Gambit Trailer

I want to yell at the people on youtube who are complaining that a movie called Gambit isn’t about the X-men character but that is a side note. What is more important is to let you know you should watch the trailer for the remake of the 1966 Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine comedy. First off the trailer is pretty fun but more importantly it is penned by the Coen Brothers. It was set for release in just under two weeks on October 12th but has now been pushed back into early 2013.

Movies We Watched

Sometimes we watch stuff that we want to talk just a little bit about, not a full review worth. These are those films. If any of the films reviewed are available on Netflix Instant Watch (US or Canada) or HuluPlus (US only), we’ll note that by putting a direct link below the capsule.

Everything Must Go

2010 USA. Director: Dan Rush. Starring: Will Ferrell, Rebecca Hall, Christopher Jordan Wallace, Michael Pena, Laura Dern.

This is Will Ferrell reminding us that he can do more than his usual loud comedy schtick – which gets tiresome quite quickly – and proving he’s a more than decent dramatic actor (he did the same thing with the underrated Stranger Than Fiction a few years back). Ferrell plays a recovering alcoholic whose wife leaves him, and as a result leaves all of his belongings on the lawn. With nowhere to go and pressure from the law to move on, he decides to hold a yard sale to buy himself some time. Nice supporting performances from Rebecca Hall and relative newcomer Christopher Jordan Wallace and a script that walks the comedy-drama line pretty well. Altogether a little too slight to leave much of a lasting impression but a pleasant, enjoyable watch nonetheless.


1959 France. Director: Robert Bresson. Starring: Martin LaSalle, Marika Green, Jean Pélégri, Dolly Scal, Pierre Leymarie.

The film postulates that humanity cannot find salvation without first making a lot of dumb and irrational mistakes. I do not disagree with this assessment. Salvation for our eponymous compulsive thief comes from a woman who, at the time it is safe to assume, was the most attractive woman on the planet (Malika Green, who apparently is Eva Green’s aunt). Three things struck out at me visually while watching this brand spankin’ new 35mm print of the film: First, the director favours his actors constantly walking at the camera from the long distance in a single unbroken shot. It happens often enough that it has to be intentional. I’m not sure what that means in terms of story, but it has the effect that the thief is coming for you, or your wallet, or your to await your judgement. It’s a pretty swell visual strategy. Second, there is a wallet-theft montage which takes place in a train-station and on a train in the latter third of the film that is pure joyous art. Really wonderfully done. Third, the splicing right before fade out transitions is so obvious such that you can perceive the cut every single time by a brightness shift. I wonder how often this was the case for films of that era, because never was it more obvious here. I know we should leave these things intact, but really, someone should fix that, it’s distracting and pulls you out of the film.

Hulu Plus (US)

Would you like to know more…?

Movies We Watched

Sometimes we watch stuff that we want to talk just a little bit about, not a full review worth. These are those films. If any of the films reviewed are available on Netflix Instant Watch (US or Canada) or HuluPlus (US only), we’ll note that by putting a direct link below the capsule.


1979 USSR. Director: Andrei Tarkovsky. Starring: Alisa Freyndlikh, Aleksandr Kaydanovskiy, Anatoliy Solonitsyn.

Stalker asks the big questions by asking why we ask the big questions. A film this dry and humourless (but ultimately, quite hilarious) could only be made in Russia. It bleakly proposes that art, science and religion are all male dodges to responsibilities at home, which I guess questions the very nature of why the film itself exists. I’d say this is ripe for a SCTV or Monty Python parody, but I guess, The Meaning of Life kinda covers some of the bases. Ultimately, it’s doom and gloom (pre-Chernobyl in the same way Fight Club is pre-9/11) premise says to me, “It’s not the end of the world, it’s just the end of the fuckin’ day.” (Apologies to Tony Burgess, and Pontypool for that…)

