Cinecast Episode 157 – Whoop-de-doo

This has got to be a record for one of the shortest shows we have ever done. But hey, when you have got these sort of “nothing but what is on the surface” types of films, that is often all you can do with the conversation. We do not even head into spoiler territory for the two films, Cop Out and 44 Inch Chest we review and discuss. There are, however, more than a few great DVDs (and Blu Rays) coming out this week and on the horizon: The Independent Spirit Awards, the Oscars, the new Tim Burton kajillion dollar Alice In Wonderland, and Roman Polanski’s latest, The Ghost Writer. Enjoy the brevity folks, because it is not going to last.


As always, feel free to leave your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!

To download the show directly, paste the following URL into your favorite downloader:

Full show notes are under the seats…
Would you like to know more…?

Finite Focus: Clear Eyes in the Desert (The Hit)

TheHit_onesheetTerence Stamp has the ability to play a hard-edge mo-fo like any of the best of cockney slanged gangsters, but he also brings a goofiness, a loose charm, and sly wit to his performances that make for a unique performances. Bringing exactly this to the table in Stephen Frears’ 1984 gangster picture, The Hit, Stamp plays a mid level operator, Willie Parker, who for reasons known only to himself (well, there is the small matter of the witness relocation program ponying up a villa in Spain for his retirement) sells all of his mates and bosses to the state. Ten years later, in the barren Spanish desert, Willie is captured by Braddock, a smooth and super-cool professional killer tasked, along with wet behind the ears henchman Myron (played by a baby-faced Tim Roth), to bring Willie back to ‘justice’ from the blokes now out of the clink.

But this road trip from Madrid to Paris is anything but typical, much of the time it seems Willie is more in charge and in control of things than Braddock. His zen calm at his decidedly limited number of hours on earth spooks Braddock and threatens Myron’s loyalty to his boss. In this scene, Braddock and Parker have a little existential and poetic heart to heart at fate and loyalty and professionalism. John Hurt’s performance as the subdued, cool (under which hides confusion) jobber is quite wonderful.

Other than The Criterion Collection re-releasing this wonderfully offbeat film on DVD in April last year, it was more or less forgotten amongst Frears’ more famous works; yet very likely it is one of those little seen, but highly influential pictures. Evoking the effortless cool also seen in Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs – another film about heists and gangsters yet little violence or crime on screen as well as the past-coming-to-roost of Jonathan Glazer’s Sexy Beast and probably a young Jim Jarmusch.

In short, The Hit is a real gem. Long live the art-gangster picture.

Sexy Beast writer and cast reunion: It is the 44 Inch Chest trailer!


Well, lookie here, a sort of sequel to Jonathan Glazer’s wonderful Sexy Beast. A sequel insofar as the same writers (Louis Mellis and David Scinto) and much of the same cast are involved (the directorial change is to Malcolm Venville). Ian McShane (pre-Deadwood, post-Lovejoy) showed in Sexy Beast that he can do intense and intimidating, and Ray Winstone, and actor who has been doing character work in a plethora of Hollywood blockbusters for the past since Sexy Beast are back, and joined by Tom Wilkinson and John Hurt (two actors who have also been doing character work for years in the Hollywood mainstream and also the land of indie). That makes this one instantly worth a lot.

A low-key crime drama/thriller 44 Inch Chest, according to those who have seen it, brings profanity to a some sort of new level. According to the IMDb: “A jealous husband and his friends plot the kidnapping of his wife’s lover with the intention of restoring his wounded ego.

Trailer (and links to character promos) are tucked under the seat.

Would you like to know more…?

Review: New York, I Love You

Directors: Natalie Portman, Jiang Wen, Mira Nair, Shunji Iwai, Yvan Attal, Brett Ratner, Allen Hughes, Sheekhar KapurFatih Akin, Joshua Marston, Randy Balsmeyer
Writers: Emmanuel Benbihy, Tristan Carné, Hall Powell, Israel Horovitz, James C. Strouse, Shunji Iwai, Israel Horovitz, Hu Hong, Yao Meng, Israel Horovitz, Scarlett Johansson, Joshua Marston, Alexandra Cassavetes, Stephen Winter, Jeff Nathanson,
Anthony Minghella, Natalie Portman
Producers: Marina Grasic, Emmanuel Benbihy
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Natalie Portman, Orlando Bloom, Rachel Bilson, Bradley Cooper, Maggie Q, Hayden Christensen, Christina Ricci, Andy Garcia, Ethan Hawke, Blake Lively, Anton Yelchin, Shu Qi, Carlos Acosta, James Cann, Justin Bartha, Eli Wallach, Cloris Leachm
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 103 min.

