Cinecast Episode 464 – These Violent Delights

Through snow, cold, rain, holidays or malware, The Cinecast finds a way. Yes, despite RowThree being down for cleaning over the past few days, the boys managed to do some catch-up on 2016 movie releases get it all down on virtual tape. This week, Kurt and Andrew get into Todd Solondz’ “awkward comedy” Wiener-Dog and Kurt hits the theater for Jessica Chastain in Miss Sloane… maybe wishes he hadn’t. HBO finished up its first season of “Westworld” and the boys dig through that mess of wires and mazes. As always beware of SPOILERS! For The Watch List, Andrew works on catching up on some other 2016 movies that slipped through the cracks including Tom Hanks, Michael Shannon, Seth Rogen and more. Kurt spent his time hitting the big screen versions of some older gems including Meet me in St. Louis and Tampopo. Also Michael Keaton continues to own the twilight years of his career; this time by owning a McDonald’s franchsie. Join us on this joy ride.

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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Friday One Sheet: Wiener-Dog

Todd Solondz has been rather quiet in the past few years. Cinephiles in the 1990s immediately warmed to the tone of his awkward-by-design black comedy, Welcome To The Dollhouse, which featured a shy tween girl, Dawn Wiener (aka Wiener-Dog), getting into unpleasant situations. Now, 20 Years later, Solondz has made this sort-of sequel cum anthology film. Dawn Weiner (now played by Greta Gerwig, not Heather Matarazzo) is in one of the parts, but the film is not named after her. The wiener dog is quite literally present here, not just a nasty nick-name, and is the one element that binds the four stories together. The eponymous canine, or at least its hind quarters, are featured on the rather minimalist poster for the film,

The quite funny, and talent loaded trailer is also tucked under the seat, for the curious.

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TIFF 2011: First Wave of Titles Announced

 

 

A number of the Row Three Staff make it an annual ritual to see between 30 and 50 films during the month of September when Toronto is taken over by its largest celebration of cinema from around the world, The Toronto International Film Festival, aka TIFF. So the first announcement of titles is interesting because it often goes back to what the festival was many moons ago: a Festival of Festivals, where best films from Cannes, Berlin and Sundance (amongst others) are offered to local audiences. Of course the festival has gotten bigger over the years (and much more expensive) and World Premieres are also par for the course, but this first announcement allows to see many of the ‘big titles’ (aka Special Presentations and Masters programmes) with guaranteed distribution will make their World, North American or Canadian debuts.

A quick survey by director offers new films from David Cronenberg (A Dangerous Method), Lars Von Trier (Melancholia), Pedro Almodovar (The Skin I Live In), Francis Ford Coppola (Twixt), Fernando Meirelles (360), Alexander Payne (The Descendents), Nicholas Winding Refn (Drive), Steve McQueen (Shame), Sarah Polley (Take This Waltz), George Clooney (The Ides of March), Roland Emmerich (Anonymous), Todd Solondz (Dark Horse), Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea), and Luc Besson (The Lady).

Other titles of interest is the former Soderbergh project starring Brad Pitt, Moneyball, as well as a lot of stuff from popular music, including Cameron Crowe’s Pearl Jam documentary, David Guggenheim’s U2 documentary and a feature film from Madonna simply titled W.E.

Some interesting genre films, including the James Ellroy adaptation, Rampart, which has a loaded cast: Woody Harrelson, Sigourney Weaver, Robin Wright, Ned Beatty, Ben Foster and Anne Heche. South Korean thriller The Countdown exposes uses the underbelly of Seoul as a backdrop for a thirller. The Hugh Jackman and Olivia Wilde comedy, Butter, which also features Kristen Schaal. Noirish Killer Joe features Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, Thomas Haden Church, Juno Temple and Gina Gershon. And the B&W silent comedy favourite at Cannes, Michel Hazanavicius’s The Artist will be screening, as will Joseph Gordon-Levitt cancer comedy, 50/50 which also features Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard, Phillip Baker Hall and Anjelica Huston

In the more dramatic side of things, I’ve been quite anticipating Paddy Considine’s Tyrannosaur which features Peter Mullan as an angry, cynical alcoholic who has reached rock-bottom is surprisingly brought back into life by a complete stranger: a middle-class woman with a strong belief in Christ. Eddie Marsan is also in it. Also Tilda Swinton and John C. Reilley star in Lynne Ramsay’s We Need To Talk About Kevin. Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Kristin Scott Thomas star in Lasse Halstrom’s Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. And from the directors of Persepolis comes another enchanting film adaptation of a graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi: Chicken with Plums follows the last days of a talented musician’s (Mathieu Amalric) life as he desperately seeks to replace his beloved instrumental, the violin.

