Sunday Night in Cinema 3 Episode 2

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-m23hb-836302

This week I am talking about remakes versus original versions, most notably a great Chinese film you may not have seen called Infernal Affairs. I also start down an autobiographical road during the intermission, looking at the beginnings of my love for film and to a lesser extent, film criticism. Plus, my reactions to the trailers for the films coming out this week. As always you can catch up or learn more at sundaynightincinema3.com.

Also! Check out my Patreon page for a new Patron-only outtake from this very same episode: https://www.patreon.com/scottmarshall/posts

Thanks for listening! Post any comments you may have here if you want or tweet them @sundaynightinC3 and I will read my favourites on the show.

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Sunday Night in Cinema 3 Episode 1

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-gv8sp-828527

It’s the first episode! It’s got a look back at 2017’s best and worst films, a reassessment of One Missed Call starring Ed Burns, and an appreciation of the suspense classic The Vanishing. Learn more at sundaynightincinema3.com!

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Sunday Night in Cinema 3 Episode Zero

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-qcvnu-8269f7

This “FAQ” episode is for new (or just confused) listeners who want to learn what Sunday Night in Cinema 3 was and what it is now without the drudgery of going to sundaynightincinema3.com and reading the About page. It will be updated from time to time if need be. The last update was January 6th, 2018. Enjoy!

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Greetings from 2018.

Hello, movie lovers. I am reviving this blog, partly to celebrate the tenth anniversary of SNiC3, partly as the home base for a new podcast, partly to start writing new material for a book, and partly to log my movie-watching activities for this year and possibly beyond. As I write this it is the afternoon of January 1st, 2018, the last day of my holiday vacation, and I am slowly easing myself back into doing some creative work.

But first, let’s look back at the films we saw in 2017. I’ve been making these top 10 lists for at least 20 years now, and bottom 10 lists for almost as long. 2017 was a bit of an unusual year for me in terms of movie-going. We moved to Halifax in 2016, which has given me more options (one multiplex within walking distance, plus 2 others within driving distance, plus a great second-run theatre which closed in the fall, and an excellent film festival). Because of this and other factors (including free passes to several films through my local comic shop), my viewing patterns changed a bit from past years. According to my count, I saw 38 of this year’s releases: most on the big screen, which is a bit less than previous years, but actually more than I had expected before I made the list.

Since I am a cartoonist, it’s not surprising that I might be more likely to sit through films that most people would not just because there is a connection to the comics world. A prime example of this is Valerian, an unfortunate misfire from Luc Besson based on a long-running French series. On the other hand, I didn’t bother going to Justice League, even though I very much liked Wonder Woman. What was surprising about this year in comics-related movies was how great most of them were: Logan, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Wonder Woman, Spider-man: Homecoming, and Thor: Ragnarok are all very different and all very enjoyable. If Hollywood insists on tentpole films and shared universes, I hope that films like these will be the result.

The political background of 2017, especially the shocking and revolting tenure of Donald Trump and his cronies, was a useful backdrop for several of last year’s films as well; most notably the race-based horror of Get Out, the post-9/11 anxiety of Lady Bird, and the health-care anxiety of The Big Sick. Much to the chagrin of some so-called fans, it is not hard to see liberalism and social progressiveness flexing its muscles in the biggest film of the year, Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Anyway. Enough foreplay, here are the lists. First, here are the films that I liked well enough to keep out of the bottom 10, but not enough to put in the top 10:

The Lego Batman Movie
Logan
The Void
Spider-Man: Homecoming
John Wick 2
The Girl with All the Gifts
Kong: Skull Island
Personal Shopper
The Belko Experiment
Life
Colossal
The Fate of the Furious
Alien: Covenant
Baywatch
Transformers: The Last Knight
The Beguiled
The Little Hours
Atomic Blonde
Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton

And here are my bottom 10 films of 2017, in no particular order:

Underworld: Blood Wars
xXx: The Return of Xander Cage
The Great Wall
CHiPS
Ghost in the Shell
Valerian
Geostorm
mother!

Probably no huge surprises there. The Aronofsky film is an honourable mention, because while there is no doubt in my mind that the production and performances in the film are good, the end product is such an unpleasant experience that it would be silly to pretend otherwise.

There were a lot of films that I missed this year that I would have liked to have seen, and some others that are being celebrated which I had no interest whatsoever in seeing (most notably the biopic about Maud Lewis). Of the films that I did see, here are the ones I enjoyed most in 2017:

10. Free Fire. This was a smart, profane, and darkly funny period crime picture from British director Ben Wheatley, who made the even more outrageous adaptation of High-Rise. You could be forgiven for comparing this one to Reservoir Dogs.

