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laura linney Archives - Funerals & Snakes

Review: No, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, The Host and Hyde Park on Hudson

By Cinema and Reviews

Gael García Bernal in No by Pablo Larraín
No posterNo sounds like the kind of thing a toddler in the middle of a tantrum might say, while stomping around your lounge room at bedtime. At the cinema, though, the tantrum belongs to the corrupt dictatorship of Chile’s Augusto Pinochet, forced through international pressure to let others play in his sandpit. In 1988 he announced a referendum that would demonstrate — by fair means or foul — that the people loved him, weren’t interested in democracy and that those who thought different were nothing but communists and terrorists.

15 years after he and his military junta overthrew the legitimate left-leaning government of Salvador Allende, the question in the referendum would be a simple one: “Yes” to keep the dictatorship and “No” for a return to free elections. No, Pablo Larraín’s brilliant movie, looks at the campaign from the perspective of an ad guy — a Mad Man — played by Gael García Bernal, who harnessed the latest corporate sales techniques and the power of television to change the direction of a nation.

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Telluride Diary part seven: The show (part four)

By Cinema and Travel

It’s now Saturday morning in NYC and Telluride already seems like old news. Venice has just announced its prizewinners (The Master obv. — or not so obv.) and Toronto is in full flow. Still, I have one more day of my Telluride Film Festival experience to record and I’d better get it down before I forget.

The Monday of Telluride is a catch-up day. Most of the celebrities and honourees have departed and a lot of the programme is announced the night before, extra screenings of popular titles (or at least the films that most people were turned away from. This is an excellent plan and I was able to fill in quite a few of my gaps (though not all).

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Telluride Volunteer Fire Station.

The first screening was the Q&A session for Sarah Polley’s new documentary Stories We Tell, a film that had generated quite a bit of buzz over the weekend. Polley — with gorgeous six-month-old daughter in harness — briefly introduced a film that at first intrigues, then surprises and finally delights. She has done a marvellous job of making what might have been an indulgent piece about her own personal dramas into something universal. I sincerely hope this gets a decent New Zealand release so I can review it at more length but I’m also going to hold back the details of the story so readers without access to Google might come to it as unsullied by spoilers as possible.

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Telluride Diary part four: The show (part one)

By Cinema and Travel

After two days of “phony war” with evening teaser screenings in the Ralph Lauren-funded Elks Park Abel Gance Cinema, Telluride got under way formally yesterday with a full slate of screenings at all nine venues.

The “unofficial” programme — a 90 page newsprint guide featuring a mostly-there draft of the schedule — was made available on Thursday and a press release had announced the names of the three honourees and the main features, but there were still a large number of slots marked “TBA” including almost all of Monday. Even then, we were told not to put too much faith in the unofficial guide and to wait for the glossy DLE programme which would be available at Noon on Friday — the first day of the festival!

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Review: Thor, Fast 5, The City of Your Final Destination and Mozart’s Sister

By Cinema and Reviews

Thor posterThere are two mainstream comic book publishing houses, DC and Marvel, and choosing between them as a kid was a bit like choosing between The Beatles and the Stones. They had different styles and sensibilities (and philosophies) and after a little bit of experimentation you could find a fit with one or the other.

DC had Superman and Batman — big, bold and (dare I say it) one-dimensional characters with limited or opaque inner lives. When Stan Lee created Spider-Man, a teenage photographer with powers he neither asked for nor appreciated, he created a soap opera — a soap opera with aspirations to high art. As you might be able to tell, I was a Marvel kid.

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Review: Quantum of Solace, The Savages, Caramel, The Band’s Visit and My Best Friend’s Girl

By Cinema and Reviews

Quantum of Solcae posterAfter destroying much of Venice in the climax to Casino Royale, Daniel Craig as 007 James Bond kicks off Quantum of Solace by having a damn good crack at beautiful renaissance Siena. Picking up almost immediately after he left off following the death of his beloved Vesper, Bond is charging around the world seeking answers and revenge (in no particular order).

Prior viewing of Casino Royale is pretty much mandatory in order to fully appreciate Eon EON & Craig’s textbook reinvention of the enigmatic, brutalised, middle-class orphan (with the public school scholarship education) who found a family in the Special Forces and a purpose in life ‘on her majesty’s secret service’. Thankfully Craig has discovered a little sense of humour in the interim but this isn’t a film with time for much reflection.

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Review: Black Book, The Kingdom, The Nanny Diaries and Half Nelson

By Cinema, Conflict of Interest and Reviews

Black Book posterPaul Verhoeven is one of those directors that has no hand-brake, regardless of the subject matter. For ice-pick wielding murderers (Basic Instinct) or giant alien bugs (Starship Troopers) this damn-the-torpedos attitude is perfect; when we’re talking about Dutch jews being betrayed by corrupt members of the resistance in WWII — not so much.

Black Book is Verhoeven’s first film in seven years, and his first film back home in Holland since Flesh + Blood back in 1985. Carice van Houten plays Rachel Stein, a nightclub singer before the war, now on the run from the Nazis. When her family is murdered on the brink of escape she dyes her hair blonde and joins the resistance, going undercover and then falling in love with the good German played by Sebastian Koch from The Lives of Others (you know he’s going to be a good German because he collects stamps and doesn’t have a scar on his cheek).

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