Trailer: Blade Runner 2029 – The ACTION Picture


 

The latest advert for Denis Villeneuve’s sequel to cult classic science-fiction-noir Blade Runner, is made for television. With that in mind, I never expected the tradition and history of this film to result in a generic shoot-em-up action picture, but hey, that is how one gets butts in seats. Of course, the trailer also gives more glimpses of the wonder post-urban world that cinematographer Roger Deakins and producer Ridley Scott magnificently deliver.

The internet is ‘freaking out’ and telling people not to watch this, as they embed it in the very-same ‘warning article.’ I am less caring about Spoilers, and more curious as to if this film will indeed be an action picture, and not an atmospheric, thoughtful science fiction film. Knowing Villeneuve (who recently made the nearly-gun-and-explosion-free Arrival, which brimmed with thoughtful sci-fi concepts and sophisticated film grammar, I am expecting the latter in spite of this bit of marketing.

 

Review: Dallas Buyers Club

Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Screenplay:  Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Jennifer Garner, Denis O’Hare, and Steve Zahn.
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 117 min.

Dallas Buyers Club

A clear Oscar contender, Dallas Buyers Club continues Matthew McConaughey’s recent streak of monumental roles. A moving film that focuses on the AIDS epidemic during the late 1980’s, it manages to captivate if only moderately. While it delivers some of the best performances in years from McConaughey and costar Jared Leto, it lacks a clear focus, and struggles with pacing. Though it is compelling, it doesn’t manage to carry its own weight.

Though not a biopic, the story centers on antihero Ron Woodroof. A blue collar Texan electrician, misogynist, cowboy, homophobe, and drug addict, Woodroof finds out he’s become HIV positive. Likely due to one of his many conquests, he is thrust into a world he’d never imagined he’d become a part of. Given the looming prognosis of 30 days to live, he refuses to admit defeat. “Sorry, lady,” he shouts to his physician, Dr. Eve Saks (Jennifer Garner), “but I prefer to die with my boots on.” Venturing across the border for healthier alternative medication to then toxic AZT, he proceeded to bring them back to Texas in order to help others like him: the sick and dying without a shot in hell.

It’s an excellent film, but Dallas Buyers Club doesn’t seem to have a clear point. Ron Woodroof’s story is a compelling one, but this isn’t a biopic. It touches on the toxicity of AZT, the first U.S. Government approved HIV treatment, but only as a plot device. Similarly, it introduces the drug abuse and latent homophobia that ran rampant when AIDS became an epidemic, but never forms a dialogue on the matter. All of these factors come together to form a touching, and entertaining film that winds up blindly trying to hit a strong point, and ultimately missing. Would you like to know more…?

Extended Thoughts: MR. NOBODY

[Oh those clowns at E1! Why in gods name would you release (In Canada, anyway) a cerebral science fiction film for adults on the same day as Christopher Nolan’s juggernaut? Without any marketing! Do you want your movie to fail, is this some sort of real-life version of The Producers? An echo of the old Miramax days? Either way, a wonderful film (one deserving of as many screens as Splice at the very least) as ambitious and visually elegant as Inception at a fifth of the cost!]

Nemo Nobody (a wide eyed Jared Leto) is the last mortal and he is about to die. Or is he? Much can be made of all the heady, esoteric mathematical and physics concepts (String theory, tangent universes, brain chemistry, nature of time and entropy) that the film juggles like so many brightly coloured balls. Despite being set in the far future, 2092, where mankind has achieve quasi immortality and the broadcast news has gotten louder and more blunt, the film plays both as a nostalgic reflection regret and confusion of our titular everyman, but it plays equal measure as the dreams and hopes of finding true love and happiness and several metaphysical attempts along the way. If you have ever been uncertain as to how a known big decision (or the ripple effects of unknown small ones) are going to change the trajectory of your life, then this film indulges the very human desire to follow those paths along for a bit and give them a look-see.

Mr. Nobody is almost a ‘what-if’ challenge to the universe and suggests that the playground of the mind is as vast as the infinite reaches of space. Are there really tangent universes moulded around each decision (or failure to make a decision) that Nemo makes or is it the mental representation of all the possible future worlds when you are five years old? There is a fairy tale quality in Mr. Nobody with its more-often-than-not candy coloured palette that seems to suggest this. Certainly as a viewer, that is the takeaway of the film. Strange that it settles on the romantic nature of ‘one-true-love’ and that Nemo has a ‘right choice’ (insofar as right = happiness) between his potential three wives and mishaps in love and lust and compassion. In a way, the film plays out in some heartbreaking and depressing avenues. The grass is always browner on the other side of the hill if you could see and trace the correct trajectory of your life.

