Mamo 437: Asshat Assets

Mamo!

Deadpool!! The R-rated superhero flick’s massive over-performance this past weekend has thrown everyone into a tizzy, including us, if by “tizzy” you mean “questioning some of our previous statements about Ryan Reynolds.” We toss the ball around a bit, with respect to the modern movie star and the growth of the comic book movie genre, before taking several more choice swipes at the imminent death rattle of Batman v. Superman.

Cinecast Episode 428 – The Undependables

anatomy-nogamble

Twer the day of the big game. Which makes theaters and restaurants nearly empty. Ergo, Kurt and Andrew are very happy and indulge in the old fashioned style Cinecast complete with an hour long review of Hail, Caesar!, long discussions in each of The Watch List titles and many an unrelated tangent. The popularity of James Cameron’s Avatar continues to baffle the boys while the unpopularity of “lesser” Coen Brothers fare is equally stupefying. We ask for listeners help with casting the next Third Row Productions screenplay that’s in the works. Also Jerry Seinfeld is back with a new season of “talking shop” with comedians in (usually) cool cars. Doesn’t seem like much, but all of the fun adds up in this 3+ hour, old-school Cinecast. Listen up, we’ve got all your secret shit right here!

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

We’re now available on Google Play!

 

 
 

caesar-cinecast

 
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TIFF 2015 Review: Mississippi Grind

Regular collaborators Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (Half Nelson, Sugar & It’s Kind of a Funny Story) team up once again as both writers and directors of this road movie. Mississippi Grind sees hard-up gambling addict Gerry (Ben Mendelson) befriend the charismatic poker player Curtis (Ryan Reynolds). Gerry thinks Curtis brings him luck and wants him to help build the collateral to get in on a high end poker game. So they travel across the south of the USA from casino to casino in an effort to take Gerry out of the rut he’s forever stuck in.

The first half of this is excellent. I’m a big fan of Half Nelson and a lot of the magic of that is here. As a believable and at times heartbreaking character study, the film is particularly strong, with regards to the Gerry character more so than Curtis. Ben Mendelson is incredibly good as the troubled gambler who doesn’t know when to quit. It’s a subtly powerful and controlled performance that should gain a lot of attention come awards season. If it doesn’t I’ll be very disappointed. Ryan Reynolds is very good too, but his character isn’t as well written. His motivations aren’t clear and his character has less of an arc through the film, making him feel like little more than an enigma even though his story takes up a large proportion of the running time.

This is one of the reasons why, for me, the film loses steam as it goes on. A lot of the turns that the plot takes didn’t make sense and I didn’t find the finale particularly satisfying either. So what begins as an understated yet strikingly good look at gambling addiction turns into a bit of a damp squib by the end. That may be a bit harsh though. The film is still certainly worth watching. It does a great job of capturing the mood and feel of the lonely world of the gambler and the look of that area of America. Mendelson’s stunning performance alone makes it a film to recommend, even if it doesn’t come together as a satisfying whole.

A Trailer for a Trailer is Better than the Trailer: Dead Pool

Reminiscent of both the wonderful teasers for John Woo’s Face/Off and Katherine Bigelow’s Strange Days, this polished advertisement for the soon to be released trailer for Marvel’s Dead Pool, has Ryan Reynolds convincingly mugging as the Merc-with-a-mouth.

I wish more movies studios did these kinds of trailers, and not just as a trailers for a trailers, because actual trailers for blockbuster tentpoles mostly suck these days, precisely because they have no personality and are cut pretty much the same.

Here, Reynolds has personality plus, even as he is undoubtedly catering to the Comic Con crowd, on his so-called “E-Harmony date with destiny.” This is how it is done, foul language and all.

Review: The Croods

A very brief and somewhat biased history lesson: Dreamworks Animation, after years of foisting smarmy talking animals, questionable pop songs and a litany of fart jokes on indiscriminate family audiences, released How To Train Your Dragon. It was a film with no small amount of ambition in terms of visual aesthetics and had an abundance of heart. Usually, Dreamworks Animation sits in the long shadow of Pixar, who around that time were putting out Cars 2, so it was a bit of a topsyturvy world which lasted only the briefest of moments as Pixar quickly recovered with their third quality Toy Story movie and Dreamworks numbly churned out Madagascar and Shrek sequels. All this is to say that when Dragon co-director Chris Sanders was the man put in charge of Dreamwork’s latest feature, The Croods, and Monsters University seems lazy as all hell, 2013 promised similar downside-up deja vu.

Maybe not.

