Cinecast Episode 311 – As The Furious Turns

A the fifth Fast and Furious sequel speeds into the multiplex, Kurt and Andrew go deep into the nuance and complex character interactions that have defined the last 12 years of this franchise. OK, not so much. Instead we ask questions about Spanish airport design, what becomes of the 100 commuter funerals after the credits roll, and just how well one can control London surveillance cameras these days. It’s easy to pick on the story inanities of the Furious Franchise, but we do take time to admire the 2nd unit elements of the film, and the editing of parallel action which are excellent. Andrew talks the new Arrested Development season up on Netflix, Kurt is all over the map in trying to parse the motivation and execution of Ridley Scott’s Director’s Cut of Kingdom of Heaven. Frank Capra gets some show time with Arsenic & Old Lace and the cultural impact of It’s A Wonderful Life.

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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Satoshi Kon. 1963-2010.

Satoshi Kon

Tragic that master animator Satoshi Kon, director of Paranoia Agent, Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers and Paprika has passed on. I could not find actual details on why he died so young, but I am sure these will be forthcoming as more information goes out across the internet (at the moment, it is reportedly pancreatic cancer according to Screen International) Either way, he was in the middle of his next film, The Dreaming Machine, which may or may not be anywhere near completion. A very sad day for those who cherished his work. Condolences go out to his family, friends, colleagues and fans, as his brand of intelligent and emotional animation, easily some of the mediums best from anywhere in the world, will be sorely missed.

Dreaming in the Flickers

With Inception being the conversation du jour, one key splitting point on whether or not you are going to cry “Masterpiece” or merely “Top Notch Entertainment” for the film is how ‘mundane and rational’ the dream-state is portrayed. Leonardo DiCaprio’s Dom Cobb and his heist posse infiltrate, steal secrets and implant ideas into the mark by having him (or her) consciousness ‘shared in real time’ under the constraints of a maze-maker, The Architect, sort of a con-man (or woman) of the subconscious. The dreams as envisioned onscreen are represented in excruciatingly obvious metaphor at some times, with an elevator down to Cobb’s ‘basement of his subconscious’ and at others, like a full blown James Bond set-piece, as in the wintry fortress of solitude or elaborate car chases through town. It all looks like a (hundred) million bucks, but does it really dig into your brain? Nobody in Nolan’s world is standing naked in public or anxious (or self-indulgent) about much of anything, let alone violent sexuality or other taboo areas that the subconscious id may process when the super-ego is out of the picture.

It seems that dreaming and the movies have always been in sync with one another, from Buster Keaton’s Sherlock Jr. up to and including Guy Maddin‘s entire filmography (being a one artists personal cinema-laced fever-dream) and to action fare like the collective dream of The Matrix flicks.

So let us take a look at some other films that handle ‘dreaming’ portion of their narrative with a little more icky and a little more sticky, that is a lot less steel and polished glass and a lot more wounded flesh and psyche. Chime in with more entries I may have missed, there are many, some more obvious than others!

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Brave New Worldview – 30 Science Fiction Films of the 21st Century

A decade into the 21st Century and we have arrived at the future. The promise of Tomorrow. But instead we have looming energy crises, endless middle east conflict and more disappointing, we have no flying cars, Heck, for all the bright and clean future promised in 2001: A Space Odyssey, none of the real companies used as brands in the film even exist anymore. Even moving from the late 1960s to the mid 1980s, nobody makes DeLoreans (although they occasionally sell on Ebay), but cloning and tablet computing (as promised by Star Trek: The Next Generation) have more or less come to pass in this century. It is not the gizmos or the distopian aesthetics, that have brought Science Fiction into the new millennium, but the questions it asks of people or society in a future time or place and how they reflect on our own times. There have been a surprising number of excellent science fiction films to come about in the past decade that do this and do this well. After the 80s and 90s were more or less defined as CGI test-beds and blockbuster multiplex fodder, it is nice to see we are in a bit of a high point for lovers of ‘harder,’ ambitious science fiction. The films that tackle ideas in a significant and sophisticated way has actually risen dramatically even as cheap digital effects and mega-budgeted event pictures have also increased the number of bad films that are bad fantasy with science fiction trappings. If it seems there are fewer smart science fiction pictures out there, it is more a signal-to-noise issue than a reality.

Below are over two dozen science fiction pictures that are worth your time. Fans of their respective franchise may cry foul on the lack of Star Trek or Serenity, but really those films are about the characters and plots and not really about the loftier ideals of science fiction. In an attempt to quickly go through the list, I will offer up the general idea of the film and how it relates to the ideals of science fiction, namely exploring the consequences of the fictional part of the science in a way that it relates to the real world.

 
 

In the interest of talking about the films, it should be noted that *SPOILERS* are sprinkled through out the list.

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Science Fiction Orgasm. Inception Trailer #3.

Quite Frankly, I am flabbergasted that nobody in these parts, considering how much we love our ‘upscale science fiction blockbusters’ along the lines of The Fountain, Solaris, and District 9, posted the new trailer for Christopher Nolan’s Inception. I’m guessing that this was attached in front of Iron Man 2. Perhaps we all skipped that one considering the ho hum reaction to the first film, or perhaps we have all been sold so much on the film that no further peaks are necessary. I am getting a Paprika, The Prestige, Dark City vibe. And wow, expectations are high for this one. Along with Mark Romanek’s Never Let Me Go it is one of the most anticipated films of the year, (if not THE most anticipated). Bring on the science fiction awesomeness. We demand it.

Mind Blowing (on screen, literally!) Trailer is tucked under the seat.

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Live Action Paprika?

Paprika Movie Still

Wolfgang Peterson hasn’t exactly been on a roll lately. His last two films, Troy and Poseidon, may have had decent box office returns but neither were as successful as expected and critically, it’s kind to say that they were both duds. Looking at his filmography, it’s not uncommon for Peterson to take a break between films and it has been two years between since his last film but really, do we need to be making up crazy stories like this one? I say make up because I find it impossibly difficult to believe Peterson would have any interest in this project.

There was much love for Satoshi Kon’s Paprika around these parts, so much love in fact that the film made it onto our 2007 Top 10 list. Kon’s take on Yasutaka Tsutsui’s novel was a beautiful nightmare of adult anime that was both eye poppingly gorgeous and deeply disturbing, a film that left the viewer with much on the mind than how wonderful it looked. American audiences didn’t care much for the film which came and went through theatres in the blink of an eye but someone, somewhere feels the story needs to be told in a friendlier medium in order to appeal to mass audiences and the result is news, vague news, that Petersen is developing a live action version of the story.

Having seen Kon’s film, I can’t imagine how anyone could transfer this story into live action and keep the magic that the animation created. If, indeed, this were to go ahead, I could possibly image it as a trippy, drug-induced nightmare directed by Richard Kelly or Darren Aronofsky but “Paprika a Wolfgang Peterson film”? I just don’t see it.