Trailer: On The Road

A day or two late with this, but I was on the road myself (ba-ching!) Walter Salles’ adaptation of the famous and iconic Jack Kerouac beat-travelogue, “On The Road,” strangely keeps the name changes of all the characters; the book’s definitive republishing “The Original Scroll” loses all Dean Moriartys and Carlo Marxs and Sal Paradises and puts back in everyones real name.

Judging from the trailer and overall cast of the film it is certainly not anything like the faces and places that went through my brain upon reading the novel, but there is a hazy-dream quality that cinema imparts to these things that has in no way dampened my enthusiasm for the property. Not the showiest of trailers, but it gets the job done (in terms of fueling interest) better than, say, The Rum Diaries.

Sam “Control” Reilly, Garett “Tron” Hedlund star in the film, while Viggo Mortensen, Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst, Terrence Howard, Steve Buscemi, Amy Adams, and Alice Braga all pop up over the course of Sal and Dean’s adventures.

Cinecast Episode 184 – Death Lottery

The 4 hour barrier is broken as The Documentary Blog’s Jay Cheel joins Kurt and Andrew on the longest Cinecast ever – you know it is even longer than the previous epic length TIFF show. What do we talk about? For starters, Kurt & Jay examine the Let The Right One In remake, Let Me In (*SPOILERS*), in painstaking detail, and how not to process American remakes of foreign language films. Next we move along for a solid hour on Never Let Me Go (*SPOILERS*) which keeps going on the vibe of comparing source material to eventual film adaptation and why you probably should not do that. More Carey Mulligan talk as Andrew skims and sums up Wall Street 2 with out spoilers. Then, a spoiler-free discussion on Catfish follows, although only Jay caught it, so it is more of a discussion on fake/faux-Documentaries, and ‘narrative-ethics’ which leads to more more talk on I’m Still Here, with a little Last Exorcism and The Blair Witch Project to round things out. Next we move along to the avant garde and barely-narrative Cannes Palme D’Or winner, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, and a lot of other films we watched: An overview of the “Middletown” documentary series, a bit of Daybreakers-Redux, a bit of Season 6 of “LOST” (you guessed it, with *SPOILERS*), and more avant garde cinema with Last Year At Marienbad. We also debate the finer points of Steve Buscemi and the cast and crew of HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.” Finally (finally!) at around the 4 hour mark, our DVD picks round out a show that carried us well into the wee hours of the night recording. We hope you enjoy listening as much as we enjoyed chatting. It may be long, but it is a solid and whip-smart show this time around, although we are biased on that front.

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:

ALTERNATIVE (no music track):

Full show notes are under the seats…
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DVD Review: Youth in Revolt

Youth In Revolt Movie Poster

Director: Miguel Arteta (The Good Girl)
Writers: Gustin Nash, C.D. Payne (novel)
Producer: David Permut
Starring: Michael Cera, Portia Doubleday, Jean Smart, Zach Galifianakis, Steve Buscemi, Fred Willard, Ray Liotta, Justin Long
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 90 min.

Michael Cera isn’t an actor that shows range. The 22 year old has been playing the oddball geeky kid for a few years now and he doesn’t show any sign of moving on. For the most part his performances work but the films aren’t always good and frankly, the reason to see most of them (to date at least), has been to see if Cera is doing something new but when Youth in Revolt came around, I, and from its box office run, many others, had given up on the idea of seeing Cera in the same old role.

Youth in Revolt Movie StillThat’s why I skipped it and even the addition of bad boy alternate personality Francois Dillinger wasn’t enough to catch my attention during its theatrical run but on DVD, I was going to give it a shot because who knows, maybe Francois is different but now that I’ve seen it, I wish I’d stuck by my initial reading and stayed well away.

Miguel Arteta’s film (based on C.D. Payne’s novel) has it’s moments but its no where near as good as Arteta’s crowning achievement to date, The Good Girl. There’s no reinvention of Cera here and if anything, the film feels like a hipster version of American Pie and at its core, the story of a boy who just wants to get the girl and if possible, get laid in the process.
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Boardwalk Empire Trailer. Who Needs the Theater? This is Gonna Be Radical!

