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martin scorsese

Review: Crossfire Hurricane, Robot & Frank, Wuthering Heights, Elena & I, Anna

By Cinema and Reviews

Crossfire Hurricane posterHas any rock group inspired – and paid for – as much cinema as the Rolling Stones? From Jean-Luc Godard’s Sympathy for the Devil to Scorsese’s gil­ded con­cert foot­age for Shine a Light in 2009, the Stones have woven them­selves into film his­tory at the same time as they became rock legends. The Maysles Brothers’ Gimme Shelter is even in the Criterion Collection and foot­age from it informs a cent­ral chapter in Brett Morgen’s doc­u­ment­ary (auto)biography of the band, Crossfire Hurricane.

As the 1969 Altamont free con­cert deteri­or­ates into mur­der­ous anarchy, the still-living Stones provide their own 40-year-on per­spect­ive in croaky voi­ceover and it’s these audio-only remin­is­cences that provide the main nov­elty of a film that – at only two hours – struggles to con­tain the full majesty of “the greatest rock and roll band in the world”. There’s plenty of unseen (by me at any rate) new back­stage and behind-the-scenes foot­age too, in an intric­ately edited por­trait which is as hon­est as any band-authorised and Jagger-produced doc­u­ment­ary is likely to be.

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Review: The Artist, El Bulli: Cooking in Progress; The Vow; Safe House; Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace 3D and Killer Elite

By Cinema and Reviews

The Artist posterTwo of the big three Academy Award con­tenders this year are about look­ing back on the early days of cinema itself. While Scorsese’s Hugo uses the latest tech­nic­al whizz­bangs to bring to life the idea of early cinema and its nov­elty and excite­ment in The Artist, Michel Hazanavicius recre­ates the tech­niques of old Hollywood in search of pure nostalgia.

A painstak­ingly cre­ated silent movie with sev­er­al moments of love­li­ness, The Artist fol­lows the riches to rags story of screen hero George Valentin and the con­cur­rent rags to riches story of star­let Peppy Miller – who tries to catch him as he falls. The per­form­ances of Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo as the two leads are both splen­did, Dujardin in par­tic­u­lar dis­plays a tech­nic­al pre­ci­sion that most act­ors can only dream of.

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Review: Summer Holiday Roundup (2011/12)

By Cinema and Reviews

Time to clear the sum­mer hol­i­day back­log so that the next time it rains you’ll have an idea of what you should go and see. There’s plenty to choose from – for all ages – and there’s a bunch more to come too.

Hugo posterBest thing on at the moment is Martin Scorsese’s first “kids” film, Hugo, but it took a second view­ing for con­firm­a­tion. It is a gor­geous love let­ter to cinema, a plea for decent archives, a cham­pi­on of the latest tech­no­logy – all Marty’s cur­rent pas­sions – but it’s also about some­thing more, some­thing universal.

Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) is a little orphan ragamuffin hid­ing in the walls of a great Paris rail­way sta­tion, wind­ing the clocks and try­ing to repair a broken auto­maton that he believes con­tains a mes­sage from his dead fath­er (Jude Law). While steal­ing parts from the sta­tion toy shop – and its sad and grumpy old own­er – Hugo meets the old man’s god-daughter (Chloë Grace Moretz) and between them they try and unravel the mys­tery of the auto­maton and why Papa Georges (Ben Kingsley) is so unhappy. Hugo is a mov­ing story about repair – the kind of redemp­tion that comes when you don’t write off and dis­card broken machines – or broken people.

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2010 Wellington Cinema Year in Review

By Cinema

So, after trawl­ing through the many thou­sands of words writ­ten about cinema in these pages this year, I sup­pose you want me to come to some con­clu­sions? Do some “sum­ming up”? Help guide you through the great video store of life? Well, alright then. Here goes.

We don’t do Top Ten lists here at the Capital Times – they are reduct­ive, facile and, frankly, you have to leave too many titles out. I have taken to divid­ing my year’s view­ing up into cat­egor­ies: keep­ers are films I want to have in my home and watch whenev­er the mood takes me; renters are the films that I could hap­pily watch again; then there are the films that I enjoyed but am in no hurry to repeat, the films I might have mis­judged first time around, the films I can’t get out of my head (for bet­ter or worse), the films I am sup­posed to love but you know, meh, and most import­ant of all – the films you should avoid as if your very life depends upon it.

First, the keep­ers: a sur­prise for some will be Fantastic Mr. Fox which was released after my 2009 Year in Review was sub­mit­ted and the only film in the list that I already own. Animal Kingdom was the film I most recom­men­ded this year – a stun­ning, tense piece of work that gripped me totally.

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Review: Inception and The Girl Who Played with Fire

By Cinema and Reviews

Inception posterI was really enjoy­ing Inception until I woke up. Actually, that’s not true. Unlike my com­pan­ion, the Sandman didn’t come to res­cue me from Christopher Nolan’s bom­bast­ic block­buster and I had to sit through all two and a half hours of it, won­der­ing what all the fuss was about.

Leonardo DiCaprio plays a cor­por­ate spy who spe­cial­ises in enter­ing people’s dreams and dis­cov­er­ing their secrets. This is evid­ently a com­plex tech­no­logy that requires one dream­er to design the loc­a­tion (it has to be fake because not know­ing wheth­er you are awake or dream­ing car­ries massive risks to one’s san­ity), one dream­er to lead the sub­ject, the sub­ject them­selves and (some­times) a for­ger who can take on the shapes and char­ac­ter­ist­ics of oth­er people.

There’s a lot of fight­ing in these dreams as the subject’s sub­con­scious sees the inva­sion and tries to fight it off like white blood cells. But, you know when in your own dreams you try and hit someone and they end up being really weak marsh­mal­low punches? That’s how the anti­bod­ies shoot so it takes quite a lot of bul­lets before one will actu­ally hit you. And when one hits you and you die, in the real world you wake up so it’s really like a video game with mul­tiple lives.

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Review: Shutter Island, Bright Star, Did You Hear About the Morgans?, Masquerades, Toy Story 3D and Crazy Heart

By Cinema, Reviews and Screenwriting

There’s some­thing very odd about the open­ing scenes in Shutter Island and it takes the entire film for you to put your fin­ger on it. Shots don’t match between cuts, there’s a stil­ted qual­ity to the dia­logue (too much expos­i­tion for a Martin Scorsese movie) and the pacing is off. For a while I found myself won­der­ing wheth­er Marty had lost the immense influ­ence of his great edit­or Thelma Schoonmaker, but there she is, still in the cred­its, as she has been for Scorsese since Raging Bull.

Several years ago, Scorsese played a prac­tic­al joke on me (per­son­ally, it felt like at the time) when an entire reel of The Aviator was treated to look like faded 1930s Technicolor – I went to the Embassy counter to com­plain and felt very sheep­ish to be told by Oscar, the pro­jec­tion­ist, that the dir­ect­or meant it that way. So, this time around I decided to trust the maes­tro and roll with the strange­ness and was rewar­ded with one of the best (and cleverest) psy­cho­lo­gic­al thrillers in many a year.

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