Welcome to January, folks – the month when studios tend to dump their dogs into the theatres. If you are not looking to play catch up on the pre-Christmas derby of Oscar hopefuls working their way to a wider release or partaking of the blockbusters deemed too ‘holiday’ for the summer season, you may be on the prowl for one of those buried gems of quality nestled amongst the Hollywood trash heap. Steven Soderbergh makes a solid case for the no-nonsense action thriller, and a bid for a few of your shekels, with Haywire. The film does nothing particularly novel. Another expendable super-spy chase slash revenge picture of which there were at least three of last year – Colombiana, Hanna and Ghost Protocol – and features neither an extravagance for expensive set-pieces nor the over-inflated high stakes. But what then separates this from last year, or a multitude of straight-to-video Jason Statham vehicles is this classic Roger Ebert bon mot, “It’s not what you do but how you do it,” which certainly applies here; even something that feels like this particular filmmaker could do in his sleep has such a precise polish and rhythm that not a second of this film feels superfluous. There are enough little touches and intangables to forgive Haywire for having nothing whatsoever to say other than Soderbergh knows his craft. The film is a walkthrough of all the things that director favours and have been showcased in his prolific c.v. The film knows to be lean and mean and is completely unpretentious about its execution.
While we patiently wait for Carnage to open in Minneapolis and for A Dangerous Method to open in Toronto, Kurt and Andrew decide to outline the 40 odd films-of-interest that are on the radar for 2012; there appears to be lots of interesting science fiction coming this year and a large pile of auteur-type films on the way. Moving onto the Watch List, discussion skips along from a rewatch of an under-appreciated genre flick from 2010 to a lengthy bit on Oliver Stone’s (and Stephen King’s) JFK. Added to the mix is John La Carre’s The Spy Who Came in From The Cold, Kurt’s family sings along to The Sound of Music, some early John Carpenter, Ron Howard and lots of love for Peter Sarsgaard, and a small bit on BBC’s current “Sherlock” TV series. Enjoy.
As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!
Full show notes are under the seats…
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Like most great science fiction films, Solaris (and I mean the Steven Soderbergh remake, not the Andrei Tarkovsky film from 1972) was not appreciated all that much on initial release. *Spoilers Follow* I am not sure if a re-evaluation of the film has started yet, but if not, here is as good a place as any. Delicately sprinkled with the debate on divinity vs. astronomical probability, the film seems to tap out on the side that Solaris is in fact the almighty, who trials the cosmonauts on the station with mirrors of their own thoughts. After requesting friend and psychiatrist Kris Kelvin (George Clooney) to come up an evaluate the problem on the orbiting space station, the scientific leader on the shuttle, Dr. Gibarian, commits suicide. Later, the Doctor’s ghost (or perhaps Kelvin’s own conscience or even, more daringly, God Himself) offers, “There is no solution, only choices.” (Earlier Gibarian also equates space travel as the search for divinity in another choice quote, “We do not want other worlds, we want mirrors.”) After the remaining two scientists begin bombarding their ghostly yet corporeal visitors, possibly manifestations from the planet based on each persons memories and emotions, with anti-bosons, the planet pulls the station into its implacable mauve energy cloud.
The crashing station with Kelvin still aboard becomes a ‘moment of fear’ or a ‘moment of truth’ as the three remaining passengers wait for god. The scenes with Jeremy Davies’ character literally meeting his maker are shot to evoke both alien abduction (Fire in the Sky), part spiritual awakening. As it should be, because the film postulates both. More interestingly is Kelvin’s final journey, first of pain and suffering, then help by way of Gibarian’s ‘son’ (an corporeal entity of Solaris, The Son of God?) who reaches out a comforting hand, and a offers a serene (Jesus-like?) face. That he ends up in Heaven (of sorts, where “Everything we’ve done is forgiven. Everything”) with his deceased wife – all radiant and finally at peace, only cements things.
