New Trailer For “Captain Phillips” Shows Us That You Don’t Want To Make Tom Hanks Angry
We have our first trailer for Paul Greengrass‘ Captain Phillips starring Tom Hanks as the real life ship captain Richard Phillips who allowed himself to be taken hostage by Somali pirates in exchange for the safety of his crew.
I find with these types of films we really get to see Hanks’ talents shine. Greengrass has proven that he can make a good film based on real life of events. Paired with Hanks, this should be a great film to watch.
Check out the trailer below.
Captain Phillips is set to open on October 11th.
Via The Guardian. About The Film The true story of Captain Richard Phillips and the 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates of the US-flagged MV Maersk Alabama, the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in two hundred years.
Original Article http://bit.ly/10j31bw
Trailer And Poster For Roland Emmerich’s “White House Down” Starring Channing Tatum And Jamie Foxx
It started like any other day, a former Secret Service agent just happens to be in the vicinity of the White House as terrorists attack it.
I guess it’s time to start hearing about that other ‘take over the White House film’ that is opening this year. They tell us that the two movies are very different of which I can believe because director Roland Emmerich is known for being able to blow things up real good, (I refer you to Independence Day, 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow).
I have been on the record to say that I really enjoyed Antonie Fuqua’s Olympus Has Fallen which opened last weekend. It was a great ride and the perfect way to start what is shaping up to be a stellar 2013 for moviegoers.
So after watching the new trailer for White House Down, the ‘other movie’, I struggle to see the difference between the two. Sure the budget for White House Down is double that of Olympus Has Fallen (and it really shows as some things really blow up good), but I have to see a compelling argument that this is going to be the Armageddon of the two films.
Check out the trailer and the poster below.
About The Film Capitol Policeman John Cale (Channing Tatum) has just been denied his dream job with the Secret Service of protecting President James Sawyer (Jamie Foxx). Not wanting to let down his little girl with the news, he takes her on a tour of the White House, when the complex is overtaken by a heavily armed paramilitary group. Now, with the nation’s government falling into chaos and time running out, it’s up to Cale to save the president, his daughter, and the country.
Here is the trailer:
And here is the poster:
Original Article http://bit.ly/16geOwL
Louis Gets His Ass Kicked By ‘Olympus Has Fallen’ And Loves Every Minute Of It
Olympus Has Fallen is a sure fire action film that will have viewers rightfully comparing it to Die Hard. A lone gunman fights his way through the bad-guys to save the kidnapped, in this case, President and his staff. It’s been done and seen before elsewhere, including Air Force One, but now the action has landed in the White House.
Agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is a Secret Service agent demoted after a tragic accident involving President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart). While on the subsequent desk duty a year and a bit later, an attack which results in the taking of the White House finds Banning fighting his way to the building and then inside trying to disrupt North Korean terrorist Kang Yeonsak’s (Rick Yune) plans.
Acting President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) tries to keep the President, the Vice President and Speaker of the House, who are now hostages of the terrorists, alive while Kang makes his demands. All the while Banning makes trouble for Kang’s men. Having worked in the building, he knows the secret corridors and access codes, and uses them to great effect. Villain Kang has done his homework as well, and understands White House protocol, as well as military response, to use it for his own means. Plenty of fights, gunshots, explosions and all sorts of other mayhem take place as the film unfold, mostly with the Koreans dying horribly after an effective takeover.
Butler does his grainy voiced best to be the wisecracking killer bent on stopping the bad guy and saving the world. The jokes are a little forced in spots and though Yune does his best to be menacing and crazy, at times he comes off as little more than a thug. The rest of the well known cast does a good job with their respective roles, but isn’t particularly unique or memorable enough acting to break through the straightforward writing. Eckhart is good as the hapless President caught in a trap as his staff is tortured in front of him for information.
Director Antoine Fuqua has made good use of the script given to him by Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt. Tightly shot and well paced, once the action begins it stays on course rather straightforwardly throughout. There are no overly complicated plot twists or plot surprises that don’t fit. Banning sneaks his way through the White House quietly and quickly dispensing with the soldiers who have invaded the building. Not superhuman, but rather effective simply because he is unexpected. For the first part of the film, they are unaware of his presence.
For most of them, it’s a short discovery before death.
Director Fuqua had a peek to the inner workings of the Secret Service, something rarely given, via a former agent. It allows for some of the early sequences to be particularly interesting as the agents react to the threat. The realism during the invasion of the White House is quite stunning. Breathtaking in its violence, it only stops once the building has been secured, pulling several small surprise secondary attacks along the way. Agents were never trained for this kind of purposeful and sustained attack and it shows.
Shot in Shreveport, Louisiana, the visual effects team make wide use of CGI as well as a scale model White House. The effects work quite well, and there are multiple scenes of the building both under attack from the outside and being partially demolished in the process. While other films have destroyed it outright, this one seeks to merely damage it beyond recognition. Shots of Washington D.C. are mostly composite and CGI, but come off as realistic and serve as background to the action inside. The overall effect has a ring of authenticity that is quite effective.
Taking place in the White House and involving the President, politics are unavoidable. Picking the North Koreans is a good choice, as it does make the villain more contemporary and believable as working against the US. Having gone to the trouble of taking the White House and President, the villain then proceeds to set in motion the destruction of the United States. At times, though, it is overly simplistic view of both geopolitics and how Americans view the world.
