Kurt & Andrew Guest on The Director’s Club Podcast

Film buff, composer, podcaster, and friend of the Cinecast, Jim Laczkowski continues his exploration of Steven Soderbergh’s prolific filmography from an earlier episode of the Director’s Club Podcast; which, not coincidentally, featured Andrew James. Focusing on many of Soderbergh’s film projects from The Limey onward, Jim invites both Kurt & Andrew into the mix to get down and dirty with Bubble, Contagion, Solaris, Ocean’s Twelve, The Good German, Haywire, The Informant! and more. From stunt cameos, to 1940s camera lenses, to mental health, to the art of the montage and atheism vs. belief. Yea, there is a lot of ground to cover.

Check it out. Here.

Cinecast Episode 379 – Collaborated, Coagulated, Copulated

This is one of those episodes with no new reviews (blame January, folks!) Instead Andrew & Kurt get into a lengthy discussion about re-watching films. From the starting point of “Inherent Twice” they each drop 5 titles up for discussion on how opinion/evaluation/appreciation of the film changes with multiple viewings. Then it is on to the watch list. Salty tongued Office-slash-Spy comedy, bad bad bad Nicole Kidman version of Groundhog Day, 1970s car chase drama, gender-bending time travel, and Jazz, baby, Jazz. A side tangent on whether or not to ‘read the book first’ or ‘watch the movie’ first in light of Ridley Scott’s forthcoming The Martian rounds out the show.

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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Cinecast Episode 342 – Nobody is Happy After a Three Way

The only regret on this episode is that Matt Gamble couldn’t get Frank (from Film Junk) to cry at some point. From Kurt’s drunken obsession with the female form (seriously folks, it is profound) to Andrew’s bafflement at the hatred for Colin Farrell’s lens flares. It’s a good thing Ryan McNeil is somewhat of a veteran of the show as it takes a special type of mortal to endure this kind of full throttle podcast that only the Cinecast can deliver. Lessons learned: Kurt may or may not have had a three-way, gigolos are “amazing”, Robin Wright’s labia is probably what was in Marcellus Wallace’s brief case. Amongst all the tomfoolery, there is a debate on the merits of the Second Indiana Jones film and Amber Heard should retire yesterday. It’s all in here along with plenty more. Thanks to our guests for sticking it out late; it was a show for the ages – yet we magically come in at under three hours – this is what passes for ‘concentrated’ with this podcast…

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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Cinecast Episode 306 – Shameless Ridiculousness

Are we an effective team? We are arguably more effective than the mediocrity of the Kosinski/Cruise assembly squad insofar as we seem to be in agreement on Oblivion. (SPOILERS!) The popcorn science fiction takes a lot of leaps, but it never really lands on particularly solid (or fertile) ground due to similarities to so many other things. We recap yet another compelling episode of “Game of Thrones” (SPOILERS!) where we praise just about every element of the show, even the Dragon Lady. The Watch List segment hits the highs and lows of our respective local film festivals: HotDocs and Mpls Int’l Festival. After recording an entire commentary track on Twilight, Matt enlightens us with his true feelings on Catherine Hardwicke’s first kick at the can in the the sparkly vampire saga. Early David Mamet comes under question with the last 20 minutes of House of Games. And we have a look at a web reality-series that bucks the trend of meanness and goes for generosity. Nice.

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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Cinecast Episode 300 – Lets Talk Some Shit!

For our MEGA-SUPER-DUPER-EXTRAVAGANZA episode 300, we do what we always do, talk casually about movies. Seriously folks, despite our inability to properly plan for these big milestone episodes, we appreciate our listening audience mightily, and their ongoing interaction on the site and by email and other means. To kick off the show, Andrew reads some listener mail which gets us right down into the minutiae of Park Chan-Wook’s Stoker (again.) This is a film we love to talk about! Kurt skims across the surface of three profound science fiction epics, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Solaris and Sunshine before getting mired in the bizarre world of Twin Peaks and Fire Walk with Me. We talk the legacy of James Cameron’s Titanic in all its goofy glory, as well as boats and tigers novel adaptations with Life of Pi. And we leave with a bang in the form of homo-erotic riff on Sergio Leone by way of Bill Murray’s Quick Change – the 1967 Japanese-noir-gangster-western A Colt Is My Passport.