While I was out of town, The Toronto International Film Festival dropped a lot of high profile festival titles into the wild. In the interest of general discussion and anticipation of the locals (and those travelling in), here are some of the films and where they lie in this years TIFF programme: Getting the red carpet Gala treatment is the Robert Duvall, Bill Murray and Sissy Spacek starring dramedy Get Low about a man who fakes his own death to organize his own funeral, it is directed by cinematographer Aaron Schneider. Also, Precious will be getting the spotlight after its success elsewhere on the festival circuit. Opening the festival is the maybe-controversial-in-a-Kinsey-sort-of-way biopic on Charles Darwin called Creation. This is directed by the director Jon Amiel who has not done much lately, but was the director of one of the best TV minis of all time, The Singing Detective. Creation has a great collection of actors involved including Paul Bettany, Jennifer Connelly and Jeremy Northam (and the other Capote, Toby Jones).
In the Special Presentations category, there is Steven Soderberg‘s The Informant!, Niki “Whale Rider” Caro‘s The Vintner’s Luck, Johnnie To‘s Vengeance, Nicolas Winding Refn‘s Viking epic, Valhalla Rising, Neil Jordan‘s dark fairy tale, Ondine, Bong “The Host” Joon-ho‘s (much anticipated by me, Mother, Ricky Gervais’ The Invention of Lying, the latest from provocateur director Bruno Dumont Hadewijch, Kiwi Jane Campion finally returns with romantic take on John Keats with Bright Star and of course, very many more.
The full press release, which includes plot descriptions of all the films, is tucked under the seat.
While the fanboys are enjoying spacious, 500-seat auditoriums with DTS sound and the latest in digital projection to catch Wolverines fighting giant Robots that look like sports cars (again) or the typical pot and booger jokes in another laugh an hour, generic comedy, the snobbier among us prefer the cramped and smaller, hard to find theaters that play slightly more ponderous fare as we like to call it.* So with that in mind, we thought we’d have a look at some of the “real” movies that we’re truly looking forward to and are being released sometime over the next four months.
*actually, Cpt. Kirk and John Connor already have our money, so who are we to judge?
The list below is roughly in “date of release” order but consider that to be at your own risk as releases (particularly the indie stuff) can, as we all know, be all over the calendar. Not to mention some of these titles have already played the festival circuit. All title links head over to IMDb (how original).
Also be sure to check out After the Credits podcast this week for their month of MAY PREVIEW
see all of the “must sees” under seats…
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As we get closer to the end of the year, we get closer to the release of Steven Soderbergh’s lengthy bio-pic of one of the most iconic figures of the 20th century, Ernesto Che Guevara , the promotional department is in overdrive with new one sheets, and this beauty of a trailer. It may over emphasize the action (trailers usually do), and amp up the emotionality (the film is interestingly clinical yet never cold) but it does capture much of the spirit of the film. It is safe to keep expectations high for this one.
I caught it at TIFF in September and it was really too complex and layered to write about after a single, mammoth 4 hour viewing. Yet it remains one of the best films I saw this year. In fact, I am really looking forward to seeing this one again, separated or no.
The embedded trailer (bigger versions over at Yahoo) is tucked under the seat
Clive Owen is in two upcoming corporate scandal films early next year. The first looks a bit on the cheesy, actioner side (The International), but the other, of which I just saw the trailer for today looks damn good. But as the title of this post suggests, I’m obviously biassed.
The film, Duplicity, is the brain child of one Tony Gilroy. So yeah, writer of the Bourne screenplays and better yet, the writer/director of Oscar winning Michael Clayton, I can’t think of many trailers that grabbed my attention immediately. It starts off on a bit more serious note, but as soon as Goldfrapp’s “Ooh La La” starts playing, I instantly got a Soderbergh feel.
So we’ve got the potential smarts of Michael Clayton, the fun action of Bourne and judging from this trailer a bit of Ocean’s 11 Soderbergh and maybe even some Coen Brothers style writing going on here. Add to that this cast and March ’09 suddenly seems very too far away.
