Get Your Cast to Mars – Bonus Episode: Life And Covenant

Get Your Cast To Mars was originally a three part (+ bonus episode) micro-podcast focusing on the planet Mars in the movies. Matthew Brown and Kurt Halfyard considered the red planet as an image, an idea, and a somewhat rare place visited in the cinema (and Television) of the past 100 years.

Like humanity itself, we just can’t leave well enough alone! Welcome to our ultra-casual (no introductions, we just drop you right in the middle of the experience) and long promised bonus episode to Season 2! While the second season focused on National Geographic’s MARS docudrama-mini and all that was fine and nice, we couldn’t help but check in in Trump-era 2017 to talk about Mars as an evolving infection. As per Season 1’s bonus episode the lion-share is on Sir Ridley Scott’s evolving Alien franchise. To be on topic, somewhat, there is also some discussion about Daniel Espinosa’s LIFE.

Consider this bonus episode the capstone to our two-season-and-done micro-podcast. We hope you enjoy this extra edition as much as we did the strong black coffee and savoury biscuits, while recording at Toronto’s Sumach Espresso.

Viewing Syllabus: Life (2017) and Alien: Covenant (2017).

As always, please join in the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section and again, thanks for listening!

 

The Complete First Season of Matt and Kurt getting their Cast To Mars:

 
 

The Second Season:

 
 
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Trailer: White God

White God

Winner of the Prize Un Certain Regard Award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, White God is described as “a brutal, beautiful metaphor for the political and cultural tensions sweeping contemporary Europe”:

When young Lili is forced to give up her beloved dog Hagen, because it’s mixed-breed heritage is deemed ‘unfit’ by The State, she and the dog begin a dangerous journey back towards each other. At the same time, all the unwanted, unloved and so-called ‘unfit’ dogs rise up under a new leader, Hagen, the one-time housepet who has learned all too well from his ‘Masters’ in his journey through the streets and animal control centers how to bite the hands that beats him.

Trailer: Higher Ground

 
 

I have always liked Vera Farmiga, although I came late to her party, only noticing her riveting performance in Martin Scorsese’s The Departed, planted in a love triangle between Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio. While I am always a bit indifferent to directorial debuts (I’ve sadly skipped debuts from Helen Hunt, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Mark Ruffalo and many others) but I guess I’m always drawn to the question of when and why people turn to god/religion/spirituality. Even though this is most definitely a Sundance type of films (home to many an actor debuting as a director) the interesting supporting male cast – John Hawkes, Bill Irwin, and Joshua Leonard – along with an interesting lead performance by Ms. Farmiga (if you haven’t guessed yet, she also directed the film) are enough to make me keen on seeing Higher Ground – as long as there is no Red Hot Chilli Peppers on the soundtrack. I don’t expect it to be Todd Haynes’ Safe, but few films are…

A coming-of-age drama set against the backdrop of the Sixties, when feminism reached its zenith, the film depicts the landscape of a tight-knit spiritual community. Inspired by the resonant memoir from Carolyn Briggs (who also wrote the screenplay) the film is a study of one woman’s internal struggle with the primary love relationships in her life.

The trailer is tucked under the seat.
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Kevin Smith’s Red State Poster

RedState
A quite moody and ‘light intensive’ one-sheet for the upcoming Kevin Smith foray into horror filmmaking clearly says this is not going to be like the rest of his filmography.

A little bit of catholic spirit and the ‘holy ghost’ is what I get from this, and I really like the tagline.

John Goodman, Melissa Leo, Kevin Pollak and Steven Root star in the film which apparently just finished principal photography. Expect to see this film pop up around Sundance next year. Kevin Smith successfully debuted his first film, Clerks, in Park City and is one of the festivals golden boys, so the film should be a lock there in January if they finish post-production to meet that target.

After Smiths ups (his speaking tours and podcast) and downs (Cop Out) and middles (Zack & Miri), I am very much curious to see what a new genre-direction does for his filmmaking and career. And hey, great cast he’s got there!

Via Filmmaker.

 
 

Review: Legion

Legion One Sheet

Director: Scott Stewart
Screenplay: Peter Schink, Scott Stewart
Producer: David Lancaster,
Starring: Paul Bettany, Dennis Quaid, Tyrese Gibson, Doug Jones, Jon Tenney, Charles S. Dutton, Lucas Black, Kate Walsh, Adrianne Palicki, Kevin Durand, Willa Holland
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 100 min.

There were a number of good reasons to be excited for Scott Stewart’s directorial debut, a film of biblical apocalypse titled Legion. The trailers for the film suggested some serious awesomeness and with Paul Bettany on board as the protector (and perhaps savior) of mankind, there was no way to avoid seeing this. Sadly, Stewart creates a dull, mindless film that doesn’t even manage to be entertaining.

Legion Movie StillGod is angry. He’s not even really angry, he’s just pissed off and tired at the dumbassery of humanity and so he decides to wield his mighty power and set the apocalypse upon the human asses. Rather than simply exterminating us with some doom and gloom that will kill us off instantly, he decides to take his time, letting loose evil and in an Agent-body-take-over way right out of The Matrix, much of the world is taken over and controlled by some sort of evil entity. To the rescue comes Michael (yes, as in the Archangel) who has decided that God isn’t right this time around and needs some help seeing the light. Disobeying a direct order, he removes himself from heaven and falls to earth to yield guns and swords against the possessed in an attempt to save humanity’s only salvation: an unborn child getting ready to pop in the middle of bum-fuck-nowhere.

