Review: Song To Song


And so the prostitute says, “Create the Illusion, but don’t believe it.”

I am not sure if that is Terrence Malick’s thesis with Song To Song, an elliptical fairy tale of despondency, but the film does feature Val Kilmer wielding a chainsaw on stage at the SXSW music festival, so there is that.

It also embeds clips from Eric Von Stroheim’s Greed, offers heartbreaking relationship advice from punk rock goddess Patti Smith, cheerfully cuts off Iggy Pop in mid-sentence and makes a little time for Natalie Portman to wait tables and attend church services kitted out in Erin Brockovich inspired push-up bras.

Song to Song is Malick’s fifth film in six years, not including his forthcoming Europe-set WWII epic, to be released later in 2017. Apparently, The film has been in production in one way or another for seven years; long enough to recast Christian Bale (or re-purpose his footage into Knight of Cups) and lose Arcade Fire completely in the editing room. This means that the overall process overlaps all the way back with Tree of Life, the touchstone for his current mode of cinema.

The ongoing price to pay for scrapping conventional storytelling (and, you know, actual scripts) has yielded his work some superb benefits … for those keen to tune into his wavelength. Of course, this is not for everyone, and do not be surprised when many film-goers drawn in by the marquee actors and musician cameos flee the experience in frustration. Like it or not, Malick has, for some time now, been in the business of capturing elusive, immersive, Steadicam dreams of time and place that he subtly bends into narrative in the editing room.

Here he films in the in-between spaces of Texas, be it backstage casual at South By Southwest, the concrete and glass boxes of the wealthy, or windswept desert pools in the wilderness. You would not recognize this as the same Austin in the front half of Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof or the sprawling walkabouts of so many a Richard Linkater joint. And though the film features an impressively programmed and multifarious playlist, the soundtrack is less the music, and more the palpable ennui of gorgeous white young things trying to find themselves in a confusing world of indulgence.

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Trailer: Lost Soul – The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau


The tales of epic cinema disaster that involve the 1990s remake of The Island of Dr. Moreau are many. Two extremely difficult actors to work with, Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer, the former was dealing with the suicide of his daughter, the latter was going through a nasty divorce at the time. Richard Stanley had developed the project for four years, but was replaced midway through shooting by New Line Cinema with John Frankenheimer. Stanley legendarily kept sneaking onto the set to sabotage shooting, as his original script was slice and diced on a daily basis. Basically a very expensive studio film was being changed on the fly while the actors and former director were hell bent on destroying the thing. The result is a terrible film, that is surprisingly watchable if only for its terribleness.

In the spirit of Jodorowski’s Dune and Lost in La Mancha, filmmaker David Gregory has interviewed many of the people involved, in particular showcasing Richard Stanley, in the whole debacle as a lessons-learned documentary. I missed this on the festival circuit, where it got a quiet, and quite sparse, release, but it is now getting theatrical/VOD distribution, and as a result, a new trailer was cut for the film. Enjoy.

Cinecast Episode 359 – Downtown China

Not sure even where to start with the monologue this week. Let’s see, there’s The Bay-Man’s fourth installment in the giant robots fiasco; which inexplicably is really easy to get worked up about. It’s not really worthy of hate, nothing to love, yet so easy to rant about. There’s a “sick, twisted desire” to torture ourselves over this movie – plus always an opportunity to delve into Andrew’s sordid history with the franchise.

Before all of this is Bong Joon-Ho’s English language debut with Snowpiercer and it’s overly satirical view of our apocalyptic, dystopian future on a crazy train. And Chris Evans is there. And protein bars made of shitty CGI.

The 1984 project continues with Val Kilmer’s first starring role in Top Secret!. He sings, dances, talks backwards, bar fights underwater and delivers punchlines that will be stolen by countless films for the next thirty years.

The Watch List sees Kurt wrapping up Breaking Bad, Andrew living in Tiny Houses, and Matt enjoying Disney’s Amblin knock-off currently playing in theaters. It’s a 150 minute power rant. LATRINE!

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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Another Coppola in the Director’s Seat: “Palo Alto” [trailer]


Pretentious wankery or honest emotional depth? It’s tough to tell from the trailer and it’s also tough to say when it’s a first time director. Still, this is not some no-name trying their hand at the cinematic arts. This is a Coppola. And the name Coppola does hold a little bit of water. Sophia has proven herself and now the family name’s torch is being lit yet again with her niece, Gia.

Have a look at the trailer below and see what you think. The film will star Emma Roberts, James Franco and Val Kilmer among others. Always nice to see Kilmer getting work – hope he can pull something significant together.

As one other small bit of trivia, Christian Madsen also plays a role in the film. Son of Michael Madsen and nephew of Virginia Madsen. In short, I had no idea Virginia and Michael were brother and sister. There you go.

Cinecast Episode 275 – Flaming Zemeckis

Continuing with another week centered around an interesting title to talk about, Corey Pierce from CriticalMassCast joins us for a (SPOILER!) filled discussion on structure, themes and mouth-feel of Looper. Corey explains the ‘Rule of Awesome’ when it comes to these types of movies, and whether or not to nitpick. Kurt obsesses about the visual queues in the film and Andrew contemplates Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s adoption of Bruce Willis’ body language. We move on to grading homework, wherein Matt Gamble joins us for colour commentary and general merriment. The Watch List has Corey giving a mini-review of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, while Kurt falls down the Kubrick rabbit hole with visual essays both good and bad. Micro-discussions on The Fountain, Christopher Guest, Electric Cars, The Game, Alan Rickman and Compliance ensue.

