Trailer: I Am Not Your Negro

One of the most acclaimed documentaries on the 2016 festival circuit was Raoul Peck’s I Am Not Your Negro. Along with OJ: Made In America, you have probably seen it pop up on many Top 10 lists. After seeing the trailer, I can certainly see why. Immediately engrossing, confrontational, and very, very sharp, I am eagerly anticipating February 3rd, when it gets its full theatrical release.

Based on American novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic, James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript “Remember This House,” (written through 1980s prior to his death in 1987) and narrated by actor Samuel L. Jackson, the film explores the history of race relations in the United States through Baldwin’s reminiscences of civil rights leaders Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. The film premiered at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival, where it won the People’s Choice Award in the documentary category.

Trailer #2: The Hateful Eight

In all the James Bond and Star Wars kerfuffle this weekend, we missed the second, more spoiler-heavy trailer for Quentin Tarantino’s forthcoming 70mm Western. It is nothing you do not already know if you have been following the films production (or perhaps have read the screenplay online?) So, here it is in all its cabin-fever glory.

“When you get to hell, tell ’em Daisy sent you.”

Trailer: Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq

After the crowd funded, micro-budgeted remake of Ganja & Hess, Spike Lee has harnessed some big-money from Amazon for his latest provaction, Chi-Raq. It features Samuel L. Jackson breaking the fourth wall to tell us about the gun problems in the black community in Chicago, and a group of ladies that withhold sex until their boyfriends or husbands put down their fire-arms. The trailer indicates the film is done in a mix of styles, which evokes, to these eyes, something akin to Richard Kelly’s Southland Tales, and has welcome return to form for Wesley Snipes, who cut is cinematic teeth in early Spike Lee pictures. It also features Angela Bassett giving a superlative Pam Grier style performance, as well as a number of other things.

Chi-Raq opens, amidst a pretty packed calander of films, in early December.

Trailer: Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight

Prominently featuring Kurt Russell and Samuel L. Jackson, I’m getting a very delicious Django meets The Thing vibe here. Paranoia, guns, shacks, prisoners, a laundry list of great character actors (Walton Goggins, Tim Roth, Demian Bichir, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, Gene Jones, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Zoe Bell) and a lot of excellent dialogue. It is oh so easy to be all in for this 70mm shot western.

Trailer: Big Game

This ridiculously fun a, Amblin-esque popcorn muncher from Finland was a big hit at last years Toronto International Film Festival with the midnight crowd. Much of the Finnish cast from Jalmari Helander’s previous exercise in dead-pan holiday fun, Rare Exports return and are mixed in with a slew of Hollywood character actors Samuel Jackson, Ted Levine, Jim Broadbent, Ray Stevenson, Felicity Huffman, and Victor Garber to achieve maximum results on a limited budget. And in English, too. It is a shame that Big Game doesn’t have set release dates on this side of the Atlantic yet, but UK folks get a chance to see it on May 8th.

When Air Force One is shot down by terrorists leaving the President of the United States stranded in the wilderness, there is only one person around who can save him – a 13-year old boy called Oskari. In the forest on a hunting mission to prove his maturity to his kinsfolk, Oskari had been planning to track down a deer, but instead discovers the most powerful man on the planet in an escape pod. With the terrorists closing in to capture their own “Big Game” prize, the unlikely duo must team up to escape their hunters. As anxious Pentagon officials observe the action via satellite feed, it is up to the President and his new side-kick to prove themselves and survive the most extraordinary 24 hours of their lives.

Note: I interviewed both Jalmari Helander and his young star, Onni Tomilla, at TIFF over at Twitchfilm.

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…?

