Mondays Suck Less in The Third Row

Check out these links:
Not LAURA Palmer: The Catfishing game of LEAH Palmer
Precious Bodily Fluids and Ownership in Fury Road
RussellMania! (Toronto)
How To Fix Canadian Cinema
Why Does Nobody Talk About Avatar?


Some of the best David Letterman Bits

The Best David Letterman Guest Moments Compilation by worldwideinterweb


The wonderful world of Estonian sweets


John C. Reilly closes out Cannes like a Boss

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Fantasia Review: Guardians Of The Galaxy


Confirming two axioms of popular cinema simultaneously, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy (hereafter Guardians) demonstrates that there is nothing new under the sun, but also that execution can easily trump story to make a pretty swanky piece of pop bubblegum. Director James Gunn and his capable writers are only a few fourth wall breaks away from Mel Brooks’s Spaceballs in that Guardians is a loving parody of the space adventure genre while also delivering memorable characters and banter and sight gags. Every place name is ludicrously silly, all the stakes are kept thankfully low due to the attitude of the characters and the movie. It puts the fun back into the multiplex popcorn film that this summer has been lacking outside of Quicksilver in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Guardians feels like the entire film is set in the key of that dense, fun, and most importantly, cocky scene.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that Gunn’s voice is not silenced by the Marvel machine, I am curious to see if this movie changes the way people look at Jackson Pollack, or for that matter, parents have to explain that one-off joke to their kids (it will likely sail right over their tiny little heads like the blow job gag in Ghostbusters). Much like Sam Raimi’s initial foray into studio filmmaking, Army of Darkness, Gunn gets to bring in all of his favourite peeps to the party: Nathan Fillion, Gregg Henry (the filthy mayor from Slither), Lloyd Kaufman (Troma), even his brother Sean get cameos to pop in on the periphery to the main action. Even Kevin Bacon, who worked with Gunn as fried-eggs-loviing villain in Super, is here in spirit, mildly begging the question of whether or not he gets paid for his presence. Michael Rooker, in blue face paint right over top of his beard, enjoys a pretty significant opportunity to that thing he does. That is to look distinctly uncomfortable for our amusement, like he is having an unexpected orgasm in his pants while trying to make polite conversation at a party. This is the spirit of Guardians, in a way. Rooker is indeed excellent and off kilter as Starlord’s passive-agressive father-figure, and lover of troll dolls and kitchy knick-knacks.

Christ Pratt, as Peter Quill, aka Starlord, sports the tone, all-america surfer body of Caspar Van Dien in Starship Troopers, but is anything but vacant. He is self-away, sharp, Han Solo and Luke Skywalker all-in-one. Pratt nails timing of the screenplay and the sight gags. The tone of his salvage-man loner, happily adrift in the junkyard of space oddities feels not one bit realistic in someone surviving as the last man in space, but nevertheless very right. When he gathers all of these oddballs in the opening act of the film, 100% at odds with one another (one character even phones the villains their location to come and fight) he charmingly negotiates their foibles with wit and grace, but mainly invites everyone (audience included) to dance this little dance with him and enjoy the beauty and the fury of this wide universe.

The movie effortlessly cribs from Star Wars, The Heavy Metal Movie (particularly the John Candy driven Loknar segment), Roger Corman’s Battle Beyond The Stars and even the pilot for Star Trek: The Next Generation. Forgive my need to catalogue this kind of minutiae. All of this Mega-franchise connectedness of the Marvel-verse seems to invite this sort of thing, even when it isn’t important or necessary.

More than all of this, Guardians feels like an Edgar Wright movie (note the Peter Ser. All the best jokes in Guardians involve either character driven humour or visual gags involving framing and film grammar; the way stuff happens in the background, or looking away from a dense action set-piece to a nonchalant bit of calm negotiation happening just off to the side of all furious noise. The wicked soundtrack of precisely calibrated and implanted pop songs is perfection, even if many of the cassette tape moments were omnipresent in the marketing. Seeing how well Guardians works outside of the usual tone of the studio makes Wrights firing from Marvel’s Ant Man utterly baffling.

