Cinecast Episode 427 – Stretching the Bubblegum

Was it the weather or is it the shitty inconvenient way films are released in theaters these days? Or does it depend on your geography or disposition? Or a little bit of everything? In short, we didn’t get to the “main releases” (of boats in storms or feminist westerns) this week and instead opted for some VOD experimentation with Vincent Cassell in Partisan. A solid film with problems is the verdict. The Watch List is fairly eclectic this week but a whole lotta witchin’ going on. From Winona Ryder to Vin Diesel, we cover the gamut. Andrew and Kurt also spend some time in the kitchen cooking up some spaghetti westerns before heading to Southeast Asia for a thriller and some kung-fu. Like a snake in the eagle’s shadow, there is no escape for the good the bad or the ugly; there most certainly will be blood inside Llewyn Davis.

#sorrynotsorry

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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Cinecast Episode 426 – Wound Continuity

During the time we were recording this, one of the co-hosts officially became another year older. So Happy 41st Birthday to Kurt Halfyard! In this episode we talk about the nature of existence, memories and the human machine from two opposite ends of the spectrum: as a 5 year-old animated kid in Boy and the World to an elderly couple trying to celebrate their more than four decades of marriage in 45 Years.

Attached to the end of the show is a Watch List that includes David Fincher, asshole Alec Baldwin, Mozart, Asian Assassins, Roman Polanski and Jem & the Holograms. It’s truly truly truly outrageous.

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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Andrew Dominik is Back with “Killing them Softly” [trailer]

It’s been five years. Five years. Five years since Andrew Dominik last directed a feature film. That film was of course far and away the best film of 2007: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Some of us were wondering if Andrew had given up on film making altogether or if we had the beginnings of the next Terrence Malick on our hands. Now, while the quality of his films will still remain to be seen (he’s only had two), it does look as if at the very least, we’ve got a director who simply likes to take his time in between projects. Here’s hoping that philosophy will for him as well as it seems to for Malick.

Andrew Dominik has once again teamed up with Brad Pitt for his latest thriller comedy, Killing them Softly. Pitt plays Jackie Cogan; a professional enforcer who investigates a heist that went down during a mob-protected poker game. Slowly the film evolves into social commentary about our (the U.S.) faltering nation. Set in 2008 amidst the presidential election and the economic frustrations, Killing them Softly proves to be a most interesting excursion for the director and the rest of the cast which features Richard Jenkins, Ray Liotta, James Gandolfini, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn and Sam Shepard.

Check out the trailer below and tell us what you think….

TIFF Review: Killer Joe

 

When the name William Friedkin comes up in conversation, you cannot help but think of the directors crazy genius period in the 1970s with iconic films such as The Exorcist and The French Connection, or even his highly enjoyable To Live And Die in L.A. in the 1980s. The 1990s and early 2000s appeared to show a decline in quality output and it appeared that the magic was gone as the director headed into his seventies. Then came his chamber-drama Bug, a paranoid science-fiction noir with a whole lotta crazy showed delightful submission to the lead performances, Michael Shannon and Ashley Judd that its ricky one-room conceit worked some real magic. Two films hardly make a trend, but take his latest film and you’ve got to sit up and take notice: The man is taking some risks with genre and succeeding in doing things a little different with his collaboration with playwright Tracey Letts. Killer Joe is a straightforward, if slightly uninspired, noir picture with an excellent cast – all chewing scenery in their own ways – that gets a shot in the arm with its nutty act. I suspect that this improves the picture on balance, even as it threatens to bring the whole house of cards down with twisted glee. Not unlike Sidney Lumet’s Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, the film is built out of classic noir conventions but keeps the circle of characters contained with in the family, to form a knotty plot that results in a domestic hell. Killer Joe goes one further as it morphs into a satire of power and violence and diminishing returns for the sons of America.
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Review: Accident

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There is really something to be said for movies that catch you off guard when it comes to the story they are telling. Going in expecting one thing and coming out with something else is one of the great pleasures of movie going. You might not always get what you originally wanted but when you get something else that is highly entertaining or thought provoking you come away with a treasure. I remember going into Sean Penn’s The Pledge starring Jack Nicholson expecting a strong but standard story of a cop tracking down a killer. Instead what I got was a deep look into the psyche of a man driven by an unattainable quest. Like The Pledge, Accident delves into the realm of the obsessed and rewards you for it. The story starts out with the basic premise of a team of hitmen discover after one of their own is killed that there is another team working against them. The leader of the team, Ho Kwok-fai or “The Brain” (Louis Koo) is driven to discover just who is working against them and who is responsible for the death of Fatty (Suet Lam).

What sets Accident apart from other hitmen or spy movies are two things. First off, the way the assassin team works is by arranging accidents. In a couple of cases the accidents are a bit to coincidental to be believed but they are still entertaining. The first death is caused by the lone female of the team (Michelle Ye) having a flat tire which forces their victim down a side road. The car of the victim is then splashed from a truck driven by Unlce (Shui-Fan Fung) carrying some form of liquid which caused the car to swerve and which point a banner is dropped from the roadway above. When the victim removes the banner, he pulls on it dislodging a glass plate which shatters and drops down on him killing him. As far as the police are concerned this is an accident and therefore there is no search for the assassin. Each of the assassination planned in Accident are similar in nature. In effect the movie plays out much like a heist movie as opposed to a hitman movie with each team member having their own tasks and it is quite fun to watch the team work together and also experience some difficulties as mistakes are made.