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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Mamo #293: Soderbergh – The Roadshow Edition

Don’t want to download our two-part Soderbergh discussion in Mamo #291 and #292? We’ve stitched them both together, with exactly 35 seconds of additional content, for the all-in-one extravaganza. See Soderbergh the way he was meant to be seen! Mamo Roadshow!

To download this episode, use this URL: http://rowthree.com/audio/mamo/mamo293.mp3

Mamo #292: Soderbergh – Guerrilla

Soderbergh continues – in part two of today’s multi-part examination of the director’s concluding career, we pick up at Out of Sight and watch the director become a filmmaking powerhouse unlike any in Hollywood, before ultimately deciding to abdicate his narrative throne… but not before leaving us with one last slice of pie: Side Effects.

To download this episode, use this URL: http://rowthree.com/audio/mamo/mamo292.mp3

Favorite Older Films I Saw in 2012

Always an awkward post title, but I can never seem to manage to figure out a good way to sum up the kind of list I’m presenting here. My list of Top 2012 Films is included in the Row Three group post back here, but now I want to focus on the films I enjoyed the most this year which were released prior to 2012. I should stress that this is hardly an objective list, were such a thing even possible – it’s just what I liked the best and felt most desirous to share out of my first-time watches this year, excluding 2012 releases.

What older films did you love the best in 2012?

GIRL SHY (1924)
WHY WORRY (1923)


I’d seen Harold Lloyd’s best-known film Safety Last before, but I really consider 2012 my crash course in his comedy, with a trio of films I saw in close succession and really convinced me for sure that he belongs in the silent comedian pantheon. Girl Shy is, in fact, my favorite new-to-me film I’ve seen all year, and thanks to its sweet romance and breathtaking final chase scene, I actually liked it more than I do Safety Last. For Heaven’s Sake, with Lloyd as a millionaire bringing in street thugs and miscreants to fill up an inner-city mission’s pews to impress the preacher’s lovely daughter, is a ton of fun, too, full of insane gags and stunts. I liked Why Worry, with Lloyd as a hypochondriac who gets mixed up in the Mexican Civil War, the least of the three, but it’s still a solid film and a whole lot of fun. With these three under my belt, chalk me up a definite Lloyd fan.



Sometimes Ingmar Bergman films are a bit tough for me to get into – I can appreciate their austere humanism, but they often feel remote and uninvolving to me. The Virgin Spring grabbed me immediately and didn’t let me go until I collapsed at the end breathless, like the grieving father in the story. A young girl is violated by a group of men who later unknowingly seek shelter in her father’s home, whereupon he finds out what happened and exacts retribution. But nothing is so simple in Bergman’s world, and this is a deeply thoughtful and starkly beautiful film, questioning a God who allows tragedy to happen and yet also accepting that personal vengeance may not be the best way either.



Clearly a prototype for 2011’s Drive (a recent favorite of mine), The Driver stars Ryan O’Neal as a laconic getaway driver who’s being hunted by an arrogant cop (Bruce Dern) who wants to collar him simply because he’s never been caught. In between them are a gambling woman who may be playing both sides and a bunch of thugs who are no match for the Driver. It’s a mystery to me why this film isn’t always mentioned in the same breath with great car chase movies like Bullitt and The French Connection, because the chases here are every bit as good. Mix in the Le Samourai-esque lead character, and this film was made for me.

SOLARIS (1972)


First of all, it took me several days to get through this meditative sci-fi film musing on love and loss. I’m not proud of that, but it can certainly be blamed on my pregnancy-related tiredness at the time rather than the film itself, although the film itself is definitely on the slow side. I actually liked the pacing and thought it worked well for the kind of heady, evocative sci-fi this is. That said, because of the viewing conditions, I had difficulty holding it all in my head at once or feeling like I had a solid grasp of it by the end. I’m already looking forward to a rewatch, upon which time I think I will appreciate it even more.



I know Mike Rot (and probably others) are going to tell me that even Top Five placement is not high enough for this film, and that’s probably right. The movie is an intriguing combination of austerity (sparse set design) and raw emotion (Marie Falconetti’s extraordinary face, usually seen in close-ups). I’ve seen a couple of other Dreyer films, and I generally find them a bit difficult to relate to stylistically, and I have to say I felt kind of the same tension here. I do think some rewatches will move it much higher on my list, though – it feels like the kind of film I will grow into. Also, the print on HuluPlus does not have a music track with it, and I don’t think that helped my experience.

