Tag Archives: Anton Yelchin

Burying The Ex

Max, an inveterate nice guy, moves in with his girlfriend Evelyn, who turns out to be a bit of a bitch. You know, classic manipulative, controlling stuff that makes you wonder what kind of a nitwit Max is to have sold his gas-guzzling car and given up delicious, delicious meat for her in the first place. But anyway, eventually Max grows a bit of a backbone and decides to break up with her…but before he can do the damage, a bus obliterates her to hell. Evelyn is now his dead ex-girlfriend.

Which is the next best thing to a breakup, I guess, in that he can now make a move on the hot girl at the ice cream place. They’re so well-suited because she has streaks of fake purple hair, and they both like monsters and cemeteries and stuff! Unfortunately, Max Photo by Suzanne Tennerhad made a promise on the devil-genie to love Evelyn forever, and she takes that shit seriously. So seriously that she digs herself out of her cold, dark grave and returns as a horny little zombie. Which may sound appealing until you account for the slipping flesh and her commitment to making Max’s life a living hell. And that’s before her cravings for brains start!

Anton Yelchin plays the nice guy, which makes sense. I miss Anton Yelchin. Alexandra Daddario plays the hot ice cream girl, which sort of makes sense, except she’s not a convincing princess of darkness or even just a goth. But she’s got big, pillowy breasts so I guess if I just keep my eyes where the director wants them, I’d have less to complain about. The crazy dead girlfriend is played by Ashley Greene and this is where I really must object. Nobody who’s ever hired her has truly been serious about their movie. There are certain women in Hollywood whose inclusion in a cast signals to the rest of us that this is not going to be a quality movie and is probably not even going to pretend be.

Max and Olivia share a passion for horror, but this movie doesn’t really fit the genre, despite the whole zombie thing. I think it’s supposed to be a comedy, as evidenced by the annoying, low-rent-Jonah-Hill half-brother character who doesn’t even have the decency to be played by actual Jonah Hill. Anyway. I couldn’t take this thing seriously, it sure as heck wasn’t scary, but it wasn’t funny enough (or funny at all) for me to even acknowledge it as a comedy. The makeup and effects are sub-par and the story is so unimaginative to call it derivative would be to give it respect it doesn’t deserve.

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SXSW: Porto

porto-F70243The loss of Anton Yelchin somehow seems larger as time passes.  As you probably know, he died tragically about a year ago, crushed by his own (faulty) car as he checked his mail.  The outpouring of grief from his peers was massive at the time, and the more I learn about him, the more I get it.  He was a glue guy, an artist, a student of film, a true professional.  He made everything easier for those around him.  Those sentiments were echoed by Gabe Klinger during the Q&A for Porto at SXSW.  Porto is Klinger’s first narrative feature and he freely admitted how much Yelchin helped everyone involved and made the project better, because of Yelchin’s vast knowledge of and experience in making movies.

Technically, Porto is an interesting movie because it was shot on three different types of film: 8mm, 16mm and 35mm.  And it IS film, none of this was shot using a digital camera, and the movie feels better for it.  There is something about film that digital can’t match yet – a depth, a richness, and a darkness.  All those elements are appropriate for Porto, which is a story of intense love and loss, and the film types neatly indicate which time period we’re currently watching.

Porto’s lack of continuity makes a conventional story feel a bit more unconventional, but it also leads to repetition.  I wondered during the film whether that repetition was a consequence of Yelchin’s death but it appears to have been an intentional narrative choice, since a little post-movie research shows that filming was complete before he died.  The fact that a few details were added, or the scene extended, helped explain the repetition but I still found it to be a distracting choice.

That distraction was a minor one, especially considering the great chemistry between Yelchin and Lucie Lucas that’s on display here.  The leads’ performances make Porto worth watching.  Yelchin and Lucas have a spark that makes the audience feel the allure and power of this very brief relationship, and that in turn makes us understand why they still reminisce about their short time together.  I am sure Lucas deserves as much credit for that as Yelchin, as she’s his equal on screen.  Still, it’s hard not to focus on Yelchin since this might be the last time we see him, and I am struck by how much I took his effortless performances for granted until he was gone.

Green Room

I think we can all agree that Jeremy Saulnier would make a terrible dinner party guest. He’s the writer-director of the most sadistic movies I’ve ever seen and I think someone needs to give him a houseplant and one of those sappy Hallmark cards with a nice beach scene on the front. Like, the man needs a hug only I wouldn’t recommend anyone get close enough to give him one. A man who makes movies this crazy has to be a little deranged, right?

