Welcome to After the Hype on Row Three!

After_The_Hype

Hello and welcome to AFTER THE HYPE! We are Bryan Dressel and Jonathan Hardesty, two dudes based out of Los Angeles who have ditched the hype train Snowpiercer-style to talk about movies and video games on their own merit. We recently joined the RowThree family and would like to introduce ourselves all formal-like with a list of some of the defining episodes from our back catalog.

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Cinecast Episode 306 – Shameless Ridiculousness

Are we an effective team? We are arguably more effective than the mediocrity of the Kosinski/Cruise assembly squad insofar as we seem to be in agreement on Oblivion. (SPOILERS!) The popcorn science fiction takes a lot of leaps, but it never really lands on particularly solid (or fertile) ground due to similarities to so many other things. We recap yet another compelling episode of “Game of Thrones” (SPOILERS!) where we praise just about every element of the show, even the Dragon Lady. The Watch List segment hits the highs and lows of our respective local film festivals: HotDocs and Mpls Int’l Festival. After recording an entire commentary track on Twilight, Matt enlightens us with his true feelings on Catherine Hardwicke’s first kick at the can in the the sparkly vampire saga. Early David Mamet comes under question with the last 20 minutes of House of Games. And we have a look at a web reality-series that bucks the trend of meanness and goes for generosity. Nice.

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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Full show notes are under the seats…
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Mamo #280: Sparkle Boner

In which we consider Twilight Breaking Dawn and its fanfic-frenzied fandom; the highways and byways of Leos Carax’s festival darling Holy Motors; and whether Star Wars: Episode VII can truly be Star Wars: Episode VII without the death of Han Solo. Grab your opinions and join us!

To download this episode, use this URL: http://rowthree.com/audio/mamo/mamo280.mp3

Review: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2

Breaking Dawn Part 2 Poster

Director: Bill Condon (Dreamgirls, Kinsey, Gods and Monsters)
Screenplay: Melissa Rosenberg, Stephenie Meyer (novel)
Producers: Wyck Godfrey, Stephenie Meyer, Karen Rosenfelt
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Ashley Greene, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Kellan Lutz, Nikki Reed, Jackson Rathbone, Billy Burke, Mackenzie Foy, Michael Sheen
MPAA Rating: PG13
Running time: 115 min.

Four books, five movies and millions of fans and dissenters later, the phenomenon that started as a dream has come to an end. Ups, downs, indifference; it’s been a hell of a ride and one that has changed the landscape of Hollywood and fandom, at least temporarily. I can only imagine the level of pressure on director Bill Condon. Not only responsible with completing a franchise, he was essentially tasked with wrapping an entire movement and as suggested by Breaking Dawn Part 1 (review), he was not only up to the challenge but moving in the right direction. So what of the conclusion? Is Bella’s ascension to vampirism successful and her eternal romance with Edward last? Obviously the answer to that is yes but the delivery is better than this fan could have hoped for.

Breading Dawn Part 2 Movie StillThe problem with Stephenie Meyer’s final novel is that it encompassed too many events. Everything seems to happen in “Breaking Dawn:” Bella and Edward get married, they have a baby, Bella dies and reawakens as a vampire to find that her daughter is a half-breed who is growing at an alarming rate and if that’s not bad enough, the Volturi, the Italians who keep tabs on the vampire world, come knocking when they think that the Cullens have broken one of their laws by creating an immortal child. The entire thing culminates into a battlefield showdown for a battle that never comes. Or doesn’t it?

With the exception of Eclipse (review), by far the most action heavy of the stories, the action sequences in the Twilight franchise have seemed like a stretch, a requirement of the studio to attract the all important 18-34 male demographic but Condon is the only filmmaker to incorporate the fight sequence, a fantastic sequence at that, into the story without missing a beat. It doesn’t feel forced or squeezed in but it’s likely to give more than one fan a minor heart palpitation with its opening, not to mention a collective sigh of relief when its over. Aro (the great Michael Sheen really playing up the maniacal) and his brothers have more than just “protecting the race” on their minds and when the battle lines are drawn, it gets violent and ugly while remaining free of blood.

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New “Red Riding” Trailer [Disappointed]

As I mentioned in the comments section when the first trailer for this film was released a couple of months ago, the visuals are very handsome. I still basically agree with those sentiments, but this trailer is so full of terrible it kind of overshadows any of those interesting ideas. Even the potential for an interesting twist isn’t really enough for me to shrug off the fact that basically this looks like Twilight all over again with the way the brooding Pattinson look-a-likes wander the village (“If you love her… you’ll let her go” **eyes roll**). For some that sounds like an amazing concept. For me, it sounds like a way to completely destroy what would otherwise be an interesting and update take on the classic fairy tale. And what is with that music(?)… ugh!

