Cinecast Episode 484 – It’s Unfunny ‘Cause It’s True

The reviews for Baywatch were simply too toxic for even Andrew to stomach, and so it was a stay at home and check out the latest offerings from Netflix kind of week. Luckily Brad Pitt and Tilda Swinton step in to hopefully offer up something militarily wondrous over the Memorial Holiday weekend with War Machine. But does the material match up to the cast/performances? Also, while The Bad Batch does not hit theaters for a month or so, we managed to get into a sneak peek screening and so have a decent discussion on Ana Lily Amirpour’s sophomore effort. It’s one of those films (with empirical evidence provided herein) that requires a second watch to truly appreciate. The Watch List has a documentary double-dose, a 90s Oscar contender, home invasion meets slasher flick, the capture of Osama Bin Laden and we close it all off with some joyful misogyny courtesy of India.

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 Second Gorgeous Trailer For The Bad Batch

I was a fan, but did not fall full head over heals for, Ana Lily Amirpour’s The Bad Batch when I caught it at TIFF. The film bold and sure is beautifully brutal. There is no doubt, by following up her first film, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, that the director has a unique voice with her brand of film-making, but, like her first feature, this one left me emotionally flat; when I have no doubt the intention was to make emotions soar. But each time they cut a new trailer for this movie, the second of which can be found above, I itch to revisit the film. I hope I can find the emotional resonance among all the stylish bravado and hipster-cool (Keanu’s sunglasses and porn mustache alone!) that glue this dystopian cannibal romance together.

Much like her L.A. contemporary, Sophia Coppola, Amirpour certainly has a great sense of ambient soundtrack. And that doesn’t even get into the Ace of Base moment in the film.

Trailer: The Bad Batch

Billed as, “A dystopian love story in a Texas wasteland and set in a community of cannibals,” having seen the film, i can attest that that is a pretty accurate description of the film. And yet, even with that description, the film is a bit of an oddball. This is fitting, as the film is given a very unconventional trailer – which confirms one of the films chief strengths, its integration of music in to story and image.

From Ana Lily Amirpour, the director of Iranian set (Los Angeles shot) vampire picture, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, the film is brimming with top actors in tiny parts (Keanu Reeves, Giovanni Ribisi, Diego Luna, and Jim Carrey all have superb supporting roles). Suki Waterhouse and Jason Mamoa star in the film (and have some excellent chemistry.) Unlike the moody black and white Jarmusch-ian urban nightscapes of her first feature, she has gone saturated sunshine in the desert here, and it is both gorgeous not easily comparable to any other filmmaker.

Great tagline: “Being good or bad depends on who you are standing next to.”

The Bad Batch opens in the US on June 23rd.

Friday One Sheet: John Wick 2

Do I look civilized to you?” Criminally underseen in theaters in 2014, John Wick took the internet fanboy forums by storm and within a year was an instant cult classic and has everyone drooling for the further adventures of Mr. Wick in his assassin underworld. Needless to say, part deux will be a much bigger success at the box office than its predecessor was.

Here is a nice bit of marketing that is eye-catching in its high-contrast, near black and white facade. It’s also a pretty nice use of the top/down aesthetic and cleverly using the dual wielding pistols of Keanu Reeves to form part of the title of the movie.

All signs point to a high bit of ass-kicking awesomeness in the theaters next weekend.

Review: The Neon Demon

NeonDemon

One of the many striking things about Nicolas Winding Refn’s latest film, The Neon Demon, is how heavily it builds itself on the fusion of soundtrack and imagery. It is the first indication that we are in Only God Forgives or Valhalla Rising territory where static framing with and sonic force reign supereme, more-so than Drive or The Pusher Trilogy, although to be fair, both all of his films show a wonderful proficiency on setting a distinct rhythm to the storytelling.

