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ben kingsley Archives - Funerals & Snakes

Review: Iron Man 3, First Position and Identity Thief

By Cinema and Reviews

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Whatever they are paying Robert Downey Jr. to play Iron Man, it is is worth every penny. Iron Man 3, the third instalment in his own branch of the Marvel Universe series that also features Captain America, The Mighty Thor and The Hulk is hurtling towards a billion dollars of box office revenues and might just have broken even on the $200m production costs by the time you read this.

Iron man 3 posterI’m not sure that there is a better technician in commercial cinema than Downey. Even when he is poorly — or not even — directed in films like the last Sherlock Holmes or the last Iron Man, he is never less than watchable, but when he is challenged by a director and the material he is up there with the best ever. The name Cary Grant just popped in to my head and I think the comparison is reasonable.

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Review: Summer Holiday Roundup (2011/12)

By Cinema and Reviews

Time to clear the summer holiday backlog so that the next time it rains you’ll have an idea of what you should go and see. There’s plenty to choose from — for all ages — and there’s a bunch more to come too.

Hugo posterBest thing on at the moment is Martin Scorsese’s first “kids” film, Hugo, but it took a second viewing for confirmation. It is a gorgeous love letter to cinema, a plea for decent archives, a champion of the latest technology — all Marty’s current passions — but it’s also about something more, something universal.

Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) is a little orphan ragamuffin hiding in the walls of a great Paris railway station, winding the clocks and trying to repair a broken automaton that he believes contains a message from his dead father (Jude Law). While stealing parts from the station toy shop — and its sad and grumpy old owner — Hugo meets the old man’s god-daughter (Chloë Grace Moretz) and between them they try and unravel the mystery of the automaton and why Papa Georges (Ben Kingsley) is so unhappy. Hugo is a moving story about repair — the kind of redemption that comes when you don’t write off and discard broken machines — or broken people.

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Review: Prince of Persia- The Sands of Time & A Nightmare on Elm Street

By Cinema and Reviews

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time posterThere’s something quite interesting going on with Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time that isn’t immediately apparent from the publicity. Somehow, screenwriters Boaz Yakin, Doug Miro and Carlo Bernard (there’s also a story credit for Jordan Mechner who created the original video game series) have snuck a clever little parable of George W. Bush’s presidency into a big budget action-adventure, past the Disney gatekeepers with the unlikely connivance of blockbuster producer Jerry Bruckheimer (Pirates of the Caribbean).

Now, I’m not suggesting for a moment that this political allegory makes Prince of Persia worth seeing — the rest of the film is so stilted I couldn’t possibly do that — but it does make for an interesting diversion while one is forced to sit through some of the poorest action directing in any recent big budget film.

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Review: Shutter Island, Bright Star, Did You Hear About the Morgans?, Masquerades, Toy Story 3D and Crazy Heart

By Cinema, Reviews and Screenwriting

There’s something very odd about the opening scenes in Shutter Island and it takes the entire film for you to put your finger on it. Shots don’t match between cuts, there’s a stilted quality to the dialogue (too much exposition for a Martin Scorsese movie) and the pacing is off. For a while I found myself wondering whether Marty had lost the immense influence of his great editor Thelma Schoonmaker, but there she is, still in the credits, as she has been for Scorsese since Raging Bull.

Several years ago, Scorsese played a practical joke on me (personally, it felt like at the time) when an entire reel of The Aviator was treated to look like faded 1930s Technicolor – I went to the Embassy counter to complain and felt very sheepish to be told by Oscar, the projectionist, that the director meant it that way. So, this time around I decided to trust the maestro and roll with the strangeness and was rewarded with one of the best (and cleverest) psychological thrillers in many a year.

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Review: The Hangover, Good, Elegy, Boy A, Land of the Lost and Forever Strong

By Cinema, Conflict of Interest and Reviews

The Hangover posterI can just imagine the Monday morning when a development executive stumbled across the script of The Hangover. It wouldn’t have taken him long to realise that he’d discovered modern Hollywood’s holy grail — a perfectly realised men-behaving-badly movie, so well-written and cleverly structured that he wouldn’t need any big stars or a marquee director. By morning tea he would have been gone for the day, safe in the knowledge that his targets for the year were going be met and (no doubt inspired by the script he’d just bought) he would be dropping a big bunch of credit card on hookers and blow. Probably.

The script is perfect in its elegant and streamlined construction (screenwriter-porn, no less): Four friends head to Vegas for a bachelor party. We leave them at the first Jägermeister shot, only to rejoin them at dawn as they emerge squinting into the light. They’ve gained a baby and tiger and lost a tooth — and a buddy. The film is all about putting the pieces of the night back together and it’s clever, filthy, loose and charming. The Hangover is indeed the Citizen Kane of all getting-fucked-up-in-Vegas movies — so supremely pre-eminent that (let us hope) we never have to watch another of its kind ever again. Of course, The Hangover 2 is already in pre-production.

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Review: Watchmen, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, The Secret Life of Bees, Gonzo- The Life & Work of Hunter S. Thompson, Crazy Love and The Wackness

By Cinema and Reviews

Watchmen posterIt’s all about the adaptations this week and contender number one is a film that deserves all the attention it has been receiving, even though it falls well short of its esteemed source material. Zack Snyder’s Watchmen is based on the greatest graphic novel of all time, Moore and Gibbons 1986 pre-apocalyptic masterpiece which is one of the darkest portraits of the modern human condition ever rendered in the bold, flat colours of a comic book.

In a parallel USA in which costumed vigilantes are real but outlawed, the spectre of nuclear annihilation looms over a supposedly free society that is coming apart at the seams. One by one, somebody is disposing of the retired heroes and only masked sociopath Rorschach (who never turned in his mask, revealed his identity or stopped beating up bad guys) deems it worthy of investigation.

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