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ben mendelsohn Archives - Funerals & Snakes

Review: Killing Them Softly, The Angels’ Share, Safety Not Guaranteed, Frankenweenie, Paranormal Activity 4 and God Bless America

By Cinema and Reviews

Andrew Dominik was born in Wellington but shipped out at the age of two for Australia. We really need to claim him back as he’s one of the most intriguing directors currently working. Perhaps that should be “rarely working” as his latest, Killing Them Softly, is only his third feature credit in 12 years. Chopper turned heads in 2000 and got him to Hollywood. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford was an elegiac adaptation of a great novel, the screen version echoing great late-period westerns like Heaven’s Gate and The Long Riders.

In Killing Them Softly, Dominik remains in genre territory but again he is transcending and subverting it. It’s a gangster flick featuring a bunch of familiar figures — James Gandolfini (The Sopranos), Ray Liotta (Goodfellas), Ben Mendelsohn (Animal Kingdom). You see those names on the cast list and you think you know what you’re going to get, but here they stretch out in suprising directions, revealing layers of humanity no less ugly than the clichéd bang-bang we are used to, but truer, sadder and ultimately more trenchant.

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Review: Animal Kingdom, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Despicable Me, Grown Ups, Mother and Child and Gordonia

By Cinema and Reviews

Animal Kingdom posterWhen the Film Festival screening of Animal Kingdom finished, my companion and I turned to each other and realised that neither of us had breathed for the last five minutes. The tension that had been slowly building throughout the film had become almost unbearable and director David Michôd’s Shakespearean climax was no less than the rest of the film deserved.

Seventeen-year-old “J” (extraordinary newcomer James Frecheville) goes to live with his Gran and his Uncles when his Mum overdoses. The family are more than petty criminals but less than gangland royalty — bank robbers and thugs rather than black economy businessmen. Gran (Jacki Weaver) seems like a nice enough sort, though, and the family pulls together despite the constant pressure from the local fuzz.

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