Trailer: Sophia Coppola’s The Beguiled

I am not sure how much of the trailer for Sophia Coppola’s new film is a spoiler or not. I’ve never read Thomas P. Cullinan’s novel, A Painted Devil, nor have I seen the Don Siegel/Clint Eastwood 1971 version of the film. I am guessing the marketing department figures with the existence of other properties, might as well sell the ‘turn’ to get butts in seats. Maybe. Either way, I am always interested in movies set in hermetically sealed boarding schools or orphanages, be in Picnic At Hanging Rock, Cracks, Melody, The Devil’s Backbone or If… And I’m all in with Sophia Coppola as a filmmaker, so when she assembles Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Elle Fanning, Kristen Dunst and others to be in a highly sexualized Civil War pressure cooker, well, it’s a pretty easy sell, spoilers or no.

The Beguiled will be in competition at the Cannes Film Festival in May. Hopefully it will get booed, because, as everyone knows, the films that get booed at Cannes are the ones that end up being pretty amazing. Coppola herself would not be new to the experience, because her own Marie Antoinette (an superb bit of contemporary film-making applied to a period piece) was rejected by the Cannes intelligentsia, but went on to be great, in spite of it.

The story unfolds during the American Civil War, at a Southern girls’ boarding school. Its sheltered young women take in an injured enemy soldier. As they provide refuge and tend to his wounds, the house is taken over with sexual tension and dangerous rivalries./blockquote>

Civil War: What is it good for? Absolutely nothing.

Okay, MCU, I quit*

The shark has been jumped, and in this case I may be the shark and Kevin Feige and his team of TV directors are the Fonz. CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR is the logical conclusion to – but unfortunately just the next phase of – this series of bloated, meaningless storytelling.

Following a series of disasters in both real American metropolises and fictional foreign nations, the less interesting Avengers (Thor and Hulk are elsewhere, as are the expensive big name love interests from previous films) find themselves subject to reckoning from the international community, demanding oversight to their actions, leading to a schism between those who idealistically see the negative implications and will not compromise, and those who see the path of least resistance and would like to keep a hand on the wheel.

After an hour or so of “good for basic cable but it ain’t HBO” style of drama which has earned Daredevil many fans (but man has that show also grown drab and tedious) we get the film’s centerpiece, a defining and damning moment – the big showcase battle royal – and in pro wrestling terms it is an indie spotfest that has all the weight of an arcade fighting game. For those uninitiated to the Sport of Kings, that means generic grapplers doing a lot of creative flipping with no selling (nothing hurts), no storytelling (are you working down a body part? do you have a strategy?), and no heat. And the “smart” indie fans lap it up in spite of knowing what actually makes a match any good.

Civil War has no heat. This is the movie that has divided up earth’s greatest heroes, telling us that a conflict has arisen where there is now no choice but to butt heads. And yet the process reveals no. goddamn. new. side. of. anyone. While Iron Man and Cap have their logical sides, and others have their loyalties, several others are there for no good reason at all, adding nothing to the shallow discussion, and damage their own characters in the process. Tom Holland makes a wonderful Peter Parker but a Spider-Man more eager to please new friends than do what’s right. Likewise Paul Rudd initially brings life with his fresh Ant-Man character but is quickly reduced to a bumbling fool showing none of the subtlety required in leading his own film. The time comes for battle, and there they go, and I buy their reasoning even less than Batman v Superman.

David Ehrlich summarizes the centerpiece better than I could have ever imagined when he writes:

“Watching “Civil War,” it’s easy to understand why the MCU is so hung up on the fight in New York — it’s the franchise’s only great action sequence. Joss Whedon’s visceral understanding of cinematic geometry and his symphonic flair for choreographing movement allowed that marquee set-piece to galvanize the separate threads of the Marvel Cinematic Universe into a unified whole. On the contrary, every action beat in “Civil War” is such a discrete hodgepodge of close-ups and medium shots that they might as well exist in a vacuum — at times, this feels like the first movie ever made entirely out of gifs.”

And it’s not just the action in this scene that is so clumsily shot, choreographed, and considered. What the Russo’s are interested in this big moment… is quips! This big moment, planned for years over the course of several films, is upended by a pair of red and blue underoos. This scene is the big coming out party, and more thought seems to have been invested in putting butts in seats for Homecoming than paying anything off. And the quip-slinger is the other side of the mediocre coin. His material is good for an open mic, but ain’t no HBO Special. After a series of groan-worthy one-liners where Holland and Rudd ask for autographs from their friends and adversaries, they are sent off on his merry way and proven irrelevant.

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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.


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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MSPIFF 2015 Review: The Keeping Room

There have been hundreds of films about life after war. Dozens about life after The American Civil War. But the consequences of war from the women’s perspective seems few and far between when it comes to the flicker show. Painting a picture of post Civil War America in the south, from the point of view of the women left alone is a wonderful concept. The world depicted is a dreadful hardship and almost surreal in nature. Not all of the parts in this machine work as well within the general idea but it’s competent enough to make a person stop and think about what they saw. And if nothing else, it’s got some tense and exciting (and brutally gruesome) action/thriller moments with muskets and revolvers.

