Cinecast Episode 382 – Warm and Foreign

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The one in which Kurt doesn’t realize he’s the winner of a (much controversial) bet. In exchange, buys Andrew a present for his sunken heart after The Oscar results. We dive headlong into The Academy Awards with all its ins and outs and what-have-yous with Neil Patrick Harris and the face touching and the boring music and the severe lack of montages and the… hey hey hey don’t hurt me. We do recognize Julianne Moore as a favorite however, and we praise her Oscar win with a heartfelt review of the quite good, Still Alice. The Watch List rattles on with pro wrestling, Cronenberg, submarine movies are always awesome and… Aeon Flux? Yeah.

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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Friday One Sheet: Maps to The Stars

Forget it Jake, it’s Tinsel town. David Cronenberg’s latest, a dark Hollywood satire called Maps To The Stars, gets a noir influenced poster; all smoke visages full of scheming and pensive anger. Somehow this film has eluded me in its Canadian release both at TIFF in 2014 and in commercial release a few months ago. The film is gearing up for its US release, so expect to hear more about the film in the coming weeks. For now enjoy this classic styled one-sheet specific to the upcoming American roll-out. If there is ever a Faye Dunaway biopic to be made, Julianne Moore makes a startling case for it here.

Trailer: Map To The Stars

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After watching this trailer, I’m still not sure entirely what the latest David Cronenberg film is actually about, but it has Julianne Moore trying to recapture her youth, and an ambitious Mia Wasikowska with burn scar-tissue on her face. In orbit these two are John Cusack, Olivia Williams, Carrie Fisher, Sarah Gadon and Robert Pattinson. Map To The Stars is described as “A tour into the heart of a Hollywood family chasing celebrity, one another and the relentless ghosts of their pasts.” I’m liking Cronenberg in dry/hysterics comedy mode, and that it polarized the Cannes audience last May is only a positive in my book. Check it out below.

Review: Non-Stop

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In Liam Neeson’s latest venture as Action Hero, we are presented with Non-Stop. Twisting the whodunit motif with a slew of red herrings, it’s a thrill ride that builds to a fever pitch with delightful treats along the way. Hardly an intellectually stimulating affair, Non-Stop never masquerades as a brilliant psychological thriller. Instead, it earnestly offers high-altitude thrills and melodrama that really delivers.

Bill Marks (Neeson) hates flying. Odd, considering he’s a US Federal Air Marshal. Once his transatlantic flight to London is in the air, the messages start pouring in. Threats from an unknown source on a secure network. The perpetrator threatens to kill one person on board every 20 minutes until 150 million dollars is transferred into an offshore bank account. As Bill calls their bluff, the death toll starts to climb. Gradually, Bill himself is marked as the terrorist supposedly hijacking the plane. He has to prove his innocence and save the day, all while cruising at 30,000 feet.

Neeson’s Bill Marks is a broken man – a trend that seems to be following his heroes from role to role. A struggling alcoholic and bereaved father, he’s an easy target, and a perfect scapegoat. He spends the film defending himself against criminal charges and moral accusations in equal measure. The film serves as a leaden story of redemption – essentially we’re watching Bill save his daughter and, by osmosis, himself. 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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DVD Review: What Maisie Knew

Director: Scott McGehee, David Siegel
Screenplay: Nancy Doyne, Carroll Cartwright
Based on a Novel by: Henry James
Starring: Onata Aprile, Julianne Moore, Alexander Skarsgård, Steve Coogan, Joanna Vanderham
Country: USA
Running Time: 92 min
Year: 2012
BBFC Certificate: 15


What Maisie Knew takes the 1897 novel of the same name by Henry James and relocates it to New York in the present day. Rock star Susanna (Julianne Moore) and art dealer Beale (Steve Coogan) get divorced and fight over custody of their daughter Maisie (Onata Aprile) whilst using her as a tool to get back at each other. Maisie’s au-pair (also Beale’s new wife) Margo (Joanna Vanderham) alongside Susanna’s new husband Lincoln (Alexander Skarsgård) end up caught in the battle and seem to be the only two that actually care about the wellbeing of the 6 year old girl at the centre of it all.

What was probably quite a scandalous story back in its day is rather commonplace now. What sets it apart however is the fact that the film (and possibly the source material) tells and shows everything from Maisie’s perspective. Any details of the divorce and the custody battle are only shown in flashes that Maisie herself hears. The camera generally stays on her or at her level/perspective too creating a film that is all about Maisie and the effects her parents’ pettiness and selfishness is having on her.

This approach would never work without a strong child actor in the title role and they knocked it out of the park with this one. It may be the sign of excellent direction more than talent at such a tender age, but Onata Aprile gives a superb performance as Maisie. Subtle and natural, she’s totally believable as a child thrown between two bitter parents. She balances the forced maturity that can occur in these situations with the innocence expected from her age which makes her rough treatment all the more heartbreaking.

