Blu-Ray/DVD Review: Endless Summer & On Any Sunday

I’ve never been a surfer (I never lived near the sea, which didn’t help), but I’ve always had a thing for surfing films and surfing culture. I love the excitement of seeing people riding the waves, always on the brink of being wiped out. I also love the laid-back attitude usually demonstrated out of the water and the music synonymous with the sport/pastime. The most famous surfing movie is probably The Endless Summer, which has somehow passed me by all these years, despite my interest in the subject matter. So you can imagine my excitement when Second Sight announced they’d be re-releasing the classic documentary on Blu-Ray with all the spit and polish and special features you expect from their releases. Added to this, they have released director Bruce Brown’s later documentary, On Any Sunday, this time focussing on motor biking. I must admit I hadn’t heard of this before reading the press release, but it sounded good, so I thought I’d make my Endless Summer review a double bill. My thoughts on the two films are below.

The Endless Summer

Director: Bruce Brown
Screenplay: Bruce Brown
Starring: Robert August, Michael Hynson, Lord James Blears, Bruce Brown (narrator)
Country: USA
Running Time: 91 min
Year: 1966
BBFC Certificate: E


Bruce Brown had been making surfing documentaries since the late 50s, but it wasn’t until The Endless Summer in 1966 that his films, or any surfing films for that matter, hit the mainstream (the film was actually finished in 1964, but it didn’t get a worldwide release until 2 years later). After showing the skills of some Californian and Hawaiian surfers in the first 10 minutes or so, The Endless Summer shifts focus to follow Mike Hynson and Robert August as they embark on a year long tour of beaches around the world, in a bid to experience the titular ‘endless summer’ (i.e. being on a beach during summer time all year round by travelling across several continents). Along the way they bring surfing to people who have never experienced it before and try to find the ‘perfect wave’.

The film managed to live up to my expectations thankfully, although I was a little put off at first by the film’s presentation. By that, I don’t mean the surfing footage, which is as great as I’d hoped and I’ll talk about later, but I mean in how the film is constructed. I expected interviews with surfers and more of a modern style of documentary, but it actually follows a more classic format where footage is supported by only voice-over narration and music. This simple approach took a short while to get used to, but luckily Brown (who provides the narration himself) is a great speaker. He’s very good at explaining the skill involved in what we’re watching on screen as well as filling us in on the surfers’ backgrounds, particular styles and the current locations. He also injects a great deal of humour into the film, which I wasn’t expecting. This, when added to some pre-planned goofing around by the surfers or sped-up footage, can be a bit silly at times, but it keeps the tone light and prevents the film from getting dry.

Would you like to know more…?

Cinecast Episode 380 – More Hovering

 
Party crasher on the set of the RowThree Cinecast arrives in studio in the form of one Sean Dwyer from Film Junk. More well-equipped to take the punches from Matt Gamble than anyone, it turns out to be a much more agreeable show than we anticipated – even with the latest Wachowski output being compared to Citizen Kane. That’s right, from the Ascension of the Jovian Gas Giant to the depths of Jude Law’s Russian sea we are a literal high and low podcast. Later in the Watch List, Sean and Andrew look deep into the “Black Mirror” while Matt and Kurt praise another successful editing venture of the great Louis C.K. – of course it doesn’t stop there. We have Steve McQueen, Spike Lee and “that one about the Nazis” on Amazon TV; among many other tid-bits of discussion. We’re happy and honored that Sean could finally make an appearance and happy to hear of the many upcoming moments of greatness still to come from the Film Junk crew.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!

 

 
 

Would you like to know more…?

