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Captain Phillips poster

Review: Diana, Runner Runner, Camille Claudel 1915, Prisoners, Austenland, About Time and Captain Phillips

By Cinema and Reviews

Tom Hanks in Paul Greengrass's Captain Phillips (2013)

Apart from the inescapable need to carve out a meagre living from an uncaring world, one of the reasons why these weekly updates have been something less than, well, weekly recently has been that most of the fare on offer at the pictures has been so uninspiring.

Diana posterTake Oliver Hirschbiegel’s Diana for example. It’s not a bad movie, per se. It’s certainly not the trainwreck that the British media would have you believe. It’s just so … inessential. Hirschbiegel’s desire to be respectful to Diana’s children, and to other players in the story who are still living, simply sucks all of the drama out of the thing, leaving you with a frustrating non-love story between two frustratingly inarticulate people. There are occasional hints of the complex character she may have been but the finished product is a kind of nothing. It really is too soon for this film to tell this story.

Runner Runner posterThen there’s the Justin Timberlake vehicle Runner Runner, in which the pop star turned actor attempts to carry a film all by himself and proves that he either is unable to do so, or can’t pick a project that’s worth the attempt. He plays a former Wall St hotshot with a talent for calculating risk who trades Princeton for the high life of running an online gambling business in sunny (and shady) Costa Rica. Not one word of this dismal little film betrays a breath of authenticity, either in its storytelling or character. Screenwriters Koppelman and Levien once wrote Ocean’s 13 (and The Girlfriend Experience) for Steven Soderbergh. At least they were meant to be fantasy.

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Cinematica 5/03: On the Ocean Wave

By Audio and Cinema

Cinematica_iTunes_200_crop[iframe style=“border:none” src=“http://html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/2529253/height/100/width/280/thumbnail/yes/theme/standard” height=“100” width=“280” scrolling=“no” allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen] 

Tom Hanks fights off Somali pirates in Captain Phillips, Keri Russell searches for Mr. Darcy in Austenland and Domnhall Gleeson and Bill Nighy travel in time in Richard Curtis’s new rom-com About Time. Dan interviews outgoing NZFC CEO Graeme Mason.

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Review: Attack the Block, The Women on the 6th Floor, The Lorax, Mirror Mirror and Wrath of the Titans

By Cinema and Reviews

Attack the Block posterIt has taken ten months for Joe Cornish’s brilliant Attack the Block to make its way to New Zealand and one of the first questions will be, is there still an audience left for it considering the most rabid fans will have found — licit and illicit — ways to watch it months ago. I certainly hope there is because Cornish has produced a highly original take on a classic genre — a low-budget alien invasion movie that is thrilling, funny and socially aware.

It’s Guy Fawke’s Night and the attempted mugging of off-duty nurse Sam (Jodie Whittaker) is interrupted by a the explosive arrival of a strange creature. The leader of the young hoodlums, Moses (a star-making performance by John Boyega), manages to kill the beast and they take the carcass as a trophy, not realising that there are others following — and that they will want revenge.

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Review: The Hunger Games, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Hunter, 21 Jump Street, The Raid and In Search of Haydn

By Cinema and Reviews

Hunger Games posterOf all the massively successful franchise conversions from best-selling-books-that-I-haven’t‑read, I’m pleased to say that I like this Hunger Games film the best. I’ve been justifiably scornful of the Harry Potter films in these pages and downright disdainful of Twilight but — while still not reaching out much to me personally — I can say that Hunger Games actually succeeds much more on its own cinematic terms.

Jennifer Lawrence basically repeats her Academy Award-nominated turn from Winter’s Bone as a plucky Appalachian teen forced to risk everything to protect her young sister while her traumatised mother remains basically useless. In this film, though, the enemy isn’t toothless meth dealers but the full force of a fascist state where the 99% is enslaved in various “districts” and forced to produce whatever the decadent 1% back in Capitol City require in order to keep them in their Klaus Nomi-inspired makeup and hair.

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Review: Arthur Christmas, Immortals, When a City Falls, Rest for the Wicked and Submarine

By Cinema and Reviews

I believe that it should be illegal to even mention the word Christmas in any month other than December. Yup, illegal. No one should be allowed to even breathe it, let alone have parades, display mince pies in supermarkets or throw staff parties. If, as a once-great nation, we can restrict firework sales to three days before Guy Fawkes I’m sure we can manage to pull our collective yuletide-obsessed heads in for a few weeks and focus all that attention on only one month a year.

Arthur Christmas posterAt least that’s what I thought until last Friday. That was when I saw the new picture from England’s Aardman Animation, Arthur Christmas. I was prepared, based on my aforementioned bah-humbuggery — and some unprepossessing trailers — to be scornful and yet I was won over. Won over to the extent that I might as well be wrapped in tinsel with a fairy on top. Arthur Christmas made me believe in Christmas a week before I was ready.

This film is digital 3D rather than the stop-motion clay models that made Aardman famous, but the invention, wit, pace, structure and commitment to theme are all securely in place, brought to life by an awesome UK voice cast (Jim Broadbent and Bill Nighy both do outstanding work) and some brilliantly clever visuals.

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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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