Intolerable Cruelty

2003 USA. Director: Coen Brothers. Starring: George Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Some would classify Intolerable Cruelty as a minor Coen Brothers work and I suppose that actually would be accurate. But as often stated, lesser Coen Brothers is better than 90% of the shit out there. And this movie is solid solid solid. Even with all the cliche tropes of conventional movie making (slow claps, fingers on the lips, etc.) the Coens somehow manage to make it their own and everything in here is goofy fun with pure magic backing it up. George Clooney recently gave the “performance of a lifetime” in The Descendants, but damn if his turns in Coen films aren’t right on the heels of that performance. He knows exactly how to ham it up for the camera and he is outright hilarious here. All of the side characters are of almost equal charm and hilarity – gotta love Billy-Bob as the paper-eating oil man. The story feels predictable but mysterious at the same time and every moment feels fresh and new – even though you’ve seen it before. The Coens have stuck with the same DP and set decorator since Miller’s Crossing, and even though this one is a bit brighter and glossier than their other works, these attributes of the movie stand tall. In short, fantastic Friday night date movie that everyone should love. If you don’t love it, we’re divorced.

Would you like to know more…?

Cinecast Episode 247 – That’s Just The Kind of Pretentious Twaddle I like!

Here we are a week before Oscars and there is so little to talk about on that front other than that there is so little to talk about. Gamble gives a run-down on the Best Animated Shorts which are always worth a look. Kurt gives a sparkling review of the latest Studio Ghibli animated feature; a Japanese spin on the classic British children’s novel The Borrowers. Re-titled The Secret World of Arrietty, the film is surprisingly adult in tone and theme and worth looking at on the big screen. We spend a tangent-driven span of time grading the homework assignments (criminal clowns) before diving into The Watch List: Wil Wheaton, Elliot Gould, Alain Delon, Brian DePalma, Michelangelo Antonioni, Billy Bob Thorton and Anna Faris! Andrew goes to town on smashing Tiny Furniture. Matt goes to town on pummeling the seven-year-delayed Margaret (and in the pejorative sense thinks Kurt and Rot will love it).

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:

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

So That’s Your Friend in the Wood Chipper?

The oddest of marketing hooks for a brewery, but a pretty awesome pet-name for a hang-over. I hope it is not a red style ale (actually, it is an India Pale Ale), but I wouldn’t put it past this North Dakota micro-brew who are launching a product that references the famous conclusion to the Coen Brother’s absurdo-noir classic, Fargo. The first beer launched by the craft brewer, The Fargo Beer Company, is called, The Wood Chipper. If you order nicely, Peter Stormare will come over to your table and pop the top for you (you may have to take him to the iHOP later though…)

Pass me a Wood Chipper? You Betcha!

Via Twincities.

Inside Llewyn Davis: The Next Film from The Brothers Coen

I know I am not the only one excited to know what the next film from Joel and Ethan Coen will be. They have scripted the Michael Hoffman (The Last Station) helmed remake of Gambit; that according to IMDB is currently in post-production. The next project that they will be both directing and writing may at first seem a tad peculiar amongst the rest of the Brothers’¬†filmography. That very project is an adaptation of Dave Van Ronk’s memoir The Mayor of MacDougal Street.

It was back in June during the opening of the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, a new facility erected on behalf of The Film Society of Lincoln Center, that the Coens first made allusions to this new venture. As they sat alongside Noah Baumbach in a discussion of their films’ openings mentions were made of a script in progress that will feature naturalistic dialogue, a lot single instrument-music performances to be recorded live on set, and extreme attention to capture the feel of a specific time and place. That time and place will be no other than New York City’s Greenwich Village during the ’60s, the epicenter of the folk music revival scene which spawned Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell,and Phil Ochs to name a few. Dave Van Ronk was a friendly staple of the Village, and noted as a major influence of the sound which defined many of the performers who came out of there with a blend of blues style, and complex harmonies.

