Trailer: The Audition


OK, this looks like too much fun: A movie where Scorsese invites his two muses, DeNiro and DiCaprio, to the gambling city of Macau Manila and then pits them against each other for winning a part in an upcoming Scorsese movie. This high concept is something that Lars Von Trier would dream up, and then make it mean-spirited. Alas, it’s a piece of advertainment, a short film, and not a bonafide feature. Too bad. (Also: Note the Brad Pitt cameo in the trailer.)

Cinecast Episode 360 – It’s Like Mustard

Sone famous once said that a person’s character can be defined by what he chooses to complain about. What do you despise? Is it Max Brooks? Is it Steve Guttenberg? The video streaming entity such as Vudu? Or is it someone/something else? By all means sound off! So yes, we explore the depths of our personal hatreds on this week’s Cinecast, but equally so, we also share some fondness, nay love, for Charles Grodin, Jean-Marc Vallée, Brent Spiner, Chris Tucker, Louis C.K. and yes, even Mel Gibson.

Documentaries and Ozploitation occupy the bulk of this week’s conversation. Steve James’ documentary, Life Itself (aka you’re better off just reading the book) and Russell Mulcahy’s creature feature, Razorback. But, and this is important. don’t even bother downloading this show until you’ve purchased your 4-pack of Midnight Run sequels. Yeah, it’s that kind of show.

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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Trailer: Red Lights

I‘m always a bit skeptical when I see the Millenium Logo pop up before a film. They have a taste for aging stars and tried formulas (88 Minutes, Killer Elite, Trespass) but then they pop out something like Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant. Now I’m not saying that this new film with Sigourney Weaver, Robert DeNiro (and Cillian Murphy, Toby Jones and Elizabeth Olson) is going to be that exactly, but it’s directed by Rodrigo Cortés who turned out the pretty darn solid Buried, so I’d be willing to give this a shot even if the trailer gives it something of a conventional, I have a thing for The Amazing Randi, Michael Shermer and other debunkers doing their thing. I’m kind of confident there is something going on, because the filmmakers motive (note video below the trailer) appears appears to be able to look at the film itself for fakery while debunking fakery in the film. Nothing wrong with that, Orson Welles was doing it back in the 1970s to great effect and it’s noble to aspire to that, even in a genre film!

Psychologist Margaret Matheson and her assistant study paranormal activity, which leads them to investigate a world-renowned psychic who has resurfaced years after his toughest critic mysteriously passed away.

Oh, and if you are curious about the title, there is this:

Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: Mean Streets (1973)


Mean Streets was another rewatch for me, this time because I was really distractible the first time I saw it, and I wanted to give it another chance to make an impression on me. And it did. It really, really did.

You don’t make up for your sins in church. You do it in the streets. You do it at home. The rest is bullshit, and you know it.

MeanStreets_4.jpgHarvey Keitel is Charlie, a junior member of the New York mafia, in charge of shaking down local business for protection money. But Charlie, though he’s good at his job and enjoys a good reputation among his peers, isn’t personally invested in moving up in the organization’s power structure, and would rather take a more legit position overseeing a restaurant (one seized from the struggling owner in the mafia’s version of foreclosure). Meanwhile, he’s handling the careless Johnny Boy (Robert DeNiro), who is always in debt and doing very little to pay off those debts except getting Charlie to convince his creditors to back off. Plus, he’s secretly dating Johnny’s cousin Teresa (Amy Robinson), a relationship that would be frowned upon by his superiors.

All three of these characters are kind of outsiders in the family/organization; Johnny Boy because he’s basically a feckless bum, unable to make good in any way and in fact ends up causing a great deal of trouble to everyone, and Charlie and Teresa because they both ultimately want to escape the life, get out of the organization. The tension among the three of them as well as between them and the others in power is as electric as any of Scorsese’s later films, and has an added touch of raw vitality. If The Godfather is the epic story of the upper levels of mob leadership, Mean Streets is the microcosm of how it plays out on the streets.

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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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