The Americans are the good guys, never question their own actions, even ones long past, but rather seek only to contain this current problem. No examination of the larger consequences of not only those past decisions, but how its allies will react to decisions made about Kang’s requests. The film offer’s no real examination of US policy, let alone how to deal with an increasingly hostile world other than a rehash ‘they hate us for our freedoms’ type speech at the end. Well paced and quite fun throughout, at times it delves into political thriller without the subtly or depth such films require. For an action film this can be overlooked as none of this is focused on too much.
This is a good action film that tries very hard to be better than it is. While it has top notch action sequences, its story falls short in some areas, but not enough to derail the fun of the action as it unfolds.
Original Article http://bit.ly/ZC6AvC
The @twisted_twins ‘American Mary’ Gets A Poster And A Release Date
So if you were paying attention during our coverage of last year’s Toronto After Dark Film Festival, you know that we became fast fans of one of the stand-outs of the fest, the Soska Twins gloriously twisted American Mary. Louis loved it in his review and Ariel had a fantastic time with her interview of the directors.
To go along with this news, we also have ourselves a new poster of the film. Check it out below.
Starring Katharine Isabelle, Antonio Cupo, Tristan Risk, John Emmet Tracy,David Lovgren, Paula Lindberg, Clay St. Thomas and Twan Holliday, American Mary is set to open in limited theaters on May 31st, 2013!
About The Film From the creative team that brought you the indie-smash film Dead Hooker In A Trunk – American Mary is the story of a medical student named Mary who is growing increasingly broke and disenchanted with medical school and the established doctors she once idolized. The allure of easy money sends a desperate Mary through the messy world of underground surgeries which leaves more marks on her than the so-called freakish clientele.
Original Article http://bit.ly/14qciRN
Xavierpop Does #VeniceFilmFest12 - First Reactions to Jonathan Demme’s ‘Enzo Avitabile Music Life’
The 69th Venice Film Festival started out strongly with Mira Nair's The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Reaction was favourable making it an even hotter ticket for TIFF12. Next up we have first reactions to Jonathan Demme's Enzo Avitabile Music Life. Check them out below and stay tuned to Xavierpop for our ongoing coverage.
Xavierpop Does #VeniceFilmFest12 - First Reactions to ‘The Reluctant Fundamenalist’
#TIFF12 Announces Vanguard Programme; Includes Peaches, Johnnie To, Peter Strickland and Michael Gondry
One of the most popular and well attended (justifiably) portions of the Toronto International Film Festival is the Midnight Madness programme (which already announced its programme). What is often over-looked is its sibling, the Vanguard programme which strives to introduce festival-goers to international works that defy convention and ride on the pulse of cutting-edge cinema. Curated by the Festival’s Midnight Madness expert Colin Geddes, this lineup taps into a bold and dangerous world where genre meets art house cinema.
“From Tijuana caves to the dawn of the Spanish civil war, this programme takes genre junkies to the extreme depths of storytelling that push the boundaries of filmmaking,” said Geddes, TIFF Programmer. “I like to think of Vanguard as Midnight Madness’s older, more mature sister with a darker, confrontational and transgressive core.”
90 Minutes Eva Sørhaug, Norway
Director Eva Sørhaug (Cold Lunch) reveals the rage and violence lurking beneath seemingly tranquil domesticity in her bold and uncompromising sophomore feature.
Beijing Flickers Zhang Yuan, China
Beneath Beijing’s dazzling economic boom exists the downtrodden and the forgotten “little” people who bear the weight of life’s trials and injustices.
Berberian Sound Studio Peter Strickland, United Kingdom North American Premiere
Set in 1976: Gilderoy is hired to orchestrate the sound mix for the latest film by Italian horror maestro, Santini. As time and realities shift, Gilderoy is lost in a spiral of sonic and personal mayhem, and has to confront his own demons in order to stay afloat.
Blondie Jesper Ganslandt, Sweden
North American Premiere
Three sisters, all adrift and in crisis, reunite at their childhood home as their domineering mother arranges a big birthday. But as the festivities come to an end, repressed conflicts rise to the surface. Old wounds are opened and a new family is born.
Here Comes the Devil Adrian Garcia Bogliano, Mexico/Argentina
On a family vacation, a couple’s son and daughter disappear while exploring a cave-riddled mountainside. The children eventually return home seemingly unharmed, but are withdrawn and devoid of emotion. The parents fear they have fallen prey to something inhuman — and that this dark evil has come home with them.
iLL Manors Ben Drew, United Kingdom
iLL Manors is the highly anticipated directorial debut by pioneering British music artist Ben Drew (a.k.a. Plan B). A unique crime thriller set on the unforgiving streets of London, iLL Manors follows six disparate lives, all struggling to survive the circles of violence that engulf them. Narratively linked through original music from Plan B, the film is a visually stunning and emotionally impactful experience laced with street-wise humour. The film’s soundtrack just topped the U.K.’s album chart.
Motorway Soi Cheang, Hong Kong
North American Premiere
A cocky young cop on the city’s top-secret, high-speed pursuit squad must learn the tricks of the trade from a grizzled veteran (Hong Kong action star Anthony Wong) as he prepares to take down a getaway driver in this super-charged, high-octane thriller from Hong Kong action auteur Soi Cheang (Accident) and legendary producer Johnnie To.
Painless Juan Carlos Medina, Spain/France/Portugal
At the dawn of the Spanish civil war, a group of children insensitive to pain is locked in a sanatorium in the heart of the Pyrénées. In the present day, brilliant neurosurgeon David Martel discovers that he has a tumor and starts searching for his biological parents, in order to get the bone marrow transplant necessary for his survival. During his quest, he will exhume terrifying secrets about his origins, reanimate ghosts of his country and confront Berkano, the only fateful survivor of the insensitive children. From the writer of [Rec].
