Finite Focus: The Pool Party in Boogie Nights



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.


Cinecast Episode 320 – Robin Wright 2.0

Keeping it rather short and sweet this week; but the kids are alright. Outside of our quick review of 2 Guns, we kind of just tease through some reviews for upcoming wide releases or show discussion topics. Mostly we just can’t wait for next week’s Blomkamp/Allen reviews. Still, we do manage to get through some talk about space Abyss, adult swim and another gander at Joe Wright’s Hanna.

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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What’s in a White Trash Name? Ted.

What can I say, this shit makes me laugh. I think what works best is not that a teddy bear is swearing and making sexual suggestions. What makes this work for me is how honestly Wahlberg is taking it. His reactions are perfect and treat the bear just like a frat house buddy. Seth MacFarlane seems to know my particular brand of potty joke, humor.

This ain’t safe for work, but who gives a rat’s ass. Check this out. Probably my favorite trailer of the year this side of Prometheus.


Cinecast Episode 195 – Z-Axis

The last episode of 2010 clocks in with a triple review, as Kurt and Andrew look at David O. Russell’s earnest and farcical boxing drama, The Fighter, as well as John Cameron Mitchell’s look at how a couple (in this case, Aaron Eckhart and Nicole Kidman) grieve the loss of their young son in Rabbit Hole. Andrew and Gamble gripe on and praise Tron 2 for various reasons, before Gamble gives a double-sneakpeak of The Green Hornet and Fockers 3: Meet those Tiny Mothered-Fockers. All three of the boys discuss their Top 5 male performance picks of 2010 (and add a few honorable mentions in there to boot), and along the way there are digressions on Stanley Kubrick, Stephen King, the nature and requirement of good comedy writing and whether or not it is a good idea to watch mega-blockbusters under the influence of strong cocktails and bacon popcorn.

The Cinecast will return early in 2011. Be safe. Be happy. Be catching up on the holiday cinema offerings if the family gets to be too much for you!

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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Cinecast Episode 195 – Z-Axis (Alt. No Music Version)

Cinecast Episode 194 (alternate version with no music). This post is simply for streaming purposes and easier access for iTunes subscribers. For full show notes and listener comments, please visit the official post for this episode.




Cinecast Episode 178 – Do not Bury the Good Stuff at the End!

Welcome to another episode of the Summer Blahs! The Other Guys fails to generate an impression or enthusiasm from Andrew or Kurt, although we talk about it at length. Tangents on Opening Credits and DVD Artwork. We talk a little Timur Bekmambetov, Parkour, Escape From New York-ish Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky and Cat-III HK Cinema, A Malaysian riff on Monty Python, surreal Hungarian hard science fiction, Terry Zwigoff and more. Enjoy!

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Jackson’s The Lovely Bones Trailer

The Lovely Bones Movie Still

With all this Hobbit talk, I’d almost forgotten that Peter Jackson had made another film. Almost.

Adapted from Alice Sebold’s novel by regular Jackson writers Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh, The Love Bones is part part mystery and part drama; a story of a murdered girl who helps her family solve the mystery of her death from “heaven”. Go ahead and read that sentence again if you’d like – I had quite the time putting my head around this one. The casting is excellent: Saoirse Ronan in the lead role as Susie, Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz as her parents, Michael Imperioli as the cop investigating the murder, Susan Sarandon as the grandmother and Stanley Tucci as the murderer. If the cast isn’t enough of a sell, the inclusion of Jackson should certainly help but nothing about this trailer is speaking to me. Nothing.

Susie’s heaven looks strung together, wildly beautiful yet unimaginative, the acting looks stilted and to make matters worse, it looks like we may have to rely on Wahlberg’s performace for a part of the story (not to say he can’t be good but here he sounds more like The Happening Wahlberg than Three Kings Wahlberg). The best parts of these two minutes of video are the retro clothes, Imperioli playing the cop rather than the mobster and Tucci looking nothing like his usual self.

I’m not ready to completely write this off in hopes that this is Jackson in Heavenly Creatures mode but truth be told, I’m not feeling it.

The Love Bones opens on December 11th.

Trailer is tucked under the seat or see it in HD at Apple.

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Cinecast Episode 121 – My Happy Place

Episode 121:
We decided to set this one up out on the patio – hope it’s not too distracting. Also, I apologize for the lack of show notes as of late. There are two reasons for that: 1) I’m really really busy. 2) I’m working on a new show notes template that will be much easier to read and more organized; less messy. With that, enjoy this show. Gamble is back!

