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!

 

 
 

 

 
Would you like to know more…?

Trailer: Demolition

Clever, sharp, funny, maybe mean spirited, this is Jake Gyllenhaal in his prime, and it appears that Jean-Marc Vallée sees fit to channel this energy into his latest film, Demolition. Frappé this together with music introspection and metaphor, and you have the film that is opening this years Toronto International Film Festival. Hopefully it is not too sentimental in the end.

Oh, and Chris Cooper, please work more. Thanks.

Cinecast Episode 360 – It’s Like Mustard

 
Sone famous once said that a person’s character can be defined by what he chooses to complain about. What do you despise? Is it Max Brooks? Is it Steve Guttenberg? The video streaming entity such as Vudu? Or is it someone/something else? By all means sound off! So yes, we explore the depths of our personal hatreds on this week’s Cinecast, but equally so, we also share some fondness, nay love, for Charles Grodin, Jean-Marc Vallée, Brent Spiner, Chris Tucker, Louis C.K. and yes, even Mel Gibson.

Documentaries and Ozploitation occupy the bulk of this week’s conversation. Steve James’ documentary, Life Itself (aka you’re better off just reading the book) and Russell Mulcahy’s creature feature, Razorback. But, and this is important. don’t even bother downloading this show until you’ve purchased your 4-pack of Midnight Run sequels. Yeah, it’s that kind of show.

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


 
 

 
 

Would you like to know more…?

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…?

First TIFF Titles Announced. Lots of Depth in here.

New films from Jonathan Glazer, Jean-Marc Vallée, Alphonso Cuaron, Richard Ayoade, Kelly Reichardt, Jim Jarmusch, Roger Mitchell, Bertrand Tavernier, Lukas Moodysson, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Don McKellar, Hirokazu Kore-Eda and Sylvain Chomet! The 2013 edition of the Toronto International Film Festival just dropped its first big wave of titles, and if you are local to Toronto or take film festival oriented vacations, and know the names of film directors from around the world, then you are probably already counting the days until the big festival of festivals begins. The big list below is the usual style of lead-off TIFF press release featuring high profile filmmakers in the Galas and Special Presentations programmes. The smaller titles of world cinema, genre films, and more experimental stuff will come in future waves, but take a close gander down below and see just how deep the line-up is already:

