Friday One Sheet: A Perfect Day

The temptation, when you have a big name ensemble is to splash their faces on your poster, either through a series of boxes down at the bottom, or floating heads. This is why I like the design of this poster so much, it is almost if the cast of the film, including Benicio Del Toro, Olga Kurylenko, Time Robbins and Mélanie Theirry are staring at you in challenge to watch the film. Well, either that, or you are the dead body they are leaning over. Just by camera angle this poster is immediately provocative.

The story from Dr. Paula Farias’s novel “Dejarse Llover,” was adapted for the screen by director Fernando León de Aranoa and involves a group of aid workers try to resolve a crisis in an armed conflict zone.

For your pleasure, I have also tucked the trailer under the seat.

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Review: Vampire Academy

VampireAcademyStill2

Director: Mark Waters (Freaky Friday, Mean Girls, Just Like Heaven)
Writer: Daniel Waters, Richelle Mead
Producers: Susan Montford, Don Murphy, Deepak Nayar, Michael Preger
Starring: Zoey Deutch, Lucy Fry, Danila Kozlovsky, Gabriel Byrne, Dominic Sherwood, Olga Kurylenko, Sarah Hyland, Cameron Monaghan
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 104 min.


Chances are that if you’re not 15 or a fan of Richelle Mead’s novels, you have no idea and/or interest in Vampire Academy but let me tell you, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Particularly if you like the biting social commentary of something like Mean Girls mixed in with the sass of Buffy the Vampire Slayer – the movie, not the show that I’ve only seen five episodes of.

Rose (Zoey Deutch) is a Dhampir, half human/half vampire, she is training to be a guardian, a protector of the Moroi, the non-sparkly vampires who don’t explode into flame in the daylight but who are also kind of helpless thanks to their dependence on the guardians. Rose and her best friend Lissa have run away from the confines of Vampire Academy and have spent the last year on the run, mingling in with humanity. They’re eventually dragged back by Dimitri, a god among guardians, to face the music: not only have they broken a bunch of rules but Lissa, the last of the Dragomir line and possible successor to the throne, has been under the protection of an untested guardian.

The universe isn’t very complicated but you’d think it was rocket science considering the amount of time and trouble writer Daniel Waters (yes, that Daniel Waters) and his brother director Mark Waters (yup, of Mean Girls fame) take to explain the basics. The movie kicks into the explanation from the get go with some less than appealing voiceover and mixed throughout the movie are moments which are clearly fan service (I could almost hear the brothers discussing how they had to include the Molnija marks – a short scene which ridiculously includes a male hair toss and is later echoed, far more naturally, near the end of the movie). Thankfully, Vampire Academy bounces back quickly, delving heavily into a high school drama that also plays out like a Nancy Drew mystery. The girls need to figure out what their psychic bond really means, who is bullying Lissa and why the Princess is a target while also dealing with their personal boyfriend drama. Oh high school. What a drag.

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Cinecast Episode 306 – Shameless Ridiculousness

Are we an effective team? We are arguably more effective than the mediocrity of the Kosinski/Cruise assembly squad insofar as we seem to be in agreement on Oblivion. (SPOILERS!) The popcorn science fiction takes a lot of leaps, but it never really lands on particularly solid (or fertile) ground due to similarities to so many other things. We recap yet another compelling episode of “Game of Thrones” (SPOILERS!) where we praise just about every element of the show, even the Dragon Lady. The Watch List segment hits the highs and lows of our respective local film festivals: HotDocs and Mpls Int’l Festival. After recording an entire commentary track on Twilight, Matt enlightens us with his true feelings on Catherine Hardwicke’s first kick at the can in the the sparkly vampire saga. Early David Mamet comes under question with the last 20 minutes of House of Games. And we have a look at a web reality-series that bucks the trend of meanness and goes for generosity. Nice.

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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[mp3player width=560 height=76 config=cinecast.xml file=http://rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_13/episode_306.mp3] DOWNLOAD mp3 | 116 MB
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Full show notes are under the seats…
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Review: To The Wonder

“Pourqoi pas Toujours?” Is the question on the mind of Terrence Malick in his latest emotive cinematic meditation. The french phrase which translates to “Why not always?” could have easily been an alternate title for the film. Here the elusive auteur is less overtly concerned with the connections between the personal and the infinite (as he was in Tree of Life.) Yet one could consider To The Wonder a companion film, if only because it is shot and constructed in nearly the same manner – there may even be a shot or two from the previous film used here. Gone, however, is the consideration of fathers & sons and the complex divide between them, or notions of boys coming of age. Here the film suggest that each *age* in a persons life, each chapter, however, where ever, you wish to draw the dividing lines is worthy of no regrets (as Ms. Piaf might sing.) Remaining is the invitation to cherish those discrete packages of time that inevitably, come to an end. Now like all Malick films, you can either find that a trite subject to make a film, but equally like all of the directors work, he is unabashedly earnest about it.

