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Anther snap­shot of Western cul­ture this week in cinemas – if the ali­ens who mon­it­or us are still watch­ing I’m sure this will res­ult in our urgent and viol­ent anni­hil­a­tion (if that isn’t one cliché too many).

I’ll con­fess that I haven’t seen any of the first three Scream films – the first was in 1996 and the most recent was num­ber three, elev­en years ago. So, taken as a stand alone pic­ture, how does Scream 4 hold up? Pretty well. The know­ing ref­er­ences to recent hor­ror cinema his­tory take up most of the space with what’s left over going to a resigned cyn­icism about mod­ern soci­ety – which is as it should be.

In sleepy Woodsboro it’s the anniversary of the fam­ous Ghostface killings, a spree which gen­er­ated a best-selling book and a series of cash-in Hollywood movies: the Stab series (not to be con­fused with the annu­al BATS Stab sea­son). This year there’s anoth­er book to be added to the list – a survivor’s redemp­tion tale writ­ten by Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) who man­aged to get away from the masked assail­ant in all the pre­vi­ous films. And there’s anoth­er series of murders – a trib­ute not just to Woodsboro his­tory but to the films it spawned.

Directed, as always, by hor­ror legend Wes Craven, Scream 4’s scares are fairly old school and refresh­ingly un-horrifying. It’s a bit like a hor­ror ver­sion of Pegg/Frost’s Paul – hon­our­ing the old ways before they are for­got­ten in the stam­pede towards ever-greater extremes.

Talking of screams, there were a hand­ful in the cinema earli­er on Sunday after­noon where Justin Bieber: Never Say Never played to a hand­ful of ador­ing female fans. The movie is likely to be the final cash-in for Team Bieber as, if the 9 year old of my acquaint­ance is cor­rect, his days as a super­star appear to be wan­ing as fast as they waxed.

It’s less of a con­cert movie than the pub­li­city would have you believe – the songs are inter­rup­ted by the story of his pre-fame life and the usu­al ‘life on the road’ sort of mater­i­al. The young star get­ting a sore throat is the most dra­mat­ic thing to hap­pen in a music doco since Nicko McBrain from Iron Maiden got hit on the wrist by a Costa Rican golf ball in Flight 666. The for­get­table music­al num­bers are in 3D how­ever, which is two more dimen­sions than if you were to meet Mr. Bieber in real life.

I’m not sure what hein­ous crime against karma Jennifer Aniston must have com­mit­ted but surely appear­ing with Gerard Butler in The Bounty Hunter must have paid it off? Evidently not, as now she is star­ring along­side Adam Sandler in a film called Just Go With It. The script was writ­ten by Allan Loeb and Timothy Dowling but is based on anoth­er screen­play called “Cactus Flower” by I.A.L. Diamond which in turn is based on a stage play by Abe Burrows which in it’s own turn was a ver­sion of a French stage play by Pierre Barillet and Jean-Pierre Grédy. And des­pite all those writers and the end­less ad lib­bing by Sandler (and Nick Swardson in the annoy­ing best friend role per­fec­ted over many years by Rob Schneider) the film is as lazy and flabby as it’s male star.

Sandler is a wise­crack­ing LA plastic sur­geon who wears a fake wed­ding ring in order have lots of sex without com­mit­ment and Aniston is his prac­tice man­ager. She has to pre­tend to be his about-to-be-ex-wife so that he can get it on with super­mod­el Brooklyn Decker (in her first fea­ture film role). Nicole Kidman also appears, look­ing very uncom­fort­able indeed.

Printed in Wellington’s Capital Times on Wednesday 20 April, 2011.

Notes: It was a tough week to see everything. My com­pan­ion and I could­n’t get in to see Sarah’s Key at the small and pleas­ant Shoreline Cinema in Waikanae – the foul week­end weath­er meant that cinemas were quite the des­tin­a­tion all over Wellington. And an attempt to see the 3D ver­sion of Mars Needs Moms at Readings on Sunday after­noon was thwarted by “tech­nic­al dif­fi­culties”. Those dif­fi­culties may or may not be related to poor sales…

One Comment

  • Robert Catto says:

    Wow, the sac­ri­fices you make for us, your read­ing pub­lic. Justin Bieber, indeed.

    Incidentally, I’ll be vis­it­ing his home town in just over a month – NOT for that reas­on, I feel I should point out – but should you require any souven­irs of his youth, just sing out. Alternately, if you’d like any­thing torched to the ground, I’m there.