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pixar Archives - Funerals & Snakes

Rush poster

Review: Rush, Blancanieves, Mood Indigo, Metallica Through the Never, Planes, The Smurfs 2, Percy Jackson- Sea of Monsters and One Direction- This is Us

By | Cinema and Reviews | One Comment

Chris Hemsworth as James Hunt in Ron Howard's Rush (2013).

Firstly, I need to apologise for the infrequency of updates. Real world work has intervened. The result is that this collection of reviews will be even more cursory than usual.

Rush posterRon Howard‘s Rush is a great showcase for Chris Hemsworth (Thor) to prove that he has some potential beyond the comic book beefcake. He plays British playboy racing driver James Hunt with a perfect languid English accent and a rock star twinkle just failing to hide his understandable insecurities. Daniel Brühl as his on-track nemesis Niki Lauda also does a creditable job of making an unattractive character appealing. Downsides are that the film is about 20 minutes too long and it’s the first 20 minutes that you could easily lose. Peter Morgan‘s script is – unusually for him – very by-the-numbers until the inciting incident occurs after the halfway stage, also kicking Howard’s direction into gear.

Blancanieves posterBlancanieves was reportedly Roger Ebert‘s final favourite film, added to his own festival earlier this year after only a handful of screenings. As usual, Mr. Ebert’s taste did not let him down and the film should win over lovers of classic cinema at least. Much closer to a genuine silent picture than Oscar-winner The Artist‘s pastiche, Blancanieves resets the Snow White legend to 1920s Spain with a background of bullfighting and intrigue. It’s luscious to look at and as romantic as any of the great vintage silents that inspired it, although viewers with lower tolerance for melodrama and arch, high intensity performances may struggle to buy in.

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The World's End poster

Review: The World’s End, Pacific Rim, The Look of Love + School Holiday Roundup

By | Cinema and Reviews | 9 Comments

Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan, Simon Pegg, Paddie Considine and Martn Freeman in The world's End

I can imagine some people not enjoying The World’s End. People who don’t care about – or even notice – cinematic craftsmanship, people who think that being self-referential means being self-indulgent, audiences who prefer their action sequences to be cosmic in scale and measured in megabytes per second rather than laughs per minute – I expect those people might feel that the latest masterpiece by Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost goes sailing over their heads. After all, a film like The World’s End rewards concentration (and second and third viewings) whereas most blockbusters rely on increasingly destructive spectacle for audiences to get their kicks.

The World's End posterThat’s not to say that this film is light on apocalypse – it promises the end of the world after all – but its core remains the deep friendships between men of a certain age and how those friendships grow when tested – the same theme that infused their previous two films together, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.

[pullquote]Pacific Rim shows how loving bad films sometimes means you make bad films.[/pullquote]Pegg plays Gary King, middle-aged lost soul, pining for the glory days of High School and desperate to complete his masterpiece – the 12 pub crawl through Newton Haven known as “The Golden Mile”. He and his mates failed back in 1993 and he’s rounding them up for one last crack at it. His four old mates (played by Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine and the wonderful Eddie Marsan) are reluctant to leave their tidy grown-up lives behind but, persuaded, they get to their old stomping grounds only to find they are humanity’s only hope to avoid inter-galactic colonisation.

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Review: Kon-Tiki, Snitch and Broken

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Pål Sverre Hagen as Thor Heyerdahl in Kon-Tiki

Speaking as someone whose taste for adventure doesn’t stretch much further than going to the dairy in the rain, the reckless self-endangerment represented by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg’s Kon-Tiki was a genuine eye-opener. The bones of the story are well-known enough to anyone who built balsa models of Heyerdahl’s raft at primary school in the 1970s but bear repeating here.

Kon-Tiki posterWhile researching native Tahitians in the late 1940s, Norwegian ethno-explorer Thor Heyerdahl posited a theory that the islands of Polynesia had originally been settled by sailors from South America (actually, bearing in mind the technology of the time they would have been more like the drifters from South America, but hey). Unable to persuade anyone in the scientific community, he was forced to experiment on himself. He went to Peru, built a raft, crewed it with other northern European adventurers and set off to find Polynesia.