9. Lady Bird. A smart and funny coming of age film set in the recent past, written and directed by actor Greta Gerwig, starring the always solid¬†Saoirse Ronan. Laurie Metcalf steals every scene she is in as the main character’s mother and it would be surprising if she does not take home some awards for it.

8. Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Rian Johnson injects a welcome dose of darkness into the “final” trilogy of the franchise, while exposing and dismissing a number of tired Joseph Campbell conventions. I did not enjoy every moment of it – it feels overstuffed but also weirdly slow at times – but I respect how Johnson and his cast and crew managed to unify and execute so many disparate demands. As a Buddhist, I also enjoyed how the film takes the mythology and ideas that George Lucas and company borrowed over the years and reframes them in a less orientalist, more practical fashion.

7. Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Lots of films dive into daddy issues, but none are quite as amusing and subversive as this. If I had a Cosmic Cube, I would replace every DVD of There Will Be Blood with this.

6. Wonder Woman. It drags in places, and suffers from the Zack Snyder school of third acts, but the sheer joy of Gal Godot’s performance and her supporting cast carries us through the awkward bits to create an excellent template for a DC superhero film. It remains to be seen whether Warner Bros. will take the hint.

5. The Big Sick. Another smart dramedy, this one is based on the true story of star Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily Gordon, directed superbly by Michael Showalter. As with Lady Bird, excellent supporting work by comedy veterans playing their parents.

4. Get Out. There were not many horror films this year that I found interesting or exciting, and on paper, Get Out sounds like something that could have been a sketch on writer/director Jordan Peele’s former comedy series. He and his cast do an excellent job of walking a difficult line, embracing and subverting the conventions of horror films where innocent white kids find themselves fighting for survival in a strange and hostile environment. A perfect film for Trump’s America.

3. Blade Runner: 2049. Denis Villeneuve brings his considerable skill to a film that, like its predecessor, was as much about atmosphere and ambiguity as it was about solving a mystery. In the ever-growing ranks of films based on or inspired by Philip K. Dick, it easily drops into the the top 5.

2. Baby Driver. Like Quentin Tarantino, Edgar Wright has made a career out of finding fresh and funny ways to tell stories that we have seen before. It’s not a perfect film, but it is a lot of fun, with some great action set pieces and a smart script. It will probably be a little weird to watch now with the revelations about Kevin Spacey, but if you can get past that, there’s a lot to love about Baby Driver.

1. Thor: Ragnarok. You probably don’t need me to sell you on this one, so I’ll simply reiterate what others have pointed out. This film is a glorious, freewheeling ride into the minds of Jack Kirby and others who created and developed the Marvel characters; one which brilliantly employs the theme of Ragnarok – the death of old gods, and their replacement by the young – to set the stage for a new phase of the Marvel films that have dominated Hollywood for the last decade. People complain about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, sometimes for good reason; Thor: Ragnarok addresses those complaints and brings a much-needed evolution to its title character and the MCU.

There you have it, another year behind us. If you want to stay up to date on this blog and the upcoming Sunday Night in Cinema 3 podcast, you can follow the blog itself through WordPress’ various methods, or you can follow SNiC3 on your social media of choice:

The first episode of the new SNiC3 podcast will be posted on Sunday, January 7th. I hope you check it out and that you enjoy it. Until then, thanks for reading and have a great 2018.

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Welcome, film lovers!

You have found the archive of a film blog that I wrote every week for a year; check out the About page to see why. I will someday go back and fill in the gaps that were left by a server crash and collect these posts (and other film writings) into a book; for now, I invite you to start at the beginning. If you like this site and want to see more recent work by me (including the occasional film review), check out my blog at potzrebie.com.

Thanks for visiting; I hope you enjoy Sunday Night in Cinema 3.

Scott M.

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Week 52: Roll the Credits

With no winter storms to hide behind this week, I returned to Cinema 3 for the last installment of my year-long experiment. Not surprisingly during this festive season, the movie was still a rerun (The Day The Earth Stood Still) and the ‘plex was jammed with people lining up to see whatever they could. It reminded me of a year ago, when I got the idea for this blog. At least tonight and at other times this year, I had company; thanks to Anthony, Kristi, Keith, Scott T., Matt, Chris, Sarah, Leslie, Nicole, Jay, Lisa M., and everyone else who came out to ride shotgun.

You might naturally expect at this point that I would sum up the year with a few heartwarming lines explaining what I’ve learned from spending my Sunday nights in Cinema 3: about the movies, about myself, about life. But hey, I’m a zen practitioner too; the movies are me, and you, and life.

Whether you’re a Buddhist monk or a movie critic, you spend most of your time sitting on your ass, watching the story play out in front of you. What does it signify, in the end? Am I better for having seen The Bucket List and Rachel Getting Married? Am I worse for enduring 10,000 BC and The Strangers? Was this blog worth over 4 solid days of my life and $500 in movie tickets?

