Cinecast Episode 411 – We Wanna See The Business

Despite seeing nearly 100 films combined at TIFF 2015, Ryan from The Matinee and Kurt indulge Andrew by getting out to the multiplex to see the latest Johnny Depp performance, as James “Whitey” Bulger in Black Mass. We have a spoiler discussion on that, but needless to say, no one was overly pleased with Andrew for suggesting it. Kurt and Ryan attempt to wrassle TIFF to the ground after 11 days of shared screenings and food. They, in part, hash out the bests, the beasts and the worsts (or in the cast of Love 3D, the wurst) of some of the films on hand.

But wait, there is more.

Ryan and Andrew have a Watch List which includes re-evaluated Spielberg, various Afflecks and a new-ish film starring Matthew Broderick. Hunker down with your favorite blankie, take out your blue contact lenses, and settle in for the show!

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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Trailer: Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth

Paolo Sorrentino has been a darling on the festival circuit in the past few years with both 2008’s Il Divo and 2013’s The Great Beauty. The latter of which walked home with the Best Foreign Language Oscar of that year.

Here he has oldsters, played by Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel ,struggling with retirement (or rather, impending retirement) at a boutique hotel in the Alps. The trailer for his latest, Youth, angles it as both an emotional and a pedantic experience. That sounds about right. Rachel Weisz, Paul Dano and Jane Fonda also star.

The film certainly looks gorgeous, was well received at Cannes, is playing on this side of the pond at TIFF, and opens commercially in December.

Fred and Mick, two old friends, are on vacation in an elegant hotel at the foot of the Alps. Fred, a composer and conductor, is now retired. Mick, a film director, is still working. They look with curiosity and tenderness on their children’s confused lives, Mick’s enthusiastic young writers, and the other hotel guests. While Mick scrambles to finish the screenplay for what he imagines will be his last important film, Fred has no intention of resuming his musical career. But someone wants at all costs to hear him conduct again.

Cinecast Episode 366 – Mermaid Mode


In this episode, Kurt and Andrew struggle to grasp hold of Ari Folman’s hybrid animated/live-action film The Congress. Then it is back to 1984 to visit Madison the Mermaid and high energy Tom Hanks. The Watchlist looks at the healing power of music, obscure Tae Kwon Do weirdness, VHS culture, Swedish deadpan masterpieces, a musician hiding behind paper mâché head, and Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan touring restaurants in Italy. 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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Cinecast Episode 345 – One Persian Cat. Deceased.

We boys mourn the loss of True Detective, and anticipate the upcoming Game of Thrones, but in this small gap between prestige TV projects from HBO, it was a pretty damn good weekend at the multiplex. A spirited if brief discussion on the pros and cons of Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, including Ralph Fiennes’s gift for comedy, Jeff Goldblum’s facial hair, Harvey Keitel’s pectorals, F. Murray Abraham being frozen in time, and underwritten supporting roles for Tilda Swinton and Saorise Ronan. We then discus sexual assault by cunnilingus with Matt Gamble’s wife, Angela, along with other assorted Me-Decade insensitivites in the ongoing 1984 Project feature: Revenge of the Nerds.

Kurt weighs in on the strange Canadian psycho-thriller Enemy which features Toronto as a sickly concrete hellscape and two Jakes (Gyllenhaal’s that is.) He thinks it is the best thing released theatrically in 2014 so far. Our Watch List as diverse as old-timey Miramax product, Chocolat, Teller’s documentary on art and craft and forgery, Tim’s Vermeer and an early 1990s bit of hipster TV, Fishing with John. 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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Full show notes are under the seats…
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Extended Thoughts: The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest HotelThe highly stylized and ever whimsical Wes Anderson has struck again with his latest gem, The Grand Budapest Hotel. A delectably decadent treat, the film unfolds as a kind of matryoshka nesting doll: a story within a story within a story. Peppered with his usual array of players, the troupe is joined by newcomers Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, and Saoirse Ronan to stupendous results. The film hums with zealous energy, rife with vulgarity-laced elegance. It hovers, its feet inches above the ground, the ethereal existence of a Wes Anderson creation done to perfection.

The scene opens on a young girl in present-day, a book firmly clutched in her arms, as she visits the gravesite of who we will come to know only as Author. Hotel room keys adorn a bronze bust of the man, reminiscent of the romanticism of attaching locks to bridges. Lifting another layer, we are in the office of Author (Tom Wilkinson) in 1985, as he recounts his visit to the titular hotel in 1968. You can see where this is going.

