Review: Everest

everest-posterDirector: Baltasar Kormákur (101 Reykjavík, Jar City, The Deep, 2 Guns)
Writers: William Nicholson, Simon Beaufoy
Producers: Nicky Kentish Barnes, Tim Bevan, Liza Chasin, Eric Fellner, Evan Hayes, Tyler Thompson
Starring: Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Robin Wright, Emily Watson, Keira Knightley, Sam Worthington, Jake Gyllenhaal
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 121 min.



My original posting of this review can be found on LetterBoxd


What could possibly drive a man or woman to attempt to climb Mount Everest, almost 30,000 feet above ground, the highest mountain on the planet? Risking their lives for this treacherous journey to do something practically impossible, people make the trek every year, despite knowing the likelihood of death, and the grueling conditions that have taken so many who scaled those same heights. Baltasar Kormakur’s epic new film Everest may not get into the nitty gritty of the psychology behind such madness, but it does explore in excruciating detail the most notorious real-life tragedy that has been suffered on top of that great beast. Known simply as the 1996 Mount Everest disaster, competing teams of climbers led by Rob Hall (played by Jason Clarke) and Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal) faced the summit on May 10th, 1996, only to be met by a ferocious storm that took the lives of eight people. It was the deadliest day on Mount Everest until 2014, and Kormakur brings it to life in a heart-stopping recreation that chills the bone.

Earlier this year saw the release of the blockbuster extravaganza San Andreas, which played natural disaster for cheesy popcorn thrills. Everest could have gone a similar route, taking this tragedy and amping it up for the cheap seats, as the events offer plenty of opportunity for jaw-dropping sequences depicting the ravaging potential of mother nature to decimate human beings who test her limits. Instead, Kormakur demonstrates his commitment to authenticity, pushing his actors to their physical brink by bringing them to real locations in order to capture these agonizing conditions as realistically as possible. That dedication pays off tremendously, as Everest seamlessly combines the on-location footage with scenes shot in studio, and embellished with CGI, for an experience that is frighteningly in your face, never showing any cracks in where the real environments end and the generated ones begin. It allows for an extremely immersive journey that takes the audience right into the heart of the beast with these climbers, making you shiver in your seat as you feel the chill. Or maybe that shaking is from the pure suspense that the director draws out of one heart-stopping sequence after another once the storm hits.
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Trailer: Everest

It is never going up the mountain in these types of films that is a problem. It is always coming back down. Jason Clarke, sporting his native Aussie accent (not seen other Hollywood Blockbusters such as Zero Dark Thirty or Dawn of Planet of the Apes) accompanies a great cast, including Jake Gyllenhaal, John Hawkes, Michael Kelley, Josh Brolin and Sam Worthington up the side of the worlds tallest peak, while their wives, most prominently Keira Knightley (also, possibly Emily Watson and Robin Wright who are also in the cast) hold their breath and cry on the other end of a telephone.

Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur is a master at what he does, in whatever genre, and he manages to keep the humanity balanced with expectations of genre. See his other triumph over disaster effort, The Deep, which is really quite excellent.

Cinecast Episode 263 – A Little More NOS

You thought the comment section for our review of Pixar’s Brave was brash? Wait until Matt Gamble can actually use his voice. His attempts at putting Kurt into his place is always entertaining and Kurt goes for a Dude-ish zen approach to defend the latest Pixar from such quick dismissal. There is love for the rather unusual pairing of Keira Knightley and Steve Carrell in Seeking a Friend for the End of the World and after all the harping on Brave, 100% forgiveness for the silly fun that is Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Throwing horses apparently goes further than Bear pratfalls.

Being the halfway point of 2012, we indulge in our need to put together five lists and the gang all throws out their ‘Best of 2012 – So Far’ choices. A quick watch list involves Frankenstein, The other September 11th, fast cars, Jordana Brewster and Louis C.K. It’s a packed episode, so give it a whirlybird on your electronical doodad!

