Friday, April 8, 2016

"Neon Bull"

I saw this film at TIFF, but wasn't in the proper frame of mind for it so I left halfway through knowing it would probably be playing another film fest, which it did. The Festival du Nouveau Cinema de Montreal. It's a hypnotic blend of raw natural instinct mixed with the most primordial sexuality imaginable in a movie. I really dug it, there are some scenes in Gabriel Mascaro's Neon Bull that just hypnotize. Yet, at its core the scenes are nothing more than rodeo people interacting with one another or doing their work. Every scene is filled with some kind of sexual allure, all done in a kind of cinema verite doc-style manner. You should check it out.

Tom Cruise and McQuarrie team-up for "Edge of Tomorrow" sequel

The Playlist

Christopher McQuarrie To Direct 'Edge Of Tomorrow' Sequel, Work On Script Underway

Edge of Tomorrow

I liked "Edge of Tomorrow", it was a sci-fi "Groundhog Day". It didn't make much money, but I think that's because people are just creeped out by Tom Cruise these days. It's a genuinely great movie and executed in such smart, artfully mainstream manner. I've always liked Tom Cruise, he's a great actor, but I know that his reputation has been significantly hit by his whole Scientology diatribe this past decade, but if you look past all that and just focus on cinema he's done some pretty incredible work in his career: "Rain Man", "Born On The 4th Of July", "A Few Good Men", "Risky Business", "Magnolia", "Jerry Maguire", "Minority Report", "Collateral", "The Color of Money", "Eyes Wide Shut" and -of course- his sleazebag Hollywood producer in "Tropic Thunder". The guy has real talent. His pal Christopher McQuarrie, who directed him in the last "Mission Impossible" and "Jack Reacher" + is known as the writer-director of "The Usual Suspects", will helm the sequel.

Full ARTICLE here

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Not looking good for Vallee/Gyllenhaal's "Demolition"

    • R
    • Limited

    Davis (Jake Gyllenhaal), a successful investment banker, struggles after losing his wife in a tragic car crash. Despite pressure from his father in law Phil (Chris Cooper) to pull it together,… More »
    Starring: Chris Cooper, Heather Lind, Jake Gyllenhaal, Judah Lewis, Naomi Watts

  •  dEMOLITION (2016)

  • My AwardsDaily Review 9.11.2015:
  • The press got its first look at Jean Marc Vallee’s Demolition, a film that had been expected to be a big player for this year’s awards cycle before it was pushed to a 2016 release date. Vallee is a unique talent who’s French Canadian films like Cafe de Flore and C.R.A.Z.Y are well worth seeking out, he’s a visual stylist who concentrates a lot of his time in the editing room to try to get the right flow to his movies. A good example would be last year’s Wild which had a very organic non-linear narrative.
    Demolition uses the criss-cross Vallee editing technique to tell the story of recently widowed husband — played by Jake Gyllenhaal — who therapeutically decides to demolish and repair various things, much to the chagrin of his father in-law played by the excellent Chris Cooper. Yes, that plot alone is filled with obvious metaphors about trying to start over and rebuild, but the film is surprisingly light on its feet and has a very redemptive feel to it. All that aside, I found Gylenhaal to be the reason to watch Demolition. He’s great and if this had been released in 2015 I’d say he would have had a decent shot at a nomination given that he was robbed last year for his career-best work in Nightcrawler.

    In my view, the film gives the great Naomi Watts short shrift. She plays a lost soul who compliments Gylnehaal’s character a little too well. She isn’t given much screen time, in fact her character disappears for a long stretch only to suddenly come back near the end. As uneven at it may be, the film has artistry that I found as commendable as Vallee’s other two American films (Dallas Buyers Club and Wild). His use of music has always been there in his style, and in Demolition he uses certain passages of music to reinforce a state of mind or a mood that one of the characters might be feeling. There’s an especially amusing use of Heart’s “Crazy On You” which is very well done.

Christopher Nolan's new film Dunkirk

Christopher Nolan's new movie is about to start shooting. Cillian Murphy stars alongside Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh in "Dunkirk." and One Direction singer Harry Styles? The concept sounds intriguing enough, but it also sounds completely out of his usual domain of dream, ambitious science fiction epics. 

