Cinecast Episode 475 – Swimming Pools for Everyone

It was a distinct possibility that this week was going to be a war of words between your hosts over Kong: Skull Island (SPOILERS!), but no, as it turns out the movie is pretty damn good no matter what your cinematic bent. This isn’t the 25 foot, Pete Jackson Kong either. This is a 100 foot chain-swinging, spear-throwing, body crushing version. And thanks to some pretty impeccable film making, every moment is awesome.

Meanwhile, in The Watch List, Kurt got to hang with the new Xavier Dolan film, It’s Only the End of the World, checked out the much lauded documentary on race in america, I am Not Your Negro and watched Walter Hill make another run at The Warriors. Andrew watched Robert Redford and Susan Sarandon flying WWI bi-planes and then Chris Pratt and J-Law chasing the stars in Passengers (It is like a 4-hour version of the opening credits to “Star Trek: Enterprise). Some more goodies in here so check it out.

Drop the needle on a John Fogerty track and strap into the Helo for a thrill ride.

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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Blu-Ray Review: Three Days of the Condor

Director: Sydney Pollack
Screenplay: Lorenzo Semple Jr, David Rayfiel
Based by a Novel by: James Grady
Starring: Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway, Cliff Robertson, Max von Sydow
Country: USA
Running Time: 118 min
Year: 1975
BBFC Certificate: 15


Sydney Pollack is a director whose career is full of well known and often well-respected films (Tootsie, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, Jeremiah Johnson etc.) but he doesn’t really attract the same kind of admiration that other directors who found fame in the late 60’s and 70’s do. Perhaps he had less of a signature style than most so is seen as a ‘director for hire’, but it’s hard to find many others with so many solid titles under their belt and so few clunkers (although his 90’s/00’s work isn’t as strong as his 70’s/80’s output). I must admit I’ve not seen a huge number of his films and some I haven’t seen for years (Tootsie and The Firm), but I love his underrated gangster movie The Yakuza and can’t resist a 70’s thriller, so didn’t hesitate to volunteer to review his 1975 film Three Days of the Condor, finally released in the UK (it’s never been available on home video for some reason) on dual format Blu-Ray & DVD as part of Eureka’s excellent Masters of Cinema collection.

Based on a novel called Six Days of the Condor, the film adaptation was originally going to be directed by Peter Yates and star Warren Beatty, but Beatty turned it down. The producer’s second choice, Robert Redford, was interested, but only if his friend Sydney Pollack could direct it. Yates was promptly paid off and Redford and Pollack began to make the project their own, rejecting the original script which they weren’t happy with (largely because they weren’t convinced by the novel itself) and forging the film that would become Three Days of the Condor.

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Cinecast Episode 348 – Immediately to Eleven

 
So Game of Thrones is finally back on the air with a brand new season. Does it live up to the wait we had to endure or was it a bit of a let down? Matt and Kurt also deliver a back and forth on the two wide to semi-wide theatrical releases this week in Captain America: Winter Soldier as well as Jodorowsky’s Dune. We dive into a very Red Dawn in which fantasy and reality’s lines are blurred which Kurt takes quite an issue with. The Minneapolis Film Festival is in full swing and Google and Bollywood make their appearances known. Danny Boyle is in the mix along and apparently the 90s b-squad is going for a comeback in Jerome Sable’s Stage Fright. Seriously, Minnie Driver is still around?

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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Review: Captain America The Winter Soldier

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

The Marvel universe has been beautifully brought to life, repeatedly. While some adaptations have been more successful than others, Captain America: The First Avenger pleased comic book fans, critics and laymen equally. The homegrown, wholesome as apple pie Americana vibe pulsed throughout the film’s two hour run time. The villain was the clear-cut Hydra, a Nazi-adjacent foe working towards omnipotence, against the earnest and eager ultra-hero, Steve Rogers. The dichotomy was simple, and straightforward. Captain America: The Winter Soldier takes that earnest do-gooder, and gives him a moving target. Though his hyper-moralistic stance is at times far too simplistic and idyllic, the sentiment remains solid and subversive.

We find Capt. Rogers (Chris Evans) attempting to fit nicely into his daily life. An agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., he trains during the day, works when he’s called in, and does his duty to protect his people. Along the way, he absorbs some run of the mill peer pressure to get out of his cocoon, join the living, and give dating a shot. When a S.H.I.E.L.D. ship is taken hostage, Capt. Rogers and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) are sent aboard with a team to rescue the hostages, and reclaim their vessel.

However, when Rogers discovers the Widow is on a separate set of orders, ultimately compromising the principle directive, he begins to question not only S.H.I.E.L.D.’s, but Nick Fury’s (Samuel L Jackson) motives as well. Confronting Fury as to his lack of trust in others, the onus is then put on the Captain to learn that universal trust isn’t always the best course of action. Sometimes those we place our deepest faith in are those with the most nefarious intentions.

