Guest Hosting on The Director’s Club Podcast [Danny Boyle]

Andrew had the pleasure of guest hosting on the all new, inaugural edition of The Director’s Club Podcast this week! Jim and Patrick have retired from this particular game and Brad and Al have filled the shoes; and filled them wonderfully. And there are not many better ways to kick off the next generation of the podcast than with Mr. Danny Boyle.

Danny Boyle is my go-to name when someone asks me who my favorite director is. I always say, “well, besides the obvious: Coens, Tartantino, Kubrick, et. al., Danny Boyle is near the top of that list.” And the great thing about Boyle is, he started strong and aside from slight missteps here and there, only gets better as his filmography goes along.

Andrew, Brad and Al debate some merits and demerits of the dreaded Boyle Third-act syndrome, dig into why Ewan McGregor is better than Leonardo DiCaprio, have a love-in with the genre-hopping, look at some of the many infuences clearly indicated in Boyle’s work and discuss many of the recurring themes that blanket most of his films.

And we don’t stop at movies either. Boyle directed a sensational Olympic Opening Ceremony as well as some stage work with Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller. Yes, there’s a lot to get into here, my little droogies, and this episode will take nearly four hours to cover it all. So strap on the ear-goggles and get ready to go – – we’ll find ourselves stuck between a rock and a hard place, visit the dregs of Scotland, defeat a worldwide(?) infection of rage, visit a secret marijuana island, a contestant on a game show, travel to the heart of our solar system and even get a behind the scenes look at the inner workings of heaven – and Dan Hedaya is there!

Cinecast Episode 416 – List List

Last week we talked about all of the films coming in the next week that we’d have a tough time reviewing them all. As a consequence, we review none of them. Instead, we just glide from this to that, as Moses Znaimer would say, it is flow, not show. We look at our Top 5 Danny Boyle films, and as we are wont to do, talk at length about Sunshine. A medley of Mamet, Soderbergh, Bullock, Sorkin, Halloween horror and various other bon bons are extracted from the candy box. We call these: “shoot the shit” shows and we hope you find something worthwhile in the grab-bag. Note that the show is almost 100% spoiler free this week!

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 348 – Immediately to Eleven

 
So Game of Thrones is finally back on the air with a brand new season. Does it live up to the wait we had to endure or was it a bit of a let down? Matt and Kurt also deliver a back and forth on the two wide to semi-wide theatrical releases this week in Captain America: Winter Soldier as well as Jodorowsky’s Dune. We dive into a very Red Dawn in which fantasy and reality’s lines are blurred which Kurt takes quite an issue with. The Minneapolis Film Festival is in full swing and Google and Bollywood make their appearances known. Danny Boyle is in the mix along and apparently the 90s b-squad is going for a comeback in Jerome Sable’s Stage Fright. Seriously, Minnie Driver is still around?

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 324 – Floating Fire

Better late than never right? We stick to the Thursday recording schedule for one more week. But it’s a good week; we get to review Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity! And Dolby ATMOS. It ain’t all hugs and rainbows like on other podcasts; Andrew takes real issue with a few things and it might require a rewatch and possibly a three-watch to clear everything up. But we do offer up some unofficial, warm-up homework to kick of the 2013-14 school year (disaster movies and tears in space). The Watch List includes mumblecore, Italian horror, state of modern animation, Jim Jarmusch, found footage and Def Leppard. Settle in, it’s a pretty fun thrill ride with very little chance of debris.

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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Cinecast Episode 200(!) – Stats, Stories and Sunshine

 

 
 
So, the better part of five years just seems to have flown by us in a podcasting frenzy. First, THANKS(!) to everyone who has ever downloaded or streamed a show and actually listened to the thing in its entirety. We certainly could do the show without you, but what would be the point? It would not be as much fun or as rewarding without the feedback and comments; so thank you very much for all the interaction over the years! Also, several shout-outs in the show go to various people that have helped out over the years (you know who you are!) There is no main review this week, instead we spend the majority of our time working out personal issues with one another and just sort of reminiscing about the podcast. Also, favourite films, favourite film going experiences and a big old batch of great listener emails (two hours of that!) Eventually, we talk a little on The Mechanic on The Mechanic and sort through the great selection of DVDs coming out this week.

So, excuse (or indulge) in a great big boatload of narcissism (fair warning!) and thanks everyone for listening and supporting over the past half decade. Here is to you and here is to two hundred more. Cheers!

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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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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Cinecast Episode 131 – Visually Elegant

Episode 131:
Back to our roots with a classic shoot the proverbial shit episode. Just Kurt and Andrew with a short review of a mediocre film and then our general rambling of this and that complete with a debate on Boyles and Fresnadillos. Have a ball. We did.

