Trailer: Manhattan Night

Adrian Brody can get a lot of mileage out of his facial expressions and tics. Here he plays a reporter that gets caught in the web of a story involving a femme fatale, sexual obsession and blackmail – one that escalates in sleaze to threaten his job, his marriage and his life. The trailer for Manhattan Night just popped on line, and while there is a certain sleepy vibe to the whole affair, the fact that this kind of eroticized thriller is an increasingly rare animal might be enough to get me into the cinema. Also, the leading lady, Yvonne Strahovski, seems to be doing her darndest in channeling Rosamund Pike’s performance from Gone Girl.

Toronto After Dark 2015 – A Preview

 

The 10th edition of the Toronto After Dark film festival kicks off later today and runs for a solid 9 days (Oct. 15-23). The fest seems to have settled into its niche – it doesn’t look to expand beyond its ~20 screenings per year and likely won’t compete for big World premieres, but year after year it puts together an interesting and eclectic lineup of solid genre fare. Granted, there are typically some odd choices and a rather insistent need to pick thematic pairings (I have to assume many people are getting slightly tired of the zombie double-bills every year – or is that just me?), but there’s little doubt that genre fans who don’t make the trip to Fantasia and Fantastic Fest are rabidly happy that TAD rolls in the numerous big genre titles of the year to the big screen here in Toronto. And many of us are also rabidly happy about the late night pub gatherings.

With the shift to the downtown Scotiabank location in recent years, the more anticipated screenings typically sell-out (several have already done that) so the fest has instituted some late night second screenings for the more popular titles. Consult the full lineup on the festival’s schedule page) which should include trailers for the films as well. Here’s a short run down of this year’s titles (with the proviso that I’ve not watched any trailers or read much about any of these films):

 

Thursday October 15th

 

Tales Of Halloween – Though my love for horror anthologies was challenged a few years ago when Trick R’ Treat was screened at After Dark (I seem to be in the minority in not liking that film though), I have higher hopes for this particular effort. The stories are shorter, the directors are more varied & interesting and there has already been some solid reviews of it. All the tales apparently take place on the same spooky evening, so we’ll see if they manage to do any crossover/merging of the stories or if they are all standalone. I’d love it if they could bring some of the feeling of the old Amicus anthologies from the 70s, but I think we’ll be in for a pretty rousing fest opener regardless.

The Hallow – To be honest, all I needed to see was that the film was from Ireland…Of late, there have been numerous really solid atmospheric horror films coming from that isle (or at least funded via their film fund) like Dorothy Mills, Citadel and the recent The Canal. Though there isn’t necessarily anything specifically in common between those films, there is an appreciation of atmosphere and a willingness not to rush to jump scares. Even though The Hallow is getting stuck with the “scariest film at the fest” moniker (which always sets expectations too high), I’m hopeful that it will tackle horror in my favourite way – the one that slowly envelops and squeezes the breath from you.

 

Friday October 16th

Synchronicity – Sci-fi can be a tricky bet at smaller festivals like this (especially when you hear them being compared to much larger budget and classic films like Blade Runner), but TAD has chosen a few good ones the last couple of years and with director Jacob Gentry’s track record of The Signal behind him, there’s at least some solid talent involved. Given the title and the knowledge that there are likely some time travel paradoxes involved, the film promises to be a head-scratcher in a good way. Also, Michael Ironside plays a baddie, so there’s always that.

Lazer Team – I’ll be honest…I have much less confidence that Lazer Team lives up to any of its billing. Goofy comedic sci-fi can be even more difficult to hit right especially when your protagonists are (apparently from the blurb) idiots. I’m not familiar with the filmmaking team’s web series (Rooster Teeth), so this one is a crap shoot.

Would you like to know more…?

Red Band Trailer: The Grand Budapest Hotel

After breaking per screen average records at the box office for its LA/NY release this weekend, the kind folks at Indian Paintbrush have cut a Red Band trailer for Wes Anderson’s latest. Focusing on the more vulgar linguistic elements in the film, it nevertheless gives a much more thorough picture of the marvellous central character, Gustav H. A little crudeness is necessary to get the full appreciation of just how good Fiennes is in this film.

My review of the The Grand Budapest Hotel is here.

