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Captain Phillips poster

Review: Diana, Runner Runner, Camille Claudel 1915, Prisoners, Austenland, About Time and Captain Phillips

By Cinema and Reviews

Apart from the ines­cap­able need to carve out a mea­gre liv­ing from an uncar­ing world, one of the reas­ons why these weekly updates have been some­thing less than, well, weekly recently has been that most of the fare on offer at the pic­tures has been so uninspiring.

Diana posterTake Oliver Hirschbiegel’s Diana for example. It’s not a bad movie, per se. It’s cer­tainly not the train­wreck that the British media would have you believe. It’s just so … ines­sen­tial. Hirschbiegel’s desire to be respect­ful to Diana’s chil­dren, and to oth­er play­ers in the story who are still liv­ing, simply sucks all of the drama out of the thing, leav­ing you with a frus­trat­ing non-love story between two frus­trat­ingly inar­tic­u­late people. There are occa­sion­al hints of the com­plex char­ac­ter she may have been but the fin­ished product is a kind of noth­ing. It really is too soon for this film to tell this story.

Runner Runner posterThen there’s the Justin Timberlake vehicle Runner Runner, in which the pop star turned act­or attempts to carry a film all by him­self and proves that he either is unable to do so, or can­’t pick a pro­ject that’s worth the attempt. He plays a former Wall St hot­shot with a tal­ent for cal­cu­lat­ing risk who trades Princeton for the high life of run­ning an online gambling busi­ness in sunny (and shady) Costa Rica. Not one word of this dis­mal little film betrays a breath of authen­ti­city, either in its storytelling or char­ac­ter. Screenwriters Koppelman and Levien once wrote Ocean’s 13 (and The Girlfriend Experience) for Steven Soderbergh. At least they were meant to be fantasy.

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Review: The Bourne Legacy, Bernie, Cheerful Weather for the Wedding, I Wish and Iron Sky

By Cinema and Reviews

The Bourne Legacy posterIn The Bourne Legacy, Matt Damon’s amne­si­ac super-soldier Jason Bourne is a shad­owy fig­ure, loom­ing invis­ibly over a plot that for con­trac­tu­al reas­ons can’t accom­mod­ate him. It’s as if he’s in the sin bin – after a yel­low card for demand­ing dir­ect­or approv­al – watch­ing the clock tick down until he can take the field again.

The dir­ect­or that Damon objec­ted to is Tony Gilroy – co-writer of all the Bournes and writer-director of Michael Clayton – and next time someone should listen to Damon’s instincts. He said he wouldn’t do anoth­er Bourne without Paul Greengrass (dir­ect­or of the last two, Supremacy and Ultimatum) and the weird com­prom­ise con­cocted by Gilroy to keep the fran­chise alive will prob­ably only sat­is­fy the stu­dio and the Robert Ludlum estate. Bourne is on life sup­port but no more than that.

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Review: The Road, Green Zone, The Bounty Hunter, This Way of Life & Admiral

By Cinema and Reviews

The Road posterMost films go in one eye and out the oth­er but some stick in your brain and won’t leave – for bet­ter or worse. John Hillcoat’s adapt­a­tion of Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize win­ning nov­el “The Road” is one of those. Set in a depress­ing, grey, rainy, post-apocalyptic North American future (remind­ing me of noth­ing so much as this past Wellington sum­mer) where noth­ing grows and the few remain­ing human beings for­age for food – and most often find it in each oth­er – dogged and decent Viggo Mortensen trudges through the wil­der­ness with his young son, look­ing for some­thing, any­thing, that might keep them alive.

The Road is about how we try and sur­vive in the face of insur­mount­able odds, and how that phys­ic­al sur­viv­al might mean the loss of our own human­ity. Mortensen’s wife (Charlize Theron) walks out into the lonely night, mak­ing what she thinks is a sac­ri­fice but which he, clearly, thinks is little more than giv­ing up. His son may well be the last repos­it­ory of human kind­ness but that kind­ness might get them killed.

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Review: The Bourne Ultimatum, Day Watch, Joy Division and The Singer

By Cinema, Conflict of Interest and Reviews

The Bourne Ultimatum posterIt’s Bourne-time again and rogue-agent Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is still try­ing to find out who he is, who erased his memory and why. A Guardian journ­al­ist (Paddy Considine) seems to know some­thing so he takes the Eurostar to London and with­in 15 minutes of arriv­ing the bod­ies are pil­ing up.

In a cun­ning (not to men­tion poten­tially con­fus­ing) screen­writ­ing coup the first two-thirds of Ultimatum actu­ally takes place ‘before’ the final 15 minutes of Supremacy (the pre­vi­ous sequel) and the two time-lines meet briefly before Ultimatum picks us up and takes us to the final, fas­cin­at­ing, reveal: of a plot (as the say­ing goes) ripped from the head­lines – and from post‑9/11 para­noid, punch-drunk, American for­eign policy.

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