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Paul Newman’s 5 best

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As we all know by now Paul Newman has passed away. I didn’t feel the need to hop on the story like many movie bloggers, mostly because I want to be able to write something of substance when someone passes away, not just report on it in order to get blog hits. There are bigger movie blogs out there more appropriate for the ‘reporting’ aspect of things. However Paul Newman is one of my favorite actors, his body of work is impressive to say the least and thus in order to honor him I have gathered my 5 favorite Paul Newman movies.

1.) Cool Hand Luke: Easily Paul’s best film, Lucas “Luke” Jackson (Paul Newman) is incarcerated for a petty crime and sentenced to a chain gang. Luke is a sullen and laconic young man whose cool defiance of the sadistic warden and bullying inmates earns him the title “Cool Hand Luke.” But as the prisoners’ respect for Luke grows into hero worship, he finds that he must risk everything in order to live up to their expectations.

2.) The Hustler: The precursor to Paul’s Academy Award win over 20 years later, The Hustler is the story of “Fast” Eddie Felson is a small-time pool hustler with a lot of talent but a self-destructive attitude. His bravado causes him to challenge the legendary “Minnesota Fats” to a high-stakes match, but he loses in a heartbreaking marathon. Now broke and without his long-time manager, Felson faces an uphill battle to regain his confidence and his game. It isn’t until he hits rock bottom that he agrees to join up with ruthless and cutthroat manager Bert Gordon. Gordon agrees to take him on the road to learn the ropes. But Felson soon realizes that making it to the top could cost him his soul, and perhaps his girlfriend. Will he decide that this is too steep a price to pay in time to save himself? I personally think this is better then the film he later won the Academy Award for, but more on that later.

3.) The Sting: In the Chicago of the 1930s, Johnny Hooker’s partner, Luther, is fatally wounded by a victim of one of their scams who turns out to be powerful syndicate boss Doyle Lonnegan. Eager for revenge, Johnny seeks out mutual friend Henry Gondorffn (Paul Newman), a consummate master of the long con. Gondorff rouses himself from his alcoholic inertia and agrees to help Johnny take down the despicable Lonnegan, conscripting an army of grifters ready to avenge their friend’s death.

4.) Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid: Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman) is the smart, savvy leader of The Hole in the Wall Gang, and his sidekick the Sundance Kid (Robert Redford) ranks among the best shooters the West has known. This combination of brains and menace allows the duo to roam unchallenged, staging petty robberies when needed and otherwise kicking back at the local brothel. But when a six-pack of the best cowboys in nearby states gather to bring down the rebels, using a Native American tracker to follow them across rivers, over mountains, and through deserts; Butch and Sundance decide to flee. Gathering Sundance’s girlfriend (Katherine Ross), they make their way to Bolivia via New York City. Unfortunately, old habits die hard, and before they know it, the charismatic criminals find themselves in an all-too-familiar situation, this time facing South American enemies.

5.) Color of Money: Martin Scorsese’s THE COLOR OF MONEY picks up where Robert Rossen’s 1961 film THE HUSTLER left off. Fast Eddie Felson (Paul Newman), now middle-aged, finds the image of his youthful self in a pool hustler named Vincent Lauria (Tom Cruise). Trying to relive his past days of glory through the cocky but inexperienced youngster, Fast Eddie takes on the role of Vincent’s manager and mentor. But Fast Eddie didn’t count on having to contend with Vincent’s smart, sexy, and extremely ambitious girlfriend. The three characters become engaged in an emotionally complicated power struggle as they make their way to Atlantic City, where Vincent plans to compete in his first pool tournament. Scorsese’s, as well as Newman’s, love for the character of Fast Eddie shines through in every frame of this sequel, something that didn’t go unnoticed by the academy earning Newman the Best Actor Oscar.


6.) Slap Shot: Although not his best film, this is by far my favorite Paul Newman flick. In Slap Shot Reggie Dunlop (Paul Newman), the venerable player-coach of the Charlestown Chiefs, a fifth-rate minor league hockey team. When their blue-collar town falls prey to Rust Belt ills of the 1970s, attendance drops, and the greedy owner starts looking for a buyer, anxious to cash out. Dunlop is informed that the players need to crank up the box office to keep their jobs in what will likely be their last season. To the coach’s dismay, general manager Joe McGrath (Strother Martin) imports the Hanson brothers, a hockey Three Stooges who like to assault soda machines and play with toys. But once Dunlop turns them loose, they’re a Panzer division on ice, and the team starts winning by adopting their bone-crushing style. Although the team is on the upswing, Dunlop’s wife, Francine (Jennifer Warren), seems to be through with him, and the isolated wives of the other players aren’t much happier with their fate.

