Cinecast Episode 194 – An Island of Loneliness

 
 
After several weeks of ‘shooting the shit’ and not bothering with the current film releases, we attempt to make up for lost time, and even (mother mercy!) get ahead of the game. This episode is loaded down with SPOILER-style reviews of two films in limited release (there is your fair warning) and one that many are looking forward to this Christmas. But fear not dear listeners, Black Swan is getting wider by the week and Finnish oddity Rare Exports, a delightfully deadpan anti-Christmas kids flick is probably coming to a theatre near you any moment now, hopefully VOD or other distribution channels will follow. The last is the Coen Brothers latest, a re-envisioning of the Charles Portis novel that is similar enough to the 1960s John Wayne movie in story and plot that spoilers are more or less moot. The boys pour on the love of classic westerns as well as experimental looks in the genre from Cat Ballou to Deadwood. And being that years end is just around the corner, it is time for lists once again. All three of us present our TOP FIVE female performances as an appetizer for our ten picks of the year. Some great DVD choices this week lead into a rousing “discussion” (and by discussion, we mean an epic They Live styled “PUT THE GLASSES ON” smackdown with Gamble doing his best Roddy Piper and Andrew assuming the stoic Keith David position) of how ‘interesting’ Michel Gondry’s Green Hornet is for what it is. It is worth staying to the end for that one, even if Kurt throws up his hands in exasperation of the whole argument. Oh, and just to mix things up a little we talk some Terrence Malick and the recently web-release Tree of Life Trailer.

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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Cinecast Episode 194 – (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.

Thanks!

 

 
 

Review: Black Swan

 

“I kill myself for you people every night!” so the unspoken cry of the stage actor, or in this case the professional Ballerina, goes. Darren Aronofsky continues his examination of the psyches of performers, started with The Wrester but comes at it from the opposite direction to his previous picture age- and experience-wise. Black Swan charts the anxieties and temptations of a young ballerina, Nina (Natalie Portman,) as she gets her shot at the big-time in a production of “Swan Lake.” Nina has just been picked by legendary Ballet director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel, oddly restrained) to replace his aging muse (Winona Ryder) and take the central dual role of the Swan Queen in his ‘visceral’ production of the most famous (or overdone) ballet. Nina is young enough that she is still living at home with her mother, amongst her pink stuffies and white laced bedspreads. She is a perfectionist, but not yet an artist, naïve and a career surrogate for her mother who only made it so far in the dance world in her day before having children. It is nice to see Barbara Hershey in this film, but I wish she had a little more to do. That applies to pretty much the entire cast with the exception of Portman. Aronofsky keeps the camera on her face when things are happening to her, but also favours that ‘behind the head’ technique used frequently in The Wrestler. There is something about the technique that undercuts the film. It worked for the sad optimism of Randy The Ram, but for the acute performance anxiety and burbling internal pressures of Nina, the more aggressive techniques he used in pi and Requiem for a Dream may have better served things. As it stands, there is something about Black Swan that feels muted. For the high melodrama of the story and the cliché feel of many of the scenes, not the least of which that ‘there is always someone younger and hungrier to replace the lead,’ ‘it’s lonely at the top,’ etc. a little more bombast may have helped things along. This certainly is not a character study as the characters are all in total subservience to the metamorphosis (physical, psychological) angle of the story.
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Your Highness Trailer

 
After several heavy-duty atmospheric arthouse films (George Washington, All The Real Girls, Undertow, Snow Angels) David Gordon Green appeared to have found a particular niche, indie North Carolina indie dramas with some genre wiggle room from romantic to coming of age to thriller. But then low and behold, The Pinapple Express and work-for-hire gigs on “Eastbound and Down” revealed a very goofy broad comedy side of things, just off-kilter from the mainstream, but not espousing too much pretense. It is not quite a 180 degree turn, but there you have it. Now it looks like he has assembled a lot of Team Pineapple (James Franco, Danny McBride, David Gordon Green and his cinematographer Tim Orr) and picked up two of the cultiest geek-crush girls, Natalie Portman and Zooey Deschanel and dropped them all into a stoner comedy set in the Middle Ages, Your Highness. The trailer does not offer any hint of a framing story, but the contemporary language and wink-wink aspects seem to indicate some sort of drug induced fantasy, as if instead of Peter Falk telling a fairy tale to Fred Savage, you have two stoners self-participating in their own hazy imaginations. Either way, the trailer certainly tickles my funny bone in the same manner as Pineapple Express did, and in lieu of Gary Cole, we have a personal favourite, Charles Dance.

The trailer is tucked under the seat. Warning: It is a Redbander and raunchy, delightfully stupid and runs a curiously long 3min30sec.

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“No Strings Attached” Trailer

Like it or not, this has the potential to kill any chance of Portman being recognized for her work in Black Swan. I suppose a case could be made for Evolution, but otherwise it seems Reitman hasn’t really done anything worthy or 90 minutes of your time since Ghostbusters in 1984. So I’m not sure why I’m surprised; but this is lame – on so many levels.