Three years ago one of my favorite films of the year, Paris Je’ Taime was released to theaters and I was actually taken aback at how much I liked the piece. It was a series of vignettes, each directed by a famous director (from Gus Van Sant to the Coen Brothers to Wes Craven) with a whole slew of great, character actors and A-list stars. Each vignette was a cute little story examining a relationship somewhere within the great culture of Paris. Not necessarily lovers either. There were fathers and daughters, sisters, elderly couples and even a vampire tale amongst many others. Within months it was announced that a follow-up to the film would be coming soon that would take place in New York. So I’ve been waiting the better part of three years to see the sequel of sorts to one of my favorite films of 2007 with another set of great stories told by world class film makers and actors. And finally it is here in America showing to a fairly wide audience.

There had been some grumbling that New York, I Love You wasn’t quite the film its predecessor had been. Quite honestly I can’t fathom that notion as this film is at least the former’s equal; if not superior to the “original.” If you liked Paris Je’ Taime (or loved it as much as I did), there’s no reason to steer clear of this reimagining. It’s got the same amount of heart and inspiration and should capture your heart just as quickly and steadfast as the stories did threeyears ago.
Would you like to know more…?

Remembering a Decade…2005

(prologue) As we can begin to hear the death rattle of the oughts, we in the third row decided to start on this continuing series throughout 2009 that will look back at our favorite films of each of the past ten years (2000-2009). This will ultimately culminate in a “ten best/favorites of the oughts” piece sometime in early 2010.

This is probably our most inaccurate list of this series so far. With so many titles in 2005 that were on the cusp of being legendary, it really watered down the list of potentials. With movies like Brick, Good Night and Good Luck, Match Point and Batman Begins to contend with, it’s hard to put together a consensus top five list. Especially considering there were quite a few under-seen gems that popped up from 2005 over the past few years (Squid and the Whale, Lady Vengeance, Tristram Shandy). Once all of the staples of the year grace one’s list, it’s hard to fill in the blanks with a common consensus with so many great titles flying around. But anyway, if nothing else 2005 is a year that delivers weeks of quality film watching and more than a few week’s worth of discussion and debate. So here’s RowThree remembering 2005…

Would you like to know more…?

New York, I Love You Trailer

New York, I Love YouI knew that at some point we’d posted a trailer for the anthology film New York, I Love You what I didn’t realize was that that trailer was posted a year ago.

The film premiered at TIFF last year and Kurt foresaw the film would open early in 2009 but for some reason, reviews perhaps?, it was shelved and forgotten until today when a sexy discombobulated new trailer appeared. With acting and directing contributions from a long list of talented folk (Park Chan-Wook, The Hughes Brothers, Faith Akin, Mira Nair, Yvan Attal, Shunji Iwai, Wen Jiang, Joshua Marston, Andrei Zvyanginstev, Brett Ratner, Shia LeBeouf, Blake Lively, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Anton Yelchin, Orlando Bloom, Christina Ricci, Chris Cooper, Kevin Bacon, Robin Wright Penn, Maggie Q, Ethan Hawke, John Hurt, Scarlett Johansson, Natalie Portman and Olivia Thirlby) this is bound to have a little something for everyone.

The trailer is not exactly eye popping but it certainly looks nice and I have love for much of the talent involved so I’m game. I still haven’t seen Paris, je t’aime but I may have to check it out before being sucked into this one.

New York, I Love You is scheduled for limited release on October 16th.

Now, who’s working on a Vancouver, I Love You?

Trailer is tucked under the seat!

Would you like to know more…?

DVD Review: Outlander

Outlander DVD Cover

Director: Howard McCain
Screenplay: Howard McCain, Dirk Blackman
Producers: Chris Roberts, Barrie M. Osborne
Starring: James Caviezel, Sophia Myles, Jack Huston, Ron Perlman, John Hurt, John Beale, Katie Bergin
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 115 min.

