Sunday Random Roundup for September 1, 2013

Greetings and salutations, dear readers. It’s been another week, somehow. First, a little blog-related news. I have plans for some posts about specific films that I hope to have ready sometime this week. Second, great news about the Alice Guy-Blaché Kickstarter project I mentioned last week: It’s been funded! Hooray! If you had anything to do with it, THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOU! If you haven’t had a chance to check out the documentary project or want to project updates, take a look at the directors’ Kickstarter page and watch the trailer (linked below) for Be Natural. Yippee!

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Onward. So, it’s hot and kind of miserable, even though it’s a beautiful day.  Summer’s waning, tomorrow’s Monday. This Sunday, I thought we’d take a look at some films opening soon, so we’ve got something to look forward to, especially now that you’ve already gone and seen The World’s End. (I have, in fact, and I’m mulling over post-worthy comments…)

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[Pssst: If you somehow haven’t seen Shaun of the Dead (2004) or Hot Fuzz (2007), you are truly, truly missing out on some of the great comedy of the last ten years. Plus, all three films are positively littered with great British actors: Bill Nighy, Martin Freeman, Jim Broadbent, Paddy Considine, Billie Whitelaw, Karl Johnson and Olivia Colman (two of the actors in the current BBC America show “Broadchurch”), and no less than two James Bonds, Pierce Brosnan and Timothy Dalton (who absolutely deserved at least a nod for Best Supporting Actor in 2007. I mean, really.). And you really should be watching “Broadchurch.”]

So here we go.

First up, one of my favorite American directors has a new film coming out (near me? fingers crossed!) October 10: Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive is a weird departure for him…sort of. From the guy who brought you the genius Ghost Dog, Broken Flowers, Dead Man, Mystery Train, and on and on, we now have…a vampire movie. Well, it’s still a Jarmusch film; it’s got the divine Tilda Swinton and The Avenger‘s delicious villain, Tom Hiddleston, as “two vampires who have been in love for centuries.” The first sneak peek doesn’t give much away, but it does have Swinton’s radiant face. (Maybe she is a vampire. That would explain how she still looks so young.) One of my favorite performances of hers is actually her angel Gabriel in the Keanu Reeves vehicle Constantine (which is a better movie than you’d think).

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And while I’m at it, my other favorite part of Constantine, Peter Stormare’s Lucifer. (You probably saw him first in Fargo [1996].) The clip annoyingly cuts off just as Lucifer is saying, “There’s no accounting for taste.” The scene runs another minute or so. It’s worth seeing in its entirety.

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If I’ve somehow accidentally convinced you to watch Constantine, it’s streaming (not for free, unfortunately) on Amazon Prime. It comes on television fairly regularly, too.

Anyway…

Only Lovers Left Alive also stars Anton Yelchin, who was in a very different and quite entertaining vampire film, the recent Fright Night (2011) remake with Colin Farrell. (Farrell makes a fantastic villain; he’s a kick to watch.) And you also get the wonderful Jeffrey Wright. I cannot understand why Wright isn’t in a ton of movies, or why he isn’t a Hollywood leading man. You might remember Wright as a particularly fine incarnation of James Bond’s CIA pal Felix Leiter in a long line of Felix Leiters in Casino Royale (2006) and Quantum of Solace (2008). Or as the kinda-sorta evil doctor in Source Code (2011). Or Winston in Broken Flowers (2005), if you’re a Jarmusch fan. He’s also been in Cadillac Records (2008), W. (2008, as Colin Powell), and Syriana (2005). You’ve seen him; you just haven’t seen enough of him.

In addition to getting great performances out of great but mostly not super-famous actors, one of the things Jarmusch does best is rhythm. It’s not always musical rhythm. It’s often dialogue or cuts.

Dead Man (1995)

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Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai (1999)

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And now for something completely different:

To no one’s surprise, Matthew McConaughey’s new film, Dallas Buyers Club, looks fantastic, due out November 1. In 1986, Ron Woodruff was diagnosed with HIV. You may remember that was a particularly bad time to get that diagnosis, since no one wanted to fund research or treatment for the “gay disease.” Woodruff, a real dude, discovered that he could get better HIV drugs south of the border than he could in the USA. They weren’t illegal, as he points out in the trailer, “they’re just unapproved.”

McConaughey has made a great career out of playing some oddballs and unlikely protagonists. Sometimes they just seem unlikely because it’s Matthew McConaughey playing them. All of his memorable characters that come to mind do have that McConaughey swagger, but they’re still very much characters (and not just Matthew McConaughey playing that character), and he’s always a pleasure to watch. Catch his cameo in Tropic Thunder (2008), or way back when in Lone Star (1996), or way, way, back in 1993, in Dazed and Confused. Classy.

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And finally…

Spike Lee has gone and remade Chan-wook Park’s brutal Oldboy (2003), which I think I first saw at a Wisconsin Film Festival screening. It’s being released on November 27. I’m not sure a straight remake can stand up to the original, but Lee’s version looks like it will certainly be worth watching. I do hope it’s more of a Spike Lee Joint and less of a remake. It stars Josh Brolin, whom I always like to watch, Sam Jackson (who comes to a bad end, if the trailer is anything to go by), Sharlto Copley (District 9 [2009]) and Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene [2011]).

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The new “Oldboy”

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The original Oldboy is the middle installment of Park’s revenge trilogy, in between Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002) and Lady Vengeance (2005), and it stars Min-sik Choi, who is a-mazing. (He’s also in Lady Vengeance.) I last saw him in the slightly-less-brutal I Saw the Devil (2010), directed by Kim Jee-Woon, and also starring the more well-known Byung-hun Lee. Lee has been in the two recent G. I. Joe movies and Jee-Woon’s wacko The Good, the Bad, and the Weird (2008). Below is the famous (if you’re into that sort of thing) fight scene from the O.G. Oldboy. It is stunningly brutal. Brutal and goofy and somehow sublime all at once.

The old Oldboy:

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(I am curious to know what “dickshit” is a translation of.)

Available streaming…

on Netflix: The gorgeous Dead Man, Broken Flowers, and The Good, the Bad, and the Weird.

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byun-hun lee

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