Skip to main content
Tag

jennifer aniston Archives - Funerals & Snakes

Elysium poster

Review: Elysium, Stoker, We’re the Millers, The Heat, Giselle, Private Peaceful, Reality and Now You See Me

By Cinema and Reviews

Matt Damon in Neil Blomkamp's Elysium (2013).

With this year’s festival now a rapidly diminishing memory — and my recovery from that event (plus another magazine published, some “live” podcast recordings, a few Q&A’s, some director interviews and a Big Screen Symposium) almost complete — I return to the commercial cinema and what do I find? Twenty-three new films have been released since my last set of reviews. Twenty-three! I only turned my back for a second. So, bear with me while I try and do some catching up. Some of these films deserve more space than they are going to get here (and some of them don’t) but you can’t have everything, am I right?

Elysium poster[pullquote]R‑rated these days appears to mean lots of unnecessary cursing and comic male nudity.[/pullquote]Neill Blomkamp’s District 9 was a surprise smash-hit in 2009 and his follow-up, Elysium, is what we call ‘eagerly awaited’. Watching it I was reminded of the great strengths of that first film: a vividly created future society, dysfunctional yet plausible; a great plot setup with a genuine dilemma for the central character. Then I remembered the third act of District 9 — one long fight/chase/fight. And so it proves with Elysium. Wasted potential as — like so many films this year — the film is resolved by who can punch harder rather than who can think better. I have lots of other problems with it but that’s the main one.

Read More

Review: The Tree of Life, Fire in Babylon, The Bang Bang Club, Jane Eyre, Steam of Life, The Change-Up

By Cinema and Reviews

The Tree of Life posterIt’s the fifth anniversary of my first column for this paper — my, how time flies. Five years of searching — usually in vain — for some transcendence among the many flickering images in dozens of darkened rooms. And then, as if by magic, transcendence appears.

It has taken a few weeks — and a second viewing — to properly process Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life. Often baffling, frustrating, unhelpful, yet emotional and evocative in ways I couldn’t put my finger on, I wrestled with it throughout the two and a half hour running time — searching for answers and meaning among the beautiful images, floating, soaring camerwork and weird diversions into cosmology and vulcanology.

Read More

Review: Scream 4, Justin Bieber- Never Say Never and Just Go With It

By Cinema and Reviews

Anther snapshot of Western culture this week in cinemas — if the aliens who monitor us are still watching I’m sure this will result in our urgent and violent annihilation (if that isn’t one cliché too many).

Scream 4 movie posterI’ll confess that I haven’t seen any of the first three Scream films — the first was in 1996 and the most recent was number three, eleven years ago. So, taken as a stand alone picture, how does Scream 4 hold up? Pretty well. The knowing references to recent horror cinema history take up most of the space with what’s left over going to a resigned cynicism about modern society — which is as it should be.

Read More

Review: The Road, Green Zone, The Bounty Hunter, This Way of Life & Admiral

By Cinema and Reviews

The Road posterMost films go in one eye and out the other but some stick in your brain and won’t leave – for better or worse. John Hillcoat’s adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel “The Road” is one of those. Set in a depressing, grey, rainy, post-apocalyptic North American future (reminding me of nothing so much as this past Wellington summer) where nothing grows and the few remaining human beings forage for food – and most often find it in each other – dogged and decent Viggo Mortensen trudges through the wilderness with his young son, looking for something, anything, that might keep them alive.

The Road is about how we try and survive in the face of insurmountable odds, and how that physical survival might mean the loss of our own humanity. Mortensen’s wife (Charlize Theron) walks out into the lonely night, making what she thinks is a sacrifice but which he, clearly, thinks is little more than giving up. His son may well be the last repository of human kindness but that kindness might get them killed.

Read More

Review: Friday the 13th, My Bloody Valentine, He’s Just Not That Into You, Marley & Me and Son of a Lion

By Cinema and Reviews

Friday the 13th poster Strange as it may seem but reviewers are people too and, like the rest of you ordinary folk, we have blind spots and mine is horror. Back when I was a civilian, I managed to avoid most of the iconic horror movies of the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s for reasons (I’m sorry to say) of pure squeamishness. Imagine my, er, surprise then when I discovered that this week had two, possibly even four, horror films in it. Eek.

My only previous exposure to the Friday the 13th catalogue was a grainy pirate video in 1981 (with sound about ten seconds out of synch) so, with few preconceptions, I am pleased to report that the Michael Bay-produced remake is quite entertaining. Silly, of course, but entertaining.

The scene is present day Crystal Lake (scene of the hockey-masked ghoul named Jason’s camp counsellor-offing rampage in the original) and a group of gormless rich college kids are looking for laffs on Jason’s turf. You suspect it won’t end well for any of them and you are right. Director Marcus Nispel made the video for Cher’s “Walking in Memphis” so you can see how he could easily turn his hand to this sort of thing.

Read More