Living in Vancouver has it’s advantages (beautiful surroundings, great people, coffee shops on ever corner) but when it comes to movies, especially the limited release fare, we don’t do quite as well as I’d like. The awards favourites usually make an appearance as do Canadian films but if you blink, you can miss things like Nightwatching (our review) or Fanboys (our review) while others don’t even make an appearance (Colleen still seethes at the lack of Black Sheep). I’m was bitter that we were not given the opportunity to see Outlander and now that I’ve seen it on DVD, I really wish I’d had the chance to see it on the big screen.

Outlander Movie StillWe’ve talked (a lot) about how great Howard McCain’s film looked and I’m happy to report that it doesn’t disappoint. Outlander stars James Caviezel (yes, Jesus) as Kainan, the sole human-looking survivor of an alien ship which crashes on earth. Kainan quickly sets up a beacon for rescue and goes out hunting for an evil creature which they refer to as a dragon, that he was transporting and which is now running lose on earth. While on the hunt he’s captured by a group of Vikings, beaten a little and then taken to camp where, after a few trials, he ends up as their leader. Tell me you didn’t see that one coming from the trailer?

Would you like to know more…?

Hidden Treasures – Week of June 29th

Now, the latest installment of Hidden Treasures. At the suggestion of some of the Row Three community (OK, it was Henrik), I’m toying with a new format. Please let me know what you think of it.

Django (1966)
Played by Franco Nero, the title character of Sergio Corbucci’s 1966 film, Django, is just about as textbook-perfect a spaghetti western gunslinger as you can get; a man as quick with a gun as he is short on conversation. In fact, the only thing that sets Django apart from other heroes of this genre is his traveling companion, which just happens to be a coffin. As the opening titles of Django play out, our hero is seen dragging this coffin behind him, through the mud and up a steep hill. As character introductions go, this one’s hard to top.

Within moments of his (and his coffin’s) arrival in a Mexican border town, Django finds himself in the middle of an ongoing feud between two murderous mobs. On one side are the local Mexican bandits, led by the ruthless General Hugo Rodriguez (José Bódalo), and on the other a crew of American Confederate soldiers under the command of Major Jackson (Eduardo Fajardo). As is the case with most such feuds, gun battles often break out in the middle of town, where innocent civilians inadvertently serve as target practice. What neither side counted on, however, was Django, who’s blazing guns and badass attitude show no favorites when it comes to dishing out his own unique brand of justice.

As mentioned above, Django has all the makings of a great Spaghetti western hero, yet like all such films, his heroics wouldn’t amount to much if it weren’t for the lowlifes on the other side of his gun. In Django we’re given two strong adversaries, the first of which is Major Jackson, a bigoted Confederate Army officer with a hatred for all things Mexican. The second baddie, General Rodriguez, proves just as brutal as his American counterpart, and even cuts the ear off a man he accuses of spying for Jackson. At the outset, Django and Rodriguez appear to be friends, yet friendships like theirs aren’t destined to last very long.

Due to its excessive violence, Django was banned outright in many countries, with the MPAA refusing to issue it a rating upon its release in the United States. With one or two exceptions, the violence in Django is tame compared to what can be seen in movies today, yet what hasn’t dissipated with time is this film’s exhilarating style, heightened by a handful of incredible gunfights. With action and excitement aplenty, Django takes its rightful place as one of the best the Spaghetti Western genre has to offer…

…Coffin and all.

Owning Mahowney (2003)
Dan Mahowney (Philip Seymour Hoffman) works as an assistant manager for a large Toronto-based bank. With his low-key mannerisms, he is the consummate professional, a man who serves his customers while keeping a sharp eye on the bank’s bottom line. He is smart, well respected, and someone you can depend on to get the job done. Dan Mahowney is also a compulsive gambler, one who has embezzled over $10 million from his employers to feed a habit he can no longer control. Owning Mahowney, directed by Richard Kwietniowski, tells both sides of his story.

Based on an actual event that occurred in Toronto in the early 1980’s, Owning Mahowney is the detailed study of a man who lived two lives, that is until the day one of those lives finally took control of the other. At first, Mahowney successfully concealed his addictions from those closest to him, including his girlfriend, Belinda (Minnie Driver), who never once suspected that the man she loved flew to Atlantic City every weekend, dropped tens of thousands of dollars, then returned home to her. In fact, Mahowney became such a regular at one casino that its President, Victor Foss (John Hurt), took to treating Mahowney as if he were a member of the royal family. Yet as his notoriety as a gambler grew, so did the danger that his world would come crashing down around him.