 

 

Stunning Set of International Black Swan Posters

Darren Aronofsky’s dark ballerina tale Black Swan has been getting rave reviews on its initial festival screenings (review), which should put it in good stead for its December 1st theatrical release, not to mention prime buzz position in this year’s Oscar season. And today we find new international posters for the film that are among the most stunning artwork I’ve seen in recent years – all sharp edges and bright reds, blacks and whites, giving a good idea of the jagged and intense experience that the film promises. They look straight out of Russian propaganda or European art deco design, and as if I wasn’t already stoked enough to see the film, now I’m exactly 4x more excited.

The other three posters are tucked under the seats.

Hat tip Screenrant.

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TIFF Review: Black Swan

 

 

“I kill myself for you people every night!” so the unspoken cry of the stage actor, or in this case the professional Ballerina, goes. Darren Aronofsky continues to examination of the psyches of performers, but comes at it from the opposite direction of from his previous picture, The Wrester. Here he charts the anxieties and temptations of a young ballerina, Nina (Natalie Portman,) as she gets her shot at the big-time in a production of “Swan Lake.” Nina has just been picked by legendary Ballet director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel, subdued and restrained) to replace his aging muse (Winona Ryder) and take the central dual role of the Swan Queen in his ‘visceral and real’ production of the most famous (or overdone) of ballet. Nina is young enough that she is still living at home with her mother, amongst her pink stuffies and white laced bedspreads. She is a perfectionist, but not yet an artist, naïve and a career surrogate for her mother who only made it so far in the dance world in her day before having children. It is nice to see Barbara Hershey in this film, but I wish she had a little more to do. That applies to pretty much the entire cast with the exception of Portman. Aronofsky keeps the camera on her face when things are happening to her, but also favours that ‘behind the head’ technique used frequently in The Wrestler. Something about that technique that takes some of the visceral out of the picture. It worked for the sad optimism of Randy The Ram, for the acute performance anxiety and burbling internal pressures of Nina, the more aggressive techniques he used in pi and Requiem for a Dream may have better served things. As it stands, there is something about Black Swan that feels muted. For the high melodrama of the story and the cliché feel of many of the scenes, not the least of which that ‘there is always someone younger and hungrier to replace the lead,’ ‘it’s lonely at the top,’ etc a little more bombast may have helped things along. This certainly is not a character study as the characters are all in total subservience to the metamorphosis angle of the story.
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Trailer: Black Swan

After much speculation and curiosity regarding Darren Aronofsky’s latest, we finally get a substantial peek by way of its first trailer, which hit the Apple site yesterday. And boy, does it give you a fair bit to chew on. It seems as though Aronofsky is plunging back into the mental breakdown territory that poked through in the later half of Requiem for a Dream, with more than a little of The Red Shoes thrown in. Plus, on top of the Portman-Kunis rivalry that (I’m guessing) makes up the bulk of the movie, I’m really looking forward to seeing what Vincent Cassel does in this flick. I’m certainly intrigued, and it looks like Black Swan may very well make Aronofsky five for five.

Check out the trailer at Apple here, then leave your thoughts below!

Joseph Gordon Levitt is not always so pretty.

hesher

It has been a great past few years for Joseph Gordon-Levitt with (500) Days of Summer putting him on dreamboat status for millions of hipster girls and Inception putting him on badass status for us manly men. We first talked about JGL’s Hesher back in January, which I then described as a film following “a loner hippie type who hates the world and lives in his van until he meets and takes under his wing young TJ, a young boy trying to cope with the death of his mother and the pill-popping ways of his father.”

It screened at Sundance this year to mostly positive reviews, the majority which praised JGL’s performance – and now with this latest clip, it is easy to see why. Check out the clip below (where you get to see a nerdified Natalie Portman) and leave your thoughts in the comments.

Trailer is tucked under the seat.

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Cinecast Episode 146 – Born to Douche

Episode 146:

SPOILERS ALERT!
National Board of Review gave their highest honor this year to Jason Reitman’s Up in the Air. The boys in the third row along with Matt Gamble managed to catch this latest effort starring George Clooney and we’ll let you know what we thought with another full-fledged spoiler review. Also, after checking out the confusing trailer from Jim Sheridan’s remake of Brothers, we weren’t quite sure what to think. We do now and we’ll let you know what that is. We’ve got some DVD discussions and a long overdue top five list.

Thanks for listening!

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Review: Brothers

Director: Jim Sheridan (My Left Foot, In the Name of the Father, In America, Get Rich or Die Tryin’)
Screenplay: David Benioff
Producers: Ryan Kavanaugh, Sigurjon Sighvatsson, Michael De Luca
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Natalie Portman, Tobey Maguire, Taylor Geare, Bailee Madison, Clifton Collins Jr., Sam Shepard, Mare Winningham
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 110 min.

Melodrama:
–noun
1. a dramatic form that does not observe the laws of cause and effect and that exaggerates emotion and emphasizes plot or action at the expense of characterization.

Within this category, from this definition, Brothers certainly does not fit. Simply because the reactions and emotional motivation expressed by these characters in light of their situation are not exaggerated nor does it diminish the characterization for the sake of plot. Some quite brutal, confusing and varied circumstances surround these characters throughout the picture and quite certainly the emotions can be sympathized with. If anything, the performances almost don’t go far enough in portraying the sadness, heartbreak, confusion and traumatic stress these characters undergo.

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