There was only one Stanley Kubrick, a filmmaker who combined philosophy, virtuouso filmmaking and an icy, precise look at humanity and its foibles. Zoom-ins, steadicam shots work, and operatic use of music were the tools of his auteur brand of cinema. While there are certainly a few modern films out there films are referred to as Kubrickian, it is a significantly smaller number than those described as Hitchcockian or Spielbergian. Simply put, Kubrick was hard to even imitate, let alone emulate, or push forward his particular style and type of filmmaking. But cinema evolves by younger filmmakers taking large chunks (wholesale) from filmmaking legends; like any art or science (and film seems to be a curious hybrid of both.) If Quentin Tarantino is the neo-Scorcese, Brian DePalma was the neo-Hitchcock (wither DePalma lately?), and Guy Ritchie was (up until he went all block-buster-y with the more generic Sherlock Holmes) a sort of neo-Tarantino., then here are five directors who have made a film that can easily be described as Kubrickian, enough to position them (in my mind anyway) as neo-Kubrick hopefuls.
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.
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!
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Young Rebecca finds the love of her life at a very tender age of twelve with Tommy. They spend an endlessly cloudy and rainy summer on a spartan beach where they share their souls and first kiss. They watch a snail crawl over a porcelain surface, the merging of sterile and virgin and organic and slimey. Being bound to move away to Tokyo after the summer, thousands of miles and 12 years of time do not stop Rebecca (now played by Eva Green at her most beautiful and detached) and Tommy (Matt Smith) from picking up right where they left off. An almost feral bond of love, these two are in another world completely when they are together, one where words are barely necessary such is their mutual connection. She has made a career programming sonar equipment, a job that can be done over the internet at the remote beach, and he is a biologist who has never moved away and has been breeding cockroaches for an activist stunt. All seems set for a life of bliss at the end of the world until Tommy is accidentally killed on the road to the protest – a cloning research and technology center built in the area. Instead of grieving his loss or railing against the cloning facility for causing the protest, she takes the more pragmatic approach. After all, she waited for 12 year in Tokyo, why not another 20 to have her Tommy return, in a manner of sorts. She gets very uneasy permission from Tommy parents (Leslie Manville and Peter Wight who could not get along in Mike Leigh’s Another Year, but have an implied intimate and healthy relationship here) to take a sample of Tommy’s DNA and use herself as the womb to birth the child – a copy of her former lover and soulmate. In a way, Womb is sort of a time-travel movie, the passage of time is rarely explicitly given, you can infer by the change actors for long stretches, but such is the relationship of Rebecca and Tommy that time does not have a lot of meaning when they are together. When Rebeca makes her return, Tommy is in bed with another woman, an apparent one night stand, she has the decency to make an attempt at introductions (“Like normal people”) while they immediately know who each other are, despite the passage of years. They only stare into each others eyes. People this into each other are kind of scary.
Here comes the 35th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival, and the line-up thus far of Galas and Special Presentations (that is code for High Profile Films) is looking quite stellar. You want new films from Stephen Frears, Mark Romanek, Darren Aronfosky, François Ozon, Kim Ji-Woon, Michael Winterbottom, Mike Leigh, Guillaume Canet, Andrew Lau, John Cameron Mitchell, Woody Allen, Sylvain Chomet, Tran Anh Hung, Danis Tanovic, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Julian Schnabel and Im Sang-Soo. Yes you do. No signs of Terrence Malick yet, but fingers crossed!
Full Press release is tucked under the seat.
It has been far too long since Mark Romanek’s directorial debut, One Hour Photo. It has been eight years, in fact. After bailing on a lot of pre-production work in The Wolfman (which eventually flopped under jobber Joe Johnston) Romanek picked a whopper of a challenge for a follow up; a difficult to adapt Kazuo Ishiguro novel, Never Let Me Go. The book is one of the best books I have read in the past few years or so (along side Cormac McCarthy’s The Road). And Fox Searchlight and Co. have cast the film wonderfully: Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, Charlotte Rampling, Sally Hawkins and Keira Knightley. The sumptuous (sunset and foliage) visuals can be seen instantly from the trailer that came online today at Apple.com. The tricky part, is how Romanek will manage the high amount naivete and drama and mystery; where the characters (in the novel, anyway) are ignorant of what is going on moreso than the audience. I recommend avoiding spoilers or any sort of plot synopsis for this film. Even the trailer is close to spoiling – VERY close (consider this is your fair warning.)
Nevertheless, along with Christopher Nolan’s Inception and Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life, this is one of my three most anticipated films of the year for me.
Wherein some of us try (really try!) to be positive about the clumsily derailed attempt at retro-love for The Wolfman character and story; it just does not seem to come out that way. The new film, with its two directors, two screenwriters and final schizophrenic outcome prove our undoing after 40 minutes of back and forth.
As a palette cleanser, we do get into quite the love-fest for anything and everything Akira Kurosawa. Especially a new brand-spanking, crisp-looking print of Rashomon, which is on tour right now. We have got some great DVD releases to mention this week as well as a teaser conversation on the micro-trend of film makers tackling movies that relate to the workings of the internet. And for those wanting to get their Cthulu, Steampunk and Serial-Killer geekery on, there is some discussion on China Meiville, Brian Michael Bendis and Marc Andreyko, specifically Perdido Street Station and Torso. Enjoy!
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