He is perhaps telling us to simply enjoy the miracle that is life, even when it treats you badly. This is examined in relationships both past and present, family, faith and even the current environmental state of the planet. At one point, I even felt that there was some Antonioni geography-is-a-reflection-of-state-of-mind being channeled in the divide between urban Paris and the midwest american suburbs. What the director has kept is the earthy and ethereal treatment of redheads, here former 007 beauty Olga Kurylenko, who like Jessica Chastain before her, gets the chance to both soar and suffer (the shadowy yin to the free-spirited yang) over the course of the films run-time. Many have noted the directors particular fascination with women twirling in summer dresses. Like much of the director’s post-Days of Heaven work, what you will get out of the film depends on whatever you bring into it. To The Wonder will either evoke certain feelings or tweak them in one direction or another.

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TIFF 2012 Review: To the Wonder

“Pourqoi pas Toujours?” Is the question on the mind of Terrence Malick in his latest emotive cinematic meditation. The french phrase which translates to “Why not always?” could have easily been an alternate title for the film. Here the elusive auteur is less overtly concerned with the connections between the personal and the infinite (as he was in Tree of Life) even as one should consider To The Wonder a companion film if only because it is shot and constructed in nearly the same manner. There may even be a shot or two from the previous film used here. Gone, however, is the consideration of fathers & sons and the complex divide between them, or notions of boys coming of age. Here the film suggest that each *age* in a persons life, each chapter, however, where ever, you wish to draw the dividing lines is worthy of no regrets (as Ms. Piaf might sing.) Remaining is the invitation to cherish those discrete packages of time that inevitably, come to an end. Now like all Malick films, you can either find that a trite subject to make a film, but equally like all of the directors work, he is unabashedly earnest about it.

He is perhaps telling us to simply enjoy the miracle that is life, even when it treats you badly. This is examined in relationships both past and present, family, faith and even the current environmental state of the planet. At one point, I even felt that there was some Antonioni geography-is-a-reflection-of-state-of-mind being channeled in the divide between urban Paris and the wide open midwest american suburbs; although perhaps not so and probably not worth considering further. What the director has kept is the earthy and ethereal treatment of redheads, here former 007 beauty Olga Kurylenko, who like Jessica Chastain before her gets the chance to both soar (note the directors particular fascination with women twirling in summer dresses) and suffer in the form of spiritual paralysis. (the shadowy yin to the free-spirited yang) over the course of the films run-time. Like much of the auteur directors post-Days of Heaven work, you will get out of the film what you bring into it. It will either amplify your feelings or tweak them in one direction or another. Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematography is of course impeccable and glorious, even with the inclusion of some smart-phone and Skype video into the proceedings.

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Terrence Malick’s “To The Wonder” gets an R rating

Formerly the “Untitled Terrence Malick Project” starring Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Rachel Weisz, Javier Bardem, Olga Kurylenko, Barry Pepper, Michael Sheen and Amanda Peet, the film got both its title, To The Wonder, and its MPAA rating, “R” today. Strange title, it feels like directions to Malick’s awesome yet often obtuse filmmaking style (“This way to the wonder folks! Wonder? Wonder!”) It’s certainly not at Cannes, and who knows if it will come out in 2012, 2013 or whenever. Just passing this along, because, well … Terrence Malick.

Oh, in cause you were curious, the R was doled out for nudity.

“To The Wonder is a romantic drama centered on a man who reconnects with a woman from his hometown after his marriage to a European woman falls apart.”

More Malick Already on the Way

The most anticipated film of the year, Terry Malick’s Tree of Life hasn’t even seen the dark of theaters yet and already we’re getting some bits from his next film; an as of yet untitled romance starring Rachel McAdams and Ben Affleck. Apparently shooting concluded last week and we’re looking forward to a 2012 release (yeah, I’ll believe that when I see it).

If Affleck / McAdams doesn’t really turn your crank, here’s the rest of the cast which may excite you: Rachel Weisz, Olga Kurylenko, Javier Bardem and Barry Pepper Nothing else really to report as details, per usual on a Malick film, are pretty much under wraps. Still, excitement ensues. Check out the first released (Days of Heaven-esque) image of the film below.

 

Toronto After Dark: Centurion Review

Director: Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers, The Descent, Doomsday)
Writer: Neil Marshall
Producers: Christian Colson, Robert Jones
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Dominic West, Olga Kurylenko, David Morrissey, Dimitri Leonidas, Noel Clarke
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 97 min.