As already mentioned, what truly sets Accident apart is that after the initial half is Louis Koo playing the driven character. He is sure that he knows who is responsible for things falling apart with his team. Koo plays the role perfectly. Just like Nicholson in The Pledge Koo is given much of the screen time and this allows us to watch as he works through the mystery of just what happened. From, his distrust of his teammates to listening in on the suspected killer who is having sex in the apartment above, watching Koo become The Brain is compelling.

Accident is produced by Johnnie To and is directed by Pou-Soi Cheang has several of the key elements of a To directed film. There are elaborate set pieces, the team of experts and more than a couple well shot scenes. I would not place Accident in with To’s better films but it is more than a match for his mid range films and this is saying something as I am a very big fan of Johnnie To. While I was expecting more of a typical action thriller I ended up with a very interesting character study . The only real faults that I can find would be that a couple of the “accidents” really are a bit too coincidental to be believed plus a whole subplot with the Uncle character developing Alzheimer’s felt a bit too rushed. Overall though, Accident is an interesting movie that has made me interested in checking out Pou-Soi Cheang’s other feature films.

Trailer for Anton Corbijn’s THE AMERICAN

I am posting this perhaps a tad late, because this new trailer for Anton Corbijn’s The American popped up on the internet a few days ago. But it is just as much of an excuse to show off this handsome one-sheet for the film. This new trailer may be trying to fool the viewer that this is an action packed revenge thriller, but the initial teaser and the marketing materials clearly indicate that this is going to be the closest film to John Boorman’s Point Blank since either Jim Jarmusch’s The Limits of Control, or Steven Soderbergh’s The Limey. This is in fact, great!

The American stars Clooney as Jack, and is based on Martin Booth’s novel, A Very Private Gentleman about an assassin who hides out in an idyllic Italian town before carrying out one final assignment. His cold, distant approach is snarled up by a number of emotional complications. Focus Features is opening the film wide on September 1st.

Trailer tucked under the seat.

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Teaser for Anton Corbijn’s THE AMERICAN staring George Clooney

The American Movie StillGeorge Clooney would be enough of an attraction for any film but for me, the real appeal of the upcoming drama The American isn’t Clooney but rather the man behind the camera. Director Anton Corbijn came to my attention a few years ago with the gorgeous Ian Curtis biopic Control and for his follow up, he seems to be turning up the ante.

The American stars Clooney as Jack, an assassin hiding out in Italy for one last assignment. That plot doesn’t really speak to me but Corbijn’s visuals do and tracking the director’s film blog, I’ve been given nothing but clues as to how great this project could be. Now the first teaser comes around and what does it suggest? More of the same greatness.

What I love most about this teaser is that it feels like this film is from another decade. The 70s to be exact. There’s something about the visuals and the feel of the story that breathes like something much older and I can’t wait to see it.

The American opens on September 1st.

Trailer tucked under the seat.

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Assassins Kill Eachother in The Tournament Trailer

The Tournament Movie StillWhat is up with the recent fascination with tournament style action films? What the heck happened to “save the city” action film? Even better, why not switch things up a bit? It looks like the 21st century has replaced the Die Hard plotline with that of Battle Royale: round up a group of people, let the general public take in the gore (occasionally even allowing them to participate in the action via gambling), and then sit back and watch everyone get killed. There are some variations, in the case of the upcoming Gamer that variation is that the group of people participating I the killing are in a video game, but this is the general idea.

The newest entry into the family is Scott Mann’s The Tournament which stars Ving Rhames, Robert Carlyle, John Lynch and Kelly Hu among a few others, as assassins who gather in a town every seven years to partake in a tournament which involves them killing each other off until only one survives. Yeah…that’s original. What’s worse is that this trailer is actually being praised for being action packed. Seriously? Action might be right but what’s the point if there’s no excitement?

This looks lame. I’d rather re-watch The Condemned.

The Tournament doesn’t have a North American release date. Wonder why…

Trailer is tucked under the seat.

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Clooney Hides in Italy

Anton CorbijnIt’s safe to say that Anton Corbijn’s feature film debut was a smashing success and for good reason too: it was a great film. Corbijn moved from music videos and photography to the big screen with a gorgeous film that would easily have faltered but thanks to a keen eye and a great group of actors (none better than Sam Riley and Samantha Morton) Control managed to break the mold of piss poor biopics (few films in ‘type’ are worth their weight in gold) to attain something close to cinematic bliss. Corbijn’s been quiet since the film’s release two years ago but it looks like the wait for a follow up is nearly over.

Out of Cannes comes news that Corbijn has signed on to direct the film adaptation of Martin Booth’s novel “A Very Private Gentleman.” It’s the story of an assassin who spends some time in an “idyllic Italian town” before his final assignment but rather than staying under wraps, he makes friends and falls in love and all hell breaks loose because of it. Sounds vaguely familiar… and starring as the assassin: none other than Mr. George Clooney.

Movies about assassins hiding out in small towns aren’t really my cup of tea (with a few exceptions) but Clooney certainly helps sweeten this deal though I’ll happily admit that I was on board at Corbijn’s name (though this isn’t exactly what I’d expected from the director but I guess few have the will to say no to Clooney’s prowess).

And for goodness sakes people, if you haven’t seen Control yet, what the hell are you waiting for?