Okay, I don’t really know a single thing about Saulnier, and judging by his IMDB profile pic, I’d say he’s a Mumford & Sons listening, Wholefoods shopping, Keds wearing dude like any other. Only he’s also a brilliant writer and director who just happens to like fucking with people.

I watched Blue Ruin all by my lonesome and survived. Green Room is even downloadmore of a trial. It’s about a not very successful punk band on a tour of tiny bars and rec rooms about to head home when they get one last gig that pays too well to ignore. They should have ignored it though because the neo-Nazis who show up to hear them play are a little more than they bargained for. Shit goes down, and it’s not just uncomfortable racist undertones, it’s more the literal tearing out of your throat variety.

It’s a horror-thriller that doesn’t apologize for relishing the bloodiness of greenroom4the genre, but this one has the surprising addition of exceptional acting. I liked Blue Ruin for defying my expectations of the genre, and Green Room of guilty of the same, to some extent. It has a real plot and a set-up that won’t make you cringe in its obviousness or its thinness. When Saulnier’s name is attached to a film (this is his third – the perfect opportunity, and maybe his only opportunity to indulge and be indulged in such a gorefest) you’re pretty much guaranteed a nail-biter. There’s breathtaking cruelty around every corner, but I was even more surprised by the tiny flickers of humanity that sneak up on you.

Green Room is not an easy watch, but if you think you have the stomach for it, you should probably put Saulnier on your watch list.

 

Star Trek Beyond

vag96xveob5rjf34m2mqWe were treated tonight to a marathon of the new trilogy of Star Trek movies, including a screening of Star Trek Beyond. Seeing the first two reminded me how good Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness are, and seeing them all in a row made me all the more sure that Star Trek Beyond is my favourite of the three.

The most difficult part about the movie is how it reminds us that we’ve lost both Leonard Nimoy and Anton Yelchin from the Star Trek family. Nimoy was a larger part of the first two than I remembered, and his presence served as a nice reminder that there’s a whole alternate universe of adventures waiting to be rediscovered. He receives a nice tribute in this movie, which I was glad to see.

8_-_nurovgqYelchin, having died so tragically after filming was complete, is a key cast member in all three and is excellent in Star Trek Beyond (as always). But it’s bittersweet to watch, as his posthumous presence is harder to take than his absence would have been. Every one of his scenes serves as a reminder that there will be no more Chekov in the instalments to come.  He will be sincerely missed but it feels right that his role will not be recast. May he rest in peace.

A lesser movie would have been overshadowed by those real-life lossses. Star Trek Beyond is instead comforting and uplifting in their face, providing a classic trip to a strange new world, plenty of humanoid aliens (some good, some bad, almost all English-speaking), and some fantastic interplay between the series’ seven main characters. This time, Bones and Spock are the standouts, getting a ton of one-on-one time and delivering banter that is consistently hilarious and completely fitting for this odd couple. Writers Simon Pegg and Doug Jung do a Star-Trek-Beyond-photo-11wonderful job of capturing the sarcastic Bones and the quiet pleasure Spock takes in driving Bones crazy, while letting us see that underneath it all there is nothing but love and respect between them.

That is the way all these beloved characters get treated – with love and respect. I just wish Sulu’s coming-out moment had not been such a source of controversy leading up to the movie’s release, because in the movie it comes off as another nice nod to the original cast that also fits with the diversity that is the series’ staple.

I cannot say enough good things about Star Trek Beyond. It provides a massive amount of fan service while remaining accessible and enjoyable to all. Star Trek Beyond is a welcome and worthy addition to this classic franchise and a fitting sendoff to two absent friends.

 

Sean & Jay enjoyed the Starfleet Academy Experience – hear about it in our podcast:

 

For The Love of Spock

I know very little\almost nothing about the Star Trek universe, but I do know Mr. Spock. He’s a pop culture icon who transcended the television show with his message of peace and reason. William Shatner soon learned that though the captain’s seat was his alone, the spotlight would have to be shared. The man behind the pointy ears and the Vulcan salute was none other than Leonard Nimoy, hand-picked by Gene Roddenbury to portray this cool and calculated character.

tumblr_nv1msf7Hdg1ug3pr6o1_400The documentary For The Love of Spock was originally a collaboration between Leonard Nimoy and his son Adam but Nimoy Senior got sick and died very quickly, leaving his son to alter their plans somewhat, honouring the character, but also his father. It’s clear Adam Nimoy’s knowledge of the Star Trek universe is encyclopedic; the footage of the original series is a lot of fun, but also well-chosen and well-timed. A part of me badly wants to gush about all the cool things I learned watching this documentary, and I’m barely restraining myself so that you’ll have your own joyful moments of discovery upon seeing it for yourself.