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Trailer: Carrie redux

While Chloe Moretz and Julianne more lack the flat out ‘otherliness’ of Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie, the Carrie remake (of Depalma’s 1976 classic) seems to be sticking true to the beats of the original tale while bringing us into the 21st century where cellphones and cyber bullying co-exist with psychical humiliation, and studio cinema has a way of putting ridiculously attractive collection of twentysomethings all in the same highschool. How will a rampage of butchery and revenge by loners and daughter of a zealous religious nutter be taken in our ‘school shooting every couple of months’ world? I predict the film will be good, perhaps too safe for its own good, but not great – and very likely completely ignored by the general public. Your mileage may vary. The trailer is below. It uses a creepy remix of the classic Shirelles song to great effect and it is great to know that head-bashing as a trailer cutting rhythm works quite well here as well, albeit note quite at the level of the masterpiece trailer for A Serious Man.

Trailer: What Maisie Knew

There is not a bad performance to be found in . When I caught the film at TIFF last year, Scott McGehee and David Siegel’s bad-parenting-drama What Maisie Knew, I liked it well enough for its curious narrative structure (a child’s POV with parents and caregivers playing musical chairs.) The adult performances, from the likes of Julianne Moore, Steve Coogan,Joanna Vanderham and Alexander Skarsgård, are across the board solid, and the very young girl, Onata Aprile, can certainly act. My issue was the filmmaking using Ms. Aprile’s character as an emotional prop. Sure that is kind of the point of the story, but it rings more than a little false that this quite mistreated girl would be so damn angelic. Your mileage may vary.

An aging rock star and a contemporary art dealer — Susanna and Beale are too self-involved even to notice their neglect and inadequacy as parents; their fight for Maisie is just another battle in an epic war of personalities. As they raise the stakes by taking on inappropriate new partners, the ex-nanny Margo and the much younger bartender Lincoln, the shuffling of Maisie from household to household becomes more and more callous, the consequences more and more troubling. Always watchful, however, Maisie begins to understand that the path through this morass of adult childishness and selfish blindness will have to be of her own making.

While You Were Out…

The Big Lebowski was finally released on Blu-ray yesterday. The balance of forces between good and evil are finally tipped in the direction of the former. It really ties the room together. And so begins the celebration:

 

*UPDATE* Well I’ll be damned. You can watch the entire reunion on The Big Lebowski Facebook page:
http://www.facebook.com/BigLebowskiMovie?sk=app_183835695015178

Cinecast Episode 176 – Planes, Trains and Lobotimobiles

 
A casual show today. We have a new guest, Laura-Jane, for regular listeners of the show that would be Kurt’s wife who digs on all things popcorn and blow-em-up action cinema, who comes in to talk a little Salt and a little Knight and Day (Note that there are SPOILERS! for both). Andrew tries to pin down the near-universal love for The Kids Are All Right. We talk some off-the-beaten path Japanese cinema, with the soon-to-be-Criterioned Hausu as well as stop-motion-animator Kihachiro Kawamoto and his wonderfully dark fairy tales. There is quite a bit of a Tom Hardy love-in, as Andrew finally caught up with Nicholas Winding Refn’s Bronson and, complete with an ignorant viewpoint on Reaganomics, there is some Louie Malle documentary talk, albeit we cannot agree how to pronounce his name. And another round of Dirty Harry sequels. Sit back and relax, this one is tres informelle.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving 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:
http://rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_10/episode_176.mp3

ALTERNATIVE (no music track):
http://rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_10/episode_176-alt.mp3

 
 
 
Full show notes are under the seats…
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Cinecast Episode 161 – Nightmares of Incomprehensibility


 
Picking up where we should have started last week is easy (at least we think so) as nothing really noteworthy was theatrically released over the weekend anyway (Those looking for yet another round of movie pundits bagging on the bad 3D and lack of coherence in Clash of the Titans look elsewhere, we wisely skipped this one). Instead we munch on some mumblecore-tinged Noah Baumbach, Greenberg starring Ben Stiller and a little How To Train Your Dragon earns some love for CG Animations second fiddle, Dreamworks. As a bonus, some retro goofery with Hot Tub Time Machine, depressed Danes in Terribly Happy and some steamy Canadian voyeurism with Chloe. As a further bonus, extensive Mad Men love from Gamble, cannibalism in the rain forests of Tasmania, Harrison Ford in the dirty back alleys of Paris with Roman Polanski and joined in the jungles of South America by Andre Gregory. Oh, and the joys of The Dude as President eating a shark sandwich. To confuse things further, some of our DVD picks are from this week and some are from last. It is a nightmare of incomprehensibility (in the parlance of our times), but it is a good time (parts of it, anyway) as we managed to make up for a messy part of the release calender with a lot of older movies on TV and Netflix. Enjoy.

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:
http://rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_10/episode_161.mp3

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