John Hurt: 1940 – 2017

Legendary actor John Hurt as passed on just less than a week after his 77th birthday. How does one even begin to sum up his career? From British Television in the 1960s to a small role in the multi-Oscar feted, A Man For All Seasons, to drunken patsy and terrible spouse, in 10 Rillington Place, to the shockingly gaunt Emperor Caligula in the greatest BBC miniseries of all time, “I, Claudius.” Even though the actor always looked older than his actual age, he was just getting started.

All of this was before that iconic scene in Ridley Scott’s Alien (and Hurt was deprecating enough to re-enact it as a comedy bit in Mel Brooks Spaceballs, nearly a decade later). Later came memorable roles David Lynch’s The Elephant Man, Michael Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate, Stephen Frears (deeply underrated) The Hit, and his iconic Winston Smith in the 1984 adaptation of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. Hellboy, Harry Potter, “Dr. Who”, Snow Piercer, The Proposition and several collaborations with Jim Jarmusch and Lars Von Trier demonstrate that the man had one hell of a career in front of the camera; on screens in the arthouse and the multiplex.

The man was outspoken and forthright in his own public life, by all accounts. In short, he is one of those prolific, truly great actors.

You can still see him in the cinema, right now he as a significant supporting role in Pablo Larraín’s Jackie. And has several pictures in post production, including Joe Wright’s Winston Churchill biopic, Darkest Hour, where he plays infamous British PM Neville Chamberlain.

The Hollywood Reporter has more.

Terry Gilliam’s Don Quixote Project Greenlit By Amazon

We do not generally publish news items here in the third row, and this is not even fully confirmed news, and this isn’t even the first time for this news. But screw it. Amazon Streaming is funding Terry Gilliam’s often aborted The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (see: Lost in La Mancha for the well documented cluster-fuck of the project) a pseudo-adaptation of Miguel de Cervantes famous novel.

According to an interview with the director at indiewire, Amazon is funding the film to get a brief theatrical run before becoming a streaming-only Amazon Prime product. He has even tapped John Hurt to star as the famous man of chivalry who tilts at windmills for a 2016 shoot.

Time will tell if this actually happens, but god, we hope it does.

Cinecast Episode 359 – Downtown China

 
Not sure even where to start with the monologue this week. Let’s see, there’s The Bay-Man’s fourth installment in the giant robots fiasco; which inexplicably is really easy to get worked up about. It’s not really worthy of hate, nothing to love, yet so easy to rant about. There’s a “sick, twisted desire” to torture ourselves over this movie – plus always an opportunity to delve into Andrew’s sordid history with the franchise.

Before all of this is Bong Joon-Ho’s English language debut with Snowpiercer and it’s overly satirical view of our apocalyptic, dystopian future on a crazy train. And Chris Evans is there. And protein bars made of shitty CGI.

The 1984 project continues with Val Kilmer’s first starring role in Top Secret!. He sings, dances, talks backwards, bar fights underwater and delivers punchlines that will be stolen by countless films for the next thirty years.

The Watch List sees Kurt wrapping up Breaking Bad, Andrew living in Tiny Houses, and Matt enjoying Disney’s Amblin knock-off currently playing in theaters. It’s a 150 minute power rant. LATRINE!

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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A very Magnificent Red Band Trailer for Snowpiercer

Snowpiercer, Bong Joon-Ho’s post-apocalyptic ‘society on a train’ action movie based on the French Graphic Novel (“Transperceneige”) has been released in pretty much every market except for USA/Canada at this point. There is even a uber-complete Blu-Ray in France if you have 40 Euros to spare. It is getting a proper (un-cut, original South Korean version) release at the end of June here in North America, and the powers that be have made, by far the most elegant, accurate and enticing trailer for the film that I’ve seen in any language or territory.

This is how you market a high-concept film folks, offer the big images, but do so in a clear, concise and well articulated fashion. And it certainly helps to have Tilda Swinton doing the talking. (“Precisely 74% of you shall die.”)

Review: Only Lovers Left Alive

OnlyLoversLeftAlive

Detroit is the new Transylvania in Jim Jarmusch’s delightfully detached vampire reverie, Only Lovers Left Alive. The film manages to significantly build upon and outdo Neil Jordan’s recent Byzantium in terms of clawing back the genre from its more recent sparkly teen-focus. The mature tone is pregnant with the kind of disaffected slow gaze that would probably result from a century or three on this imperfect earth with its revolving social cycles. It achieves a modern-Gothic romanticism better than pop culture’s own aging vampire-queen Anne Rice ever managed in novel form or when adapted to celluloid It evokes the people exodus and urban decay of Motor City in such a transcendent fashion that it nearly renders Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady’s Detropia redundant. Undoubtedly, this is the white-haired director firing on all cylinders even as he is not in much of a hurry drive any sort of plot. The patience in pacing echo the lifestyles of the quasi-immortals caught up in music, art and ennui.