Enter Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford), Fury’s boss, and the film’s newest prominent character. With Redford’s past participation in films like Three Days of the Condor and All the Presidents Men, his role in the film as resident turncoat comes as little surprise. For those unfamiliar with the comics, however, the depth of this treachery is shocking. We’re left with a sinking sensation of distrust, as NSA-level surveillance and military force merge to form a subversive nemesis. Would you like to know more…?

Cinecast Episode 326 – Functionally Retarded, Yet Infectious

As it turns out, we discover as a very welcome surprise that this is Kurt and Andrew’s 300th episode together. So there’s reason enough to celebrate here. Kinda. But if you’re more into movies rather than nostalgia and landmarks, there’s plenty to get into with this episode. We have five, count ’em five, theatrical reviews to get to as well as our respective festival titles and experiences to mention. All of this spirals into a very important homework assignment for the week. Matt Gamble comes aboard to talk about Ridley Scott’s meandering. We get into all manner of awesome, including Robert Redford’s double takes, Polanski spelling it out, Elijah Wood is perpetually twelve years old and Judd Apatow’s version of a Richard Linklater film. All of this and a helluva lot more in another mega-episode that spans nearly four hours.

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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Review: The Company You Keep

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Director: Robert Redford (Quiz Show, Horse Whisperer, River Runs Through It, Lions for Lambs)
Novel: Neil Gordon
Screenplay: Lem Dobbs
Producers: Nicolas Chartier, Bill Holderman, Robert Redford
Starring: Robert Redford, Shia LaBeouf, Julie Christie, Susan Sarandon, Nick Nolte, Chris Cooper, Terrence Howard, Stanley Tucci, Richard Jenkins, Anna Kendrick, Brendan Gleeson, Brit Marling, Sam Elliott, Stephen Root
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 125 min.

 

 

Original review can be found on my LetterBoxd page

 

How far does idealism go? Does it require personal sacrifice? Does it conquer any and all familial loyalties? Can personal relationships take precedence, or does everything ultimately play second fiddle to your own moral convictions? These questions and many more ruminate deep within the many assorted characters of Robert Redford’s reflective new feature, The Company You Keep. Based on the novel by Neil Gordon, adapted to the screen by Lem Dobbs, the title proves to be the focal point for these characters as one’s decision in the opening scene sets into motion an outpour of ramifications for the former members of the Weather Underground activists. Set in the present day, the surviving members of this group have spent the past few decades in hiding, eventually having moved on with their lives and finally gotten to a place where they were able to create families and settle down into a place of normalcy.

As the film opens, one of these members, Sharon Solarz (played with heartbreaking conviction by the great Susan Sarandon), has made the decision to turn herself in after decades of hiding. The story of her and her co-conspirators is taken up by young ace reporter Ben Shepard (Shia LaBeouf), and when he interviews her one of the first questions he asks is why she chose now to come forward and serve the sentence that she has long eluded. Her reasoning? It’s no surprise that the guilt became too much to handle, but she explains that her rationale for waiting so long was that she needed the time for her children to be old enough to remember her but not so old that they wouldn’t be able to live their normal lives without her. Played with superb chemistry by the simultaneously arrogant and naive LaBeouf against the tragic, hauntingly remorseful Sarandon, this important scene is one of many that delicately hits on that core theme of where your personal cause ends and your responsibility for those outside of yourself begins.

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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.

But.

What.

A.

Cast!

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)

First Wave of TIFF. Rian Johnson’s LOOPER to open Fest.

I have to say that I’m both floored and delighted that the Toronto International Film Festival picked Rian Johnson’s Looper as their opening night film. (Not too long ago, Rian joined us for a cinecast episode). But the sci-fi action film is one of very many major titles slated for for the 2012 edition of TIFF. New films from Terrence Malick, Tom Tykwer, The Wachowskis, David O. Russell, Takeshi Kitano, Joss Whedon, Neil Jordon, J.A. Bayona, Chen Kaige, Baltasar Kormakur, Robert Redford, Joe Wright, Francois Ozon, Mira Nair, Derek “Blue Valentine” Cianfrance, Thomas Vinterberg, Noah Baumbach, Ben Affleck and many more (below.)

This is the first of many press releases from the festival (Which Variety leaked early; unfortunate for them, fortunate for us), and already the festival looks like a doozey. September cannot come fast enough!

Who is in for TIFF this year? Sound off in the comments section below on what (by the title or director) has got you excited thus far.

Initial Wave of titles.

