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anna faris

Review: Zookeeper, What’s Your Number?, Abduction, Chalet Girl and The Round Up

By Cinema and Reviews

The Rugby World Cup was sup­posed to be a boon for the whole eco­nomy, the thou­sands of excited guests soak­ing up our food, wine, cul­ture and hos­pit­al­ity. Ask any cinema (or theatre) own­er what’s really hap­pen­ing and you’ll get the incon­veni­ent truth – the Rugby World Cup itself is soak­ing up all the atten­tion and most of the dol­lars. For at least one cinema own­er num­bers are down 30–40% on this time last year. This shouldn’t be news – even in my day run­ning the Paramount we knew that a Saturday night All Black game meant it was hardly worth open­ing – a 7.30 kick-off killed your two best two sessions.

Night rugby has been a dis­aster for every­body except Sky TV and the bars that show it. At least in the days of after­noon games people could watch their team and go out for din­ner and a movie after­wards – the interests of whole fam­il­ies could be accom­mod­ated. Those days appear to be long gone.

This week we see that New Zealand’s film dis­trib­ut­ors have thrown in the tow­el and dumped the year’s worst product in a week no one was going to the pic­tures any­way. For my sins I sat (mostly) alone in pic­ture theatres all over the city to help you decide how best to (cine­mat­ic­ally) escape Dan Carter’s groin.

Zookeeper posterTo be fair to Zookeeper, I was far from alone at the Saturday mat­inée screen­ing – it seems portly comedi­an Kevin James (Paul Blart: Mall Cop) is a pop­u­lar fig­ure here in New Zealand. In The Dilemma he showed that there’s some nas­cent dra­mat­ic tal­ent lurk­ing beneath the lazy choices he’s been mak­ing but there’s no sign of it here. James plays a lonely but caring Boston zoo­keep­er who thinks that his smelly occu­pa­tion is hold­ing him back, romantically-speaking.

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

By Cinema and Reviews

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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Review: The Invention of Lying, Jennifer’s Body, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Looking for Eric, Summer Hours, Valentino- The Last Emperor and Mary & Max

By Cinema, paramount and Reviews

This past week may have been the most con­sist­ently sat­is­fy­ing week of cinema-going since I star­ted this jour­ney with you back in 2006: sev­en very dif­fer­ent films, all with some­thing to offer. And no tur­keys this week, so I’ll have to put the acid away until next week.

The Invention of Lying posterIn com­pletely arbit­rary order (of view­ing in fact), let’s take a look at them. In The Invention of Lying British com­ic Ricky Gervais dir­ects his first big screen film (work­ing without the cre­at­ive sup­port of usu­al part­ner Stephen Merchant) and it turns out to be a little bit more ambi­tious than most Hollywood rom-coms. In a world where no one has any con­cep­tion of “untruth”, where the entire pop­u­la­tion makes each oth­er miser­able by say­ing exactly how they feel all the time and where there is no storytelling or fic­tion to give people an escape, Gervais’ char­ac­ter dis­cov­ers he has the abil­ity to say things that aren’t true and is treated as a Messiah-figure as a res­ult. Everything he says, no mat­ter how out­land­ish, is believed but he still can’t win the love of the beau­ti­ful Jennifer Garner.

Gervais is solidly funny through­out, and demon­strates even more of the depth as an act­or that he hin­ted at in Ghost Town last year, but the dir­ec­tion is uneven – per­haps because both Gervais and co-writer-director Matthew Robinson are first-timers.