Like many a Marvel movie, the villains, look great in leather costumes and fantastic body tattoos. Apparently, everyone in this film goes to the same tattoo and accessory shop. Ronan, Korath and Nebula (more consonant-vowel-consonant, generic-ridiculous naming, in a movie with oh so plenty to spare) are completely uninteresting and self-serious-silly. Shades of Colm Feore, Karl Urban and Thandie Newton in similar, if not as good The Chronicles of Riddick, which, now that I think about it, also echoes a Heavy Metal Comic-vibe. The reavers, er whatever they are, baddies exist to merely to endanger the universe for no real compelling reasons other than to give the heroes fodder to mock in the middle of familiar CGI space battles and fist fights.

I was very happy to see, in the current ADHD blockbuster landscape, for Guardians to often slow down and spend time hanging out with Quill, Rocket, Gamora, Drax and Chewbacca…er…Groot for long stretches such that one could easily be convinced that this is a re-imaginging of Firefly/Serenity under the watch of Joss Whedon. I was surprised by how effective they get the CGI right. Rocket’s racoon bed heat, Groot’s charming presence and facial tics, the beautifully bright planet (where we encounter Glenn Close as the cheery governor and John C. Reilly as the guard-slash family man) has open vistas and bright clouds highly reminiscent of Farpoint (The Star Trek Next Generation pilot, as does a certain safety-barrier). The planet offers something to save, but also suitably serves up a complex introduce the characters chase with winning choreography, worthy of Buster Keaton. Furthermore, there are moments when the film stops to smell the CGI-roses in slow motion, engaging camera work that does what Brad Bird suggest these types of movies should always do: offer audience a little joy and wonder.

If I never bothered with story details in this review, please forgive me, but you’ve seen Star Wars and its plethora of derivates over the past 35 years, so don’t sweat the generic ‘subway-stop’ plotting (a Marvel-Disney speciality, but in all fairness, Spielberg and all those beloved ’80s fantasy films do it as well) and logistics and enjoy how much Guardians get to take the piss out of it all, with just more than a pinch of sweetness, and an Awesome Mix Tape #1 to make care just enough to not nitpick.

Review: Bears

Disney Nature's BearsNature is a beautiful thing. Vast and expansive, it is home to thousands of different species. As a child growing up, I was raised with a keen understanding and respect for nature. In spite of vague memories of Jean-Jacques Annaud’s The Bear, most of that education came from my parents. I spent many summers hiking in Algonquin Provincial Park from the age of two, and was taught that animals are not there for our entertainment. The elements and all those that inhabit the forest were beyond my control, and as such needed to be treated with the utmost respect.

Disney Nature is attempting to bring this kind of education to children through their films. Thus far, they’ve brought us Earth, The Crimson Wing, Oceans, African Cats, Chimpanzee, and Wings of Life. Meryl Streep, Tim Allen, Samuel L. Jackson, Patrick Stewart, Pierce Brosnan, James Earl Jones, and Ken Watanabe have narrated this wide array of nature documentaries for children. They’ve attracted a great deal of attention. What better way to educate kids about different species that pepper our planet? If their latest endeavor, Bears, narrated by John C. Reilly, is any indication, they should choose to stick to one side of the spectrum. Blurring the lines between documentary and fiction, Bears creates a problematic discourse around the very nature of nature itself, successfully creating a hyper-anthropomorphized depiction of a wild animal and dubbing it factual representation.

Bears follows the first year in the life of two young Alaskan Brown Bears. Their mother attempts to protect them against the elements, starvation, and predators as they make their way to the salmon ponds in order to fatten up for their long winter hibernation. This would make for an interesting documentary on its own accord. With the ability and necessity for camera crews to acclimatize themselves to their subjects over the course of several weeks to months before filming, a great deal of outstanding footage is at their fingertips. However, the footage doesn’t speak for itself, and instead we’re given a fabricated narrative. Would you like to know more…?