After watching The Croods die a slow death-by-committee, I feel that perhaps the original story of a fearful and conservative prehistoric family forced to find a new home in an unforgiving world outside their comfort zone, would represent some risk-taking in the narrative department. The film skims some pretty controversial themes for a kids flick in this particular young century. The first is the cave clan’s ongoing over-reaction (espoused in a myth-making Chauvet-esque prologue), ) to the demise of their immediate neighbours; a healthy concern for survival that edges into fear, uncertainty and doubt. The world is a dangerous place for those of the cro-magnon variety. Exchanging comfort and freedom and a zest for living for security, painting the crudes, excuse me, Croods as a bunch of xenophobic ugly Americans as their 9/11 event fast approaches. The event, here geological, in some way echoes Star Trek II‘s ‘Genesis Project’ and for a time, it feels like the film is going to espouse some old fashioned Roddenberry logic, that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Couple this with the idea that one generation often has to make big sacrifices for the benefit of prosperity of the next, and the ongoing baby-boomer disaster that is the current world-wide economic meltdown, and you’ve got some heady subtext for a brightly animated Quest For Fire riff. Indeed, the film struggles with the generational gap between wide-eyed optimism of youth and pragmatic caution of folks who have witnessed a fairer share of death and loss; that is to say there is a smidgen of the anxious dad of Finding Nemo (and possibly the only time ever you will be able to compare Albert Brooks to Nicholas Cage.) Even further, it throws out the can-do spirit of the use of new and untested technology (fire and, oddly, shoes), as a way of advancing into the darkness with the risk of torching oneself in the tall dry grass; this instead of the conservative, tried-and-true idealogy – hiding in the dark and waiting for the danger to pass. The film piles all these things on its plate with an ambitious, almost effortless, glee, then takes the safe, conservative, non-confrontational approach to the whole darn thing. The Croods may say one thing, but it wants to keep hiding in its safe market-tested cave. Damn you Dreamworks.

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Movies We Watched

Sometimes we watch stuff that we want to talk just a little bit about, not a full review worth. These are those films. If any of the films reviewed are available on Netflix Instant Watch (US or Canada) or HuluPlus (US only), we’ll note that by putting a direct link below the capsule.

Buried

2010 USA/Spain/Frane. Director: Rodrigo Cortés. Starring: Ryan Reynolds.

An extreme form of one-room film, with the whole thing set in a coffin buried somewhere underground. Ryan Reynolds carries the film admirably as an army contractor who gets taken hostage and buried alive with just a cell phone and a few other items, with the intention that he will get a sizeable ransom from the US government for his release. As we know, the US government doesn’t negotiate with terrorists, leaving Reynolds hoping that the dispatched search and rescue team will find him before his air runs out. The film ratchets up tension admirably, keeping the audience engaged through 95 minutes of basically nothing happening except a man talking on a phone. There are nitpicks to be made, and I do wish there had been some better explanation for why he didn’t try to dig out through the obviously loose and relatively shallow dirt above him, but for the most part, it’s pretty effective as a tight-space thriller.
– JANDY

Netflix Instant (USA)

Gattaca

1997 USA. Director: Andrew Niccol. Starring: Ethan Hawke, Jude Law, Uma Thurman.

While Gattaca did not fly quite as far under the radar as The Man from Earth or Dark City, I cannot help but feel that it remains incredibly underseen and underappreciated. It is generally regarded as a strong film, to be sure, yet I would argue that it is among the greatest sci-fi films ever made. Nimbly toeing the line between the bleak and hectic Blade Runner and the philosophically draining The Man from Earth, Niccol’s universe not only feels realistic – it feels possible … if not probable. The physical presentation of the world is bleak, yes, but it is also vibrant and alive, crafting a future that is advanced, but not so advanced so as to be a distraction. This, of course, ignores the tremendous turns of Ethan Hawke and Jude Law, whose relationship is organic and beautiful. Uma Thurman is undoubtedly the weak link in the chain, but that may be as much a product of her underutilization, if not a side effect of the brilliance of most everything else.
– DOMENIC

Netflix Instant (CANADA)

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Cinema of Trapped! The Tonal Differences between Buried and 127 Hours