All Is By My Side (UK), dir John Ridley
Attila Marcel (France), dir Sylvain Chomet
Bad Words (US) dir Jason Bateman
Belle (UK), dirs Amma Asante
Adele: Chapters 1 & 2 (France), Abdellatif Kechiche
Burning Bush (Czech Republic), dir Agnieszka Holland
Can A Song Save Your Life? (US), dir John Carney
Cannibal (Spain-Romania-Russia-France), dir Manuel Martín Cuenca
Dallas Buyers Club (US), dir Jean-Marc Vallée
Devil’s Knot (US), dir Atom Egoyan
The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby: Him and Her (US), dir Ned Benson
Dom Hemingway (UK), dir Richard Shepard
Don Jon (US), dir Joseph Gordon-Levitt
The Double (UK), dir Richard Ayoade
Exit Marrakech (Germany), dir Caroline Link
Felony (Australia), dir Matthew Savvily
For Those Who Can Tell No Tales (Bosnia and Herzegovina) dir Jasmila Žbanić
Gloria (Chile-Spain), dir Sebastián Lelio, Chile/Spain
Going Away (France), dir Nicole Garcia
Gravity (US-UK), dir Alfonso Cuarón,
The Great Beauty (Italy), dir Paolo Sorrentino,
Half Of A (Nigeria-UK), dir Ivi Bandele
Hateship Loveship (US), dir Liza Johnson
L’intrepido (Italy), dir Gianni Amelio
Ida (Poland), dir Pawel Pawlikowski
The Invisible Woman (UK), dir Ralph Fiennes
Joe (US), dir David Gordon Green
Labor Day (US), dir Jason Reitman
Like Father, Like Son (Japan) dir Hirokazu Kore-Eda
Man Of Tai Chi (US-China), dir Keanu Reeves
Mary, Queen Of Scots (France-Switzerland), dir Thomas Imbach
Mystery Road (Australia), dir Ivan Sen
Night Moves (US), dir Kelly Reichardt
Omar (Palestine), dir Hany Abu-Assad
One Chance (US), dir David Frankel
Only Lovers Left Alive (US), dir Jim Jarmusch
The Past (France-Italy), dir Asghar Farhadi
Philomena (UK), dir Stephen Frears
Pioneer (Norway), dir Erik Skjoldbjærg
Quai d’Orsay (France), dir Bertrand Tavernier
REAL (Japan), dir Kiyoshi Kurasawa
Starred Up (UK), dir David Mackenzie
Those Happy Years (Italy), dir Daniele Luchetti
Tracks (UK, Australia), dir John Curran
Under The Skin (US-UK), dir Jonathan Glazer
Violette (France/Belgium), dir Martin Provost
Visitors (US) dir Godfrey Reggio
Walesa. Man Of Hope (Poland), dir Andrzej Wajda
We Are The Best! (Sweden), dir Lukas Moodysson
Le Weekend (UK), dir Roger Michell
You Are Here (US), dir Matthew Weiner
Young and Beautiful (France-Belgium), dir Francois Ozon
The Art Of The Steal (Canada) dir Jonathan Sobol
August: Osage County (US), dir John Wells
Cold Eyes (South Korea), dirs Cho Ui-seok and Kim Byung-seo
The Grand Seduction (Canada), dir Don McKellar
Kill Your Darlings (US), dir John Krokidas
The Love Punch (France), dir Joel Hopkins
The Lunchbox (India-France-Germany), dir Ritesh Batra
The Railway Man (Australia-UK), dir Jonathan Teplitzky
The Right Kind Of Wrong (Canada) dir Jeremiah Chechik
Rush (UK-Germany), dir Ron Howard
Shuddh Desi Romance (India), dir Maneesh Sharma
Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon (US), dir Mike Myers

My 13 Most Anticipated Films of 2013

Anticipated2013MoodIndigo

.
In honour of finally seeing a 2013 movie that I’ve been eager to catch (Chan-wook Park’s Stoker – which was a heaping batch of candy and colour coated fun), I thought I would lay out some of the films I’m most excited to see in 2013. I’m sure I’ve missed a bunch (I’ve heard that Lucretia Martel has a new one coming out this year, but haven’t found any confirmation) and I could make the list even longer (sorry Richard Kelly and Terry Gilliam – you guys just missed the cut), but these 13 stand out as my most anticipated:

 

Mood Indigo – Michel Gondry

I’ve already mentioned in a previous post that this became my number one “can’t wait for it” movie of the year the second I heard about it. I’ll always be curious what Gondry does and this looks to have a great sense of wonder to it.

 

Anticipated2013PigeonSatOnABranch

A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Reflecting On Existence – Roy Andersson

This would likely be my number one if I could only be assured it was actually coming out this year…I was over the moon for Andersson’s last film You, The Living from 2007 (not to mention adoring his 2000 film Songs From The Second Floor), so I’ve been waiting somewhat, though only somewhat, patiently for the follow-up…After seeing The Story Of Film at TIFF 2011, I was able to chat very briefly with director Mark Cousins and he said he had seen Andersson’s new film and that it was amazing. And now that this is the third year in a row that predictions are being made about it’s arrival at Cannes, the patience is, ahem, wearing thin. The word “eager” doesn’t even come close to describing my anticipation.

Would you like to know more…?

