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Elysium poster

Review: Elysium, Stoker, We’re the Millers, The Heat, Giselle, Private Peaceful, Reality and Now You See Me

By Cinema, Reviews

Matt Damon in Neil Blomkamp's Elysium (2013).

With this year’s fest­iv­al now a rap­idly dimin­ish­ing memory – and my recov­ery from that event (plus anoth­er magazine pub­lished, some “live” pod­cast record­ings, a few Q&A’s, some dir­ect­or inter­views and a Big Screen Symposium) almost com­plete – I return to the com­mer­cial cinema and what do I find? Twenty-three new films have been released since my last set of reviews. Twenty-three! I only turned my back for a second. So, bear with me while I try and do some catch­ing up. Some of these films deserve more space than they are going to get here (and some of them don’t) but you can­’t have everything, am I right?

Elysium poster[pullquote]R‑rated these days appears to mean lots of unne­ces­sary curs­ing and com­ic male nudity.[/pullquote]Neill Blomkamp’s District 9 was a sur­prise smash-hit in 2009 and his follow-up, Elysium, is what we call ‘eagerly awaited’. Watching it I was reminded of the great strengths of that first film: a vividly cre­ated future soci­ety, dys­func­tion­al yet plaus­ible; a great plot setup with a genu­ine dilemma for the cent­ral char­ac­ter. Then I remembered the third act of District 9 – one long fight/chase/fight. And so it proves with Elysium. Wasted poten­tial as – like so many films this year – the film is resolved by who can punch harder rather than who can think bet­ter. I have lots of oth­er prob­lems with it but that’s the main one.

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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, 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: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, The Last Airbender, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Cats & Dogs- The Revenge of Kitty Galore and Charlie St. Cloud

By Cinema, Reviews

Ah, the school hol­i­days. The time when the big cinemas are more excited about the arrival of their jumbo pop­corn con­tain­ers than any of the films they are show­ing. Your cor­res­pond­ent spent the week­end sur­roun­ded by chomp­ing, rust­ling and slurp­ing fel­low cit­izens so he could bring you this report from the front­line. It was brutal.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid posterDiary of a Wimpy Kid pur­ports to be about middle school and how to sur­vive it but in fact it’s a rather charm­less mor­al­ity tale about being your­self. Little Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) thinks that to be pop­u­lar he has to be cool but everything he tries turns to dis­aster while his best friend Rowley (Robert Capron) effort­lessly tran­scends his own dork­i­ness to win over the school. Enough kids have already got a kick out of Diary’s astute mix of life-lessons and gross-out humour that a sequel has already been announced.

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Review: The Hurt Locker, Clash of the Titans, Nowhere Boy & Valentine’s Day

By Cinema, Reviews

The Hurt Locker posterIt took well over 18 months for Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker to get a gen­er­al release in New Zealand – a year in which it stead­ily built audi­ences and crit­ic­al acclaim at world­wide fest­ivals and pub­lic screen­ings. In fact, until it was nom­in­ated for a Golden Globe late last year the film had no New Zealand release date sched­uled and many film buffs resor­ted to illi­cit online sources to try and see (what was being touted) as one of the films of the decade.

This is a wor­ry­ing trend. Increasingly, some of the best films are head­ing straight to DVD (some­times, if the tim­ing works, with a Film Festival screen­ing but not always) and, des­pite New Zealand hav­ing a fine track record for sup­port­ing art­house and thought­ful product, I find myself con­fron­ted every week by rub­bish like Law Abiding Citizen and Bounty Hunter. Somewhere along the line the dis­trib­ut­ors have lost their nerve: The Blind Side, which won an Academy Award for Sandra Bullock last month, has only just been giv­en a slot by Roadshow (Warner Brothers). A Serious Man was one of the most bril­liant and intel­li­gent films I’ve ever seen and only one print was placed in Wellington – and it was a Coen Brothers Film!

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