Occultober – Day 19 – The Sentinel

The Sentinel
Clearly designed as a studio knock-off with the intent of ‘raising-the-bar’ on the horror of both The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby, with Death Wish helmer Micheal Winner bringing a puerile trash-factor to the proceedings, The Sentinel is not lacking in crazy moments. From being over-cast to the point of ludicrousness (characters played by Jeff Goldblum, Christopher Walken, Jose Ferrer, Eli Wallach, and Jerry Orbach add very little to the story considering their star power), to dress-up parties for cats, to graphic onscreen masturbation, to using bonafide disfigured people to represent the minions of satan. The film has it all if you are looking for an exploitive bit of insensitivity to just about, well, everyone.

Allison Parker (Cristina Raines), a young fashion model looking for her own apartment in New York City, stumbles across the best deal in town, an spacious, fully furnished brownstone in Brooklyn with a wicked view. A gracefully aging Ava Gardner is her realtor in a small role.

In short order, Allison discovers the place has some of the craziest inhabitants in the city, including a ghoulish priest that does nothing but stare out the window, some crazy ballerinas and a chatty old fellow (Burgess Meredith, fantastic) who is never seen without a bird on his shoulder, and a pussy cat in his arms. These downsides she discovers over the course of a punishing several weeks culminate in an increasing series of feinting spells, flashbacks to her suicidal teenage years, and hallucinations of naked old men wandering into her bedroom. As they pile up, her lawyer boyfriend (Chris Sarandon) not only seems useless at helping her cope, but might even be in league with all of the crazy people. Everyone in her current state of reality seems hell-bent (literally) on terrorizing her, except a younger priest (John Carradine) who looks over the elderly priest in the attic, and has some longterm plans for Alison.

The Sentinel culminates in a whopper of a climax, that is as nutty as anything ever put on film in the 1970s, and that is saying something. In other words, the film is never boring.
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Cinecast Episode 277 – He’d Pass a Polygraph But He Ain’t Innocent

In which Andrew and Kurt Argo fuck ourselves trying to get at the pleasures and the frustrations of Benna-fleck’s latest film. We grade homework in the middle (lots of good choices in there). Then we encounter the same set of frustrations and pleasures in counting up the Seven Psychopaths in Martin McDonagh’s latest offbeat violent comedy. The Watchlist is mainly Kurt as he digs through a diverse trio of films (Bernie, Watchmen, The Living Daylights) before waxing rather prosaically (sorry folks) on the great George Carlin. We have a fun time chatting Joss Whedon’s “Firefly” to close out the show.

Thanks to Nat Almirall for this week’s poster promo sitting to the right. Yeah! (sorry, we had to censor it. Non-censored version can be found HERE.

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


 

 

 

To download the show directly, paste the following URL into your favorite downloader:
http://rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_12/episode_277.mp3

Full show notes are under the seats…
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Cinecast Episode 273 – It’s TIFF 2012!

Thanks once again to Ryan McNeil of The Matinee for dropping back in for our huge TIFF recap (and almost spoiler-free!). Andrew sits in quiet solitude on the sofa, acting mainly as an audience member (admittedly, mostly fiddling with Pinterest and playing Tiger Woods Golf) with much amusement as Ryan and Kurt recap a large chunk of their TIFF experience. Sadly, due to the late hour of recording, there was no time left for The Watch List. We are happy, hoever to kick of the Fall Semester of homework assignments. The discussion gets pretty spirited where there is agreement and disagreement on many of the films screening at this years festival. Drop in again next week for a return to our usual programming: a lengthy discussion on PT Anderson’s The Master and responses to this first volley of homework assignments.

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


 
 

 

To download the show directly, paste the following URL into your favorite downloader:
http://rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_12/episode_273.mp3

 
 
Full show notes are under the seats…
Would you like to know more…?

