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michael winterbottom Archives - Funerals & Snakes

The World's End poster

Review: The World’s End, Pacific Rim, The Look of Love + School Holiday Roundup

By Cinema and Reviews

Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan, Simon Pegg, Paddie Considine and Martn Freeman in The world's End

I can imagine some people not enjoying The World’s End. People who don’t care about — or even notice — cinematic craftsmanship, people who think that being self-referential means being self-indulgent, audiences who prefer their action sequences to be cosmic in scale and measured in megabytes per second rather than laughs per minute — I expect those people might feel that the latest masterpiece by Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost goes sailing over their heads. After all, a film like The World’s End rewards concentration (and second and third viewings) whereas most blockbusters rely on increasingly destructive spectacle for audiences to get their kicks.

The World's End posterThat’s not to say that this film is light on apocalypse — it promises the end of the world after all — but its core remains the deep friendships between men of a certain age and how those friendships grow when tested — the same theme that infused their previous two films together, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.

[pullquote]Pacific Rim shows how loving bad films sometimes means you make bad films.[/pullquote]Pegg plays Gary King, middle-aged lost soul, pining for the glory days of High School and desperate to complete his masterpiece — the 12 pub crawl through Newton Haven known as “The Golden Mile”. He and his mates failed back in 1993 and he’s rounding them up for one last crack at it. His four old mates (played by Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine and the wonderful Eddie Marsan) are reluctant to leave their tidy grown-up lives behind but, persuaded, they get to their old stomping grounds only to find they are humanity’s only hope to avoid inter-galactic colonisation.

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Telluride Diary part six: The show (part three)

By Cinema and Travel

Firstly, I should add a vital — totally Telluride — detail to yesterday’s post. By choosing to watch Rust & Bone and the Marion Cotillard Tribute I missed the first indoor screening of Hyde Park on Hudson and therefore a rare live appearance by Bill Murray at the Q&A. Regret is an emotion reserved for those who only look backwards but — damn!

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Legend Leonard Maltin waiting to gain entry to At Any Cost.

Back to the show. Sunday was always likely to be a very full day and — with my new found confidence in the “system” I was determined to take full advantage. I once begged the New Zealand Film Festival to let me watch a screener of Ramin Bahrani’s Man Push Cart, even though they had chosen not to programme it because I loved the idea so much and because Roger Ebert has been championing the talented young director for years. In fact, they have only screened one of his three films to date: Goodbye Solo in 2009.

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Review: The Trip, Pina and Paranormal Activity 3

By Cinema and Reviews

Michael Winterbottom’s The Trip is the best picture about middle-aged male angst since Sideways, and it’s possibly even better than that fine film. Two privileged English celebrities spend a week driving around the North of England from one fine restaurant to another, eating and drinking themselves silly on someone else’s dime. And yet, something darker is up.

Self-absorbed “Steve Coogan” (Steve Coogan) is separated from his girlfriend, distanced from his children, desperate for recognition as a serious actor but all too often welcomed by strangers with a warm-hearted but annoying repetition of his great TV catchphrase (Alan Partridge’s “Ah-ha”). On the surface, “Rob Brydon” (Rob Brydon) is a happily married man with a young child, a moderately successful TV and stand-up career but, as Coogan points out in a pathos-ridden trip the ruined Bolton Abbey, there’s something about Brydon’s neverending celebrity impressions and forced bonhomie that suggests he hasn’t quite got to grips with the real world.

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Review: The Killer Inside Me, After the Waterfall, Jackass 3D and City Island

By Cinema and Reviews

The Killer Inside Me posterMichael Winterbottom somehow manages to make a film a year and, while the quality can go up and down a bit, his work is never less than interesting.

He’s most famous for Tristram Shandy (with Steve Coogan) and the sexually explicit 9 Songs, but my favourites are his Klondike version of The Mayor of Casterbridge (The Claim) and the people-trafficking pseudo-verité of In This World. Already this year we’ve seen his 2008 misfire Genova (Colin Firth, moody and bereaved) and right now we have The Killer Inside Me, a misanthropic Texas noir based on a famous pulp novel by Jim Thompson.

Babyfaced Casey Affleck (the cowardly assassin who killed Brad Pitt in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford) plays another Ford, Central City Deputy Sheriff Lou Ford, son of the town’s respected GP and pillar of West Texas society.

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Review: Daybreakers, Hot Tub Time Machine, Genova and The Necessities of Life

By Cinema and Reviews

I am sick of vampires. Sick to death. As a great philosopher once said, “What is point, vampires?” and I have to concur. They’re everywhere you seem to turn thses days and the most boring of the lot (the Twilight mob) are back in June to bore us all to death once again.

Daybreakers posterSo, my heart sank a little when I saw the trailers for Daybreakers, an Aussie horror about a world controlled by vampires, hunting and farming the remaining humans for their plasma. One of the pleasures of this gig is when the surprises are pleasant and Daybreakers definitely turned into one of those. Tightly wound and (for the most part) logically sound, the tyres have been well and truly kicked on the premise before the cameras (and digital compositors and Weta mask makers) got involved.

Ethan Hawke plays the Chief Blood Scientist for the big corporation that provides most of the world’s supply. Ten years earlier, an infected bat caused an epidemic which rendered most of the population undead — a few, like CEO Sam Neill went willingly when faced with the offer of immortality. Hawke is working on a substitute — he’s vegetarian in a human blood kind of way — and supplies for everyone are running low. When a renegade bunch of humans (led by Willem Dafoe) tell him about a possible cure he is forced to choose between his boss, his human-hunter brother and what’s left of his humanity.

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