Ep. 58 – Fantastic Four, The Gift, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Vacation, Ben Affleck could be the definitive Batman, and FF director Josh Trank lashes out on Twitter

August 11, 2015 by  
Filed under Podcast

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In this week’s episode of The CineSnob Podcast, the guys from CineSnob.net have mega-packed the show with reviews! They cover “Fantastic Four,” “The Gift,” “Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation,” and “Vacation.” They also discuss Ben Affleck possibly getting a Batman trilogy and “Fantastic Four” director Josh Trank burning bridges and distancing himself from his own movie.

[0:00-10:35] Intro
[10:35-17:32] Ben Affleck called the definitive Batman, could be given a trilogy
[17:32-25:54] Disgraced Fantastic Four director lashed out on Twitter about how much better movie could have been
[25:54-39:53] Fantastic Four
[39:53-54:04] The Gift
[54:04-1:03:21] Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
[1:03:21-1:27:19] Vacation
[1:27:19-1:36:26] Teases for next week and close


The Gift

August 7, 2015 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall, Joel Edgerton
Directed by: Joel Edgerton (debut)
Written by: Joel Edgerton (“The Rover”)

On the surface, “The Gift” appears to be nothing more than a run-of-the-mill thriller about a creepy guy who inserts himself too aggressively into the lives of our heroes. Dogs go missing, expensive fish are poisoned, and nightmares are had featuring Gordo the Weirdo (Joel Edgerton, in his directorial debut) executing classic jump scares. But then the film evolves into something different, twisting the relationships sideways and transforming “The Gift” from a too-familiar domestic thriller into…well, a domestic thriller with some motivational ambiguity.

When young professional couple Simon (Jason Bateman) and Robyn (Rebecca Hall) move back near Simon’s home town for a fresh start, a chance encounter at a home store with Simon’s former classmate Gordo—who Simon barely remembers—throws a wrench in their plans. After tracking down the couple’s address, Gordo begins dropping by unexpectedly and leaving gifts on the front porch, starting with a bottle of wine. In an effort to remain polite, Robyn keeps inviting Gordo inside as Simon’s frustration grows. When an aborted dinner party at Gordo’s house goes wrong, catching him in an elaborate lie, Simon and Robyn break off ties with Gordo, but slowly the secrets about how he and Simon know one another begin to unravel, leaving Robyn wondering just who her husband really is.

Lots of praise has been heaped on actor-turned-director Edgerton for his first time behind the camera, and it’s a promising if somewhat safe and predictable debut. After threatening to turn the adult thriller genre on its head with ambiguous protagonists and antagonists, Edgerton instead goes for the low-hanging fruit of a nigh-implausible revenge fantasy resolution. Perhaps the most interesting aspect is the character of Robyn, to whom the movie really belongs…until a last minute twist turns her into nothing more than a tool for vengeance in the film’s off-putting climax involving what may or may not be a horrible crime. Hall’s drug-dependent Robyn slowly comes to realize Bateman’s Simon may be hiding something from her, pushing their relationship to the breaking point, only to have Edgerton pivot and hand the movie back to Simon. Edgerton has some talent as a director and a storyteller, and with some more time to polish his resume, he could afford to avoid taking roles in junk like “Exodus: Gods and Kings” and become the Australian Ben Affleck.

Joel Edgerton – The Gift

August 7, 2015 by  
Filed under Interviews

In his filmmaking debut, actor Joel Edgerton (“Warrior”) directs, writes and stars in “The Gift,” a thriller that tells the story of a married couple (Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall) whose life is thrown into a frenzy when a man from the husband’s past comes back into his life 20 years later to reveal shocking secrets from when they were kids. During an interview with me this week, Edgerton, 41, talked about the privileged position he feels he’s in as a director who is also an actor, and explains why he thinks the thriller genre is one that has to constantly evolve.

You probably don’t have a lot of say when it comes to the marketing of a film, but when “The Gift” is referred to as a modern day “Fatal Attraction,” how do you feel about that? Would you rather the film stands on its own than be compared to something from the past?

You know, it’s like when you move to a new city and try to compare it to the old city you used to live in. Movies are the same. People will say things like it’s like “Fatal Attraction” meets “Forrest Gump.” It’s an easy comparison and I’m fine with it.

You’ve worked with some very talented directors in your career like Ridley Scott (“Exodus: Gods and Kings”) and Baz Luhrmann (“The Great Gatsby”). How much influence do directors like that have on your own voice as a filmmaker?

Look, I’m in a very privileged position as an actor. I’ve spent so much time on set with these directors. I’d be crazy not to open my eyes and ears to what’s going on around me. Ridley and Gavin O’Connor, who made “Warrior,” and Jeff Nichols (the upcoming “Midnight Special” andLoving”) and Scott Cooper, who’s got “Black Mass” coming up, these guys have taught me a lot just by being in the presence of them. I get a privilege that a lot of other directors don’t get.

We’ve seen you in some great thrillers like “Animal Kingdom” and “The Square.” What do you think it takes to make something work in this genre? What makes a great thriller?

It’s in the spirit that everything is not what it seems and you’re trying to keep an audience guessing and on their toes. It seems to me that the thriller genre really just has to stay ahead of the audience. Maybe that means the genre has to keep evolving. Anything that has been done successfully before, you can’t just do that again because the audience is waiting for that. They’re expecting it. We wanted to take the audience down that “Fatal Attraction” road and at some point start to mess with their perception of what was going to happen next. I think it’s the director and the writer’s job to keep messing with the minds of the audience.

As an actor, what does it take to get into the head of someone as creepy as your character? What kind of mindset do you have to be in?

That all comes in the writing. I was very determined to write a character for myself who was overbearing and socially awkward. He’s a person we’ve all encountered who wants a friendship with us more than we want with them. (Laughs) I was constantly reminding myself as I made the movie that the movie had to be more than just entertainment. Each character had to be real and resonate in some way, particularly in a film like this where the subject matter is about bullying and the way we can be cruel to each other as people. That danger element of my character is part of that subject matter. He’s a victim of bullying 25 years later asking for some kind of resolution.

Were there any specific challenges in having to direct yourself?

Yeah, I’m a very naughty actor, so trying to control me is unbearable. (Laughs) You know it was tough. Directing is very much about planning and using a lot of brainwork and acting is often about gut instinct, at least for me. Trying to bring those two worlds together on the same day in the same person is tricky. But I had a lot of help. I had a great team. My brother (Nash) was there as an outside eye. The challenges were there early on, but I worked out how to make it work. I was very happy with it.

What did your brother think when you told him you were going to direct your first film? Was he like, “Directing is my thing. Stick to acting!”

Nah, there’s none of that. My brother had an incredible amount of enthusiasm for me to direct. Someone once joked that my brother is a film bully. If someone is thinking about making a movie, he will bully you into doing it. He helped me so much. It was never like, “Hey, stick to your acting, man. I’m the director.” He wanted me to do it. It’s the same reason I’m really excited to see him get in front of the camera more. He’s a little too handsome, but it’s great. We love each other and we love encouraging each other.