Thanks Paul, you will be missed…


VIFF: First weekend down, JCVD delivers

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If you have read this blog for anytime now you’ll know that JCVD has been THE movie for me to see at the Vancouver International Film Festival this year. Last night I saw it thanks to my Super U sponsor passes and I must say, it was even better then I was expecting. Now given that statement says a lot, and trust me this film is not without its flaws, but all in all this has been the most fun I have had at the movies all year.

I will premiss this by saying I have always been a big fan of Jean Claude Van Dam so there is bias on my part. That said bias or not it turns out Jean Claude can act. I’ll be the first to tell you that is something I never knew. His acting is fantastic in this movie and his range impresses going from drama to comedy with little visible effort. The actual story itself starts off well but cops out a little at the end, however I won’t go into detail about that in order not to ruin the ending. Other then that all I have to say is that the the filmmaker Mabrouk El Mechri should be getting some calls very soon form major studios because this was one hell of a coming out party for him. Look no further then the jaw dropping opening tracking shot for proof of this. I’ll leave you all with the trailer one last time, now that I have seen the film odds are I’ll stop rambling on about it so much – but please trust me when i say if you get the chance you have to go see JCVD, you will not be disappointed…

VIFF: Blindness, and more…

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Its official, VIFF is underway. Last night the opening gala kicked off with a screening of Blindness and an all inclusive party at the Vancouver Aquarium. Those who know me well know I like to drink like a fish so drinking with fish is a great way to go about that, these VIFF people sure have the right idea. Anyway…

Blindness is from The Constant Gardener director Fernando Meirelles. He joins forces with Canadian writer/director/actor Don McKellar to bring Portuguese Nobel Prize winner José Saramago’s 1995 novel to the big screen in this large-scale philosophical thriller. An epidemic of blindness pushes society to the breaking point after sweeping through a modern metropolis and crossing borders into the outside world.

So far the film is not receiving favorable reviews, with Rotten Tomatoes giving it an average of 36%. That said one of our staff members attended the gala last night as had favorable things to say about the film. The Coles Notes version of her review is that the film holds up well, all be it mostly because Julianne Moore‘s performance. Parts of the film were hard to watch and she had trouble telling if it was due to empathy for the Julianne’s character or if the scenes just made her feel uncomfortable. Based on this information I think I’ll skip seeing Blindness until it comes out on DVD, in the mean time there are tons of other great films to check out at this years VIFF as I have covered in other blog posts.

Let The Right One In – english remake?

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As first reported by the film nuts over at Row Three:

Cloverfield director Matt Reevess is given the unenviable task of remaking Tomas Alfredson’s fabulous Swedish vampire instant-classic, Let The Right One In. While I quite dug Cloverfield, it had a lot more going on in the aesthetic and tone department than the gimmick that it could have bee, the usual remake rules apply: I doubt that Reeves remake can find the razor thin balance of emotion that Alfredson managed. The film is delicate and I am a bit skeptical that it will survive remake mauling. The reminted Hammer Studios own the rights for the remake and are behind the production. It is interesting that they are going back to their vampire roots, but taking things in a very modern direction (i.e. subtle drama, remake, etc.)

I caught the original at Fantasia earlier this year (where it won the Audience Award, not to mention that it picked up best narrative feature at Tribeca). While I have a few minor issues with where it went at the end, I still love the movie. A Lot. Marina is expected to see it very soon and her thoughts will show up with her VIFF coverage. Likewise Andrew & I are going to watch it in October as it is on the Toronto After Dark lineup. If you have not caught the original at a festival yet, when Magnet Releasing puts it out in the cinemas: Run, don’t walk…

As you can see from previous blog posts I am very excited about this film. That said I can not see it being redone in Hollywood fashion. Big budgets and remaining of horror films tend to turn out horribly, and dilute the quality of the original. If you don’t believe me go watch any J-Horror film with an american counter part. Watch the J-Horror film first and then the american remake. I think you’ll find yourself rather upset and hoping that this kid ends up taking his revenge on some Hollywood producers…

Written by superuwatchers

September 25, 2008 at 9:34 am

Michael Moore’s Slacker Uprising – Free

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Recently a number of bands like Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead have made it popular to release a quality product for free. Obviously the people here at the Super U office see this trend becoming the norm, and have established a website for film makers to display their products to the public for free, and in time collecting shared ad revenue generated by their films.

It seems this model is getting its first real trial run with Michael Moore’s Slacker Uprising. Yesterday he released his latest film free on the web and it is generating a ton of buzz. The film itself isn’t overly spectacular, as it is more or less a concert film, but its a quality viewing experience nonetheless. Well that and the price is right. Check out the trailer:

To get the free download simply go to the Slacker Uprising website and register for a free download. If by any chance you are uncomfortable giving away your real email address simply set up a dummy account on hotmail or gmail, both are accepted.