Review: The Grand Budapest Hotel

An enormous hotel perched at the top of a mountain, a grand old European country on the cusp of war, headlines sprawled across the local broadsheet, the one with the charming moniker of the Trans-Alpine Yodel: Wes Anderson’s latest is a truffle of pageantry which barters the pathos intrinsic to his previous work (Moonrise Kingdom, The Royal Tenenbaums, even Fantastic Mr. Fox which is this films closest analogue in the auteur’s growing oeuvre) for the overstuffed frippery and copious quirk that his critics tend to use as a bludgeon when fail to see the trees for the forest. Like Mendl’s chocolates so often on display in The Grand Budapest Hotel, everything is elaborately packaged and constructed out of tastefully ostentatious pastel, and contains far more empty calories than actual nourishment, but no matter, they are ‘the finest.’

The film is more ephemeral than anything the director has ever done; it is that murder-mystery party you and your pals dress up for in a suburban living room as a convoluted excuse to hang out without the bother of attempting any kind of meaningful conversation. All that being said, the The Grand Budapest Hotel is also effervescent, pitch perfect in its pacing, celebratory in its bursts of vulgarity, and hilarious with its mannered turns of phrase. It would be dishonest, and a tad uncharitable of me to deny that I had an absolute buzz on during its fleet 100 minutes and laughed out loud far more time than any comedy made in the past 15 years.

Gustav H. is said to be the most perfumed man in Europe and is gainfully employed as the fussy head concierge at the eponymous Grand Budapest – a hotel situated near the painted backdrop of Carpathian peaks in Hungary, accessible by funicular. Ralph Fiennes becomes thoroughly immersed in the comedy and pomp of this mythic character, and plays the type of control freak that director Wes Anderson has self-deprecated himself in a series of Visa advertisements from a few years ago. Gustav H. glides, perhaps even plows, through the high ceilinged lobby of the GBH making quippy criticism and snappy correction of the aesthetic choices of the staff, elaborating on proper posture and behaviour, and in confident command on how the entire hotel-machine is run; this without so much as getting winded. He is a man on a beer budget with champagne taste who has a habit of discreetly wooing the elderly rich and royal guests, perhaps as a way to ‘inherit’ his way out of his class-situation. One of these matrons, Madame D., is played by Tilda Swinton, sporting impeccable old-age make-up to bring her up to an octogenarian state, who promptly kicks the bucket and leaves a large fortune and an even larger number of heirs (and estate staff) looking for what is theirs. Madam D.’s last will and testament consist of a heaping pile of scraps of paper that is cumbersomely carted in by her lawyer (Jeff Goldblum with notable spectacles, wondrous facial hair sitting at a desk made entirely from antlers), that will take ages to disentangle, but her top priority, the last thing she wrote was to gift a priceless painting (“Boy with Apple”) to Gustav H. much to the chagrin of Madame’s eldest son, Adrien Brody; here repurposing his Salvador Dali caricature to great effect as a blustering, rather ineffectual villain.

Would you like to know more…?

Adrian Brody Gets “Wrecked”

Adrian Brody is an actor who seems ready willing and able to really branch out with his career choices. After winning his Oscar as an on the run Jew from the Nazis in The Pianist, he’s gone on to do all manner of crazy stuff. As a psycho of psychos in High School to a modern day action hero battling Predators to having sex with genetically abnormal species and even portraying the voice of a field mouse.

It looks like he’s continuing this wave of new and interesting roles in this latest trailer for Wrecked. Here he’s playing an amnesiac who wakes up battered and bruised in a car wreck with two other persons; both dead. Sort of a mashup between The Edge, Castaway, The Fugitive and maybe The Hangover? At any rate, this fairly high concept movie could prove to be quite exciting, intense and mind bending… or it might be one big pile of shit. Though my gut feeling lies with Brody and his choices of generally pretty decent projects to be a part of.

I know this came out a few days ago, but it wasn’t really mentioned around here; plus I kind of like the poster above. So check out the trailer below if you haven’t already seen it. Much like The Town, I suspect a lot of whining will be made over the trailer seeming like it is giving too much away. And just as I said when The Town trailer premiered, I seriously doubt the studio is that inept and it looks like there’s a lot more going on here than what we simply get glimpses of in the trailer. You decide; take a look…

 

A second trailer for Vincenzo Natali’s SPLICE

splice-DREN

While none of the distributions houses has been putting posters out (there are a few sparse festival one-sheets, but they are not very elaborate, here comes a second trailer for Canadian genetic engineering genre-mash Splice.

Much better than the first trailer (here) this one forgoes the jump scares and gets more into the relationship, implications of letting loose a new species which is a collection of a lot of different spare parts. Frankenstein’s monster anyone? Well this is the 21st century version. And she is both more deadly and more cute.

Splice drops into wide release (!) in June.

BONUS: the release version is apparently uncensored version from the one I caught last September (My Review) .

The new trailer is tucked under the seat.