“Looper” (Rian Johnson) (Opening Film)

“To The Wonder” (Terrence Malick)
“Cloud Atlas” (The Wachowskis & Tom Tykwer)
“Argo” (Ben Affleck)
“The Silver Linings Playbook” (David O Russell)
“Love, Marilyn” (Liz Garbus)
“Free Angela And All Political Prisoners” (Shola Lynch)
“The Place Beyond The Pines” (Derek Cianfrance)
“Midnight’s Children” (Deepa Mehta)
“Hyde Park On Hudson” (Roger Michell)
“Great Expectations” (Mike Newell)
“Inescapable” (Rubba Nadda)
“Twice Born” (Sergio Castellitto)
“English Vinglish” (Gauri Shinde)
“The Perks Of Being A Wallflower” (Stephen Chbosky)
“Thanks For Sharing” (Stuart Blumberg)
“End Of Watch” (David Ayer)
“Imogene” (Robert Puccini and Shari Springer Berman)
“A Late Quartet” (Yaron Zilberman)
“Much Ado About Nothing” (Joss Whedon)
“Frances Ha” (Noah Baumbach)
“The Time Being” (Nenad Cicin-Sain)
“Writers” (Josh Boone)
“At Any Price” (Ramin Bahrani)
“Venus And Serena” (Maiken Baird)
“Byzantium” (Neil Jordan)
“Quartet” (Dustin Hoffman)
“Ginger And Rosa” (Sally Potter)
“A Liar’s Autobiography” (Ben Timlett, Bill Jones, Jeff Simpson)
“Foxfire” (Laurnet Cantet)
“In The House” (Francois Ozon)
“The Impossible” (JA Bayona)
“Hannah Arendt (Margarethe Von Trotta)
“Mr. Pip” (Andrew Adamson)
“Capital” (Costa-Gavras)
“The Attack” (Ziad Doueriri)
“Zaytoun” (Eran Riklis)
“The Deep” (Baltasar Kormakur)
“Dreams For Sale (Nishikawa Miwa)
“The Last Supper” (Lu Chuan)
“Anna Karenina” (Joe Wright)
“The Reluctant Fundamentalist” (Mira Nair)
“The Company You Keep” (Robert Redford)
“Jayne Mansfield’s Car” (Billy Bob Thornton)
“A Royal Affair” (Nikolai Arcel)
“Dangerous Liasons” (Hur Ji-Ho)
“Thermae Romae” (Hideki Takeuchi)
“Caught In THe Web” (Chen Kaige)
“Dormant Beauty” (Marco Belloccchio)
“Everybody Has A Plan” (Ana Piterbarg w/Viggo Mortensen)
“Kon-Tiki” (Espen Sandberg)
“Reality” (Matteo Garrone)
“A Few Hours Of Spring” (Stephan Brize)
“The Hunt” (Thomas Vintenberg)
“The Iceman” (Ariel Vromen)
“Lore” (Cate Shortland)
“No” (Pablo Larrain)
“Outrage Beyond” (Takeshi Kitano)
“Rust And Bone” (Jacques Audiard)
“The Sapphires” (Wayne Blair)
“Tai Chi O” (Stephen Fung)

Redford Vs. Spielberg Over Lincoln?

RobertRedfordThere’s nothing like a little competition to get the blood pumping, especially when that competition is between Robert Redford and Steven Spielberg.

For some time now Spielberg has been working to put together an Abraham Lincoln epic but the film has been placed on hold due to budgetary and location problems and though Spielberg isn’t giving up on the project, someone else has stepped in and will apparently beat him to the punch.

Recent news is that Robert Redford has his own Lincoln film in the works and though this one appears to have different scope, focusing primarily on the events which unfolded after the assassination of the president and the individuals charged with the murder.

Redford’s The Conspirator is scheduled to begin shooting next month with James McAvoy and Robin Wright Penn in leading roles. Wright Penn has been cast as Mary Surratt, the only female in the group charged with the president’s death while McAvoy has been cast as Frederick Aiken, a war hero who reluctantly defends Surratt.

Spielberg insists that his film is very different from Redford’s and is even putting up a good front saying that he believes Redford’s project will “compliment” his project but it’s never easy to have two similar projects. All will be well if Redford’s film is a success but what if it fails? What happens then to Spielberg’s project? That’s yet to be seen and considering that the project is now on the backburner, it could be years before we see Spielberg’s vision.

I’m curious to see both since it sounds like they are quite different but at this point, I’m happy to see that Redford’s film will be the first out of the gate. How do you feel? Is there one you’d like to see more than the other? Is this somewhat of a Redford/Speilberg smakcdown?

Cinecast Episode 124 – Go To Hell

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Episode 124:
What a great weekend at the movies! Kurt and Andrew revel in this fact and really get into a positive discussion over some great films. DVD picks are fun and whoops, this thing turns into nearly 3 hours after a fairly lengthy tangent on the intricacies of lending out DVDs. Nice.
Thanks for listening!

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