Peaches Does Herself Peaches, Germany
On the advice of a 65-year-old stripper, Peaches makes music that is sexually forthright. Her popularity grows and she becomes what her fans expect her to be: transsexual. She falls in love with a beautiful she-male, but Peaches gets her heart broken and has to realize who she really is. Described as an anti-jukebox musical. Peaches writes, directs and plays the role of Peaches herself.
Pusher Luis Prieto, United Kingdom
North American Premiere
As edgy and explosive as Nicolas Winding Refn’s (Drive) 1996 cult classic, this English language remake tells the story of a week in the life of Frank, a big time drug pusher in London. Frank’s life is a fun-filled rollercoaster ride that spins out of control. Friendships start to vanish, there is no longer room for love within his life, and violence takes over. Danger and chaos ensue, and eventually Frank is left with no one to turn to and nowhere to go.
Room 237 Rodney Ascher, USA
Room 237 fuses fact and fiction through interviews with ardent fans convinced they have decoded Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining’s secret messages regarding genocide, government conspiracy, and the nightmare that we call history. Ideas of five devotees of the film are braided together in a kaleidoscopic deconstruction of the horror classic.
Sightseers Ben Wheatley, United Kingdom
North American Premiere
Chris (Steve Oram) wants to show Tina (Alice Lowe) his world and he wants to do it his way: on a journey through the British Isles in his beloved Abbey Oxford caravan. Erotic odyssey… Killing spree… Caravanning holiday… The trip taken by Tina and Chris in Sightseers is all these things and more.
Thale Aleksander Nordaas, Norway
Two crime-scene cleaners discover a mythical, tailed female creature in a concealed cellar. She never utters a word, unable to tell her story, but the pieces of the puzzle soon come together: she’s been held captive for decades for reasons soon to surface.
The We and the I Michel Gondry, USA
North American Premiere
It’s the last day of the year at a high school in the Bronx, and students pile on to the usual bus home. The raucous bunch of aggressive and superficial teens — the bullies and the bullied — develops and is transformed as the bus empties. Relationships become closer and more personal between students with absolutely nothing in common.
Purchase Festival ticket packages online 24 hours a day at tiff.net/festival, by phone Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET at 416.599.TIFF or 1.888.599.8433, or visit the box office in person from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET at TIFF Bell Lightbox. The 37th Toronto International Film Festival runs September 6 to 16, 2012.
About TIFF TIFF is a charitable cultural organization whose mission is to transform the way people see the world through film. An international leader in film culture, TIFF projects include the annual Toronto International Film Festival in September; TIFF Bell Lightbox, which features five cinemas, major exhibitions, and learning and entertainment facilities; and innovative national distribution program Film Circuit. The organization generates an annual economic impact of $170 million CAD. TIFF Bell Lightbox is generously supported by contributors including Founding Sponsor Bell, the Province of Ontario, the Government of Canada, the City of Toronto, the Reitman family (Ivan Reitman, Agi Mandel and Susan Michaels), The Daniels Corporation and RBC. For more information, visit tiff.net.
MovieJay’s Review Of “Joffrey : Mavericks of American Dance”
If Wikipedia were to produce a documentary feature, it would play like Joffrey: Mavericks of American DanceÂ : it’s long on information, short on exhilaration.
After the splendor of Wim Wenders' Pina last year, I kept waiting for this film to jump off the screen and break the boundaries of the usual documentary narrative, just as Robert Joffrey innovated ballet.Â Instead, the doc settles in as a “nice” historical piece, accounting the origins of the Joffrey Ballet. Dance fans will eat it up while more general audiences might find it of interest once it makes its way to cable.
Born Abdullah Jaffa Bey Khan to an Afghan father and Italian mother on Christmas Eve of 1930, we pick up shortly after WWII when Robert studied ballet under the tutelage of Mary Ann Wells in Seattle. There’s probably an interesting story in there somewhere about an American born to a practicing Muslim and a Catholic, as well as the name change to seem more Western, but the film doesn’t go there. It was on the west coast where a teenage Robert began coloring outside the lines, bringing elements of modern dance into his classical training techniques.
At 16 he met the 24 yr-old Gerald Arpino, who had just finished serving in the Coast Guard. They met as students of Ms. Wells and quickly became friends and then lovers, and even after their love affair ended, their mutual love of ballet held them together professionally for the following 40 years. An Italian man, Arpino recounts the story of his family’s disapproval of his career choice, which they found to be a rather “sissy-fied” profession.
Together they formed the Joffrey Ballet, with Robert tackling much of the business side of things with Gerald as the choreographer, although Robert would eventually choreograph a number of ballets himself. They moved to New York in the early 50’s, working one-night gigs wherever they could find a space to dance and a paying audience. Times were tough since their brand of ballet was not taken seriously among the usual upper-crust followers of the art form. There was the American Ballet Theater and the New York City Ballet, and choreographers like George Balanchine, dinosaurs of Russian and European inspired ballet.
Joffrey and Arpino were forging the way for a ballet that general audiences could recognize as a truly American ballet. They introduced pop and rock music into their modern dance numbers. Many dancers were befuddled by having to actually dance to a beat, having all been classically trained.
By 1954 they assembled a company of 6 dancers and hit the road in a station wagon given to them by the mother of one of the dancers.
Archival footage of the time is fascinating to watch along with stories relating to them having to do everything on their own, from sewing together costumes on the fly, doing their own makeup, as well as their own self-promotion. They played a series of one-night gigs, many of which were performed in school gyms.