I think so, yes. How often do we really remember seeing a particular movie? I have seen hundreds of movies in the theatre and probably thousands in total, but I can count the number of truly memorable moviegoing experiences on my fingers. Like another winter night a few years ago, deciding on a whim to sit in the centre of a grand old movie house, transported by the imagery and amazing sound of a film that most people never saw and probably never will. How often do we feel that conjunction of time, place, and story? Is there a nirvana, an enlightenment to strive for, by going to the movies the way some might go to church?

Absolutely. And a hell too, where What Happens in Vegas plays on every screen. And just like karma, these are beds that we make for ourselves, wherever we are in the distribution chain: writing, acting, directing, producing, distributing, exhibiting, viewing, reviewing. We read Rotten Tomatoes and we watch Access Hollywood and we go to the Big Event Pictures and we think we understand about the movies. We’re led to believe that if we go see the #1 box office champ every weekend, we’ll be winners too.

I guess that’s what made me want to write this blog. The machine that produces so much arbitrary and pointless filler like One Missed Call is not your friend. It doesn’t care if you are transported to a better place by the movies; it just wants your $10.99 on opening weekend. Your time and your life are valuable. You deserve better than to be the afterthought at the end of the supply chain.

That probably sounds strange coming from a guy who has watched Megaforce about a dozen times; but there it is. Obviously I am not like most people. Out of all of those hundreds of movies over the years, I can remember walking out of only one- the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre starring Jessica Biel. I’m not trying to brag; if anything, it’s probably a sign of low self-esteem that I haven’t walked out of more.

If some of the movies I saw this year in Cinema 3 wasted your life or your money, I hope that this blog helped tip the balance back in your favour a little. Thanks for reading it. If you want to continue reading my film reviews and other ramblings, I hope you will check out my ongoing personal blog at www.potzrebie.com. Until then, happy new year.

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Week 51: Road House

This is an unusual week in Cinema 3. First, it’s Christmas week, a time when the movie house fills with parents trying to entertain their children who are on vacation, while studios try to pimp their oscar-bait and dump their long-shelved writeoffs. Second, this has been a week filled with brisk winter storms in my corner of the world, and there appears to be another one coming tonight, so I am not sure if the theatre will be open for a late show, and even if it is, how likely it is that I will be able to get there.

Fortunately, I did pop in to the theatre in the early afternoon to find out what the movie would be, as I usually do, and it appears to be a rerun of The Day The Earth Stood Still. And so it is my hope that, in the spirit of the season, you gentle readers will forgive me if I write instead about my favourite Christmas movie: Road House, starring Patrick Swayze and Sam Elliott. I only wish that I could be watching it on the big screen; if I make it to the cinema tonight, the PSP will have to do.

“Hold up a second,” you might be saying. “What does Road House have to do with Christmas?” As you will see, Mystery Science Theater 3000 creator and star Joel Hodgson wondered the same thing during a host segment of one of their Christmas episodes, “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians”:

http://www.youtube.com/v/2ZyJCV_dyug&hl=en&fs=1

Inspired by this bit of comedy, my friend Roger and I decided to spend our Christmas evening about 15 years ago watching Road House and cracking jokes. I kept doing so, alone and with friends, in subsequent years until it became a regular holiday party, then a tradition, then an event, and now it’s hard to imagine Christmas without it.

That’s the magic of the movies. A movie doesn’t have to be specifically about Christmas, and how (as Joel observes elsewhere in the same episode) a curmudgeonly old man or woman learns the true meaning of the holiday. It could just as easily be about how a curmudgeonly old man has his henchmen drive a monster truck through a car dealership, burn down an auto parts store, and kick the crap out of everyone in town until a stranger with a mullet performs a laryngectomy with his hands.

No, the important thing is that you and your friends watch the movie together, enjoying each other’s company the way that families are supposed to. Sometimes we lose sight of that at Christmas, and we need a roundhouse kick to the jaw to remind us.

So yes, Virginia, Road House is my favourite Christmas movie, and I say that without a touch of irony or jest. Over the years I have owned copies on VHS, laserdisc, budget DVD and now the “Deluxe Edition” DVD, and I’m sure I will own the Blu-Ray one day. I also own a copy of the straight-to-DVD sequel starring Jonathan Schaech, and one of my first forays into writing about movies on the internet was a review of Road House.

This has been a rough year for us Road House fans. Canadian blues guitarist Jeff Healey passed away from a lifelong struggle with cancer at the young age of 41, and Patrick Swayze continues to battle pancreatic cancer, which has a very low survival rate. I hope that you will join me in wishing him well, as I wish all of you a happy holiday season and an awesome new year.

As for me, I have one week left to go in Cinema 3. What will it be? If you’re in the Saint John area, feel free to join me and find out.

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