Would you like to know more…?

Trailer for Vincenzo Natali’s SPLICE

splice-DREN

From the “about goddamn time file” comes the first proper trailer for the Canadian genetic engineering genre-mash Splice.

The trailer makers are not exactly selling what the movie is (make no mistake this is way more drama than jump-scare and more Cronenberg than Cameron) but I am nevertheless happy that folks are finally going to get to see this beast when it drops into cinemas in June (BONUS: the release version is apparently uncensored version from the one I caught last September (My Review)) .

Splice Trailer is tucked under the seat.

Would you like to know more…?

Nimrod Antal’s PREDATORS Trailer

There is a distinct lack of muscles and beefcake in the trailer for the Predator sequel/remake/reboot/what-have-you, but that is more than made up for by Adrian Brody, Laurence Fishburn and the reliably fun Danny Trejo. Oh, and the lovely Brazilian Alice Braga (City of God, Blindness, Redbelt) will also appear. Braga seems to be injecting herself into quite a few Hollywood blockbusters these days, including this weekend’s Repo Men (in front of which, this trailer – tucked under the seat – will appear) seems to be fitting in just fine. I suppose I should mention Topher Grace, but he seems to be merely a wallflower in this first look at the film.

Produced by Robert Rodriguez and directed by kinetic Hungarian director Nimrod Antal (Vacancy, Kontroll, Armoured), and jettisoning the abysmal Aliens Vs. Predator concept for a more ‘classic’ (if that is the word) Most Dangerous Game approach, Predators is all set for its summer release (and thankfully not retrofitted to 3D.)

Would you like to know more…?

TIFF 08 Review: The Brothers Bloom

TIFF Coverage

Here is an early look at Rian Johnson’s follow up to Brick, and a reminder that John & I are about to fully submerse ourselves in the Toronto International Film Festival (look for a preview on the upcoming Cinecast). Visit our TIFF section by clicking the TIFF Coverage Pane in the masthead (or here) often for reviews and posts as we scramble in between screenings (John plans to take in 40 films, I’m pretty close to that number myself). The goal is to post a link at the end of each day on the mother site with links to what we’ve managed to scrawl out. Forgive spelling and grammar errors, we are running on Starbucks and Pilsner.

The Brothers Bloom captionedAfter the cult success of Rian Johnson‘s debut feature, the stylish high-school noir, Brick, A-list stars a much bigger budget were sure to follow. The Brothers Bloom was filmed in a variety European and North American locations and things look fabulously bright and breezy on the big screen. Unfortunately, a mild case of the sophomore slump is in place, as the new con artist caper film never quite lives up to the promise of its opening moments and gets mired down a bit by cleverness for cleverness sake. It would be unfair to tag the film with the hubris of Guy Richie’s Revolver because it seems clear that Johnson was aiming for a whimsical light-hearted touch, but the film unfortunately does share glossy posturing and pseudo intellectual chest thumping whilst simultaneously lacking any desired emotional (or intellectual) payoff.

The film opens very promising however. A delightful voice-over narration from magician extraordinaire Ricky Jay, whose interesting speech rhythms (on display in most David Mamet films, but also in the opening set-up for P.T. Anderson’s Magnolia) set the stage for the bubbly confidence caper film to follow. An image of an amputee kitten pushing itself in a roller skate along the candy-coloured main street in small town America makes things clear that the tonal territory is more Terry Gilliam than David Gordon Green. I suspect the folks who hate the recent onslaught of quirk in film, (for instance, the scene in The Life Aquatic where the crew deal with the Philippine pirates) will be sharpening their knives for The Brothers Bloom in the same way that Juno felt the quirk backlash.

