Cinecast Episode 450 – My Hot Dogs Got Cold

Andrew and Kurt are Bourne again. And while both of them preferred the status quo (Bourne swam off into the moonlight, all was right with the amnesiac super-spy). It was 2007 when Matt Damon said he had no interest in coming back to do any more of these, but the power of Greengrass compels you! The power of Greengrass compels you!

So, here we are with the fifth film in the Bourne franchise, nearly a decade after Bourne popped up on the grid. Some of the principle cast returns, Greengrass is of course back with his shakiest of cams, and there is a whole slew of new and interesting actors added to the mix. Did the new film hit the mark or did it simply squander all the moolah and talent it had going for it? We discuss.

Then it is off to Montreal where Kurt gives the full recap all the films he caught and various sundry adventures he had during his ten-day gallop through the mega-sized genre fest. A small watch list includes Andrew finishing Netflix’ “Stranger Things” and Kurt revisiting the middle chapter of Sergio Leone’s Dollars Trilogy. It is a monster-sized show, but one we think you will enjoy. Have at it!

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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Fantasia 2015 Review: Nina Forever

I had a university professor (English literature) who was fond of saying, “Nobody walks away happy from a threeway.” I wonder what he would have to say about the Blaine Brothers’ Nina Forever, a dark but droll relationship drama that layers on the blood and the sex. This movie, quite literally, has to change the bed sheets often.

Rob is a bright young man whose future is put on hold after a vehicle accident leaves his girlfriend Nina dead, and his own psyche is scarred to the point of depression and suicide. While receiving support from Nina’s parents, who were, it seems, closer to him than his own, Rob works at a minimum wage, low engagement, job as a cashier clerk.

There he meets Holly, a bright young thing we see getting dumped at the beginning of the film by her vanilla boyfriend who tells her that she is too safe and happy. Talk about the ceramic pot calling the kettle white. Holly is studying to become a paramedic, and they bond over Rob’s nasty road rash from his latest attempt to crash his motorcycle and his life. But sparks fly, and clothes drop to the floor, and before you can say “rebound,” something curious happens: Rob’s emotional baggage manifests itself as a blood and broken glass-encrusted ex-girlfriend, right in the bed, wedging herself between Holly and Rob.

Awkward.
Kind of creepy.
And funny as hell.

And yet, unlike the recent duo of ‘zombie girlfriend’ flicks Life After Beth and Burying The Ex, Nina Forever aims for sharp emotional catharsis, and it dares to get at resonating emotional questions for those young enough to be in their first (or second) serious relationship.

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Cinecast Episode 405 – SPECTRE-tacular

 
Kurt is back from Montreal’s Fantasia Film Festival, and he might have a thing or two to say about the movies, the town and the folks at that festival. At nearly two hours we can only say brace yourself for genre-overload. But first, Matt Gamble joins Kurt & Andrew midway through the conversation on Christopher McQuarrie’s installment of the Mission Impossible franchise. Kurt loved it. Andrew liked it. Matt, well, Matt watched it. Practical stunts, exceptional set-pieces and the ass-kicking talents of Rebecca Ferguson and a cleaned up and ready for prime time Sean Harris are all on the conversational docket. While there is no full “True Detective” segment this episode (we’ll cap the remaining three off, next time) there is a full Watch List for your listening pleasure, and Matt does briefly chime in on this season of “True Detective,” along with the doc on Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau remake disaster, and Adam Sandler’s Pixels. Andrew covers off the cult classic Wet Hot American Summer and its direct-to-Nexflix sequel. Finally we settle the Mara Rooney / Kate Mara confusion (sort of).

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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Treaser Trailer: Synchronicity

Synchronicity

Time travel concepts and Blade Runner science fiction noir come together in Jacob Gentry’s Synchronicity. Gentry is perhaps best known for the quirky-absurd middle vignette in the 2007 apocalypse triptych, The Signal and has a particular knack for sync’ing up framing and action to electronic music, which you will see on display in the teaser trailer below.

The film is startlingly ambitious for what is probably a very tiny budget, and is playing at this years Fantasia International Film Festival. The film stars horror-indie regular AJ Bowen (The Guest, House of the Devil, Rites of Spring) and the villain is played by iconic Canuck character actor and ham (literally, watch ABC’s “V: The Final Battle”) Michael Ironside, who is also at Fantasia, starring in the Quebecois post-apocalyptic kids adventure, Turbokid. Go Michael!

