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The World's End poster

Review: The World’s End, Pacific Rim, The Look of Love + School Holiday Roundup

By Cinema and Reviews

Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan, Simon Pegg, Paddie Considine and Martn Freeman in The world's End

I can imagine some people not enjoying The World’s End. People who don’t care about — or even notice — cinematic craftsmanship, people who think that being self-referential means being self-indulgent, audiences who prefer their action sequences to be cosmic in scale and measured in megabytes per second rather than laughs per minute — I expect those people might feel that the latest masterpiece by Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost goes sailing over their heads. After all, a film like The World’s End rewards concentration (and second and third viewings) whereas most blockbusters rely on increasingly destructive spectacle for audiences to get their kicks.

The World's End posterThat’s not to say that this film is light on apocalypse — it promises the end of the world after all — but its core remains the deep friendships between men of a certain age and how those friendships grow when tested — the same theme that infused their previous two films together, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.

[pullquote]Pacific Rim shows how loving bad films sometimes means you make bad films.[/pullquote]Pegg plays Gary King, middle-aged lost soul, pining for the glory days of High School and desperate to complete his masterpiece — the 12 pub crawl through Newton Haven known as “The Golden Mile”. He and his mates failed back in 1993 and he’s rounding them up for one last crack at it. His four old mates (played by Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine and the wonderful Eddie Marsan) are reluctant to leave their tidy grown-up lives behind but, persuaded, they get to their old stomping grounds only to find they are humanity’s only hope to avoid inter-galactic colonisation.

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Review: Toy Story 3, The Twilight Saga- Eclipse, Marmaduke & Me and Orson Welles

By Cinema and Reviews

For those readers tuned into these things, clear evidence emerged this week of the ‘end of days’ and our impending annihilation — culturally at least.

Simply put, Twilight: Eclipse is playing around three times as many sessions in Wellington cinemas this school holidays as Toy Story 3, despite the latter being demonstrably superior fare in every conceivable way. It was pretty depressing to check the papers last week to see that TS3 was only getting one Embassy session (in the matinée ghetto) as opposed to Eclipse’s four. It’s enough to make one wish for a friendly wall to bang one’s head upon.

Toy Story 3 posterIs Toy Story 3 that good? Yes, it is. In fact, I would venture the slightly dangerous opinion that if there’s a film in the Film Festival this year as good as Toy Story 3 then I will be very, very surprised.

The last couple of Pixar films reviewed in these pages have been gently chided for falling away in the third act — failing to maintain their genius right through to the end. No such problems occur with TS3. It stays on course, continuing to illuminate character and action with deft, surprising and eerily appropriate plot turns.

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Review: The American, The Disappearance of Alice Creed, Let Me In, Due Date and Machete

By Cinema and Reviews

I got some feedback on this column the other day. Apparently I “write well” but I “don’t like much”. Perhaps I am a little jaded after four and a half years in these pages but I am pleased to report that this weekend I saw five films on your behalf and enjoyed all of them. Yes, all of them.

The American posterIn the first scene of The American, George Clooney does something so un-Clooney-like that audience members beside me audibly gasped. He plays a hit-man who might be called Jack or Edward but is probably neither.

After narrowly escaping an attempt on his own life he holes up in picturesque Castel del Monte in the mountains of central Italy. As a single-minded professional with no ties, Jack could be the brother of Clooney’s corporate assassin in Up in the Air and like that film it takes unexpected feelings for a beautiful woman to make him realise how empty his life is.

Directed by famous photographer Anton Corbijn (The Joshua Tree etc), every frame of The American is luscious and perfectly composed, Mr. Clooney makes this stuff look easy and if you’re in the market for a quality Euro-art-house Bourne-type thriller then look no further.

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Review: District 9, Sunshine Cleaning, The Man in the Hat, The Rocket Post and Case 39

By Cinema and Reviews

It’s going to be a massive few months for Wellywood — District 9 seems to have come out of nowhere to take the world by storm (Currently #35 in the IMDb All Time list, just below Citizen Kane. I kid you not) and The Lovely Bones trailer is whetting everyone’s appetite at just the right time. This Friday, Wellington audiences are the first in the world to see a fifteen minute sampler of the locally shot Avatar (Readings from 11.45am, free of charge) and three more Film Commission features are due for release between now and Christmas: The Strength of Water, Under the Mountain and The Vintner’s Luck, all of which have a significant Wellington component to them.

District 9 posterAnd if the Hollywood big cheeses were worried about The Lord of the Rings shifting the tectonic plates of entertainment industry power they ought to be terrified by District 9, a new world demonstration of the SANZAR spirit (minus the Australians) that achieves in spades everything that this year’s big-budget tent-pole features like Transformers and Terminator failed to do. It works thrillingly as pure entertainment and yet at the same time it’s a little bit more.

Aliens have arrived on earth but unlike in the 70s and 80s they aren’t here to tell us how to connect with the universe and expand our consciousness. And it isn’t like the 90s when they arrived to caramelize us with their death rays. These aliens have arrived for remarkably 21st century reasons — their ship is crippled and with no way home they are destined to become refugees, outcasts, misunderstood second-class citizens.

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Review: Public Enemies, Faintheart, Coraline and Battle in Seattle

By Cinema, Conflict of Interest and Reviews

Public Enemies posterOf all directors currently working in the Hollywood mainstream Michael Mann is arguably the greatest stylist. No one at the multiplex has more control of the pure aesthetics of filmmaking, from colour balance and composition through editing and sound, Mann’s films (from Thief in 1981 to the misguided reworking of Miami Vice in 2006) have had a European visual sensibility while remaining heavily embedded in the seamy world of crime and punishment.

Now Mann has turned back the clock and made a period crime film, set during the last great depression. Based on the true story of the legendary bank robber John Dillinger, whose gang cut a swathe across the Midwest in 1933 and 1934, Mann’s Public Enemies is a stylish and superbly crafted tale of a doomed hero pursued by a dogged lawman. Dillinger is portrayed by Johnny Depp with his usual swagger and his nemesis is the now sadly ubiquitous Christian Bale.

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Review: Grow Your Own, The Chronicles of Narnia- Prince Caspian and The Jammed

By Cinema and Reviews

Grow Your Own posterThe allotment is one of the United Kingdom’s greatest achievements, unrepeated I believe anywhere else. In exchange for moving in to shoeboxes stacked upon each other the British poor were given a back garden somewhere else — a nearby shared field converted into small plots where they could grow some food and still experience something of a life outdoors, connected to the seasons. And who could have guessed that, at the same time, the allotment could also be such an effective metaphor for life in modern England.

In Richard Laxton’s film Grow Your Own, the spare plots at a Liverpool allotment are being allocated to refugees, to help them adjust to life in their new country and give them something to do during the otherwise long days. The locals, led by ex-cop Big John (Philip Jackson) with the help of his downtrodden son Little John (Eddie Marsan from Happy-Go-Lucky), don’t like the idea of their patch being invaded by “gypos” and turn a cold shoulder to their new neighbours.

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