There are many titles, 50 in all so far, for those who wish to peruse over at the TIFF website.

Cinecast Episode 142 – Aging Oddly

Episode 142:
With the strange release dates in different cities this time of year it’s difficult to come together and actually have seen the same recent films. Yet we somehow always find a way. Today’s show is just Kurt and Andrew back together for a classic shoot the shit discussion on everything we’ve seen theatrically over the past few weeks – from remastered Halloween classics to the latest Almodóvar and Todd Solondz. We also get into a little early Oscar talk (including the new hosts just announced) and of course weekly DVD choices. Hope you enjoy this little back and forth and feel free to leave your thoughts on anything you wish in the comment section below and
!Thanks for listening!

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TIFF 09 Review: Life During Wartime

LifeDuringWartime

Todd Solondz goes back to the Happiness well with his latest feature. Life During Wartime is a direct sequel to the controversial 1998 film featuring a family of three sisters, the various men connected to them (a misogynist freeloader and thief, a pedophile and a loathsome crank-calling pervert), their kids, and their parents. But the director has recast every single role (echoes of his lead actress switching in his last film, Palindromes) and pushed the films setting to Florida during current times. He has also scaled back the ‘extreme’ tone of the film. There are no white body fluids, or lengthy attempts to seduce young boys against their will. This is the Solondz film you can show your grandmother. That does not mean his deadpan and droll sense of humour is not in full effect however. The sisters continue to seek some kind of satisfaction or at least solace (while always pretending to be happy), the tone of this film is more one of forgiveness.

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Bookmarks for August 10th through August 11th

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What we’ve been reading – August 10th through August 11th:

  • New York Film Festival 2009 Lineup
    Alain Resnais’ new film, “Wild Grass” (Les Herbes folles), recently acquired by Sony Pictures Classics, will open the 2009 New York Film Festival on September 25, 2009. Lineup also includes Almodovar, von Trier, Breillat, Solondz, Denis & More
  • Glenn Kenny on The Young and Dumb versus Old and In The Way
    Spanning They Might Be Giants to The Hurt Locker, In The Loop, Rolling Thunder and Peter Blegvad, Kenny sure covers a lot in a musing yet brief piece over at Some Came Running
  • Sean O’Hagan on Quentin Tarantino
    A very impartial and interesting interview / profile on Q. Tarantino. Suck it though, Sean, Deathproof is awesome.

66th Venice International Film Festival

venice66Venice announces its full line-up of films for its 66th edition of the Annual festival. The genre-y stuff sticks out for me, because this will be in most cases the first glance a raft of wacky and delayed sequels and films: BAD LIEUTENANT 2, REPOMAN 2, TETSUO 3, REC 2, THE ROAD, Joe Dante’s first in ages, THE HOLE, and another George Romero zombie movie. There are a raft of cinephile delights as well from Claire Denis, Fatih Akin, Giuseppe Tornatore, Jacques Rivette, Fruit Chan, Todd Solondz and Rintaro.

The 66th Venice International Film Festival will be held from 2 September to 12 September 2009. For those of you heading up to Toronto (Venice starts a bit before TIFF and overlaps for a few days), expect a lot of films to play both.

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Bookmarks for July 24th

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What we’ve been reading – July 24th:

Bookmarks for July 20th through July 24th

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What we’ve been reading – July 20th through July 24th:

Row Three Narcissism: Movies We Watched

O Summer, Where Art Thou? Well, until Public Enemies cruises into theaters there has been precious little to snack on unless your multiplex is offering some of the artier fare. The same old story of big loud spectacle which eschews storytelling. There are of course a few smaller films out there worth the visit, but really, why not just stay home and catch up on DVDs until Fall? Here is a small sampling of the Row Three Authors’ viewing habits for the past fortnight. The massive list of these microcapsules can be found by clicking the icon on the sidebar.