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Finite Focus: And Death Shall have no Dominion (Solaris)

Solaris_onesheetLike most great science fiction films, Solaris (and I mean the Steven Soderbergh remake, not the Andrei Tarkovsky film from 1972) was not appreciated all that much on initial release. *Spoilers Follow* I am not sure if a re-evaluation of the film has started yet, but if not, here is as good a place as any. Delicately sprinkled with the debate on divinity vs. astronomical probability, the film seems to tap out on the side that Solaris is in fact the almighty, who trials the cosmonauts on the station with mirrors of their own thoughts. After requesting friend and psychiatrist Kris Kelvin (George Clooney) to come up an evaluate the problem on the orbiting space station, the scientific leader on the shuttle, Dr. Gibarian, commits suicide. Later, the Doctor’s ghost (or perhaps Kelvin’s own conscience or even, more daringly, God Himself) offers, “There is no solution, only choices.” (Earlier Gibarian also equates space travel as the search for divinity in another choice quote, “We do not want other worlds, we want mirrors.”) After the remaining two scientists begin bombarding their ghostly yet corporeal visitors, possibly manifestations from the planet based on each persons memories and emotions, with anti-bosons, the planet pulls the station into its implacable mauve energy cloud.

The crashing station with Kelvin still aboard becomes a ‘moment of fear’ or a ‘moment of truth’ as the three remaining passengers wait for god. The scenes with Jeremy Davies’ character literally meeting his maker are shot to evoke both alien abduction (Fire in the Sky), part spiritual awakening. As it should be, because the film postulates both. More interestingly is Kelvin’s final journey, first of pain and suffering, then help by way of Gibarian’s ‘son’ (an corporeal entity of Solaris, The Son of God?) who reaches out a comforting hand, and a offers a serene (Jesus-like?) face. That he ends up in Heaven (of sorts, where “Everything we’ve done is forgiven. Everything”) with his deceased wife – all radiant and finally at peace, only cements things.

Review: Act of God

act_of_god-still

Back in the late 1970s as a young lad, one of my favourite summer past-times was sitting with the family on the stoop of our small condominium townhouse during those wild and crazy summer storms. Watching the lightning, feeling the thunder and daring friends and siblings to run out (prancing like fools) into the downpour and challenge the unlikely (but still finitely possible) event of a bolt of white tagging you into the next life. Kids feel pretty immortal and liberated in those endless summers. You do not think too hard about it, because well, in innocence (a form of arrogance) you have no concept of the consequences.

Enter Jennifer Baichwal, who won a number of awards and notice with her 2007 documentary Manufactured Landscapes. She points her camera on several folks from around the world who actually have been struck by lightening and have lived to tell the tale. The common thread amongst these haphazardly assembled mini-narratives is how we, as individuals are prone to process the spectacular ‘awe’ of lightning. By way of the mathematics of electricity and magnetism, polarity and potential? So says author Paul Auster who accepts the total randomness of the event, but cannot stop thinking about it, even after writing about the experience several times. Auster is by far the most compelling speaker in the film, his voice is modulated to carry the room like a seasoned pro: intense, yet lost in reverie. His reading of one of his own stories is the climax of the picture (a wise move) and it is gripping stuff. Or perhaps simply it his rationality and pragmatism appeals more to my own heart. Others, like the mother in Mexico that had her sons and husband killed in a massive lightning strike in front of her hilltop church, or the self-help guru and veteran affairs consultant who took years to recover from his injuries, turn to God for their questions. Lightning is a good a symbol as anything as the instantaneous manifestation of his divine will. Either way you slice it, God or science, lightning and storms are the most spectacular demonstration of either notion.

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Legion Trailer Starring Paul Bettany

Legion Movie Promo

The only selling point required to get me excited about seeing Legion was to tell me the movie stars Paul Bettany. I could watch Bettany sit in a chair for an hour, there’s a magnetism to him that always draws my attention and makes even the worse films bearable (I’m looking at you The Da Vinci Code).

An original story by Peter Schink and director Scott Stewart, Priest is a Christian-themed action thriller which stars Bettany as the Archangel Michael who leads a group of strangers in protecting a woman who is pregnant with Christ for the second coming (I can already see the protesters gearing up for action). Aside from Bettany, the film also stars Dennis Quaid, Kevin Durand, Doug Jones and Lucas Black.

The visuals here, and in part the story, remind me a little of Constantine, a movie which doesn’t get a whole lot of love but which I enjoy, and if this is in the save vein (which it certainly appears to be), it’s all the more reason for my excitement. The trailer is also very long and very much on the spoiler side of things. I recommend turning it off at the halfway mark if you’re worried about spoilers.

This is Stewart’s first full length feature though he has an extended list of visual effects work behind him. Granted that doesn’t say much but I am curious to see how this turns out, especially considering that Stewart is also directing Priest which also happens to star Bettany in the lead.

Legion opens on January 22, 2010.

Thanks to QE for the hookup, you can check out the trailer tucked under the seat!.

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