Review: Trance

TranceMovie Poster

Director: Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire, 28 Days Later)
Screenplay: Joe Ahearne, John Hodge
Producers: Danny Boyle, Christian Colson
Starring: James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel, Rosario Dawson
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 101 min.

Hot off the heels of having the world in the palm of his hand with the Olympic opening ceremony, Danny Boyle delivers his first feature film since the harrowing 127 Hours. Trance is a bewitching puzzle of a thriller that’s off-kilter fun from start to finish, reminding us of Boyle’s amazing ability to surprise his audience.

James McAvoy plays Simon, a fine art auctioneer who teams up with a gang of criminals in order to steal an expensive painting. However, the robbery doesn’t exactly go to plan, the painting goes missing and Simon apparently can’t remember what happened to it after taking a nasty blow to the head. The leader of the gang (Vincent Cassel) then decides to enlist the help of a hypnotherapist (Rosario Dawson) in order to unlock the memory in Simon’s head of where the painting is located.

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Hypnotic Trailer for Danny Boyle’s Trance

Playing firmly in full genre mode, Danny Boyle’s Trance looks to find the director in full form. Aggressive visuals, trusts breached. It also looks to have fine character performances from Rosario Dawson as a professional hypnotist to Vincent Cassel, the possibly turncoat partner in crime, and yes, James McAvoy who an art auctioneer turned thief whose heist involving a Goya painting goes to holy hell. Plus amnesia. Or Maybe Not. Either way, I’m in.

Trailer: Trance

Slick editing rhythms. Complicated heist gone awry. Underworld supplying the beats. This is Danny Boyle in his comfort zone, most definitely, but it also looks like he is still aiming to amp up the visual style (note the Sunshine / 127 Hours up-close camera work) and hall of mirrors pacing to make for an pretty entertaining little con-artist gambit that aims to mess with your head.

James McAvoy plays the mastermind behind bold bit of art thievery, that is until his partner, played by Vincent Cassel, turns on him but fails to acquire the artwork. McAvoy ends up with a memory wiping head injury, who goes to a hypnotist to recover the location of the art out of his head, but the therapist, played by Rosario Dawson is working for Cassel. Lots of twists and turns ensue. Fluff? Probably. Will it be good? I’m betting it will be. (Any movie that gives McAvoy a head injury is good in my book.)

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!



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Full show notes are under the seats…
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Cinecast Episode 188 – Wind and Leaves and Avid Farts

After a Halloween hiatus, the boys are back with quite the metric tonne of movie mutterings. First up is a recap of the Flyway Film Festival and all the goings on with cheese curds and Delayed onset stress disorders. Despite a lack of worthy wide releases, ’tis the season for horror miscellany and AMC has given a real doozy in the way of the zombie genre with “The Walking Dead.” We also cover a fair amount of foreign fare (Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond, Britain’s Eden Lake and the infamous A Serbian Film) as well as some of the classics (The Shining, The Exorcist, Something Wicked This Way Comes) and the proverbial much, much more. Atmosphere is certainly the focus of the conversation.

With the North American bow of the final chapter in the Millennium (“The Girl Who…” ) Trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, did hit the cinema in MN, and Andrew takes a step back and puts the third film in the context of the trilogy as a whole. There is a lengthy tangent about the David Fincher remake and what should could be brought to the table and the whole ‘too soon’ aspect of foreign language do-overs expect Let The Right One in and Ils to make the conversation. Also, some Doc talk and Jack Rebney goodness from the Winnebago Man Q&A here in Toronto following its commercial cinema release and a wee bit more on Catfish. From content to delivery, Kurt offers his virgin experiences with Netflix in Canada, and everyone has a go at hashing out the Canadian bandwidth wars on the horizon due to the services ‘streaming only’ mandate in the Great White North. We get a quick sneak review of the upcoming Tony Scott film, Unstoppable and quality DVD releases this week are not hard to come by. While it is a forehead slapping moment that we forgot to talk about The Larry Sanders Show complete collection on DVD, or the Criterion 50% Sale, there is still plenty of DVD goodness out there, even after the scary expensive pre-halloween weekend!

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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ALTERNATIVE (no music track):


Full show notes are under the seats…
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An “Unstoppable” Trailer

So most people haven’t been real impressed with anything Tony Scott has done for about ten years now. Me? Well despite the horrid outing of his last picture/remake, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, I’m still an apologist and defender of the man’s filmography. I’m still on board with just about anything the studios release with Scott’s name attached as director.

Not real surprising that Denzel takes the lead yet again for Tony Scott’s newest: Unstoppable. Washington has essentially been Scott’s “anti-muse” for the better part of 15 years and I imagine we’ll see the two collaborating for years to come. What might be of interest to many is the return of Chris Pine for a big role in a major studio picture. Was the Capt. Kirk role a fluke or can the kid bring something to the proverbial table? I feel like I’ve seen the premise of this movie ten times already (a runaway train loaded with chemical explosives) and was pretty underwhelmed with what I see in the trailer… until Rosario Dawson popped in. That’s it, I’m sold.

Is there any sort of excitement or interest in this movie (releasing November 12th) at all?

The trailer is tucked under the seat.
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Cinecast Episode 169 – Stone Dildos

Today we are joined by Killerfilm’s Serena Whitney to pontificate on the the latest multiplex horror film, Sex And The City 2. Matt Gamble chimes in with the herding of the drunken and frocked chattel to sold out screenings. Mucho negativity ensues. We also revisit The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, to delve into the films shortcomings and another one of those ‘book to movie adaptation’ discussions. Lots of Movies We Watched, spanning Norm MacDonald‘s post-SNL flop to an obscure French New Wave release. There is also a smack-down of Andrew on his flippant dismissal of The Iron Giant and a fairly lengthy tangent on George A. Romero‘s filmography and orbiting remakes. The whole crew gives their DVD picks, which turns into a limbo game of trying to dodge the slew of Clint Eastwood releases coinciding with his 80th Birthday. Enjoy.

