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el bulli: cooking in progress

Review: Kick-Ass 2, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, Much Ado About Nothing & Frances Ha

By Cinema and Reviews

Alexis Denisoff and Amy Acker in Joss Whedon's adptation of Much Ado About Nothing (2012)

There has been much dis­cus­sion in the circles in which I move about the quant­ity of films released to loc­al cinemas. Not only are there too many films com­ing out every week – too many for each one to gen­er­ate much heat at any rate – but the ones that are com­ing out aren’t always the right ones. Smaller dis­trib­ut­ors are push­ing everything they have into the sys­tem regard­less of their poten­tial and some of the majors – with big­ger mar­ket­ing budgets and over­heads to worry about – are ditch­ing their art­house and mid-range titles and push­ing them straight to home video.

[pullquote]Who says Americans can­’t do Shakespeare? Nonsense.[/pullquote]At the same time, mul­ti­plex screens are full of big budget com­mer­cial gambles, with box office estim­ates based on loc­al his­tory and the hope that Twilight-like light­ning might strike twice. See which ones in the list below fit into which cat­egory. (Clue: if your film has no hi-res English lan­guage poster avail­able online  and your only offi­cial web­site is in Japanese, maybe you can­’t really sup­port it in NZ cinemas.)

Farewell, My Queen posterBenoît Jacquot’s Farewell, My Queen goes behind the scenes of Louis XVI and – more spe­cific­ally – Marie Antoinette’s court dur­ing the dark days of the revolu­tion as the régime tottered and fell. We see these events from the point of view of Her Majesty’s book read­er, a young ser­vant played by Léa Seydoux. Initially besot­ted by the Queen (Diane Kruger), her faith is shaken by the rev­el­a­tions of cor­rup­tion, waste and – intriguingly – Antoinette’s rela­tion­ship with the duch­esse de Polignac (Virginie Ledoyen).

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Review: The Chef, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Step Up 4: Miami Heat

By Cinema and Reviews

The Chef posterCinema and fine food have been get­ting along rather well in recent times. This year El Bulli show­cased the amaz­ing molecu­lar cre­ations of Spanish geni­us Ferran Adrià and the painstak­ing sea­food cre­ations in Jiro Dreams of Sushi are still on select screens here in Wellington. Films like those hon­our the cre­ativ­ity, train­ing, hard work and exper­i­ence of some remark­able people. Meanwhile, Daniel Cohen’s The Chef takes a dif­fer­ent path and mer­ci­lessly – and humour­lessly – sat­ir­ises their pretensions.

The great Jean Reno (The Big Blue, The Professional) is Alexandre Lagarde, still head chef and cre­at­ive force behind the Paris res­taur­ant that bears his name but long since sold out to cor­por­ate interests that pimp him out for tv cook­ing shows and frozen super­mar­ket ready-meals. Jacky Bonnot (Michaël Youn) is Lagarde’s biggest fan – a tal­en­ted young chef whose tal­ents are unre­cog­nised by the bis­tros and road­side cafés that reg­u­larly fire him.

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Review: The Artist, El Bulli: Cooking in Progress; The Vow; Safe House; Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace 3D and Killer Elite

By Cinema and Reviews

Two of the big three Academy Award con­tenders this year are about look­ing back on the early days of cinema itself. While Scorsese’s Hugo uses the latest tech­nic­al whizz­bangs to bring to life the idea of early cinema and its nov­elty and excite­ment in The Artist, Michel Hazanavicius recre­ates the tech­niques of old Hollywood in search of pure nostalgia.

A painstak­ingly cre­ated silent movie with sev­er­al moments of love­li­ness, The Artist fol­lows the riches to rags story of screen hero George Valentin and the con­cur­rent rags to riches story of star­let Peppy Miller – who tries to catch him as he falls. The per­form­ances of Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo as the two leads are both splen­did, Dujardin in par­tic­u­lar dis­plays a tech­nic­al pre­ci­sion that most act­ors can only dream of.

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