Cinecast Episode 368 – Marriage as an Extreme Sport

Andrew and Kurt are back together. It’s been rocky these past 30 days, but they’ve decided to give their relationship another go. We’ll be easing back into it – we don’t want to rush anything. So we’re foregoing The 1984 Project this week and keeping The Watch List light and breezy. As it has more or less been David Fincher week across the webs, Kurt takes our lengthy discussion on GONE GIRL and continues the conversation with ZODIAC and SE7EN. Andrew goes back further in time to a galaxy far, far away and re-evaluates George Lucas’ masterpieces also known as Episodes I, II & III. We’ll be back next week with a full throttle show that will include a lengthier watch list, The Karate Kid and at least two theatricals.

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: Gone Girl

Gone-Girl

Marriage as hell is a common enough theme in the movies, and Gone Girl is whip-smart, provocative, and divorced from reality in all the right ways.

David Fincher’s Gone Girl is both a career retrospective of his common themes: Killers, geniuses, social hackers, institutions as head-space (here wedlock), and cat-and-mouse gamesmanship. At one point a character comments on the name of Nick Dunne’s bar: “The Bar,” as amusingly meta. The casting of Affleck himself, an almost-A-list actor who has gone through the love-hate tabloid cycle with his relationships and his movies, is perfect. Nick Dunne goes through a similar cycle as the movie moves through its meticulous contortions. At times it feels like Fincher was not satisfied enough with balance of realism and momentum in The Game, and felt the need to remake it as spousal oneupmanship. Gone Girl is a dark delight if you have a certain mindset.
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TIFF 2014 Review: Hector and the Search for Happiness

 


The patron saint of smashing entitlement into smithereens, Louis C.K., has a great bit about being caucasian. The gist of it is that he can hop in a time machine and go back in history, and there will be a waiter attentively greeting him, “Your table is right over here, sir.”  With all the think pieces being written about white privilege in the wake of Ferguson, Missouri, the timing is exquisitely poor for Peter Chelsom’s Hector and the Search for Happiness (hereafter Hector) the story of a wealthy white working professional who gets to travel the world, often seated first class, to find out why he should stay with his girlfriend and procreate — if this smarter, more satirical flick, the words Consume and Obey would accompany the latter.

Hector manages to squeeze almost every platitude on happiness onto the screen, directly from his tourist-diary for the audience to absorb as if it were some kind of nouveaux Celestine Prophecy. The filmmaking follows the editing rhythms of a second-rate Edgar Wright, indeed, it’s leading man is Simon Pegg, playing a rather inattentive psychiatrist who has a lot more love for Tin Tin than he does for Freud or Jung. Like Pegg’s wardrobe and sock collection contained herein, this film is too neat and too pat for its own good.  

Blowing off his gorgeous and funny girlfriend (Rosamund Pike) to travel from downtown London to Shanghai where Hector goes happily whoring with a rich businessman (Stellan Skarsgard) he met on a plane.  He falls in love with a pretty Chinese call-girl before discovering what is obvious to anyone who has ever seen a film before. And then he chalks the experience up to “Ignorance is Bliss.” Ah, white privilege. He travels to possibly the same Tibetan monastery from 1984s The Razor’s Edge (a movie now looking a whole lot better by comparison) and installs a satellite dish, a la those IBM commercials made a decade ago so he can Skype back to England.

Then it is off to Africa and I mean Africa as a country, not a continent, where every evening is picturesque Acacia Trees against the savannah sunset with free-range lions and foreign aid workers and violent men with Kalashnikovs. His foolish white ass is saved, of all things, by a golden pen, and of course, drug dealer with a heart of gold, Jean Reno.

Wrapping up in Los Angeles, Hector tracks down his old romantic flame (Toni Colette) for advice. She is now quite domestic and grounded but also professionally involved in the psychiatry-research community. They visit Christopher Plummer’s high tech happiness laboratory as a site to deliver the most hackneyed and obligatory of climaxes; complete with CGI colour coding and Plummer fist-pumping the results. 

Hector is earnest to a fault, espousing the most painfully conservative values under a liberal and saccharine “listening is loving” and cultural tourism attitude. All of this, admittedly covers up solid enough craft, careful setting up plot points and pay-offs, and a loving attention to Hergé kind of detail. It would make a fine double bill with J.A. Bayona’s The Impossible

It is guilty of squandering solid performances and an concept ripe for comedy if only carried off with a little more irreverence and guts; that is to say, not so damn eager to increase the happiness quotient of the universe at the expense of everything else for the sake of pleasing it’s all too obvious middle class white demo. It makes me pine for a classic Preston Sturges’ Sullivan’s Travels, a fine example from the 1940s (a decade of white privilege if there ever was one) that manages to have its cake and eat it too.

