Cinecast Episode 320 – Robin Wright 2.0

Keeping it rather short and sweet this week; but the kids are alright. Outside of our quick review of 2 Guns, we kind of just tease through some reviews for upcoming wide releases or show discussion topics. Mostly we just can’t wait for next week’s Blomkamp/Allen reviews. Still, we do manage to get through some talk about space Abyss, adult swim and another gander at Joe Wright’s Hanna.

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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First Wave of TIFF. Rian Johnson’s LOOPER to open Fest.

I have to say that I’m both floored and delighted that the Toronto International Film Festival picked Rian Johnson’s Looper as their opening night film. (Not too long ago, Rian joined us for a cinecast episode). But the sci-fi action film is one of very many major titles slated for for the 2012 edition of TIFF. New films from Terrence Malick, Tom Tykwer, The Wachowskis, David O. Russell, Takeshi Kitano, Joss Whedon, Neil Jordon, J.A. Bayona, Chen Kaige, Baltasar Kormakur, Robert Redford, Joe Wright, Francois Ozon, Mira Nair, Derek “Blue Valentine” Cianfrance, Thomas Vinterberg, Noah Baumbach, Ben Affleck and many more (below.)

This is the first of many press releases from the festival (Which Variety leaked early; unfortunate for them, fortunate for us), and already the festival looks like a doozey. September cannot come fast enough!

Who is in for TIFF this year? Sound off in the comments section below on what (by the title or director) has got you excited thus far.

Initial Wave of titles.

“Looper” (Rian Johnson) (Opening Film)

“To The Wonder” (Terrence Malick)
“Cloud Atlas” (The Wachowskis & Tom Tykwer)
“Argo” (Ben Affleck)
“The Silver Linings Playbook” (David O Russell)
“Love, Marilyn” (Liz Garbus)
“Free Angela And All Political Prisoners” (Shola Lynch)
“The Place Beyond The Pines” (Derek Cianfrance)
“Midnight’s Children” (Deepa Mehta)
“Hyde Park On Hudson” (Roger Michell)
“Great Expectations” (Mike Newell)
“Inescapable” (Rubba Nadda)
“Twice Born” (Sergio Castellitto)
“English Vinglish” (Gauri Shinde)
“The Perks Of Being A Wallflower” (Stephen Chbosky)
“Thanks For Sharing” (Stuart Blumberg)
“End Of Watch” (David Ayer)
“Imogene” (Robert Puccini and Shari Springer Berman)
“A Late Quartet” (Yaron Zilberman)
“Much Ado About Nothing” (Joss Whedon)
“Frances Ha” (Noah Baumbach)
“The Time Being” (Nenad Cicin-Sain)
“Writers” (Josh Boone)
“At Any Price” (Ramin Bahrani)
“Venus And Serena” (Maiken Baird)
“Byzantium” (Neil Jordan)
“Quartet” (Dustin Hoffman)
“Ginger And Rosa” (Sally Potter)
“A Liar’s Autobiography” (Ben Timlett, Bill Jones, Jeff Simpson)
“Foxfire” (Laurnet Cantet)
“In The House” (Francois Ozon)
“The Impossible” (JA Bayona)
“Hannah Arendt (Margarethe Von Trotta)
“Mr. Pip” (Andrew Adamson)
“Capital” (Costa-Gavras)
“The Attack” (Ziad Doueriri)
“Zaytoun” (Eran Riklis)
“The Deep” (Baltasar Kormakur)
“Dreams For Sale (Nishikawa Miwa)
“The Last Supper” (Lu Chuan)
“Anna Karenina” (Joe Wright)
“The Reluctant Fundamentalist” (Mira Nair)
“The Company You Keep” (Robert Redford)
“Jayne Mansfield’s Car” (Billy Bob Thornton)
“A Royal Affair” (Nikolai Arcel)
“Dangerous Liasons” (Hur Ji-Ho)
“Thermae Romae” (Hideki Takeuchi)
“Caught In THe Web” (Chen Kaige)
“Dormant Beauty” (Marco Belloccchio)
“Everybody Has A Plan” (Ana Piterbarg w/Viggo Mortensen)
“Kon-Tiki” (Espen Sandberg)
“Reality” (Matteo Garrone)
“A Few Hours Of Spring” (Stephan Brize)
“The Hunt” (Thomas Vintenberg)
“The Iceman” (Ariel Vromen)
“Lore” (Cate Shortland)
“No” (Pablo Larrain)
“Outrage Beyond” (Takeshi Kitano)
“Rust And Bone” (Jacques Audiard)
“The Sapphires” (Wayne Blair)
“Tai Chi O” (Stephen Fung)

Cinecast Episode 208 – It’s Gonna Be Ass-Tastic!

