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julianne moore

RN 2/11: Wild in the country

By Audio, Cinema, Rancho Notorious and Reviews

Online com­ment­at­or, review­er and racon­teur Steve Gray joins Kailey and Dan on the line from Hamilton, New Zealand, to help review Reese Witherspoon in Wild, Julianne Moore in Still Alice and Johnny Depp in Mortdecai. Steve also has top TV watch­ing tips for 2015 includ­ing Adam Curtis’ Bitter Lake.

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First Nine to Noon appearance of the year

By Audio, Cinema and Reviews

Nine to Noon podcast iconAfter what seems like weeks of hol­i­days, Summer Noelles and Matinée Idles, Radio New Zealand National is pretty much back to nor­mal which means the return of my fort­nightly movie reviews. Let this be a little place­hold­er now that Rancho Notorious has become a fort­nightly release.

This week: Still Alice, Force Majeure, American Sniper, Unbroken and a little snipe at Birdman.

As an added bonus, here’s Rancho Notorious co-host Kailey Carruthers talk­ing to Lynn Freeman on Sunday’s Standing Room Only arts show.

Plus, New Zealand International Film Festival dir­ect­or Bill Gosden and I talk­ing to Lynn earli­er this sum­mer about the future of New Zealand film under the new film com­mis­sion régime of David Gibson.

Blue Jasmine poster

Review: Blue Jasmine, Riddick, What Maisie Knew, Romeo & Juliet: A Love Song and The Best Offer

By Cinema and Reviews

Max Casella, Cate Blanchett, Sally Hawkins and Bobby Cannvale in Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine (2013)

When did “late-period: Woody Allen start? Was it with Match Point (when he finally left New York for some new scenery)? Or should we con­sider these last ten, globe-trotting, years as late‑r Woody? The last ten years have cer­tainly been up and down in terms of qual­ity. Scoop was all-but diabol­ic­al. Vicky Cristina Barcelona was robust and sur­pris­ing. Midnight in Paris was gen­i­al but dis­pos­able (des­pite being a massive hit) and You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger was barely even a film.

Blue Jasmine posterNow, Blue Jasmine, in which Mr. Allen uses the notori­ous Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi crimes as inspir­a­tion for a story about the fraud’s vic­tims as well as the col­lat­er­al dam­age inflic­ted on a woman obli­vi­ous of her own com­pli­city. As the eponym­ous Jasmine, Cate Blanchett plays the wife of Alec Baldwin’s shonky NY busi­ness­man, their rela­tion­ship told in flash­back while she tries to rebuild her life in her adop­ted half-sister’s (or some­thing – the rela­tion­ship seems unne­ces­sar­ily com­plic­ated for some­thing that has no mater­i­al impact on the story) apart­ment in an unfash­ion­able area of San Francisco.

[pullquote]As they used to say on tele­vi­sion about kit­tens, “a child isn’t just for Christmas, a child is forever.”[/pullquote]Blanchett unravels beau­ti­fully and almost main­tains our sym­pathy des­pite the repeated evid­ence that she does­n’t really deserve it. In sup­port, Sally Hawkins as the sis­ter is more watch­able than usu­al and oth­ers – not­ably Andrew Dice Clay, Michael Stuhlbarg and Louis C.K. – get moments to shine even though some of those moments can seem a bit repet­it­ive. Mr. Allen’s ear for dia­logue seems to have entirely deser­ted him – these people talk like they’re being quoted in New Yorker art­icles rather than con­vers­ing like liv­ing, breath­ing humans – but the struc­ture is sat­is­fy­ing and Blanchett takes the entire pro­ject by the scruff of the neck and makes it her own.

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Review: The Campaign and Take This Waltz

By Cinema and Reviews

The Campaign posterIt’s American elec­tion year and those mealy-mouthed Hollywood lib­er­als have fired the first shot in their attempt to influ­ence the res­ult. In The Campaign, Will Ferrell plays Will Ferrell play­ing a four-term US con­gress­man from a dis­trict so safe dis­trict no one will run against him. The mys­ter­i­ous Moch broth­ers – John Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd – are bil­lion­aire indus­tri­al­ists (loosely and lazily based on the nefar­i­ous real-life Koch Brothers) who decide to bank­roll anoth­er can­did­ate, one who will be more eas­ily influ­enced by their money and power. It’s hard to ima­gine any­one more eas­ily bought than Ferrell’s Cam Brady but evid­ently it’s time for a change and they place their bets on lov­able loc­al tour­ism boss Zach Galifianakis, play­ing anoth­er of his trade­marked limp-wristed-but-heterosexual naifs.

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Review: Love Story, The Guard, Crazy Stupid Love, Cedar Rapids, TT3D - Closer to the Edge and Priest 3D

By Cinema and Reviews

Firstly I want to apo­lo­gise that there is no review of Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life in this week’s column. I saw it dur­ing the Festival and like most audi­ences was per­turbed, baffled, chal­lenged and ulti­mately awed but I needed a second screen­ing to make sense of it. Arguably less sense rather than more sense was what I would be aim­ing for.

The film opened com­mer­cially this week­end at a couple of loc­a­tions but neither of them offered the sort of grandeur (i.e. screen size) and qual­ity (i.e. DCP 2k digit­al trans­fer of the kind I am start­ing to love) so I thought I would hold off until it reaches a few more screens. I know – I sound like a pom­pous ass but that’s as genu­ine a response to The Tree of Life as I can muster. A more con­sidered response next week.

Love Story posterBut that omis­sion gives me more room for the rest of this week’s releases. Florian Habicht’s Love Story charmed (most) of the Film Festival, includ­ing your cor­res­pond­ent. Habicht’s indefatig­able curi­os­ity and demon­strable love of people powers this strange romantic com­edy made while he was liv­ing in Manhattan on an Arts Foundation residency.

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Review: TRON- Legacy and The Kids Are All Right

By Cinema and Reviews

TRON: Legacy posterIndulge me for a minute – it’s Christmas. Back when I was a little nip­per, me and some mates took a rare trip into the City (“Up London” we called it) to see what we thought was going to be the biggest movie event of our lives so far. At the Odeon Marble Arch (sup­posedly the biggest screen in Europe!) we sat ourselves in the middle of the front row and pre­pared to be blown away. By TRON.

It was the first film to con­tain com­puter gen­er­ated effects and graph­ics and the first to make a dir­ect appeal to the nas­cent home com­puter gen­er­a­tion who would go on to define our future. The idea of being sucked inside a com­puter to play the games for real didn’t do much for me but the meta­phor­ic idea of los­ing one­self in the Grid (or the Net as we came to call it)? That had a lot more appeal.

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