and the story of the “other” Jeffrey Lebowski; the one I’m shocked the Coen Brothers allowed to be parodied in this way. Not extremely offensive or crude, but maybe not the safest video for work environments proceeds. This may be the first porno movie I will have actually paid money for in a long, long time.

Finite Focus: The End of an Era (The Last Picture Show)


Spoilers for The Last Picture Show

Of all the New Hollywood directors, Peter Bogdanovich may be the one who carried his love of and nostalgia for Old Hollywood the most visibly on his sleeve. Before making his way out to Hollywood to be a director, he was a unquenchable cinephile, devouring the works of Ford, Hawks, Welles, and other Old Hollywood filmmakers, and quickly becoming close friends with many of them when he did arrive in Hollywood. Throughout his career, many of his films hearken back to the Golden Age of Cinema, from the Depression era nostalgia of Paper Moon to the screwball antics of What’s Up, Doc? But The Last Picture Show, one of his first major films, is special because it’s not only an imitation in some ways of classic styles (most obviously in its black and white cinematography), but it’s a eulogy to the end of an era that nonetheless pushes forward into a new era of both filmmaking and society itself.

Though the story of the film focuses on young people Sonny, Jacy, and Duane as they work through their love lives and desires to escape from small-town Texas, the heart of the film and of the town itself is Sam the Lion. Sam owns the pool hall, cafe, and movie theatre – the three major businesses in Anarene. He also acts as protector to the mentally slow boy Billy, keeping him safe and stopping others from mistreating him. Sam is the moral rock of the town, though he’s hardly a moralist – he’s just a strong presence that makes you want to do the right thing by the people around you simply because Sam is there and you know it’s what he’d want. Sam is the last Hollywood hero, the last in the line of Hawksian and Fordian heroes, men of quiet strength and personal honor.

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Wedding video or film? Gorgeous trailer for “City of Lakes”

City of Lakes Still

Wedding videographers aren’t exactly slumming it (it’s a lucrative business if you’re good at what you do) but it’s not exactly what I think of when I think of going to the movies. My limited experience with these videos is that they’re usually chalk full of friend and family interviews and speeches, maybe a dance or two and the cutting of the cake; personal memorable moments that resonate with you and your family but will likely have little emotional pull if Joe Schmoe down the street were to see it but at least one company out there is looking to expand the wedding video market.

I have to admit, I’m not 100% sure if this trailer I’ve stumbled on is for someone’s personal wedding video or a film that Pacific Pictures will submit to festivals and try to distribute (to some extent) but regardless of what this is, it’s beautiful. I’ve seen it twice and am completely mesmerized. It’s colourful, beautiful and shot entirely on DSLRs. This technology and the people using it are really making a huge splash across the film front, and when talented people are on board, it’s that much more amazing to watch. This one expertly put together package.

City of Lakes is written and directed by Kevin Shahinian and my first thought reading the film’s description is that this started as a personal film that evolved into something more. Here’s the official synopsis:

In the fall of 2009, Melissa & Samir embarked on an incredible journey to Udaipur, India, to fulfill a lifelong dream of having their wedding in the country of their ancestry. This transcendent place, affectionately called the “CITY OF LAKES,” located in the breathtaking region of Rajasthan, would be the setting for their extravagant, three-day marriage celebration, and the backdrop of our unprecedented film production – shot entirely on-location. We believe this to be the first ever live event/scripted concept production ‘hybrid’ film ever produced on this scale.

What makes me wonder if this is an actual film or otherwise is the company website which provides a concept movie/wedding film package and City of Lakes sounds exactly like that. Frankly, it doesn’t really matter because this thing looks gorgeous. I’d pay ten bucks to see it – no problem – and you’d better believe that if I had the money, I’d be more than happy to shell out $35,000 for a personalized wedding film, especially if it looked anything like this.

Until I get all the details on this project, you can take in the gorgeous trailer tucked under the seat.

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Sex education at center of Cassie Jaye’s documentary “Daddy I Do”

Daddy I Do PosterFear. That’s the first word that comes to mind watching the trailer for Cassie Jaye’s documentary Daddy I Do. Not from the film itself but from the subject matter. Films about sexuality and birth control always seem to have that affect on me, likely because I’ve never felt sexual education is something that is well handled in schools and communities. It’s a topic which has garnered a fair bit of attention in Canada over the last few weeks and for that reason alone, Jaye’s documentary seems particularly well timed.

Daddy I Do is a documentary that looks at the Silver Ring movement (some may recall that Mitchell Lichtenstein’s Teeth (review) featured a similar group) and “examines the effects of Abstinence-Only Programs versus Comprehensive Sex Education in schools and what society can do to help lower teen pregnancies, abortions, and STDS, as well as poverty and sexual abuse.” The film has played a number of film festivals and was recently selected to screen at the Cannes Independent Film Festival in what I can only assume will be the beginning of a much wider release, even if only through the festival circuit, later in 2010.

It’s a promising trailer for a film that is bound to stir up some discussion and I can’t wait to see it.

Trailer tucked under the seats.

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