Cinecast Episode 413 – Playing the Black Keys

While many in the media and social media are spinning it otherwise, Matt Damon is Science Jesus. Who else better than to charm the pants off of Andrew and Kurt but Science Jesus, really? Ridley Scott’s The Martian is a straightforward crowd-pleaser to be sure, but there is a wisp of metaphor still to be had in the Wadi Rum valley.

October is here and the boys have decided to hit up a different first-run (ish) horror movie each week in the Cinecast for the month. This week is an Iranian black and white, vampire film shot in California mimicking Jim Jarmusch: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night.

The Watch List offers balcksploitation, blood and guts in the Star Wars franchise, trailers as deconstructionist/reconstructions art, journeys to the centre of the earth, and the case for Jason Bateman getting an Oscar nomination this year.

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 381 – Eau de Credíts

 
With Oscar night quickly approaching, we’re kind of on our last gasps of fresh cinema to talk about for a couple of weeks; so we enjoy this one as much as we can. Kingsman starring Colin Firth is not really what we expected, so to keep Andrew and Kurt’s experiential bias at bay, special guest, 11 year-old Willem Halfyard helps put things into perspective in a full spoiler assessment of the situation. After the boy’s bedtime, things get naughty as the grown-ups go on to talk about the Fifty Shades of Grey alternative in the much loved (and unfairly dominated) The Duke of Burgundy. Later, Kurt explores more gonzo action cinema including a triple scoop helping of Bourne and the unfairly hated (but loved around here) Domino and Book of Eli. Andrew takes the violence angle in a more classical route with John Ford’s Liberty Valance and animated rabbits killing animated rabbits. Oh and Dan Hedaya always brings the A-game… as do we.

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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Occultober – Day 27 – Lemora: A Child’s Tale Of The Supernatural

Lemora: A Child’s Tale Of The Supernatural
The full title of the film is the key to its real meaning (and is much more accurate than the straight up horror title Lady Dracula that it is also known as). The supernatural is certainly afoot in the movie, but this is a young girl’s viewpoint and it’s her own impression as to what the temptations and changes are that she is facing as she moves towards womanhood and how they manifest themselves. Though not quite as gorgeous and creative as something like the amazing Valerie And Her Week Of Wonders was in depicting a teenage girl’s whirlwind of life changes or as scary and bloody as that same aspect is depicted in Ginger Snaps, Lemora does bring a dreamlike, slightly off-kilter feel to the story of the very sheltered and religious 13 year-old Lila.

She leaves her hometown after receiving a cryptic letter from a woman named Lemora asking her to come see her sick father. He had recently run off without a trace after murdering his wife and her lover. On the way there, she experiences a creepy bus trip, sees ghoulish creatures chasing them and witnesses a battle between those ghouls and a group of cloaked dracula-like beings after the bus breaks down. After passing out, she ends up at Lemora’s house and winds up being kept in a cell. She is eventually welcomed inside the proper house after being told the cell was to protect her from what was outside – not to keep her inside. Lemora, though extremely pale and with dead eyes (possibly just a side-effect of her terribly wooden acting), claims that after a ceremony the following day she will be able to see her diseased father. Lila is swept up in the witch-like Lemora’s promises, but when she catches her sucking the blood from a young boy, the jig appears to be up…

The blood-like wine, the blue moonlit nights and the danger that seems to be everywhere around her all serve as stand-ins for Lila’s confusion over her changing body and the number of choices she now has as a growing young lady. Cheryl “Rainbeaux” Smith, who became quite the B-movie queen, is very good as the young Lila and perfectly captures that transition from innocence to awakening. The film ran afoul of many Catholic groups for its immoral attributes (a lecherous priest, implied lesbianism, Lila’s fall from grace, etc.), but seems to have found traction with many film fans. Go ahead and give in to the temptation…

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Friday One-Sheet: Summer of Blood will SUCK

I’m sure something like this has been done before; that is, using descriptive text to mimic critical review quotes. But I’m not sure I can recall any in which all of the text has a negative connotation. On top of that, it’s in a “haunted”, bloody font. Coupled with the disheveled (presumably) protagonist front and center, it’s a pretty inspired twist on the uninspired that have come before it.

I don’t know anything about this movie. The poster just showed up in my inbox this morning and thought it would be a lovely share. But the poster tells me exactly what this movie is: The 40 Year-old Virgin meets Dracula. It’s sure to be a romp.

