Cinecast Episode 465 – Ny Ny York

Award season is upon us and from here on out we’ll be diving into a lot of so-called “Oscar Contenders.” Perhaps no other film in 2016 is as universally lauded as Damien Chazelle’s La La Land starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. Andrew and Kurt are finally able to put a discussion to this picture after Kurt had seen it months ago at The TIFF. Is it quite the spectacle everyone claims? From there, we quickly pound through a Watch List that includes Mozart in the Jungle, some b-level (c-level?) sci-fi horror pictures, Wes Anderson at his “most mature” and venture back to the Satruday morning cartoon cereals. This episode is kept a little tighter this week. If you want a little more from the guys, be sure to check out The Super Ticket with the Mamo Matts in which we talk a little movie called Star Wars Rogue One.

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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Friday One Sheet: La La Land

There is certainly nothing wrong with simplicity. This minimal poster for upcoming Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling musical, La La Land, still offers plenty of information. The posh clothing indicates a swanky night out, the stage door sign indicated that this is likely the two performing. Not sure what the cool blue tint is indicative of, but the text helpfully offers that the film is from, Damien Chazelle, the director of Whiplash.

The musical premieres in Venice and Toronto in the coming weeks before getting a limited theatrical release in December.

Review: Aloha

Director: Cameron Crowe (Say Anything, Jerry Maguire, Vanilla Sky)
Writer: Cameron Crowe
Producers: Scott Rudin, Cameron Crowe
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, Bill Murray, John Krasinski, Danny McBride, Alec Baldwin
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 105 min.



My original posting of this review can be found on LetterBoxd


If the “write what you know” credo is true for Cameron Crowe, he must be living a pretty solid life. Films like Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous have deservedly lasted as cultural touchstones, but even then their conflicts seemed pretty inane in the grand scheme of things. It’d be something of an understatement to say that he’s been on a decline over the past decade, since at least the release of the dreadfully vanilla Elizabethtown demonstrated a complete lack of bite that had always been present in his work but only then had reached its apex to a resounding chorus of “who cares?” It took him six years to follow that up and while We Bought a Zoo wasn’t quite the piteous experience, it remained clear that Crowe had reached a point where his nascent charm had been too buried by sentimental earnestness that aroused as much rolling of the eyes as it did guilty smiles under a veil of confection.

It’s hard to argue that Aloha, his latest picture after another lengthy break, doesn’t continue the trend. Starring Bradley Cooper as a hotshot military contractor who returns to Hawaii after a disastrous setback in order to regain his mojo and respect, Crowe populates the luscious setting with as many pretty white faces as he can find. Emma Stone is the Air Force liaison sent to babysit Cooper’s Brian Gilcrest, Rachel McAdams is his former flame who is now shacked up with John Krasinski and their two adorable children, and even Bill Murray and Alec Baldwin pop in to steal a couple of scenes. While Aloha is (over) cluttered with a dense tapestry of plots ranging from nuclear arms in outer space to mythical Hawaiian legends, there’s always the pervading feeling that none of it really matters because everything will turn out okay in the end. Personal crises may be wreaking havoc on poor Gilcrest, but all you have to do is put on a Hall & Oates song and you can watch Emma Stone and Bill Murray deliver a deliriously entertaining dance sequence to make you forget all of your troubles.

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Cinecast Episode 363 – Maybe We Should not Give Up on Megan Fox

Back to a more classic styled Cinecast for Andrew and Kurt this week, a relaxed conversation on two major celebrity deaths these past few days, the smaller theatrical releases: Magic in the Moonlight, I Origins, Coherence and film festivaling. It’s all pleasant and sweet agreement for the first half of the show but things slowly go south at the start of the 1984 Project (which sees Roy Scheider in 2010 but really just doing his character from Jaws) and the nerd-shit really hits the fan as Ready Player One enters the conversation.

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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CRAZY Teaser for Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman

Using a remix of Charles Barkeley’s Crazy, the first teaser of the new film from Alejandro González Iñárritu (Biutiful, Babel, Amores Perros) is exactly that. Kind of a fantasia, kind of a super hero flick, kind of a slapstick farce. The whole thing is shot with a very confident sense of style. Consider me teased.

Michael Keaton is back in full movie star mode here as the titular character, a washed-up actor who once played an iconic superhero who must overcome his ego and family trouble as he mounts a Broadway play. And, as both Wes Anderson and David Fincher have both shown in the past, movies are simply better when Edward Norton gets sucker-punched in the face. Emma Stone, Zack Galifianakis, Amy Ryan, Naomi Watts and Andrea Riseborough co-star.

If you check out only one thing today, it should be the below teaser trailer for Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance).

Review: The Croods

A very brief and somewhat biased history lesson: Dreamworks Animation, after years of foisting smarmy talking animals, questionable pop songs and a litany of fart jokes on indiscriminate family audiences, released How To Train Your Dragon. It was a film with no small amount of ambition in terms of visual aesthetics and had an abundance of heart. Usually, Dreamworks Animation sits in the long shadow of Pixar, who around that time were putting out Cars 2, so it was a bit of a topsyturvy world which lasted only the briefest of moments as Pixar quickly recovered with their third quality Toy Story movie and Dreamworks numbly churned out Madagascar and Shrek sequels. All this is to say that when Dragon co-director Chris Sanders was the man put in charge of Dreamwork’s latest feature, The Croods, and Monsters University seems lazy as all hell, 2013 promised similar downside-up deja vu.

Maybe not.