Cinecast Episode 327 – Building Gazebos


You might be interested in Kurt’s rather epic, “Kermode-ian,” Ender’s Game rant which tackles one of the key issues with modern blockbuster storytelling. He uses Gavin Hood’s slipshod execution and shading as a kind of Case Study in lazy storytelling and not realizing how rich the material one has at hand. But before that, there is a more civilized and in depth conversation on Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave which looks at what the likely future Best Picture winner does well, and where it perhaps mis-steps. Andrew grades the homework assignments, and hands out a new one, regarding World War I films. And a lengthy watchlist segment sees a couple of underrated Wes Anderson titles under discussion (well, full out praise is more like it), the laundry list of V/H/S 2 failures, a little love of body horror-comedy in James Gunn’s Slither, some talk on Kubrick’s The Shining and A Clockwork Orange, Tarantino’s Kill Bill as it quickly approaches being a decade old, and the ‘it’s not for us’ aspects of Steven Spielberg’s Warhorse.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!


show content


show content


show content

 


 

[mp3player width=560 height=76 config=cinecast.xml file=http://rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_13/episode_327.mp3] DOWNLOAD mp3 | 120 MB
if player is not working, try alternate player at bottom of this post

 

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

THE MASSIVE ROWTHREE TIFF13 SUMMARY

Welcome to our sixth annual Toronto International Film Festival Mega-Sized wrap-up post. Getting several Row Three contributors and friends to provide over 100 capsule reviews and a quick identifier tag for [BEST], [LOVED], [LIKED], [DISLIKED], [DISAPPOINTED], [BAFFLED], [WALKED OUT], [HATED] and [WORST]. Collectively we – Kurt Halfyard, Matt Brown, Matt Price, Ryan McNeil, Bob Turnbull, Mike Rot and Ariel Fisher – saw a tonne of stuff and hopefully this list can act as a ‘rough guide’ for films that are coming down the pike, to a cinema near you or perhaps one of the many streaming VOD avenues or even one of those increasingly antiquated shiny discs in the next 12 months.

THE SHORT VERSION:

Personal BEST: UNDER THE SKIN [Kurt], LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON [Mike Rot], WHY DON’T YOU PLAY IN HELL [Matt B.], STARRED UP [Bob], THE HUSBAND [Ariel], 12 YEARS A SLAVE [Ryan], and SUNSHINE ON LEITH [Matt P.].

Personal WORST: BLOOD TIES [Kurt], PARKLAND [Mike Rot], MOEBIUS [Matt B.], THE FAKE [Bob], WORDS & PICTURES [Ariel], CINEMANOVELS [Ryan], and REAL [Matt P.].

Consensus Picks: ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE, GRAVITY, 12 YEARS A SLAVE, R100, iNUMBER NUMBER, JOE, BLUE RUIN and MYSTERY ROAD.

The ‘MASSIVE’ version is tucked under the seat. Grab a cup of tea or coffee.

Would you like to know more…?

Mondays Suck Less – TIFF edtion

TIFF

A few tidbits left over from this year’s edition of the TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL. (Look for our Mega-Wrap post of the fest next week.)

12 Years A Slave won the People’s Choice Award, here is the press Conference:

And of the many Public Screening Q&As:

Here is TIFF’s Tribute to Roger Ebert:

Canadian Filmmaker John Grayson Starts Hunger Strike due to being detained without reason in Egyptian prison. (For over a Month and counting…)

Alex Billington (FirstShowing.Net) continues his Tempest in a Teapot complaint of Cell Phone use in Industry Screenings — Where it is Permitted (And the Todd Brown’s HuffPo rebuttal)

Mamo!’s Matt Brown asks if disliking a filmmaker should affect viewing their film over at Twitchfilm

Master Documentary Filmmaker Frederick Wiseman on this ‘novel’ approach to documentary craft.

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.
Would you like to know more…?

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.
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.

Win Win

2011 USA. Director: Tom McCarthy. Starring: Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Alex Shaffer, Jeffrey Tambor, Bobby Cannavale, Burt Young.

The always commendable Paul Giamatti headlines an emotionally sincere cast in Tom McCarthy’s modest family dramedy Win Win. The story follows a small town lawyer, family man and assistant high school wrestling coach named Mike Flaherty (Giamatti), who hopes to turn around the flagging fortunes of his team with the inclusion of a talented but troubled new student named Kyle (Alex Shaffer). Rarely descending into sports movie cliché, the film, like McCarthy’s previous effort The Visitor, is packed full of understated feeling, unpretentious humour and questions of everyday morality. Amy Ryan is excellent as always; Bobby Cannavale is very funny as the films most overtly jokey character, and newcomer Alex Shaffer is completely convincing as the polite but introverted Kyle, a teenager who, like real teenagers, speaks every word in the same disinterested tone. But the highlight of the film is lifetime character actor Burt Young, who is simply spectacular as Kyle’s dementia suffering grandfather Leo. Neither overly ambitious nor tediously trivial, Win Win is a top notch independent production. [See also Marina’s capsule] -TOM