Looking at the image above you might think you’re about to stumble into yet another zombie movie. But you’d be wrong… but in a way, you’d be right. America had ripped itself apart at this moment in time and what was left in some of the country was an utter wasteland. The men in the area were all dead or captured, fled or on some sort of political mission. The women were left fending for themselves. What men are left are drifters, scoundrels and drunkards; looking to kill, loot, rape and burn anything they come across. Which of course is partly due to being exposed to the horrors of war first hand and suffering from a then undiagnosed PTSD. They don’t know how to stop killing.

“War is cruel” opens the picture. This is of course nothing new to audiences but war can be equally cruel to the innocents left behind and the Confederacy left standing (or not standing) feels just like a post-apocalyptic nightmare. Straying too far from home might get you killed. Keeping a fire lit or firing a rifle shot might attract unwanted attention from roughians. But the worst scenario is that you’re a woman. Wearing a red shirt in a “Star Trek” episode would be safer than not having a “Y” chromosome upon this landscape. Partly because you’re a vulnerable target, but also because you’re alone. It’s not uncommon for a woman to just shoot herself or throw herself into a river than try to struggle through a seemingly never ending tribulation.
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Toronto After Dark 2011: Exit Humanity Review

Surviving through life’s difficulties and is the central theme of John Geddes civil war zombie drama Exit Humanity. Exit Humanity provides a fresh take on the over pushed genre of zombie films. I don’t want to take anything away from the good zombie films but it seems to me that many new film makers just rely on the zombie love to bring get an audience. Fortunately, Geddes is able to create a compelling small scale epic drama with a strong performance by it’s lead actor Mark Gibson as Edward Young. The movie starts out with a bit of a prologue and then with Edward having just killed his wife after she turned into a zombie and heading off to find his lost young son. We follow Edward through his search, his loss and eventually his recovery while meeting a few people along the way and killing off some zombies. Like most zombie flicks the conflict is only partially with zombies with the other people still alive posing as the real threat.

Exit Humanity strength is also it’s biggest weakness. It is a very slow burn movie with long quiet moments of Edward traveling across the south with him working through his rage and depression. Very little dialogue is provided during the opening half except for voice over which is provided by Brian Cox. While I enjoy Brian Cox I will never understand the need for voice over in any movie. It is pretty obvious what is going through Edward’s mind and Gibson does quite well in conveying the emotions and the voice over is somewhat superfluous an feels as if the movie is dumbing itself down. The voice over in this case is text from the story which Young is writing and it the book is the justification behind both voice over and another important aspect of the movie. Animations are used in place of the more expensive and hard to film action scenes. For some this will be a negative but I found the animated sequences to be both beautiful and compelling and drew me in.

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Trailer: War Horse


Ready for a big bucket sized helping of John Williams? Flutes and emotional heart-string tugging and all that? Oh, yea, and there is a horse and some sort of American War going on, and the film is even called War Horse, but really, this is an advert for the films composer more than anything else, which plays like a new yet familiar piece of music. from the composer of Jaws, ET, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park and Indiana Jones music. I think I am far more curious about the other Spielberg production to land this year, Tin-Tin. There is no denying, however, that this looks old-school child-friendly epic with big cinematography and blessed little CGI enhancement.

The trailer is tucked under the seat.
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“Earth vs. Moon” Update

Way back in April of 2008 I put up a post about some rumbling of a movie called Earth vs. The Moon. At the time, I was just curious about the film based purely off of the title and the comment section of that post became epic in scale and is still one of the best discussions to ever come out of the RowThree archives. Today as I browse around, I found a little bit more information about this project: what it’s about, who it’s coming from and an approximate time frame of when we might get to see this.

First of all, the story is penned by the writers of the upcoming Zombieland (Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick) starring Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg.

“It’s about two societies at war, but it’s also about a family, not at war, but a fractured family. Half of them have gone to the moon and the other half are still on Earth and so they are on opposite sides of this conflict and we wanted to make sure that as big of movie as it’s going to be, it works on a small level. It works on a personal level, the way we like to think about Zombieland working. It’s just this huge post-apocalyptic landscape, but we really want it to work on an interpersonal level for just a few people who are the stars.”

So to me this sounds like an updated version of The Civil War TV mini-series, North and South… in space. The writers go on to talk about how this will be a giant budget movie or not at all and they want Will Smith to star. Alright, so I’m one of the few who loves Independence Day, but c’mon. Why can’t you make this awesome on a smaller budget and with a little less Hollywood polish? Does District 9 ring a bell guys? Especially right after they get done saying that they got the idea based off of a speech from Stephen Hawking in which he talks about “the necessity to colonize other worlds because of the inherent dangers on Earth: nuclear dangers, biological dangers, and the need to have a back-up society.” So you’ve got a smart idea and you’re going to dumb it down? Not a good idea.

Still, we’ve got Zombieland to look forward to and if that is as fun as it looks, I still have hope.