Friday One Sheet: Japanese Blood Simple

Hat-tip to The Film Stage‘s Instagram feed for pointing out this Japanese poster for The Coen’s 1984 debut film, Blood Simple. It feels that the foggy ‘scene; pictured might have been the inspiration of a scene from P.T. Anderson’s The Master, as well as the opening shot of Green Room. And the ‘dwarfed’ police car in an indistinct landscape may have also inspired the opening shot of Fargo. The bold orange stencil type kind of chews up the negative space here with the caption “The Thriller” is probably an unintentional cultural flourish, but it kind of works. If you would like to see a more minimalist take on this design, a DeviantArt user went for the same image but maximized the minimalism, as it were. I must admit that I like the composition of the Japanese poster a wee bit more though, with the prowler off-centre.

Sunday Video Essay: What’s Going On?

In today’s video essay, the Nerdwriter deconstructs the Coen Brothers sneaky masterpiece, A Serious Man. Many people liked this film when it played in the cinema, and there is an ever growing group that absolutely loves it. Whether you call it a horror, a comedy or a period drama – it is all that and more, the Nerdwriter certainly gets at the heart of what is going on in the film.

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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Trailer: Hail, Caesar!

The Coen Brothers’ latest film looks to be capitalizing on what they do so effortlessly: Wacky and convoluted kidnapping comedy. Set in the 1950s, in Hollywood movie studio, Capitol Pictures, where a super expensive sword and sandals picture is underway. Their main contracted star, Baird Whitlock, played by George Clooney, is flubbing his lines and wasting a lot of pricey resources (and apparently, there also a sailor musical with Channing Tatum called “Merrily, We Dance” shooting next door.) The would-be blockbuster is in trouble, and that is before Whitlock is kidnapped by a mysterious group known as “The Future.” Even if there is nothing more to that name than simply a set up for a phone-message gag, shown here in the trailer, that’d be fine, because it’s that good.

Taking place a fair bit on Studio backlots with all the hustle and bustle and politics, it will come as no surprise that the cast, is ridiculously stacked. Scarlett Johansson is back in a Coen Brother’s film (after only the tiniest of roles in The Man Who Wasn’t There), as is Tilda Swinton (Burn After Reading) and Fred Melamed (who was a scene stealer in A Serious Man.) Frances McDormand is a given, but here they’ve made her the editor, in the picture. New faces for the directors include Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill and Josh Brolin, the latter playing the studio boss. But if you keep going down the cast, you’ll see Clancy Brown, Christopher Lambert, Robert Picardo, Fisher Stevens, John Carpenter regular Peter Jason has a small role, and then there is Dolph Lundgren. (Hopefully he gets in a bar fight with Tatum.) With Roger Deakins behind the camera and Carter Burwell doing the music, well now, you’ve got yourselves a picture, don’t you. Cut and Print.

Review: Inside Llewyn Davis

Inside Llewyn Davis

A few years ago, Tom Waits did a spot on The Daily Show with John Stewart. Before the taping began, Tom was using the men’s room at the television studio, and the bathroom roof fell in on him. In some ways, this seems like the sort of thing that could only happen to Tom Waits. In both his demeanour and his artistic output, he comes across as a grizzled, weary, and down-on-his-luck. Why would anyone be drawn to someone so sad-sack and alone?

Inside Llewyn Davis spends one week in the life of its titular hero (Oscar Isaacs), a folk singer in 1961 New York City. As the film begins, we are given a clear picture of what sort of singer he is. While some of his contemporaries are singing plucky tunes bound for AM radio play, he takes to smokey stages in dank clubs singing from the point of view of a criminal about to be hanged.

Llewyn is talented, there’s no denying that. Sadly, he’s also broke. After his first performance in the film, he awakes on the couch of The Gorfeins – music appreciators that open their Upper West Side apartment to Llewyn when he needs a hand up (which is often). As he goes to leave, The Gorfeins’ cat slips out. Unable to get the cat back home, Llewyn scoops it up and begins looking after it until he can return it.

That’s Llewyn in a nutshell: locked out of the last place he called home, holding more baggage than he carried walking in.

Llewyn’s week will find him crossing paths with friends and family. Most reach out their hand to help him, but few help him for long, and few help him to the extent that he needs. With his musical career stuck in neutral, his greatest need is monetary. Besides not having a place of his own, he cannot even afford a winter coat. Slowly, Llewyn is becoming less and less of a folk singer than he is becoming a character in one of his own songs.

As a greater need for money crops up with an old friend (who now mostly hates him), Llewyn hits the bricks with his guitar and cat in hand hoping he and get something going. Of course, if he’d listened to the lyrics in the songs he sings so often, he’d know exactly how his mission will play out.

