Mamo #342: MamOscar 2014

Oscars 2014! This omnibus episode stitches together all 9 of the minisodes from last night’s Oscar telecast. Ellen, Slave, Gravity, selfies, Blanchett, McConnaughey, Hustle, Menzel, Midler, Minelli, the pizza guy and much, much more!

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I get a lot of “dragon alerts” from Kurt in my inbox. He only trusts me to post about dragon-related trailers and movies. So, The Desolation of Smaug, fine, and How 2 Train 2 Dragons for sure.

For some reason, the latter still isn’t what the sequel to How To Train Your Dragon is called, but I’m sure Dreamworks will catch on by summertime. Until then, enjoy this unmitigated, Cate Blanchett-fuelled, dragon-related badassery.

Trailer for Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit

Want to dive back into the Lord of the Rings universe? This new trailer for Peter Jackson’s return to Middle Earth for another trilogy certainly convinces of its consistency across the franchise. Martin Freeman may be replacing Ian Holm as a younger Bilbo Baggins, but Hugo Weaving, Ian McKellan, Andy Serkis and Cate Blanchett all return to reprise their familiar, timeless, supporting roles.

Part One’s debut is only a couple months away.

Cinecast Episode 237 – One T or Two?

Well, Gamble’s Back. But after the Thanksgiving Weekend blow-out there is precious little in the way of new releases, making this show a Mega-sized “The Watch List” episode. Before we go there, we delve into our favourite female performances of 2011 (of all shapes and sizes.) One small observation: We talk a lot of documentaries this episode, and go over a lot of TV series; particularly Matt who was laid up with a sports injury for over three weeks and watched a metric tonne of TV/film/etc. The latest from Errol Morris, Werner Herzog, and another go around with Bellflower. Take it away Gamble.

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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Full show notes are under the seats…
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Review: Hanna

Hanna is badass

Director: Joe Wright (Pride and Prejudice, Atonement, The Soloist)
Writer: Seth Lochhead, David Farr
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett, Tom Hollander, Olivia Williams
MPAA Rating: PG-13

You’ve seen Hanna before. From Angelina Jolie’s Salt to Kill Bill‘s The Bride, from Jason Bourne to Wolverine. In the business they call it genre, and this film is steeped in it (the kind of a film that makes Quentin Tarantino and Stephen King end-of-the-year lists). Without divulging much in the way of spoilers, Hanna is the story of a CIA asset that goes missing only to be found and, as you would expect, all shit breaks loose. Sprinkled about this mayhem is an affecting coming-of-age story wherein the unstoppable Frankenstein monster is a fourteen year old girl who wants to know what music feels like as much as she wants revenge. In lesser hands this delicate balance of genres would upset one or the other fan bases, but with Hanna, director Joe Wright is somehow able to maintain the momentum of both the emotional story and the high-octane action without doing a disservice to either. The result appears effortless, a steady stream of event movie-making on par with anything of the Bourne franchise.

Saoirse Ronan walks the razor’s edge of cool and vulnerable in her performance of Hanna – this curious vision of a doe-eyed, blood-speckled assassin is just one of the joys of the film. Added to this is a stellar supporting cast: Eric Bana as Hanna’s father and sole provider, Cate Blanchett (rocking a Scully do) as the formidable CIA opponent, Joe Wright regular, Tom Hollander, as the whistling psychopath-for-hire, and even a bit part for Olivia Williams as a hippie mom caught in the middle. Hollander’s Isaacs is a stand-out and a fascinating turn for this character actor typically resigned to playing daft weaklings, here, despite his stature, Isaacs is channeling Dennis Hopper from Blue Velvet, running head-on towards whatever damage he can administer. Would you like to know more…?