The Maltese Falcon (1941) 4.5/5
This was the third attempt by Warner Bros to film this particular Daschell Hammett story, despite the fact that the previous two outings (including one with the same title directed ten years earlier by Roy Del Ruth) had been failures. But then, they didn’t have Humphrey Bogart. Prior to his role as Daschell Hammett’s shifty private eye, Sam Spade, in The Maltese Falcon, Bogart had spent his career playing petty criminals in movies like The Petrified Forest, Angels with Dirty Faces and High Sierra. With The Maltese Falcon, he finally found himself on the right side of the law, yet hints of his early roles still make their way through in his performance. While there’s no doubt Bogart’s Sam Spade is meant to be the hero of The Maltese Falcon, his character’s very nature is, at times, anything but heroic (he carries on an affair with his partner’s wife, making him a prime suspect when his partner turns up dead). So, even though he’s taking a break from his usual petty thug, Bogart’s Sam Spade is still a tough character, and where Sam Spade was the perfect detective to locate the elusive Maltese Falcon, Bogart, in turn, proved the perfect actor for the role. -DAVE

Lovely and Amazing (2001) 4/5
The enjoyment derived here mostly comes from the actors and their dialogue. Three very different sisters all insecure in their own ways just wander through life trying to figure everything out and over analyze all situations. What makes the movie work is its ability to stay restrained and not delve into the melodramatic. What doesn’t work so well is the fact that has very little to say (it attempts a commentary on physical beauty and health I suppose) and very little heart. This is independent cinema at its core and the actors involved (particularly Keener and Mortimer) really sell the lack of drama. Hey, I was interested in the people, to see what they would say next, and it gave me a few chuckles. And of course my love for Keener, Mortimer and Mulroney kept the show on the road. A good “Saturday evening before going out” kind of film. -ANDREW

Seeking Wellness (2008) 3/5
A film that puts a wealth of structural ideas up on screen, but is only hampered by its ‘Kindergarten-Nihilism.’ Four stories expose ill parts of our society in which psychology intersects with health. It being a student project, the acting is occasionally dodgy, but there is no denying the craft and flair that went into this one. I would not be surprised to see people steal from this film. -KURT

Storytelling (2001) 3/5
Todd Solondz blew me away a couple years back with “Happiness”; quite a forceful, drop kick of a a movie. Even if it was a tad on the outrageous side. So with the monster cast of “Storytelling,” I was pretty excited. The film is split into two pieces; the first being much shorter than the second. Both ended rather abruptly and felt a little unfinished. With the first story, entitled “Fiction”, I was okay wit ending because it was dysfunctional in a way that was non-believable yet somehow predictable. It just begged to be turned off. The second story (”non-Fiction”) got much deeper into the lives and hearts of the characters and examined some fairly delicate subject matter. Unfortunately it too ended rather abruptly and I can’t help but feel that if the entire bit of part one was removed entirely, pasrt 2 could have ravaged on a bit further and delivered with some serious drama and maybe even explosiveness. Quality film, but no where near the likes of Solondz’ other work. -ANDREW

Yes Man (2008) 3/5
I’ll admit upfront, this is another one of my girlcrush-inspired viewings. I rarely like Jim Carrey movies (outside of non-Jim-Carrey-esque entries like The Truman Show and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), but I can put up with him for the sake of Zooey and a chance to see Zooey sing. Carrey’s a guy who’s been hurt by previous relationships and tries to protect himself by saying “no” to everything, until he’s convinced by an acquaintance to try saying “yes” to everything, even if it seems dangerous or likely to turn out badly. And, yep, once he does, everything starts going right for him – he meets Zooey, gets promoted at his job, etc. etc. Okay, message learned, you’ll be happier if you open yourself up to new experiences and help others even when there’s no foreseeable return for you. Not a bad message, though Carrey still manages to annoy the crap out of me. He’s also too old for Zooey. But it was worth watching for me (knocking it up at least a half-star) to see her perform songs with San Francisco’s Von Iva at Spaceland – a Silver Lake venue I love very much. (The DVD contains the full videos of those performances, rather than just the little clips that appear in the film.) The numerous actual Los Angeles locations, both famous and less-so, were a highlight as well, and also made the credit disclaimer that places in the film weren’t meant to be real places amusingly inaccurate. -JANDY