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Review: Eagle Eye, The Rocker, The House Bunny, Wild Child, Space Chimps and Mongol

By Cinema and Reviews

Eagle Eye posterThis week I’ve had my intel­li­gence insul­ted by the very best. Steven Spielberg is cred­ited as Executive Producer of Eagle Eye, but if he spent more than one meet­ing over­see­ing this crapitude I would be very sur­prised. Eagle Eye is designed to appeal to cro-magnons who still believe that com­puters are inher­ently malevol­ent self-perpetuating pseudo-organisms and that the US Dept of Defence would invent an all-powerful, sur­veil­lance super-computer that you can’t switch off at the wall. And fans of Shia LaBoeuf. Director D. J. Caruso (last year’s Disturbia) is con­firmed as a name to avoid and Michael Jackson lookalike Michelle Monaghan has done (and will do) bet­ter than this (Gone Baby Gone).

The Rocker posterIn inter­views, Rainn Wilson (Dwight Schrute in the American “Office”) has admit­ted that he is behind Ben Stiller, Will Ferrell, Jack Black, Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson whenev­er the choicest scripts are handed out, so what that says about The Rocker (his first lead­ing role) I’m not sure. Wilson plays a Pete Best-like drum­mer, fired from the band he named (Vesuvius!) just before they shot to star­dom in 1988. Twenty years and twenty dead-end jobs later, he gets a shot at redemp­tion play­ing with his nephew’s high school band. Wilson really doesn’t have enough pres­ence to carry the film but he’s like­able enough and there’s some nice sup­port­ing work from Jeff Garlin (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”) and the lovely Christina Applegate (who really deserves to be a much big­ger star than she is).

The House Bunny posterOne week on from the depress­ing Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging, there’s even more mis­placed girl power on dis­play in The House Bunny. Scary Movie star Anna Faris gets to exec­ut­ive pro­duce a vehicle for her­self (writ­ten by Laurie Craig and Karen McCullah Lutz, the female screen­writ­ing duo respons­ible for the pos­sibly Nobel Prize-winning Legally Blonde) and with that power comes great respons­ib­il­ity, respons­ib­il­ity that she puts to good use set­ting back the cause of fem­in­ism nearly 40 years.

Almost-Playmate Shelley (Faris), kicked out of Hef’s man­sion for being too old becomes sor­or­ity house moth­er to a bunch of “ugly” mis­fits (includ­ing Emma Stone from The Rocker and Bruce Willis and Demi Moore’s eld­est daugh­ter Rumer). It’s the lack of ambi­tion that I find so dis­heart­en­ing, although it did con­tain my favour­ite line of the week: “Concentrate on the eyes girls, remem­ber – the eyes are the nipples of the face.”

Wild Child posterRoald Dahl’s daugh­ter Lucy is anoth­er female screen­writer stuck in cliché hell. Her script for Wild Child could have res­ul­ted in pass­able enter­tain­ment, but is let down by poor dir­ec­tion and some odd post-production decisions. Last year’s Nancy Drew, Emma Roberts, plays the fish out of water, Malibu rich-chick, sent away to an English board­ing school run by firm-but-fair Natasha Richardson. There she makes friends and enemies and falls in love with hand­some Roddy, played by the worst act­or I’ve ever seen get his name on a major film: Alex Pettyfer (remem­ber the name, folks).

Space Chimps posterMost fun of the week can be found in Space Chimps, a bois­ter­ous CGI-animated com­edy for kids (and those that might find WALL•E a little too emo­tion­ally demand­ing). Ripping a long at a great pace, it has plenty of gags per minute and bene­fits from hav­ing great voice-actors like Patrick Warburton and Kristin Chenoweth involved rather than big name stars slum­ming it. Recommended.

Mongol posterThe Russo-Sino-Co-pro Mongol really deserves to be seen on a giant screen, as befit­ting the giant land­scape and giant story. The first of a pro­posed tri­logy telling the life story of Genghis Khan, this instal­ment fol­lows the 12th cen­tury war­lord from his own birth to the birth of an empire span­ning half the known world. Uniting the tribes of Mongolia was a bru­tal busi­ness and there’s plenty of CGI blood splash­ing around as young Temudjin (Tadanobu Asano) dis­cov­ers his destiny.

Printed in Wellington’s Capital Times on Wednesday, 1 October 2008.