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david bowie

Review: Invictus, Broken Embraces, Nine, I’m Not Harry Jensen & Noodle

By Cinema and Reviews

Invictus posterBefore Jerry Dammers and The Special AKA wrote that song about him in 1983, I didn’t know who Nelson Mandela was. When I bought the record and read the story on the back I was hor­ri­fied – 23 years as a polit­ic­al pris­on­er, much of it in sol­it­ary con­fine­ment. I knew the South African régime was unspeak­able, but now I had a focus for my anger. Who would have thought that only a dozen years later, Mandela would be in the middle of a second chapter of his life – President of South Africa and inter­na­tion­al states­man – and that his stew­ard­ship of the trans­ition from apartheid to major­ity rule would be a shin­ing beacon of tol­er­ance, for­give­ness and human­ity. It really could have gone ter­ribly wrong.

Mandela, then, is the great hero of my life, my polit­ic­al and per­son­al inspir­a­tion, so I can be for­giv­en for being quite moved by Invictus, Clint Eastwood’s por­tray­al of those cru­cial first years in gov­ern­ment, cul­min­at­ing in the Springbok’s vic­tory over New Zealand in the 1995 Rugby World Cup Final. Mandela is played by Morgan Freeman (too tall, accent some dis­tance off per­fect, but still some­how man­aging to nail the essence of the guy) and the oth­er name on the poster is Matt Damon as Springbok cap­tain Francois Pienaar. It’s anoth­er char­ac­ter­ist­ic­ally gen­er­ous per­form­ance from Damon who is turn­ing into a char­ac­ter act­or with movie star looks.

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Review: Avatar, Five Minutes of Heaven, Bandslam & Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

By Cinema and Reviews

Avatar posterThere have only been asked two ques­tions that any­body has been ask­ing me this week: “Have you seen Avatar?” and “Is it any good?” Thanks to the help­ful people at Readings I can say “Yes” to the first one and thanks to James Cameron I can say “Whoah” to the second.

Like many Wellingtonians, I have been fol­low­ing Avatar’s pro­gress since pro­duc­tion star­ted in 2007 and it’s almost impossible to be genu­inely object­ive. It’s only nat­ur­al for loc­als to try and claim some own­er­ship of a pro­ject like this and we are all a tiny bit inves­ted in its suc­cess. The hype has cer­tainly been hard to avoid so I was slightly pleased when the fif­teen minute extract on “Avatar Day” didn’t fill me with delighted anti­cip­a­tion. I couldn’t quite my head around the char­ac­ter design of the Na’vi (the indi­gen­ous race peace­fully pop­u­lat­ing the beau­ti­ful but deadly plan­et of Pandora). The blue – the tails – the ears. I couldn’t for the life of me work out how these char­ac­ters were going to be cool and I thought that *cool* was going to be important.

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Review: Moon, The September Issue, Funny People and Aliens in the Attic

By Cinema and Reviews

Moon looks like one of the coolest films of the year. Written and dir­ec­ted by David Bowie’s son Zowie (now known as Duncan Jones), star­ring the effort­lessly inter­est­ing Sam Rockwell and fea­tur­ing 2001-crossed-with-Alien pro­duc­tion design and a trippy plot that seems to require all your atten­tion, Moon was one of the hits of the Festival and is now back for a full cinema release.

Rockwell plays “Sam”, a solo miner super­vising oper­a­tions on the sur­face of the Moon. The com­pany he works for is dig­ging up a spe­cial min­er­al used to fuel the Earth’s fusion power sta­tions. He’s at the end of a three year gig and start­ing to go a bit stir crazy. His only com­pany is a Kevin Spacey-voiced ser­vice robot named GERTY – a cross between HAL 9000 and the cute drones from Douglas Trumbull’s Silent Running. GERTY makes him tea, patches his wounds and pretty much does everything else around the place except go out­side and actu­ally fix machines.

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Review: The Pursuit of Happyness and more ...

By Cinema and Reviews

Pursuit of Happyness posterThe always watch­able Will Smith returns to our screens this week in a more than decent drama called The Pursuit of Happyness. Smith plays solo dad Chris Gardner who struggles to find a way out of the poverty trap (through an unpaid intern­ship at stock­broker Dean Witter) while bad luck, and life itself, con­spire against him. Happyness is a well-made remind­er that it can be flip­pin’ expens­ive being poor and it suc­cess­fully wrung sev­er­al salty tears from these cal­loused eyes.

Incidentally, Smith’s son Christopher is played by Smith’s real-life son Jaden, prov­ing that the apple really does­n’t fall very far from the tree.

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