David Fincher’s Seven @ 20.

True story: I went out for my very first date with my wife back in September 1995 to see a movie where Morgan Freeman and the up and coming movie star, Brad Pitt, track down a serial killer. My wife whispered in my ear that the opening credits was a remix of Nine Inch Nail’s Closer, and we lost our minds during the ‘Sloth’ sequence. To this day, I actually consider Seven to be a good date movie with the right person.

Also, as an opening credits nerd, this film had one of the most influential credit sequences in the past several decades. If you go see the Whitey Bulger movie, Black Mass, you will see that designers are still doing this sort of thing, even today.

The sequence where Morgan Freeman peruses the library is one of my favourite things ever put on film. Happy birthday to one of the most meticulous and weirdly dark pop-culture hits films ever made.

Cinecast Episode 376 – 2014 in Review: Ski Lifts & Psychological Rape

We needed a referee. Seriously. And unless it’s Jesse “The Body” Ventura, we might as well not even bother. The rampages on 2014-in-film are epic: Battles are fought, won, lost and lines are drawn in the sand (Cross this line, you DO NOT…) Also, Jim Laczkowski from The Director’s Club Podcast is here to help us figure out Inherent Vice. Is it “pure shit” or “something that needs to be seen 18 times to enjoy”? And where does Matt Gamble come down within the argument? Shortly after tackling the critical darling that seems to be Selma, we look at all of the trends and highs and lows of 2014: from lack of strong female performances to computer desktop horror to the importance of ski lifts and dog revenge. Everything culminated in our annual top ten list and figuring out the odds (or lack thereof) of best picture winner.

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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Cinecast Episode 368 – Marriage as an Extreme Sport

Andrew and Kurt are back together. It’s been rocky these past 30 days, but they’ve decided to give their relationship another go. We’ll be easing back into it – we don’t want to rush anything. So we’re foregoing The 1984 Project this week and keeping The Watch List light and breezy. As it has more or less been David Fincher week across the webs, Kurt takes our lengthy discussion on GONE GIRL and continues the conversation with ZODIAC and SE7EN. Andrew goes back further in time to a galaxy far, far away and re-evaluates George Lucas’ masterpieces also known as Episodes I, II & III. We’ll be back next week with a full throttle show that will include a lengthier watch list, The Karate Kid and at least two theatricals.

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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Review: Gone Girl


Marriage as hell is a common enough theme in the movies, and Gone Girl is whip-smart, provocative, and divorced from reality in all the right ways.

David Fincher’s Gone Girl is both a career retrospective of his common themes: Killers, geniuses, social hackers, institutions as head-space (here wedlock), and cat-and-mouse gamesmanship. At one point a character comments on the name of Nick Dunne’s bar: “The Bar,” as amusingly meta. The casting of Affleck himself, an almost-A-list actor who has gone through the love-hate tabloid cycle with his relationships and his movies, is perfect. Nick Dunne goes through a similar cycle as the movie moves through its meticulous contortions. At times it feels like Fincher was not satisfied enough with balance of realism and momentum in The Game, and felt the need to remake it as spousal oneupmanship. Gone Girl is a dark delight if you have a certain mindset.
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Trailer: Gone Girl

If you want a lesson in rhythm in how to cut a preview, (and do recall the Coen’s A Serious Man teaser), consider the full trailer for David Fincher’s Gone Girl the way to do it with exposition and dialogue. The way that things are culminating along several tracks and all come to a head in the final moment of the teaser is, well, an art unto itself. Not so much a lesson in empathy, but more of a tense build-up of suspicion in just over two minutes.

Adapted from the novel by Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl exposes the secrets at the heart of a marriage and does so on a massively public stage. Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) reports that his wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), has gone missing on their wedding anniversary. Under pressure from the police and a growing media frenzy, Nick’s portrait of a blissful union begins to crumble. Soon his lies, deceits and visible lack of empathy have everyone asking the same dark question.

