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Review: Jindabyne and more ...

By December 6, 2006December 16th, 2012No Comments

Jindabyne posterRaymond Carver’s 1981 short story “So Much Water, So Close To Home” has already been adap­ted for two near-masterpieces: a seg­ment of Altman’s awe­some Short Cuts in 1993 and Paul Kelly’s 1989 song “Everything’s Turning To White”. Now we can add the third (and best) item to the list, Ray Lawrence’s Jindabyne.

The story is decept­ively simple. Four guys go on a fish­ing trip and dis­cov­er the body of a murdered girl. Instead of report­ing it they decide to carry on fish­ing. The com­munity is hor­ri­fied and one of the wives (Laura Linney) real­ises that she can nev­er see her hus­band (Gabriel Byrne) in the same way again.

Screenwriter Beatrix Christian takes the already highly-charged story to anoth­er level by mak­ing the dead girl a “black­fella” and Byrne and Linney’s cent­ral couple out­siders, immig­rants from Ireland and America respectively.

But the film isn’t so much about polit­ics or “issues” as it is about char­ac­ter, and there is a rich­ness and depth to every por­trait that we don’t get blessed with too often in the cinema. Jindabyne isn’t an easy watch but it is cer­tainly rewarding.

Crank posterCrank is an enter­tain­ing action­er with a neat twist and no pre­ten­sions. B‑movie super­star Jason Statham plays anoth­er hard-man with a soft centre. This time he’s hit-man Chev Chelios and he’s on the way out. He’s been poisoned and only ever-increasing amounts of adren­aline can keep him alive while he tracks down his mur­der­er and gets his revenge.

This he man­ages using all the best meth­ods: drugs, sex, fast cars and ultra-violence. The Los Angeles loc­a­tions are well-used, the dir­ec­tion is spicy and the cut­ting is razor-sharp.

The Nativity Story posterThe second wave of Christmas cash-ins has arrived and a fairly dis­mal bunch they are. First up is The Nativity Story, a pre­quel to the smash-hit snuff movie The Passion of The Christ. If you’re famil­i­ar with the source mater­i­al you won’t find many sur­prises in this ver­sion which is told with a respect­ful lack of spark or pan­ache. I was slightly dis­ap­poin­ted to find that this ver­sion has no inn-keeper, a role this review­er essayed to great suc­cess upon the London stage as a seven-year-old. Most import­antly: Keisha’s fine, no worries.

Unaccompanied Minors posterGoing in with low expect­a­tions is the best way to approach Unaccompanied Minors, the latest vari­ation on the tried and true kids-run-amok genre. This time the not-so-adorable kids are trapped in a snowed-in air­port on Christmas Eve and the wicked air­port man­ager wants to stop them hav­ing a good time. While it’s nowhere near as good as the ori­gin­al mas­ter­piece, Home Alone, I found myself warm­ing to this one and would recom­mend it to any­one want­ing to keep the sev­en to elev­en year olds quiet next Christmas by which time it will be out on DVD.

Deck The Halls posterThe most objec­tion­able thing about Deck The Halls isn’t its stu­pid­ity (and it is very stu­pid), it is the stu­pid­ity it assumes of its audi­ence. A not-funny com­edy rendered without wit or sub­tlety (adding a decent dash of ugly in their stead), Danny DeVito and Matthew Broderick play neigh­bours com­pet­ing to be the “the Christmas Guy” in a small town. There were five of us in the cinema at the start and I was the only one still there at the end, curs­ing my professionalism.

Printed in Wellington’s Capital Times on Wednesday 6 December, 2006.