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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Review: Aloha

Director: Cameron Crowe (Say Anything, Jerry Maguire, Vanilla Sky)
Writer: Cameron Crowe
Producers: Scott Rudin, Cameron Crowe
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, Bill Murray, John Krasinski, Danny McBride, Alec Baldwin
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 105 min.

 

 

My original posting of this review can be found on LetterBoxd

 


If the “write what you know” credo is true for Cameron Crowe, he must be living a pretty solid life. Films like Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous have deservedly lasted as cultural touchstones, but even then their conflicts seemed pretty inane in the grand scheme of things. It’d be something of an understatement to say that he’s been on a decline over the past decade, since at least the release of the dreadfully vanilla Elizabethtown demonstrated a complete lack of bite that had always been present in his work but only then had reached its apex to a resounding chorus of “who cares?” It took him six years to follow that up and while We Bought a Zoo wasn’t quite the piteous experience, it remained clear that Crowe had reached a point where his nascent charm had been too buried by sentimental earnestness that aroused as much rolling of the eyes as it did guilty smiles under a veil of confection.

It’s hard to argue that Aloha, his latest picture after another lengthy break, doesn’t continue the trend. Starring Bradley Cooper as a hotshot military contractor who returns to Hawaii after a disastrous setback in order to regain his mojo and respect, Crowe populates the luscious setting with as many pretty white faces as he can find. Emma Stone is the Air Force liaison sent to babysit Cooper’s Brian Gilcrest, Rachel McAdams is his former flame who is now shacked up with John Krasinski and their two adorable children, and even Bill Murray and Alec Baldwin pop in to steal a couple of scenes. While Aloha is (over) cluttered with a dense tapestry of plots ranging from nuclear arms in outer space to mythical Hawaiian legends, there’s always the pervading feeling that none of it really matters because everything will turn out okay in the end. Personal crises may be wreaking havoc on poor Gilcrest, but all you have to do is put on a Hall & Oates song and you can watch Emma Stone and Bill Murray deliver a deliriously entertaining dance sequence to make you forget all of your troubles.

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Soundtrack Of Your Life #7: Singles

If you’re done “making popcorn” with half the city, then maybe you have time for Episode 7.

Each episode, Corey Pierce welcomes a guest onto the show who has chosen a compilation or soundtrack that speaks to a memorable era of their life. The soundtrack will play underneath and serves as a springboard to discussion about the music itself, how it works within the film, and what was going on with their life at the time of its release.

“Where are the anthems for our youth? What happened to music that meant something? The Who at the Kingdome, or Kiss at the Coliseum… Where is the “Misty Mountain Hop,” where is the, is the “Smoke on the Water”… Where is the “Iron Man” of today?” For episode 7 Corey welcomes Row Three’s own Andrew James to propose that perhaps the answer to Cliff Poncier’s question is within his own film, the soundtrack to 1992’s Singles, a film whose music had more influence and legacy than the Cameron Crowe vehicle that made it possible. We reflect on the rise and fall of grunge and the highs and lows of being single in itself.

Follow Corey Pierce on Twitter at – @coreypierceart
Follow Andrew James on Twitter at @Andrew_James
Follow Soundtrack of Your Life on Twitter at @thisisyourOST

Bookmarks for November 9th

What we’ve been reading over the past week or so.

  • Paranormal Activity Will Not Save American Horror
    Paranormal Activity isn’t the beginning of a horror revolution, it’s the first financially positive after-effect from the ‘revolution’ 10 years ago. That’s a long time for a good idea to pay off just once. So studios will continue to play it safe, file this away as a fluke (which it is), make the sequel, and continue on with their lives.
  • Best & Worst: Movie Star Websites
    These days, all the chatter online seems to be about social networking – your Twitters, your Facebooks and such. But cinema stars are still maintaining websites hoping to entice fans to follow their work/buy crap with their name or face on it and pimp their latest musings. We decided to trawl the depths of the magical intarwebs to take a look at some of the cream of the crop – and some that are just rotten.
  • Why The Hell Was “Christmas Carol” Released Now?!?!
    Doesn’t it make more sense for Disney’s “A Christmas Carol” to be released closer to the more appropriate holiday?
  • Mainstream Media attention to new doc COLLAPSE is attention-worthy itself
    What’s incontrovertible is that we’re right now living through the giddiest age of apocalyptic cultural ferment that any of us have ever experienced. I think it’s safe to say that it tops the ones that accompanied the turn of the 20th century, and the advent of World Wars I and II, and the Depression era, and the social and cultural upheavals and meltdowns of the sixties and seventies, and the turn of the 21st century.
  • Artistic Childrens Films Are Getting Darker these days
    …where the regressive infantilism of grown-up comedies and action pictures is answered by a grave precocity. A movie like “Where the Wild Things Are” or “Fantastic Mr. Fox” play a kind of reverse dress-up, disguising adult anxieties in the costumes of innocent make-believe and fanciful spectacle. […] The impulse to protect children from these kinds of stories is understandable. Like adults, they experience plenty of hard feelings in their daily lives and they may want, as we do, to use movies and books as a form of escape. Bright colors, easy lessons and thrilling rides that end safely and predictably on terra firma have their place. But so, surely, do representations of the grimmer, thornier thickets of experience. That’s what art is, and surely our children deserve some of that too. Which includes movies that elicit displeasure and argument along with rapture.
  • Michael Haneke Uncut
    Talking shop, theory, and practice with the director of The White Ribbon, Cache, Time of The Wolf, Code Unknown, Funny Games and Benny’s Video.
  • Fight Club @ 10
    The secret to the enduring allure of “Fight Club” may be that it is, as Mr. Norton put it, quoting Mr. Fincher, “a serious film made by deeply unserious people.” In other words, a film as willing to take on profound questions as it is to laugh at and contradict itself: what is “Fight Club” if not the most fashionable commercial imaginable for anti-materialism? A movie of big ideas and abundant ambiguities, it can be read and reread in many ways.
  • Zhang says ‘Blood Simple’ has shades of [Stephen] Chow
    Zhang said his new film has shades of Chow’s signature nonsensical humor, but doesn’t go as far as the Hong Kong comedian known for “Shaolin Soccer” and “Kung Fu Hustle.” “There are some parts where we go crazy like Stephen Chow, but we don’t go as crazy,” he said..
  • Top 10 Cameron Crowe Moments
    Personally I’d put the “Tiny Dancer” scene from “Almost Famous” in my top ten scenes of all time, period. But here is CNN’s picks for best Cameron Crowe scenes.

