The Iceman (106m)
Dir. Ariel Vromen
Starring. Michael Shannon, Winona Ryder, Ray Liotta
“How do you feel about the people you killed?”
- HBO’s “The Iceman: Confessions of a Mafia Hitman”, 2001
That is the cold, remorseless response of Richard Kuklinski, the contract killer at the brutal centre of Ariel Vromen’s The Iceman. The title comes from Kuklinski’s media monicker, and while the name does not fall short of sensationalism it borders on dead accuracy too. He never blinked looking down the barrel of a gun, and he had even fewer reservations about pulling its trigger.
In The Iceman, Kuklinski is fully embodied by Michael Shannon, down to his monstrous physicality and gruff expressions. His voice is husky, a compartment of stoic words and the last heard by over 100 people. It’s actually speculated that Kuklinski had 250 victims – all males – and the body count of The Iceman doesn’t shy away from the severity of the notorious hitman’s acts. Shannon is restrained, predatorily defined by his slow movements and quick, deadly attacks. He rivals the menace of Anton Chigurh, only this character existed. [Read More]
On tonight’s episode of Movie Monarchy, Matt and Eric discuss J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek Into Darkness” and Jeff Nichols’ “Mud”. They’ll also chat about the DVD/Blu-Ray picks of the week and this week in news and trailers. Kirk Haviland Movie Junkie TO and Devin Garabedian from Movie Knight join our hosts in the discussion.
Greetings from Tim Buckley (102m)
Dir. Daniel Algrant
Starring. Penn Badgely, Imogen Poots, William Sadler
We all know the saying “like father, like son”, but it’s hard to imagine the pressures of being the son who had to be “like” Tim Buckley, the late musician whose legacy left an indelible mark on the folk music scene and also produced 9 studio albums, 8 live albums, and innumerable compilations. The son was Jeff Buckley, a skinny, pallid, and rumply-haired musician who in his early career was recognized for uncannily resembling his father.
Around the beginning of Daniel Algrant’s Greetings from Tim Buckley, guitarist Lee Underwood (William Sadler) gasps that Jeff is a spitting image of his father, and right away the twenty-something prodigy has a legend to both make proud and overcome. The movie, above all, is about the mirroring life of Jeff, played startlingly well by Gossip Girl’s Penn Badgely, and his father (Ben Rosenfield), who both led successful musical careers cut tragically short (Tim died at 28, Jeff at 30). [Read More]
Dir. Michel Gondry
Starring: Michael Brodie, Teresa Lynn, Laidychen Carrasco, Raymond Delgado, Jonathan Ortiz, Jonathan Worrell, Alex Barrios
The short version: Michel Gondry’s THE WE AND THE I is his best film since ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, and one of the most interesting films of the year.
Set almost entirely within the confines of a public bus in present-day Brooklyn, Gondry’s latest continues his seeming fascination with inner-city sociology, exploring the emotional truths of contemporary youth in brilliantly complex fashion. Scripted by the eccentric director himself (alongside collaborators Jeffrey Grimshaw and Paul Proch), the film is separated into multiple “parts” and lends itself more to the deliberately unstructured style of a neo-realist film than anything recognizable from the director’s previous catalog. Read on for the full review.
Dir. Baz Luhrmann
Starring. Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan
The initial reactions to Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of The Great Gatsby, which opened this year’s Cannes Film Festival, are strangely similar to the ones of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s original 1925 book. Both works were first critically rebuked, respected only for a single redeeming quality: Luhrmann’s style and Fitzgerald’s prose. People complained that the latter’s characters were “marionettes” and in Luhrmann’s adaptation it can argued that the characters are merely dancing puppets of a cinematic pageantry.
But that’s not to say this new Gatsby adaptation will eventually be regarded, like Fitzgerald’s novel would, as some modern American masterpiece. Plus, with Luhrmann’s postmodern sensibilities his Great Gatsby is certainly not a purist adaptation for avid traditionalists. But in spite of the contemporary flourishes, Luhrmann is faithful to the structure and language of Fitzgerald’s story; he stays on-point by centering the film on the encounters of the observant Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire), who stirs in a sanitarium regretfully recalling his “riotous excursions” with the Long Island elite. Like Fitzgerald, Carraway turned to the typewriter to find enough solace to the tell the true story of the great Jay Gatsby.