At first glance, some might label the movie slight due to its complete lack of concern for plotting, but any film which allows the viewer to breathe in so deeply, to revel in its dark spaces and eclectic moods is anything but. Only Lovers Left Alive is akin to listening to an exceptionally good album from end to end. The film even visually suggest this in the opening shot of the camera spinning and fading into vinyl spinning on its turntable. Jarmusch’s own band, Sqürl provides a droning, but warm and fuzzy, score that is wonderful thing in which to get lost in itself.

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Billy Bob Thornton’s JAYNE MANSFIELD’S CAR Heads to DVD and Blu-ray This December

Anchor Bay Films announced today the Blu-ray and DVD release of Billy Bob Thornton’s Jayne Mansfield’s Car. Currently available On Demand and on iTunes, the film will be in stores on December 10, 2013.

In what critics are calling his best work as writer/director since Sling Blade, Academy Award®-winner Billy Bob Thornton stars along with Oscar winner Robert Duvall, two time Oscar®-nominee John Hurt and Golden Globe®-winner Kevin Bacon, in this story of fathers and sons, wars and peace, and the turbulent time that changed America forever.

It’s 1969 in a small Alabama town, and the death of a quirky clan’s long estranged wife and mother bring together two very different families for the funeral. But do the scars of the past hide differences that will tear them apart or expose truths that could lead to the most unexpected collisions of all?

 

Trailer: Only Lovers Left Alive

Only Lovers Left Alive

Jim Jarmusch is at his most Jarmuschian as he envisions immortal vampires who have seen it all, traversing around urban centres of the world before settling in old Detroit, as gothic a place as one might find in America in 2013. Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston listen to rock and roll, talk science, art and cuddle in the dark before a spunky Mia Wasikowska comes along to break up the oh-so-romantic ennui. I believe it is fair to say that the trailer here captures the tone of the film pretty well, right down to the spinning record, and the jet-setting. One of the strengths about this particular take on the vampire is that it is not in any hurry to get anywhere, and that is just fine. The greek subtitles on this international trailer for the film only add to its own sense of the cosmopolitan decay.

My review of the film can be found here.

TIFF Review: Only Lovers Left Alive

OnlyLoversLeftAlive

Detroit is the new Transylvania in Jim Jarmusch’s delightfully detached vampire reverie, Only Lovers Left Alive. The film manages to significantly build upon and outdo Neil Jordan’s recent Byzantium in terms of clawing back the genre from its more recent sparkly teen-focus. The mature tone is pregnant with the kind of disaffected slow gaze that would probably result from a century or three on this imperfect earth with its revolving social cycles. It achieves a modern-Gothic romanticism better than pop culture’s own aging vampire-queen Anne Rice ever managed in novel form or when adapted to celluloid It evokes the people exodus and urban decay of Motor City in such a transcendent fashion that it nearly renders Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady’s Detropia redundant. Undoubtedly, this is the white-haired director firing on all cylinders even as he is not in much of a hurry drive any sort of plot. The patience in pacing echo the lifestyles of the quasi-immortals caught up in music, art and ennui.

At first glance, some might label the movie slight due to its complete lack of concern for plotting, but any film which allows the viewer to breathe in so deeply, to revel in its dark spaces and eclectic moods is anything but. Only Lovers Left Alive is akin to listening to an exceptionally good album from end to end. The film even visually suggest this in the opening shot of the camera spinning and fading into vinyl spinning on its turntable. Jarmusch’s own band, Sqürl provides a droning, but warm and fuzzy, score that is wonderful thing in which to get lost in itself.

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Trailer: Bong Joon-Ho’s Snowpiercer

After fellow Koreans Kim Ji-Woon and Park Chan-Wook launched their English language debut films (The Last Stand and Stoker, respectively) the most nuanced of the trio of directorial superstars, Bong Joon-Ho is delivering the largest in scale, the nuclear-winter bound science fiction flick, Snowpiercer. He has brought along the magnificent Song Kang-Ho for the train ride, alongside a sampling of Brit and American character actors including, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt, Ed Harris, Jamie Bell, Octavia Spencer, Steve Park, Ewen Bremner, Allison Pill and Chris Evans. You may not be able to recognize many of them covered in dirt, grease and facial hair.

