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eric bana

Review: Senna, Hanna, Footrot Flats - The Dog’s Tale, Final Destination 5 and The Double Hour

By Cinema and Reviews

Despite my pos­it­ive review for TT3D last week, I’m not a huge motor­s­port fan. In 1996 I worked on the last Nissan Mobil 500 race around the water­front and couldn’t see the appeal of watch­ing cars go belt­ing around the same corner over and over again. In that race you couldn’t even tell who was win­ning, it was all such a blur. In fact, the only time I’ve ever watched Formula 1 was when I chan­nel surfed on to some late night cov­er­age one Sunday night in 1994 just before going to bed. Two corners (about 30 seconds) later, Ayrton Senna was dead. It was pretty freaky, let me tell you.

So, I knew (as all audi­ences must) that Asif Kapadia’s bril­liant doc­u­ment­ary Senna was going to end in tragedy. What I didn’t know was how riv­et­ing it was going to be from begin­ning to end. Senna works because it is first and fore­most a por­trait of a com­pel­ling char­ac­ter – a cha­ris­mat­ic, con­fid­ent but humble young man who under­stood the risks he took and fought to bal­ance those risks with his innate desire to race and race hard – but when the polit­ics of Formula 1 took the con­trol of those risks out of his hands there you could see there was only going to be one result.

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Review: Soul Kitchen, Step Up 3, Killers and a couple more ...

By Cinema and Reviews

Soul Kitchen posterTurkish-German dir­ect­or Fatih Akin has long been an art­house favour­ite around these parts. Head-On (2004) and The Edge of Heaven (2007) were Festival suc­cesses so it was odd to see his new film Soul Kitchen skip this year’s event and go straight to gen­er­al release. On view­ing it’s easy to see why. Akin has gone com­mer­cial and Soul Kitchen is as broad a com­edy as you’ll find out­side the big chains – sadly I have to report that Akin’s film doesn’t sit com­fort­ably in that territory.

Zinos (Adam Bousdoukos) runs a greasy spoon café called the Soul Kitchen in a run­down part of old Hamburg. He’s not much of a cook or a busi­ness­man but his loy­al cus­tom­ers seem to like it. Thrown into a tizzy by a com­bin­a­tion of his girlfriend’s move to China, a very bad back, the tax depart­ment, his dead­beat broth­er (Moritz Bleibtreu) on day release from pris­on and an old school friend with an eye on his real estate, Zinos tries to nav­ig­ate his way through a rap­idly deteri­or­at­ing situ­ation with only a geni­us new chef and some loy­al but eas­ily dis­trac­ted staff.

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Review: Where the Wild Things Are, The Informant!, The Time Traveller’s Wife, Zombieland and The Cake Eaters

By Cinema and Reviews

Is it too early to sug­gest that we might be liv­ing in a golden age of cinema? Think of the film­makers work­ing in the com­mer­cial realm these days who have dis­tinct­ive voices, thrill­ing visu­al sens­ib­il­it­ies, sol­id intel­lec­tu­al (and often mor­al) found­a­tions, a pas­sion for com­bin­ing enter­tain­ment with some­thing more – along with an abid­ing love of cinema in all its strange and won­der­ful forms.

I’m think­ing of the Coens, obvi­ously, but also Peter Jackson (and protégé Neill Blomkamp), Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire), Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz and the forth­com­ing Scott Pilgrim), Jason Reitman (Juno and January’s Up in the Air), Guillermo Del Toro (work­ing hard on The Hobbit in Miramar), and even Tarantino is still pro­du­cing the goods. This week we are lucky enough to get new work from two oth­ers who should be in that list: Spike Jonze and Steven Soderbergh.

Jonze made his name with oddball stor­ies like Being John Malkovich and Adaptation and the first thing you notice about his inter­pret­a­tion of the beloved Maurice Sendak children’s book, Where the Wild Things Are, is that it simply doesn’t resemble any­thing else you’ve ever seen. With the help of writer Dave Eggers (the nov­el “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius”, Away We Go) he has used the book as a start­ing point for a beau­ti­ful and sens­it­ive med­it­a­tion on what it is like to be a child (a boy child specifically).

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Review: Terminator Salvation, Love the Beast, Fugitive Pieces, JCVD and In Search of a Midnight Kiss

By Cinema and Reviews

Terminator Salvation poster’Tis the sea­son to reboot tired fran­chises and this week we get an explos­ive new look at James Cameron’s beloved Terminator. Set only nine years in the future (when open-air bat­tle­field heart trans­plants will be de rigeur dur­ing la guerre), the Judgement Day of T2 has des­troyed most of the West Coast of the USA and only a hardy band of ill-equipped rebels are keep­ing the mon­strous Skynet at bay.

John Connor, proph­esied future saviour of the human race, is a only a sol­dier in the rebel army but his reg­u­lar radio broad­casts bring hope to the scattered, ragtag freedom-fighters. In a battle to res­cue some human pris­on­ers his entire squad is killed – but he does man­age to release the mys­ter­i­ous Marcus Wright (Aussie boof­head Sam Worthington) who may hold the key to the defeat of the machines.

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Review: Star Trek, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, Rachel Getting Married and Religulous

By Cinema and Reviews

Star Trek posterJ.J. Abrams rein­ven­tion of Star Trek is as thrill­ing a ride as we have seen any­where this year. The fran­chise has been re-booted (as the say­ing goes) and re-started from before the begin­ning of The Original Series as Kirk, Spock, Bones, etc go on their first voy­age togeth­er and take on their first universe-threatening mad alien.