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Trailer #2: Inside Llewyn Davis

Inside Llewyn Davis

Another soulful and engaging trailer for The Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis which gets it’s wide release around Christmas time this year. There are few doubts that this film will be excellent, and the smattering of critics quotes in the trailer (I don’t look at the text of the quote, I look at the names of the critic used to assess these things) only confirm things. Great cast, great musical vibe, and great setting – the niggling question here is how easy it will be to acclimatize to the glowing-desaturated-instagram-filter cinematography with Roger Deakins sitting this one out while Bruno Delbonnel (Amélie, Dark Shadows) pinch hits.

Third Trailer: Inside Llewyn Davis

The third and probably final trailer for the new Coen Brother’s film has a wonderful song to get you through some (amusingly) depressing stuff, as Oscar Isaac’s struggling folk musician takes the hard edge of life from all sides. While I am not entirely sold on the ‘murky-attic’ cinematography of the new film (the Coen’s first film in over a decade without Roger Deakins on photographing duties), I am entirely sold on tone and content. From Carey Mulligan’s hurting looks to John Goodman’s bombast, to the caramel coloured kitty cat in Isaac’s embrace.

Check it out below.

Cannes 2013 Review Roundup Part 2

Well, the festival is over, the prizes have been given out and we can all go home and get some sleep. For those of you that haven’t found out already, here are the main competition winners:

The Palme D’Or: Blue is the Warmest Colour (a.k.a. La Vie d’Adele – Chapitre 1 & 2) by Abdellatif Kechiche (France)
The Grand Prix: Inside Llewyn Davis by Ethan and Joel Coen (U.S.)
The Jury Prize: Like Father, Like Son (a.k.a. Soshite Chichi Ni Naru) by Kore-Eda Hirokazu (Japan)
Best Director: Amat Escalante (Mexico) for Heli
Best Screenplay: A Touch of Sin (a.k.a. Tian Zhu Ding) by Jia Zhangke (China)
Best Actor: Bruce Dern in Nebraska
Best Actress: Bérénice Bejo in The Past (a.k.a. Le Passé)
The Camera D’Or (for first feature): Ilo Ilo by Anthony Chen (Singapore)

On Sunday they replayed all of the main competition films for standard badge-holders so I managed to cram in another 5 of the ‘big’ films. I tried to catch Polanski’s Venus in Furs too, but it was full by the time I arrived. Anyway, here are my thoughts on the last handful of films I saw at Cannes in 2013. Would you like to know more…?

My 13 Most Anticipated Films of 2013

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In honour of finally seeing a 2013 movie that I’ve been eager to catch (Chan-wook Park’s Stoker – which was a heaping batch of candy and colour coated fun), I thought I would lay out some of the films I’m most excited to see in 2013. I’m sure I’ve missed a bunch (I’ve heard that Lucretia Martel has a new one coming out this year, but haven’t found any confirmation) and I could make the list even longer (sorry Richard Kelly and Terry Gilliam – you guys just missed the cut), but these 13 stand out as my most anticipated:

 

Mood Indigo – Michel Gondry

I’ve already mentioned in a previous post that this became my number one “can’t wait for it” movie of the year the second I heard about it. I’ll always be curious what Gondry does and this looks to have a great sense of wonder to it.

 

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A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Reflecting On Existence – Roy Andersson

This would likely be my number one if I could only be assured it was actually coming out this year…I was over the moon for Andersson’s last film You, The Living from 2007 (not to mention adoring his 2000 film Songs From The Second Floor), so I’ve been waiting somewhat, though only somewhat, patiently for the follow-up…After seeing The Story Of Film at TIFF 2011, I was able to chat very briefly with director Mark Cousins and he said he had seen Andersson’s new film and that it was amazing. And now that this is the third year in a row that predictions are being made about it’s arrival at Cannes, the patience is, ahem, wearing thin. The word “eager” doesn’t even come close to describing my anticipation.

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It’s here! First trailer for Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis!

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We haven’t seen much from the Coen Brothers’ much anticipated Inside Llewyn Davis, surprising considering that the movie is due for release on February 8th (thanks to the comments section for clearing up the erroneous date. No release date is confirmed), but a trailer has emerged and it looks very different from the directing duo’s last few outings.

Part of it is the fact that Roger Deakins was unavailable to shoot this project, too busy on Skyfall I presume, but Bruno Delbonnel, known best for Across the Universe and Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince brings a beautiful dreamlike aesthetic to the picture which nicely captures the 60s setting of the movie.

The story is loosely based on the life of influential folk musician Dave van Ronk and stars Oscar Isaac as the titular character with Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund and Justin Timberlake in supporting roles (though Timberlake is nowhere to be seen in this trailer). It’s certainly a fantastic cast and there’s some great dialogue in the trailer (surprise, surprise) particularly from Mulligan.