Cinecast Episode 283 – The Photographer or the Prostitute

Please forgive the continued need for a full-time producer as we work our way through yet another video version of the podcast. Despite some technical glitches (that shouldn’t hinder the audio version of the show), Andrew and Kurt get into some good debate about the merits and demerits of Andrew Dominik’s Killing them Softly (complete with SPOILERS!). The homework is fun with some liberties taken by listeners using the new visual format. We both have the same reaction to Tony Kaye’s Detachment in our DVD review and then some good talk on food shortages, pompadours, teenage drama queens and the reefer. A look ahead to the next few weeks rounds things off nicely and we’ll be back next week with our top five female performances of 2012.

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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Cinecast Episode 192 – Rub the Fuzzy Wall

It is a two man operation today, a very casual (and lengthy) conversation of a wide variety of movies. First up is a mixed, but leaning towards positive, review of Edward Zwick’s Love and Other Drugs, which features good chemistry between Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway, but a very mixed bag of tonal shifts. Then we talk a little TV with The Walking Dead. We revisit a number of (relatively) recent films from what is predictable about Predators to what is excellent about Duplicity to what is slightly baffling about Walker, Don’t Look Back and Get Him to The Greek. The video-game as a childrens film in French CGI oddity The Dragon Hunters, and how this similar themed movie differs from Dreamworks’ How To Train Your Dragon is discussed for a while. Then it is back into documentary land for an extensive revisit of King of Kong, as well as credit card debt and the state of the nation (circa 2005-06) documentary, Maxed Out. Andrew makes a case for The Illusionist, and talks about the use of music in Black Snake Moan. We close on all things Kubrick and Steadicam with The Shining and Birth. And some DVD love for Disney and Vikings and Mixed Martial Arts Melodrama. Pull a seat up to the digital fireplace, grab and Brandy and a cigar and lets talk some turkey.

As always, feel free to join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and as always, thanks for listening!





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Review: Heartbreaker

Director: Pascal Chaumeil
Screenplay: Laurent Zeitoun, Jeremy Doner & Yohan Gromb
Producer: Bob Clark
Starring: Romain Duris, Vanessa Paradis, Julie Ferrier, François Damiens, Héléna Noguerra, Andrew Lincoln
Year: 2010
Country: France & Monaco
BBFC Certification: 15
Duration: 105 min

A huge box office success in it’s native France, Heartbreaker is a Gallic spin on the high concept romantic comedy genre made popular in Hollywood recently through the conveyor belt of Katherine Heigl and Matthew McConaughey vehicles.

Romain Duris plays Alex Lippi, a man with an unusual job. With the help of his sister and her husband, Alex earns his keep as a professional heartbreaker, getting paid by unhappy parents, siblings and close friends to turn women away from their unsuitable boyfriends or husbands. Work is good, with Alex’s charm winning over countless unhappy hearts around the globe, that is until Juliette (Vanessa Paradis) comes along. The problem is that her fiance Jonathan (Andrew Lincoln) seems impossibly perfect and the two appear to be completely in love. How could any man stand in their way? Her father has given Alex and his team only one week to stop Juliette from getting married and to top it all off the mafia are coming down hard on the wannabe Don Juan for the money he owes them.

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Row Three Narcissism: Movies We Watched

A miniature holiday for yours truly delayed our micro-capsule column by a few days, but it is back to help with the multiplex blues, for a few minutes, anyway. The gist of it is that the writers around here watch and re-watch a lot of stuff in between the current releases, and occasionally (with a little cajoling, less successful when I am on the road it would seem) drop blurbs in the Movies We Watched sub-page of the site, accessed on the right-hand-sidebar with icon you see in this post. Hopefully it offers a tiny catalyst for conversation. A sampling of the entries for the past few weeks are below:

The Man from Laramie (1955) 4/5
The last of seven films director Anthony Mann made with James Stewart, and it’s as good as any of them. Stewart plays the title character, who takes his little wagon train to neighboring Coronado to exchange his cargo and also find out who’s been selling repeating rifles to the Apache – the Apache’s possession of said rifles had led to a massacre killing Stewart’s brother. While there he stumbles into a feud with the landowner of the region (Donald Crisp in a surprisingly empathetic role). Stewart plays the quiet man with both purpose and humor, and he’s surrounded by a supporting cast that does its job admirably. The way Mann lets the story unfold, letting it layer itself slowly and deeply while never losing focus, works extremely well, too. -JANDY