Sunday Bookmarks

 

  • Errol Morris’s continuing series of Microdocs for the NYT: Eating Champion ‘El Wingador’
    “El Wingador is a man truly committed to a certain kind of excellence — or at least, a certain kind of excess. Sure, I could have picked a different eating champion, but I guess I have an affinity for chicken. It is evident that chicken is his favorite competition food — particularly chicken wings. I asked him, “Why not hot dogs?” The simple and compelling answer: “Hey, my name is ‘El Wingador,’ not ‘El Hotdogador.’ ” A New Jersey native, he is the five-time champion of the Wing Bowl and has come out of retirement to compete once again this year.”
  • Le Roi est mort, vive le Roi: Why Digital is Far Superior to Film

    Gamble on Celluloid vs. Digital in the projection booth: “Cinephiles cry out about the loss of film citing the lower picture quality and the dangerous precedent set on the levels of their oh so precious film grain, but frankly, after being in the film exhibition business (i.e. movie theatres, for those unencumbered by the burden of industry jargon) for over a decade, I see digital as a welcome upgrade. And in some instances, a god damn savior. Here’s why.”
  • Wolves in Sheep Clothing (Genre as Sartorial Satire): Robin Hardy talks the Legacy of The Wicker Man the Timing of The Wicker Tree, and 40 years of History
    While The Wicker Tree got only the tiniest of Theatrical releases from Anchor Bay last week, here is Kurt Halfyard and Michael Guillen in a lengthy (over an hour) conversation with director Robin Hardy, who is not shy with his opinions on the world and politics.
  • John Anderson sits down for a chat with the legendary Douglas Trumbull
    “When the special-effects whiz and director Douglas Trumbull receives a special Oscar on Saturday — the Gordon E. Sawyer Award for filmmakers “whose technological contributions have brought credit to the industry” — it could be taken as a valedictory tribute, the cap on a career that began with Stanley Kubrick and “2001: A Space Odyssey” and includes a best-picture nominee this year, “The Tree of Life.” But Mr. Trumbull, 69, is hardly finished with his contributions.”
  • Josh Fox Arrested on Capitol Hill While Filming ‘Gasland’ Sequel
    “According to Politico, Fox was led out in handcuffs before the hearing began while shouting, “I’m within my First Amendment rights, and I’m being taken out.” Fox’s “Gasland” took on oil and gas companies for their policy of using hydraulic fracturing to obtain fuel from underneath layers of otherwise unpenetrable rock. The process has been accused of contaminating drinking water in rural mid-Atlantic towns, and Fox’s film is famous for showing residents set fire to the water coming out of their kitchen sinks. He was in the Capitol shooting a follow-up.”
  • Cafe de Flore comes out on DVD in a couple weeks, here is Joseph Belanger talking to Jean-Marc Vallée
    “While I flat out refuse to divulge what exactly the connection is between these vastly different plots, I will say that a simple song connects them on screen and that song also served as the filmmaker’s inspiration for the entire film. The name of that song? Why, “Café de flore”, of course. When he first heard the Doctor Rockit song, Vallée thought, “It’s so epic. I’m going to make a film with this track.” And so the movie is built around this song as well as a general appreciation for music itself. This aspect of the film is the director’s most autobiographical. “Music makes me feel so good, makes me feel alive, makes me dream, makes me want to make movies,” Vallée asserts right before he starts humming the catchy accordion hook from the film’s title track to me.”
  • The Hulk Persona writes (shouts) an open letter to NBC on the necessity for saving COMMUNITY
    “WE SOMETIMES FORGET THAT PART. BRANDS, NETWORKS, AND INDIVIDUAL SHOWS HAVE AN ETHEREAL, YET INESCAPABLY-PRESENT CACHET. AS MUCH AS SOME NETWORKS SEEM TO BE AT ODDS WITH THIS CONCEPT AT TIMES, THE TRUTH IS THAT THEY SPEND MILLIONS OF DOLLARS TRYING TO CREATE AN IDENTITY. SO OF COURSE IT MATTERS. BUT WHY IS NETWORK IDENTITY SO NECESSARY? FOR LONG-TERM BUSINESS EFFECTS, OF COURSE. HECK, BRAND IDENTITY IS THE ONE THING THAT A NETWORK CAN RELY ON IN THE EVER-CHANGING LANDSCAPE OF TELEVISION.”

