Cinecast Episode 427 – Stretching the Bubblegum

Was it the weather or is it the shitty inconvenient way films are released in theaters these days? Or does it depend on your geography or disposition? Or a little bit of everything? In short, we didn’t get to the “main releases” (of boats in storms or feminist westerns) this week and instead opted for some VOD experimentation with Vincent Cassell in Partisan. A solid film with problems is the verdict. The Watch List is fairly eclectic this week but a whole lotta witchin’ going on. From Winona Ryder to Vin Diesel, we cover the gamut. Andrew and Kurt also spend some time in the kitchen cooking up some spaghetti westerns before heading to Southeast Asia for a thriller and some kung-fu. Like a snake in the eagle’s shadow, there is no escape for the good the bad or the ugly; there most certainly will be blood inside Llewyn Davis.

#sorrynotsorry

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!

 

 
 

partisan-cinecast

 
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Review: Trance

TranceMovie Poster

Director: Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire, 28 Days Later)
Screenplay: Joe Ahearne, John Hodge
Producers: Danny Boyle, Christian Colson
Starring: James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel, Rosario Dawson
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 101 min.


Hot off the heels of having the world in the palm of his hand with the Olympic opening ceremony, Danny Boyle delivers his first feature film since the harrowing 127 Hours. Trance is a bewitching puzzle of a thriller that’s off-kilter fun from start to finish, reminding us of Boyle’s amazing ability to surprise his audience.

James McAvoy plays Simon, a fine art auctioneer who teams up with a gang of criminals in order to steal an expensive painting. However, the robbery doesn’t exactly go to plan, the painting goes missing and Simon apparently can’t remember what happened to it after taking a nasty blow to the head. The leader of the gang (Vincent Cassel) then decides to enlist the help of a hypnotherapist (Rosario Dawson) in order to unlock the memory in Simon’s head of where the painting is located.

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Hypnotic Trailer for Danny Boyle’s Trance

Playing firmly in full genre mode, Danny Boyle’s Trance looks to find the director in full form. Aggressive visuals, trusts breached. It also looks to have fine character performances from Rosario Dawson as a professional hypnotist to Vincent Cassel, the possibly turncoat partner in crime, and yes, James McAvoy who an art auctioneer turned thief whose heist involving a Goya painting goes to holy hell. Plus amnesia. Or Maybe Not. Either way, I’m in.

Trailer: Trance

Slick editing rhythms. Complicated heist gone awry. Underworld supplying the beats. This is Danny Boyle in his comfort zone, most definitely, but it also looks like he is still aiming to amp up the visual style (note the Sunshine / 127 Hours up-close camera work) and hall of mirrors pacing to make for an pretty entertaining little con-artist gambit that aims to mess with your head.

James McAvoy plays the mastermind behind bold bit of art thievery, that is until his partner, played by Vincent Cassel, turns on him but fails to acquire the artwork. McAvoy ends up with a memory wiping head injury, who goes to a hypnotist to recover the location of the art out of his head, but the therapist, played by Rosario Dawson is working for Cassel. Lots of twists and turns ensue. Fluff? Probably. Will it be good? I’m betting it will be. (Any movie that gives McAvoy a head injury is good in my book.)

Cinecast Episode 194 – An Island of Loneliness

 
 
After several weeks of ‘shooting the shit’ and not bothering with the current film releases, we attempt to make up for lost time, and even (mother mercy!) get ahead of the game. This episode is loaded down with SPOILER-style reviews of two films in limited release (there is your fair warning) and one that many are looking forward to this Christmas. But fear not dear listeners, Black Swan is getting wider by the week and Finnish oddity Rare Exports, a delightfully deadpan anti-Christmas kids flick is probably coming to a theatre near you any moment now, hopefully VOD or other distribution channels will follow. The last is the Coen Brothers latest, a re-envisioning of the Charles Portis novel that is similar enough to the 1960s John Wayne movie in story and plot that spoilers are more or less moot. The boys pour on the love of classic westerns as well as experimental looks in the genre from Cat Ballou to Deadwood. And being that years end is just around the corner, it is time for lists once again. All three of us present our TOP FIVE female performances as an appetizer for our ten picks of the year. Some great DVD choices this week lead into a rousing “discussion” (and by discussion, we mean an epic They Live styled “PUT THE GLASSES ON” smackdown with Gamble doing his best Roddy Piper and Andrew assuming the stoic Keith David position) of how ‘interesting’ Michel Gondry’s Green Hornet is for what it is. It is worth staying to the end for that one, even if Kurt throws up his hands in exasperation of the whole argument. Oh, and just to mix things up a little we talk some Terrence Malick and the recently web-release Tree of Life Trailer.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!