My Love of Film in A Snapshot #18

With the passing of Tony Scott so jarringly sudden and bizarre. Let us use this space to reflect on was is possibly the best scene of his career, and personally, one of my favourite scenes in cinema. Christopher Walken gets do do what he does, that is to say, monologue, menace and entertain. Dennis Hopper gets to act up a storm playing a father protecting his son by forcing another man to kill him before they torture answers out of him. The body language alone (and note that the monologue is actually about how body language gives away whether someone or not is lying) is staggering. In an ironic footnote to this brilliant scene, the gangsters find the son’s forwarding address in Los Angeles pinned to the refrigerator. The sudden violence, the Robert Richardson-esque cinematography of harsh overhead lights and grain, shot by Scott’s regular DP, Jeffrey Kimball, the tour-de-force character actors doing their thing, which when you think about it, is the greatness of True Romance in the first place: Great actors chewing on a great screenplay (one of the first things to get made from Quentin Tarantino) and top-shelf Tony Scott visuals before the director went all epileptic-Avid-And-Colour-Filter-crazy.

Seven Psychopaths Trailer Parses the Long Term Consequences of “An Eye For An Eye”

If there is a fun genre theme this year it is crazy events being kicked off by kidnapping or otherwise messing around with dogs. Quentin Depieux’s Wrong, UK Mock-doc Black Pond, and now Martin “In Bruges” McDonagh’s Seven Psychopaths. This one wins to contest of most A-List character actors, featuring Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Woodey Harrelson, Christopher Walken and Tom Waits. It looks to be a lot better version of the equally loaded and promising (but not great) Welcome to Collinwood from 2012 which also starred a younger Sam Rockwell.

A struggling screenwriter inadvertently becomes entangled in the Los Angeles criminal underworld after his oddball friends kidnap a gangster’s beloved Shih Tzu.

The film is playing the Midnight Madness sidebar at TIFF this year, and should be great with a crowd, particularly the pretty damn funny, ever so slightly Reservoir Dogs-y “Eye for an Eye” car conversation shown at the end of this trailer.

Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: Heaven’s Gate (1980)

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Most people who love the movies know the story of Heaven’s Gate. Here it is again in a nutshell. After winning three Oscars for The Deer Hunter (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor), director Michael Cimino went on to write and direct a western epic about the Johnson County Wars. Due to massive cost over runs and film delays the film ended up being 44 million dollars (while that number seems quaint in an age where the lowliest of romantic comedy costs about 40 Million – BEFORE PRINTS & ADVERTISING – it was an unheard of amount of dough to spend on a film in 1980.) At one point, the cut of the film was 5 1/2 hours long, some say this over-indulgence was mainly due to Cimino’s perfectionism and ‘man of the moment’ status.’ Case in point: After 5 days shooting they were apparently 4 days behind schedule. The film was eventually pared down to 3 hours 40 minutes. After the Deer Hunter, critics were expecting the second coming of Christ (which wouldn’t happen until 2004 with Mel Gibson’s fetishistic passion play) and lambasted the film so bad that the studio waited on the film for another 8 months, and chopped it down by another hour. Nobody went to see the film when it was released, and United Artists, the studio, went bankrupt and was bought at a fire-sale price by MGM (there is no small irony in that MGM has been similarly fire-sold several times, for varied reasons, 20 years onward.)

So how is the film? Well, I liked it. A lot. The class struggles in the film between the rich corporation (i.e. state-sanctioned rape of the working class) and the poor immigrant farmers is as relevant today as it was in the 1890s. I loved the contrast between the Harvard graduation celebrations and the frontier life celebrations. The frivolous game of defending bouquets of flowers with concentric rings of faculty holding hands while the students try to grab the flowers for honour is nicely revisited as a bloody game of survival as the residents of Johnson County defend their escaping families and attack the 50 odd armed bounty hunters. The love triangle of Kris Kristofferson’s rich man behaving like a poor man, and Christopher Walken’s poor man behaving like a rich man with Isabelle Hupert’s confident middle-class prostitute is as interesting for the relationship dynamics as for its symmetry: She charges Walken’s character for sex so as to no be ‘cheating’ on Kristofferson’s character.

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