Canada’s Top 10: Café De Flore Review

Cafe

[With Canada’s Top 10 screening in a few major cities in Canada this week, it is perhaps time to revisit a film we love to boost in these parts. You can find Bob Turnbull’s (who considers the film the best one of 2011) TIFF review here; also, you can find Bob, Mike and My own lengthy ‘conversational’ post about the film here.]

In an annual New Years tradition of merriment and bonding, the patriarch of a decidedly secular family asks for God’s blessing in the coming year. It is a contradictory detail such as this – a combination the pragmatic and the spiritual – in which Café De Flore asks (in a round about way) what is probably the most difficult question put to a person, at least someone in privileged first-world society: “Are you happy?”

The latest film from Québécois wunderkind Jean Marc-Vallée (C.R.A.Z.Y.) is a film of moments – intense emotional moments – offered up in a loose, free-wheeling montage (requiring the aid of voice-over) before settling into something deeper. The film further mines two of the more interesting themes that have been slowly emerging in my world-cinema filmgoing this year: The first pertains to raising children, and how connected our choices and beliefs (and anxieties) are to how the kids eventually turn out. I have seen this tackled in a variety of 2011 films ranging from guilt (We Need to Talk About Kevin) to paranoia (Take Shelter, Kotoko) to self-reflection (Tree of Life.) The second is the relation of the universe (or spiritual) to the individuals’ state of mind (Melancholia, Another Earth, and yes, again, Tree of Life.) Taking a dual narrative approach, Café De Flore divides its attention between a pair of story-lines which are connected at first glance only by the titular coffee-house tune (which is used here in many different musical forms) but other connective images and ideas slowly emerge before climatically aligning both timelines in a way that is both daring and profoundly satisfying.

Would you like to know more…?

Café de Flore: A Conversation

[We are back at it after a long hiatus since our first conversation post on Mammoth, but hopefully these will come out with more frequency thereafter. I am sure we do not cover everything there is to be said about Café de Flore, so feel free to extend the conversation in the comment section. Finally, this conversation is all spoilers, we get into the fine details so only read if you have seen the film.]

Synopsis From the director, Jean-Marc Vallée: “Cafe de Flore is a love story about people separated by time and place but connected in profound and mysterious ways. Atmospheric, fantastical, tragic and hopeful, the film chronicles the parallel fates of Jacqueline, a young mother with a disabled son in 1960s Paris, and Antoine, a recently-divorced, successful DJ in present day Montreal. What binds the two stories together is love – euphoric, obsessive, tragic, youthful, timeless love.”

Mike: There are certain films that require discussion upon leaving the theater, it seems impossible to just go on with your day after seeing something like Jean-Marc Vallée’s Café de Flore. We have been waiting since Mammoth for the right kind of movie to do a conversation post for and this seems to check all the boxes, from the meaty thematic elements to the open-ended aspects of what exactly happened. I have stayed away from the spoiler thread on Row Three so I am coming to the conversation completely fresh. Of the three of us, I believe I will be the most critical, but it is a fine distinction as, on the whole, I think it is a very good movie. Who knows, maybe my mind will change with this conversation, the more pieces that are put together. I would like to get a general sense of why the film spoke to you guys, because both of you have been praising this film hard.

Bob: Well, Café de Flore goes beyond the definition of a very good movie for me…Not that I think it’s perfect (how can a movie really be perfect with so many possibilities?), but that just about every moment of the film hit me in exactly the right way and at the right time to cause maximum impact. To my ear, it hits all the right notes as an exercise in technical filmmaking, as an inventive piece of art and as something that simply connected to me for a variety of personal reasons. On the technical side, it’s beautifully shot, naturally scripted and contains an abundance of wonderful performances (from first timer Kevin Parent to Vanessa Paradis, but especially all the kids). Vallée proves without a doubt that he is highly skilled when it comes to coaching his actors and letting them know when to go for subtle and when to go big. As a work of art, it becomes something altogether different and original in its approach to its two storylines. It’s impressive enough that he can balance the two, but he does so in the manner of a DJ (just like his male lead Antoine) – moving his overall piece from one side of the mixing board to the other and then cutting between them, mixing them up and bringing them both together towards the end. It’s like the best DJ set ever. Antoine even talks to his therapist at one point about how he loves to bring in silence to his sets because it sets up the whomp that follows and Vallée applies that very same strategy to his movie. This was used to fantastic effect to bring home its theme of letting go since not only will it help to avoid the emotional calamities ahead, but “letting go” will also allow a deeper appreciation of what your current life has to offer.