Philip Seymour Hoffman gives a remarkably reserved performance as Mahowney, a man who had perfected his poker face to the point he wore it 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He loved the thrill of the odds, and this love became so addicting that it extended beyond the personal to his professional life as well. He started by slyly withdraws millions against the loan account of the bank’s biggest customer. Then, to get his hands on even more money, Mahowney creates a fictitious loan account, gives it his personal approval, and begins withdrawing heavily from it as well. Having made a career as a shrewd, careful administrator, Mahowney was now taking staggering risks. Dan Mahowney the professional was slowly disappearing, and Dan Mahowney the gambler was moving in full-time.

The chances that the title character takes in Owning Mahowney, both at and away from the gambling table, will have you cringing. Yet while Dan Mahowney certainly lost control of his life, we come away believing that, in the end, it was a sacrifice he was more than willing to make. For Mahowney, gambling meant living, and every moment he spent away from his obsession was a moment wasted.

In the end, he wasn’t wasting any time at all.

Northfork (2003)
Written and directed by brothers Mark and Michael Polish, Northfork is the kind of movie I adore, a film brave enough to introduce fantasy into a realistic setting as it simultaneously balances elements of both comedy and drama. Whether you want to laugh, cry, or simply be amazed, you’ll find what you’re looking for in Northfork.

It’s 1955, and the good citizens of the town of Northfork have been asked to abandon their homes to make way for a new hydroelectric dam, which will flood the town once it becomes fully operational. Yet despite repeated warnings, not everyone has left Northfork, and it falls to a small group of men in black suits to make sure those who remain leave before it’s too late. Among these men is Walter O’Brien (James Woods) and his son, Willis (Mark Polish), who, along with the others, are promised tracts of land in a brand new community as a reward for performing this most difficult of tasks. As they’re quick to learn, however, many who remain in Northfork are determined to stay at all costs. Father Harlan (Nick Nolte) is one such person, who’s remained in Northfork mostly because he’s too busy caring for a dying young boy named Irwin (Duel Farnes) to even think of moving. As father Harlan has come to realize, Irwin is a very special child. While lapsing in and out of consciousness, Irwin experiences visions that have him convinced he’s the long-lost Angel of Northfork. In fact, a small band of actual angels have themselves just arrived in Northfork, looking to investigate Irwin’s ‘divine’ claim.

Elements of several genres show their face throughout Northfork. First off, there’s the dramatic, on both a grand scale (the loss of the town) and a more personal one (the illness of young Irwin). In fact, the film’s dramatic moments, which I found to be so very powerful, are themselves enough to transform Northfork into an unforgettable cinematic experience. But then there’s comedy as well, perpetrated mostly by the men in black suits during their various run-ins with Northfork’s most stubborn citizens. One such resident, Mr. Stalling (Marshall Bell), isn’t leaving because he believes he’s properly prepared for the coming floodwaters; he’s transformed his house into an Ark. While Mr. Stalling didn’t have enough time to gather 2 giraffes, 2 tigers or even 2 chickens, he was at least able to rustle himself up two wives. Finally, and perhaps most impressive, is Northfork’s sense of fantasy, presented within the story of Irwin and his four angel friends. One of these four, an angel named Flower Hercules (Daryl Hannah), believes Irwin is, indeed, the lost angel of Northfork, while her accomplices, such as Cup of Tea (Robin Sachs) and Happy (Anthony Edwards), have their doubts (the fourth angel, Cod, played by Ben Foster, may or may not agree; we never know for sure because he never speaks). The imagery surrounding these angelic characters is inspiring, and the various scenes they appear in challenge us time and again to accept the incredible, even when presented within the context of this story’s reality.

With Northfork, the Polish brothers have successfully combined fantastical whimsy with the everyday humdrum, at times leaving us to wonder where the whimsy begins and the humdrum ends. Films like Northfork carry with them the promise of marvelous possibilities lurking around every corner, and I, for one, loved this particular journey to uncover them.