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federico fellini

Review: Brother Number One, We Need to Talk About Kevin, John Carter, My Week With Marilyn, Headhunters and Warrior

By Cinema and Reviews

Project X posterEvery week on Cinematica – the movie pod­cast I co-host with Simon Werry and Kailey Carruthers – we sign-off each film with a two-word review. It’s a gag, of course, but no more reduct­ive than “two thumbs up” or “two stars”, and it’s become a bit of a meme with listen­ers sup­ply­ing their own – often extremely good – contributions.

Underworld: Awakening posterAnd see­ing as I missed a column through ill­ness last week, I have a feel­ing that my two-word reviews might come in handy help­ing us to catch up. So, for the found-footage High School party-gone-wrong movie Project X for example, my two-word review is “Toxic Waste”. The third sequel in the vam­pires vs lycans styl­ised action fran­chise, Underworld: Awakening gets “Strobe Headache”. And for the notori­ously low budget found-footage posession-horror The Devil Inside you’ll have to make do with “Didn’t Watch”.

Brother Number One posterWhich brings us to the good stuff (and there’s plenty of it about at the moment). Brother Number One is a superb and affect­ing NZ doco about trans-atlantic row­er Rob Hamill’s attempts to find out the truth about his broth­er Kerry’s dis­ap­pear­ance at the hands of the Khmer Rouge régime in Cambodia. This is a film to remind you that the great tides of his­tory aren’t tides at all and if you look closely enough you see mil­lions of indi­vidu­al stor­ies – of heart­break, tragedy and redemption.

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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: Winter’s Bone, Red, Made in Dagenham, Paranormal Activity 2, Resident Evil- Afterlife and I’m Still Here

By Cinema and Reviews

Winter's Bone posterHalf way through Winter’s Bone I found myself think­ing, “So, this is what the Western has become?” The best Westerns are about find­ing or sus­tain­ing a mor­al path though a law­less fron­ti­er and the fron­ti­er in Winter’s Bone is the hid­den world of the rur­al poor and the path is a strange and ter­ri­fy­ing one.

In the rough and remote Ozark Mountains, teen­age Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) is single-handedly bring­ing up her two young sib­lings while caring for her emo­tion­ally dam­aged moth­er. One cold morn­ing the Sheriff turns up with the news that her fath­er, Jessup, used their house as his bail bond and unless Ree can find him and per­suade him to turn up for Court, the fam­ily will lose everything.

Jessup is (or maybe was) what we would call a ‘P’ deal­er – the only eco­nomy in the area show­ing any kind of growth. But the com­pany he was keep­ing were the mean­est of the mean and to find her fath­er Ree must ven­ture into dan­ger­ous territory.

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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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