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I urge you to go and see Bobby, Emilio Estevez’s superb ensemble film about the Ambassador Hotel on the day Bobby Kennedy was shot there in 1968. A superb cast of Hollywood lib­er­als of all ages (not­ably Laurence Fishburne, Helen Hunt and Freddy Rodríguez) are giv­en space, and a lovely script, to cre­ate a col­lec­tion of real people for whom a Kennedy pres­id­ency might make a dif­fer­ence. It was­n’t to be, how­ever, and Estevez’s rage and bit­ter­ness about Kennedy’s point­less assas­sin­a­tion is prin­ted on every frame. Straight in to the year’s top ten – with a bullet.

Reputedly the most expens­ive film ever made (US$250million!!!), Spider-Man 3 is a breath­tak­ingly self-indulgent example of Hollywood excesses at their worst. Tobey Maguire wants to try com­edy? Check; Kirsten Dunst wants to sing? Check; James Franco wants to try act­ing? Harry Osborn goes from bad to good to bad to good again; the Director’s broth­er needs a job? Yet anoth­er point­less cameo from Ted Raimi. Grrr. No one expects the Spider-Man fran­chise to deliv­er any kind of art but you would hope that the film­makers might respect the tick­et buy­er enough to not waste our time so wan­tonly. And so much of it.

Metal: a Headbanger’s Journey is the most recent entry in the Paramount’s occa­sion­al series of un-watchable films about un-listenable music. That’s a cheap shot as the film is actu­ally quite ami­able, thor­ough and enter­tain­ing. Director and front-man, Sam Dunn is an anthroplo­gist and met­al fan who travels the world try­ing to explain the hold that leath­er and studs can have over ali­en­ated youth. On the way he inter­views plenty of legends, my favour­ite being mighty met­al mid­get Ronnie James Dio.

Cheekbone Squadron, better-known as Flyboys, is an old-fashioned WWI fly­ing aces movie star­ring young whiz-kids like Martin Henderson and James Franco as Americans fly­ing for France in the days before USA entered the war. Grizzled vet­er­an Jean Reno does the duty on the ground but it is in the air that Flyboys takes off (ahem). Perfectly ser­vice­able entertainment.

Similarly unam­bi­tious (and sim­il­arly gal­lic for that mat­ter) is The Story of My Life, a mod­ern French comedy-of-manners that scored brownie-points early on by not fea­tur­ing an accor­di­on in the theme music. Breezy and cyn­ic­al, it fea­tures Alice Taglioni from The Valet as one of the women in the life of Edouard Baer’s tor­men­ted ghost-writer. She’s an old flame from col­lege who is now dat­ing the cap­tain of the French foot­ball team – for whom Baer’s char­ac­ter is writ­ing an auto­bi­o­graphy. While Baer’s desire for Taglioni is rekindled, cur­rent (beau­ti­ful but not glam­or­ous) girl­friend Marie-Josée Croze sits at home wait­ing for him to come to his senses.

A real Captain of a French foot­ball team is the star of the best film of the week that you won’t be able to see again for a while. On April 23 2005 dozens of cam­er­as were gathered in Madrid so that they could fol­low one man go about his work for a couple of hours. That man was the most inscrut­able of Galacticos, Zinedine Zidane, and the res­ult­ing film is cinema art in the purest sense – beau­ti­ful to watch and listen to, yet at the same time as intel­lec­tu­ally stim­u­lat­ing and rig­or­ous as you want it to be. It’s called Zidane: a 21st Century Portrait and a more 21st Century por­trait it’s hard to ima­gine as you end up know­ing even less about what makes this fas­cin­at­ing char­ac­ter tick.

Portions of this review were prin­ted in the Capital Times, Wellington, 9 May 2007.