Variety announced this week that StudioCanal will co-finance the film. In addition, Scott Rudin will produce while Robert Graf will act as Executive Producer – the same positions they filled on No Country for Old Men and True Grit. It was also revealed that the film will now be called Inside Llewyn Davis. This can surely be seen as an indicator that this won’t be a direct adaptation. In a recent interview with frequent Coen-collaborator Roger Deakins, the master cinematographer spoke of a film he was going to shoot in a style emulating the work of D.A. Pennebaker. If I was the sort of lad who liked to place bets, Inside Llewyn Davis is that movie. This is interesting on a number of levels. Other than the opportunity for bold characters this (at least to me) wouldn’t seem like obvious Coen fare. The stylistic details that have been mentioned have writers around the net making Robert Altman comparisons. Joel and Ethan themselves regarded to Baumbach at the Lincoln Center function that it would be something he would do. It would definitely seem as if they want move away from the sensibility we all know them for as their remake of True Grit, while no doubt having some Coen flourishes, still seems quite restrained in the light of their other work even compared with something like Miller’s Crossing. Not to in any way imply that is indicative of quality. Another aspect of this is how cool it will to see a movie within this world. The Village-Folk scene has really only been touched upon in light of Dylan as in Todd Haynes’ I’m Not There and Scorsese’s documentary No Direction Home. I am a sucker for music films, and even more fascinated when they attempt to embody a particular scene itself. Well, I am already there. The Coen Brothers could make a movie based on Swedish Fish, and my tickets already bought. Your thoughts, the Third Row?


Michael Bay loves Coen Brothers Supporting Players


At an entertaining and boisterous drink-up in a Toronto pub with an eclectic mix of film fans, filmmakers and writers last night, Mamo! Matt Price lamented that while there are Lebowski Fests all over the world, there are no Miller’s Crossing fests, and that started not only the germ of an idea. After all, it is a toss up behind Lebowski which is the more all-out quotable Coen Brothers movie – O Brother Where Art Thou?, Fargo or Miller’s Crossing – but I tend to side with the latter (and don’t you dare give me the high hat!) Nevertheless, there was a lament also that Jon Polito has not shown up in a Coen Brothers joint in some time, and that, kind moviegoers, is a damn shame.

Maybe Michael Bay will hire him to wear a G-String and be peed on or something for his next movie.

Huh? That’s a hell of a non sequitur there, isn’t it? Maybe not.

It is no secret, albeit I have heard no compelling explanation why, that Michael Bay tends to pilfer top notch character actors and then make them ham it up with bad dialogue (big air quotes around the d-word which is uttered with the utmost caution on a M-Bay set) and drops them into embarrassing situations to strip them of any dignity, joy or shame. Many folks have probably noticed that he is particularly fond of taking Coen Brothers regulars and dropping them into his film. For instance, Transformers 3 has no less than three actors: Frances McDormand, John Turturro and John Malkovich which ties Armageddon (Billy Bob Thorton, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare (the latter two who have a very good, but very distinctly Non-Fargo or Big Lebowski, scene together, but these two actors prolific as they may be – this might all be coincidence – but they also appear in several other Michael Bay features (Buscemi in The Island, Storemare in Bad Boys II). Also, William Forsythe (John Goodman’s highly amusing prison-pal from Raising Arizona) also shows up in The Rock.

All this to say that I’m not the first to notice this, and getting back to Jon Polito for a moment, this MovieLine article suggests that yea, if The Coen’s can’t find work for the man, then at least he should draw a big paycheck to stand in front of some Bayhem.

In the meantime, who wants to help get a Millers-Con off the ground? Hey, what’s the rumpus?

