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 398 – Crying in the Darkness and Licking the Floor

Outside of the lengthy “Game of Thrones” discussion this week (which covers the last two episodes), we manage to stay pretty spoiler free, despite a main review for part of the 2015 western resurgence in Slow West. Also, Andrew hits the theater for the latest Cameron Crowe joint from Hawaii and the Brian Wilson / Beach Boys biopic, Love & Mercy. On the “television” front, Netflix and Kurt hangout for about 12 hours in the compelling mess that is “Sense8” and Andrew finds enough commuting time to follow-up with Adnan and friends in the “Undisclosed” podcast. It’s a jam packed show full of fire and Australia; yes all of it (copyright Mark Kermode).

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 396 – Rated ‘R’ for Mood

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It has finally happened. Matt Gamble shows up and forces a co-host to say enough is enough and leave the room. In these parts, it is probably the best way to handle things until cooler heads prevail – which takes a few minutes. You might think is the grotesquery on display in Fury Road or the non-necessity of the Pitch Perfect sequel becoming this weekends box-office champ. But No. Appropriately it is the Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 6. If Beinioff and Weiss, HBO’s show-runners are looking for a reaction, they have gotten it… Things devolve into semantics, call it the “Daybreaker’s Effect.” But fear not, intrepid listener with ringing ears, we move on to happier, less controversial places created by Mike Judge, Neil Marshall and Alfred Hitchcock.

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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Trailer: The Mule

This Australian drug smuggling movie seems to successfully mix comedy and dark thriller with more than a little body function. Hugo Weaving appears to be having a blast as the cop who detains a drug mule (played by co-director Angus Sampson) and holds him in a hotel room for a week waiting for him to pass the kilo of cocaine along via natures course. Meanwhile, the drug dealers at all levels (including LotR’s Denethor, John Noble) want their money and their drugs. The whole trailer has a great editing rhythm set to an electronic score. Cool synth scores are all the rage these days.

First Look: Mad Max Fury Road

madmax-magcover[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #a9a883;”] O [/dropcap]ut side of some kids’ films, the great George Miller hasn’t been behind a camera for nearly 20 years. What he has done has been slightly better than mediocre but I don’t think I’m alone in saying I’m ecstatic that he’s going back to his post-apocalyptic roots with more Mad Max in Mad Max: Fury Road ! Tom Hardy will be in the titular role and along for the sure-to-be high-octane ride is Charlize Theron (apparently with some sort of robotic, prosthetic arm), Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Nicholas Hoult and Zoë Kravitz.

The closest we have come to visiting the Mad Max world on any kind of a budget was in 2007s (awesome) Doomsday from Neil Marshall. And if these pictures released in the July 4th issue of “Entertainment Weekly” are any indication, this going to be awesome; plain, simple and pure.

Take a look and tell me you’re not excited (so that I can ban you from the third row 😉 )

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Hot Docs 2014: The Darkside Review

Hot Docs 2014

I learned a new phrase while watching spiritual Australian documentary The Darkside. To take a ‘stickybeak’ is to pry around the premises and ask uncomfortable questions. A lady uses this phrase while talking about an Ouija board her and her family found on the beach one day (whilst having a stickybeak on said beach), and the dire consequences she feels this object had on her family for playing around with it: young deaths, alcoholism, mental breakdown and the like.

The modern Aboriginal woman is gorgeously framed on her porch while an older family member (tantalizingly just out of focus) plays solitaire in the background, this vignette is one of about a dozen such ghost stories that director Warwick Thorton lovingly renders in the tradition of oral history. In another a man recounts how he and his parents were attacked by the ghost of a dead man while they camp in his cabin. A woman sees the spirits of the long dead tribe of aboriginals who once dwelled on her sisters ranch-estate. A child is spotted on an isolated river bank in an impossibly pristine white dress only to vanish into thin air, but witnessed by two men in a canoe.


Were it not for the recognizable faces of actors such as Bryan Brown or Jack Charles (the latter recently seen in the magnificent Aussie-Noir Mystery Road) one would think that these were indeed just folks captured telling their stories. Hiring actors, meticulously arranging their surroundings and achieving cinema-perfect lighting brings the stringing of stories to a different kind of headspace. Thorton is cinematographer here as well and is no slouch also DP-ing on glossy down under productions Samson and Delilah and The Sapphires.

There may be a bit of an affectation on the part of the director who (just out of the frame) can be heard interacting, commenting and ‘yes go on’ prompting the speakers as they tell their tales of the supernatural. It adds an unnecessary veneer of veracity, along with the actors hesitating and miming discomfort to the camera, that cannot patch over seeing the guy from Cocktail and F/X as one of the locals. No matter, getting lost in good actors (the Ouija Board lady is Deborah Mailman and she is fantastic) telling great campfire stories, or near-death confessions is electrifying. Moreso when filmed with such an eye for setting the stage. More than one of the tales is only voice-over with an entirely different thing happening in the frame. It is an effective strategy, particularly in the case of a artist alone in his studio painting a portrait of a lost desert girl, as the encounter is being told simultaneously; a literal change in perspective at the end of the segment is hair-raisingly great.

