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morgan freeman

Review: Olympus Has Fallen, Evil Dead and Escape from Planet Earth

By Cinema and Reviews

Gerard Butler in Olympus Has Fallen While ori­gin­al Die Hard dir­ect­or John McTiernan lan­guishes in min­im­um secur­ity fed­er­al pris­on his heirs are keep­ing the action movie flame alive. Most recently, Antoine Fuqua’s Olympus Has Fallen might as well be called Die Hard at the White House as one man attempts to res­cue the host­ages held cap­tive in the impreg­nable bunker beneath the most fam­ous Palladian man­sion in the world. North Korean ter­ror­ists have man­aged to take con­trol of the build­ing and the President (Aaron Eckhart), Secretary of Defence (Melissa Leo) – and some extras play­ing the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs etc. – are all cable-tied to a rail­ing while acting-President Morgan Freeman and Chief of the Secret Service Angela Bassett are power­less at the Pentagon.

Olympus Has Fallen posterWhat the bad guys don’t know is that dis­graced former Secret Service (and Special Forces, natch) dude Gerard Butler heard the shoot­ing and crossed town from his low level secur­ity job at Treasury to sneak in to the build­ing before total lock­down. Now, he’s tak­ing out the trash one by one but can he res­cue the President’s son (Finley Jacobsen) and save the free world before every nuke in the American arsen­al goes “boom”.

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Review: Oblivion, Warm Bodies, Barbara, Performance, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger and The Croods

By Cinema and Reviews

Oblivion_30_580 Last time we saw Tom Cruise he was known as Jack Reacher. Now, in Oblivion, his name is Jack Harper. What range! What diversity! You’d hardly recog­nise him. Harper is a main­ten­ance guy, repair­ing the drones that pro­tect giant machines that suck Earth’s oceans up to an enorm­ous space sta­tion orbit­ing above us, a space sta­tion that is going to take the few remain­ing sur­viv­ors of our pyrrhic vic­tory over invad­ing ali­ens on a final jour­ney away from a dev­ast­ated plan­et to a new life on Titan.

Oblivion posterAssisting Mr. Cruise with his mech­an­ic­al defence duties is Victoria (Andrea Riseborough), life and work part­ner, keep­ing him in con­tact with the super­visors float­ing above them and keep­ing an eye on the strag­gling rem­nants of the ali­ens who tried to con­quer us. Traditional gender roles are very much still intact in the future – even though the Moon isn’t – and Ms. Riseborough’s char­ac­ter seems con­tent to nev­er leave the spot­less mod­ern kit­chen while Cruise gets his hands dirty on the sur­face. Neither of them seem too bothered by the fact that they had their memor­ies wiped six years pre­vi­ously, although he has been hav­ing some strange dreams recently.

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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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Review: Winter’s Bone, Red, Made in Dagenham, Paranormal Activity 2, Resident Evil- Afterlife and I’m Still Here

By Cinema and Reviews

Winter's Bone posterHalf way through Winter’s Bone I found myself think­ing, “So, this is what the Western has become?” The best Westerns are about find­ing or sus­tain­ing a mor­al path though a law­less fron­ti­er and the fron­ti­er in Winter’s Bone is the hid­den world of the rur­al poor and the path is a strange and ter­ri­fy­ing one.

In the rough and remote Ozark Mountains, teen­age Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) is single-handedly bring­ing up her two young sib­lings while caring for her emo­tion­ally dam­aged moth­er. One cold morn­ing the Sheriff turns up with the news that her fath­er, Jessup, used their house as his bail bond and unless Ree can find him and per­suade him to turn up for Court, the fam­ily will lose everything.

Jessup is (or maybe was) what we would call a ‘P’ deal­er – the only eco­nomy in the area show­ing any kind of growth. But the com­pany he was keep­ing were the mean­est of the mean and to find her fath­er Ree must ven­ture into dan­ger­ous territory.

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Review: Invictus, Broken Embraces, Nine, I’m Not Harry Jensen & Noodle

By Cinema and Reviews

Invictus posterBefore Jerry Dammers and The Special AKA wrote that song about him in 1983, I didn’t know who Nelson Mandela was. When I bought the record and read the story on the back I was hor­ri­fied – 23 years as a polit­ic­al pris­on­er, much of it in sol­it­ary con­fine­ment. I knew the South African régime was unspeak­able, but now I had a focus for my anger. Who would have thought that only a dozen years later, Mandela would be in the middle of a second chapter of his life – President of South Africa and inter­na­tion­al states­man – and that his stew­ard­ship of the trans­ition from apartheid to major­ity rule would be a shin­ing beacon of tol­er­ance, for­give­ness and human­ity. It really could have gone ter­ribly wrong.

Mandela, then, is the great hero of my life, my polit­ic­al and per­son­al inspir­a­tion, so I can be for­giv­en for being quite moved by Invictus, Clint Eastwood’s por­tray­al of those cru­cial first years in gov­ern­ment, cul­min­at­ing in the Springbok’s vic­tory over New Zealand in the 1995 Rugby World Cup Final. Mandela is played by Morgan Freeman (too tall, accent some dis­tance off per­fect, but still some­how man­aging to nail the essence of the guy) and the oth­er name on the poster is Matt Damon as Springbok cap­tain Francois Pienaar. It’s anoth­er char­ac­ter­ist­ic­ally gen­er­ous per­form­ance from Damon who is turn­ing into a char­ac­ter act­or with movie star looks.

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2009 Wellington Cinema Year in Review

By Cinema

Welcome to the 2010 “cut out and keep” guide to video rent­ing (or down­load­ing or how­ever you con­sume your home enter­tain­ment these days). I sug­gest you clip this art­icle, fold it up, stick it in your wal­let or purse and refer to it whenev­er you are at the video shop, look­ing for some­thing to while away the long winter even­ings of 2010.

First up, the ones to buy – the Keepers. These are the films that (if you share my psy­cho­logy and some of my patho­lo­gies) you will cher­ish until you are old and the tech­no­logy to play them no longer exists. Best film of the year remains Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire. Mashing togeth­er sev­er­al archetyp­al stor­ies with a vivid visu­al style and a per­cuss­ive energy, Slumdog may not rep­res­ent India as it actu­ally is but instead suc­cess­fully evoked what India feels like, which is argu­ably more import­ant. After Slumdog everything I saw seemed, you know, old-fashioned and noth­ing has been any­where nearly as thrill­ing since. There are films you respect, films you admire and films you love. Slumdog is a film you adore. “Who wants to be a … miy­on­aire?” indeed.

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