Review: Only Lovers Left Alive

OnlyLoversLeftAlive

Detroit is the new Transylvania in Jim Jarmusch’s delightfully detached vampire reverie, Only Lovers Left Alive. The film manages to significantly build upon and outdo Neil Jordan’s recent Byzantium in terms of clawing back the genre from its more recent sparkly teen-focus. The mature tone is pregnant with the kind of disaffected slow gaze that would probably result from a century or three on this imperfect earth with its revolving social cycles. It achieves a modern-Gothic romanticism better than pop culture’s own aging vampire-queen Anne Rice ever managed in novel form or when adapted to celluloid It evokes the people exodus and urban decay of Motor City in such a transcendent fashion that it nearly renders Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady’s Detropia redundant. Undoubtedly, this is the white-haired director firing on all cylinders even as he is not in much of a hurry drive any sort of plot. The patience in pacing echo the lifestyles of the quasi-immortals caught up in music, art and ennui.

At first glance, some might label the movie slight due to its complete lack of concern for plotting, but any film which allows the viewer to breathe in so deeply, to revel in its dark spaces and eclectic moods is anything but. Only Lovers Left Alive is akin to listening to an exceptionally good album from end to end. The film even visually suggest this in the opening shot of the camera spinning and fading into vinyl spinning on its turntable. Jarmusch’s own band, Sqürl provides a droning, but warm and fuzzy, score that is wonderful thing in which to get lost in itself.

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Review: The Immortal Augustus Gladstone

August Gladstone

Augustus Gladstone is a sweet southern gentlemen who favours sweaters, neckties and tennis shoes and squats in an abandoned hotel somewhere in Portland Oregon amongst a treasure-trove of commemorative plates, book shelves of old tomes and documents and other assorted bric-a-brac. Pasty and hairless in complexion, with painted on eyebrows and an obvious blonde mop for a wig, to call him eccentric is to understate things considerably. His private existence has taken a toll the point of desperate loneliness drowning in denial. His only companion, Tommy, seems to be a strung out junkie also illegally occupying the building, although Tommy’s quarters are decidedly less cozy.

He claims to be born in the year 1856, which might explain why a documentary crew comes to start making videos on Augustus. Maybe they were curious about the series of YouTube videos from a few years ago after one of Augustus’s few friends gave him a laptop and instructions on how to use a webcam. The newfound attention at first seems to invigorate Augustus, whose odd diction and mannerisms carry enough unique charisma to hold the camera’s attention. But when the documentary filmmakers start really start poking into things, they start to become the story as much as documenting it.

What starts off as perhaps the sweetest Vampire movie ever made quickly turns to a savage indictment of unintended consequences of journalism or simply the promise of “15 minutes” of fame. What the director, Robin Miller, calls the “unforgiving mayhem” of making a documentary. Miller is also the star of the show with copious amounts of make-up and accessories to transform himself into the contradiction of foppishness and dignity that is August Gladstone. The sense of humour in his little film is so dry and wistful that those with a lesser pallet may find jokes as cunningly hidden as the clues in the early 1990s video game “Myst,” of which Miller served as a co-creator. The humour is very much of the 21st century understated variety often found in culty corners of the internet. Thus, it comes as no great shock that the film has geek-humour website BoingBoing as chief producer. Consider the title of the film, The Immortal Augustus Gladstone, then note the first shot is an elaborate tracking shot towards the cemetery headstone, carved with a recent enough date, of the titular character.

If the usual Christopher Guest faux-doc comedy is a frothy Pepsi-Cola of giggles, The Immortal Augustus Gladstone is a Pino Gris, delicate and subtle, ignored and collecting dust on the back shelf of a large retail shop of wine and spirits. That is not to say the film is a revelation or game changer, it is hardly that. It is a quiet break from an ever increasing docket of bombast and hubris. It is also not to say that the film doesn’t have teeth, for all it brings up then skirts the actual vampire issue, it seems allude to Gladstone possibly being HIV positive or having some sort of neural disorder. Whatever equilibrium that Augustus has found for himself is viscously shattered by the incoming documentary crew which crowd the little nest he has made, all but bully Tommy out of the place, and tend to do more harm than good. Not since Man Bites Dog has a film capitalized on the ever-increasing tendency of the documentary crew to insinuate itself into its own subject matter. Documentaries like Winnebago Man and William and the Windmill are other examples of the non-faux variety which accidentally brush on this matter.

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Trailer: Only Lovers Left Alive

Only Lovers Left Alive

Jim Jarmusch is at his most Jarmuschian as he envisions immortal vampires who have seen it all, traversing around urban centres of the world before settling in old Detroit, as gothic a place as one might find in America in 2013. Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston listen to rock and roll, talk science, art and cuddle in the dark before a spunky Mia Wasikowska comes along to break up the oh-so-romantic ennui. I believe it is fair to say that the trailer here captures the tone of the film pretty well, right down to the spinning record, and the jet-setting. One of the strengths about this particular take on the vampire is that it is not in any hurry to get anywhere, and that is just fine. The greek subtitles on this international trailer for the film only add to its own sense of the cosmopolitan decay.

My review of the film can be found here.

