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RN 1/2: “Dying is easy, comedy is hard.”

By Audio and Rancho Notorious

Dominion Post and Newstalk ZB review­er Graeme Tuckett joins Dan and Kailey to talk about Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement’s vam­pire mock­u­ment­ary What We do in the Shadows which is out this week­end across New Zealand (September in Australia) as well as meta-sequel 22 Jump Street which goes into it’s second week­end here and open­ing week­end across the Tasman.

This week’s Australian cor­res­pond­ent is Chris Elena and he’ll be giv­ing his impres­sions of the recent Sydney Film Festival and telling us about shoot­ing and edit­ing a short film on film.

Also, we’re joined by joined by Kiwi play­wright David Geary from Vancouver, Canada, who has just spent an even­ing with Oscar win­ner Oliver Stone at the Vancouver Biennale.

There are also a num­ber of utterly non-gratuitous men­tions of Game of Thrones in the pro­gramme that will no doubt be extremely help­ful for search engine optimisation.

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Review: Savages, Where Do We Go Now? and Kiwi Flyer

By Cinema and Reviews

Savages posterOliver Stone dir­ec­ted his first fea­ture film in 1974 (Seizure) so I’m going to be char­it­able and assume that the clunky con­struc­tion of the scenes in his new film, Savages, is delib­er­ate. I ima­gine that with all his exper­i­ence, it would be easi­er to make shots match than to be as sloppy as they appear here. Perhaps it’s a heavy-handed ref­er­ence to being stoned, see­ing as the film is about big time California can­nabis grow­ers being tar­geted for takeover by a Mexican car­tel. Or per­haps not.

Bright young things Aaron Johnson (John Lennon in Nowhere Boy) and Taylor Kitsch play the part­ners in a med­ic­al marijuana busi­ness that makes its real money by illeg­ally export­ing the high grade product across state lines. Johnson is the brains and Kitsch is Iraq and Afghanistan vet­er­an muscle. As an aside, Kitsch must be won­der­ing what he has to do to get a hit. Three big films this year and they have all been duds – John Carter, Battleship and this. It’s not his fault – he’s been decent in all of them, par­tic­u­larly so in this – but I’m sure he’s run­ning out of Friday Night Lights cred­it with the stu­di­os. Johnson, on the oth­er hand, once again fails to mine much depth from his character.

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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: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, The Last Airbender, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Cats & Dogs- The Revenge of Kitty Galore and Charlie St. Cloud

By Cinema and Reviews

Ah, the school hol­i­days. The time when the big cinemas are more excited about the arrival of their jumbo pop­corn con­tain­ers than any of the films they are show­ing. Your cor­res­pond­ent spent the week­end sur­roun­ded by chomp­ing, rust­ling and slurp­ing fel­low cit­izens so he could bring you this report from the front­line. It was brutal.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid posterDiary of a Wimpy Kid pur­ports to be about middle school and how to sur­vive it but in fact it’s a rather charm­less mor­al­ity tale about being your­self. Little Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) thinks that to be pop­u­lar he has to be cool but everything he tries turns to dis­aster while his best friend Rowley (Robert Capron) effort­lessly tran­scends his own dork­i­ness to win over the school. Enough kids have already got a kick out of Diary’s astute mix of life-lessons and gross-out humour that a sequel has already been announced.

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Review: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Arranged, Bride Flight and W.

By Cinema, Conflict of Interest and Reviews

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen posterAfter hits like Bad Boys and The Rock, as well as fail­ures like The Island and Pearl Harbor, we all know that Michael Bay is bet­ter than any dir­ect­or alive at blow­ing things up and in the motion pic­ture busi­ness this not an ignoble pur­suit. What he can’t pull off are oth­er import­ant things like sus­pense, com­edy or drama. There’s no doubt that it takes a spe­cial tal­ent to sit in a room with the effects bods and say “sink that air­craft car­ri­er – I’ll be back after lunch to see how you are get­ting on” but it isn’t really film­mak­ing in it’s purest sense.

Which bring us to his latest, monu­ment­al, effort, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, in which a tiny sliv­er of the shiny magic cube from the first film is dis­covered by Shia LaBoeuf while he’s on his way to col­lege. Somehow its magicky good­ness rubs off on him, fills his mind with sym­bols, gives him spe­cial men­tal powers and alerts the remain­ing Decepticons up in space to its exist­ence. Perhaps they could use it to restart their war with the Autobots, erase the human race and steal the power of the sun for themselves?

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Review: P.S., I Love You, Molière and Lady Chatterley

By Cinema and Reviews

PS I Love You posterHilary Swank’s new twin-hanky romance P.S., I Love You is a remark­able achieve­ment. In all my years of cinema-going I don’t think I have ever seen a film get more wrong. From the clunky premise to the ghastly cos­tume design; through awk­ward reverses in tone plus no small amount of self-indulgence on the part of Swank; it is as if every­one involved (when faced with a choice between the right way and the wrong way) simply flipped a coin and it came up “wrong” every time.

Swank plays New York wid­ow Holly Kennedy, whose Irish hus­band Gerry (300s Gerard Butler) dies of a brain tumour fol­low­ing a scene demon­strat­ing how power­ful and tem­pes­tu­ous their romance is. Shortly after the wake, Holly starts receiv­ing let­ters from Gerry, writ­ten before he died in order to coach her through the grief and help her start again. As if.

One of the let­ters includes tick­ets to Ireland for Holly and her best friends so she can revis­it the scene of their first meet­ing (prompt­ing an intol­er­ably banal flash­back scene). Meanwhile sup­port­ing cast Gina Gershon and Lisa Kudrow can enjoy the nat­ives tooraloo-ing in that way that only the Hollywood Irish can.

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