A new one sheet offers the iconic image of Benicio del Toro as the Argentine doctor turned revolutionary and gives the split-in-two release dates of January, February 2009.
The tagline however, “Everyone Knows the Icon, Few Know the Man” is an interesting marketing fabrication. I managed to catch both parts in a screening at the Toronto International Film Festival, and personally I didn’t think it gave all that much about the personal life of Ernesto Guevara. It was more how he was an interlocking piece into the ecosystem of revolution in Cuba and South America at the time. The film is more a Revolution 101 piece than a traditional biopic. And this is a good thing. I happy that Steven Soderbergh took an HBO’s The Wire approach rather than the Walk the Line approach. Things are far more analytical and detached viewing here than the warm and fuzzy emotional approach which would have been an uphill battle considering the polarized opinions of history and myth.
It is very much worth seeing both parts when they arrive in the cinema on as big of a screen that is possible. Seeing them together I do not believe is critical, as they are quite separate films. A very, very good piece of cinema that has the added bonus of showing of the new “Red” HD camera system. The cinematography looks ‘alien’ yet amazing – A similar effect as when I saw Michael Mann‘s Collateral for the first time.
Very little production here today folks – no bumper music and very little editing. This is a rough cut of a recently found episode of the RowThree Cinecast from a few weeks back. In this episode we have an all new Top Ten List, reviews of Igor and Battle in Seattle as well as some DVD picks and more!
Click the little Audio Icon below to listen in:
Below the fold are some very limited Show Notes…
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As we get closer and closer to the full Toronto International Film Festival slate being announced, the press office decided to drop a big announcement today several new and high profile films including much anticipated Synecdouche, NY from screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, the epic-length Che biopic from Steven Soderbergh, Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, Rian Johnson’s The Brothers Bloom, Michael Winterbottom’s Genova, and Kevin Smith’s Zack & Miri Make A Porno (which I’m sure will have a great Q&A, Smith does good in that department).
Fans of Babel, Amorros Perros and 21 Grams should note that writer Guillermo Arriaga is making his directorial debut with The Burning Plain; and if you have any interest in the ‘little guy vs. The Ford Corporation’ story with Greg Kinnear, then note that Flash of Genius is also playing.
There is a new Richard Linklater film, but it is a theatre/film hybrid, so attend at your own risk. The film is called Me and Orson Welles.
These will be hard films to get into unless you want to pay the heavy Special Presentation price at the Elgin, a whopping $40 per ticket or so (yie), making the other two off-screenings of the film high demand from pass/coupon holders. But I suspect that it will be easier to attend than previous festivals if you want to spend the $$$.
Lastly, actor Charles Martin Smith (Never Cry Wolf, The Last Casino) is directing the closing film, which stars Robert Carlyle, called Stone of Destiny.
The full Toronto list of 20 Special Presentations (and film descriptions) follow under the seat.
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It’s not a secret that I’m a HUGE Steven Soderbergh fan, so I like to keep abreast on his current and upcoming projects. His next films, both slated for release later this year are entitled The Argentine and Guerilla, which both star Benecio Del Toro (another favorite) as Che Guevara; the controversial Cuban leader under the order of Fidel Castro who toppled the previous Cuban regime in 1958(?).
The Argentine covers the early portions of the story, with Guevara arriving in Cuba and setting up his army/resistance fighters; while Guerilla seems to be a bit more political and less “actiony”, revolving around Che’s journey to New York City to address the United Nations in 1964.
Regardless on my political leanings or interest in the subject matter, there’s no question I’ll get my eyes upon these films as soon as I’m able to. Soderbergh never does any wrong and covering such an explosive (pun intended) topic over the span of two films is sure to fascinate.
The films also star Franka Potente (Run Lola Run, Blow, Bourne), Benjamin Bratt, Catalina Moreno (Maria Full of Grace, Paris je’Taime, Fast Food Nation) and Joaquim de Almeida (Desperado, Clear and Present Danger) among others.
At any rate, I came across a bunch of new stills from the movies. You can see them all beneath the seats…
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