With Amanda Seyfried in the lead, the film also stars Gary Oldman, Lukas Haas, Virginia Madsen, Billy Burke, Shiloh Fernandez, and Julie Christie. You can see them all on March 11th.

 
 

DVD Review: Music and Video Performances from The Twilight Saga Soundtracks Volume 1

Music Videos and Performances from The Twilight Saga Eclipse Soundtracks Volume 1

Producers: Steve Devick, Paul Katz
MPAA Rating: PG
Running time: 100 min.

I promise you we’re working up to the main course but today is second appetizer day and on the menu, a look at the music of Twilight. Now don’t get super excited, I wish I could tell you that this is the greatest thing you’ll ever add to your growing number of Twigoodies but sadly, that’s not really the case.

Music and Video Performances from The Twilight Saga Soundtracks Volume 1 is exactly what it sounds like: a compilation of music videos from some of the performers on the various soundtracks to date. It’s not a bad compilation. On the contrary it’s a sort of “best of the best” of the soundtracks, itself a pretty impressive thing considering the great collection of artists featured on the soundtracks. What’s disappointing is that this feels like a missed opportunity.

Maybe I was wishing for too much but I hoped to get some insider info into the songs, why they were chosen, perhaps commentary from the artists on their experience with the franchise or heck, even commentary from the music supervisors on the films but nope, all we get is a playlist of music videos that could have been created on YouTube. At the very least, more of the songs should have been live performances – I vaguely remember mall tours with Paramore when Twilight was released. That would have been more interesting than a run-of-the-mill video. I will give them props for including a few live performances and those for some of my favourite bands; likely the result of lack of music videos – I don’t watch MTV but I’m pretty sure they’re not playing Bon Iver, Iron & Wine or Editors.

As under whelmed as I was by the DVD, I wasn’t disappointed in the music and I certainly enjoyed seeing some of the music videos, a few of which I’d never seen before. For the most part, this is the kind of thing you put on at a party to keep the TV busy for a few hours or good background music for your night of Twilight boardgames. I feel a slumber party coming on.

Maybe we’ll get a little extra for Volume 2.

Music and Video Performances from The Twilight Saga Soundtracks Volume 1 available on DVD from EOne in Canada and Summit Entertainment in the US on December 4th.

DVD Extras: Debussy’s “Claire de Lune: and Verdi’s “La Traviata.”

I’m actually a little bummed that they didn’t include the performer of either of these pieces. “Claire de Lune” is performed on the harp, a version I’ve never heard before, and it’s gorgeous.

DVD Review: Destination Forks

Destination Forks

Director: Jason Brown
Producer: York Baur, Jason Brown
MPAA Rating: G
Running time: 83 min.

The release of a Twilight DVD, especially this close to the holidays, is a perfect opportunity to give fans more of what they love. With New Moon, we saw the release of Twilight in Forks: Saga of the Real Town, which I never got around to seeing. With Eclipse (review), we see yet another offering: Destination Forks.

Divided into a number of sections, Jason Brown’s documentary starts with a mini-tour of Forks, Washington, the little town which saw itself shot into the limelight when Stephenie Meyer’s best selling series (and films), set in Forks, entered the world of fandom. The town, once a hub for timber and still a popular destination for sports fishing, was in decline until fans started pouring in, wanting to get a glimpse of the locations that filled Meyer’s pages.

Brown’s film starts at the epicentre with a tour of the town’s now infamous locales and interviews with the people that own them. We get a glimpse of the Swan residence, the Cullen house and the ever popular shopping destination Dazzled by Twilight. We meet the proprietors and get their take on the people that visit the area, teen girls and their parents, grandmothers and their granddaughters and families who flock to Washington in the summer months all looking to live a little piece of their fantasy.

Along the way, Brown introduces us to the fans and quickly moves along the storyline to cover the fandom itself. Talking to fans, he delves into the world of the people that love the series, trying to get at the core of what makes Twilight so attractive and the answers are as varied as the fans.

Though this idea of bringing Forks to the masses isn’t new, Brown’s film sets itself apart by featuring some gorgeous cinematography of the area. The talk of Forks and the phenomenon that is Twilight stops at the hour mark and the final 20 minutes of the film is simply gorgeous cinematography of the area around Forks set to music. It feels like the kind of thing you’d see as time filler between shows on National Geographic but it’s a soothing homage to the region and more of a selling point for a visit than anything that precedes it.

Not exactly a must have but I really enjoyed Destination Forks and it’s definitely a great addition to any Twilight fan’s collection. The final chapter on this DVD is likely to become a regular in my DVD player for those moments when you just want to relax.

Destination Forks is available on DVD from EOne in Canada and Summit Entertainment in the US on December 4th.

DVD Extras: None.

