Monday Movie: Sunshine

24 Nov

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Every Monday, we’ll recommend a movie. It could be a classic, an overlooked recent treasure, an unfairly maligned personal favorite or whatever the hell we feel like.

Director Danny Boyle describes the film as being about: a ship, a crew, and a signal. The sun is dying. So a group of eight scientists and astronauts fly a space ship called Icarus 2 to the sun to drop an atomic bomb the size of Manhattan Island into it, hoping to reignite it and save the earth from atomic winter. A fantastic cast led by Cillian Murphy rocket towards the sun with the Danny Boyle flair we’ve seen in 28 Days Later and The Beach. I won’t spoil anything, but I want to briefly address the ending. The third act reveal is usually the dividing point for audience about Sunshine. It is a pretty significant twist, and, admittedly, it changes the tone of the film dramatically. A secret part of me still wants to see the movie without the reveal, but that is not the film Boyle made. If you pick up the film on DVD or Blu-ray, the commentary tracks by Boyle and physicist Brian Cox, nerdy though they may be, really help fill in the gaps. And while you’re at it, play it loud – sound plays a big role in the film. Sunshine is very much a Boyle film, in its visual style and story structure, and while mileage may vary amongst other viewers, its propulsive energy places it in a specific sort of genre I really respond to. I call it a “pressure cooker” film, where a group of people are put under tremendous pressure and you see how they react. It is simultaneously fascinating and frustrating, but has proved rewarding over repeat viewings.

Home Video Hovel: Unrelated, by Craig Schoeder

24 Nov

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When I saw Alfonso Cuaron’s Y Tu Mama Tambien as a teenage boy, it was a revelation. It shaped my idea of how strange and fluid sexuality is and how relationships can be simultaneously complex and simple. Y Tu Mama Tambien, the story of two teenage boys discovering their sexuality at the behest of an older woman, is a fantasy for boys clawing their way out of the claustrophobic tunnels of childhood and towards the terrifying, cavernous world of adulthood. But as an adult, my interest shifts towards Luisa, the older woman with whom the boys run off, a compelling character who is shrouded in vague sorrow and hope. She has agency and her character has motive, but the majority of her story comes together in pieces through the filter of those around her. My desire to know more about Luisa is what attracted me so immediately to Joanna Hogg’s Unrelated, a film about a similar character. Anna is also a cynical, middle-aged woman in a relational crisis. But unlike Y Tu Mama Tambien, Unrelated is told entirely from Anna’s perspective. She, like Luisa, is a woman who (for one reason or many) finds it necessary to reconnect to a younger generation, platonically and possibly sexually, for fear of losing her identity altogether. And though Unrelated doesn’t navigate through sexual encounters like Y Tu Mama Tambien, it’s a much needed rebuttal, offering insight into the life of a character archetype often relegated to plot points and shallow story beats.

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Hey, Watch This! State of Affairs/The Amazing Race

24 Nov

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In this episode, Paul and David discuss State of Affairs and The Amazing Race.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

Sequel Saturday: Guy Ritchie Likes to Push the Pram a Lot, by Mat Bradley-Tschirgi

22 Nov

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Guy Ritchie, the British director dude who was married to Madonna once upon a time, is getting ready to helm Knights of the Round Table, the first in a planned sextet of flicks based of the Arthurian legend of lore. Variety reports Jude Law may be joining the cast as a villain. Don’t get too excited now.

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Sequelcast: Saw VI

22 Nov

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In this episode, Mat and Thrasher discuss the sixth film in the Saw series.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

A Brief History, by David Bax

21 Nov

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James Marsh’s The Theory of Everything tells the life story of Stephen Hawking but, other than the broad strokes, it has little in common with Errol Morris’ cleverer and more elegant A Brief History of Time, which covered the same subject matter in documentary form. Where Morris’ 1991 film was as much about Hawking the man as it was about his work and ideas, Marsh chooses to view Hawking’s life as a story of a marriage, working from a screenplay by Anthony McCarten that adapts the memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen by Hawking’s first wife, Jane Hawking. In the early going, it’s a good perspective to adopt but, as Hawking’s disease starts to take over his life, so too do the biopic conventions start to take over The Theory of Everything.

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So Strange, by David Bax

21 Nov

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It’s hard to say whether Stefan Haupt’s The Circle is a fictionalized account of a true story featuring extensive interviews with the real-life subjects or a documentary that includes extensive dramatizations. It’s pretty evenly balanced between the two recognizable formats. It’s an exciting and commendably unconventional approach but Haupt fails to make the two sides seem of a piece with one another. Other than detailing roughly the same events, the drama and the documentary don’t line up aesthetically or emotionally. What we end up with is a very interesting account of a chapter of Switzerland’s recent history that ultimately fails to penetrate beneath the surface of either its subjects or its audience.

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BP Movie Journal 11/20/14

21 Nov

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In this BP Movie Journal, Tyler and David discuss such movies as Foxcatcher, The Giver, and Monkey Shines.

Vampire As a Hipster, by Josh Long

20 Nov

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You might be surprised, as I was, to find that the most hipster-y vampire movie this year is not the one directed by Jim Jarmusch. Ana Lily Amirpour’s A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night takes that prize, and let me be clear that that isn’t a complaint. The movie’s got all of the good things about hipsterism – cool music, characters built on an iconic look; and it’s an Iranian vampire movie in black and white, for crying out loud. This film might be the coolest thing to see at the movies all year.

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Home Video Hovel: Boy Meets Girl and Mauvais sang, by Scott Nye

19 Nov

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In the most famous scene in Leos Carax’s 1986 film Mauvais sang, Denis Lavant, spurred on by the radio suddenly playing David Bowie’s “Modern Love,” full-on sprints down the street, jumping and dancing and cartwheeling in an explosion of pent-up desire and rage. It’s the kind of moment that transcends its dramatic momentum into pure iconography, easily one of the greatest “musical” scenes in film history, as the camera struggles to keep up with his unpredictable gait, cutting to a close-up that turns his background into expressionist fantasia. He seems to have transcended the physical. Until, quicker than it began, the song simply stops playing, and he’s left to stop dead in his tracks and walk back to the hideout he’s sharing with his gangster boss (Michel Piccoli), and, perhaps more pressingly, the boss’s young girlfriend (Juliette Binoche).

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