In 1968, we encounter a younger Author (now played by Jude Law) at the Grand Budapest Hotel. Shockingly reminiscent of the Overlook, it’s hard to imagine the place as a residence of glamour and class. The wallpaper peels, the orange carpets look as if they haven’t been cleaned in well over a decade, and the tiles crackle and fall from the walls. It’s a sad, desolate place, where the sparse tenants keep firmly to themselves. That is, of course, until our young Author encounters the mysterious Mr. Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham), the current overseer of the Overlook Grand Budapest. With nary a cajole, Mr. Moustafa agrees to tell Author his life’s story over dinner. Would you like to know more…?

Trailer: The Congress

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And now, I am instantly excited for the prospect of Ari Folman’s science fiction feature, The Congress, an idea driven hybrid of live action and animation. After the phenomenal success of his rotoscoped war-drama Waltz with Bashir, it appears that identity and consciousness (two themes that were very much at play in that film) are still on his mind. Here Robin Wright, playing a fictional version of herself who has been retired to raise her son (The Road‘s Kodi Smit-McPhee) for some time – this curious timing considering her astounding turn in the recent House of Cards. Nevertheless, she is convinced by Harvey Keitel and Danny Huston, neither playing fictional versions of themselves, to have her ‘entire self’ digitized into an algorithm. Now in the digital world, there are several versions of her running around yearning to find out their true identity. The animation and the story seem to evoke everything from Cool World to Paprika to Sim0ne, and the modern classic science fiction tones please me greatly. Also noteworthy is that The Congress is all based on Novel from the great Stanislaw Lem (Solaris). The film will make its initial bow quite soon at Cannes and I cannot wait for it to cross the pond.

Review: Moonrise Kingdom

Perhaps the chief delight of Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom is that it is the most quintessential Wes Anderson movie to date. That is not to say it is his best film, or his most insightful film, or even his most imaginative film but it feels as if the quirky auteur (both in style and grace) has come as close to the Platonic ideal of what his cinema is. It makes the film a pretty good entry point for the uninitiated, while simultaneously pandering to the faithful and likely further alienating those who do not like his brand of moviemaking. My overall experience added up to the most fun and pure aesthetic pleasure upon first experiencing any one of his films; and I like them all plenty good. Upon a weeks worth of post viewing reflection, there is some apprehension on the possibility of this being the most shallow, character-wise and story-wise, of all of his films, but time and further viewings will tell that tale.

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Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: Mean Streets (1973)

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Mean Streets was another rewatch for me, this time because I was really distractible the first time I saw it, and I wanted to give it another chance to make an impression on me. And it did. It really, really did.

You don’t make up for your sins in church. You do it in the streets. You do it at home. The rest is bullshit, and you know it.

MeanStreets_4.jpgHarvey Keitel is Charlie, a junior member of the New York mafia, in charge of shaking down local business for protection money. But Charlie, though he’s good at his job and enjoys a good reputation among his peers, isn’t personally invested in moving up in the organization’s power structure, and would rather take a more legit position overseeing a restaurant (one seized from the struggling owner in the mafia’s version of foreclosure). Meanwhile, he’s handling the careless Johnny Boy (Robert DeNiro), who is always in debt and doing very little to pay off those debts except getting Charlie to convince his creditors to back off. Plus, he’s secretly dating Johnny’s cousin Teresa (Amy Robinson), a relationship that would be frowned upon by his superiors.

All three of these characters are kind of outsiders in the family/organization; Johnny Boy because he’s basically a feckless bum, unable to make good in any way and in fact ends up causing a great deal of trouble to everyone, and Charlie and Teresa because they both ultimately want to escape the life, get out of the organization. The tension among the three of them as well as between them and the others in power is as electric as any of Scorsese’s later films, and has an added touch of raw vitality. If The Godfather is the epic story of the upper levels of mob leadership, Mean Streets is the microcosm of how it plays out on the streets.

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Cinecast Episode 138 – Not too TIFFicult

Episode 138:
Kurt and Andrew finally face to face at the same table. We cover a lot of highlights from the Toronto International Film Festival but specifically the much anticipated John Hillcoat film, The Road and Werner Herzog’s whacky remake of Bad Lieutenant starring Nicolas Cage. Sleep deprived but hopped up on espresso and instant noodles, we forge on through the 4am hour.

Enjoy and thanks for listening!

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A Martin Scorsese Marathon

Basically, you make another movie, and another, and hopefully you feel good about every picture you make. And you say, ‘My name is on that. I did that. It’s OK’. But don’t get me wrong, I still get excited by it all. That, I hope, will never disappear.” – Martin Scorsese

For the better part of the last three decades, I have been a fan of Martin Scorsese. My admiration first took bloom in the summer of 1985, and happened to coincide with what I consider to be the discovery of my young adult life; set off the main drag of the town I grew up in, I found a small video store. Now, this in itself was no great revelation; in the years before Blockbuster came barreling into my area, forcing all the smaller video chains out of business, there were at least half a dozen such stores within a 3-mile radius. But the moment I walked into this particular video palace, I knew it was special. Where most were lining their shelves with numerous copies of the ‘hot new releases’, this one had titles like Midnight Cowboy, 2001: A Space Odyssey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Straw Dogs, A Clockwork Orange, films that the others simply didn’t offer. For me, this store was a treasure trove, and I returned there often, sometimes 3-4 times a week, uncovering classic after classic, films that, to this day, I consider some of the finest ever made.

