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jodie whittaker Archives - Funerals & Snakes

Review: Attack the Block, The Women on the 6th Floor, The Lorax, Mirror Mirror and Wrath of the Titans

By Cinema and Reviews

Attack the Block posterIt has taken ten months for Joe Cornish’s brilliant Attack the Block to make its way to New Zealand and one of the first questions will be, is there still an audience left for it considering the most rabid fans will have found — licit and illicit — ways to watch it months ago. I certainly hope there is because Cornish has produced a highly original take on a classic genre — a low-budget alien invasion movie that is thrilling, funny and socially aware.

It’s Guy Fawke’s Night and the attempted mugging of off-duty nurse Sam (Jodie Whittaker) is interrupted by a the explosive arrival of a strange creature. The leader of the young hoodlums, Moses (a star-making performance by John Boyega), manages to kill the beast and they take the carcass as a trophy, not realising that there are others following — and that they will want revenge.

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Review: Drive, In Time, One Day, Fright Night and The Inbetweeners Movie

By Cinema and Reviews

In Time posterExpat Kiwi auteur Andrew Niccol (Gattaca) somehow always manages to tap in to the zeitgeist and with new sci-fi thriller In Time his own timing is almost spookily perfect. A parable about the modern political economy, In Time isn’t a particularly sophisticated analysis but while protestors occupy Wall Street, St Paul’s in London and the City to Sea Bridge here in Wellington, it seems almost perfectly calculated to provoke a big Fuck You! to the bankers, speculators and hoarders who are rapidly becoming the Hollywood villains we love to hate.

In Niccol’s world, several decades into the future, time is literally money: human beings have been genetically modified to stop (physically) ageing at 25. Which would be lovely apart from the fact that a clock on your writst then starts counting down the one year you have left to live and the time on your wrist becomes currency. You can earn more by working, transfer it to others by shaking hands, borrow more from banks and loan sharks or you can spend it on booze to blot out the horror of your pathetic little life.

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Review: The Hangover, Good, Elegy, Boy A, Land of the Lost and Forever Strong

By Cinema, Conflict of Interest and Reviews

The Hangover posterI can just imagine the Monday morning when a development executive stumbled across the script of The Hangover. It wouldn’t have taken him long to realise that he’d discovered modern Hollywood’s holy grail — a perfectly realised men-behaving-badly movie, so well-written and cleverly structured that he wouldn’t need any big stars or a marquee director. By morning tea he would have been gone for the day, safe in the knowledge that his targets for the year were going be met and (no doubt inspired by the script he’d just bought) he would be dropping a big bunch of credit card on hookers and blow. Probably.

The script is perfect in its elegant and streamlined construction (screenwriter-porn, no less): Four friends head to Vegas for a bachelor party. We leave them at the first Jägermeister shot, only to rejoin them at dawn as they emerge squinting into the light. They’ve gained a baby and tiger and lost a tooth — and a buddy. The film is all about putting the pieces of the night back together and it’s clever, filthy, loose and charming. The Hangover is indeed the Citizen Kane of all getting-fucked-up-in-Vegas movies — so supremely pre-eminent that (let us hope) we never have to watch another of its kind ever again. Of course, The Hangover 2 is already in pre-production.

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Review: Venus, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Evening, Inland Empire and The Game Plan

By Cinema and Reviews

Venus posterThere’s something creepy yet disarmingly human about Peter O’Toole’s ageing lothario in Venus; a once beautiful actor still working sporadically, his cadaverous features best-suited to the literal portrayal of corpses, clinging to the promise of beauty and pleasure despite the ultimate futility of the chase.

Newcomer Jodie Whittaker (in a star-making performance) becomes the object of his affection, tutelage and reverence when she arrives in London to nurse his best friend (Leslie Phillips). While Phillips is appalled at the girl’s inability to cook anything other than pot noodle while drinking his best scotch, Maurice is intoxicated by her spirit and beauty and decides to take her under his wing.

While O’Toole’s performance has won all the plaudits (and the Oscar nomination), it is the portrait of reckless, innocent and impetuous youth that has stayed with me — the best portrayal of what it means to be young I have seen in a long time. Whittaker’s Jessie has all the confidence and bravado one gets launching in to the world with the training wheels off but not enough self-knowledge to protect her from the dangers within it.

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