Cinecast Episode 346 – …And then Christian Slater Shat Himself

Kurt Halfyard boards a plane to Minneapolis specifically to talk face-to-face with Andrew about his two favorite things: his Doppelgänger, Russell Crowe and The Bible. Sex is everywhere with Lars Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac (vol 1). We skip 1984 this week but will be back next with Purple Rain and Part II of the sex movie. Fifteen years have passed, yet we still love to talk about the mind blowing nature of The Matrix. And we cap it off with Noah’s double bill, Snowpiercer (sorry about the *MILD SPOILERS* on a film that has not played domestically yet – Kurt gets a bit carried away – but really what is said in this episode does not dent the number of turns/revelations in the film, which we suppose, is itself a spoiler…)

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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Trailer: The Company You Keep

Outside the Sundance Film Festival, Robert Redford is kind of a cottage industry for earnest political tinged thrillers. The Company You Keep is indeed one of these, focusing on the trials and tribulations (and family) of two Weather Underground members. It came and went without a peep at the 2012 edition of TIFF.





Robert Redford, Julie Christie, Nick Nolte, Chris Cooper, Susan Sarandon, Sam Elliott, Brendan Gleeson, Terrence Howard, Richard Jenkins, Shia LaBeouf, Anna Kendrick, Brit Marling, and Stanley Tucci.

Furthermore, it’s penned by Lem Dobbs (The Limey) and scored by Cliff Martinez (Solaris, Drive)

Something to Ponder on a Monday

What if Harrison Ford did not play the great space pirate, Han Solo? What if it was someone else? I know that Nick Nolte was at one time up for the role (shudder at the thought). And I think there were some others. What if Jack Burton had the part? Check out this found footage of a test audition for Kurt Russell as Han Solo. A different world, live in, we would.


Strange But True: Jodorowsky & Manson Together

Alejandro JodorowskyAlejandro Jodorowsky isn’t a filmmaker I know all that well (though his name has popped up around these parts in the past) but when a movie includes Asia Argento, Udo Kier, Nick Nolte and Marilyn Manson in the cast, how is a girl not supposed to get excited? Forget the fact that I was once a Manson fangirl (I nearly got killed at an autograph signing) and just look at the man. Seriously, what is Manson doing, or better yet, going to do in a western?

At the moment there’s isn’t much on King Shot aside from the fact that it’s a “metaphysical spaghetti western.” Frankly, that’s too wordy and headache inducing to fully decipher at this late hour. What is clear is that the international production (Italian money, shooting in Spain, Chilean director) will start filming in October.

If the cast or the fact that this is Jodorowsky’s return to film (he hasn’t directed in 20 years) doesn’t do it for you, perhaps the fact that Oscar winning cinematographer (for Close Encounters of the Third Kind though he’s been nominated a number of other times) has also signed on to shoot the film.

I’m not sure what to make of it all but yes, I am curious.

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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Hidden Treasures – Week of June 29th

Now, the latest installment of Hidden Treasures. At the suggestion of some of the Row Three community (OK, it was Henrik), I’m toying with a new format. Please let me know what you think of it.

Django (1966)
Played by Franco Nero, the title character of Sergio Corbucci’s 1966 film, Django, is just about as textbook-perfect a spaghetti western gunslinger as you can get; a man as quick with a gun as he is short on conversation. In fact, the only thing that sets Django apart from other heroes of this genre is his traveling companion, which just happens to be a coffin. As the opening titles of Django play out, our hero is seen dragging this coffin behind him, through the mud and up a steep hill. As character introductions go, this one’s hard to top.

Within moments of his (and his coffin’s) arrival in a Mexican border town, Django finds himself in the middle of an ongoing feud between two murderous mobs. On one side are the local Mexican bandits, led by the ruthless General Hugo Rodriguez (José Bódalo), and on the other a crew of American Confederate soldiers under the command of Major Jackson (Eduardo Fajardo). As is the case with most such feuds, gun battles often break out in the middle of town, where innocent civilians inadvertently serve as target practice. What neither side counted on, however, was Django, who’s blazing guns and badass attitude show no favorites when it comes to dishing out his own unique brand of justice.

As mentioned above, Django has all the makings of a great Spaghetti western hero, yet like all such films, his heroics wouldn’t amount to much if it weren’t for the lowlifes on the other side of his gun. In Django we’re given two strong adversaries, the first of which is Major Jackson, a bigoted Confederate Army officer with a hatred for all things Mexican. The second baddie, General Rodriguez, proves just as brutal as his American counterpart, and even cuts the ear off a man he accuses of spying for Jackson. At the outset, Django and Rodriguez appear to be friends, yet friendships like theirs aren’t destined to last very long.

Due to its excessive violence, Django was banned outright in many countries, with the MPAA refusing to issue it a rating upon its release in the United States. With one or two exceptions, the violence in Django is tame compared to what can be seen in movies today, yet what hasn’t dissipated with time is this film’s exhilarating style, heightened by a handful of incredible gunfights. With action and excitement aplenty, Django takes its rightful place as one of the best the Spaghetti Western genre has to offer…

…Coffin and all.