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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Rewatched and Reconsidered: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

On paper, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang ought to be a film I absolutely love. Film noir homage? Check. Twisty turny crime plot? Check. Self-aware meta narration? Check. Robert Downey Jr? Check. Yet when I first saw the film several years ago I remember being underwhelmed and every time I’ve thought of the film since it’s been with a sort of vague discontent. But a lot of people who generally like the same stuff as I do constantly praise it and think it’s brilliant. I couldn’t really remember enough about the film to identify what it was that left me cold, so I figured it was time for a rewatch – maybe I’d get it this time, or at least be able to pinpoint what about it didn’t work for me.

The initial premise is pretty great, with RDJ as a small-time crook who stumbles into an audition as he’s running away from the cops after a badly botched job (in which his partner got shot and killed). Unwittingly playing along, he winds impressing the casting directors and is carted off to Hollywood, where he’s assigned to shadow a real detective (Val Kilmer) as preparation for this role he might get. Even though the detective, nicknamed Gay Perry (“because he’s gay”), insists that real life detective work is boring and not like the movies, bodies soon start piling up, seemingly unrelated events turn out to be intertwined, and RDJ ends up right in the middle of all of it. Meanwhile, he offers almost continual narration of the most self-aware type; he comments on how things like this play out in the movies (“don’t you hate in movies when it seems like that one guy died, and then it turns out he didn’t and jt’s so fake”) or how bad a narrator he is (going back to tell a part of the story he neglected to tell earlier).

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Cinecast Episode 243 – Jump on that Curve and Ride it to Infinity


Soderbegh claims he’s retiring. Yeah right. Every time I turn around my IMDb smart phone app is alerting me to something new he’s working on. Haywire was something we heard about what seems like ages ago now and it’s finally here. Does it live up to the wait and the expectations? Matt Gamble takes another one in the nuts for the team with Red Tails and the latest Underworld picture; in 3D this time. Kurt’s children chime in for a couple of minutes on their thoughts on the 80’s animated series “Dungeons and Dragons.” After that technical snafu, we’ve got a helluva watch list this week rounds out the show with 80s, underrated goofery, catching up with some underseen gems from 2011, a love fest for Ti West’s latest, some Man for Earth discrepancies and a whole lot more.

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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Trailer: Twixt


To be fair, I’ve not ventured into any of Francis Ford Coppola’s neo-revival (Youth Without Youth, Tetro), but they’ve not seemed as ‘straight up genre’ as Twixt does. Somewhere between In The Mouth of Madness and 1408 the film is stacked to the gills with interesting actors: Val Kilmer (and his ex wife, Joanne Whalley), Bruce Dern, Elle Fanning (that’s her covered in blood in the above poster), Ben Chaplin and David Paymer. While this doesn’t look half as strong or nuanced as Shutter Island, I’m certainly willing to give it a shot despite the cheap cinematography and poorly put together trailer that seems to be cribbing voice-over from Throw Mama From The Train, “The Night Was…Humid.”

A writer with a declining career arrives in a small town as part of his book tour and gets caught up in a mystery involving a young girl. That night in a dream, he is approached by a mysterious young ghost named “V.” Unsure of her connection to a murder in the town but nevertheless, he is grateful for the story being handed to him.

The trailer is tucked under the seat.
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Remembering a Decade…2005

(prologue) As we can begin to hear the death rattle of the oughts, we in the third row decided to start on this continuing series throughout 2009 that will look back at our favorite films of each of the past ten years (2000-2009). This will ultimately culminate in a “ten best/favorites of the oughts” piece sometime in early 2010.

This is probably our most inaccurate list of this series so far. With so many titles in 2005 that were on the cusp of being legendary, it really watered down the list of potentials. With movies like Brick, Good Night and Good Luck, Match Point and Batman Begins to contend with, it’s hard to put together a consensus top five list. Especially considering there were quite a few under-seen gems that popped up from 2005 over the past few years (Squid and the Whale, Lady Vengeance, Tristram Shandy). Once all of the staples of the year grace one’s list, it’s hard to fill in the blanks with a common consensus with so many great titles flying around. But anyway, if nothing else 2005 is a year that delivers weeks of quality film watching and more than a few week’s worth of discussion and debate. So here’s RowThree remembering 2005…

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Perhistoric Parasites Invading Your Home, Soon


Earlier in the year we posted a trailer for Mark A. Lewis’ The Thaw. The film stars Val Kilmer as a professor who with a group of students, uncovers a Woolly Mammoth which also happens to carry a prehistoric virus capable of killing everything. The trailer looked promising and I had expected that it would see some sort of theatrical release, however small, but it looks as though that’s not going to happen.

News today is that Lewis’ film will be making an appearance on DVD and Blu-ray on October 6th, just in time for Halloween. Definitely disappointing as it does look more interesting than the latest Saw installment but at this point, I’m just happy to report that we’ll have a chance to see the film at all.

To go with the news of a DVD release, there’s also a new redband trailer and it looks mighty spiffy.

Trailer is tucked under the seat.

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Cinecast Episode 116 – Knowing is Half the Battle


Episode 116:
We’re back with a little Knowing this week. A lot of Knowing actually. Then it’s on to some other tidbits of goodness, DVDs and Spike Jonze.

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Below the fold are the Show Notes…
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