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Jobs poster

Review: Jobs, The Weight of Elephants, Red 2, White House Down, Salinger & In the House

By Cinema, Reviews

Demos Murphy in Daniel Borgman's The Weight of Elephants (2013)Jobs posterThe best way I can think of to sum up Jobs, the hastily-prepared not-quite adapt­a­tion of Walter Isaacson’s hastily-published bio­graphy of the Apple co-founder, is that its sub­ject would have hated it. After all, Steve had taste and – fam­ously – exer­cised it. He also did­n’t release products until they were ready where­as Joshua Michael Stern’s film feels like the win­ner of a race to be first rather than best.

Ashton Kutcher imper­son­ates Mr. Jobs effect­ively enough, to the extent of mim­ick­ing the man’s strange lope, but nev­er gets fur­ther under his skin than a blog post or tabloid head­line might. I sus­pect that is not a com­ment on Mr. Kutcher’s tal­ent but on the epis­od­ic script by first-timer Matt Whiteley. Josh Gad’s Woz provides com­ic relief only and the amount of fake facial hair on offer sug­gests the film might bet­ter have been titled iBeard.

The Weight of Elephants posterOperating on a much deep­er level is Daniel Borgman’s The Weight of Elephants, a film that pri­or­it­ises what goes on under the sur­face almost to the com­plete exclu­sion of plot. Gorgeous Demos Murphy plays 10-year-old Adrian, liv­ing with his depressed Uncle Rory (great Matthew Sunderland) and Gran (Catherine Wilkin) in sub­urb­an Invercargill. The strange dis­ap­pear­ance of three loc­al chil­dren has an upset­ting effect on a boy who is strug­gling to fit in to the world around him anyway.

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

By Cinema, Reviews

The 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: The Blind Side, The Book of Eli, Antichrist & Letters to Juliet

By Cinema, Reviews

God is in the house this week. He turns up in the val­ues of a wealthy Tennessee fam­ily who adopt a poor black kid and turn him into a cham­pi­on, He fea­tures in a big leath­er book car­ried across a post-apocalyptic America by enig­mat­ic Denzel Washington, and He is not­able for His absence in a Lars von Trier shock­er that is unlike any­thing you will have seen before or see since.

First, the good ver­sion. Based on a best selling book by Michael Lewis, The Blind Side would not have made it New Zealand screens if it wasn’t for Sandra Bullock’s sur­prise Oscar win earli­er this year and it’s easy to see why dis­trib­ut­ors might have left it on the shelf. Personally, I’m glad they didn’t. My com­pan­ion had no know­ledge of, or affin­ity for, American Football or the com­plex and baff­ling col­lege sports struc­ture and was, there­fore, a bit left out of a story that man­aged to push all my but­tons fairly effortlessly.

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Review: Two Lovers, My Sister’s Keeper, The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus and A Christmas Carol

By Cinema, Reviews

Two Lovers posterAt what point in a man’s life does he decide to become a dry clean­er? For Joaquin Phoenix’s char­ac­ter, Leonard Kraditor, in Two Lovers that day is nev­er and yet he still finds him­self to be one. He’s a sens­it­ive soul whose men­tal health issues have res­ul­ted in sev­er­al sui­cide attempts, a per­man­ent rela­tion­ship with med­ic­a­tion and a need to start again with his lov­ing par­ents in their small apart­ment in Brooklyn.

His fath­er intro­duces him to the daugh­ter of a busi­ness asso­ci­ate (Vinessa Shaw) in the hopes that a pos­it­ive rela­tion­ship might heal his son and also be a prof­it­able devel­op­ment for the dry clean­ing busi­ness. At the same time, Leonard meets and falls for the beau­ti­ful and mys­ter­i­ous upstairs neigh­bour, played by Gwyneth Paltrow, whose own rela­tion­ship with a wealthy mar­ried man is doing her no good.

Two Lovers is writ­ten and dir­ec­ted by James Gray, the icon­o­clast­ic and uncom­prom­ising inde­pend­ent film­maker respons­ible for the gritty New York dra­mas Little Odessa and last year’s We Own the Night , which also starred Phoenix. It’s a care­ful and sens­it­ive pic­ture about how so often love is about want­ing to heal and pro­tect someone – Shaw wants to heal Phoenix and he wants to heal Paltrow and none of them real­ise the extent to which they have to heal them­selves first.

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