Just as LOST goes off the air, a lot of people are “lost” wandering aimlessly through the channels wondering what to do now with their lives. That question, at least for me, was just answered when I caught the promo trailers for “Boardwalk Empire”, the next in line destined to be part of HBO legacy of quality television.

With this cast, crew and subject matter, it’s all I can do to restrain myself from calling the cable company to get HBO hooked up right this second.

If you paid attention throughout that promo, you might’ve noticed the ridiculously awesome cast. Besides Steve Buscemi (looking like possibly his best work since Reservoir Dogs) and the recently always great Michael Shannon (really, those two names are enough for me), there were splashes of Kelly Macdonald, Dabney Coleman, Michael Stuhlbarg, Gretchen Mol and Michal Pitt.

Then of course Scorsese’s name is tacked on there for some reason and the series creator, Timothy Van Patten is no slouch either. You might not recognize the name, but he’s directed a few episodes of “The Sopranos,” “Sex and the City,” “Deadwood,” “Rome,” and “The Wire.” Basically this just looks amazing. WIth HBO backing it, I really don’t have much doubt in that assumption.

Under the seats is another promo with a little more detail as to the story of the series that begins this fall. Thanks to Switchblade Comb for the heads up on the new promo.

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Review: City of War: The Story of John Rabe

Director: Florian Gallenberger
Screenplay: Florian Gallenberger
Producers: Benjamin Herrmann, Mischa Hofmann & Jan Mojto
Starring: Ulrich Tukur, Daniel Brühl, Steve Buscemi, Anne Consigny, Dagmar Manzel
Year: 2009
Country: France, China, Germany
BBFC Certification: 15
Duration: 129 min

City of War: The Story of John Rabe is a French, Chinese and German co-production that tells the story of the ‘Rape of Nanking’ between 1937-38 and how German businessman John Rabe helped save hundreds of thousands of Nanking residents from the fate that befell hundreds of thousands of others. It’s a shameful period in Japanese history that some still deny ever happened, despite all the evidence and eventual acknowledgement by the government several decades later. City of War is essentially a Chinese version of Schindler’s List, but nonetheless presents a story well worth telling and does a fairly decent job even if it lacks some of the cinematic poetry of Spielberg’s much loved film. Out this month in the UK is City of Life and Death too that tackles the same subject matter though. From the reviews I’ve seen of that it sounds like a more harrowing experience focusing on the atrocities themselves and not on John Rabe and those trying to put a stop to them. Without seeing it I can’t recommend one over the other, but my instincts tell me that City of Life and Death will be the more powerful film. I’ll certainly try and track it down to compare the two.

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Finite Focus: The Client is Always Wrong (Desperado)

Having just caught The Losers, a sort of the 80s action and ‘splotions throwback in earnest stupidity with the stylistic nudge-nudge-wink-wink most definitely not in that era, my first point of entry into the films blend of super-cool-posturing and bantering snark was Robert Rodriguez’s big(ger) El Mariachi sequel/reboot Desperado. And it was not just the ‘keep moving the plot along’ speed of the film, like all the interstitial guts were removed in the editing process, but also the Zoe Saldana – Jeffrey Dean Morgan sex scene seems to be very much like the abridged Salma Hayak – Antonio Banderas candle lights and slo-mo playboy spread.

But enough of comparisons, let us talk of the indomitable Steve Buscemi! Here is a character actor who can be goofy overkill (watch how he puts out is cigarette) and confiding and very serious but also be quite self-aware. Basically, Buscemi’s body language is (more-or-less) the tone of the film. Heck, his character is even named “Buscemi.” In the below scene he is fishing for information by putting himself in a dangerous situation, a bar full of idle criminals and thugs, and proceeds to insult them without exactly insulting them, and intimidate them (as much as Buscemi can be intimidating, a joke likely borrowed by the casting agent of Con Air) not by his own presence, but by being harbinger of El Mariachi (but here re-invented a vengeance driven superhero). Hey don’t shoot the messenger!