And it was here that I first found Mean Streets.

Tough and unflinching, Mean Streets was like a punch to the head for a 15-year-old from the suburbs; a marriage of images and rock music, violence and pain the likes of which I had never seen before, offering a glimpse into a lifestyle that I found all too real, and a little bit frightening. I must have rented it at least six times that summer, and as a result, Mean Streets fast became my favorite movie. More than this, it was my jumping-off point into the career of Martin Scorsese. After Mean Streets, I moved on to Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, two more shots to the head. Through these three films, I realized just how deep, just how down-and-dirty, and just how moving the cinema could be. They marked a turning point in my development as a film fan. Movies were no longer limited to the land of make believe; they would also be a window overlooking the real world.

Now, almost 24 years after I first walked into that video store, I’ve decided to take my admiration to the next, perhaps the ultimate, level. Over the course of the last several weeks, I sat down with everything that home video has to offer of Martin Scorsese’s work behind the camera, 26 films in all, and what I uncovered on this love-fest of mine proved to be just as enlightening as that first viewing of Mean Streets all those years ago.

As I sat watching one Scorsese movie after the other, I found myself asking, “What exactly is it that constitutes a Martin Scorsese film”? It was a question I had to pose, because I quickly realized that most of my initial beliefs, the pre-conceptions I had built up about the man and his career, only told part of the story.

For one, there was my presumption that the recurring trait in every Scorsese film was a down-to-earth quality, where the genuine, the realistic, would be favored above all else. Well, this is certainly true in some of Scorsese’s finest films, especially those where actual events served as a foundation (Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Casino, The Aviator). However, it was wrong of me to discount the role that fantasy played in Scorsese’s work. The opening scene of Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore looks as if it was lifted right out of Gone With the Wind, and the musical numbers of New York, New York were obvious nods to the Hollywood big-budget spectaculars of the 40’s and 50’s. There is the dreamy romance of The Age of Innocence, and the hilarious bad luck of Paul Hackett in After Hours; in short, films that have little or no basis in reality whatsoever, proving that the fantastic plays just as important a role in the great director’s work as reality does.
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This Week on IFC (Mar. 1 – Mar. 7)

I forgot to do this for last week and who knows how long I’ll keep this up, but for the next seven days here’s a quick weekly guide that highlights some of the great movies playing on the Independent Film Channel (IFC) and The Sundance Channel. Keep in mind that this is not a complete schedule, but rather a quick listing of some films that RowThree endorses (or at least takes an interest in) that will be screening in the next seven days on these channels. Looks like Sundance is sort of showcasing John Cassavetes while IFC highlights a couple of Wes Anderson flicks this week; nice. For specific times and schedules, visit IFC.com and/or The Sundance Channel schedule pages.

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SUNDAY:
A Love Song For Bobby Long (fine work from Travolta)
The Legend of 1900
Holy Smoke (Harvey Keitel, Kate Winslet)
Little Fish (Cate Blanchett)

MONDAY:
Story of Women
IFC Short Film Showcase
Chopper (Eric Bana’s first leading role – directed by director of Assassination of Jesse James)

TUESDAY:
Moulin Rouge
Waking Life
Rush (cold, dark and awesome)

WEDNESDAY:
Rabbit-Proof Fence
Coastlines (Timothy Olyphant, Josh Brolin)
The Deep End (Tilda Swinton)
Raging Bull

THURSDAY:
Danny Deckchair
Waiting for Guffman (Christopher Guest)
The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou

FRIDAY:
Reel Paradise
The Cooler (William H. Macy)
Return of the Living Dead (braaains!)

SATURDAY:
The Winter Guest (Alan Rickman’s directorial debut)
The Baxter
The Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson’s best?)
Clerks (the film that started it all)
Havoc (Anne Hathaway can act before RGM)


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SUNDAY:
I’m a Cyborg, But That’s O.K.
Binta and the Great Idea (the short that should’ve won the Oscar last year)
Cavite

MONDAY:
Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollack?
Little Odessa

TUESDAY:
A Woman Under the Influence
Marvelous (Michael Shannon)

WEDNESDAY:
Opening Night

THURSDAY:
The Situation
Lemon Sky (Kevin Bacon, Casey Affleck)

FRIDAY:
My Best Friend
Dead Man’s Shoes (Paddy Considine)

SATURDAY:
Nothing but a Man
The Last Hangman (Eddie Marsan, Timothy Spall)