As per ThePlaylist "The film is inspired by Operation Dynamo, the near-miraculous evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and other Allied troops from the French seaport of Dunkirk, which took place from May-June of 1940. Hoyte van Hoytema ("Interstellar") is lensing the picture, with Hans Zimmer providing the score."

Nolan's last film Interstellar had its fair share of haters, but it really grew on me and now I unequivocally believe it is one of his very best films. It'll be interesting to see what he does in a genre that stems far away from Sci-Fi, in fact the last time Nolan didn't deal with Fantasy, Superhero or Science Fiction genres you'd probably have to go back to 2002's Insomnia - which was a pretty damn good movie, might I add.

Post-Wisconsin deep breath

Bernie wins Wisconsin, Wyoming is next on Saturday and then it's the big NY vote which could make or break the whole contest!

Sanders won by more than 13% give or take margin, 57% - 43%

New York State will be a tough battle with both Clinton and Sanders trying their damnest to pull off a W over there. It'll be interesting to see in the next few days if Sanders' momentum can continue on. He's won 7 of the last 8 contests. Still trailing Clinton handily in the delegate count, but there's hope. Momentum is a powerful thing and the east-coast, liberal states are looking at Bernie and what he's doing and getting intrigued by the Brooklyn-born senator from Vermont.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Midnight Special (Jeff Nichols)

I really wanted to love Midnight Special, but I just had to settle with liking it. Jeff Nichols is a director which I admire tremendously, but there's always been a detachment for me with each of his first three films (Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter and Mud). Don't get me wrong, I recommend each one of them, especially Mud which has a southern-based Huck-Finn inspired vibe that really grows on you. My relative problem with Nichols is that he hasn't hit a home run yet, even though he oughtta have this point given some of the touches of greatness I've seen in his films.

Midnight Special has those touches, especially in its second half which is wildly imaginative, but still maintains the vicious realness of the world depicted. It's a mix of Sci-Fi, road trip, mystery and really many other genres. It does work, but to a certain extent. There are some scenes that seem so aloof and unnecessary and put you on the outside looking in,whereas there are other scenes that do the total opposite. Sometimes the film is so cold that it becomes impenetrable, whereas other times it soars and lifts you up with its artfulness.

Nichols regular Michael Shannon shows up, so do Joel Edgarton and Kristen Dunst. They all three take the risk of sheltering and protecting this boy that seems to have an other-worldly power that beams through his eyes. They need to take him to an isolated part of the country so that he can find his way back home. If it sounds Spielbergian, the film is indeed very reminiscent of Close Encounters Of The Third Kind and E.T. except those movies never had such stylistic and tonal changes, they rode by their running time in consistently potent fashion. Spielberg knew what he wanted to have on the big screen as feel and went all the way with it. It seems here Nichols has so many ideas that he tries to juggle all of them at once.

The indisputably great OJ Simpson series comes to a close tonight

"American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson" is coming to a close tonight. I'm old enough to remember, quite vividly actually, the O.J Simpson trail back in the 90s. That was an intense time. Yes, I also remember exactly where I was when the white Bronco car chase was broadcast live to everyone's amazement. It was like watching a mystery unfold in real time. Something too many people take for granted today with the internet opening up a whole different spectrum for viewing things. And then there was the trial, with its headline-grabbing sensationalism and the racial overtones. You did have people that thought he was innocent, but most of the mainstream believed he did it. 
After 20 plus years the gawker effect still lingers with this terrible case. The show really proved how dramatized it all was and how, essentially, everyone was guilty in their own way. Hollywood is not very original most of the time so taking a page from past history and giving it a fresh spin seems like another way to milk the money home, but what this show did was make viewers learn more about what went on behind the scenes with Simpson's dream team and the other legal players in the trial of the century. It did it with the most artful sense of justice we will likely have with this case. Sometimes art can change societal discourse and I do find this show did just that.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Swiss Army Man trailer finally here