Oh, and there is a fair bit of Neil Patrick Harris in there, which is never a bad thing.

Trailer: Gone Girl

David Fincher is back after a hiatus with TV (the first few episodes on House of Cards Season 1) with Gone Girl, the movie adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s novel of the same name. The film stars Ben Affleck as a man who becomes the prime suspect in a murder when his wife vanishes. The signature urine-yellow lighting, dwarfing the characters in architecture and media spaces are all present, but I am not alone in finding the musical choice here to undermine instead of underscore the mood. Your mileage may vary. You know my bum is in a cinema seat the moment this comes out, when the director finds himself in that Zodiac kind of mood.

Further question, is the final shot of the trailer a spoiler, or a red herring? I’ve not read the book, but it seems a daring thing to do and an easy thing to play coy with the non-book readers. Please consider the question rhetorical and withhold spoilers.

Cinecast Episode 275 – Flaming Zemeckis

Continuing with another week centered around an interesting title to talk about, Corey Pierce from CriticalMassCast joins us for a (SPOILER!) filled discussion on structure, themes and mouth-feel of Looper. Corey explains the ‘Rule of Awesome’ when it comes to these types of movies, and whether or not to nitpick. Kurt obsesses about the visual queues in the film and Andrew contemplates Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s adoption of Bruce Willis’ body language. We move on to grading homework, wherein Matt Gamble joins us for colour commentary and general merriment. The Watch List has Corey giving a mini-review of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, while Kurt falls down the Kubrick rabbit hole with visual essays both good and bad. Micro-discussions on The Fountain, Christopher Guest, Electric Cars, The Game, Alan Rickman and Compliance ensue.

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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Countdown to Prometheus: The Legacy of Alien

The Alien franchise is unusual for several reasons. It started with a highly successful, even visionary, film from an almost unknown director (Ridley Scott’s The Duellists had been a modest success in England, but it was Alien that boosted him to international fame). Seven years later came a sequel from a different director, set in the same universe but with a decidedly different tone and approach. Both Alien and Aliens are excellent films in their own right, and James Cameron (in only his third feature film) managed to build his own unique niche which expanded the original mythology, rather than simply trying to clone the first film.

It would be six more years before the third film in the series followed, and Alien3 was again the work of a newcomer director. David Fincher had only directed music videos up to the time he was hired to carry on the Alien franchise, and thanks to script issues and studio interference, it was not a great experience. Thankfully, Fincher has gone on to ever-greater things, but as you’ll see in our write-up, perhaps the third entry is undeservedly maligned. Still, despite lukewarm reception from fans and critics, Alien3 was successful enough for a fourth film to be made five years later, the also-coolly-received Alien: Resurrection, helmed by French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet in his only American film to date. Four films, made over a span of almost twenty years, all directed by different people, each of whom happened to be relative newcomers to Hollywood. We repeat: this franchise is unusual.

Despite the popular lack of enthusiasm for the last two films in the franchise (and we’re not even getting into the crossover Alien vs. Predator films), Alien has left its mark on the cinematic landscape for all time, combining a fantastically original visual design with a genre-mashing sci-fi/horror (and in Aliens, sci-fi/horror/action) story that set a lasting tone for science fiction which has persisted to the present day. In visual terms, the pristine and sterile spaceships of 2001: A Space Odyssey are gone. In their place is a rough-and-tumble spacecraft and a species of sentient (?) aliens bent on destruction and their own procreation, dripping with sexualized imagery. The themes in Alien run deep, hitting us with our most primal fears. And it’s not unremarkable that the hero of all this is a woman – the quintessential Final Girl who didn’t ask to be brought into all this, but has the smarts, the willpower, and (eventually) the skills to withstand all that gets thrown at her – not just by the aliens, but by the patriarchal society that continually tries to refuse her voice. Ellen Ripley remains an iconic figure, but an icon who is deeply and viscerally human, one of the greatest gifts that the many legacies of Alien have left us.

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