Almost all of the original cast members are interviewed, and most from the new Star Trek movies as well (including J.J. Abrams), and everyone’s got glowing things to say. It’s nice when the man behind such a beloved character is a nice guy himself. In fact, the only person who seemed to have a problem with him was his son, the film’s director. So no, this isn’t a puff piece. It’s an honest look at intriguing and sometimes enigmatic man who put a lot of himself into his character, and gave a lot of himself to his fans.

Watch this documentary to see Jason Alexander to a spot-on Kirk impression, to hear Shatner Spock_Good_Evilpronounce who was the better singer, to get George Takai’s take on the Spock-Kirk slash fiction, to find out who came up with the Vulcan salute, to hear how Harry Belafonte inspired the character, to learn where Nimoy’s kids had to watch the show’s premiere, to note who once called it a “treadmill to oblivion”, and to discover who spent hours responding to Nimoy’s fan mail. You don’t have to be a Trekker to enjoy this movie, but by the end of it, you might just be one.

Adam Nimoy says that his father was eternally grateful to have created this character, never jaded by the experience or the fame. Clearly, the apple doesn’t fall far from the Vulcan tree. Though Leonard’s work kept him away from the family and Adam often felt he was competing tumblr_inline_nkfyuoaAP21rlqxn6with fans for his father’s attention, he still describes Star Trek as “hitting the lottery.” Creating this film was an act of mourning for the son, and absolutely an act of love. At the end of the documentary, Adam asks the many interviewees to describe his father in one word. People offer: hope, integrity, love, but the final word comes from Zachary Quinto who plays Spock in the rebooted version, with Nimoy’s blessing. Quinto throws it back to the documentarian and the son, asking “What’s yours?” Adam Nimoy was at the screening of this film at the Fantasia Film Festival, and he was able to answer that question for us in person.

He said “Passion.”

Rudderless

This movie has the production value of a Canadian television show, and you know that ain’t no compliment. It looks terrible. I stuck with it though, mainly on the strength of Luc’s recommendation, and I’m glad I did.

This is William H. Macy’s directorial debut and in it, we see a young college student working on songs, and doing some rough recording in his dorm room. Cut to: a father (Billy Crudup), stood up in a pub, catches news footage on TV of a school shooting. His son is dead. The grief is overwhelming.rudderless

Two years later, Sam\Crudup is hiding from his trouble, he’s lost his home and job and is fairly miserable, but when his ex-wife (Felicity Huffman) drops off a box of CDs, he has a new connection and new insight to the son who is lost to him, and it helps him work through his grief and loneliness and guilt. He starts playing the songs himself, and at an open mic night, he attracts the attention of Quentin (Anton Yelchin), who is needy for creative inspiration and collaboration. He hounds Sam until the two start working together on the music, and soon they have themselves a band, and a following.

The catch? Sam never tells Quentin that these songs belong to his dead son. So they forge a bond that looks and feels an awful lot like father-son but there’s a big, bad secret between them. Crudup does a really good job of showing both the yearning for a lost son and the desire for a new life. His heartache is there in silences and shadows. Yelchin, conversely, is a nervous energy, kinetic and wanting. I end up enjoying him in pretty much everything and I’m surprised he hasn’t really blown up yet. I don’t know if there’s another actor his age with anywhere near the range and depth and subtlety.

The real star of the movie is the music. If this is where the budget went, then it was worth it, and fuck the shitty look of the thing and the glaring anachronisms. The music is really that good. Credited to Simon Steadman, Charlton Steadman and Fink, the songs are ably performed and it makes you wish Macy lingered on the band’s success just a little longer. Crudup’s guitar does the (gentle?)  weeping for him, and it’s beautiful, though maybe not quite enough for the enormity of the grief.

The story bites off more than it can chew and we never get enough context to really appreciate all the layers that are happening here. The movie’s to concerned with the gotcha aspect and not concerned enough with our emotional payoff. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the two actors, I enjoyed that they seem to have done their own singing, I loved the music, and I liked that as the credits rolled I found myself wondering – how much can we really know someone through their art?