Cinecast Episode 304 – Beware Movies That Are Named After Songs

A ‘Biggie Size’ episode of the Cinecast has Matt Gamble return to heap copious praise upon Mad Men and Game of Thrones. Never one to disappoint, he gets into fisticuffs with Kurt over the Evil Dead remake and ancient tomes made out of human skin. Andrew moderates like a champ and tries his utmost to keep the other two from fondling each others buttons in a delightful display of homoerotic movie-nerd posturing. Ahem. Before that business, there is a pleasant conversation on Derek Cianfrance’s A Place Beyond The Pines, as well as some home-theatre (and Blu Ray) discussion. It appears that Kurt will finally be joining movie fandom in the 21st century by going BLU. The Watchlist has a little Dwayne Johnson, a little Matt Damon, as well as the Activist Dude and “Food Insecurity” in America. We also talk a bit about the trailers for the Carrie remake as well as Elysium.

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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Row Three Narcissism: Movies We Watched

Movies We have WatchedHas it been two weeks already? Yes it has. Time for another dollop of “MOVIES WE WATCHED” goodness. When not checking out the latest on offer in the cinema, we mine our DVD collections, but do not get a chance to write at length about everything. Thus the micro capsules that can be accessed any time by clicking the icon on the side-bar. Here is a sampler of recently added films:

The Boston Strangler (1968) 4.5/5
Based on actual events, The Boston Strangler relates the grizzly tale of a series of murders that took place in the early 1960’s, during which it is believed as many as thirteen women lost their lives. Henry Fonda is John Bottomly, the man appointed by the District Attorney to coordinate the investigation into the killings, and the first half of the film plays like a police procedural. We tag along with detectives working the case, and watch as they grow frustrated to the point that they start questioning anyone who’d ever been convicted, even suspected, of a sex crime. There’s real tension in these early scenes, and we feel the aggravation as each promising lead turns into yet another dead end. Yet as fascinating as this first half of The Boston Strangler is, it pales in comparison to the second, when we meet Albert De Salvo (Tony Curtis), the everyman who becomes the focal point of the investigation. Slipping away from the police precincts, the film spends the remainder of its time in De Salvo’s company, delving into the mind of a deeply disturbed individual. Weaving what is essentially two distinct stories into one, director Richard Fleischer never allows the film’s brisk pace to falter, and even finds a way to continually kick it up a notch the deeper it goes. This one took me by surprise, and proved to be one hell of a film. – DAVE

The Evil Dead (1981) 4/5
I’m probably the last person on the planet to see this, but hey. I had to come a long way against my dislike of horror and especial dislike for anything resembling zombies to get to the point where I wanted to watch it. Thankfully over the past year I’ve developed a taste for extremely over the top campy horror, and The Evil Dead fit that bill perfectly. Bruce Campbell’s Ash and friends end up staying overnight at a deserted house in the woods. It’s creepy to begin with, but when the boys venture into the cellar and bring up weird books to read and recordings to play, they literally unleash demons, which take over the girls’ bodies and basically try to kill everyone. Not sure why the demons had to take over all the girls first… Anyway, Ash battles it out, with time taken out for ridiculously sappy love scenes with one of the demon-girls (you know, before he kills her). As far as I can tell, Sam Raimi’s overriding vision of the film is “how much blood and goop can we get all over Bruce Campbell in the course of 85 min.” And the answer is: lots! Next I’ll have to seek out Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness, which I hear are more intentionally funny. Though, gotta, say, The Evil Dead was pretty funny. (Note: star rating not based so much on objective film quality…the film’s schlocky…but on enjoyability factor.) – JANDY

Le Trou (1960) 4.5/5
Le Trou depicts a true story prison escape that painstakingly goes through every minute detail of the escape plan, including an uninterrupted ten minute shot (I’m guessing) of digging a hole. Director Jacques Becker lays on the realism and it is captivating to watch. Equally captivating is this look at French prison life that is so at odds with what Hollywood has ingrained in us as the prison experience, here camaraderie exists between inmates and guards (hell even the warden is a nice guy!), and everyone is dressed well and eating rich french cuisine, its kind of hilarious on that level. The movie reminded me most of Rififi, which though about a heist rather than a prison escape, the same attention to detail and use of silence carries over in both. Any fans of the genre must check this out. Available as part of the Criterion Collection. – MIKE

Jeremiah Johnson (1972) 2/5
What could be an interesting, one-man adventure film is actually a pretty bland and uninteresting one-man, adventure film. Usually a fan of Robert Redford I found his character in this movie just didn’t work. I suspect that I’ve seen this type of film many times since 1972 and because of that I can’t appreciate what this movie was at the time. But it seriously felt like a Sunday afternoon movie made for public television. There are moments when I thought there might be something of interest and then it fades into nothingness. Even the revenge portion of the movie is disjointed, non-sensical and poorly shot. There is a really nicely done wolf attack sequence in here though. But no, I think I’d rather read Jack London’s “To Build a Fire” and then watch Dances with Wolves again. – ANDREW

Ace In The Hole (1951) 4.5/5
Billy Wilder directed this vicious smackdown of the media released not long after WWII which anticipated the direction of newspapers, TV, and magazines in every way, except their own loss of influence and power to the internet. Kirk Douglas plays a disgraced reporter, banished to Albuquerque, who stumbles upon what could be the story of a lifetime: A lone man trapped under a mountain by a cave in and the rescue operation that ensues. However, to make the story more engaging, he manipulates the operation on every facet, to the benefit of his career, the readability of the story, the politics and the profit, but the detriment to the poor man at the heart of things. Wilder takes no prisoners (the media circus is quite literally one, a incredible spectacle of a big tent, ferris wheel and thousands of extras!) despite a somewhat ‘morality tale’ ending. The world is not so kind these days, and the warning was not heeded in ‘51. -KURT