Bong’s Memories of Murder and The Host are two of my favourite Korean films, thus, I have high expectations for this one, Inception soundtrack and all…

A train-trapped version of Alien3 with Orwellian grace notes and a lots of axes, this hopefully, will be my The Hunger Games! Set in a future where, after a failed experiment to stop global warming, an ice age kills off all life on the planet except for the inhabitants of the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe and is powered by a sacred perpetual-motion engine. A class system evolves on the train but a revolution brews. The film is an adaptation of Jean-Marc Rochette’s French graphic novel series Le Transperceneige.

Movies We Watched

Sometimes we watch stuff that we want to talk just a little bit about, not a full review worth. These are those films. If any of the films reviewed are available on Netflix Instant Watch (US or Canada) or HuluPlus (US only), we’ll note that by putting a direct link below the capsule.

Buried

2010 USA/Spain/Frane. Director: Rodrigo Cortés. Starring: Ryan Reynolds.

An extreme form of one-room film, with the whole thing set in a coffin buried somewhere underground. Ryan Reynolds carries the film admirably as an army contractor who gets taken hostage and buried alive with just a cell phone and a few other items, with the intention that he will get a sizeable ransom from the US government for his release. As we know, the US government doesn’t negotiate with terrorists, leaving Reynolds hoping that the dispatched search and rescue team will find him before his air runs out. The film ratchets up tension admirably, keeping the audience engaged through 95 minutes of basically nothing happening except a man talking on a phone. There are nitpicks to be made, and I do wish there had been some better explanation for why he didn’t try to dig out through the obviously loose and relatively shallow dirt above him, but for the most part, it’s pretty effective as a tight-space thriller.
– JANDY

Netflix Instant (USA)

Gattaca

1997 USA. Director: Andrew Niccol. Starring: Ethan Hawke, Jude Law, Uma Thurman.

While Gattaca did not fly quite as far under the radar as The Man from Earth or Dark City, I cannot help but feel that it remains incredibly underseen and underappreciated. It is generally regarded as a strong film, to be sure, yet I would argue that it is among the greatest sci-fi films ever made. Nimbly toeing the line between the bleak and hectic Blade Runner and the philosophically draining The Man from Earth, Niccol’s universe not only feels realistic – it feels possible … if not probable. The physical presentation of the world is bleak, yes, but it is also vibrant and alive, crafting a future that is advanced, but not so advanced so as to be a distraction. This, of course, ignores the tremendous turns of Ethan Hawke and Jude Law, whose relationship is organic and beautiful. Uma Thurman is undoubtedly the weak link in the chain, but that may be as much a product of her underutilization, if not a side effect of the brilliance of most everything else.
– DOMENIC

Netflix Instant (CANADA)

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Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: Heaven’s Gate (1980)

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Most people who love the movies know the story of Heaven’s Gate. Here it is again in a nutshell. After winning three Oscars for The Deer Hunter (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor), director Michael Cimino went on to write and direct a western epic about the Johnson County Wars. Due to massive cost over runs and film delays the film ended up being 44 million dollars (while that number seems quaint in an age where the lowliest of romantic comedy costs about 40 Million – BEFORE PRINTS & ADVERTISING – it was an unheard of amount of dough to spend on a film in 1980.) At one point, the cut of the film was 5 1/2 hours long, some say this over-indulgence was mainly due to Cimino’s perfectionism and ‘man of the moment’ status.’ Case in point: After 5 days shooting they were apparently 4 days behind schedule. The film was eventually pared down to 3 hours 40 minutes. After the Deer Hunter, critics were expecting the second coming of Christ (which wouldn’t happen until 2004 with Mel Gibson’s fetishistic passion play) and lambasted the film so bad that the studio waited on the film for another 8 months, and chopped it down by another hour. Nobody went to see the film when it was released, and United Artists, the studio, went bankrupt and was bought at a fire-sale price by MGM (there is no small irony in that MGM has been similarly fire-sold several times, for varied reasons, 20 years onward.)

So how is the film? Well, I liked it. A lot. The class struggles in the film between the rich corporation (i.e. state-sanctioned rape of the working class) and the poor immigrant farmers is as relevant today as it was in the 1890s. I loved the contrast between the Harvard graduation celebrations and the frontier life celebrations. The frivolous game of defending bouquets of flowers with concentric rings of faculty holding hands while the students try to grab the flowers for honour is nicely revisited as a bloody game of survival as the residents of Johnson County defend their escaping families and attack the 50 odd armed bounty hunters. The love triangle of Kris Kristofferson’s rich man behaving like a poor man, and Christopher Walken’s poor man behaving like a rich man with Isabelle Hupert’s confident middle-class prostitute is as interesting for the relationship dynamics as for its symmetry: She charges Walken’s character for sex so as to no be ‘cheating’ on Kristofferson’s character.

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