Cinecast Episode 362 – Primordial Dwarfism

 
Aafter nearly a three week hiatus, Weeeeee’re Baaaaa-aaack. In what is a true first on the Cinecast’s 8 year history, all three of Andrew, Kurt and Matt assembled in the same space to do a show with no telecommunications/web bridge. So, of course we pick a noisy bar and record over too many cocktails. With munchies and Montreal Smoked Meat, on the docket are three main reviews: Guardians of the Galaxy, Boyhood and Lucy which, oddly enough GotG gets the consensus favourite. Ever want to hear Kurt praise a Disney-Marvel production, now is your chance.

There is no 1984 project this week, but rest assured things will return to tomorrow with 2010: The Year We Make Contact next week, and Stop Making Sense after that.

Kurt does his annual 1+ hour recap of The Fantasia International Film Festival (which was also the source of the imported smoked meat) which is followed by a slew of titles from Matt (James Cameron Rape Sci-fi, Abortion Comedy, Punk Catharsis) and Andrew (Zach Braff, Heavy Metal, Alan Partridge and the last of Phillip Seymour Hoffman) with a little Terry Gilliam to round out the picture. LIVE FROM MINNEAPOLIS it is a lengthy, boozy, robust episode of the Cinecast, where bartenders, paramedics, rowdy billiard players, and the odd waitress all make for background character and salty language is tossed around in public spaces.

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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Fantasia Review: The Hundred Year Old Man Who…


For all of us who feel Robert Zemeckis’s Forrest Gump is a sentimental, condescending insult to cinema audiences everywhere, and Fincher’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is not a helluvalot better, we finally have an entry into ‘the man who bumbles through history’ nano-genre to call our own. Do not let the maladroit title fool you, Felix Herngren’s big screen adaptation of the bestselling novel by Jonas Jonasson, is a Swiss fucking watch in the plotting department, and savagely amusing in its come-what-may temperament. it sneaks up on you in similar ways as Jo Nesbo’s Headhunters even as it dazzles with the sweep of history.

After a tone-setting and highly unfortunate incident involving a sweet kitty, a hungry fox and a bundle of dynamite, one of cinemas strangest heroes, Allan Karlsson, finds himself confined to a retirement home on the eve his centenary year on this little planet called Earth. The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared (hereafter The Hundred Year Old Man) is the delightfully absurd story of our eponymous very senior citizen who does indeed bail out the open glass portal of his tiny room right on the day while the nurses are attempting to count and light all those candles on his marzipan cake, but it is also the story of us as a conflicted and nutty species.

In surprisingly good health, and armed with only the simple intention of hopping on the nearest train to anywhere; or as the case may be, nowhere, which we will learn, is a highly underrated place to be. But due to a comical bit of mishap-ery involving an angry skinhead and a tiny train station bathroom, Karlsson finds himself in possession of a large suitcase full of money. With any found bag of money, comes pursuit and here it is in the form Swedish biker thugs and an angry British gangster shouting at them in Bali. In short order, we find Karlsson, in his rather zen and unhurried fashion (“life is what it is, and does what it does”), travelling across the Swedish countryside, gathering an odd collection of friends, another old man who lives in an abandoned train station (and possibly the only resident of a town called Byringe) and a 35 year old student who perhaps as the largest number of University credits on the planet (in his own words he is “almost a lot of things”.) Friendship is cool, but they are also more than a little interested in the 50 million euros that Karlsson is carting around.

Just when think you have Karl figured out, he pops someone over the head and ships their corpse to Egypt, so, suffice it to say, the film keeps you on your toes in terms of plot and character.

If it were only the criminal confusion, clueless coppers and comic coincidence with a growing body count, The Hundred Year Old Man would more or less be a Guy Ritchie flick (note: Alan Ford, who played Brick Top in Snatch here is the London baddie in Bali), albeit with a drier Swedish humour. But things get interesting, expensive and very explosive as we flash back to Karlsson’s unique and pathologically significant life. He accidentally saved Franco from a bridge demolition in the Spanish Civil War, contributed to both the American and Russian nuclear bomb program, almost single handedly starting the cold war, and comically might have been key in ending it by catching Ronald Reagan at the wrong moment. The movie, dripping with that special kind of Scandinavian wit, offers an entirely human-nature bit of revisionism as to why the Berlin Wall was torn down.