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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Full show notes are under the seats…
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Review: Never Let Me Go


Science fiction in the vein of Never Let Me Go is a rare thing – not showy or obvious, no aliens or space travel, no visible scientific apparatus, nothing really even explicitly stated. Yet the characters’ lives are utterly defined and guided by science fiction elements (of the sort that could soon be science reality), and the kind of ethical questions implicitly explored are those of classic science fiction going back to Asimov and Wells, here told with a poignant humanism and thoughtfulness rarely found on the screen today. The way understanding of the characters’ situation gradually dawns as the story unfolds is part of the pleasure of it, so I’m going to try not to spoil it as much as possible. (Even though it’s been long enough now since release that if you’ve remained unspoiled, you’re kind of amazing and you should definitely go into this film knowing as little as possible – not because it depends on not knowing what’s going on, but because it just gives it that much more oomph and poignancy if you learn gradually along with the film.)

Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy grow up together at what seems to be an upscale boarding school in rural England, going through the joys and squabbles that any children do, but there are signs that things may not all be as they seem. We learn more about who these children are and what the school is as the story unfolds, but we remain firmly focused on their relationship with each other, especially as Ruth and Tommy begin dating, leaving Kathy a patient but longing third wheel. This is a story primarily concerned with relationships, but relationships that are predicated on and intensified by these individuals’ particular status in society. Sure, there’s stuff in the book that was great and is left out here, but the choices made are solid and make for a strong and coherent film.

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Cinecast Episode 184 – Death Lottery

The 4 hour barrier is broken as The Documentary Blog’s Jay Cheel joins Kurt and Andrew on the longest Cinecast ever – you know it is even longer than the previous epic length TIFF show. What do we talk about? For starters, Kurt & Jay examine the Let The Right One In remake, Let Me In (*SPOILERS*), in painstaking detail, and how not to process American remakes of foreign language films. Next we move along for a solid hour on Never Let Me Go (*SPOILERS*) which keeps going on the vibe of comparing source material to eventual film adaptation and why you probably should not do that. More Carey Mulligan talk as Andrew skims and sums up Wall Street 2 with out spoilers. Then, a spoiler-free discussion on Catfish follows, although only Jay caught it, so it is more of a discussion on fake/faux-Documentaries, and ‘narrative-ethics’ which leads to more more talk on I’m Still Here, with a little Last Exorcism and The Blair Witch Project to round things out. Next we move along to the avant garde and barely-narrative Cannes Palme D’Or winner, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, and a lot of other films we watched: An overview of the “Middletown” documentary series, a bit of Daybreakers-Redux, a bit of Season 6 of “LOST” (you guessed it, with *SPOILERS*), and more avant garde cinema with Last Year At Marienbad. We also debate the finer points of Steve Buscemi and the cast and crew of HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.” Finally (finally!) at around the 4 hour mark, our DVD picks round out a show that carried us well into the wee hours of the night recording. We hope you enjoy listening as much as we enjoyed chatting. It may be long, but it is a solid and whip-smart show this time around, although we are biased on that front.

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:

ALTERNATIVE (no music track):

Full show notes are under the seats…
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We are unabashed David Cronenberg fans in these parts. It partially explains why there is so much love around these parts for films like Splice. It is true that the auteur director has been moving beyond his body-horror salad-days for more subdued takes on his mind/flesh themes, and we love that too, particularly because he has adopted Viggo Mortensen to star in his films. And Mortensen is getting a chance to play Sigmund Freud alongside the wonderful Michael Fassbender who will play Carl Jung in his latest film, A Dangerous Method (I prefer the less generic sounding original title, “The Talking Cure” but this one might get more butts in seats along with its dreamy casting) which is based on a play by Christopher Hampton.

The film will also star Vincent Cassel and Keira Knightley and it cannot come out too soon. Cronenberg does dueling psychologists. I have The Prestige level expectations!

The Playlist has more details, as well as some potential future Cronenberg projects and were the source of the wonderful comparison image of the actors to the real-life counterparts.