Cinecast Episode 189 – Just a Symptom of 1986

It is again that wonky time of year where studios favour the platform release, getting in the way of folks from Toronto and Minneapolis having a friendly movie chat about the same darn movies. Instead, we must be content with Multiplex Matt Gamble and the mainstream mega-release. Here he gives some thoughts on Todd Phillips’ newest, Due Date and tries to break down some pre-conceived notions. There is also some talk of the Asian Film Festival. Kurt gives a snippet of reaction to Danny Boyle’s follow-up to his Oscar win, 127 Hours. It is likely that the boys will revisit this one at some point for a consensus discussion, but as a nice double bill with the other ‘trapped between a rock and a hard place’ movie Buried there is a fair bit of stuff to chew on. Meanwhile Andrew finds solace in the comfort of his Blu-ray player… sometimes twice a day. Peter Weir is revisited in a lengthy discussion on The Mosquito Coast and also some Picnic at Hanging Rock, Master & Commander, The Truman Show and of course, the upcoming The Way Back. DVD picks and Japanese pornography are also on the bill.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!




Full show notes are under the seats…
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Review: Robin Hood

Robin Hood Movie Poster

Director: Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner, Black Hawk Down, Kingdom of Heaven)
Writer: Brian Helgeland
Producers: Russell Crowe, Brian Grazer, Ridley Scott
Starring: Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Max von Sydow, William Hurt, Mark Strong, Oscar Isaac, Danny Huston, Eileen Atkins, Mark Addy, Matthew Macfadyen, Kevin Durand, Scott Grimes, Alan Doyle
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 140 min.


NOTE: Due to a little bit of a scheduling snafu, more than one contributor here simultaneously wrote up thoughts on the film. Rather than delete either of these exquisitely written pieces, and in an effort to keep all discussion confined to one cozy location, we’ve decided to publish both posts into one for potentially conflicting and more interesting opinion as well as additional fodder to wallow in; all in the name of better discussion.

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Why Soderbergh Continues to Kick My Ass (which I enjoy)

While working on his documentary-style play, “Tot Mom,” in Sydney last month, Steven Soderbergh somehow managed to squeeze out a completely improvised film about… something. The film’s plot synopsis hasn’t been released, but I can assure that it will likely astound (me) with what we’ve gotten from Soderbergh in the past through similar ventures and shooting styles (Bubble, The Girlfriend Experience).

From an insider within the production of the play (Cate Blanchett’s Sydney Theater Company), apparently the film was “pretty much improvised” and shot digitally and quickly using several of the cast members from the play – though with a completely different plot. My guess is that this is likely to be released as part of Soderbergh’s six picture deal with Magnolia.

I am ready right now. Let me see it Mr. Soderbergh.

Meanwhile, Soderbergh has his Spalding Grey documentary and And Everything is Going Fine is set to debut later this month at Sundance. As far as I know he’s also still on track to shoot Knockout next month and then he’ll hopefully proceed to a summer shoot for Liberace. This guy is a machine! And a well oiled one at that.


Remembering a Decade…2001

(prologue) As we can begin to hear the death rattle of the oughts, we in the third row decided to start on this continuing series throughout 2009 that will look back at our favorite films of each of the past ten years (2000-2009). This will ultimately culminate in a “ten best/favorites of the oughts” piece sometime in early 2010.

As you may have noticed, we’ve changed the title of this series to simply the year; no “best of” anymore since as one reader pointed out, proclaiming one film better than another is preposterous. These are simply a consensus of our favorite films from the given year. See our top five for 2001 below underneath the seats…


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A Martin Scorsese Marathon

Basically, you make another movie, and another, and hopefully you feel good about every picture you make. And you say, ‘My name is on that. I did that. It’s OK’. But don’t get me wrong, I still get excited by it all. That, I hope, will never disappear.” – Martin Scorsese

For the better part of the last three decades, I have been a fan of Martin Scorsese. My admiration first took bloom in the summer of 1985, and happened to coincide with what I consider to be the discovery of my young adult life; set off the main drag of the town I grew up in, I found a small video store. Now, this in itself was no great revelation; in the years before Blockbuster came barreling into my area, forcing all the smaller video chains out of business, there were at least half a dozen such stores within a 3-mile radius. But the moment I walked into this particular video palace, I knew it was special. Where most were lining their shelves with numerous copies of the ‘hot new releases’, this one had titles like Midnight Cowboy, 2001: A Space Odyssey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Straw Dogs, A Clockwork Orange, films that the others simply didn’t offer. For me, this store was a treasure trove, and I returned there often, sometimes 3-4 times a week, uncovering classic after classic, films that, to this day, I consider some of the finest ever made.