Finite Focus: The Pool Party in Boogie Nights

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Whether you want to call it homage or straight up borrowing, P.T. Anderson’s great Boogie Nights certainly shows off its influences. Altman and Scorsese figure prominently, but another inspiration is Mikhail Kalatozov and his film I Am Cuba (which also happens to be a big Scorsese favourite too). Aside from being drop-dead gorgeous and a remarkably poetic piece of propaganda, I Am Cuba is known for several incredible long takes that, as it celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, will still take your breath away. One of them starts 2 minutes into the film as a camera roams through a decadent hotel party and bathing beauty contest, moves down several stories, through a crowd of people and into the water of a pool to capture the swimmers under the surface. Anderson states in his commentary on Boogie Nights that they not only wanted to try the same thing, but have the camera come out of the water too.

It’s a showy scene for sure, but it also ties together numerous threads and characters from the story and emphasizes how these lost souls are all together in this porn “family” – whether as complete avoidance of the real world or as a temporary waystation. We see Buck Swope’s (Don Cheadle) search for an identity continue as well as Maurice TT Rodriguez’s (Luis Guzman) pleading to Amber Waves (Julianne Moore) to be included in one of their films. Midway through the scene, Buck and Maurice go inside the house together as the camera picks up another character, but we reconvene with them a few minutes later in another scene that closes on Amber’s newly discovered fascination with Eddie Adams.

My favourite part of the party scene, though, is the last part of the clip above and comes right after the first cut that follows the long take into the pool. Eddie (who hasn’t yet become full blown pornstar Dirk Diggler) is asking his new buddy Reed Rothchild if his just completed pike dive into the pool looked awesome. Reed is looking to play a mentor role for the young lad and decides to reign in his confidence a bit. “I’ll show you what you did wrong.” Reed lines up a full flip, but only manages about 75% of it and lands flat on his back. As Eric Burdon and his sexy sounding female vocalist continue to pulse on the soundtrack, there’s a great edit underwater to Reed’s pained expression as he slowly floats to the surface with his back arched. It’s one of the funnier moments in a film teeming with them (as much as it’s also terribly dark at times), but it serves a purpose too – once Reed pops above the surface and Eddie says “You gotta brings your legs all the way around!”, that mentoring relationship has ended. Reed’s final “I know…I know..” comment is a realization and acceptance that he’ll be playing the supporting role to the star that Eddie will become.

Once we see Amber hoover a line of coke and then gaze intently at Eddie landing a full flip properly (in slow motion of course), we are fully prepped to dive headlong into the downward spirals that lie ahead.

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Cinecast Episode 279 – Tapper’s Bar

Drunken pilots and glitchy princesses are on the agenda today as Gamble saunters in after the intro segment. Should Flight have been an angrier Anatomy of a Murder style morality tale, should Wreck-it-Ralph have swapped it’s Disney Logo to Brave while bearing the Pixar Logo? Should Matt Gamble start using Google+? All of these things and more are contained in this episode; reordered far too late at night for the hosts collective health.

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


show content

 


 

 

 

To download the show directly, paste the following URL into your favorite downloader:
http://rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_12/episode_279.mp3

 
Full show notes are under the seats…
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I Believe in the God of Carnage

…And his name is Roman Polanski. He wreaks havoc of awesome with every piece of celluloid he touches and now he’s got another A-list set of stars to carry on the tradition in this seemingly dark comedy based on the play by Yasmina Reza.

Two sets of parents meet an apartment to talk over the violent dispute between their 11 year-old sons on the school yard. Slowly, what starts as friendly banter turns into verbal blood-shed. aka Carnage.

