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dwayne johnson

Review: Sione’s 2: Unfinished Business, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Buck, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island and El violin

By Cinema and Reviews

Sione's 2: Unfinished Business posterThe first Sione’s movie arrived in cinemas in 2006 – before I com­menced this weekly cata­logue of hits and misses – so I have to plead ignor­ance about the Duck Rockers and their earli­er hijinks. I didn’t even try and down­load it. How lame! So, Sione’s 2: Unfinished Business has to stand on its own two feet and I’m pleased to report that it does just that.

It’s five years on from Sione’s wed­ding and the boys have been brought back togeth­er for a dif­fer­ent kind of fam­ily gath­er­ing but one of them has gone miss­ing. The min­is­ter (the great Nat Lees) gives them a mis­sion: find Bolo (the great David Fane) and bring him back before he does some­thing he will regret. So com­mences a mad dash around cent­ral Auckland in a com­mand­eered taxi – from my memory of Ponsonby/Grey Lynn most of those jour­neys would have been faster on foot – try­ing to loc­ate Bolo before all Hell breaks loose.

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Review: Under the Mountain, Amelia and Planet 51

By Cinema and Reviews

Under the Mountain posterAs the recent fuss over The Vintner’s Luck demon­strated, film­makers adapt­ing beloved New Zealand books open them­selves up to all sorts of poten­tial cri­ti­cism, so when Jonathan King and Matthew Grainger announced that their next pro­ject was going to be a ver­sion of Maurice Gee’s Under the Mountain there were a great many excited people (mostly around my age it seemed) thrilled that their favour­ite child­hood book was going to get the all-action big screen treatment.

And yet, as a story pitched at older kids and young adults, it was going to have to be brought out of the ori­gin­al 70s con­text (and updated from its early 80s TV incarn­a­tion) or nobody would come. It’s a fine bal­ance and for mine I think King and Grainger have done a good job – even if the rest­less crowd at Readings on Saturday after­noon might sug­gest otherwise.

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Review: Water Whisperers/Tangaroa, Vampires Suck, The Other Guys and three more ...

By Cinema and Reviews

Water Whisperers posterMy big beef with most eco-documentaries is the lack of hope. Whether it’s Rob Stewart (Sharkwater), Franny Armstrong (The Age of Stupid) or even Leonardo DiCaprio (The 11th Hour) most of these films go to a lot of trouble to tell you what’s wrong with the plan­et but leave us feel­ing help­less and depressed.

That’s why I like Kathleen Gallagher’s work so much. Her film last year, Earth Whisperers/Papatunauku told ten stor­ies of people who were mak­ing a dif­fer­ence, inspir­ing change and show­ing us that there are solu­tions as well as prob­lems. This year she has repeated the ton­ic, focus­ing on our water­ways and our rela­tion­ship with the sea: Water Whisperers/Tangaroa.

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Review: The Expendables, Tomorrow When the War Began, It’s a Wonderful Afterlife, Going the Distance, Exit Through the Gift Shop, Joan Rivers- A Piece of Work, Beyond Ipanema and Jean Charles

By Cinema and Reviews

The Expendables posterAs the great 80s action her­oes passed their respect­ive peaks and drif­ted down the oth­er side towards irrel­ev­ancy (or ego-centric fool­ish­ness) those of us that cared about these things were on the lookout for the next gen­er­a­tion. Who was going to replace Stallone, Willis and Schwarzenegger (not to men­tion the subs bench: Van Damme, Seagal and Norris)? For a while I thought that The Rock was going to be a worthy bear­er of the chains of office but he changed his name back to Dwayne and star­ted mak­ing (fun) films for kids instead.

Now we get out answer. Stallone has gathered all his action hero mates togeth­er for one last hur­rah, anoin­ted his suc­cessor and the res­ult may sur­prise you. Yes, the torch has offi­cially been passed to former Olympic diver and gruff voiced cock­ney oik Jason Statham who plays Stallone’s num­ber two in The Expendables, a big noisy, old-fashioned, romp through explo­sions, wise­cracks, Latin American dic­tat­ors and bent CIA agents. No cliché is left out and The Expendables pro­vokes more nos­tal­gia than adrenaline.

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Review: The Reader, The Boat That Rocked, Dragonball Evolution and Race to Witch Mountain

By Cinema and Reviews

The Reader posterIf you are on the look out for an intel­li­gent, ser­i­ous and impress­ively well-made drama that will stim­u­late and move you (and of course you are, or you wouldn’t be read­ing this) then The Reader will fit your bill per­fectly. The last of the big Oscar con­tenders to hit our shores, this is a ver­sion of the best-selling nov­el which put the German struggle to come to terms with the crimes of the Nazis centre stage. The adapt­a­tion (by British play­wright and screen­writer David Hare) also does this but some­thing else as well – it becomes a med­it­a­tion on all kinds of guilt and shame as well as the com­plex inter­ac­tion between the two.

In 1958, school­boy Michael Berg falls ill and is helped by a stranger (the extraordin­ary Kate Winslet). After his recov­ery, three months later, he returns to thank her and they begin an affair that lasts the final sum­mer of his child­hood. Between bouts of love­mak­ing she demands he read to her, telling her the stor­ies and plays he is study­ing at school. Several months later she dis­ap­pears, break­ing poor Michael’s heart, only to return to his life eight years later in a Berlin courtroom, on tri­al for war crimes.

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Review: Venus, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Evening, Inland Empire and The Game Plan

By Cinema and Reviews

Venus posterThere’s some­thing creepy yet dis­arm­ingly human about Peter O’Toole’s age­ing lothario in Venus; a once beau­ti­ful act­or still work­ing sporad­ic­ally, his cada­ver­ous fea­tures best-suited to the lit­er­al por­tray­al of corpses, cling­ing to the prom­ise of beauty and pleas­ure des­pite the ulti­mate futil­ity of the chase.

Newcomer Jodie Whittaker (in a star-making per­form­ance) becomes the object of his affec­tion, tutel­age and rev­er­ence when she arrives in London to nurse his best friend (Leslie Phillips). While Phillips is appalled at the girl’s inab­il­ity to cook any­thing oth­er than pot noodle while drink­ing his best scotch, Maurice is intox­ic­ated by her spir­it and beauty and decides to take her under his wing.

While O’Toole’s per­form­ance has won all the plaudits (and the Oscar nom­in­a­tion), it is the por­trait of reck­less, inno­cent and impetu­ous youth that has stayed with me – the best por­tray­al of what it means to be young I have seen in a long time. Whittaker’s Jessie has all the con­fid­ence and bravado one gets launch­ing in to the world with the train­ing wheels off but not enough self-knowledge to pro­tect her from the dangers with­in it.

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