And it was here that I first found Mean Streets.

Tough and unflinching, Mean Streets was like a punch to the head for a 15-year-old from the suburbs; a marriage of images and rock music, violence and pain the likes of which I had never seen before, offering a glimpse into a lifestyle that I found all too real, and a little bit frightening. I must have rented it at least six times that summer, and as a result, Mean Streets fast became my favorite movie. More than this, it was my jumping-off point into the career of Martin Scorsese. After Mean Streets, I moved on to Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, two more shots to the head. Through these three films, I realized just how deep, just how down-and-dirty, and just how moving the cinema could be. They marked a turning point in my development as a film fan. Movies were no longer limited to the land of make believe; they would also be a window overlooking the real world.

Now, almost 24 years after I first walked into that video store, I’ve decided to take my admiration to the next, perhaps the ultimate, level. Over the course of the last several weeks, I sat down with everything that home video has to offer of Martin Scorsese’s work behind the camera, 26 films in all, and what I uncovered on this love-fest of mine proved to be just as enlightening as that first viewing of Mean Streets all those years ago.

As I sat watching one Scorsese movie after the other, I found myself asking, “What exactly is it that constitutes a Martin Scorsese film”? It was a question I had to pose, because I quickly realized that most of my initial beliefs, the pre-conceptions I had built up about the man and his career, only told part of the story.

For one, there was my presumption that the recurring trait in every Scorsese film was a down-to-earth quality, where the genuine, the realistic, would be favored above all else. Well, this is certainly true in some of Scorsese’s finest films, especially those where actual events served as a foundation (Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Casino, The Aviator). However, it was wrong of me to discount the role that fantasy played in Scorsese’s work. The opening scene of Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore looks as if it was lifted right out of Gone With the Wind, and the musical numbers of New York, New York were obvious nods to the Hollywood big-budget spectaculars of the 40’s and 50’s. There is the dreamy romance of The Age of Innocence, and the hilarious bad luck of Paul Hackett in After Hours; in short, films that have little or no basis in reality whatsoever, proving that the fantastic plays just as important a role in the great director’s work as reality does.
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This Week on IFC (Mar. 1 – Mar. 7)

I forgot to do this for last week and who knows how long I’ll keep this up, but for the next seven days here’s a quick weekly guide that highlights some of the great movies playing on the Independent Film Channel (IFC) and The Sundance Channel. Keep in mind that this is not a complete schedule, but rather a quick listing of some films that RowThree endorses (or at least takes an interest in) that will be screening in the next seven days on these channels. Looks like Sundance is sort of showcasing John Cassavetes while IFC highlights a couple of Wes Anderson flicks this week; nice. For specific times and schedules, visit and/or The Sundance Channel schedule pages.

IFC logo

A Love Song For Bobby Long (fine work from Travolta)
The Legend of 1900
Holy Smoke (Harvey Keitel, Kate Winslet)
Little Fish (Cate Blanchett)

Story of Women
IFC Short Film Showcase
Chopper (Eric Bana’s first leading role – directed by director of Assassination of Jesse James)

Moulin Rouge
Waking Life
Rush (cold, dark and awesome)

Rabbit-Proof Fence
Coastlines (Timothy Olyphant, Josh Brolin)
The Deep End (Tilda Swinton)
Raging Bull

Danny Deckchair
Waiting for Guffman (Christopher Guest)
The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou

Reel Paradise
The Cooler (William H. Macy)
Return of the Living Dead (braaains!)

The Winter Guest (Alan Rickman’s directorial debut)
The Baxter
The Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson’s best?)
Clerks (the film that started it all)
Havoc (Anne Hathaway can act before RGM)

Sundance logo

I’m a Cyborg, But That’s O.K.
Binta and the Great Idea (the short that should’ve won the Oscar last year)

Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollack?
Little Odessa

A Woman Under the Influence
Marvelous (Michael Shannon)

Opening Night

The Situation
Lemon Sky (Kevin Bacon, Casey Affleck)

My Best Friend
Dead Man’s Shoes (Paddy Considine)

Nothing but a Man
The Last Hangman (Eddie Marsan, Timothy Spall)