Watching Buscemi enter the bar (comically full of trophy antlers), take a seat despite a distinct lack of hospitality, and be pleasant and intimate with the bartender is exactly the sort of weightless fun we like in a big silly action picture. Although it adds just an extra touch of goofy that had the (in my experience in talking with action-nuts) effect of actually putting people off the film. Much like Kick-Ass, the line of what you are willing to take in terms ‘wanting real’ and ‘wanting fantasy’ and the suspension of disbelieve varies from audience to audience. But still, you can’t knock the pure promise of fun and mayhem that is offered in the opening sequence of Desperado, and Rodriguez’s willingness not to ever get to serious with his premise. Throwaway fun? Sure. But cotton candy is good once in a while.

I’m feeling kind of lazy and need to get to my night job…

… so, I am just going to throw some names out there. Steve Buscemi. Peter Dinklage. Romany Malco. Sarah Silverman. Tim Blake Nelson. Emmanuelle Chriqui. Oh hell, the first two names should be enough to make you go see this movie on blind faith, but if that isn’t enough for you greedy people, you can watch the trailer for a movie starring all these folks below, from first time director Hue Rhodes. Steve Buscemi doesn’t play enough leading protagonists, but last time that I can think of that he did – 2007’s Interview with Sienna Miller – I throughly enjoyed it. Oh, and PETER DINKLAGE.


Finite Focus – You’ve got to be Kidding me (Escape From L.A.)

escape_from_la-onesheetWith the current blockbuster season revamping old toy lines into earnestly over-plotted visual CGI nightmares. Let us go back to 1996 when John Carpenter made a sequel/remake/parody of his own post-apocalyptic B-film classic Escape From New York. Escape from L.A. has all the hallmarks of a sequel, a familiar plot that recycles much of what was loved in the original and a much bigger budget, yet for one reason or another, Carpenter decided to do almost all of the special effects work with models and mattes. It adds a goofy charm to the film, which I have to imagine was intentional. Carpenter’s willingness to go boldy into wacky territory with Escape From L.A., gives the film a certain wit as a spoof of some of the concerns of the various boroughs: plastic surgery, star-fucking, beach culture but also on action-shoot-em-up filmmaking in general. The last part may have turned many fans of the original (which, lets face it, is silly-fun in its own right) away from the sequel and not made any headway in critical or popular circles, but there are a small and dedicated group who do love this old-school candy confection.

And never the idiom of the film more fully on display than in this particular Deux Ex Machina. Snake has just been shot and escaped from gladiatorial basketball, but has to get across town to find Hershe Las Palmas (Pam Grier) and her band of hand-gliding warriors with no time to spare. So, falling down a gully, he finds Peter Fonda, here playing a Zen surfer, suited up in his a wet suit, surfboard in hand. Conveniently giving Snake a second board (begging the question for what is coming, why he’d bring a second board, or park his jeep down in the ditch for that matter), they wait a few seconds for ‘Tsumani,’ the big one, a wave of water purging through the sunken city streets. If that isn’t enough, while surfing with a bullet in his thigh, Snake spots Map-To-The-Stars-Eddie, (Steve Buscemi standing in for Ernest Borgnine’s Cabbie, just not as nice) and transfers from the surfboard to the back of Eddie’s car. Buscemi’s expression and muttering one-liner is priceless. With a well timed jump wherein the scene switches seemlessly to driving stuntwork as the wave passes onward. The complete lack of veracity to the look or plausibility (or because of it), make the scene pretty glorious.

Cera in Youth in Revolt Trailer

Youth in Revolt One SheetThe first and last picaresque novel I read was J.P. Donleavy’s “The Ginger Man”. It was an interesting exercise but overall it was not really my cup of tea (though it did have some hysterical scenes). Now it looks like I may, somewhat unwillingly, be making another jump into the style to see just what all the hubbub surrounding “Youth in Revolt” is about.

C. D. Payne’s novel features a 14 year-old boy name Nick. He’s going through puberty, is obsessed with girls and sex and then he meets Sheeni. To gain her attention, he creates a bad ass alter ego named Francois Dillinger who says and does everything Nick doesn’t.

The film, also titled Youth in Revolt, is adapted from the book by screen writer Gustin Nash who made a minor splash last year with Charlie Bartlett (our review), directed by Miguel Arteta and stars Michael Cera in the title role of Nick. The real surprise here is that for the first time, that I’ve noticed at least, Cera seems to be extending a little further than awkward/quirky teen. Though Nick fits Cera’s usual schtick, Francois seems a whole lot more direct and a bit of a douche which should prove interesting. Along with Cera, the film features a great cast of actors including Zach Galifianakis, Steve Buscemi, Justin Long, Fred Willard and Ray Liotta.