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Blu-Ray/DVD Review: Wake in Fright

Director: Ted Kotcheff
Screenplay: Evan Jones
Based on a Novel by: Kenneth Cook
Starring: Gary Bond, Donald Pleasence, Chips Rafferty, Sylvia Kay, Jack Thompson
Producer: George Willoughby
Country: Australia/USA
Running Time: 109 min
Year: 1971
BBFC Certificate: 18


Getting a prestigious Masters of Cinema re-release on the same day as White Dog seemed fitting for Wake in Fright, as it reminded me of that film in a number of ways. Both are brash indictments of states/institutions as well as humanity in general and both had a difficult history which caused them to be pretty much forgotten for a number of years. Wake in Fright got off to a better start, not only gaining critical praise, but playing at the Cannes Film Festival. Like White Dog it didn’t play so well at home though (Australia in this case) and understandably so, as it doesn’t cast the country in a good light at all. Nevertheless, the film proved a pivotal piece of Australian film history. Along with 1971’s Walkabout it helped kickstart the Australian New Wave, bringing the country’s film industry back to life after decades of despondency following its groundbreaking early years (Australia produced the world’s first ever feature film, The Story of the Kelly Gang back in 1906).

Largely due to its poor performance in its home country I imagine, Wake in Fright became a famously “lost” title though. Good quality prints of the film had pretty much disappeared, preventing any sort of home video release for decades. Thankfully, in 2004, one was found in storage somewhere, spotted just in time as it was labelled “for destruction”. The print wasn’t in great shape, but the film’s editor, Anthony Buckley, headed a restoration project, re-releasing it in 2009 to great acclaim. It was even screened at Cannes again in the Cannes Classics selection, making it only the second film (after L’Avventura) ever to play twice at the festival. After this, the film has been able to grow in stature once again and is considered a classic of Australian cinema (although it must be said the director was Canadian and the production was a collaboration between America and Australia).

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TIFF Review: Felony

FELONY

In the course of a day, detective Malcolm Toohey goes from participating in a major sting operation that gets him shot, to celebrating and singing Bon Jovi with his officers in the cop bar, to hitting a child with his vehicle while driving under the influence. A good man at heart, he suffers from extremely poor judgement in that moment of trial and choses to hide behind his badge. Weather it is fear of losing his professional shine, or simply the shame of his folly, he tells a big lie that will ripple through out his family life, professional life and of the lives of the boys family. It will also have the audience consider some tricky moral and ethical situations over the course of about three days of Toohey’s guilt compressed into 100 minutes of solid drama, along the similar lines of Mystic River or Copland.

Felony was written by and stars Joel Edgerton, and it was made in the genre hotbed of Australian that produced other sticky crime dramas The Square and Animal Kingdom. There is particularly powerful performance from consummate professional Tom Wilkinson playing seasoned detective Carl Summer, who delivers the big ‘circle the wagons’ movie-speech at the heart of the films headspace: Why should cops or ‘good’ people don’t need the courts or prisons, because their own guilt is punishment enough for their ‘accidental’ crimes? After detective Summer helps cover for Towhee’s misdeeds, he does not take kindly to Toohey’s conscience flaring up, as the little boy’s head wound gets worse. Aggressively pushing the ‘don’t hurt the police brand‘ Summer has also to deal with his Ed Exely type new partner Jai “Son of Diehard” Courtney who plays the crisp, by the book detective Jim Melic. The young and idealized Melic becomes suspicious of the whole situation immediately based on observations on how Toohey’s response in the 911 call placed, and the jittery body language when he is talks with Summer. It doesn’t help things that Melic has taken a bit of a fancy to the boy’s young mother.

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Cinecast Episode 320 – Robin Wright 2.0

Keeping it rather short and sweet this week; but the kids are alright. Outside of our quick review of 2 Guns, we kind of just tease through some reviews for upcoming wide releases or show discussion topics. Mostly we just can’t wait for next week’s Blomkamp/Allen reviews. Still, we do manage to get through some talk about space Abyss, adult swim and another gander at Joe Wright’s Hanna.

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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Trailer-ish Clip for Julian Assange Biopic, Underground

As The Toronto International Film Festival looms ever closer (expect things to get less quiet in these parts) one of the films that has kind of slipped under the radar is the Aussie produced Biopic about Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, Underground. Featuring Anthony LaPaglia, Rachel Griffiths, and Alex Williams as teenaged-hacker era Assange, the clip offers one of those ‘movie moments’ you expect in a Biopic, but it equally works as a stand alone trailer.

From the TIFF Programme:

“The contrast between old-school investigative methods and the quicksilver speed of the emerging digital age gives the film much of its juice: while Julian “travels all over the world” from the comfort of his computer desk, the police are reduced to manually following a dial-up signal as it clicks through various receivers at the local phone company. This hands-on approach seems to prevail, as the police eventually close in on the young hacker. But Julian’s dramatic arrest at the hands of the Australian Federal Police was only the beginning—a clarion call for a new age of digital activism.”

Trailer: Tomorrow When The War Began

 

I caught this ‘Aussie Red Dawn’ almost a year ago at ActionFest (My Review.) While the film is certainly flawed – and hasn’t traveled well outside of Australia – I have to say Freestyle has cut a trailer that makes the film look pretty darn good. Part one of a series of books that were almost as successful in Australia as The Hunger Games and Twilight are in North America, it has taken a long time for the film to get to this part of the world but it comes to VOD and limited theatrical on February 24th. Tomorrow When The War Began is almost worth catching in the cinema for its knock out action sequence involving a heavy dump truck and a machine-gun toting dune buggy and the fact that the current remake of Red Dawn is stuck in perpetual limbo, yet the film is ultimately weighed down by bad dialogue (no different than John Milius’ 1980s cheese-fest) and overly pretty people.