The Shining is probably Stanley Kubrick’s most mind-boggling film, certainly not his best but not far from what its poster heralds as “a masterpiece of modern horror.” Watching the film for maybe the seventh time the other day – but the first ever on the big screen, in a gloriously crisp 35mm print at Toronto’s TIFF Bell Lightbox – the film registered to me as droll. Many scenes, thanks to Kubrick’s craftsmanship, sink their hooks in you, while others hang loosely with pin-dropping bemusement.
Chiefly, the film really isn’t that coherent. The plot’s driven by obtuse happenings rather than the togetherness of incidents – yet that’s precisely why The Shining continues to haunt me on a subconscious level, manifesting deep beneath goosebumps. Kubrick doesn’t want to explain the mysteries behind the Overlook Hotel, a Tudor-style luxury resort perched at the fore of the mountains of Colorado (the hotel is actually inspired by the allegedly haunted Algonquin resort the Fairmont St. Andrews in New Brunswick, where Stephen King visited and got the idea for the novel – I’ve also visited it, and my bedside light started to flicker on-and-off in the middle of the night…). [Read More]
Dir. J.J. Abrams
Starring: Chris Pine, Benedict Cumberbatch, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg
Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, John Cho, Bruce Greenwood, Aton Yelchin
Editor’s Note: Devin saw the NON-IMAX 3D cut of Star Trek 2 at the Canadian premiere. I will be checking it out tonight in IMAX 3D and will have full impressions this Sunday on Movie Monarchy.
Throughout J.J. Abrams’ latest foray into the world of science-fiction, a couple of phrases and ideas get repeated a noticeable number of times. Both of these remarks refer to the level of responsibility inherent to being the captain of a ship. They also happen to be at fundamental odds with our protagonist’s natural instincts.
Above all, respect the Captain’s Chair. But more importantly:
The choices you are making, if wrong, will get every single living person that you care about killed.
When we last left off with Abrams’ newly-rebooted take on the STAR TREK franchise, he had assembled himself a ragtag group of absurdly capable and entertaining explorers: Sulu (John Cho), the pilot and swashbuckler-extraordinaire, Chekov (Anton Yelchin), the accented navigator, Uhura (Zoe Saldana), the talented linguist, Bones (Karl Urban), the nervous doctor, Spock (Zachary Quinto), the logical but emotionally crippled half-human and, last-but-not-least, James Tiberius Kirk (Chris Pine), the overly-eager and arrogant captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Read on for the full review.
On tonight’s episode of Movie Monarchy, Matt and Eric discuss Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby”. They’ll also chat about this week’s DVD/Blu-Ray picks of the week and this week in news and trailers. Talia Crockett from The Arts Scene as well as Dave Voigt from Criticize This! and Examiner Canada join our hosts.
I Declare War
Dir. Jason Lapeyre and Robert Wilson
Starring. Siam Yu, Michael Friend, Gage Munroe
I Declare War is a no-holds-barred coming-of-age drama that is more than just dipped in the realm of fantasy. It exists, almost wholly, through the eyes and in the minds of several feral youngsters as they compete in a game of war in the woods (shot in Orange Valley, Scarborough over the course of 20 days). Yes, this is “Canadian” soil but directors Jason Lapeyre and Robert Wilson aren’t – ‘scuse the stereotype – making any apologies.
Instead, they are recalling their experiences on the imagined battlefield. Part of the film, strangely, feels personal and “inspired by true events”; but there’s little nostalgia to this tale, and more to the essence of raw energy. You get the sense Lapeyre and Wilson made this strictly for its time (The Hunger Games an apt contemporary reference) and in the moment. The key word is “urgency”, and that quality gives I Declare War its need for speed – keeping the rush even when the conceit seems likely to thin. [Read More]
On this special episode of Movie Monarchy, Matt and Eric discuss Shane Black’s “Iron Man 3″ in full spoilery detail. They go over all the twists and turns, what could be next for Tony Stark, Robert Downey Jr. and the rest of the Marvel Universe (and so much more!).