From a dinner soiree, Harkness Foundation for Dance patroness Rebekah Harkness eventually bankrolled the Joffrey Ballet, and they took off from there. Pictures of the dance company performing for President Kennedy are fascinating to behold, since only a year or so earlier the troupe was living on the road.
Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance is a documentary I highly recommend as a historical document, even though it is lacking in pure entertainment value. For most general audiences, this will be the first time they are introduced to old archival video and film of the Joffrey Ballet doing numbers from post-WWII America straight on through to the Civil Rights era, the sexual revolution, and the protests of the Vietnam War. One psychedelic piece called Astante is tantalizing to watch, but like so much of the footage in the film, we’re only given a 20-30 second taste before another talking head takes us somewhere else.
This is a useful film for the annals of historical documentation, but a movie with the word “mavericks” in it is surely a cue that it ought to be “mavericky”. Gene Siskel used to ask of fiction films, “Is this more interesting than a documentary of the same actors sitting around talking?”. Well, that test could be put to this film, but in reverse: Is this movie better than a fiction film about the same stuff? I’m not sure that it is. This deserves a better treatment, as informative as it all is. Watching these dancers warming up is interesting in its own right, and the archival footage leaves us begging for more, which is a good thing, I suppose. It’s just that we’re left wanting to sink our teeth in the art form instead of feeling like we’ve been given a history lesson.
*** (out of 4)
MovieJay Was Fully Charmed By The Powerhouse That Is ‘Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry’
It’s about time you meet Ai Weiwei.
He’s the guy who designed Beijing’s National Stadium—more widely known as the Bird’s Nest—for the 2008 Summer Olympics. In 2011, Art Review named him ‘Artist of the Year’ while Time magazine listed him as the year’s 18th most influential person.
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry introduces to film—at last—the rebellious Chinese superstar artist-activist in this wonderful documentary capturing the spirit of true originals who play a risky game of limbo beneath the watchful eye of an authoritarian government.
We begin in Weiwei’s home and studio, located in the rolling hills of the Caochangdi art district in northeastern Beijing. The features include a walled-entrance, high ceilings, a garden in the courtyard, and cats who’ve mastered the art of opening doors.
Oh yes, and don’t forget those security cameras courtesy of the Chinese government, trained on the artist’s entrance.Â Why are they there? On his twitter feed and through his own short documentaries during the Olympics, Weiwei protested the fact of his regime kicking poor folks out of Beijing in order to present their own version of the way they’d like the city to be shown. The whole idea of the stadium was to celebrate inclusion, not exclusion.
Always a friend to other artist-dissidents, Weiwei is awoken one night to the sounds of authorities banging on his door at a hotel near a protest he is attending. The footage can be heard but not seen as Weiwei records the events surrounding his beating at the hands of police. Later, we see him satirizing the regime by making an installation project of his own security camera, trained on himself.
How does he make a living? From international backers and curators in the United States and in Europe. Two years ago, he was commissioned by the Tate Modern gallery in London. Titled “Sunflower Seeds”, the work consisted of one hundred million porcelain “seeds”, each individually hand-painted by hundreds of Chinese artisans and then scattered over the Turbine Hall floor.
In more footage beyond China's borders, we see the younger Weiwei in New York as a student and then into adulthood, from 1981 until his return to China in 1993 to be with his ailing father. The footage shows a much thinner man, but with the same precocious air, designing conceptual art, producing sculptures, and becoming fascinated with black jack in his frequent escapades to Atlantic City.
The film does such a fine job balancing both his artistic endeavors as well as his political activism—and the way they work hand-in-hand—that it comes as a surprise to learn midway that he has a wife as well as a young child born from what appears to be an extra-marital affair. The story wisely stays away from delving too deeply into his personal affairs, playing those things as facts in his life that he and his wife deal with privately.
At its most compelling, Never Sorry shows Ai Weiwei to be the people’s tribune, much like Michael Moore is for America. I’m reminded of the old journalistic creed that goes, “Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable”. Like a Moore film, the best sequences involve him taking legal action against the police brutality that came down on him earlier. He believes the whole exercise is a futile one, but he films himself and his crew going to police stations, filling out forms and generally causing himself to be a thorn in their sides. The system is no damned good, but it’s the only one he has to work with.
The other sequence involves the massive installation piece “Remembering” exhibited at the Haus der Kunst in Munich, Germany. Upon visiting the devastation after the Sichuan earthquake in 2008, Weiwei learned of the government’s role in suppressing data that would reveal the names of thousands of school children who perished, mostly as a result of shoddy construction in what Weiwei terms “tofu-skin schools”. Shortly thereafter, he involved himself in the collection of over 5,000 of the deceased children’s names in a memorial that stays up on his wall to this day. On the facade of the gallery in Germany were 9,000 children’s school bags spelling out one mother’s quote: “She lived happily for seven years in this world”.
The film ends on a disquieting note. While director Alison KlaymanÂ was in post-production with the film, news came of Weiwei’s disappearance. Like so many others that came before him, including his own father, it appears as though the authorities kidnapped him in the middle of the night. Supporters by the hundreds risked their lives to protest on his behalf outside his former studio that was set to be unjustly demolished.
Ai Weiwei was taken prisoner for 81 days last year, and upon his release we see footage of him being dropped off at the entrance to his house. He is gaunt and weary and reveals in rather stark terms that he can’t talk about it.
Upon the birth of the new nation of Ghana back in 1957, Martin Luther King proclaimed, “There is something in the soul that cries out for freedom”. For the first time in our journey alongside him in this film, we see Ai Weiwei as a victim. An attempt by his regime to suppress that very notion that makes up his core.