The opening moments have youngling versions of the brothers in full grifter regalia, rumpled black and white suits with hats to match, overcoming their orphan (ostracized outsider) status by swindling the other (”bourgeois!”) children of their dollars and cents. The ‘prestige’ of the opening sting may just be the biggest zing moment of the film. Genius like that (I won’t spoil!) is why the genre exists! But it is a somewhat bumpy downhill ride after that. Cut to the Brothers in their mid 30s, now played by Adrian Brody and Mark Ruffalo, plying their trade across Europe. Steven (Ruffalo) writes the script and Bloom (Brody) plays the main part of their schemes. This involves ever more elaborate ’stories’ (their terminology for the grift) to insert themselves into and profit from mightily. It seems it is as much about the art and construction of the event as it is the reward. Stephen thinks nothing of incorporating literary references and ‘placement into the frame’ positioning into the construction of his ‘work.’ Somewhere along the way they’ve picked up demolitions expert Bang-Bang (a nearly unrecognizable Rinko Kikuchi who was so vulnerable in Babel and riotously cocky here) who doesn’t speak much, but has a kick-ass wardrobe and and can seemingly disappear and reappear at will which she does. Often. Also, they have alienated their former colleague and mentor, the flamboyant Diamond Dog (Maximilian Schell channeling Christopher Lee). Somewhere along the way their rival has become a full blown enemy. Most critically, all is not well between the brothers tensions cause them to split until Stephen (Ruffalo) comes back with a ‘final job.’ Enter the mark, an eccentric American billionaire named Penelope Stamp, played by Rachel Weisz in a kookier manner than even in the early Mummy pictures. Penelope is a bit of a chameleon herself, she collects hobbies as far ranging as jugging chainsaws on a unicycle to making pinhole cameras out of hollowed out watermelons. She is very hard on her yellow Lamborghini, which serves as the engineered ‘meet-cute’ and start of the convoluted con which will span continents and involve rare books, Russian wire transfers and Steamship voyages.

I have a real soft spot for con-artist movies, both funny and serious. The genre is pretty flexible. I also love the films of Wes Anderson, whom the tone and aesthetics of this film cannot help but evoke. In the most facile way, I might be tempted to describe The Brothers Bloom with the short hand of The Royal Tenenbaums meets Dirty Rotten Scoundrels meets Joe vs. The Volcano. But it lacks the human heart of Tenenbaums, the saucy cruelty of Scoundrels the aw-shucks of Joe. Familiar yes, as good, no. Some folks may end up loving this movie dear to their hearts and forgive it its glaring flaws. While the movie was interesting enough as it chugs along, the strain caused by the mixture of silly and serious was a hindrance. In Brick, Joseph Gordon Levitt and the supporting players managed to be convincing as rugged noir-ish burnouts, vixens and other low lives in the context of the high-school cliques. The grim overall tone meshed with teenage angst had a leavening effect on the arch high concept. Adrien Brody, and a particularly low-key, laid-back Mark Ruffalo (more abacus here than human being) do not fare as well in The Brother Bloom’s attempted fusion of breezy and gloomy. Like the pristine costumes they wear, the leads are all surface gloss and no lived-in texture; too shallow for when the film springs from a mediation on the narratives we craft to spice up our lives, to the consequences of living the lie ad infinitum. When it goes for fable the film flies, when it goes for drama, it sinks.

The supporting players fare better (fans of Chris Smith’s Severance be on the lookout for a sweaty Andy Nyman in a tiny role) and Rachel Weisz’s Penelope is endearing yet somewhat underwritten in her actions and intentions. In most cases the film says the words, but fails to convince with the actions of its ‘tortured heroes.’ It aims for a weighty conclusion on a framework made out of balsa-wood. (Mint flavoured) Attempts to dissect story telling devices by using metaphor and symbols as sight gags yield middling success. The film clearly aims for an epiphany or two involving identity, storytelling and living life in the fullest (and most honest) manner. It reiterates that is easier, sometimes, to play the part than be the part. Yes, Bottle Rocket with a budget. I was never bored or angry or even disappointed during The Brothers Bloom, but I left the picture wanting both less and more. I’ll be hold out for Charlie Kaufmann’s Synecdoche, New York for the right balance.

TIFF Review: THE BROTHERS BLOOM

The Brothers Bloom captioned After the cult success of Rian Johnson‘s debut feature, the stylish high-school noir, Brick, A-list stars and a much bigger budget were sure to follow. The Brothers Bloom was filmed in a variety European and North American locations and things look fabulously bright and breezy on the big screen. Unfortunately, a mild case of the sophomore slump is in place, as the new con artist caper film never quite lives up to the promise of its opening moments and gets mired down a bit by cleverness for cleverness sake. It would be unfair to tag the film with the hubris of Guy Richie’s Revolver because it seems clear that Johnson was aiming for a whimsical light-hearted touch, but the film unfortunately does share glossy posturing and pseudo intellectual chest thumping whilst simultaneously lacking any desired emotional (or intellectual) payoff. Things are fun enough while the film unspools, but there is no sense of click (like with Brick) and the whole affair is simply forgettable by the time the end credits have finished rolling.