Never content to ask a question with a question, Hector and The Search For Happiness is the type of film that spells out, literally on screen in text-overlays, exactly what you want to hear. I would say that it exists somewhere in the recent cinematic landscape between Eat, Pray Love and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, that is if I had gotten past their Hallmark greeting card trailers. We all have our biases. This film will confirm yours and you are, as Louis C.K. says, entitled to it with the requisite consequences down the road.

Trailer: Gone Girl

If you want a lesson in rhythm in how to cut a preview, (and do recall the Coen’s A Serious Man teaser), consider the full trailer for David Fincher’s Gone Girl the way to do it with exposition and dialogue. The way that things are culminating along several tracks and all come to a head in the final moment of the teaser is, well, an art unto itself. Not so much a lesson in empathy, but more of a tense build-up of suspicion in just over two minutes.

Adapted from the novel by Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl exposes the secrets at the heart of a marriage and does so on a massively public stage. Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) reports that his wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), has gone missing on their wedding anniversary. Under pressure from the police and a growing media frenzy, Nick’s portrait of a blissful union begins to crumble. Soon his lies, deceits and visible lack of empathy have everyone asking the same dark question.

Oh, and there is a fair bit of Neil Patrick Harris in there, which is never a bad thing.

Trailer: Gone Girl

David Fincher is back after a hiatus with TV (the first few episodes on House of Cards Season 1) with Gone Girl, the movie adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s novel of the same name. The film stars Ben Affleck as a man who becomes the prime suspect in a murder when his wife vanishes. The signature urine-yellow lighting, dwarfing the characters in architecture and media spaces are all present, but I am not alone in finding the musical choice here to undermine instead of underscore the mood. Your mileage may vary. You know my bum is in a cinema seat the moment this comes out, when the director finds himself in that Zodiac kind of mood.

Further question, is the final shot of the trailer a spoiler, or a red herring? I’ve not read the book, but it seems a daring thing to do and an easy thing to play coy with the non-book readers. Please consider the question rhetorical and withhold spoilers.

“Team America” Meets “Inglorious Basterds”: Jackboots on Whitehall

So I admit I have no idea what that title means. Maybe I need to be British? And frankly, I don’t think much of the jokes in here either – it isn’t all that funny. But for the second feature length film made in the last ten years starring only puppets, it looks pretty decent. I wasn’t really sold until the voice casting displays near the end of the film: Tom Wilkinson, Ewan McGregor, Rosamund Pike, Alan Cumming, Timothy Spahl and Dominic West. But I suppose it doesn’t really matter who’s speaking the lines if it isn’t written well, so I guess I’m not really sold after all.

Have a look at the fate of mankind as the evil Nazi party is battled once again; this time, with puppets in Jackboots on Whitehall. Thoughts?

 

 

Cinecast Episode 214 – I Hate that I Know That

 
 
We start things off simple. No Kurt. Just some Pirates and Priests. With unpleasantness out of the way, Kurt jumps in with both feet for a indie post-apocalyptic film out of Toronto, a re-evaluation of Inglorious Basterds and Tarantino’s career. Trains and Toni Collette keep the conversation chugging along and with Gamble here, “Game of Thrones” is sort of unavoidable. We all revel in the love for Rip Torn and South Korea before rounding everything out with a talk about sequels that are crazier than a rat in a tin shithouse (ala Caddyshack II and Gremilns II). Nobody dies.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!


 
 

 

To download the show directly, paste the following URL into your favorite downloader:
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Cinecast Episode 145 – Animalistic Nature

Episode 145:

SPOILERS ALERT!
Fantastic Mr. Fox opens this weeks show on a fantastic note and is followed up quickly by a fantastically epic episode. An Education gets a lengthy (fantastic) mention as well as Cormac McCarthy’s fantastic novel adaptation, The Road – which finally got a slightly wider release last week. Not such a fantastic week in the DVD department but that is more than made up for with fantastic discussions on the fantastic Noah Baumbach, Coppola Siblings, James Cameron and introducing kids to the fantastic Star Wars trilogy. Thanks so much for checking out this fantastic show and feel free to leave your thoughts (let them be fantastic!) in the comment section below. As snobby as we may sound, we love to hear discussion and/or disagreement from any of our fantastic regular or fist time listeners.

Thanks for listening!

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