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Review: Bobby and five more ...

By May 10, 2007April 6th, 20132 Comments

Bobby posterI 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.

Spider-man 3 posterReputedly 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 posterMetal: 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 met­al legends, my favour­ite being mighty met­al mid­get Ronnie James Dio.

Flyboys posterCheekbone 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.

The Story of My Life posterSimilarly 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.

Zidane: a 21st Century Portrait posterA 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.