Hunger

2008 UK. Director: Steve McQueen. Starring: Michael Fassbender, Liam Cunningham.

Bold. Visceral. Heartfelt. Beautiful. Breathtaking. Epic. Hunger is the sort of film that is difficult to convey beyond the most basic of descriptions – rather, it is a film that must be experienced. The painstaking attention to detail places the viewer in the prison cell with Bobby Sands (Fassbender), allowing us to experience the disillusionment of one being betrayed by his body and the circumstances surrounding his perils, and the strength that it takes to overcome such misery. McQueen does not pull any punches, and it seems difficult to imagine any other fictionalized work having such an emotional impact without resorting to the cliché. Never before has waiting for dialogue felt so jarring, nor has any conversation been so exceptional as the seventeen minute unbroken exchange between Sands and a priest (Cunningham). Fassbender’s turn is equal parts traumatic and wonderful, and I cannot help but wait with eager anticipation for his future films. [See also Marina’s review] -DOMENIC

Netflix Instant (US and Canada)

Would you like to know more…?

TIFF Review: SHAME

There is a shot early on in Steve McQueen’s Shame, a frame filling close-up on Carey Mulligan as she sings a desperate, melancholic version of Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” that is such pure cinema, albeit in a highly stylized and perhaps melodramatic form, but it gets at truth. Mulligan portrays Sissy, the emotionally need sister to Michael Fassbender’s, intimacy challenged Brandon, and her song, performed in an upscale New York City club is one of only a couple fleeting moments that she gets through to him emotionally. Earlier, for a instant or two, you see Fassbender’s face slightly out of focus with low lighting, the visage of a skull, as if to imply he is a drug addict or dying or dead. Shame is a movie about unfulfillment in a time and age where anything is possible, instant gratification for a buck, at any time during the day, particularly in a city like New York.

Brandon has some sort of successful corporate job, and a solid relationship with his boss, David. Despite David’s established domestic life, a wife and two kids await at home, the two of them cruise the nightclubs with after work. David is all manic and eager to please as he tries to pick up, whereas Brandon is silent, mysterious, cool. Brandon has a lot more success at the bars, leading to a series of one night stands. In the mean time, a steady diet of internet pornography, the occasional stalking of an random attractive woman on a subway train. That scene, actually a pair of scenes which form narrative bookends for the film, is also telling. There is an instant, honest – if that is the right word – attraction between this married woman and Brandon, a glance that recalls Nicole Kidman’s speech about mental infidelity and lust Eyes Wide Shut. This woman flashes her wedding ring as if some kind of ward, and nonplussed, Brandon practically chases her up the platform. She escapes, if only narrowly. A tryst with a co-worker in the film further underscores the tug and push of Brandon’s particular condition, there is a hint that something intimate and real might come out of things, and that shuts him down. It must be terribly confusing for her, after they share a warm and charming evening of food and conversation the night before. The movie flits from the woods and incandescent lighting of street level New York clubs with the press of flesh and life, to Brandon’s stark black and white apartment, trapped and isolated on the umpteenth floor of a glass and steel condo. Displacement is further underscored when Brandon listens to a series of desperate answering machine messages which echo in the cold space.

Would you like to know more…?

Cinecast Episode 227 – Come for the Violence, Stay for the Orgy

 
 
Despite being a man down this week and the multi-plexes pretty much in dumping-grounds mode in the doldrums of August and back-to-school season, Kurt and Andrew manage to talk it up for a few hours of chit-chat and whoop-de-do! On the menu today: Steven Soderbergh, Greta Gerwig, Paul Greengrass, Jessica Chastain, Steve McQueen, Gus Van Sant, John Milius, Kirk Douglas, Serial Killers and Netflix bandwidth issues (plus a whole lot more)! Clear out the ashes of fall fireplace, strike up a cheery evening blaze, grab a mug of hot cider and relax for a couple hours of pleasant chat with only half a dozen F-Bombs. Cheers.

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_227.mp3

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