Kurt: First off, fellas, I am glad that we have resurrected this feature, and since Café De Flore has left Toronto Cinemas after a mere two week run, it seems that this film certainly needs a little help to get recognized outside of French Speaking Canada. So our cause is both fun, stimulating (hopefully) and ah, heck, noble even. OK, down to brass tacks: There is a scene late in the film, when the two story lines start to gel that features the most interesting and sophisticated cross cutting I’ve seen in a film in 2011, perhaps the last ten years even. The DJ mixing analogy is apt, and the emotional beats, in this stretch of the film, are not revealed by plotting information (that is to come later) but rather completely by editing strategy, as if you are being primed by a collection of images and asked to inject yourself into things (Terence Malick actually does a similar, if slightly different riff of this in a different fashion in the construction of a Tree of Life). That the ebb and flow of the editing is actually non-intuitive (pauses and shot lengths) is kind of a small miracle.

Would you like to know more…?

Review: Cafe De Flore

With Jean-Marc Vallee’s latest film Cafe De Flore starting a wider release today (in Toronto followed by Ottawa and Vancouver in the coming weeks), we’re re-publishing our review from this year’s TIFF.

 

I was somewhat shaken walking out of Jean-Marc Vallee’s latest film and needed to actually catch my breath off to the side of the cell-phone checking hordes. It was partially due to several very personal reactions to a few moments and characters, but mostly because the film was absolutely magnificent in just about every respect. I’ve found my “I can’t imagine seeing a better film this year” film.

Vallee’s Young Victoria didn’t exactly win any converts in major production house circles, but anyone who saw C.R.A.Z.Y. has probably already given him a lifetime pass. As great as that film was (and if you haven’t seen it, please track it down via any legal means possible and also give a listen to the Movie Club Podcast episode specifically on that film), Cafe de Flore has just surpassed any reasonable expectation of what this filmmaker could do. Possibly even all the unreasonable expectations too. It shows a command of thematic content across multiple stories, an inate feeling of putting music to images and an almost perfect sense of flow. He knows when to ask his actors to be subtle, to bring forward some emotion and when to go BIG. He knows when to keep a scene going, when to stay with a take and when to cut across stories and time periods. That’s what I’m left with as I consider my reaction to the film – everything seemed dead on perfect.

Would you like to know more…?

TIFF Review: Cafe De Flore

I was somewhat shaken walking out of Jean-Marc Vallee’s latest film and needed to actually catch my breath off to the side of the cell-phone checking hordes. It was partially due to several very personal reactions to a few moments and characters, but mostly because the film was absolutely magnificent in just about every respect. I’ve found my “I can’t imagine seeing a better film this year” film.

Vallee’s Young Victoria didn’t exactly win any converts in major production house circles, but anyone who saw C.R.A.Z.Y. has probably already given him a lifetime pass. As great as that film was (and if you haven’t seen it, please track it down via any legal means possible and also give a listen to the Movie Club Podcast episode specifically on that film), Cafe de Flore has just surpassed any reasonable expectation of what this filmmaker could do. Possibly even all the unreasonable expectations too. It shows a command of thematic content across multiple stories, an inate feeling of putting music to images and an almost perfect sense of flow. He knows when to ask his actors to be subtle, to bring forward some emotion and when to go BIG. He knows when to keep a scene going, when to stay with a take and when to cut across stories and time periods. That’s what I’m left with as I consider my reaction to the film – everything seemed dead on perfect.

Would you like to know more…?