Trailer #2: Shame

Want the heart and soul of Steve McQueen’s second feature, Shame (Kurt’s Review) in 2 minutes? Marvelous editing, it’s like a micro-film in itself. Clearly the ad company have identified the signature scene in the film, one Carey Mulligan crooning New York, New York in a private performance for her brother in the film, played by Micheal Fassbender. Polarizing or not, this one is worth checking out when it drops in an Arthouse near you.

Check out the 2nd US Trailer for Shame, tucked under the seat.
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AFI Fest 2011: A Biased Preview

This year’s AFI Fest kicked off last night with the world premiere of Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar, and I head to my first screenings tonight. There will be very little sleep over the next week as I overload on cinema from around the world, catching up on films praised at other festivals and trying to find a few hidden gems on my own. I probably won’t end up going to most of the big-name galas, despite my excitement for some of the titles, due to the difficulty of procuring passes to these things (trying the rush line is an option, but takes up so much time I’d miss other screenings to do it, something I’m not always willing to do for films that will be out in a few weeks anyway). If you’re in the LA area, there’s still time to reserve tickets to various screenings at the AFI Fest website. A lot of things are still available, other things aren’t right now, but they always release more tickets the day before the screening online, or at the box office the day of, or you can wait in the rush line and there’s a good chance you’ll make it in. Here’s the list of what I’ll likely be seeing (getting some major things I won’t be out of the way first). You can see the full lineup here.

All the trailer links open in a lightbox, so you won’t have to leave the site to watch them. Synopsis text stolen shamelessly from the AFI website.


Some of these are gala screenings I’d hoped to see but ended up not being able to get tickets, a few others are ones that fell to the vagaries of scheduling because as much as I wanted to see them, they were against ones I wanted to see more. The good news is most of these are going to be easily available in regular release within a few weeks, so it’s no great loss.

The Artist

Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Starring: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Béjo, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller
Country: USA/France
Synopsis:Silence is golden in director Michel Hazanavicius’ delightful and dialogue-less black-and-white feature about Hollywood’s bumpy transition from silent films to “talkies.”
My take: Let’s see, a B&W silent film made in 2011 set in Hollywood during the late 1920s? This movie was friggin’ MADE for me, and the fact that it’s gotten raves at every festival so far this year doesn’t hurt, either. Most anticipated not just of the festival, but of the year.

Watch Trailer


Director: Roman Polanski
Starring: Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, John C. Reilly
Country: France/Germany/Poland/Spain
Synopsis:Razor-sharp and acidly funny, CARNAGE strips away the thin veneer of civilization to find the savage heart beating just below the surface. Adapting Yasmina Reza’s smash comedy play “God of Carnage” to the screen, Roman Polanski assembles a dream cast to portray two sets of New York City parents locked in a showdown after their children clash on a playground.
My take: Polanski plus these four actors piqued my interest already (as well as hearing very positive feedback from the play), but seeing the trailer sealed the deal. This looks HILARIOUS in the best way.

Watch Trailer

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Trailer: Shame

One of the more polarizing films amoungst my social circles at last years TIFF, Steve McQueen’s follow up to the highly acclaimed Hunger, the equally succinct titled Shame (Kurt’s Review) widens the canvas by having it set in New York City, and drops the directors fascination with macro lenses. One of the stand-out shots in the film is an extended jogging scene where Michael Fassbender shakes off his mounting series of problems with sex addiction and family. It is used here exceptionally well to assemble a trailer for the film.

The trailer is tucked under the seat.
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TIFF 2011: First Wave of Titles Announced



A number of the Row Three Staff make it an annual ritual to see between 30 and 50 films during the month of September when Toronto is taken over by its largest celebration of cinema from around the world, The Toronto International Film Festival, aka TIFF. So the first announcement of titles is interesting because it often goes back to what the festival was many moons ago: a Festival of Festivals, where best films from Cannes, Berlin and Sundance (amongst others) are offered to local audiences. Of course the festival has gotten bigger over the years (and much more expensive) and World Premieres are also par for the course, but this first announcement allows to see many of the ‘big titles’ (aka Special Presentations and Masters programmes) with guaranteed distribution will make their World, North American or Canadian debuts.