Interesting too that how adult Nemo shifts between quietly suffering saint to starry eyed love-sick puppy, to pampered and suicidal across three (or five) different lives with his three potential wives. Or as a teenager between quietly soldiering on, or outright angry rebellion. I imagine that if Mr. Nobody does one thing well it is to ponder the nature of the universe as it dishes out suffering to one lot, and life’s riches to another, all as a function of random chance.

Pray there is a God that pulls the strings in your favour, even though the christian angles visualized in the film are harbingers of ‘oblivion’ committing all those potential possibilities into one straightforward path. That would make ‘god’ (the film is does not delve into one faith or another, focusing on potential more than morality or subservience) a fairly reductive deity. I might say that this ‘reductive-ness’ is a blessing in disguise, but by the end of the film (the beginning?) Nemo more or less has his shit together and can laugh and cry along with this big old universe.

Also, be sure to have a look at Andrew’s more traditional review of Mr. Nobody.

Cinecast Episode 139b – Til the Break of DAWN!

Episode 139b:
The second part of episode 139 concentrates all of our remaining energy on recapping the ’09 TIFF experience. A top 5 list of sorts as well as a complete wrap-up and overview of the Midnight Madness programming from Colin Geddes. And yeah, we’re up til 4am… for YOU!

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Cinecast Episode 139a – Really Weird Ties

Episode 139a:
The most epic show in the history of the RowThree Cinecast. So epic in fact, that we decided to split it up into two parts. For this first installment, Matt Gamble is back in the fray and we review all manner of recent film including Soderbergh’s The Informant! and Vincenzo Natali’s Splice, Pandorum and The Baader Meinhoff COmplex – along with quite a few other bits of cinema we’ve seen in recent days. Slightly spirited discussion on the latest in the Roman Polanski drama/circus and of course weekly DVD picks. Enjoy and part B (an all TIFF re-cap) should be posted in the coming hours. Stay tuned and as always…

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TIFF 09 Review: Mr Nobody

Director: Jaco van Dormael (The Eighth Day, Totò the Hero)
Writer: Jaco van Dormael
Editors: Matyas Veress, Susan Shipton
Producer: Philippe Godeau
Starring: Jared Leto, Sarah Polley, Toby Regbo, Juno Temple, Diane Kruger, Rhys Ifans, Natasha Little
MPAA Rating: 14A
Running time: 138 min.


One of the oddest, most thoughtful and certainly ambitious film screening at this year’s Toronto Film Festival is certainly Jaco van Dormael’s Mr. Nobody. But this is also one of the most intelligent scripts I’ve yet to see this year. Mixing hard science fact, hypothesis and theories with classic philosophy and drama, Mr. Nobody dives into all manner of possibilities wrapped around quite an enigmatic tale of love, choice and opportunities seized and lost.

To attempt a synopsis in under 1000 words seems almost futile, but I’ll give it a shot anyway. The film starts in the future of 2092. The oldest man in the world, Nemo Nobody, has captured the attention of the world as the last man that will ever die of old age since automatic cell regeneration has been achieved. Nemo sits in a hospital of sorts and recounts his life first to a sort of doctor/hypnotist, then later to a journalist. The tale weaved starts before Nemo’s birth as he tells the process a soul goes through before choosing its parents. The story then moves through adolescence and into manhood but in a nonlinear fashion. We see several versions of Nemo’s life had he made one choice over another and we move back and forth in time to get different perspectives of different events and indeed different and sometimes intersecting lifetimes. As I said, not the easiest of plots to explain in words, but if you were to combine Abre los Ojos (Vanilla Sky) with Gwynneth Paltrow’s Sliding Doors, you have a rough idea the style in which the narrative is told. Add some elements and the influence of such films as Slaughterhouse 5, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, 2001: A Space Odyssey and the warm hearted drama and tone of Amélie (just to name a few) into the mix and you understand the ambitiousness that the film strives for. Unbelievably, it succeeds beyond expectations and then some!
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