 
 

 

To download the show directly, paste the following URL into your favorite downloader:
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ALTERNATIVE (no music track):
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Full show notes are under the seats…
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Cinecast Episode 194 – (Alt. No Music Version)

Cinecast Episode 194 (alternate version with no music). This post is simply for streaming purposes and easier access for iTunes subscribers. For full show notes and listener comments, please visit the official post for this episode.

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Review: Black Swan

 

“I kill myself for you people every night!” so the unspoken cry of the stage actor, or in this case the professional Ballerina, goes. Darren Aronofsky continues his examination of the psyches of performers, started with The Wrester but comes at it from the opposite direction to his previous picture age- and experience-wise. Black Swan charts the anxieties and temptations of a young ballerina, Nina (Natalie Portman,) as she gets her shot at the big-time in a production of “Swan Lake.” Nina has just been picked by legendary Ballet director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel, oddly restrained) to replace his aging muse (Winona Ryder) and take the central dual role of the Swan Queen in his ‘visceral’ production of the most famous (or overdone) ballet. Nina is young enough that she is still living at home with her mother, amongst her pink stuffies and white laced bedspreads. She is a perfectionist, but not yet an artist, naïve and a career surrogate for her mother who only made it so far in the dance world in her day before having children. It is nice to see Barbara Hershey in this film, but I wish she had a little more to do. That applies to pretty much the entire cast with the exception of Portman. Aronofsky keeps the camera on her face when things are happening to her, but also favours that ‘behind the head’ technique used frequently in The Wrestler. There is something about the technique that undercuts the film. It worked for the sad optimism of Randy The Ram, but for the acute performance anxiety and burbling internal pressures of Nina, the more aggressive techniques he used in pi and Requiem for a Dream may have better served things. As it stands, there is something about Black Swan that feels muted. For the high melodrama of the story and the cliché feel of many of the scenes, not the least of which that ‘there is always someone younger and hungrier to replace the lead,’ ‘it’s lonely at the top,’ etc. a little more bombast may have helped things along. This certainly is not a character study as the characters are all in total subservience to the metamorphosis (physical, psychological) angle of the story.
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Movie Club Podcast #20: Visitor Q and Irreversible

The MOVIE CLUB EXTREME edition is now available at the Movie Club Podcast website. Episode #20 features lengthy spoiler-filled discussions of Takashi Miike’s Visitor Q and Gaspar Noe’s Irreversible. The guest contributors for this episode are Film Junk‘s Sean Dwyer and The Documentary Blog’s Jay Cheel, Where The Long Tail Ends‘ James Gillham and local Row Three writers Marina Antunes and Kurt Halfyard. Listener discretion is advised as everything from CGI penises to Breast Milk snow-angels are up for discussion.

The Movie Club is as much for the listeners as it is the contributors. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section over at the Movie Club Page. (Comments are turned off on this post.) The Next Episode will be recorded in January and the films on discussion will be F for Fake and Catfish.

TIFF Review: Black Swan

 

 

“I kill myself for you people every night!” so the unspoken cry of the stage actor, or in this case the professional Ballerina, goes. Darren Aronofsky continues to examination of the psyches of performers, but comes at it from the opposite direction of from his previous picture, The Wrester. Here he charts the anxieties and temptations of a young ballerina, Nina (Natalie Portman,) as she gets her shot at the big-time in a production of “Swan Lake.” Nina has just been picked by legendary Ballet director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel, subdued and restrained) to replace his aging muse (Winona Ryder) and take the central dual role of the Swan Queen in his ‘visceral and real’ production of the most famous (or overdone) of ballet. Nina is young enough that she is still living at home with her mother, amongst her pink stuffies and white laced bedspreads. She is a perfectionist, but not yet an artist, naïve and a career surrogate for her mother who only made it so far in the dance world in her day before having children. It is nice to see Barbara Hershey in this film, but I wish she had a little more to do. That applies to pretty much the entire cast with the exception of Portman. Aronofsky keeps the camera on her face when things are happening to her, but also favours that ‘behind the head’ technique used frequently in The Wrestler. Something about that technique that takes some of the visceral out of the picture. It worked for the sad optimism of Randy The Ram, for the acute performance anxiety and burbling internal pressures of Nina, the more aggressive techniques he used in pi and Requiem for a Dream may have better served things. As it stands, there is something about Black Swan that feels muted. For the high melodrama of the story and the cliché feel of many of the scenes, not the least of which that ‘there is always someone younger and hungrier to replace the lead,’ ‘it’s lonely at the top,’ etc a little more bombast may have helped things along. This certainly is not a character study as the characters are all in total subservience to the metamorphosis angle of the story.
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Trailer: Black Swan