With little or no experience, training or even aptitude, it was a giant leap of faith – Thor’s faith. Unable to steer, threatened by sharks and – for most of the time – without radio contact, it was a completely potty idea but an idea that transformed our knowledge of human development and changed history.

[pullquote]If you know who I’m talking about, I have now ruined Kon-Tiki for you. Sorry.[/pullquote]In Rønning and Sandberg’s film, Heyerdahl comes across as an obsessive and extremely difficult man, but the way they portray the adventure it becomes clear that there was really no other way. Heyerdahl’s faith wasn’t a million miles away from the totally blind faith of the first explorers who set out from Peru all those centuries ago. That obsession is also shared by the filmmakers who insisted on using a replica ocean-going raft (incidentally named Tangaroa) built by Heyerdahl’s grandson, and then chose to shoot on the open sea rather than in a tank.

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Review: There Once Was an Island, Bad Teacher, Cars 2, The Reluctant Infidel and My Afternoons with Margueritte

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There Once Was an Island posterWhen I first visited this country back in 1982 we flew across the Pacific Ocean in daylight and from my window seat I got a birds eye view of … not very much. Lots of flat blue uninterrupted sea, not even so much a rusty tramp steamer to break the monotony. No wonder they usually do this leg in the dark, I thought.

Once I got here I understood that there was a lot going on down there on many tiny speckled islands and atolls – and the richness of the Pacific and its relationship to New Zealand was just one of the reasons why I’m still here all these years later – but now the creeping specter of global warming is transforming the Pacific into the pristine environment I thought I saw all those years ago – unsullied by coral, sand, taro or people.

This process is already well under way as Briar March’s astounding documentary There Once was an Island illustrates. In 2006 Ms. March and a tiny crew spent several months on Takuu, a remote atoll overseen by the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG), serviced and supported by a rare and irregular shipping service and short wave radio. Even then the waves were lapping at the edge of peoples’ homes and the ABG offer of a haven among the mainland sugar plantations effectively meant asking 4000 people to say goodbye to their entire way of life.

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Review: Summer Holiday Round-up (2010/11)

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T.J. MillerThis year the summer holidays seemed to have been owned by the unlikely figure of T.J. Miller, deadpan comedian, supporting actor and eerily familiar background figure. In Yogi Bear he was the ambitious but dim deputy park ranger easily duped by Andrew Daly’s smarmy Mayor into helping him sell out Jellystone to corporate logging interests, in Gulliver’s Travels he was the ambitious but as it turns out dim mail room supervisor who provokes Jack Black into plagiarising his way into a fateful travel writing gig and in Unstoppable he’s the slightly less dim (and certainly less ambitious) mate of the doofus who leaves the handbrake on and then watches his enormous freight train full of toxic waste roll away.

So, a good summer for T.J. Miller then, what about the rest of us?

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2010 Wellington Cinema Year in Review

By | Cinema | One Comment

So, after trawling through the many thousands of words written about cinema in these pages this year, I suppose you want me to come to some conclusions? Do some “summing up”? Help guide you through the great video store of life? Well, alright then. Here goes.

We don’t do Top Ten lists here at the Capital Times – they are reductive, facile and, frankly, you have to leave too many titles out. I have taken to dividing my year’s viewing up into categories: keepers are films I want to have in my home and watch whenever the mood takes me; renters are the films that I could happily watch again; then there are the films that I enjoyed but am in no hurry to repeat, the films I might have misjudged first time around, the films I can’t get out of my head (for better or worse), the films I am supposed to love but you know, meh, and most important of all – the films you should avoid as if your very life depends upon it.

Animal Kingdom posterFirst, the keepers: a surprise for some will be Fantastic Mr. Fox which was released after my 2009 Year in Review was submitted and the only film in the list that I already own. Animal Kingdom was the film I most recommended this year – a stunning, tense piece of work that gripped me totally.

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