In which Kailey and Dan attempt two impossible feats before bedtime: dinner and a show with special guests Graeme Tuckett, John Leigh, Mike Dickison, Sebastian Macaulay, Kaarin Macaulay, Ian Freer and some turkey, wine and crackers, plus live streaming the whole thing out to the world.
We do the American Hustle with David O. Russell and his cast of Oscar-nominees, take a trip to Burma with The Railway Man, ask whether it’s true that there’s no fool like an old fool in Last Vegas and say goodbye to Kailey after two and a half years.
The 2009 Star Trek reboot went into production on the eve of the writers’ strike and therefore had no right to be as entertaining — or to make as much sense — as it did. In fact, it was so successful that it has become the gold standard of dormant franchise resuscitation and I’m hoping that the lessons — what to honour, what to ignore, the mix of knowing humour and state-of-the-art action — are taken on board by the forthcoming Superman blockbuster Man of Steel.
A re-watch of Star Trek on Wednesday night confirmed my thoughts from the original review. It worked so well, on so many levels, that by the end I was eagerly anticipating my Friday night reunion with Christopher Pine’s Kirk, Zachary Quinto’s Hot Spock, etc. So, it is with a heavy heart then, that I have to report feeling let down by Star Trek Into Darkness. Everything seems a lot more self-conscious than before, as if the filmmakers have just realised that there are a squillion people watching and they’d better not make a mess of things. Which usually means that’s exactly what happens.
Not long after the Federation has been saved in the first film, our heroes are out exploring the galaxy, getting into trouble. As punishment for violating the Prime Directive (and incomplete paperwork), Kirk is relived of the Enterprise command but before he has time to properly lick his wounds, a terrorist bombs Starfleet’s London office and threatens to kick off an intergalactic (intra-galactic?) war with the Klingons.
dying is easy — comedy is hard
It’s the execution that disappoints this time around. The humour feels a bit heavy-handed, the attempts to incorporate beloved elements from the Original Series are clunky and the action is repetitive — there are several last second rescues, for example, and at least two of them involve actual on-screen countdowns. I can’t say more for fear of spoilers but — suffice to say — Star Trek Into Darkness is only a B minus while its predecessor merited an A. Read More
Following up on the 2009 surprise hit The Wrestler, Darren Aronofsky has offered us another film about people who destroy themselves for our entertainment — this time in the rarefied world of ballet. Tiny Natalie Portman is plucked from the chorus of the fictional but prestigious New York City Ballet for the dream role of the Swan in a hot new production. It’s the chance of a lifetime but her fragile psychology shows through in her performance even though her dancing is technically perfect. Maestro Vincent Cassel tries to reconstruct her — as you would a first year drama school student — while domineering stage mother Barbara Hershey is pushing back in the other direction. Something has to break and it does.
Black Swan is exceptionally well made, beautiful and challenging to watch — and Portman’s performance is nothing short of amazing — but films that aspire to greatness need to be about something more than, you know, what they’re about and once I’d decoded was going on I couldn’t see enough under the surface to justify the hype.
This week’s review comes to you from sunny/rainy Auckland where your correspondent is catching up with old friends and enjoying the Auckland cinema scene. The first thing to report is that audience behaviour in the 09 is as selfish and immature as it is at home. Texting and talking is as prevalent at commercial films like The Losers (screening at the otherwise well-appointed Sky City St Lukes) as in Wellington.
The Losers itself would be an easy film to avoid if it wasn’t the only notable Hollywood release of the week. A crack commando squad are hung out to dry by mysterious forces back in Washington. Somehow they have to get back stateside, clear their names and take their revenge on the shadowy mastermind who tries to destroy them. Sound familiar? Yes, it’s The A‑Team and a remake of that comes out in a week or two so you can safely bypass this low-rent version featuring some B‑list stars like Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Watchmen ), Chris Evans (Fantastic 4) and the blandest super villain in history, Jason Patric (Speed 2).