Bookmarks for July 27th through July 29th

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What we’ve been reading – July 27th through July 29th:

  • Tokyo Fantasy
    Artist depictions of a post-apocalyptic Tokyo. Gnarly – if anyone was there to actually appreciate the haunting and decaying beauty of course.
  • Graphisme
    Awesome retro looking posters for any occasion. Non tacky Star Wars posters for your living room "There are several creatures approaching from the southeast!"
  • Bill Simmons’ Summer Mailbag
    Almost Famous: Best movie of the oughts. Associated with recent NBA news. "You'll meet them all again on their long journey to the middle."

Remembering a Decade…2000

Over the past ten years (2000-2009), we’ve seen a lot come and go in the world of cinema. A stunning, full-throttle of the summer blockbuster and thanks to the internet and word of mouth, a resurgence of indie fare that slowly became mainstream and really took off (Blair Witch, Juno, Once).

So as we can begin to hear the death rattle of the oughts, we in the thrid row thought that starting today and once a month or so throughout the rest of the year, we will remember the top films of each year of the past decade; culminating in a consensus “ten best of the oughts” list in January.

Best of 2000

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Review: Bride Wars

Bride Wars poster

Director: Gary Winick (13 Going on 30, Charlotte’s Web)
Story: Greg DePaul
Screenplay: Greg DePaul, Casey Wilson, June Diane Raphael
Producers: Julie Yorn, Kate Hudson, Alan Riche, Peter Riche
Starring: Kate Hudson, Anne Hathaway, Candice Bergen, Kristen Johnston
MPAA Rating: PG
Running time: 90 min.


I can’t help it. Ever since Rachel Getting Married, I just can’t seem to get enough of Anne Hathaway. Even knowing this movie would be as tripe as it gets, I could not keep myself from the theater. Hathaway to me right now is like crack; I know it isn’t good for me, but I imbibe anyway. I re-watched The Devil Wears Prada and investigated some of her other, earlier stuff; including Havoc and Becoming Jane. None of it particularly engrossing or intelligent. Still, I watch.

In Bride Wars, two women have been dreaming about their wedding day since they were children. Finally the day comes. Both women are proposed to within the same week and they plan their weddings at an extremely exclusive venue just a week apart. Due to a clerical error, the two weddings end up being scheduled on the same day and the two best friends almost instantly become mortal enemies as they vie for control over friends and… actually, now that I think about it, that’s it. They each want to the other to be a bride’s maid at their wedding, but not enough to be willing to switch dates or venues. So they fight about it. This premise just got dumber as I write. Anyway, shenanigans ensue and the ending can be seen before the movie even starts.
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The Fall of Cuba Gooding Jr.

Cuba Gooding Jr.I know this is nothing new, but I caught the last half of Jerry Maguire last night and was reminded of just how quickly Cuba Gooding Jr became a joke on the cinematic radar. One of my favorite movie trivia questions that would always stump people was, “name a movie in which Cuba Gooding Jr. does not cry.” Mind you, this was years ago before he started making all of this crap as of recent that I haven’t seen. So I guess making him the punch line of a joke – nay, the question itself is a punch line – when he was still reasonably successful and revered was maybe the beginning of the end for Cuba; even before he decided to nail his own coffin shut with throw-away films like Daddy Day Camp, Boat Trip, Snow Dogs or Norbit (yeah, he’s in that).

I remember seeing him briefly in American Gangster last year and thinking he was alright for what the role called for. But according to the IMDb, he was in four films in 2008 and I haven’t heard of a single one of them!

Now normally I wouldn’t put up a post specifically just bash on a celebrity, but this one honestly has me confused. Why did Cuba slide from grace so quickly? He is personable, charming, good looking and the guy can act. So why did he just disappear into the world of direct-to-DVD films? Is it his stupidity in choosing which films to play, or which roles in which films to play? Is his agent an idiot? What is it?

While watching Jerry Maguire last night I realized how great the role of Rod Tidwell was. Gooding played it to perfection and is honestly one of the best things about the movie – which is probably why he won the Oscar for best supporting actor. So again I ask, what the hell happened To Cuba and will he ever regain hi “coine” (pronounced kwan)?