A life lived well, not straining too hard against the universe, and simply letting things happen, it covers nearly the entire breadth of the 20th century history. These flashback vignettes are invigorating, absurd and violent, just as the details of history, are if you are close to the ground. All Karlsson has ever wanted to do during these historic moments is have a drink, do some work and take the occasional photo, but that doesn’t stop his life from being swept into many crazy situations involving cocktails, cossack dancing with Josef Stalin, clandestine trips in U-Boats, imprisonment in a Siberian Gulag with Albert Einstein’s clueless brother, Herbert. Even a throwaway job having lunch while building the Empire State Building (watch for the hammer!) yields effortless comic timing.

The Hundred Year Old Man winningly posits that we are all photographers of our own lives; our memories and experiences can be futilely sculpted into something that is just as transient as something a little more shapeless with markedly less stress and more time to have a nip of vodka and simply allow things to happen. If the film offers advice, it is this: Watch the road while you are driving. Be careful where you pee. Don’t shoot a pistol at a Elephant. And, there is always a tomorrow, so, keep your your head up and we’ll see you next Wednesday.

Fantasia Review: The One I Love


I doubt I will laugh out loud more at a film this year. Charlie McDowell’s couples therapy session par excellence featuring a very game cast of two, Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss, made me smile so hard at times my face actually hurt. I burned fucking calories with the enjoyment of this movie. The One I Love, contains enough insight and humour (not to mention, utter engagement) in its neo-Twilight Zone execution, that you may never have to visit the self-help section of the bookstore, ever. This is the mandatory date movie of the year.

Sophie and Ethan are several years into their marriage, still without kids, and are more content to follow the usual rhythms and patterns established over the years. This is to the point where they attempt to recharge their batteries by re-creation of positive prior romantic experiences in their more whimsical youth. They are desperately looking to find the original spark in their relationship, and it comes, oddly enough, in the form of a recommendation from their therapist. “I’ve sent a lot of couples there, and they come back…renewed,” a country retreat doesn’t sound the least bit ominous coming from the lips of a snowy haired Ted Danson, but Charlie Kauffman rules are in play here. Serious mayhem goes down.

The guest house at this retreat has some rather unique properties that I will not spoil — the joy is in the discovery of exactly what is happening in the comforting and blandly mundane space. Unfortunate that such a memorable film gets the unmemorable moniker of The One I Love. A better title would be the pun-ish double meaning of “The Guesthouse,” which I can only surmise was already taken by another, more inferior movie. I digress.

The myriad ways Sophie and Ethan approach their strange set of options prove a deep silver-mine of opportunities to explore the foibles of men and women, Mars and Venus, logic and emotion, fantasy and reality. Role-playing gets externalized and folded to the point where I’m not sure what the better half of a double bill for this film would be, Linklater’s Before Midnight, or Polanski’s Carnage, maybe even Cronenberg’s The Brood.

Duplass and Moss have exceptional movie-chemistry, and the subtlety of body language, costume details and other ‘clever audience cues’ are richly fulfilling to observant viewers. Even if you get ahead of the film, and you probably will, it is the journey, not the destination. Parsing the details remains secondary to all the different ideas of how people are both alone and together in any relationship; whether in a phase that is rewarding, or anxious, or petty and broken; what we see in someone else, what we want to see, what we even accept what we are seeing. And that we will be different people as time moves on is inevitable, hilariously so. The rules of what exactly entails ‘cheating’ on your spouse have never been more difficult to navigate.

In either case, the truism here is that either member of the couple cannot help but fuck with it; it being the nature of the beast, for better or worse, richer or poorer, and all that. Watching Ethan and Sophie fail time and again to ‘accept the mystery’ of their relationship and circumstance is, for the viewer with a certain disposition, a joy. The One I Love somehow manages to riff on Who is Afraid of Virginia Woolf? with only a single couple, but still get at the ‘burned out version’ and ‘naive fresh version’ from Nicols’ film, that only McDowell’s special premise (the guest house) could make possible.

The film is a trust exercise that goes off the rails with intelligence and care, every detail just so, every revelation hilariously true. One minor nitpick involving a bit of unnecessary exposition via computer screen is easily forgivable when everything else is this fun. Suffice it to say, it’s going to be an interesting car ride home, whether you are just dating or married for decades. I wish I could say more. I feel this movie should be studied by genre fans and psychiatrists in equal measure. I wish all relationship movies, from rom-coms to art house dramas, were this smart.