Empire’s 20th Birthday Photo Shoot


From South Africa (Clint Eastwood) to Santa Monica (Governor Schwarzenegger) to Jack Nicholson’s house (um, Jack Nicholson), Empire trotted the globe to deliver you 27 of the planet’s biggest stars, recreating iconic performances from two decades in film, for a unique 20th birthday celebration…


I stuck a few more favorites beneath the seats, but for the full list, head over to Empire online.

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Knightley & Wright Reunite for My Fair Lady Remake

KeiraKnightley&JoeWrightI was completely convinced that at some point, I had posted some information about an upcoming remake of My Fair Lady (pause for everyone to take a collective breath). It’s true; someone is going to remake the classic tale of a commoner turned lady with the help of a handsome and distinguished chap.

The project, which has been in development for some time, is one that Keira Knightley had been vying for but the actress had the likes of Scarlett Johansson to contend with for the lead role of Eliza Doolittle. For this fan, my money was always on Knightley who, I believe, is a much more talented actress than Johansson (though to give Scar Jo a little credit, she does have an album of Tom Waits covers. That doesn’t necessarily mean she can sing but someone out there thinks she has some talent) but alas, I’m not making the casting choices.

In the end, the coveted lead role has gone to Knightley. How did she get the upper hand? Likely thanks to frequent collaborator Joe Wright who has signed on to direct the film. So far, this project is an all around winner!

In sadder news relating to Wright, one of the director’s previously announced projects, Indian Summer based on the story of Lady Edwina Mountbatten (to be played by the brilliant Cate Blanchett) and her affair with the first Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru (a role which Irrfan Khan was rumored to fill) has been shelved indefinitely due to, according to Paste, Universal’s financial struggles.

Lose one, win one. All in all not a bad day for Wright!

Screenshots of Lust, Part I

This is something of a book-end to Captured Beauty, my last thematic screenshot post. Try as I might with that post to focus on the beautiful in the female form as something transcendent and lofty, the root of lust and its baser impulses inevitably aided in the selection process. So here all rhetoric is lifted. This is sex and the longing for it. Excluding porn and trying (at least for this round) to limit to clothed expressions of Lust, several of us at Row Three put together this series of screenshots for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy.

Oh and I would like a full report of the depictions we missed.

Natalie Portman as Stripper in Closer
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Casting Futon

Keira KnightleyBecause a couch is a little beyond our budget, I bring you the casting futon! There have been a couple of casting announcements that I wanted to mention but neither of them had me particularly excited for a full length post so instead, you get one post with two tidbits.

The first and oldest of the bunch is news that Colin Farrell and Keira Knightley have both joined the cast of London Boulevard. This is William Monahan’s first foray behind the camera though he’s not exactly new to the business having written Kingdom of Heaven and adapted The Departed and Body of Lies.

This project has Farrell as a London criminal newly released from prison who becomes involved with a reclusive actress played by Knightley. Not exactly groundbreaking stuff but I like both actors so it’s safe to say I’m on board.

For seconds, there’s also news that Darren Aronofsky’s next project is a thriller titled Black Swan. It’s the story of a ballerina in competition with a rival dancer except the rival is actually a ghost (or maybe she’s just delusional?).

The film was originally set up at Universal but it’s now being shopped around to some of the specialty divisions and according to THR, there seems to be a lot of interest. This may have something to do with the fact that it’s Aranofsky (his recent success is sure to help) and the fact that Natalie Portman has signed onto the project.

This one’s a definite thumbs up in my books. I hope production kicks off soon.

Keira Knightley in a Shocking Abuse of Power

As part of a women’s abuse ad campaign, the lovely Keira Knightley portrays a screen actress who lives with a life of physical abuse from a significant other in a video ad released today.

It’s a rather effective ad directed by Atonement and Pride and Prejudice director, Joe Wright. Knightley appears to break the fourth wall claiming that she “didn’t agree to this”, only to find that the violence about to commence is real. The video is quite effective and was made to help with the charity for Women’s Aid and raise awareness on domestic abuse.