The film opens very promising however. A delightful voice-over narration from magician extraordinaire Ricky Jay, whose interesting speech rhythms (on display in most David Mamet films, but also in the opening set-up for P.T. Anderson’s Magnolia) set the stage for the bubbly confidence caper film to follow. An image of an amputee kitten pushing itself in a roller skate along the candy-coloured main street in small town America makes things clear that the tonal territory is more Terry Gilliam than David Gordon Green. I suspect the folks who hate the recent onslaught of quirk in film, (for instance, the scene in The Life Aquatic where the crew deal with the Philippine pirates) will be sharpening their knives for The Brothers Bloom in the same way that Juno felt the quirk backlash.

The opening moments have youngling versions of the brothers in full grifter regalia, rumpled black and white suits with hats to match, overcoming their orphan (ostracized outsider) status by swindling the other (”bourgeois!”) children of their dollars and cents. The ‘prestige’ of the opening sting may just be the biggest zing moment of the film. Genius like that (I won’t spoil!) is why the genre exists! But it is a somewhat bumpy downhill ride after that. Cut to the Brothers in their mid 30s, now played by Adrian Brody and Mark Ruffalo, plying their trade across Europe. Steven (Ruffalo) writes the script and Bloom (Brody) plays the main part of their schemes. This involves ever more elaborate ’stories’ (their terminology for the grift) to insert themselves into and profit from mightily. It seems it is as much about the art and construction of the event as it is the reward. Stephen thinks nothing of incorporating literary references and ‘placement into the frame’ positioning into the construction of his ‘work.’ Somewhere along the way they’ve picked up demolitions expert Bang-Bang (a nearly unrecognizable Rinko Kikuchi who was so vulnerable in Babel and riotously cocky here) who doesn’t speak much, but has a kick-ass wardrobe and and can seemingly disappear and reappear at will which she does. Often. Also, they have alienated their former colleague and mentor, the flamboyant Diamond Dog (Maximilian Schell channeling Christopher Lee). Somewhere along the way their rival has become a full blown enemy. Most critically, all is not well between the brothers tensions cause them to split until Stephen (Ruffalo) comes back with a ‘final job.’ Enter the mark, an eccentric American billionaire named Penelope Stamp, played by Rachel Weisz in a kookier manner than even in the early Mummy pictures. Penelope is a bit of a chameleon herself, she collects hobbies as far ranging as jugging chainsaws on a unicycle to making pinhole cameras out of hollowed out watermelons. She is very hard on her yellow Lamborghini, which serves as the engineered ‘meet-cute’ and start of the convoluted con which will span continents and involve rare books, Russian wire transfers and Steamship voyages.

I have a real soft spot for con-artist movies, both funny and serious. The genre is pretty flexible. I also love the films of Wes Anderson, whom the tone and aesthetics of this film cannot help but evoke. In the most facile way, I might be tempted to describe The Brothers Bloom with the short hand of The Royal Tenenbaums meets Dirty Rotten Scoundrels meets Joe vs. The Volcano. But it lacks the human heart of Tenenbaums, the saucy cruelty of Scoundrels the aw-shucks of Joe. Familiar yes, as good, no. Some folks may end up loving this movie dear to their hearts and forgive it its glaring flaws. While the movie was interesting enough as it chugs along, the strain caused by the mixture of silly and serious was a hindrance. In Brick, Joseph Gordon Levitt and the supporting players managed to be convincing as rugged noir-ish burnouts, vixens and other low lives in the context of the high-school cliques. The grim overall tone meshed with teenage angst had a leavening effect on the arch high concept. Adrien Brody, and a particularly low-key, laid-back Mark Ruffalo (more abacus here than human being) do not fare as well in The Brother Bloom’s attempted fusion of breezy and gloomy. Like the pristine costumes they wear, the leads are all surface gloss and no lived-in texture; too shallow for when the film springs from a mediation on the narratives we craft to spice up our lives, to the consequences of living the lie ad infinitum. When it goes for fable the film flies, when it goes for drama, it sinks.

The supporting players fare better (fans of Chris Smith’s Severance be on the lookout for a sweaty Andy Nyman in a tiny role) and Rachel Weisz’s Penelope is endearing yet somewhat underwritten in her actions and intentions. In most cases the film says the words, but fails to convince with the actions of its ‘tortured heroes.’ It aims for a weighty conclusion on a framework made out of balsa-wood. (Mint flavoured) Attempts to dissect story telling devices by using metaphor and symbols as sight gags yield middling success. The film clearly aims for an epiphany or two involving identity, storytelling and living life in the fullest (and most honest) manner. It reiterates that is easier, sometimes, to play the part than be the part. Yes, Bottle Rocket with a budget. I was never bored or angry or even disappointed during The Brothers Bloom, but I left the picture wanting both less and more. I’ll be hold out for Charlie Kaufmann’s Synecdoche, New York for the right balance.