A quick survey by director offers new films from David Cronenberg (A Dangerous Method), Lars Von Trier (Melancholia), Pedro Almodovar (The Skin I Live In), Francis Ford Coppola (Twixt), Fernando Meirelles (360), Alexander Payne (The Descendents), Nicholas Winding Refn (Drive), Steve McQueen (Shame), Sarah Polley (Take This Waltz), George Clooney (The Ides of March), Roland Emmerich (Anonymous), Todd Solondz (Dark Horse), Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea), and Luc Besson (The Lady).

Other titles of interest is the former Soderbergh project starring Brad Pitt, Moneyball, as well as a lot of stuff from popular music, including Cameron Crowe’s Pearl Jam documentary, David Guggenheim’s U2 documentary and a feature film from Madonna simply titled W.E.

Some interesting genre films, including the James Ellroy adaptation, Rampart, which has a loaded cast: Woody Harrelson, Sigourney Weaver, Robin Wright, Ned Beatty, Ben Foster and Anne Heche. South Korean thriller The Countdown exposes uses the underbelly of Seoul as a backdrop for a thirller. The Hugh Jackman and Olivia Wilde comedy, Butter, which also features Kristen Schaal. Noirish Killer Joe features Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, Thomas Haden Church, Juno Temple and Gina Gershon. And the B&W silent comedy favourite at Cannes, Michel Hazanavicius’s The Artist will be screening, as will Joseph Gordon-Levitt cancer comedy, 50/50 which also features Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard, Phillip Baker Hall and Anjelica Huston

In the more dramatic side of things, I’ve been quite anticipating Paddy Considine’s Tyrannosaur which features Peter Mullan as an angry, cynical alcoholic who has reached rock-bottom is surprisingly brought back into life by a complete stranger: a middle-class woman with a strong belief in Christ. Eddie Marsan is also in it. Also Tilda Swinton and John C. Reilley star in Lynne Ramsay’s We Need To Talk About Kevin. Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Kristin Scott Thomas star in Lasse Halstrom’s Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. And from the directors of Persepolis comes another enchanting film adaptation of a graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi: Chicken with Plums follows the last days of a talented musician’s (Mathieu Amalric) life as he desperately seeks to replace his beloved instrumental, the violin.

There are many titles, 50 in all so far, for those who wish to peruse over at the TIFF website.

Review: Transformers 3


It begins on a silent lunar morning, when an Autobot spaceship crashes down on the dark of the moon. This, we are told, generates the space race – sends rubber-faced CGI JFK scrambling to his war room to tell mankind to look to the stars – sets in motion the greatest achievement in human history, for the sole purpose of goin’ and lookin’ at the robots. It’s a retcon corroborated by no less an authority than Buzz Fucking Aldrin himself minutes later, who has been afforded a new flashback of what really went down on that day in ’69. The second man to ever walk on a celestial body not our own wanders onto the set of Transformers: Dark of the Moon and tells the children of America that Yes, We Went There Because Of The Transformers.

It continues as the Autobots are sent scurrying from the Earth, in a spaceship that is half Cybertronian, half good ol’ fashioned NASA Space Shuttle, which promptly explodes – because Space Shuttles do that, remember? You will remember, given how studiously the ILM wizards have aped the death of the Challenger to get that consuming ball of burning gas juuuuuuust right for the moment when the fleeing Autobots meet their apparent demise in the sky. You will think of Columbia, as those jewel-bright pieces of the spaceframe streak back to our planet, auguring the final death of the space age. These images are not there by accident.

And further along, we find ourselves with our human protagonists on an upper storey of an office tower, the lower levels of which have been destroyed by the enemy and are impassable, and which is shortly going to fall from the sky. We are afforded a few jarring, painfully precise moments of fear, as we realize that – shit, we’re trapped here – trapped in the decade-long nightmare – trapped, as the skyline of a major American metropolis beyond the floor-to-ceiling windows tilts and shifts as curtains of black smoke rise from below. We are seeing something that only a few, very unlucky humans have ever witnessed. It is the summer of 2011, and September is two months away.

By the time Sentinel Prime, bearing the gravel-grated voice of Leonard Fucking Nimoy, turned to the sky and rumbled the words “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” to justify a planetary genocide, I realized that I hated Transformers: Dark of the Moon more than just about anything I’ve seen in my whole life. Certainly, in the context of Everything Else, a jet-black repurposing of an old Spock line for so cruel a purpose is trivial. But it is part of the same thing. Transformers: Dark of the Moon is a wholesale repatriation of a national heritage of image systems, from the most significant to the most blithely pop-cultural, for purposes so horrific that the film is scarcely discernible from a hate crime.
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