Love Me if You Dare (2003) 3/5
Here’s one that wasn’t quite as engrossing and rich as I remember it being. I actually found this film to be rather mean-spirited and not believable at all. Funny that it reminds me so much of Amélie both in aesthetic and directing style. It’s frantic and the color scheme is corrected too high in the magenta and yellow palette. Normally something this different would be something I’d enjoy, but this time around it was just grating and frustrating – compunded negatively by the downer (confusing?) ending. Marion Cotillard is fantastic here but it’s so cold I got distracted easily. All in all, not what I want from a dramatic “love” story, if you could even call this such. -ANDREW

28 Weeks Later… (2002) 5/5
Rapidly becoming my favourite film of the new millenium, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (who wrote and directed) takes the concepts and general aesthetic of Danny Boyle’s 2002 film and improves upon it in ever single way. From its eerie and powerful opening sequence to the firebombing of central london to even an improved metro-in-the-dark set-piece. Moving back to film was a vast improvement in the visual departments, and Jeremy Renner, donning Gulf War II-esque combat fatigues before The Hurt Locker came along, makes a lasting impression as a soldier that fears the containment policy more than he fears the raging undead. -KURT

28 Days Later… (2002) 4/5
While big points for re-inventing the zombie film and making the plunge into digital video, Danny Boyle’s rage-infection flick does suffer from a murky palette and lack of direction in the final 30 minutes. Still it is an ambitious story full of ideas and social pot-shots. And when it is Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris and Brendan Gleeson travelling around deserted London, the film is a wonder to behold. The army guys were much better used in the superior sequel. -KURT

Sunshine (2007) 4/5
Even after a fourth viewing of Danny Boyle’s hard science fiction film, I find it hard to love the last 20 minutes, even as I understand how it fits into screenwriter Alex Garland’s vision of the sun as a malevolent and implacable old-testament god. An international team of scientists have one last shot to (essentially) impregnate the sun with science and bend it to their will; the resulting ‘rebirth’ will reheat the now freezing third rock from the dying star. As they get closer bad judgement and strange addictions to the power and the fury of the central orb drive some of the crew mad, while the remainder make tough decisions on how to salvage the increasingly desperate mission. A blend of hard science fiction and oddly enough action setpieces (particularly the wobbly final act) it is the truly stunning and unique visuals that make this one a winner. There are some good ideas embedded in the bombast as well. -KURT

Solaris (2002) 4.5/5
Taking the core love story element from Stanislaw Lem’s novel, the one element that Tarkovsky’s 1972 version of the film fumbled on, and re-building a hard-science fiction look at identity, and a celestial body as implacable deity, Steven Soderbergh’s 2002 film gets 4 top notch performances from George Clooney, Natasha McElhone, Viola Davis and Jeremy Davies as the real and replicate technical folks battling their demons made corporeal. A fabulous script and gorgeous production design make this one overcome its delicate (some may say glacial) pacing. -KURT

Review: He’s Just Not That Into You

He's Just Not That Into You One Sheet

Director: Ken Kwapis (License to Wed, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants)
Screenplay: Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein
Producer: Nancy Juvonen
Starring: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Connelly, Kevin Connolly, Bradley Cooper, Ginnifer Goodwin, Scarlett Johansson, Justin Long
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 129 min.

I really wanted to like He’s Just Not That Into You and honestly, can you blame me? I love a good mindless romance as much as any other background muzac film but the trail of recent offerings was too “fluffy” even for me so when the prospect of being swept away for 90 minutes by Justin Long and Ginnifer Goodwin glided across the horizon, I prepped for an evening of mindless relaxation. Apparently, that wasn’t meant to be.

He's Just Not That Into You Movie StillMy first attempt to see this on opening weekend failed miserably with sold out shows (obviously a result of the February movie release doldrums) but with girlfriend in tow we headed out for a screening this past week. Tuesday night, film has been out for two weeks and oh sweet baby jesus, it’s a full house. The estrogen in the room was palpable as hundreds of (mostly) women settled in to be equally entertained. They seemed to get their fill where as I remained unmoved (not surprising), un-laughing (probably not a word yet but it is now) and down right unhinged (unexpected). Oh Mr. Kwapis, what have you done!?

I was’t expecting some ground breaking, life-changing experience from He’s Just Not That Into You but I also wasn’t expecting to walk out so darn angry unsure of which direction to shout; Kwapis for making the film, the actors for starring in it or Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo for writing the book it’s based on to begin with. Where does an idea go so wildly and wrongly out of control? On further thinking, and trust me, I’ve given this movie and its “messages” much more time than it deserves, I’ve come to the conclusion that perhaps I’m out of my element on this one and judging from the response from the other women in the audience and the staying power of this film, which should have disappeared from public consciousness a week after it’s initial run, it’s safe to assume that I just missed the boat.

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