The trailer seems interesting enough and as Eirk Davis at Cinematical notes, it’s a bit Fight Club-esque. I’m simply a sucker for teen movies so this one is definitely on my radar.

Youth in Revolt opens on October 30th.

Trailer is tucked under the seat!

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RowThree Cinecast: The Lost Episode


Lost episode:
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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Review: Igor

A CGI kids movie (bearing the PG-13 tag) that actually plays well to adults, Igor may be predictable in how things will all turn out and familiar in its broad strokes, but there are a number of clever ideas, and an abundance of boisterous old-school humour (even edgy for small-fry entertainments) to make the package worthwhile.

The films is set in the ‘evil’ kingdom of Malaria, a place that was once a lush pastoral farming community until endless storm clouds blocked out the sun. In a bit of ingenious re-invention (so to speak), the mayor-king (looking a lot like the two-faced mayor from Tim Burton’s Nightmare before Christmas, a film that Igor owes as much in the visual department as it does to the classic monsters Universal era and the Mel Brooks parody, Young Frankenstein) has turned the region into a mecca for mad-scientists. Every year the evil geniuses, regarded as rock-star celebrities, bring their doomsday inventions to a large science fair (looking more like a cross between the Superbowl, The Oscars, and a Monster Truck rally) and have it out until a winner is declared. The winning invention is used to bribe the rest of the world for the billion dollars (pinky finger to lips) to keep the kingdom running.

The film focuses not on the the Falco-Einsteins (although one is of course the primary villain), but rather on the subservient worker class known as the Igors. Hunchbacked, bulgy eyes (thank-you Mr. Marty Feldman) and more or less dimwitted, they gather the gears, body parts and ultimately “pull the switch” which is the films basic short hand for ‘inventing.’ Except of course the lead, voiced in a very recognizable mannery by John Cusack. He stands out from the rest of his worker-class by being smarter than his own master (a bumbling and pompous John Cleese), and has a strong desire (and a “Yes, Masters” degree from the local university) to become the first Igor “Evil Scientist.”

In its own weird way, Igor is the first good Cusack-ish film since High Fidelity. And like Stephen Frears movie, the supporting sidekicks almost steal the show. Like an inversion of the neo-classic Animaniacs the sarcastic and suicidal bunny Scamper spends a lot of time plotting while also mocking Brian – a brain in a jar who unfortunately misspells his own name. The side kicks, created by Cusack-Igor, are the trial runs for his master and hopefully evil-science-fair winning invention: Eva. Taking the not-so-best parts of Nightmare Before Christmas’ Sally and combining them with Peter Boyle’s ‘putting on the ritz’ monster, Eva (Molly Shannon) is part naivete, part showbiz-diva, part Terminator. For a movie constructed of spare parts from other films (I’d be lax if I didn’t mention the motor-mouthed sauciness of the Shrek series, or the cute-ifying of monsters (and plot conceit) from Monsters Inc. playbook), there are a lot of great gags, and vigorous production design contained within. Homages to Classic Hollywood B-Features, (particularly Vincent Price) are warm and rewarding to a knowledgeable audience, a Louis Prima soundtrack is peppy and makes the montages go down a helluvalot easier than flash-in-the-pan pop music, and the wildcard combo that is Eddie Izzard and Jennifer Coolidge. Two comedians that know their stuff and have a chameleon way of doing great character work, both get no shortage of screen time, and both make the most of it. Izzard gets a screen chomping villain role, a broad showbiz faker with an acid tongue and a flair for slapping his underlings around. Coolige is the shape-shifting Jacqueline Heidi who can go from sassy vixen to cheerfully busty Scandinavian stereotype (as amusingly politically incorrect as Mountain Girl in The Coen’s Ladykillers).

The predictable and rammed down-your-throat children-friendly conclusion is more than offset with the strange pleasure of a chorus line of blind orphans singing (un-ironically) “I can see clearly now the rain is gone.” That, folks, is entertainment. Chuck Jones, Tex Avery and Friz Freleng would likely salute Igor. Call it a hunch.