TIFF Review: Only Lovers Left Alive

OnlyLoversLeftAlive

Detroit is the new Transylvania in Jim Jarmusch’s delightfully detached vampire reverie, Only Lovers Left Alive. The film manages to significantly build upon and outdo Neil Jordan’s recent Byzantium in terms of clawing back the genre from its more recent sparkly teen-focus. The mature tone is pregnant with the kind of disaffected slow gaze that would probably result from a century or three on this imperfect earth with its revolving social cycles. It achieves a modern-Gothic romanticism better than pop culture’s own aging vampire-queen Anne Rice ever managed in novel form or when adapted to celluloid It evokes the people exodus and urban decay of Motor City in such a transcendent fashion that it nearly renders Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady’s Detropia redundant. Undoubtedly, this is the white-haired director firing on all cylinders even as he is not in much of a hurry drive any sort of plot. The patience in pacing echo the lifestyles of the quasi-immortals caught up in music, art and ennui.

At first glance, some might label the movie slight due to its complete lack of concern for plotting, but any film which allows the viewer to breathe in so deeply, to revel in its dark spaces and eclectic moods is anything but. Only Lovers Left Alive is akin to listening to an exceptionally good album from end to end. The film even visually suggest this in the opening shot of the camera spinning and fading into vinyl spinning on its turntable. Jarmusch’s own band, Sqürl provides a droning, but warm and fuzzy, score that is wonderful thing in which to get lost in itself.

Would you like to know more…?

Cinecast Episode 299 – Techincally, Literally and Actually

We don’t have much to get into today. Mostly were just shaking in our boots about the expectations for Episode 300. So far we’ve got nothing but we’ll figure out what to do for something at least a little bit different. For today, it’s all Park Chan-Wook and trying to pronounce Mia Wasikowska. Love doesn’t quite do it justice. Be prepared for SPOILERS though. We look forward to the next couple of episodes and Kurt gives brief impressions of his thoughts on Dreamworks’ The Croods, which we’ll talk a little bit more about later 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 244 – Of Muscles and Men

We’re going to spoil the shit out of Liam Neeson in The Grey this week. So I hope you’ve seen the film or don’t care about that sort of thing before listening. Right along with our “punch nature in the face” review, we’ve got a brand new top 5 list to go over that deals with manliness in cinema. Not entirely sure what that means to everyone out there, but Kurt and Andrew each give their take on the matter. A smaller watch list this week since we’re recording so close to last week’s episode, but there a bit in here to chew on for sure – including Kurt finally hitting up Joe Wright and his heavy melodrama, Atonement. That should be worth your price of admission right there. We’ve also brought back the homework assignment segment to the show and there may be rewards for those who complete their coursework, so be sure to listen for that. So sit back and enjoy the spirited festivities.

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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Toronto After Dark 2011: Midnight Son Review

The vampire mythology continues to retain its hold on our collective imaginations as it works its way through film, TV shows, literature and, as many North American doorsteps will undoubtedly encounter in about a week’s time, fashion and costume design. There’s good reason – it taps into some deep seated fears of death reaching out to you anywhere, the intimate turning into the violent and your own life’s blood be drained away. Not to mention the promise of eternal life. It also comes with a whole variety of different aspects to the myth that can be added or modified to the same basic premise to allow for countless possibilities of stories to be told. Whether you like your vampires with wings, fangs or sparkles, the legend remains and the stories keep spawning from it. The latest example is Scott Leberecht’s many-years-in-the-making Midnight Son which takes yet another approach – strip the myth down to its basic elements and drop it into the real world. Akin to George Romero’s best film (IMO) Martin, but with superior acting and even more sympathetic characters, Midnight Son succeeds on just about every level as a storytelling vehicle: a genre exercise, a different spin on a well-worn legend, an examination of several themes (loneliness, self-realization) and a simple love story. It is easily the best told tale of the festival so far.

Jacob is a 24 year-old nighttime security guard at an office building. He’s pale, skinny and a fairly blank slate. His “skin condition” has forced him out of the sun since he was quite young and his apartment is sealed tightly from any external shafts of light. However, he seems to be undergoing even more health issues of late – though he eats everything in sight, he simply can no longer satiate his hunger. His sallow complexion is of concern to his doctor until one day Jacob stumbles on draining the juice from a raw meat package. He immediately notices how his system reacts to the red liquid and starts making regular visits to a local butcher for containers of animal blood (which he sneaks into work inside his coffee thermos). It’s yet another stumbling block on the road of life for Jacob and things become even more complicated when he meets Mary. She has her own problems (dead-end jobs and a blossoming coke habit), but the two have an easy rapport upon their first meeting. On their first date, they don’t even leave the apartment as Mary jumps him after stealing a rather large snort in the bathroom. This results in a nasty nose bleed that trickles into Jacob’s mouth and an even more intense realization from his body about what he really needs – human blood. Now the real challenge begins for Jacob.

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