Trailer: Spike Lee’s Oldboy

Here comes Spike Lee’s remake of Park Chan-Wook’s crazy, ultra-violent comic book flick Oldboy. The fans of the original are legion, for many it was a key introduction to South Korean cinema in the early 2000s, and there has already been a fairly large debate as to what this remake can amount to. But never count out Spike Lee, whose only truly straight-up genre picture was 2006’s Inside Man, which is a feat of filmmaking par excellence. Unsurprisingly, when drunken ad-man Joe Doucett (Josh Brolin) gets mysteriously locked in a cell for two decades, Lee chooses to dwell on major American emotional and political beats on TV. Already, I see them taking a slightly different approach with the daughter (Elizabeth Olsen) and the jailer (Samuel L. Jackson) but they also seem to be keeping the original films signature set-piece, a lengthy fight with a hammer. I expect the rest of the film to be interesting with Lee at the helm, perhaps even better than Scorscese’s remake of Hong Kong genre-film touchstone Infernal Affairs. Time Will tell.

Have a look at the first Red-Band trailer for Spike Lee’s Oldboy, below.

Review: Django Unchained

Django

After watching Jamie Foxx boldly strut on a chestnut mare with circular-lensed shades through the sunny Mississippi countryside, I find it almost impossible to imagine Wil Smith doing the same without bringing the bulk of Quentin Tarantino’s Western/Southern enterprise crashing down. There is a steely gravitas to Foxx (see also Jarhead, Miami Vice) that works when he evolves to cowboy super-shooter (and instrument of revenge), but more importantly, there is a generous yet unassuming vulnerability when he plays off Christoph Waltz that makes the picture decidedly human amongst all the heroic bloodshed, sweaty mandingo wrestling, horse murder, and flowery language. The look and tone of the film is as grab bag as the range of its cinematic influences. Moments that recall John Ford’s Monument Valley grandeur and snowy echoes of Sergio Corbucci’s The Great Silence sit uneasily against the farcical parody of Birth of A Nation‘s ride of the Klan (feat. Jonah Hill!) or a man being violently torn apart by dogs. Django Unchained may feel like a 10 hour HBO miniseries crushed down to just under 3 hours, but it is a cornucopia of delights and it does what its director does best. That is to say, let great actors have memorable scenes of dialogue (or silence) together, whilst setting the non-acting scenes to exceptionally curated music.

Would you like to know more…?

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.

There Will Be Blood

2007 USA. Director: Paul Thomas Anderson. Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Dylan Freasier, Ciaran Hinds.

A beautiful looking but otherwise empty movie experience that has nothing much to say about anything, and this, irrespective of the glowing praise by the likes of Tarantino. Everything goes down just as one would expect, without much of a fight, just aimlessly going through the motions of belittling Church and Commerce, and guess what, money doesn’t buy you happiness. I am a big fan of Paul Thomas Anderson but frankly the two stars I am giving this have more to do with Johnny Greenwood’s killer score and Daniel Day-Lewis’ grizzled performance. Everything else is as plain as the desert landscape this story is set against. Scholarly papers have been written about the choice use of camp in the final scene, to me it still just feels like a movie desperate to do something, anything to seem special.
-ROT

A Separation

2011 Iran. Director: Asghar Farhadi. Starring: Leila Hatami, Kimia Hosseini, Merila Zarei.

Ego. Shame. Fear. Guilt. All are underscored here insofar as problems can spiral out of control when people push each other to the limit. Even moreso, A Separation shows the true ineffectualness of any bureaucratic legal body to sort out problems that are best suited to dramatization. Thus, we are armed with the God’s Eye view, and A SEPARATION appeals to logic, empathy, and yes, judgement. It’s the Iranian version of THE SWEET HEREAFTER, in its own way, and damn if that isn’t a compliment of the highest order. I had a plethora of reactions to the film and all of them, I believe, were earned. That is to say: the film doesn’t ‘cheat’ (sorry for opening a can of worms) by going all Lars Von Trier with its plot points. And that ending is perfect.
-KURT

Would you like to know more…?

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:
http://rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_11/episode_214.mp3

 
 
Full show notes are under the seats…
Would you like to know more…?

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!

 


 

 

 

To download the show directly, paste the following URL into your favorite downloader:
http://rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_10/episode_192.mp3

ALTERNATIVE (no music track):
http://rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_10/episode_192-alt.mp3

 
 
Full show notes are under the seats…
Would you like to know more…?