After watching The Croods die a slow death-by-committee, I feel that perhaps the original story of a fearful and conservative prehistoric family forced to find a new home in an unforgiving world outside their comfort zone, would represent some risk-taking in the narrative department. The film skims some pretty controversial themes for a kids flick in this particular young century. The first is the cave clan’s ongoing over-reaction (espoused in a myth-making Chauvet-esque prologue), ) to the demise of their immediate neighbours; a healthy concern for survival that edges into fear, uncertainty and doubt. The world is a dangerous place for those of the cro-magnon variety. Exchanging comfort and freedom and a zest for living for security, painting the crudes, excuse me, Croods as a bunch of xenophobic ugly Americans as their 9/11 event fast approaches. The event, here geological, in some way echoes Star Trek II‘s ‘Genesis Project’ and for a time, it feels like the film is going to espouse some old fashioned Roddenberry logic, that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Couple this with the idea that one generation often has to make big sacrifices for the benefit of prosperity of the next, and the ongoing baby-boomer disaster that is the current world-wide economic meltdown, and you’ve got some heady subtext for a brightly animated Quest For Fire riff. Indeed, the film struggles with the generational gap between wide-eyed optimism of youth and pragmatic caution of folks who have witnessed a fairer share of death and loss; that is to say there is a smidgen of the anxious dad of Finding Nemo (and possibly the only time ever you will be able to compare Albert Brooks to Nicholas Cage.) Even further, it throws out the can-do spirit of the use of new and untested technology (fire and, oddly, shoes), as a way of advancing into the darkness with the risk of torching oneself in the tall dry grass; this instead of the conservative, tried-and-true idealogy – hiding in the dark and waiting for the danger to pass. The film piles all these things on its plate with an ambitious, almost effortless, glee, then takes the safe, conservative, non-confrontational approach to the whole darn thing. The Croods may say one thing, but it wants to keep hiding in its safe market-tested cave. Damn you Dreamworks.

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My Love for Film in a Snapshot #15

It’s a moment that’s quite brief, very subtle and can easily be missed, but was one of my favourite little pieces of acting in 2010. The far-better-than-one-could-ever-have-expected Easy A provides charm, a good deal of humour and some top notch parenting tips, but it’s really all centered on Emma Stone. It goes without saying that she’s lovely and talented, but she also has an ease and immediate rapport with the audience and an ability to rattle off sharp lines with speed, clarity and a great sense of timing that was far more common in the Heyday of the studio system in the 30s-40s. The screenshot above doesn’t quite do her justice – this really should be held for “My Love for Film in a half-second Video Clip” – but it’s a high point for Stone in the film while capturing her character Olive Pendergrast’s low point: she thought she had finally found someone who might actually be decent only to realize that he was just like all the rest. She’s been holding her composure throughout the last few weeks of rumours and lies, but this is that final straw. It snaps and she can’t help showing the pain; that moment when all the air seems to get sucked out of your chest. Olive has pretty much lost all faith in general humanity at this point, but Stone doesn’t overplay it. It comes across as a genuine grimace at a crushing blow followed by the strong-willed determination to keep the tough exterior and get through this without letting “them” see that you care. It’s a truly fine performance and terrific moment by a great young actress.

Cinecast Episode 183 – The Jogging Gay Guys

Thanks to regular RowThree contributor and all around nice guy, Bob Turnbull for showing up once again on this week’s Cinecast to help us all digest the massive movie extravaganza known as this years edition Toronto International Filmfestival (aka TIFF10). Also, a hearty welcome to the longest Row Three Cinecast episode of all time. Bob and Kurt give some preview and insight into much anticipated films from Werner Herzog, Darren Aronofsky, Danny Boyle, Mike Leigh, Sion Sono, Errol Morris, John Carpenter, Sylvain Chomet, and the folks behind Not Quite Hollywood looking at the Drive-In cheapies shot in the Philippines. And then there is the really off-beat stuff like a post-apocalyptic-vampire-western-road movie, Stake Land (which is magnificent), a naughty DIY costumed hero flick from James Gun called Super and starring Ellen Page and Kevin Bacon, an Eva Green starring ethereal cloning drama from Hungary, but in English, called Womb, and a film that will make you completely reassess how you feel about Santa Claus and his elf posse when the jolly fat man is portrayed as a 25 meter tall horned demon encased in a block of ice under a Finnish mountain. But before all that, Andrew managed to catch Ben Affleck’s latest directorial effort, The Town as well as the much talked about I’m Still Here starring Joaquin Phoenix and directed by the other Affleck, Casey. Easy A also available to the multiplex crowd has Bob and Kurt heap a fair bit of love onto the film in an effort to get Andrew to give it a chance. Yes, folks, it is that good. A few other movies we watched, DVD picks (we’re all a bit drunk at this point) and the odd tangent keep this podcast unspooling and unspooling.
We hope you enjoy this latest show and 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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TIFF Review: Easy A



Funny, but not unusual at a film festival, to see a documentary about the crumbling, actually, quite crumbled, American school system (Waiting For Superman) back to back with a Hollywood neo-John Hughes picture. If nothing else it underscores that the high schools portrayed in the multiplexes are gigantic and facile ‘drama engines.’ Not news to you, but it is something that Easy A has a lot of fun being and exploiting at the earnest distance of Juno and the romantic fantasy of Say Anything. or perhaps (because the film keeps coming back to it again and again) Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. So I have established that this is a very meta high-school movie that that knows its Juno from its Ghost World from its “Veronica Mars” from its (judging by an elaborate schoolyard tracking shot, amongst other things) Donnie Darko. It is a high school movie written by and for people in their thirties and forties and it is flattering enough to have most of the adult supporting players, an all-star list including Patricia Clarkson, Stanley Tucci and Thomas Hayden Church, pander (and comment on their pandering) to that audience. And yet the whole glossy affair is still pretty darned endearing.
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