Klayman, formerly a staffer at NPR, does a good job of multi-tasking throughout. She successfully introduces us to a complicated, free-spirited troublemaker, giving us a taste of his early years through stock footage, through his many different artistic projects, and then finally by walking alongside the man and simply following him in his compelling day-to-day affairs. I could have watched an entire film of him checking in at police stations or defying authoritarian thugs when twitter followers and fans of his show up to a shack of a restaurant where he said he’d go one night, all of them sitting around and eating outside while authorities tap them on the shoulders, wondering how much longer they’ll be.
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry is a very good film that puts real faces to a progressive movement and a desire for freedom in today’s China, a country that Weiwei admits has traveled a great distance in the last few decades, but still not nearly enough.
***Â½ (out of 4)
Must Watch : Trailer For Season 2 of ‘Homeland’
Up here in Canada, Showtime’s critically acclaimed series Homeland has been flying under the radar which is rather unfortunate as it is a great watch. Very well written, the show is powered by some fantastic acting from its stars Damien Lewis, Claire Danes and the always awesome Mandy Patinkin.
I love how original the show’s plot is : Â ”Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody returns home eight years, after going missing in Iraq. Carrie Mathison, a driven CIA officer, suspects he might be plotting an attack on America.” Â As season one unfolded last year, the show got better and better leaving us with quite the cliffhanger.
A new trailer for Season 2 just dropped and from the looks of it, the show is picking up right where it left off which is fantastic news in my books. It’a a bit weird, however if you caught season one, it really does fit.
Season 2 begins on Showtime on September 30th.
MovieJay Really Dug ‘Get The Gringo’
Get the Gringo is the best of the three films starring Mel Gibson in this period of penance in terms of his current standing in Hollywood.
Is it possible to look beyond his reprehensible statements and actions of recent years and still accept him in a movie? I have found that I can. His alcoholism is his own problem and it’s up to him to take responsibility for it, which apparently he’s on the road to doing. His personal life may be a shambles, but with his recent work in Edge of Darkness and The Beaver, I’m surprised to find that his screen presence is still a comfort despite all we know about his dirty laundry.
With this effort, Gibson—in the triple role of writer/producer/star—goes full badass with a character listed as Driver in the credits, but who never introduces that or any real name to us in the pic, directed by Apocalypto first A.D.Â Adrian Grunberg. Driver’s a career criminal and a former sharp shooter with the military, information that bodes very well for moviegoers who expect him to put that skill to good use here.
The movie wastes no time exploding onto the scene with urgency in a very physical car chase that sees Gibson and cohort in clown get-ups. American authorities are in hot pursuit along the Mexican border until Gibson eventually tries to jump the wall, literally crashing more onto Mexico than into.
The authorities on both sides share an understanding; the lead Mexican officer is willing to turn a blind eye to the fact that the car has landed on their side of the fence, allowing the Americans to deal with the problem without complications. Until, that is, he peers into the car and discovers the back seat is overflowing with loose cash, at which point the Mexicans do a hasty about-face, confiscating the criminals and the money.
Gibson’s partner-in-crime dies shortly after the crash. The Mexicans appear more interested in the money than in figuring out what the Gibson character is all about, and he is swiftly thrown into the El Pueblito prison and forgotten about. The conditions at first are grim and claustrophobic, with Gibson standing out like a sore thumb among the prison population until a U.S. Embassy guy played by that round and dependable character actor Peter Gerety (Prime Suspect, The Wire) finds him.
Before long, the prisoners are transported from the holding facility into a kind of shantytown within the jail that is reportedly what the place kind of looks like.
Gibson adjusts quickly to his new environment and capitalizes from his own badassedness in a clever sequence where he steals cash by creating an incendiary diversion. We soon learn that this act was witnessed by a 9 yr-old (children live in the shanty alongside their inmate parents, we learn). We come to know him as Kid and he’s played by Kevin Hernandez, the renegade adopted son among those kids in last year’s The Sitter. Much of the second act of the pic involves Driver and Kid simply getting to know each other. It’s the best part of the movie. They form a quick bond, no doubt in part because of their mutually shared street smarts and people-watching talents.
A plot develops involving the hierarchy among the shady characters in the shanty and it is paralleled by developments outside the jail involving the cops, the Embassy guy, and the $2 million and change that was originally stolen by Driver. The facts of the plot aren’t nearly as interesting as the fascination we bring to how all the threads and relationships play out because of the singularity of focus the movie has in its breakneck pacing. Every scene is played with strict economy. There are many characters and it all moves briskly, but I was never lost.
Underneath the surface narrative is a serpentine plot coiling up underneath and Grunberg directs those sequences with assurance. So much so that to our strange fascination, we come to believe who these people are, what they’re doing, and what they mean to each other in this world that depends upon a great deal of coincidence and good timing. Perhaps it’s that the rules of the street are observed so keenly here that it distracts us from asking any questions. Characters are either chasing someone or being chased, and there’s a harmony to that dance that makes perfect sense for why the flick’s first big prison shootout sequence employs the visual strategy that it does.
Adrian Grunberg should have a fine directing career based on the many gifts on display from him here. Get the Gringo charges forward with purpose, scenes are sharply devised and crisply executed, the characters are compelling with their own challenges and motivations, and real tension is gathered throughout. If the third act disappoints, it’s because of the realization that the movie isn’t really aiming all that high, settling for B-Movie status. A strange move, since for the first hour, it really goes for broke and really feels like it just might amount to one of the best films of the year. It isn’t, however a ground-rule double isn’t such a bad consolation.