This is what people called the "fart movie" at Sundance. Yes, it's a movie that rides on a flatulence joke, literally, and stars Daniel Radcliffe and Paul Dano. When I saw it at Sundance I wasn't too sure what to make of it. It's very original and seems to take pride in its outrageous concept. I met both of the film's eccentric filmmakers at the awards ceremony and they both seemed amused by how confused I was about their film.
Covering Sundance for The Young Folks I wrote: "the directing award went to the directing duo behind the most polarizing film of the fest Swiss Army Man. Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert won the award for a movie that Twitch Film’s Jason Gorber called “The Citizen Kane of fart joke movies.” If that doesn’t interest you at all then steer far away from this movie starring Daniel Radcliffe as a dead, farting corpse and Paul Dano as a distraught man stranded in the middle of a dessert Island. They somehow form a friendship and learn to help each other in the process. Radcliffe’s corpse is used as a jet ski ride whenever he farts, on the other hand Dano tries to teach his compadre about the joy of life by dressing up like a a girl and putting the moves on good ol’ Harry Potter. Not much else can be said, just sit back and let the ridiculousness of this movie drop your jaw down to the floor."

Another "Better Call Saul" Monday is upon us! Rhea Seehorn for show MVP!

Rhea Seehorn on the "Better Call Saul" boys' club: "I  feel surrounded by fiercely intelligent, strong, courageous women"

Breaking Bad was quite possibly the greatest TV drama of all time, right up there with The Sopranos and The Wire, at least. So then, it was with great restraint that I started watching its spin-off Better Call Saul. Any doubt I had was quickly eviscerated by the first episode. This is a really good show, even maybe a great one. You can't make comparisons to Breaking Bad though; it'd be like comparing The Godfather to Goodfellas. On its own, Better Call Saul is a significant achievement because of its focus on character and the subtle dilemmas that invade these well thought-out characters' lives. If the other show was showy and epic, this one is restrained and minimalist. It has nothing to do with Breaking Bad, which is another reason why it's so damn good.

Of course Bob Odenkirk owns this show, but if there is a true undervalued MVP in the cast it's Rhea Seehorn as Kim Wexler. Her film credits are reduced to mostly TV movies, but something tells me we'll be seeing her on the big screen soon. She is phenomenal as Wexler, who is really the heart and soul of the whole show. She encompasses the most pronounced example of a strong female lead on TV and does it with such bravado. The whole show is supposed to be about the boys club, but she reduces their impact and makes you cheer harder for the lone female warrior. There's a great Salon interview with Rhea, which you can find HERE.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Mcconaughey, Dicaprio "Hum Hum Hum Hum"

'Fugazi, Fugazi. It's a wazy. It's a woozie. It's fairy dust." Best scene in The Wolf Of Wall Street? There are so many I can name, but this one definitely made me realize that this wasn't going to be your usual kind of rags-to-riches story. It is Scorsese after all. This film is the peak of Matthew McConaughey's career, and his screen time is all but, what, five minutes? The whole thing is ridiculous, but it has a kind of surreal aspect to it that really makes you ask yourself "is this seriously happening? Did these people actually exist?"

Batman V Superman hits 81% second week loss

Courtesy of Jeffery Wells, it does seem like chickens have come to roost. This is great news if you've been slowly, impatiently, waiting for the demise of the superhero movie. The film has been getting nasty feedback from critics and audiences, unless you're a 13 year-old boy, which is the demographic that is making movies such as these survive and prosper in the industry.

"As widely predicted, Batman vs. Superman is down, down, down on its second weekend — an 81% drop from last Friday or, as Deadline‘s Anthony D’Allessandro has qualified, a 72% plummet if you eliminate the $27.7 million earned in pre-weekend previews. Last night’s BvS haul was $15.3 million, down from last Friday’s $81.55 million. The majority obviously hatesthis movie — the word-of-mouth is overwhelmingly negative. BvS is doing so poorly that it’s only made $224,422,793 domestic and $587,822,793worldwide so far…appalling! The all-but-universally despised film is projected to take in $50 million by Sunday night."

What does this mean exactly? I can't really say because we kind of expected this to happen, it really is all up to Warner Bros. to decide whether they are ready to reboot and start from scracth because they have a lot of big projects ahead of them, including Justice League, which Snyder is supposed to direct. 

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