VIFF: The must watch list

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Today at the Super U office we received our Vancouver International Film Festival sponsor package containing tickets, passed, and a little swag as well. The reason we received such a sweet package is because we are sponsoring the When Life Was Good screenings on October 2nd & 7th at the festival. When Life Was Good is a Canadian film that is generating a ton of buzz lately, so make sure to follow its VIFF experience through the exclusive vlog on Super U.

Obviously I consider When Life Was Good a must watch. It is extremely important to support Canadian films at every opporutiny and there is not a better candidate at this years festival than When Life Was Good. However VIFF is not just Canadian films, thus here are my top four foreign picks at VIFF:

JCVD (France): Jean-Claude Van Damme plays himself in this crime comedy that opens with the aging action star on the low end of his career, fighting a drug habit, his daughter’s custody case and now a major P.R. problem — for he’s soon to find himself in the middle of a bank heist, with the world looking on and the Muscles From Brussels as the number one suspect

Let The Right One In (Sweden): Twelve-year-old Oskar lives with his mom in a particularly bleak section of Stockholm. Geeky, awkward and just plain weird, Oskar is one of those kids that bullies seem to sniff out. One night, while practicing stabbing a tree (in lieu of his tormentors), Oskar meets the new girl who just moved in next door. Eli, preternaturally pale and self-possessed, might smell a little odd, but like Oskar she’s dying of loneliness–as well as the need for human blood.

RocknRolla (Britain): When a Russian mobster sets up a real estate scam that generates millions of pounds, various members of London’s criminal underworld pursue their share of the fortune. Various shady characters, including Mr One-Two, Stella the accountant, and Johnny Quid, a druggie rock-star, try to claim their slice…

Flame and Citron (Denmark): Copenhagen, 1944. Denmark is occupied by Nazi Germany. Flame and Citron are two legendary resistance fighters charged with liquidating Danish informers. By order of their commander, they now consent to kill Germans as well. But when Flame is asked to execute his girlfriend Ketty, an enigmatic Stockholm courier, he questions his orders wondering who Ketty really is. In the struggle for freedom all zones appear grey and it becomes increasingly unclear who is friend and who is foe. Based on true events.

The one I want to see no matter what is JCVD, although that should be obvious from my pervious blog posts. After that I’d say Flame and Citron and then Let The Right One In are #2 and #3 respectively. RocknRolla will have a wide release so I feel less of a need to see it now, but I still would like to catch it in a festival atmosphere.

I’d be interested to see your must watch lists, so please comment and let me know what you’re attending. Make sure to get your tickets ASAP – they are selling out fast!

New takes on old genres

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Every now and then a film comes along and completely changes how you look at a genre. For the last few years no one has had a new take on the horror genre and the most innovation we experienced was the rise and fall of ‘torture porn‘. Well that is all about to change with Let The Right One In. The movie is not a traditional horror film, it’s a relationship story about an introverted girl who teaches a shy bullied kid how to stand up for himself. It’s sweet in every way you wouldn’t expect. Beautiful and haunting, Let The Right One In is a film you must see.

Luckily it is a movie you can see if you live in either Vancouver or Toronto. Toronto After Dark is going to show it at their festival in mid October, and the Vancouver International Film Festival is showing it as well. Below is the synopsis from the VIFF Website as well as the trailer from Toronto After Dark:

Twelve-year-old Oskar lives with his mom in a particularly bleak section of Stockholm. Geeky, awkward and just plain weird, Oskar is one of those kids that bullies seem to sniff out. One night, while practicing stabbing a tree (in lieu of his tormentors), Oskar meets the new girl who just moved in next door. Eli, preternaturally pale and self-possessed, might smell a little odd, but like Oskar she’s dying of loneliness–as well as the need for human blood.

Director Tomas Alfredson (Four Shades of Brown, VIFF 04) has done the seemingly impossible by reinventing the hoariest of horror genres–the vampire film–with sly wit and surprising sweetness. The beauty is in the details, and Alfredson’s particular genius is apparent in small perfect touches. The scene where Eli and Oskar dance to bad Swedish disco is a particular standout, but the film is filled with wonderful grace notes. The film’s most enduring quality, however, is how perfectly it captures the aching loneliness of people on the outside. It is this need for human contact that makes even the most horrific of acts somehow forgivable. Kudos must be given to the film’s two young leads whose natural and deeply affecting performances lend the film emotional honesty and rare power. A massive hit on the genre film circuit, Let the Right One In reminds you of the power that horror cinema, done right, can have. Winner of the Film Festival Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature, Tribeca 2008, and Best Film, Best Director and Best Photography at Montreal’s Fantasia Film Festival.

If you are in Toronto you can get your Toronto After Dark VIP passes here, something I consider a great value at $99 for all 17 screenings. If you are in Vancouver you can get your Vancouver International Film Festival tickets and passes here. Make sure you get your tickets for this one quick, I have a feeling it will sell out fast.