Gibson sinks his teeth into this role, essentially an asshole who is made good by the end. I loved that it’s a dirty role for him and he appears to embrace it. The revelation here is little Kevin Hernandez, whose presence humanizes Gibson. He’s smart, tough and quick-witted as Kid, exuding a natural, unforced charm. And watch out for Peter Stormare (Steve Buscemi's big lug of an associate in Fargo) as Frank, the guy who's money was stolen by Driver. He's nearly unrecognizable at first because we meet him on a computer in a hilarious scene where he's watching his money being stolen from him a second time.
Get the Gringo isn’t the film that will make Hollywood welcome Gibson back with open arms, and that’s just as well. It’s a fine piece of entertainment with good writing, confident direction, and one terrific performance after another in a movie that finally settles for being a diversion instead of following up on the promise of its excellent first hour, that plays so well that I hope Oliver Stone sees it so he can understand why his Savages didn’t work so much, while Get the Gringo does.
*** (out of 4)
Xavierpop Does @Shinsedai_Fest – Louis Reviews ‘Hiroshima Nagaski Download’
At the end of WWII, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. Within a week, the Japanese forces surrendered unconditionally and the Americans began occupation of the Island Nation. 64 years later, 2 former high school friends, filmmaker Shinpei Takeda and producer Eiji Wakamatsu set out on a journey from Vancouver in Canada to Mexico with Takeda collecting video of the survivors stories. Along the way, they also try and come to terms with what happened and find their identities as Japanese. And thus Hiroshima Nagaski Download was born.
The hibakusha, or “explosion-affected people”, living in the United States not only had the difficulty of having survived the bombing, but also having to live in the nation that was there enemy. While some immigrated to the United States at the end of the war, some were already Americans sent to Japan to study. One can imagine the hardship of being thrust into a culture, not knowing the language well and having the double burden of coming from a country that is at war with the one you find yourself in.
Takeda’s story is twofold. He is trying to relate his personal journey of not only finding the hibakusha, but also trying to get them to speak about their experiences. In trying to relate to the audience just what he has encountered along the way, part of the interviews with the hibakusha are shown periodically throughout the film. As the two travel down the west coast, both are deeply and profoundly disturbed by the experience, but feel very strongly that to have these stories recorded is the most important thing they can do. The aging population of hibakusha, coupled with the associated health issues from radiation exposure means there is a limited amount of time with which this can be done.
The problem with the film, though, is because Takeda is trying to tell the story of the hibakusha and his personal one, he must carefully balance these two and doesn’t quite do it. Without a clear explanation of his motivation, (which is not the recording, but to tell the tale of the trip itself), in parts he ends up having meandering conversations that go nowhere. Conversely, the clarity and force with which the hibakusha speak make the conversations between Takeda and Wakamatsu seem a wasted opportunity. He wisely chooses to avoid the issue of how the war started, or condemn the US for the dropping of the bombs, but rather lets the stories of the misery and torment of what was experienced speak for itself.
The film would have been better served focusing completely on the hibakusha with as much background information as possible giving the context of the stories. While there is some information online, there seems not to be the type and scope of information one would find around holocaust survivors of Nazi Germany. One wonders what happened to the videos shot by Takeda, as they are a valuable recourse. While emotionally difficult for both viewer and hibakusha, these stories should be seen and heard.
MovieJay Drinks In The Loveliness Of ‘Boy’
Everyone knows him as “Boy”. He’s a clever, plucky 11 year-old Maori kid with his head in the clouds and easily one of the most endearing characters you’ll meet at the movies this year.
It is 1984 in a small village near the Bay of Plenty on New Zealand’s east coast.
It could not be any other era. Boy’s narration quickly alerts us to his infatuation with Michael Jackson; he then introduces us to his brother Rocky and their friends Dallas and his sisters Dynasty and Falcon Crest. For Canadians in attendance, they’ll get a kick out of the local woman who drives the school bus, delivers mail, and runs the little convenience shop in town. She’s the kid’s aunt, named Degrassi. When Boy asks her for some free candy, she’s quick to retort, “Get a job!”. “I can’t, you have them all!”, he complains.
The opening sequence also informs us that Boy and his brother live with their grandmother, who can be seen early on driving out of town for a week or so to a family funeral. Their father has been out of the picture for some time while their mother died giving birth to Rocky. In his imagination, Rocky’s got telekinetic powers that his older brother uses to guilt-trip him with, blaming him for not controlling them at birth, causing mom’s death.
More than any of the other kids around, Boy has adult responsibilities around the small farming land and it’s up to him to keep the house going in grandma’s absence.
Despite the desolate economic situation that is plain for us to see, as well as the tough family dynamic, Boy is a hopeful and resourceful kid with tons of affection in his heart. He idealizes three things: Michael Jackson, his father, and that girl in class named Chardonnay, who appears to ignore him. Exuberantly, the kid tells us his real name is Alamein: “I’m named after my dad. He’s named after where the mighty battalion fought in WWII”. When he’s through with killing baddies the world over, Boy insists that his father will come back to visit and take him to see Michael Jackson. Live.
When he tries to show Chardonnay that he’s got the moves like MJ, she finds his Moonwalk unspectacular. No matter, that doesn’t stop him from whispering telepathically to her in class and around town, “Look at meee…loook…at…meee!”.