A very grumpy Romulan miner (Eric Bana) dis­cov­ers the secret of cre­at­ing worm­holes and uses it travel back in time to wreak revenge on Spock – the age­ing Ambassador (a frail look­ing Leonard Nimoy) who failed to pre­vent the destruc­tion of his home plan­et. His revenge will take the form of des­troy­ing Spock’s home plan­ets of Vulcan and Earth while the trapped old man is forced to watch. Luckily for the uni­verse (but too late for the people of Vulcan) the hot headed cadet Kirk (Chris Pine) and the young Spock (Zachary Quinto, known in some circles as Hot Spock) are able to save the day and forge a legendary friend­ship at the same time.

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Review: Run Fatboy Run, Vantage Point, The Other Boleyn Girl, Interview, Step Up 2 the Streets and 10,000 BC

By Cinema, Conflict of Interest and Reviews

My nor­mal, equable, approach to Hollywood block­buster product has been upset this week by the news that, in a decision of quite breath­tak­ing cyn­icism, Warner Bros. are going to split the final Harry Potter film (The Deathly Hallows due in 2010) in to two parts and thus, with a wave of a Potter-like wand, make $500m appear where no money was before. Normal ser­vice may well be resumed next week but for now I am grumpy and it may show.

Run Fatboy Run posterSimon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead) leaves his hit-making col­lab­or­at­ors, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright, behind for a while for his new com­edy Run Fatboy Run. He plays love­able waster Dennis Doyle who could eas­ily be a cous­in of Shaun (or Tim in “Spaced”). Five years ago he ran out on his beau­ti­ful preg­nant girl­friend, Thandie Newton, on their wed­ding day. Now, she has hooked up with hand­some, rich, American mara­thon run­ner Hank Azaria (The Simpsons) and Dennis (with the help of very funny best friend Dylan Moran from “Black Books”) decides to win her back by prov­ing he can fin­ish a London Marathon. Competent and ener­get­ic but with the occa­sion­al bum note, Run Fatboy Run is like a pub band cov­er ver­sion of a great British romantic com­edy. One of the reas­ons why it does­n’t always work must be down to first-time fea­ture dir­ect­or David Schwimmer (Ross from “Friends”) whose tim­ing, sadly, isn’t always on.

Vantage Point posterThey say you nev­er come out of a film hum­ming the struc­ture, which in the case of plucky little thrill­er Vantage Point is a shame as the struc­ture is really all it has going for it. An attemp­ted assas­sin­a­tion of US President Ashton (William Hurt) in Salamanca, Spain is told and retold from the dif­fer­ing per­spect­ives of sev­er­al prot­ag­on­ists and wit­nesses, includ­ing Dennis Quaid’s age­ing Secret Serviceman and Forest Whitaker’s handicam-toting tour­ist. The plot is nev­er fully unrav­elled, though, leav­ing too many ques­tions unanswered not least of which why Spanish ter­ror­ists would col­lab­or­ate with jihadists. There’s one great car chase, though, involving what looks like a Holden Barina. Everything else disappoints.

The Other Boleyn Girl posterWith The Other Boleyn Girl, The Queen scribe Peter Morgan turns his atten­tion to anoth­er chapter in Britain’s roy­al his­tory: the bed-hopping, neck-chopping, Tudor soap opera star­ring Henry VIII and his search for an heir; a pre­quel, if you will, to Cate Blanchett’s Elizabeth. Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman play the Boleyn sis­ters, com­pet­ing for the atten­tion of Eric Bana’s hand­some but unstable Henry (if they only knew he was going to turn into Charles Laughton they might not have tried so hard). The ori­gin­al nov­el was bodice-ripping romantic fic­tion dressed as lit­er­at­ure and the film serves the same pur­pose. Entertaining.

Interview official siteSteve Buscemi takes the dir­ect­or’s chair (and stars in) Interview, a low-key two-hander also fea­tur­ing Sienna Miller. Buscemi plays cyn­ic­al polit­ic­al journ­al­ist Pierre who is forced to inter­view a fam­ous soap star. Based on, and far too respect­ful of, a film by murdered Dutch film­maker Theo Van Gogh, Interview feels like a stage play – and not in a good way.

Step Up 2 The Streets posterEver since West Side Story (and pos­sibly earli­er) dance has been used as a meta­phor for urb­an viol­ence but in recent years the trend has got some com­mer­cial legs as film­makers real­ise they can present hip-hop music and urb­an situ­ations in a PG envir­on­ment. In Step Up a white urb­an free­style dan­cer (Channing Tatum) tried to make it at bal­let school. In the sequel (Step Up 2 The Streets), a white free­style urb­an dan­cer (Briana Evigan) tries to make it at the same bal­let school. But she’s from The Streets, you see, and she’s an orphan so she gath­ers the oth­er out­casts and eth­nics from the school so they can com­pete with the gang-bangers in an “illeg­al” dance com­pet­i­tion. I’m fas­cin­ated, obvi­ously, by these films not least the pro­mo­tion of dance as com­pet­i­tion over dance as expres­sion. But I’m over-thinking as usual.

10,000 BC posterFinally, 10,000 BC is fit­fully enter­tain­ing twaddle. Historically and anthro­po­lo­gic­ally inac­cur­ate not to men­tion eth­no­lo­gic­ally offens­ive, my recom­mend­a­tion is to wait for the video, get stoned with your mates and then talk all the way through it.

Printed in Wellington’s Capital Times on Wednesday 19 March, 2008 although space con­straints saw the last few items cut. So, Interview, Step Up 2 The Streets and 10,000 BC are like web-only bonus items.

Nature of Conflict: Interview is dis­trib­uted in New Zealand by Arkles Entertainment who I some­times do a little work for.