 
Due to the proximity of the releases, I am sure that this is not the first article to compare and contrast two films that center around their protagonists being trapped for the majority of their films running time. Rodrigo Cort├ęs’ Buried (Cinecast Discussion) features Ryan Reynolds waking up in a pine coffin with a cellphone, a torch and a pen. 127 Hours (Kurt’s Review) features James Franco trapped by a boulder pinning his hand at the bottom of a narrow ravine in a Utah National Park with a video camera, a bottle of water and a multitool. In both cases the directors decide to be clever with their camera work in order (I am assuming here) that the audience not be bored from lack of movement. With the use of ever more flexible camera equipment (and the ability to film both wide and in close up in tight spaces), there is a surprising amount of movement and energy for films in such limited environments. But this is where similarities end. the two lead performances, and the two overall theses of the films are strikingly different. Buried is a cynical political screed and 127 Hours is a self-deprecating yet uplifting story of triumph and revelation. Both films are ambitious in terms of delivering genre (survival) thrills and also being about something else; ultimately though 127 Hours is ultimately far more of a crowd-pleaser despite its explicit scenes of blood and viscera. More importantly, 127 hours succeeds because it builds a human character over the course of its running time, and lets that character breathe a bit outside of the ‘here and now’ trapped situation, whereas Buried is only the here-and-now, and despite Reynolds’ heroic efforts in the acting department, is left to be little more than a cipher for the writers politics.

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Cinecast Episode 186 – Happy Yummy Super Audience

 
 
Kurt makes a triumphantly verbose return to Western civilization after a week on the Spanish Mediterranean coast. With the 43rd Annual Sitges Film Festival coinciding with the trip there is much filmery to be discussed including the new Woody Allen, Zhang Yimou’s Blood Simple remake, Max Von Sydow’s seemingly advanced age in The Exorcist, dark social media experiments (no not Catfish or The Social Network, these are apocalyptic European takes on Web 2.0) and a Mads Mikkelsen time traveling thriller with The Door. Andrew sat down with some highly praised foreign fare from 2009 (including more Mads and the Oscar winning Argentinian entry, The Secret in Her Eyes) while Gamble also hits us with a sneak review of Helen Mirren shooting up cars in Red and reports on the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink camera work in a tiny box for 90 minutes with Ryan Reynolds in Buried. Playing off the Jackass 3D hype, quite the energetic discussion ensues on theater crowds and whether films are better with or without others around you. A few tangents here and there with loads of good stuff on DVD. All this and more in episode 186!

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:
http://rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_10/episode_186.mp3

ALTERNATIVE (no music track):
http://rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_10/episode_186-alt.mp3

 




 
Full show notes are under the seats…
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Buried = Vertigo

The movie might suck, the movie might be awesome. But one can’t argue with the fairly well conceived marketing campaign. The trailer is intriguing as hell and a couple of weeks ago a pretty subtle, but very effective motion poster was released.

Today I stumbled across this nice homage to Hitchcock’s Vertigo, in this newest poster from the latest Ryan Reynolds vehicle, Buried. Whether or not the movie has much in common with the former, it still a nice touch and is not only eye-catching, but also impressive with its depth and death it conveys. Simply from the posters alone, I’m getting kind of psyched up for this movie. For someone who is fairly claustrophobic, this picture might be a bit of a rough ride.

(click image for hi-res ride)

 
Buried will open in limited release on September 24, 2010 and will then go wide a couple weeks later on October 8. You can also keep up with future “Buried” updates via the movie’s official Facebook page. You can also keep up with them via the Tweeter thing or simply the old fashioned way; i.e. the official site.

 

Cool Motion Poster for “Buried”

Anything Tom Hanks can do, Ryan Reynolds can do better. While buried six feet under in a box with only a lighter. Buried is a one-man show of a movie in which Reynolds plays a civilian contractor in Iraq who after an attack on his convoy, finds himself waking up in a coffin with only a cell phone and a lighter.

After the teaser trailer was released some time back, I think a lot of us decided we’re secretly looking forward to this picture.

The trailer gives us a little bit of an idea of what to expect and this motion poster/ad doesn’t give us much more, but I sure like the general sense of claustrophobia, darkness and isolation the poster gives off.

Unfortunately the thing auto plays and there is some loud sound, so I’ve stuck it underneath the seats for your viewing pleasure. Maybe turn your speakers on before clicking Would you like to know more…?

Review: Adventureland

Adventureland poster

Director: Greg Mottola(The Daytrippers, Superbad)
Writer: Greg Mottola
Producers: Anne Carey, Ted Hope, Sidney Kimmel
Starring: Jessie Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Martin Starr, Bill Hader, Ryan Reynolds, Paige Howard, Margarita Levieva
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 107 min.


Don’t be fooled! This is not another teenage comedy about a ridiculous adventure with parties, sexual shenanigans and booger jokes. Sure there is some of that in here to keep the laugh quotient fairly high, but this is more of a wonderfully shot, coming-of-age story about life after college and the struggles that accompany said age and where life should go next and what to do with oneself.

This is the movie that should have come from the David Gordon Greene meets Apatow crew last summer. As we all know, that movie ended up being Pineapple Express; which was all well and good, but not nearly the interesting and much richer (both visually and thematically) film that Adventureland is.
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