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james cameron

Review: St. Vincent, Deepsea Challenge 3D, Interstellar, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 and Nightcrawler

By Cinema and Reviews

In the last (non-Rancho) post I made a com­mit­ment to get back in to reg­u­lar review­ing and to end my year-long sab­bat­ic­al. (For the reas­ons behind the hiatus, it is recom­men­ded that you have a quick read. Go on, I’ll wait here.) It has come as a bit of a sur­prise to me that I’ve actu­ally seen as much as I have over the last few months. It didn’t feel like it but — thanks to Radio New Zealand, FishHead and Rancho Notorious — fully 18 of the films cur­rently screen­ing around Wellington are films I can actu­ally have an opin­ion on.

Anyway, here goes, and I might as well start with the old­est first. Which, as it turns out, is also a con­tender for the worst film in this post.

St. Vincent movie posterI’ve nev­er man­aged to hide my dis­dain for Little Miss Sunshine, a film which is beloved by many and held up as an example of qual­ity screen­writ­ing to which we all should aspire. It is, in fact, garbage. A col­lec­tion of tics mas­quer­ad­ing as char­ac­ters stuck in a contrived-cute situ­ation in which life les­sons will be learned too eas­ily and happy end­ings will be unearned. Theodore Melfi’s debut fea­ture St. Vincent also falls into all these traps only deep­er. It also relies so heav­ily on the great Bill Murray that it man­ages to even bring him into disrepute.

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RN 2/3: Calling Occupants

By Audio, Cinema, Rancho Notorious and Reviews

Kailey and Dan do their best to review Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar but oth­er, more inter­est­ing, films keep on get­ting in the way. Plus, James Cameron live via Skype at the Embassy Theatre Q&A for Deepsea Challenge 3D on Labour Monday.

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Review: The Dark Knight Rises, Cloudburst, Late Bloomers, Trail Notes, Sky Whisperers and King of Devil’s Island

By Cinema and Reviews

I made the mis­take of watch­ing The Dark Knight Rises twice last week. The first time was enter­tain­ing enough, I sup­pose. The open­ing set-piece – in which a CIA rendi­tions plane is hijacked in mid-air by it’s own cargo – is bril­liantly con­ceived but point­less, Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman is a breath of fresh air and the end­ing (unspoiled here) works extremely hard to tie up the many loose ends and sat­is­fy even the mean­est critic.

But second time up, the prob­lems come into even clear­er focus. The con­fused ideo­logy (a fusion of zeit­geisty “Occupy Gotham” wealth redis­tri­bu­tion and pro-vigilante “mean streets will always need clean­ing” status quo pro­tec­tion­ism), end­less tire­some expos­i­tion of both plot and theme and the huge holes in its own intern­al logic, all serve to dis­sip­ate the impact of the impress­ive visuals.

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Review: American Reunion, Titanic 3D and The Pirates! Band of Misfits

By Cinema and Reviews

American Reunion posterIn one of these columns back in 2007 I said, “Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.” Those were the days, eh? Now you can’t get away from it. This week nos­tal­gia is every­where – get­ting up your nose and on your shoes – and the prime cul­prits are young whip­per­snap­pers who should know bet­ter – yearn­ing for their High School years in that innocent-yet-filthy time before Y2K and 9/11 changed everything.

The first American Pie was a well-executed imple­ment­a­tion of that noble genre, the teen sex com­edy. Four sequels (two direct-to-video) leeched whatever good­will there might have remained out of the pro­ject but – as the careers of Jason Biggs, Seann Williamm Scott and Chris Klein have stuttered – the Hollywood eco­nomy will even­tu­ally demand its trib­ute. American Reunion is the result.

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Review- In a Better World, Unknown, Sanctum 3D and Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son

By Cinema and Reviews

In a Better World posterI love it when a film raises the stakes. Done with wit, it can drag you back in to a film you might have been drift­ing away from. Done with smarts, like Susanne Bier’s Danish drama In a Better World, it can drag you to the edge of your seat.

About two-thirds in to the film there’s an event that forces a cent­ral char­ac­ter to con­front his own prin­ciples – val­ues he has been care­fully (and self­lessly) teach­ing his kids – and he has to ques­tion wheth­er those prin­ciples are really doing him any good in a world that refuses to hon­our them in return.

The char­ac­ter is Anton (Mikael Persbrandt), a Swedish doc­tor work­ing in a sub-Saharan refugee camp where – in addi­tion to the usu­al lit­any of drought-related prob­lems – he’s patch­ing up preg­nant women bru­tal­ised by the loc­al war­lord. He’s troubled by the cir­cum­stances but smug about his role in the aid pro­cess. Perhaps he should be pay­ing more atten­tion to back home though, as his old­est son Elias (Markus Rygaard) is being bul­lied at school and taken under the wing of cold-eyed psy­cho­path Christian (bril­liant William Jøhnk Nielsen), griev­ing the can­cer death of his moth­er and tak­ing his quiet rage out on the world.

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Review: Avatar, Five Minutes of Heaven, Bandslam & Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

By Cinema and Reviews

Avatar posterThere have only been asked two ques­tions that any­body has been ask­ing me this week: “Have you seen Avatar?” and “Is it any good?” Thanks to the help­ful people at Readings I can say “Yes” to the first one and thanks to James Cameron I can say “Whoah” to the second.

Like many Wellingtonians, I have been fol­low­ing Avatar’s pro­gress since pro­duc­tion star­ted in 2007 and it’s almost impossible to be genu­inely object­ive. It’s only nat­ur­al for loc­als to try and claim some own­er­ship of a pro­ject like this and we are all a tiny bit inves­ted in its suc­cess. The hype has cer­tainly been hard to avoid so I was slightly pleased when the fif­teen minute extract on “Avatar Day” didn’t fill me with delighted anti­cip­a­tion. I couldn’t quite my head around the char­ac­ter design of the Na’vi (the indi­gen­ous race peace­fully pop­u­lat­ing the beau­ti­ful but deadly plan­et of Pandora). The blue – the tails – the ears. I couldn’t for the life of me work out how these char­ac­ters were going to be cool and I thought that *cool* was going to be important.

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