The Neon Demon is a foremost a mood piece. Refn’s fellow countryman, Lars Von Trier, is fond of taking on abstract filmmaking challenges to inform his filmmaking, and here Refn seems to rise to a similar kind of dare. That is to take one of the most blunt storytelling cliches, “Hey, the fashion industry sucks the life out models and turns bright young things into sickly ghouls,” and the challenge is to apply such brilliant cinematic craft to the proceedings to make it appear more than what it is, akin to putting the glittery gemstones on Elle Fannings temple and cheeks. With The Neon Demon, appearances are not the goal it is the raison d’etre.

Through an delightful alchemy of influences – David Lynch, Ridley Scott, Stanley Kubrick and Dario Argento are all distinctly quoted – Refn not only pulls it off, he makes it look both inevitable and easy. It is as if the films sparkling closing credits (highly reminiscent of the best of the James Bond title sequences, or David Fincher’s Girl With The Dragon Tattoo opener) are saying, “Yea, all movies are made this way, aren’t they?”

Forgive the gushing, but for me personally, The Neon Demon was a balm after a pre-summer warm-up of sequels extruded at great cost only, seemingly, to tease for the next instalment for their own bloated franchises. A few recent exceptions, Fury Road, Ex Machina and Chi-Raq, in isolation, serve as reminders that pop-entertainment does not have to be vanilla or focus-grouped into mush: it can be ghastly, challenging and visceral. Refn practices what he preaches, with all the one liners in the film espousing the theme of, ‘Everything worth having is worth a little pain.’ If the movie is pulling you out with its juvenile dares, stick with it, the back nine is a constant series of jaw-droppers. Here is a filmmaker being both earnest and ironic, such that down is up and up and down. To live in the recent films of Nicolas Winding Refn is to live in a world that is too intense and too abstract to be real. In other words: Cinema.

Unlike typical offerings from the dream factor, this is cinema where life lessons and morality (and definitely good taste) are un-tethered. I wonder if this is what John Boorman was striving for with Zardoz before it collapsed under the kitschy weight of Sean Connery in a big red diaper and fuck-me boots? Refn borrows the prism of the mind sequence from that film, But I digress.

Back to the soundtrack. After two seasons of The Knick, Martinez’s retro-future-current-right-now jangle of electronic sounds and instruments haunts my dreams. I am not sure if the goal was for Vangelis-on-Ecstasy or KMFDM-on-Quaaludes, but it is somewhere in that space, and it sure hits the spot. Combined with the framed-tableaux cinematography – surely The Neon Demon started as a feature length expansion of that weird shot in Drive of all the fashion models motionless in their underwear in a weirdly lit nightclub that Ryan Gosling purposefully strides through – it is an immersive experience that transcends any semblance of Hollywood business-as-usual.

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47 Ronin Actually Looks Pretty Badass

Yup, Keanu Reeves knows what he likes and like to do what he knows. And God bless him for it. One of our founding contributors, Marina, should be a pretty happy camper as her favorite crush not only stars in two films swirling around the art of martial, but he’s directing one of them.

Keanu Reeves leads the charge in 47 Ronin. The trailer below starts with a bit of a vibe of Miike’s 13 Assassins, but quickly amps up to a world of fantasy and nightmares.

After a treacherous warlord kills their master and banishes their kind, 47 leaderless samurai vow to seek vengeance and restore honor to their people. Driven from their homes and dispersed across the land, this band of Ronin must seek the help of Kai (Reeves)—a half-breed they once rejected—as they fight their way across a savage world of mythic beasts, shape-shifting witchcraft and wondrous terrors. As this exiled, enslaved outcast becomes their most deadly weapon, he will transform into the hero who inspires this band of outnumbered rebels to seize eternity.

I can’t think of a better way to spend part of my Christmas Day than in the world of Keanu Reeves. Yeah I just said that.

Mamo #303: Side by Side

Matthew Price sits down with Justin Szlasa, producer of the new documentary Side By Side, to discuss the generational transition from celluloid to digital cinematography, and all the things it means. Meanwhile, Matt Brown eats popcorn.