Welcome to another edition of the Cinecast, wherein the boys talk a little Joe Wright and Super-Spy-Assassins with the weekend release of Hanna. There is no Gamble on the show today, but in order to properly plumb the depth and nuance of Your Highness, we bring in a mystery guest. Then it is on to Kurt’s 3 days in Asheville, NC watching action films and stunt folks from around the world ply their trade at ActionFest. A recap of some of the highlight titles (from Bangkok stunt-reel filmmaking to white knuckle mountain climbing thrillers and Mixed Martial Arts Kumite) along with plans to revisit next year. DVD and netflix picks round out a show that is on-target and efficient, but a tad on the foul-tongued side. Fair warning.

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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Review: Hanna

Hanna is badass

Director: Joe Wright (Pride and Prejudice, Atonement, The Soloist)
Writer: Seth Lochhead, David Farr
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett, Tom Hollander, Olivia Williams
MPAA Rating: PG-13

You’ve seen Hanna before. From Angelina Jolie’s Salt to Kill Bill‘s The Bride, from Jason Bourne to Wolverine. In the business they call it genre, and this film is steeped in it (the kind of a film that makes Quentin Tarantino and Stephen King end-of-the-year lists). Without divulging much in the way of spoilers, Hanna is the story of a CIA asset that goes missing only to be found and, as you would expect, all shit breaks loose. Sprinkled about this mayhem is an affecting coming-of-age story wherein the unstoppable Frankenstein monster is a fourteen year old girl who wants to know what music feels like as much as she wants revenge. In lesser hands this delicate balance of genres would upset one or the other fan bases, but with Hanna, director Joe Wright is somehow able to maintain the momentum of both the emotional story and the high-octane action without doing a disservice to either. The result appears effortless, a steady stream of event movie-making on par with anything of the Bourne franchise.

Saoirse Ronan walks the razor’s edge of cool and vulnerable in her performance of Hanna – this curious vision of a doe-eyed, blood-speckled assassin is just one of the joys of the film. Added to this is a stellar supporting cast: Eric Bana as Hanna’s father and sole provider, Cate Blanchett (rocking a Scully do) as the formidable CIA opponent, Joe Wright regular, Tom Hollander, as the whistling psychopath-for-hire, and even a bit part for Olivia Williams as a hippie mom caught in the middle. Hollander’s Isaacs is a stand-out and a fascinating turn for this character actor typically resigned to playing daft weaklings, here, despite his stature, Isaacs is channeling Dennis Hopper from Blue Velvet, running head-on towards whatever damage he can administer. Would you like to know more…?

Hanna and her Chemical Brothers


This appears to be a chocolate and peanut butter situation, the young-super-soldier thriller meets the agressive rhythms of the Chemical Brothers. After the wonderful Tron soundtrack and the Oscar win for Trent Reznor, it seems to be a new mecca for electronic music stars to ply their trade. I demand a Dr. Who feature with that great Orbital track in the opening credits.

Until then, here is the ear-catching lead track of the Hanna soundtrack (featured in the trailer), Container Park, is available below. The full soundtrack will be available on March 15, a few weeks ahead of the release of the film.

Container Park by The Chemical Brothers by Hannamovie

International trailer for Joe Wright’s Hanna


Shaping up to be the ‘guilty pleasure’ Hollywood action-fest for 2011, the UK trailer for Hanna focuses less on plot and more on Saoirse Ronan’s titlular character. Upon considering both marketing strategies, it looks like a grand time at the movies, either way. Finally (ok, I’m kidding), they made a Bourne/Salt-styled super-spy movie aimed at the teenager set – only it isn’t – particularly when you consider the art-house director, world-class cast, and the promise of it being more than a little bloody. Do you think this will go out rated R? I do.