There are moments involving Boy and his younger brother Rocky that are knowing and poignant of sibling relationships. He loves his brother and does not mistreat him, but when Boy gets into a melee with one of his peers, he takes his frustrations and feelings of inadequacy out on Rocky—whom he derides constantly by calling him an “egg”. I felt a tremendous sympathy for Rocky; he was taking the same shit I remember giving to my younger brother, usually for no other reason than to feel my own sense of power.
Up to this point, I felt a genuine giddiness with this little slice-of-life pic with its fresh characters and its sunny disposition. And then, night falls and headlights can be seen on the horizon. A car slowly creeps down the driveway. In a village this small, the boys’ faces should tip us off to who the owner of the car is, but they look on with blank stares. Who can it be? Boy comes around to the front of the house. The point of view shifts to within the car looking out at Boy.
I took myself from an easy slouch into full attention. For the first time since Boy has been put in charge of the house, we sense real danger. Boy steps up to the car and says hello. Inside are three men. “Hello, who are you?”, says the man closest to Boy. “I’m Boy…Alamein”. “Alamein, I’m your dad”, the voice says.
This information turns out to be true, but not before we continue to vet the elder Alamein’s face along with his two friends seated next to him, just to be sure. Turns out that dad really has come back, but not from killing bad guys, but because he’s been released from prison. He and his crew don’t appear to look older than 30ish.
We’re cynical of their intentions and before long we learn that dad has come home to hang around long enough to dig up some cash he buried in the yard. “It’s a precise number of feet from the fence post, but I forgot how many. And the post”, he mutters. He showers the boys with gifts that include a microwave oven that Boy mistakes for a TV set, along with sparklers—the kind you see in the hands of North American kids typically on the big holiday weekend in July.
Boy gets drunk off of his own idealism for his dad in moments like when the old man takes him out in his black mustang, which impresses Chardonnay. Rocky may be younger, but he looks upon his father with a more level gaze. When a man the boys run into often down by the river asks what their father is like, Rocky is quick to reply “loud”, referring to dad’s penchant for partying and carrying on late at night.
Taika Waititi plays the manchild with gusto, and he is also the writer and director of the picture. His name will be familiar to fans of his previous effort, the quirky cult hit Eagle vs. Shark. Others will know him for having directed more than a few episodes of The Flight of the Conchords. With Boy, he tempers indie quirkiness with real, perceptive human moments and touches of magic realism in a way that deeply involves us.
Newcomer James Rolleston is refreshing and intelligent as Boy, engaging us immediately with his big eyes and even bigger sense of hope. He leads practically every scene and when dad shows up that’s when this easy, breezy slice-of-life grows into a more thoughtful coming-of-age experience. Rocky sees his father for the manchild that he is, but it takes Boy longer to do so, and it happens organically throughout the film in little moments that finally crescendo to where Boy sheds his idealism and essentially becomes father to the man.
Boy is a wonderful, intelligent entertainment with universal appeal that left me hugging myself.
***Â½ (out of 4)
Louis Absolutely Loved The Experience That Was @Fangoria presents Fright Nights at the Projection Booth
A grindhouse is an American term for a rundown theater that mainly shows exploitation films. Fangoria presents Fright Nights at the Projection Booth is just such an event. Showing two films from Black Fawn Films, a Canadian production company that does small budget horror films, the event provided far more than was advertised.
The Projection Booth was opened to help support Canada’s vibrant filmmakers and create an intimate and unique theatre going experience. Formerly known as the Gerrard Cinema, the venue fell on hard times and sometime in 2011 the Principals Jonathan Hlibka and Nadia Sandhu along with Grinder Coffee’s Euan Mowat relaunched the theater as it is today. This viewing was but one of a long list of outside and independent events the venue holds.
Being a grindhouse event, the location was perfect. The theater has everything in (mostly) working order. The age of the building becomes apparent upon entering and the theater itself is a holdover from a bygone era, from the cracks in the stucco ceiling right down to the seemingly original, but refinished, seats. Surprisingly comfy too.
This event is as much about the venue and the audience as it was about the movies. Black Fawn Films seems to use its personnel interchangeably, so an actor on one project might write the next, or the director for one stars in the next. A group of professionals that not only work well together, but enjoy the work they do and are all also friends. Many of the people involved were also at the venue, sitting among fans with family and friends as the films rolled. A close, intimate feeling was evident from early in the evening, as people chatted, mixed and generally treated it as one would a film viewing among friends. A far cry different from the cold detachment one finds at the chain theaters.
Keeping with the grindhouse feel of the evening, there are the tacky coming attractions and feature films made sometime in the 60’s. And then the first film starts, well, after a couple of minutes of red screen and music waiting for the projection booth to start it. And then If a Tree Falls starts.
If a Tree Falls is an homage to the same exploitation films that made the original grindhouse films possible. The quality of the film is keeping in tradition of grindhouse films. Bad lighting, sound, focus and color, coupled with random effects give the film an authentic feel.
The movie is simple enough. A group of four friends are going on a cross country trip to camp. Along the way they decide to stop overnight in a mostly uninhabited area, away from proper campgrounds. In the middle of the night, someone begins to attack the group. By morning, it is evident what the intentions of the attackers are and the real horror begins for the campers.
The film has an interesting message about the randomness of violence intertwining with the cold detachment of violence. Violence is personified by these killers, who go about their business without word or emotion. Violence is used as a tool for destruction and a corrupting influence. In the end, even those who survive it become something different because of it. This film is neither for the faint of heart or those looking for silly horror. There is no happy ending here. This is dark and vicious, and goes much further psychologically than some of its better known, big budget brothers.