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The Romantized and Tormenting “Ghost-Wife”

Well worth highlighting this piece from one of my favorite web-writers, Alison Willmore, who points out something, apropos of Inception and Shutter Island this year, regarding the romantic (and tormenting) idealization of women as a plot hook. So that the tormented male lead can emote and strain towards some future enlightenment (or fall into the void), there must be a woman bathed in honey-coloured light demurely glancing towards the camera in soft-focus.

Read the entire piece here with may very good examples of this.

Film on TV: June 28-July 4

The General, playing Sunday on TCM.

The beginning of June marked the one year anniversary for this column, and in that time we’ve featured over 400 different films spanning years from 1903-2008 and representing more than eighteen different countries and pretty much every genre. I think that’s not bad at all. But I’m the first to admit that I haven’t seen everything, so I’m going to start including just title and basic info for films that I’ve heard positive things about but haven’t seen myself; if you have seen a film that’s listed without a blurb (or know of something else that’s playing that I didn’t mention at all), please feel free to write a little blurb and either send it to me (jandy AT rowthree DOT com) or post it in the comments, and I’ll include it for any future showings of that film, credited to you. That’s open to either R3 contributors or readers.

Monday, June 28

6:05am – IFC – Broadway Danny Rose
It’s lesser Woody Allen, but it’s still Woody Allen. Danny Rose (Woody) is a theatrical agent whose clients always leave him when they start becoming successful. His current client, a has-been tenor trying to make a comeback, gives him further grief by having an affair with a young woman (Mia Farrow) with gangster connections. Not very substantial, but enjoyable.
1984 USA. Director: Woody Allen. Starring: Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, Nick Apollo Forte.
(repeats at 12:05pm and 5:30pm)

10:15am – IFC – I Heart Huckabees
Not too many films take philosophy as their base, but this one basically does, following a man (Jason Schwartzman) plagued by coincidence who hires a couple of existentialists to figure out what’s going on.
2004 USA. Director: David O. Russell. Starring: Jason Schwartzman, Isabelle Huppert, Dustin Hoffman, Naomi Watts, Mark Wahlberg, Lily Tomlin, Jude Law.
(repeats at 3:35pm, and 4:45am on the 29th)

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Brave New Worldview – 30 Science Fiction Films of the 21st Century

A decade into the 21st Century and we have arrived at the future. The promise of Tomorrow. But instead we have looming energy crises, endless middle east conflict and more disappointing, we have no flying cars, Heck, for all the bright and clean future promised in 2001: A Space Odyssey, none of the real companies used as brands in the film even exist anymore. Even moving from the late 1960s to the mid 1980s, nobody makes DeLoreans (although they occasionally sell on Ebay), but cloning and tablet computing (as promised by Star Trek: The Next Generation) have more or less come to pass in this century. It is not the gizmos or the distopian aesthetics, that have brought Science Fiction into the new millennium, but the questions it asks of people or society in a future time or place and how they reflect on our own times. There have been a surprising number of excellent science fiction films to come about in the past decade that do this and do this well. After the 80s and 90s were more or less defined as CGI test-beds and blockbuster multiplex fodder, it is nice to see we are in a bit of a high point for lovers of ‘harder,’ ambitious science fiction. The films that tackle ideas in a significant and sophisticated way has actually risen dramatically even as cheap digital effects and mega-budgeted event pictures have also increased the number of bad films that are bad fantasy with science fiction trappings. If it seems there are fewer smart science fiction pictures out there, it is more a signal-to-noise issue than a reality.

Below are over two dozen science fiction pictures that are worth your time. Fans of their respective franchise may cry foul on the lack of Star Trek or Serenity, but really those films are about the characters and plots and not really about the loftier ideals of science fiction. In an attempt to quickly go through the list, I will offer up the general idea of the film and how it relates to the ideals of science fiction, namely exploring the consequences of the fictional part of the science in a way that it relates to the real world.


In the interest of talking about the films, it should be noted that *SPOILERS* are sprinkled through out the list.

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