Friday One Sheet: Chiaroscuro

Currently in the Fantasia Film Festival development market, Irish horror film, Black Horizon, is already winning the game in terms of concept key art. Reminiscent, to me anyway, of the Dali deaths head poster from The Descent, only with flashlights and shadows, it is eye catching and geometrically pleasing.

A about a group of friends who go camping and wake up in a dark, endless void. As they run out of food, fuel and light. They start to turn on each other as things take a turn for the surreal.

We hope that writer-director George Kane and his team can get this horror/mystery film to the point where it can see the light of day.

(For more concept art from the Fantasia Frontieres and Off-Frontieres development markets, check out Twitch or Fangoria)

Fantasia 2013 Review: Shield of Straw

About 30 minutes into Takashi Miike’s Shield of Straw, I started to wonder if the director of such a long list of filmic insanities had finally succumbed to making polished Hollywood blockbusters.  We have all seen the prolific filmmaker work in so many genres and styles in the last 15 years, but making something resembling a posh Tony Scott (or more recently, Nimrod Antal) film was certainly a first for me. Yes, the man has been putting a bit more polish into his filmmaking recently and getting away from his shoot-it-on-instinct and has slowed him down from directing an average of 6 films per year to merely an average of 2. Recent films such 13 AssassinsHara-Kiri 3D, and heck, even zanier fare such as Zebraman 2 have been approaching a studio production aesthetic for some time, and here he is playing in the sandbox of the Hollywood police actioner. Even seeing the WB shield come out during the screening was a surprise. If the film does not make it to a Theatre Near You due to its subtitles, then one might cynically wonder if the studio bought the rights simply to remake an english language version for such a concept that is hard to pass up. That is if Hollywood is in the business of making these types of $50M thrillers anymore.

The story sees a two ambitious police officers charged with protecting a captured serial killer awaiting trial. A young child is sexually assaulted which, thankfully, Miike leaves this off screen, something he may not have done in his more gonzo days of being Japan’s l’enfant terrible. Slaughtered and left a drainage pipe, this opening is cut to a frail old man holding two umbrellas in the rain, one for him, and one for his granddaughter. The man is a rich financial investor slowly dying of some disease or another, and with all of his accumulated cash, billions of Yen, he offers payola for anyone able to kill the killer in custody or on the lam. He will pay a lesser, but still hefty sum if someone just attempts to do so, even if they does not succeed, making a pay out more tantalizing to either the average joe down on his luck or someone in a position of authority. While the movie can be boiled down to such a shamelessly high concept of a couple of honourable cops protecting a monster against all of society in league against it, the execution juggling around of pacing, set-piece moments, and social commentary on the financial strain of a countries citizenry in the 21st century. Not to mention, the rot of its institutions and entangled definition of justice in the modern world. All of this makes Shield of Straw work in a pretty fascinating way after you settle in to its particular modulations.

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Toronto After Dark 2012: Crave Review

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“A broken toy brain” is how director Charles de Lauzirika describes the main character in his feature film debut (after years of documentary experience including many DVD supplementals for major films – many of Ridley Scott’s for example). It’s a fitting description for Aiden as he starts flitting between fantasy and reality more and more and begins to have some trouble in distinguishing which is which. His reality is already a bit off as he works his job of photographing crime scenes and their gruesome results while living in the large ghost town of Detroit. He’s struggling to stay afloat financially (he gets tips from his AA cop buddy – played by Ron Perlman – to come to specific crime scenes), but even more problematic is the constant push and pull of his own voices in his head. He sees so much injustice, but feels inadequate because he can never quite take the step to help.

Aiden starts imagining different scenarios of him saving the day and taking down the bad guys. The film doesn’t distinguish between what’s real and what’s going on in Aiden’s head, so the audience is always left trying to figure it out until it’s made obvious which world we’re in. This is used very effectively at one point in one of the funnier scenes of the film – after Aiden talks to his very pretty but much younger neighbour in the elevator and then beds her, we cut back to him outside the building and left assuming it was all a fantasy – but then we get a little surprise. The film is actually quite funny in several spots which serves to defuse the growing confusion in Aiden as well as add to the confusion of the audience at what we may really be seeing. Even though Aiden does start a relationship with his neighbour Virginia (Emma Lung in a very fine performance), he’s still not quite able to focus and get things done. He’s living somewhere in between his reality and fantasy and simply can’t commit.

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