Owning Mahowney (2003)
Dan Mahowney (Philip Seymour Hoffman) works as an assistant manager for a large Toronto-based bank. With his low-key mannerisms, he is the consummate professional, a man who serves his customers while keeping a sharp eye on the bank’s bottom line. He is smart, well respected, and someone you can depend on to get the job done. Dan Mahowney is also a compulsive gambler, one who has embezzled over $10 million from his employers to feed a habit he can no longer control. Owning Mahowney, directed by Richard Kwietniowski, tells both sides of his story.

Based on an actual event that occurred in Toronto in the early 1980’s, Owning Mahowney is the detailed study of a man who lived two lives, that is until the day one of those lives finally took control of the other. At first, Mahowney successfully concealed his addictions from those closest to him, including his girlfriend, Belinda (Minnie Driver), who never once suspected that the man she loved flew to Atlantic City every weekend, dropped tens of thousands of dollars, then returned home to her. In fact, Mahowney became such a regular at one casino that its President, Victor Foss (John Hurt), took to treating Mahowney as if he were a member of the royal family. Yet as his notoriety as a gambler grew, so did the danger that his world would come crashing down around him.

Philip Seymour Hoffman gives a remarkably reserved performance as Mahowney, a man who had perfected his poker face to the point he wore it 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He loved the thrill of the odds, and this love became so addicting that it extended beyond the personal to his professional life as well. He started by slyly withdraws millions against the loan account of the bank’s biggest customer. Then, to get his hands on even more money, Mahowney creates a fictitious loan account, gives it his personal approval, and begins withdrawing heavily from it as well. Having made a career as a shrewd, careful administrator, Mahowney was now taking staggering risks. Dan Mahowney the professional was slowly disappearing, and Dan Mahowney the gambler was moving in full-time.

The chances that the title character takes in Owning Mahowney, both at and away from the gambling table, will have you cringing. Yet while Dan Mahowney certainly lost control of his life, we come away believing that, in the end, it was a sacrifice he was more than willing to make. For Mahowney, gambling meant living, and every moment he spent away from his obsession was a moment wasted.

In the end, he wasn’t wasting any time at all.

Northfork (2003)
Written and directed by brothers Mark and Michael Polish, Northfork is the kind of movie I adore, a film brave enough to introduce fantasy into a realistic setting as it simultaneously balances elements of both comedy and drama. Whether you want to laugh, cry, or simply be amazed, you’ll find what you’re looking for in Northfork.

It’s 1955, and the good citizens of the town of Northfork have been asked to abandon their homes to make way for a new hydroelectric dam, which will flood the town once it becomes fully operational. Yet despite repeated warnings, not everyone has left Northfork, and it falls to a small group of men in black suits to make sure those who remain leave before it’s too late. Among these men is Walter O’Brien (James Woods) and his son, Willis (Mark Polish), who, along with the others, are promised tracts of land in a brand new community as a reward for performing this most difficult of tasks. As they’re quick to learn, however, many who remain in Northfork are determined to stay at all costs. Father Harlan (Nick Nolte) is one such person, who’s remained in Northfork mostly because he’s too busy caring for a dying young boy named Irwin (Duel Farnes) to even think of moving. As father Harlan has come to realize, Irwin is a very special child. While lapsing in and out of consciousness, Irwin experiences visions that have him convinced he’s the long-lost Angel of Northfork. In fact, a small band of actual angels have themselves just arrived in Northfork, looking to investigate Irwin’s ‘divine’ claim.

Elements of several genres show their face throughout Northfork. First off, there’s the dramatic, on both a grand scale (the loss of the town) and a more personal one (the illness of young Irwin). In fact, the film’s dramatic moments, which I found to be so very powerful, are themselves enough to transform Northfork into an unforgettable cinematic experience. But then there’s comedy as well, perpetrated mostly by the men in black suits during their various run-ins with Northfork’s most stubborn citizens. One such resident, Mr. Stalling (Marshall Bell), isn’t leaving because he believes he’s properly prepared for the coming floodwaters; he’s transformed his house into an Ark. While Mr. Stalling didn’t have enough time to gather 2 giraffes, 2 tigers or even 2 chickens, he was at least able to rustle himself up two wives. Finally, and perhaps most impressive, is Northfork’s sense of fantasy, presented within the story of Irwin and his four angel friends. One of these four, an angel named Flower Hercules (Daryl Hannah), believes Irwin is, indeed, the lost angel of Northfork, while her accomplices, such as Cup of Tea (Robin Sachs) and Happy (Anthony Edwards), have their doubts (the fourth angel, Cod, played by Ben Foster, may or may not agree; we never know for sure because he never speaks). The imagery surrounding these angelic characters is inspiring, and the various scenes they appear in challenge us time and again to accept the incredible, even when presented within the context of this story’s reality.

With Northfork, the Polish brothers have successfully combined fantastical whimsy with the everyday humdrum, at times leaving us to wonder where the whimsy begins and the humdrum ends. Films like Northfork carry with them the promise of marvelous possibilities lurking around every corner, and I, for one, loved this particular journey to uncover them.