Review: The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

Eclipse Movie Poster

Director: David Slade (Hard Candy, 30 Days of Night)
Screenplay: Melissa Rosenberg, Stephenie Meyer (novel)
Producers: Wyck Godfrey, Greg Mooradian, Karen Rosenfelt
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Ashley Greene, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Kellan Lutz, Nikki Reed, Jackson Rathbone, Bryce Dallas Howard, Billy Burke, Charlie Bewley, Xavier Samuel, Daniel Cudmore, Christopher Heyerdahl, Dakota Fanning, Cameron Bright, Noot Seer, Michael Sheen, Graham Greene, Tinsel Korey
MPAA Rating: PG13
Running time: 124 min.

Let’s speak frankly, shall we? The Twilight franchise is not now, nor will it ever be, the all encompassing beast that is Harry Potter. Regardless of how much money the studio throws into the marketing machine, it’s wasted time, effort and dollars because as proven by the previous two films and now with the third instalment The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, they’re never going to win everyone over. The reasons why are too many to argue (and mediocre films are only one of them) and quite frankly, they don’t matter. Author Stephenie Meyer’s stories were never going to appeal to everyone, the key demographic has always been the hopeless romantic (and even some of those take issue with the story) and the films based on those stories clearly haven’t won over a large chunk of the population so why bother trying? The fan base is large enough, and ever growing, that the nay sayers are drowned out, even if they yell as loud or louder than the supporters.

Eclipse Movie StillAs clear from my thoughts on the previous two films, I am a fan and as one, I came to love these characters long before there ever was a Twilight (review) film and the movies have been a sort of icing on the cake. Some bits of the icing have been sweeter than others but Eclipse is, for this fan at least, the sweetest. By this point in the story, Bella is back with Edward and happier than she’s ever been but Victoria, the rogue vampire who has been responsible for much, though not all, of Bella’s heartache, has a new plan of attack. She’s building an army and brining them to Forks in an effort to wipe out Bella in retribution for the loss of her own mate but to do so, she first needs to dispatch the pesky Cullens who have adopted Bella as one of their own.

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David Slade rocks my morning: Eclipse trailer is badass

Twilight Saga Eclipse PosterI was so caught up with work this morning that I completely forgot about the new The Twilight Saga: Eclipse trailer which was premiering on Oprah today. And then someone sent me a link and it threw the rest of my day into a tailspin.

One viewing later and I was convinced that David Slade was indeed the right guy for the job (as if my praising of the selection even before it was official wasn’t enough of a clue). Movie Moxie said it best: the first trailer was girl friendly focusing on the relationship and the love triangle, barely hinting at the darkness that lures in this story and there was little sight of the visuals I expected from Slade. Enter trailer two which is very much guy friendly, ditching most of the relationship drama and the colour to focus on the impending doom.

Is it awesome? Yes. Yes it is. I’m not convinced it will turn the tide and change the minds of everyone but it certainly drowns away any concerns fans may have had with recent news surrounding editing and re-shoots.

Those opening night tickets can’t go on sale soon enough.

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse opens June 30th.

Trailer after the break.

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The drought is over. First trailer for The Twilight Saga: Eclipse!

Twilight Saga Eclipse PosterWhen, in April of 2009, rumours floated of David Slade possibly directing The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, I was excited. A fan of both the franchise and Slade, the prospect of seeing them meet was almost too much to bear. When the announcement came that Slade had indeed signed onto the project, I was trhilled (read: beside myself with excitement).

A few months later the central cast members returned to Vancouver (with the exception of Rachelle Lefevre whose character of Victoria is now being played by Bryce Dallas Howard) along with some new faces and filming began on the third installment of the franchise. The sets were much more guarded and though the fandom was present at every corner, we seemed to be seeing less and less of what was being shot and were it not for the fact that the story originates from a book, those who haven’t read it will be hardpressed to tell you what it’s about.

In an odd turn of events, Summit has decided to take a completely different approach to their marketing of Eclipse. By this point in the game with the New Moon release, we’d seen footage, treasers, a trailer and more images that we could shake a stick at (both official and unofficial) but for Eclipse, nothing. There’s one official picture kicking around which gives you very little and even the few leaked images which popped up a few weeks ago provided little indication as to what Slade’s version of the story would look like. Quite the feat considering the film is only three months away.

Yesterday, the studio released the first 10 seconds of the teaser, ten seconds that revealed nothing but threw the fandom intoa tizzy. Do you blame us? For a group which is so used to being drowned with material, this tease is a little painful. Thankfully, the studio has a little heart and the full trailer is now live, a mere 24 hours since our first glimpse. And that glimpse is interesting.

This looks nothing like a David Slade film – at least none of the David Slade films I’ve seen. It’s warm and sun bathed – not exactly what I had expected. Though there isn’t the over the top action crammed into this that there was into New Moon there was some hint at it (good thing too since this installment has more action than most of the others). It’s not what I expected by I do like it.