Maybe a little bit more over the top yet light-hearted version of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolfe? See the trailer below and make the call. I for one have a new most anticipated film for this year…

 

 

Trailer: We Need to Talk About Kevin

Oh, Ms. Ramsay, we’ve missed you a lot. It’s been almost 10 years since the shocking and effective Morvern Callar, and lord knows, we are due for another round of disturbing and slightly off-putting social behaviour. Judging by this trailer, (possibly the best cut trailer of 2011) We Need To Talk About Kevin, is looking to be just that. I’ll be there with bells on when it screens at TIFF.

Tilda Swinton and John C. Reilly Star in another spin on the “School Shooting” film:

The mother of a teenage boy who went on a high-school killing spree tries to deal with her grief — and feelings of responsibility for her child’s actions — by writing to her estranged husband.

The trailer is tucked under the seat.
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Polanski’s “Carnage” Looms Ever Nearer

Everyone’s most anticipated film of the year seems to unanimously be Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life. While I too can hardly stand the wait, it comes at a distant second to Polanski’s latest, destined to be a classic, Carnage starring Jodi Foster, John C. Reilly, Christoph Waltz and Kate Winslet. How anyone can not be absolutely stoked for that line-up is beyond me. The above image doesn’t give much but at least we see the cast in action.

The film focuses on two couple coming together to talk about the behavior of their children. As the night wears on, things become quite heated. The story is based off of a Tony Award winning stage play by Yasmina Reza of which I personally know nothing about. Sounds a bit like Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolfe? but is apparently a bit more on the humorous side. The film’s run time is about 105 minutes and all in real time. So 105 sequential minutes of our lives equals 105 sequential minutes of the character’s lives (kind of like “24”).

Looks like probably a late 2011 release for this one and if Polanski is allowed in Canada there’s a good chance there will be a director Q&A at the very likely screening at TIFF. Which also means Andrew James will be in Toronto that week and shelling out whatever it takes to be there. Here are a couple of more photos…

 
 

2011 Independent Spirit Award Nominees

Equally meaningless, but arguably a whole lot more fun to watch than the Oscars. Better films/celebs nominated, more relaxed, more accurate and a lot more alcohol. This year’s awards will be given out live on Saturday, February 26th on IFC channel at 10pm ET.

The nominees this year are as follows…

BEST FEATURE:
127 Hours
Black Swan
Greenberg
The Kids Are All Right
Winter’s Bone

BEST DIRECTOR :
Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
Danny Boyle, 127 Hours
Lisa Cholodenko, The Kids Are All Right
Debra Granik, Winter’s Bone
John Cameron Mitchell, Rabbit Hole

BEST FEMALE LEAD:
Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Greta Gerwig, Greenberg
Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone
Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine

BEST MALE LEAD:
Ronald Bronstein, Daddy Longlegs
Aaron Eckhart, Rabbit Hole
James Franco, 127 Hours
John C. Reilly, Cyrus
Ben Stiller, Greenberg

BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE:
Ashley Bell, The Last Exorcism
Dale Dickey, Winter’s Bone
Allison Janney, Life During Wartime
Daphne Rubin-Vega, Jack Goes Boating
Naomi Watts, Mother and Child

BEST SUPPORTING MALE:
John Hawkes, Winter’s Bone
Samuel L. Jackson, Mother and Child
Bill Murray, Get Low
John Ortiz, Jack Goes Boating
Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right

more categories/nominations under the seats…
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Trailer: The Extra Man

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From the directors of American Splendor and The Nanny Diaries and based on a novel by Bored to Death creator Jonathan Ames, The Extra Man stars Kevin Kline as a poor, eccentric playwright who takes a young writer, played by Paul Dano, under his wing. Also starring John C. Reilly sporting an epic beard and Katie Holmes in her first movie in years, the movie has plenty of talent surrounding it and early word is that Kline has another magnificent;y quirky performance to tack onto his resume. I’m looking forward to it, if only to see Dano, who I still think is one of the most exciting young actors working today.

The Trailer is tucked under the seat.

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