Cinecast Episode 209 – Respect the Troll Canon

After a couple of lean and mean episodes, we bring the show back to is usual epic size and clock in a 3.5 hour conversation. This is due to a number of things. Everyone was able to catch Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams and discussion about art, 3D, and Wernerisms ensue. Andrew has been taking in the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival and talks about boarding schools, Eva Green and troll hunting. Matt Gamble (Where the Long Tail Ends) returns after a week hiatus and reviews Scream 4 (*SPOILER HEAVY*) and this leads into a discussion of the whole Scream franchise but really, Kurt and Matt only want to talk about The People Under the Stairs. Then there is a fairly heated argument about Speed Racer and how it is kind of like Ronin Miller’s Crossing. Kurt gets angry. Matt gets condescending. (Things get even less civil later on when talking about Philip Ridley’s dark and unclassifiable fairy tale, Heartless.) Moving along, and putting arguing styles aside, we move into what we watched which includes couple of interesting documentaries, one of the super rich the other on mysterious street art. There is some talk about The Joneses and joy of David Duchovny’s self-caricature idiom, there is lots of worship of Christopher Lee and The Wicker Man. And, of course, the proverbial much, much more!

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:

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

Hands up if you Want a Coen Brothers Horror Film!


*Raises Hand* OK, so this is still in the early stages, but the Coen Brothers were talking to Empire Magazine and they mentioned that there is a 50% chance of their next film being a straight up horror picture. They have two scripts in development, and did not indicate what the other one was, but at this point, the mind fills with possibilities of a full on horror film from the Brothers. They have always dabbled in some extreme imagery or scary elements here and there (the dybbuk prologue in A Serious Man, The hotel and John Goodman’s Devil in Barton Fink, Randall Tex Cobb in Raising Arizona), and of course, Joel Coen was an editor on Sam Raimi’s first Evil Dead film.

Via Empire who chatted with the Brothers on their upcoming projects.

Cinecast Episode 200(!) – Stats, Stories and Sunshine


So, the better part of five years just seems to have flown by us in a podcasting frenzy. First, THANKS(!) to everyone who has ever downloaded or streamed a show and actually listened to the thing in its entirety. We certainly could do the show without you, but what would be the point? It would not be as much fun or as rewarding without the feedback and comments; so thank you very much for all the interaction over the years! Also, several shout-outs in the show go to various people that have helped out over the years (you know who you are!) There is no main review this week, instead we spend the majority of our time working out personal issues with one another and just sort of reminiscing about the podcast. Also, favourite films, favourite film going experiences and a big old batch of great listener emails (two hours of that!) Eventually, we talk a little on The Mechanic on The Mechanic and sort through the great selection of DVDs coming out this week.

So, excuse (or indulge) in a great big boatload of narcissism (fair warning!) and thanks everyone for listening and supporting over the past half decade. Here is to you and here is to two hundred more. Cheers!

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:

ALTERNATIVE (no music track):

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

Review: True Grit (2010)

Director: Joel and Ethan Coen (Raising Arizona, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, A Serious Man)
Novel: Charles Portis
Screenplay: Joel and Ethan Coen
Producers: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, Scott Rudin
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Hailee Steinfeld, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Barry Pepper
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 110 min.

Tough to go any extended length of time knowing that a Coen Brothers film is right around the corner. It is an event for most cinephiles and everything else just seems to pale in comparison with the expectations and anticipation felt by movie goers everywhere. So finally the day comes and we rush to the theater with excitement. Is it worth the wait? The short answer is yes. True Grit has all of the trappings of a Coen Brothers picture; complete with antiquated, yet somehow goofy dialogue, fabulous casting, a fun storyline (often having to do with a satchel of money or some sort of “on the run” scenario) and of course Roger Deakins. Yes, this is a worthy trip to the multi-plex this holiday season. But there are some reservations.

It must be understood that this is not a remake of a film of the same name produced in 1968 and starring the late, great John Wayne. No, this is the Coens’ own interpretation of the novel. That said, having seen the 1968 version, one would find it difficult to not compare the two as they’re both extremely similar on many levels – neither of them deviating much from the screenplay-like dialogue of the book. So I’ll get this out of the way first: overall, I like the original version of the film better. It’s arguably not fair to compare the two movies and one should let this product stand on its own. But again, that’s difficult to do with the previous version so fresh in the mind and if I were letting it stand on its own I’d say its certainly a lesser entry into the repertoire of Joel and Ethan.
Would you like to know more…?