The trailer is tucked under the seat.
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Something New from Wright

The select few of us around here who will watch anything from Joe Wright nearly unconditionally should be fairly excited about this news. While we love Wright and his excellent sense of period film making (Atonement, Pride and Prejudice), this will be a welcome departure for fans and mainstream movie goers alike.

As Indian Summer (starring Cate Blanchett) fell by the wayside due to budget issues and a sense that the public isn’t too into period drama pieces at the moment, Wright switched gears completely and is going for a straight up action picture with the likes of something as tantalizing as La Femme Nikita meets Bourne.

from Heat Vision

The story centers on a 14-year-old Eastern European girl who has been raised by her father to be a cold-blooded killing machine. She connects with a French family, forms a friendship with their daughter and goes through the pangs of adolescence. When the girl is dragged back to her father’s world and discovers that she was bred as a killing machine in a CIA prison camp, she must fight her way to a free life.

With “legendary” directors such as Danny Boyle and Alfonso Cuarón originally interested in the idea but ultimately passing on it, I’m super interested to see how well Joe Wright will make the transition from tears to blood. Keira Knightley to star?


Knightley & Wright Reunite for My Fair Lady Remake

KeiraKnightley&JoeWrightI was completely convinced that at some point, I had posted some information about an upcoming remake of My Fair Lady (pause for everyone to take a collective breath). It’s true; someone is going to remake the classic tale of a commoner turned lady with the help of a handsome and distinguished chap.

The project, which has been in development for some time, is one that Keira Knightley had been vying for but the actress had the likes of Scarlett Johansson to contend with for the lead role of Eliza Doolittle. For this fan, my money was always on Knightley who, I believe, is a much more talented actress than Johansson (though to give Scar Jo a little credit, she does have an album of Tom Waits covers. That doesn’t necessarily mean she can sing but someone out there thinks she has some talent) but alas, I’m not making the casting choices.

In the end, the coveted lead role has gone to Knightley. How did she get the upper hand? Likely thanks to frequent collaborator Joe Wright who has signed on to direct the film. So far, this project is an all around winner!

In sadder news relating to Wright, one of the director’s previously announced projects, Indian Summer based on the story of Lady Edwina Mountbatten (to be played by the brilliant Cate Blanchett) and her affair with the first Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru (a role which Irrfan Khan was rumored to fill) has been shelved indefinitely due to, according to Paste, Universal’s financial struggles.

Lose one, win one. All in all not a bad day for Wright!

Review: The Soloist

The Soloist one sheet

Director: Joe Wright (Pride & Prejudice, Atonement)
Book: Steve Lopez
Screenplay: Susannah Grant
Producers: Gary Foster , Russ Krasnoff
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Jamie Foxx, Catherine Keener
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 109 min

Has there been in recent memory a more maligned film by virtue of its marketing campaign than Joe Wright’s The Soloist? Like the overkill of the Vantage Point trailers in every theater and seemingly in front of every film I saw in 2008, The Soloist was sold to the public in a way which had an adverse effect, sure people were talking about it, but what they had to say wasn’t pretty. Shelved nearly half a year, the film is being unloaded the weekend before the summer movie season begins, a notorious dumping ground for beleaguered projects. Is this a colossal fuck-up by the marketing department, a heavy-handed trailer edit of the movie’s dramatic value to court the Academy’s quaint notions of worth, or is the source material ultimately at fault?

Having now seen the film, I would have to say it’s a bit of both. The uncomfortably naïve evocation of liberal guilt and white man’s burden as depicted through the trials and tribulations of L.A. Times reporter, Steve Lopez (Robert Downey Jr.), in his efforts to befriend Nathaniel Ayers, a Julliard trained musician since homeless (Jamie Foxx), is palpable in the script. Driven home through the voice-overs as Steve talks into his tape recorder and through the clumsy exposition as he confides to his ex-wife (Catherine Keener), the story is forever pivoting around social touchstones that make this just the kind of touchy feely public interest column that I suspect garnered Lopez his book deal in the first place. The only saving grace in the storytelling is that the mental issues that Nathaniel is dealing with are not reduced to some particular event, even though strangely the flashbacks seem to suggest that just such a revelation is around the corner.
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