Cinecast Episode 148 – Top 10 Actresses of 2009; Avatar

Episode 148:

SPOILERS ALERT!
Anticipated for many months now, James Cameron’s Avatar is finally upon us and all we can muster up is a lot of bitching. Maybe not fair to a guy we have grown up with and loved over the years or to a movie that is not based on a video game, remake or previous existing property, perhaps. The criticism is as valid as the heap of praise for the last monster-sized blockbuster of 2009. We switch gears from negative to positive rather abruptly with our top ten picks of best female performances in 2009 and even reminisce on some Mike Judge and other DVD releases this week. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below and by all means post your own top ten. We’d love to see it.
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MSPIFF Review: Surveillance

Surveillance poster

Director: Jennifer Lynch (Boxing Helena)
Writers: Kent Harper, Jennifer Chambers Lynch
Producers: Kent Harper, Marco Mehlitz, David Michaels
Starring: Julia Ormond, Bill Pullman, Pell James, Ryan Simpkins French Stewart, Ken Harper
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 97


Not your daddy’s cinema. Sure there’s definitely a trace of fatherly influence here, but this is far more of a Rob Zombie tribute than David Lynch. This is hard exploitation at its finest. Unlike Zombie however (specifically The Devil’s Rejects), this movie doesn’t seem to be here just for the sake of violence and victimization; there are some technical mechanics at work here that really delivered… at least for me. Not to say there aren’t some glaring weaknesses, but for the most part it’s fair to say I was on board with this movie from the get-go.

The first two minutes: a quite brutal murder sequence involving two masked figures (one sort of resemblind Michael Myers) bludgeoning and running down a seemingly innocent couple. Lynch left very little to the imagination here as blood splatters across the opening credits. We then cut to Pullman and Ormond; two FBI agents pulling into a rural police station to set up questioning of three witnesses to a crime. Each witness has a different perspective of what happened and each witness has something to hide. Lynch shows us what really happened in flashbacks mode while simultaneously we hear the witnesses tell their own version of what happened in a series of half-truths and distortions.
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Cinecast Episode 109 – The Business of Selling Candy

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Episode 109:
This week we take a hard look at the Steven Soderbergh epic, Che, as well as a SPOILER REVIEW Eastwood’s Gran Torino. We also have DVD picks for this week and other banter.
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Below the fold are the Show Notes…
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Review: Che (roadshow edition)

Che poster

Director: Steven Soderbergh (Schizopolis, Out of Sight, Traffic, Bubble, Ocean’s 11-12-13, The Limey )
Story: Ernesto “Che” Guevara
Screenplay: Peter Buchman, Benjamin A. van der Veen
Producers: Steven Soderbergh, Laura Bickford, Benecio Del Toro
Starring: Benecio Del Toro, Demián Bichir, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Franka Potente, Joaquim de Almeida
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 257 min.

PART ONE (The Argentine):

PART TWO (Guerrilla):


Presenting Che in a roadshow format is not only unorthodox in this day and age, but also refreshing and commendable. The roadshow presentation of course being reminiscent of how the epic films of sorts were presented in their day: overture, part one, intermission, part two, exit music and generally with no credits (a playbill in its stead – of which I did receive one). Of course, it would be much more commendable if Che were as deserving of praise as these movies of yesteryear: e.g. Gone with the Wind or Lawrence of Arabia.

Che is of course split into two parts (of which most of the movie going audience will have to pay twice and see them as two separate screenings). Part one takes place mostly in Cuba and begins with the mere conception of the revolution to overthrow the dictatorship and spans several year through the battles and to the ultimate victory; juxtaposing snippets of Guevara’s later years addressing the U.N. and an overall enveloping candid interview with a reporter (notably played by Julia Ormond). Part two takes place approximately ten years later in South America, specifically Bolivia. Che, as promised, has decided to continue his revolution against dictatorial governments and spread communism as far as he can push it. This time though, Guevara does not have the same support that he did in Cuba and of course he fails. Unfortunately, Part Two is also where the film nearly fails as well.
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R3view: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Director: David Fincher
Short Story: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Screenplay: Eric Roth
Producers: Ceán Chaffin, Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall
Starring (voices of): Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Jason Flemyng, Taraji P. Henson, Julia Ormond, Tilda Swinton
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 159 min

From time to time around here, whenever a very popular movie is being released, we tend to fight over who gets to write the review. As a compromise, we decided that all of us who saw the film would get to write up a little something; something we call a R3view. Here is a little taste of how each of us felt about The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Synopsis (from IMDb): “I was born under unusual circumstances.” And so begins ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,’ adapted from the 1920s story by F. Scott Fitzgerald about a man who is born in his eighties and ages backwards: a man, like any of us, who is unable to stop time. We follow his story, set in New Orleans from the end of World War I in 1918 to the 21st century, following his journey that is as unusual as any man’s life can be.

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Trailer:

all of our reviews to follow…
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