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mickey rourke

Review: Arthur Christmas, Immortals, When a City Falls, Rest for the Wicked and Submarine

By Cinema and Reviews

I believe that it should be illeg­al to even men­tion the word Christmas in any month oth­er than December. Yup, illeg­al. No one should be allowed to even breathe it, let alone have parades, dis­play mince pies in super­mar­kets or throw staff parties. If, as a once-great nation, we can restrict fire­work sales to three days before Guy Fawkes I’m sure we can man­age to pull our col­lect­ive yuletide-obsessed heads in for a few weeks and focus all that atten­tion on only one month a year.

At least that’s what I thought until last Friday. That was when I saw the new pic­ture from England’s Aardman Animation, Arthur Christmas. I was pre­pared, based on my afore­men­tioned bah-humbuggery – and some unpre­pos­sess­ing trail­ers – to be scorn­ful and yet I was won over. Won over to the extent that I might as well be wrapped in tin­sel with a fairy on top. Arthur Christmas made me believe in Christmas a week before I was ready.

This film is digit­al 3D rather than the stop-motion clay mod­els that made Aardman fam­ous, but the inven­tion, wit, pace, struc­ture and com­mit­ment to theme are all securely in place, brought to life by an awe­some UK voice cast (Jim Broadbent and Bill Nighy both do out­stand­ing work) and some bril­liantly clev­er visuals.

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Review: Iron Man 2, Home by Christmas and Dear John

By Cinema and Reviews

Iron Man 2 posterOh dear, what a dis­ap­point­ment 90% of Iron Man 2 is. Rushed into pro­duc­tion after the ori­gin­al became the sur­prise run­away hit of 2008, rely­ing far too heav­ily on the dead­pan cha­risma of a coast­ing Robert Downey Jr. – the first time I’ve ever seen him this dis­en­gaged – and with a story that does no more than tread water until the arrival of the inev­it­able epis­ode 3, IM2 offers very little in the way of char­ac­ter devel­op­ment and not enough action to compensate.

Downey Jr is Tony Stark once again, milk­ing his fame as saviour of the free world while the secret power source in his chaest that fuels Iron Man (and keeps him alive) slowly pois­ons him from with­in. Just when he doesn’t need an adversary, along comes a crazy Russian physicist/wrestler named Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) look­ing for revenge on the Stark fam­ily who stole his father’s research. Vanko’s tech­no­logy is co-opted by Stark’s greatest busi­ness com­pet­it­or, weapons developer Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) and between them they attempt to des­troy Stark and corner the mar­ket in high-tech mil­it­ary gadgetry.

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Review: The Expendables, Tomorrow When the War Began, It’s a Wonderful Afterlife, Going the Distance, Exit Through the Gift Shop, Joan Rivers- A Piece of Work, Beyond Ipanema and Jean Charles

By Cinema and Reviews

The Expendables posterAs the great 80s action her­oes passed their respect­ive peaks and drif­ted down the oth­er side towards irrel­ev­ancy (or ego-centric fool­ish­ness) those of us that cared about these things were on the lookout for the next gen­er­a­tion. Who was going to replace Stallone, Willis and Schwarzenegger (not to men­tion the subs bench: Van Damme, Seagal and Norris)? For a while I thought that The Rock was going to be a worthy bear­er of the chains of office but he changed his name back to Dwayne and star­ted mak­ing (fun) films for kids instead.

Now we get out answer. Stallone has gathered all his action hero mates togeth­er for one last hur­rah, anoin­ted his suc­cessor and the res­ult may sur­prise you. Yes, the torch has offi­cially been passed to former Olympic diver and gruff voiced cock­ney oik Jason Statham who plays Stallone’s num­ber two in The Expendables, a big noisy, old-fashioned, romp through explo­sions, wise­cracks, Latin American dic­tat­ors and bent CIA agents. No cliché is left out and The Expendables pro­vokes more nos­tal­gia than adrenaline.

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Review: The Wrestler, Before the Rains, Transporter 3, Empties and The Last Great Snail Chase

By Cinema and Reviews

The Wrestler posterI’d like to think of Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler as a kind of grand meta­phor for America, a bank­rupt and exhausted old cul­ture, coast­ing to the fin­ish line on the fumes of former glor­ies, unable or unwill­ing to rein­vent itself des­pite every sig­nal telling it to change. In one, of sev­er­al, heart­break­ing scenes Mickey Rourke’s Randy “The Ram” takes his estranged daugh­ter to the aban­doned and derel­ict amuse­ments of Asbury Park where he hopes to rekindle memor­ies of hap­pi­er times but the moment of grace is short-lived. Of course, it may just be a film about a wrest­ler, I’ll give you that.

The Ram was a big star in the 80s when MTV and pro-wrestling col­lided, but now he lives in a trail­er and wrestles in school halls. And wrest­ling, too, has changed. It’s still show­busi­ness but now it’s degrad­ing and dehu­man­ising, the pub­lic bay­ing for even more blood and demand­ing ever great­er sacrifices.

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Preview: World Cinema Showcase

By Cinema and Wellington

Too late to be more than 50% use­ful to any­one, here’s my World Cinema Showcase preview:

As sum­mer gives way to autumn, and Daylight Saving Time gently releases its grip on our pri­or­it­ies, the first sig­ni­fic­ant film fest­iv­al of the year returns to take up res­id­ence at the Paramount. The World Cinema Showcase is two very tidy weeks of great filmgo­ing, almost as if the grand, winter, Festival has been dis­tilled down to a man­age­able essence.

Within, 33 fea­tures (and one omni­bus col­lec­tion of shorts) com­pete for your atten­tion and, luck­ily, the long Easter week­end allows you take full advant­age. A few of the titles were made avail­able to crit­ics as pre­views, but many more are on my list of films I simply must see on the big screen and, depend­ing on your tastes and interests, noth­ing is un-recommendable.

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