As always, feel free to leave 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:

Full show notes are under the seats…
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Quick Thoughts: Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief

Percy JacksonI don’t doubt that Rick Riordan’s series is a fabulous read. Full of Greek mythology and more than a little action, it makes for a fast paced tale of adventure but how that translates onto the big screen isn’t exactly great. I’m sure one of the reasons Fox brought director Chris Columbus on board to direct the first film in the series may have something to do with his success in kicking off the Harry Potter franchise. What they failed to take into account is the fact that Harry Potter already had a rabid fanbase where as Percy Jackson…let’s just say he’s no pre-pubescent magician.

Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief has a whole lot going for it. The story of demigods living amongst humans in the modern world certainly offers many an opportunity for story telling. In this particular world, Zeus has forbidden the gods from communicating with their mortal children in fear that they will overlook their Godly duties but when Zeus’ lightning bolt is stolen, Zeus gets angry (and a little irrational). He knows his brother Poseidon didn’t steal it but he thinks Poseidon’s son Percy may have and so an ultimatum is set: return the bolt in two weeks or face war. Typical God stuff wouldn’t you say? It also brings this whole Gods not interacting with their half human kids into question.

Here’s where the story really kicks off (as much as it ever does). As everyone searches for the bolt (who wouldn’t want to rule Olympus?) Percy comes to know his true origin, is taken into a camp for special kids (other demigods like himself), gathers a few troops and heads off to rescue his mother who has been kidnapped by Hades, the ruler of the underworld, a dude who also happens to be his uncle. Basically, there’s a whole lot going on including some digging through Greek mythology. To the film’s credit (likely due to screen writer Craig Titley who adapted Riordan’s book) the convoluted associations between characters and the mythology associated with them is peppered throughout the film quite well. The only problem is that with all of the supernatural stuff flying around, the film still manages to be pretty dull.

The action is yawn inducing, the effects good in places and laughably bad in others, the comedy occasionally works and falls flat in other places – it’s a bit of an uneven mess, one that’s heightened by the appearance of some amazingly talented actors. Makes you wonder what they were thinking when they agreed to some of these roles. From Kevin McKidd as Poseidon to Catherine Keener as Percy’s mother, there are a spattering of appearances from some heavyweights including Pierce Brosnan, Sean Bean, Melina Kanakaredes, Joe Pantoliano and Uma Thurman. When one appears, you can’t help but groan – yes, it’s that bad (with the exception of Sean Bean as Zeus who is just…well, awesome). As for the leads, Logan Lerman as Percy has a promising career ahead of him; he may not be great but neither is the material and he does show promise (along with a fair amount of screen presence) while Alexandra Daddario’s pretty face is likely to turn up again, hopefully in another role where girls kick ass.

Percy Jackson is a disappointment considering the amount of money thrown at it and the calibre of talent involved. It’s a bit of a slog at nearly two hours but you know what? It’s worth every penny for the awesomeness of seeing Hades and Persephone duke it out. Steve Coogan and Rosario Dawson are easily the highlight of the film and they steal the show in their short interlude. Someone should really think to cast them in The Life and Times of Hades and Persephone because they’re genius together. And seriously, is it even legal to look this amazing? And I’m not talking about Coogan.

Steve Coogan and Rosario Dawson in Percy Jackson

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Screenshots of Lust, Part I

This is something of a book-end to Captured Beauty, my last thematic screenshot post. Try as I might with that post to focus on the beautiful in the female form as something transcendent and lofty, the root of lust and its baser impulses inevitably aided in the selection process. So here all rhetoric is lifted. This is sex and the longing for it. Excluding porn and trying (at least for this round) to limit to clothed expressions of Lust, several of us at Row Three put together this series of screenshots for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy.

Oh and I would like a full report of the depictions we missed.

Natalie Portman as Stripper in Closer
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Remembering a Decade…2002

(prologue) As we can begin to hear the death rattle of the oughts, we in the third row decided to start on this continuing series throughout 2009 that will look back at our favorite films of each of the past ten years (2000-2009). This will ultimately culminate in a “ten best/favorites of the oughts” piece sometime in early 2010.

The year 2002 was quite the year for cinema and quite the discussion in the “back room” about which five films to go with. A couple of ties spurred on quite the fight; especially for that number five position. At any rate we whittled down the impressive list of quality titles to come up with our five favorite films of 2002. Enjoy.

City of God

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Spike Lee’s 25th Hour – A Video Review

Attached is yet another ‘experiment’, one I’m hoping will become a regular feature of mine over the next several months: a video review. However, I’m attempting a different approach to the whole concept, and I would appreciate any and all feedback (please let me know if this is something you consider worthwhile).

A few points concerning the attached video:

1. This is my first attempt at putting anything like this together, and as such, there are definite imperfections (such as tone shifts in my narration and fluctuations in volume). I promise I will continually work on these, and will hopefully improve with each new edition.

2. This is, in no way, intended to be a ‘complete’ examination of Spike Lee’s 25th Hour. I address only a handful of points, thus leaving many aspects of this excellent film unexplored (including, but not limited to, one or two key characters and events) (credit martinez). I trust you will be able to look past any exclusions, and judge the video on what does appear, not what doesn’t.

With that said, I hope you enjoy the following video. Again, any and all feedback is welcome.