Toronto After Dark

Every Neil Marshall film seems to follow roughly the same formula: a small band of unlikelys, often led by a strong female character, must battle against the evil odds to stay alive. While many might take such a repetitive structure as a criticism, I actually find it to be a strength as long as it’s done in new or interesting ways each time. That isn’t to say that Centurion does anything all that new or inventive but Marshall seems to excel at making things fresh and fun with each of his outings with a great flair for style, gorgeous scenery and exciting action sequences (i.e. cool kills).

Essentially nothing more than an on-foot chase movie, a small band of Roman Soldiers struggle desperately to get in front of enemy lines while being mercilessly hunted by a barbaric group of warriors from Northern England known as the Picts. Angry for crimes against their people, The Picts have sworn revenge and death to the Roman Soldiers and have sent out their bravest and most ruthless hunter/tracker (Olga Kurylenko) to bring back their heads. A race across the gorgeous country side ensues with harsh environments, wild animals, unknown strangers and each others’ pride or lust for power almost making the savage hunters the least of their worries.

What you’re in for in terms of visual style is exemplified immediately with some fantastic, sweeping opening credits that really open up the frame and give a sense of the environment we’ll be spending most of the story with. As a huge fan of Christophe Gans’ Brotherhood of the Wolf, almost exclusively for the visual environment and aesthetics, Centurion comes really close to bringing that style back as Marshall makes sure to take full advantage of his location with just amazing set up shots of the English countryside and its various and changing weather patterns. Quite honestly, these shots alone were enough to make me love the film… but there was so much more.
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Screenshots of Lust II: Lust Harder

The highly popular Screenshots of Lust, Part 1, can be viewed here. This latest batch continues the effort to capture moments of lust in cinema without resorting to the outright pornographic. It is admittedly Romy Schneider heavy – what can I say, she was perfectly cast as the object of desire and obsession in Clouzot’s L’Enfer. As always I would like a full report of the images that I missed. Enjoy.

Romy Schneider in Choses de la Vie
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Neil Marshall’s “Centurion” Trailer

A couple of days ago on the Cinecast, Kurt and I went over a bunch of movies that we’re really anticipating in the coming year. One of my later picks was Centurion by director Neil Marshall. While it sounds like the name of a movie I would normally avoid like anal probe, the Marshall name has my butt in the theater already.

Dog Soldiers and The Decent were fun movies in their own right, but the homage to the Mad Max films, Escape from New York and the 28… series in 2006 Doomsday (our R3view) just blew me away. It is still sitting comfortably in my top ten of 2008.

So here we are 2 years later and Marshall’s newest, Centurion, is right around the corner. I stumbled across the trailer this morning and while I’m not normally a fan of these epic, battleground pieces, this has got Marshall’s penchant for the dark, foreboding and ominously surreal dusted over the top of what might otherwise be pretty standard stuff.

And come on: you’ve got Michael Fassbender in here; along with the awesomeness of “The Wire’s” Dominic West and the fineness of Olga Kurylenko. What’s not to like? Over the “let’s reboot and just make it darker” version of Robin Hood or this, I’ll take the goofy fun of Neil Marshall and Centurion any day of the week.

trailer is under the seats…
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First Look at Andrew Niccol’s The Cross

TheCrossMovieStill

Few filmmakers make an entrance the way Andrew Niccol did. Gattaca may not have broken box office records but the film was widely loved and for me, remains one of the most beautiful and favourite films about the near-future.

Niccol hasn’t exactly been slipping but his offerings since that 1997 classic have been few. I found S1m0ne a miss but loved Lord of War and yet, I found myself hoping that perhaps Niccol would return to sci-fi. My hopes were lifted when earlier in the year it was announced that he was working on a new project, a sci-fi project titled The Cross about “a man seeking to cross a mysterious border, something no one else has achieved.” Vague stuff but intriguing none the less.

The film starts Orlando Bloom in the lead as the man on the run and the fantastic Vincent Cassel as the guard every foiling his plans. Olga Kurylenko also stars in the film likely as some sort of love interest. The original announcement of the project was very vague but our good friends at Quiet Earth have uncovered both an expanded synopsis for the film and some concept art.

First up, what’s it about?

Mylar (Bloom) and his younger brother Castro come to a town to cross the border in search of a better life. The two travelers, full of hope, all too quickly realize that their journey leads them to an inescapable world full of doom. The enigmatic border is strictly enforced under the command of a guard, Guideon, who prohibits anyone from ever leaving. Castro doesn’t make it alive past two weeks, but Mylar defies all odds and becomes the first to successfully cross the border. And he also becomes the first to come back… all for the love of a woman, Vera. Mylar must now devise a plan not only to set himself free, but all of his fellow citizens as well. But perhaps crossing the border is not the answer. Perhaps the key lies in altering the border and whatever it may represent…

If it sounded promising before, it sounds even better now and taking a look at these images, I can’t help but get all giddy.

Images tucked under the seat!

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