Let the snark fly!

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse opens to the universe on June 30th.

Trailer tucked under the seats!

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Vampire Double Bill: “Thirst; Vampyr”

Thirst (Park Chan-wook, 2009)

With New Moon madness now upon us here in North America, I thought the best way to put an end to my recent hiatus would be a fresh attack against the Stephenie Meyer-penned, dreamy teen boyhunk vampires ‘n’ werewolves phenomenon, hitting it with a double-shot of alternatives for the jaded, sick and tired vampire fans of the world. Of course, avoiding vampires altogether is an effective option that many have probably taken at this point – and I don’t blame you. But reconsider giving up the fanged figures completely if only to give these interesting works a chance. Without further ado…

I’m a huge admirer of Park Chan-wook’s work. He is one of those filmmakers who truly knows how to use and develop his own cinematic style, resulting in films that are visually splendid, thematically fascinating and quite often downright brilliant. Ever since “Cut,” his segment of the Asian horror omnibus film Three…Extremes which opens with a film crew shooting a vampire film, fans have been teased with hints and rumors of his full-length, fully-fledged horror film. Now we have Thirst, which just recently came out on DVD (in Region 1) and tells the tale of a priest (Park regular Song Kang-ho) who volunteers for a medical experiment and ends up receiving blood from a transfusion that turns him into a vampire. As he adapts to his new “condition,” he meets the sexually provocative Tae-joo (Kim Ok-vin), with whom he forms a complex and dangerous relationship while grappling with feelings of guilt from the evil deeds he is driven to do.

I have yet to see Park’s eccentric comedy I’m a Cyborg, But That’s Okay, so this was essentially the first new film of his I was seeing since the excellent Lady Vengeance – and boy was it good to come back to his world. All of his recognizable visual trademarks are there – creative transitions and camerawork, vivid colors, beautifully grotesque displays of violence. However, the mood of the film was something that occasionally threw me. There are, of course, moments of real dramatic weight and horror, but every so often, Park takes a swerve into comedy, the most obvious (and disappointing) example being Tae-joo’s husband who, after being drowned by the vampire-priest, haunts the couple by appearing on their bed, sopping wet, grinning a huge, dopey grin. It’s hard to believe this is from the same Park who used another drowned ghost – that of a little girl – to such chilling effect in Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, a film so stark and hard-hitting that one wouldn’t imagine there being any room for visiting spirits. Thirst also sports some of the dark, deadpan humor that Park used so well in certain moments of his Vengeance trilogy, but it ultimately lacks the driving focus that anchored his previous explorations of the dark side of the soul, instead going from intriguing to sexy to funny and back again.

While not one of Park’s best, Thirst still has plenty to good stuff to sink your teeth into (pun not intended), including sumptuous visuals (the film is a blue- and white-hued wonderland), an excellent performance by Kim Ok-vin and a quite satisfying conclusion.

Vampyr (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1932)

 

I now jump from 2009 all the way back to the last days of silent cinema for one of the very first vampire films ever made – and still one of the finest. For what better filmmaker is there to combat the wave of inept filmmaking that the Twilight film series is producing so far (I’m hoping David Slade doesn’t hit strike three with Eclipse, if only because I like Hard Candy so much) than Carl Theodor Dreyer, the Danish master who gave us The Passion of Joan of Arc? For Vampyr, he applied his unique style to the horror genre for the first time – are you detecting a pattern here? But unlike Chan-wook Park, Dreyer just about pulls it off flawlessly, producing a truly eerie atmosphere of misty fields, isolated houses and shifting shadows.

The narrative follows a young student of the occult named Allan Grey (Baron Nicolas de Gunzburg AKA Julian West, who also helped finance the film) who becomes enmeshed in sinister goings-on surrounding an old man and his two daughters Gisèle and Léone who are tormented by a vampire named Marguerite Chopin and her servant. Yet the plot is only secondary (and in fact leaves a number of things unexplained) compared to the mesmerizing realm into which Dreyer draws his audience. Just in the opening moments, with Grey’s arrival at his strange inn and the sight of an old ferry rider carrying a scythe, the film begins casting a spell through its imagery alone. The cinematography by Rudolph Maté seems to carve the shapes and figures out of pure ebony, and Dreyer, with a barrage of wallpaper patterns, silhouettes that move on their own and painting-inspired compositions, fashions a purely Gothic visual scheme (helped along by Rena Mandel’s black dress-clad, heavily eyeshadowed Gisèle). The film’s events are brilliantly accentuated by Wolfgang Zeller’s ominous score.

While containing certain elements that anyone familiar with vampire movies should recognize, Vampyr certainly belongs in a class of its own, not a film so much as a strange, surreal fever dream bound to linger in viewers’ minds.