To download this episode, use this URL: http://rowthree.com/audio/mamo/mamo303.mp3

Talk Amongst Yourselves

This is gossipy, paparazzi sort of garbage that normally I steer clear of. But it’s Friday and we’ve got nothing better to do – plus I know Marina will dig on it. Bu take a look at this quick video of Keanu Reeves. By all measures I’ve heard the guy is a class act. This fits with that notion. Plus, if the woman was actually hand-cuffed to the pole, he’d stay with her until the subway car crashes to a bloody and disastrous halt; even if it meant his life. Yes, this subway is safe.

 

Cinecast Episode 206 – My Disney Compass is Spinning

 

 
 
Hello folks. We are back after a week off and we waste no time getting into a detailed, and probably too damn introspective, conversation about Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch. Is it a movie that panders so hard to its base, or a movie that stabs its core audience in the chest while smiling? Is it a case of too much director ambition, too little story telling chops or simply a product of too much fiddling on the studio end such that, and there is no debate on this last bit, things just end up a muddled mess? Matt and Kurt discuss the particulars (onward ye Soldiers of Cinema, this may be your toughest battle yet) and remain, astonishingly spoiler free in the process. Afterwards, it is around the table again (and again) for a lengthy session of what we watched. We go from cheese-merchants to sleaze-merchants (that would be from Don Simpson and Joel Silver to Elmore Leonard and Paul Schrader for those keeping score) before Gamble trumps all with crazy-awful Dan Aykroyd paranormal documentary TV. Kurt revisits a couple of childhood horror-kids flicks, Gremlins and Dragonslayer while Matt travels to New York for the premiere of Beauty Day. Andrew re-evaluates Polanski’s The Ninth Gate, and there is mucho talk about the Spanish Swords and Sandals and Science Blockbuster Agora. Of course, there is the proverbial much, much more in that segment (which clocks in at a staggering 110 minutes) as well as DVD picks, Netflix fresh and expiring picks and a tiny tangent on the Canadian Bandwidth Wars(tm). Grab your battle-axe, strap on your shield and wade into it.

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_11/episode_206.mp3

 
 
Full show notes are under the seats…
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Cinecast Episode 202 – Obviously You’re Not a Golfer

 

It is a cornucopia, a smörgåsbord, a veritable potpourri of cinema, as the Cinecast regulars get together with nothing on the agenda other than to talk about what they have watched, in the cinema, on the DVD and streamed from the internet or (in an exciting technology development, from the Computer Hard Drive.) Andrew continues to dig into the Foreign Language Nominees with Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Biutiful. Kurt comes at Oscar a different way with the new documentary on the man with the midas touch when it comes to little gold men, Harvey Weinstein. And Gamble talks best animated film of 2011 with a preview of the flat out awesome Gore Verbinski/Nickelodeon/Industrial-Light-And-Magic Johnny Depp western, Rango. From there, we go from the occult, to Penelope Cruz DTV failures, to two vastly different takes time travel from the 1980s to Chinese shopping malls. Then it is onto Romans wandering about Scotland, Aussie crime dynasties and suburban teenage prostitution rings! It is all a part of your complete breakfast.

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_11/episode_202.mp3

ALTERNATIVE (no music track):
http://rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_11/episode_202-alt.mp3

 
 
Full show notes are under the seats…
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Halloween Movies on YouTube

Are you one of those curmudgeons that prefer to be the Halloween equivalent of Ebeneezer Scrooge and say “bah humbug” to the trick or treaters and the costumes and the parties and just sit at home and watch TV with the lights off? If so, then I say good for you. It’s the perfect night to catch up on some old horror classics or some of the newer blood curdling extreme film making. But what if you forgot to run to the video store this evening or your cable is out? Luckily, YouTube has got you covered.

For tonight only, YouTube is hosting a whole bunch of free scary movies to tide the thirst of any wanna be vampire. From Vampirism documentaries to Elvira’s Movie Macabre. But the most high profile being Bram Stoker’s Dracula starring Gary Oldman, Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder; directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

So if you’re bored this Halloween and looking for free streaming, scary goodness, check out YouTube’s Halloween coverage.