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Row Three Narcissism: Movies We Watched

A miniature holiday for yours truly delayed our micro-capsule column by a few days, but it is back to help with the multiplex blues, for a few minutes, anyway. The gist of it is that the writers around here watch and re-watch a lot of stuff in between the current releases, and occasionally (with a little cajoling, less successful when I am on the road it would seem) drop blurbs in the Movies We Watched sub-page of the site, accessed on the right-hand-sidebar with icon you see in this post. Hopefully it offers a tiny catalyst for conversation. A sampling of the entries for the past few weeks are below:

The Man from Laramie (1955) 4/5
The last of seven films director Anthony Mann made with James Stewart, and it’s as good as any of them. Stewart plays the title character, who takes his little wagon train to neighboring Coronado to exchange his cargo and also find out who’s been selling repeating rifles to the Apache – the Apache’s possession of said rifles had led to a massacre killing Stewart’s brother. While there he stumbles into a feud with the landowner of the region (Donald Crisp in a surprisingly empathetic role). Stewart plays the quiet man with both purpose and humor, and he’s surrounded by a supporting cast that does its job admirably. The way Mann lets the story unfold, letting it layer itself slowly and deeply while never losing focus, works extremely well, too. -JANDY

Love Me if You Dare (2003) 3/5
Here’s one that wasn’t quite as engrossing and rich as I remember it being. I actually found this film to be rather mean-spirited and not believable at all. Funny that it reminds me so much of Amélie both in aesthetic and directing style. It’s frantic and the color scheme is corrected too high in the magenta and yellow palette. Normally something this different would be something I’d enjoy, but this time around it was just grating and frustrating – compunded negatively by the downer (confusing?) ending. Marion Cotillard is fantastic here but it’s so cold I got distracted easily. All in all, not what I want from a dramatic “love” story, if you could even call this such. -ANDREW

28 Weeks Later… (2002) 5/5
Rapidly becoming my favourite film of the new millenium, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (who wrote and directed) takes the concepts and general aesthetic of Danny Boyle’s 2002 film and improves upon it in ever single way. From its eerie and powerful opening sequence to the firebombing of central london to even an improved metro-in-the-dark set-piece. Moving back to film was a vast improvement in the visual departments, and Jeremy Renner, donning Gulf War II-esque combat fatigues before The Hurt Locker came along, makes a lasting impression as a soldier that fears the containment policy more than he fears the raging undead. -KURT

28 Days Later… (2002) 4/5
While big points for re-inventing the zombie film and making the plunge into digital video, Danny Boyle’s rage-infection flick does suffer from a murky palette and lack of direction in the final 30 minutes. Still it is an ambitious story full of ideas and social pot-shots. And when it is Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris and Brendan Gleeson travelling around deserted London, the film is a wonder to behold. The army guys were much better used in the superior sequel. -KURT

Sunshine (2007) 4/5
Even after a fourth viewing of Danny Boyle’s hard science fiction film, I find it hard to love the last 20 minutes, even as I understand how it fits into screenwriter Alex Garland’s vision of the sun as a malevolent and implacable old-testament god. An international team of scientists have one last shot to (essentially) impregnate the sun with science and bend it to their will; the resulting ‘rebirth’ will reheat the now freezing third rock from the dying star. As they get closer bad judgement and strange addictions to the power and the fury of the central orb drive some of the crew mad, while the remainder make tough decisions on how to salvage the increasingly desperate mission. A blend of hard science fiction and oddly enough action setpieces (particularly the wobbly final act) it is the truly stunning and unique visuals that make this one a winner. There are some good ideas embedded in the bombast as well. -KURT

Solaris (2002) 4.5/5
Taking the core love story element from Stanislaw Lem’s novel, the one element that Tarkovsky’s 1972 version of the film fumbled on, and re-building a hard-science fiction look at identity, and a celestial body as implacable deity, Steven Soderbergh’s 2002 film gets 4 top notch performances from George Clooney, Natasha McElhone, Viola Davis and Jeremy Davies as the real and replicate technical folks battling their demons made corporeal. A fabulous script and gorgeous production design make this one overcome its delicate (some may say glacial) pacing. -KURT

Danny Boyle’s Newest: “Slumdog Millionaire”

One of the premieres at TIFF this year is Danny Boyle’s (28 Days Later, Sunshine) Slumdog Millionaire; based on the best selling novel “Q&A” by Vikas Swarup.

The story is of Jamal Malik, an 18-year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai, is just one question away from winning a staggering 20 million rupees on India’s Who Wants to be A Millionaire? Arrested on suspicion of cheating (after all, how could an 18 year-old from the streets know so much?), he tells the police the amazing tale of his life on the streets which somehow manages to relate to each question he’s answered correctly. With 60 million people watching, will Jamal correctly answer the big money question?

Thanks to worstpreviews, we get to see a couple of images. They’re nothing overly special, but considering the stellar imagery of Boyle’s previous films, we’re probably in for a real treat and the story line sounds super intriguing.

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