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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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