After much speculation and curiosity regarding Darren Aronofsky’s latest, we finally get a substantial peek by way of its first trailer, which hit the Apple site yesterday. And boy, does it give you a fair bit to chew on. It seems as though Aronofsky is plunging back into the mental breakdown territory that poked through in the later half of Requiem for a Dream, with more than a little of The Red Shoes thrown in. Plus, on top of the Portman-Kunis rivalry that (I’m guessing) makes up the bulk of the movie, I’m really looking forward to seeing what Vincent Cassel does in this flick. I’m certainly intrigued, and it looks like Black Swan may very well make Aronofsky five for five.

Check out the trailer at Apple here, then leave your thoughts below!

Review: Mesrine – L’instinct de mort

There are so few bonafide movie stars these days. These are actors that can light up the screen in such a way that even in a highly stylized and kinetic motion picture about an infamous personality, all eyes are riveted on the curve of the mouth or the lift of a brow of the player: Insouciance is celebrated. Vincent Cassel is certainly one of those actors. Whether he is hamming it up in the all star Ocean’s movies (or the goofy Sheitan) or turning into a monster in Irreversible or La Haine. Few stars of Cassel‘s caliber can go from the charm and sex appeal of Warren Beatty to the pure motherfucker-ness Charles Bronson to full on nutter of Jack Nicholson. And director Jean-François Richet allows for all of the above in Public Enemy Number One (Part One). While we get little real insight into one of Frances most notorious criminals, Jacques Mesrine, what we do get is one of the most snappy crime thrillers in quite some time. The stylish presentation and driving narrative do not let up. The film asks you to root, cheer, and laugh for a truly despicable human being, and with its stars charm and menace at the helm, you might just find yourself doing so. Yes, in a the strangest of ways this is a good thing.

North American’s likely know Jean-François Richet from his remake of John Carpenter’s Assault in Precinct 13, but that somewhat forgettable film cannot adequately prepare for the mastery on display in the construction of Public Enemy Number One. Visually echoing the styles of Michael Mann and Brian DePalma, Richet makes the most of split screens, changing film stocks, Ken Burns effects, extreme close-ups and when necessary, precise, static long shots. The opening credits of the film set the tone in the form of multiple versions of Vincent Cassel and Ludivine Sagnier on screen, simultaneous yet different angles and slightly off in timing via a masterful use of split screen. This is the stuff perfect introduction on what the film is going to be, slick glossy and commercial, yet not at the expense of edgy filmmaking. There is something going on: a bomb, a bank heist, the feel is familiar, the cinematic grammar an obvious telltale. But things are cranked up a bit further than your run-of-the-mill thriller. It feels like the film is taking the first step crossing a busy and wide street, knowing that only centimeters away is fast moving death on wheels. That feeling never really goes away over the course of the film, making the 2 hour run time feel like mere minutes. The viewer is asked to watch some pretty grisly stuff, not the least of it being a bit of tense marital gun fellatio. The first part of the film which resembles a good old fashioned gangster yarn in the vein of Scarface of The Godfather, to the second half which fuses a terrorism biopic with Bonnie and Clyde. The two fuse together neatly while chronicling the first dozen years of the stranger personal and professional life of Jacques Mesrine from his time doing hoodlum stuff on the streets of Paris in the 1950s to the full blown crime spree in Quebec in the 1960s which culminates in a full frontal prison assault of all things. As a Canadian, it was curious to get the French take on the Canadian prison system, if the film does nothing else, it is a good adviser against committing felonies in Montreal. The opening credits of the film have a disclaimer that belongs in front of every biopic ever made. Something along the lines that this film isn’t truth, or history, but a artistic and commercial point of view. Truth is in the eye of the filmmakers. Not since The Untouchables has this type of filmmaking been realized so bloody well. Excising much of the stories intimate drama or Oscar-bait histrionics, and relying on the magnetism of Vincent Cassel’s charisma to grab the audience in between bullets, chases and macho posturing, Public Enemy Number One is a bloody shiv, broken off at the handle and shoved in hard by a smiling, crazy, and charming superstar in his prime. Bring on Part Two please.

This review was originally posted during our TIFF 2008 coverage. The title of the film was originally Public Enemy Number One (part 1) with an at the time, unreleased sequel. At Fantasia 2010 you have the chance to see both Mesrine : L’instinct de mort and Mesrine : L’ennemi public n°1.