The lights come up and the intermission reel starts. Playing a ten minute countdown onscreen that someone acquired from a drive in, it featured all of the lobby taunts and songs those of us who actually went to drive-in’s remember and added atmosphere for those who don’t. As the reel ends and the MC for the night begins to speak, he realizes most of the audience is still outside and runs to get them. Everyone seated, after another brief wait on the projection booth, this time in dark with no sound, the movie begins.
Kill is interesting in that it is being shown at all. Made 8 years ago and never properly edited, it was initially put aside for other projects and then eventually forgotten. Recently unearthed, the production company finally finished it. Just prior to the screening, the director spoke briefly about how bad the film was. And while what he said about the film was accurate, there were also some interesting and highly entertaining moments to the film.
A group of six people wake up in a house, not knowing how they got there or each other. A voice speaks to them through speakers throughout the house. It becomes apparent that the purpose for being in this place is to kill one another. Through a series of bizarre and illogical personal choices, then encouraged to act by equally bizarre tiki men in oversized masks, the group begins to actually break apart and kill one another. One does not simply say, when they find themselves in a house where someone wants them dead, that people should go into rooms alone, and “yell if they need anything!”. To tell any more would take away from the charm and beauty of the film’s grindhouse aspirations.
The major difference between the first film and this was this film was done straightforward. It shows a very amateurish approach to film and filmmaking, and the company was right to have left it hidden for 8 years. As a part of a double grindhouse bill, specifically this venue and audience, it was perfect. And it’s in this context it should be viewed.
The lights come up and many of the people involved take the stage for a short Q&A, though it becomes more of a conversation among friends than one might typically encounter. Slowly people begin to shuffle out of the theater and into the night. All in all it was a fun night for grindhouse horror fans and fans of Black Fawn Films and most of the proceeds of the night going to a Henry Rollins sponsored charity A Drop in the Bucket.
Xavierpop Does #WSFF12 - MovieJay Reviews The ‘Stranger In A Strange Land’ Programme
The set of 7 shorts examined in the Stranger In A Strange Land programme focus on the notion of being a fish out of water. Indeed, one of the shorts is just about that. From an urban cowboy to a baby troll, watch as these characters experience the unknown, both in themselves and in their environments.
Reinaldo Arenas (4 min) is a thought-provoking experimental black and white trip involving the disposal of a nearly 6-foot long shark on a residential Miami street and it just so happens to be based on a true story. Question: Is the narrator the man we see throughout the short short, or is it the shark? Hmm…I suppose they’re both accidental immigrants in their own way.
Ursus (10 min) is a wonderful, hand-drawn animation piece from Latvia that considers the plight of a carnival bear looking for meaning in his life. Engrossing and yet another brilliant piece of animation at the festival, with love in every frame of this picture.
I Am John Wayne (18 min) by Christina Choe of New York contains a plot that would be at home in a Jim Jarmusch movie with Taco, a black teen from a rough neighborhood who must transport his best friend Jerry’s horse Chance across town after Jerry is murdered. There’s enough here for an interesting feature and Choe is a natural-born director who brings much sympathy to these characters.
The Crossing of the Living Room (19 min) is the best work of fiction in this series as it considers a middle-aged French-Canadian woman named Celine who is in the process of reinventing her life after a stint in rehab. Genevieve Albert shows natural gifts as a director by just following Celine and not giving her any kind of plot other than to see her through the beginnings of her mundane sobriety. Micheline Bernard gives an emotionally honest performance as Celine, a woman who suggests much inner life without ever revealing it, making her and this film a fascinating watch.
Odysseus’ Gambit (12 min) is one of the best docs you’ll see all week, this one about the unusually strange story of Saravath Inn, a Cambodian man air-lifted out of his home country in his youth by the American military, only to be deposited in the States as a “displaced person”, making it impossible for him to fully join American society. He gets by playing chess in New York City parks, though he would want you to know that “I’m not a chess player; I’m an entertainer” because of his skill for prearranging a board in order to teach people moves to avoid as well playable moves, all of which relate to life, of course. Totally absorbing experience and one of the most unforgettable characters I’ve met on film this busy week.
From Germany comes the rather droll The Changeling (9 min), a water-colored animated fable about a married couple who must adopt a baby troll Â after their own child has been taken from them. A funny take on acceptance.
Scott Thompson is Bob London in The Immigrant (20 min), a washed-up 90’s actor that the U.S. deported back to Canada and for good reason: nobody appears to like him since he’s only managed to offend everyone in his path with big and reckless mouth. Michael Cera, Will Forte, Margaret Cho and Dave Foley guest-star in this slight piece of niceness lacking any real bite.
Check out our coverage of theÂ WorldWide Short Film Festival:
-Â Now Onto The ‘Homeland Security’ Programme
-Â XavierpopÂ Takes On The ‘Someone To Watch Over Me’ Programme
-Â MovieJay Reviews The “All Tomorrow’s Parties” Programme
-Â Douglas Godhino Reviews The ‘Superfans’ Programme
-Â Xavierpop Takes on The “Creative Control” Programme
-Â MovieJay Reviews the “War, What Is It Good For?” Programme
-Â MovieJay Reviews ‘The Family Compact” Programme
-Â Next Up A Look At the ‘Iron Ladies’ Programme
-Â Xavierpop Covers ‘The Love Hurts’ Official Selection
-Â A Break-Down The ‘Who’s Your Dada?’ Programme
-Â MovieJay Reviews The Opening Night Gala: Winners From Around the World
-Â The @xvrpop Ultimate Worldwide Short Film Fest Preview
-Â The CFC Worldwide Short Film Festivalâs Screenplay $50,000 Giveaway is Back!