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max von sydow Archives - Funerals & Snakes

Review: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Jack & Jill and Contraband

By Cinema and Reviews

Extremely Lous and Incredibly Close posterFor this writer, the 9/11 terrorist attacks were the defining global event of my lifetime. It was the day when anything became possible — even the utterly unthinkable. It was the day when sheer randomness and extreme force collided to prove that we have only the thinnest veneer of protection from the world despite all the promises that have been made to us since childhood.

Since that day, I have never consciously sought out 9/11 footage to watch. That first 20 minutes of television news (switched on after being woken by Hewitt Humphrey’s terrifyingly calm announcement on Morning Report) was all I could manage that day. I have no need to re-traumatise myself thank you very much.

So what to make of 9/11 cinema? For ten years it has been an almost impossible topic to successfully turn into art. The literal retellings of the day’s events (United 93 and Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center) were the least awful, emphasising heroism in the face of impossible odds and not attempting anything metaphoric or allusive. In the clumsy Remember Me — in which Robert Pattinson goes to visit his estranged father (Pierce Brosnan) in the WTC North Tower that fateful morning — 9/11 was used as a cheap gotcha, a way of provoking a reaction that the story couldn’t manage on its own.

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Review: Robin Hood, The Secret in Their Eyes & four more ...

By Cinema and Reviews

Robin Hood posterWhen my usual movie-going partner was offered the chance to see the new Robin Hood her first question was “Who is playing Robin?” When I told her that it was Strathmore’s finest son, Russell “Rusty” Crowe, she declined suggesting somewhat uncharitably that he was probably better suited to playing Friar Tuck (or at a pinch Little John). Her favourite Robin is the 80s be-mulletted Michael Praed from the television. Mine is a toss-up between the “fantastic” sly fox in the 1973 Disney version, John Cleese in Time Bandits and Sean Connery in Robin and Marian, so Rusty and director Ridley Scott had a mountain to climb before the opening credits even rolled.

This new Robin Hood is a prequel (or an origin story in the comic book parlance). On his way back from the Crusades with Richard the Lionheart, Robin Longstocking (sorry, Longstride) heads to Nottingham to return a sword. In Richard’s absence, England has fallen in to financial and political ruin and the French are plotting to fill the void with an army massing off the coast and spies in the court.

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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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