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A Martin Scorsese Marathon

Basically, you make another movie, and another, and hopefully you feel good about every picture you make. And you say, ‘My name is on that. I did that. It’s OK’. But don’t get me wrong, I still get excited by it all. That, I hope, will never disappear.” – Martin Scorsese

For the better part of the last three decades, I have been a fan of Martin Scorsese. My admiration first took bloom in the summer of 1985, and happened to coincide with what I consider to be the discovery of my young adult life; set off the main drag of the town I grew up in, I found a small video store. Now, this in itself was no great revelation; in the years before Blockbuster came barreling into my area, forcing all the smaller video chains out of business, there were at least half a dozen such stores within a 3-mile radius. But the moment I walked into this particular video palace, I knew it was special. Where most were lining their shelves with numerous copies of the ‘hot new releases’, this one had titles like Midnight Cowboy, 2001: A Space Odyssey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Straw Dogs, A Clockwork Orange, films that the others simply didn’t offer. For me, this store was a treasure trove, and I returned there often, sometimes 3-4 times a week, uncovering classic after classic, films that, to this day, I consider some of the finest ever made.

And it was here that I first found Mean Streets.

Tough and unflinching, Mean Streets was like a punch to the head for a 15-year-old from the suburbs; a marriage of images and rock music, violence and pain the likes of which I had never seen before, offering a glimpse into a lifestyle that I found all too real, and a little bit frightening. I must have rented it at least six times that summer, and as a result, Mean Streets fast became my favorite movie. More than this, it was my jumping-off point into the career of Martin Scorsese. After Mean Streets, I moved on to Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, two more shots to the head. Through these three films, I realized just how deep, just how down-and-dirty, and just how moving the cinema could be. They marked a turning point in my development as a film fan. Movies were no longer limited to the land of make believe; they would also be a window overlooking the real world.

Now, almost 24 years after I first walked into that video store, I’ve decided to take my admiration to the next, perhaps the ultimate, level. Over the course of the last several weeks, I sat down with everything that home video has to offer of Martin Scorsese’s work behind the camera, 26 films in all, and what I uncovered on this love-fest of mine proved to be just as enlightening as that first viewing of Mean Streets all those years ago.

As I sat watching one Scorsese movie after the other, I found myself asking, “What exactly is it that constitutes a Martin Scorsese film”? It was a question I had to pose, because I quickly realized that most of my initial beliefs, the pre-conceptions I had built up about the man and his career, only told part of the story.

For one, there was my presumption that the recurring trait in every Scorsese film was a down-to-earth quality, where the genuine, the realistic, would be favored above all else. Well, this is certainly true in some of Scorsese’s finest films, especially those where actual events served as a foundation (Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Casino, The Aviator). However, it was wrong of me to discount the role that fantasy played in Scorsese’s work. The opening scene of Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore looks as if it was lifted right out of Gone With the Wind, and the musical numbers of New York, New York were obvious nods to the Hollywood big-budget spectaculars of the 40’s and 50’s. There is the dreamy romance of The Age of Innocence, and the hilarious bad luck of Paul Hackett in After Hours; in short, films that have little or no basis in reality whatsoever, proving that the fantastic plays just as important a role in the great director’s work as reality does.
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Another Trailer for Max Payne

Marina talked a bit about the upcoming Max Payne movie when the first trailer came out back in July. It looks like this is going to be a highly-stylized and very different video game movie. I don’t know if I want to throw the word “ambitious” out there, but “different” will suffice.

I loved the first two games back when they came out, having played through and beat both of them, and they were purposely very cinematic and unfolded just like a gritty film noir. With this adaptation, I don’t want them to simply rehash the video game, since it did play out like a movie itself and there wouldn’t be any surprises, but I’m still very curious as to what these winged creatures are – the only thing I can imagine and that would make them appropriate to the game is that they are drug-induced hallucinations (I remember there being a lot of drugs in the video game and I remember Max taking them at some points – don’t I?). They seem to play quite a big part in the trailer here.

The trailer doesn’t seem to confirm the rating, nor does the IMDb page, but I’m hoping they take this the R-rated route. I’m not saying this will be great, but I think it has the potential to be good, and for once, I’d like to see a good video game adaptation. The trailer is interesting, to say the least.