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peter o'toole

Review: Dean Spanley, Big Stan, Zack and Miri Make a Porno and Welcome to the Sticks

By Cinema and Reviews

My favour­ite post-Oscars quote came from David Thomson in The Guardian: “When the Slumdog mob – Europeans and Indians, adults and kids – took the stage to claim the best pic­ture Oscar, a land­mark was being estab­lished which dir­ectly reflects America’s reduced place in the world.” And as if to illus­trate that very point, this week Hollywood have offered us a piteous pris­on com­edy called Big Stan and Zack and Miri Make a Porno. It’s like they aren’t even try­ing anymore.

Big Stan posterBig Stan is the debut fea­ture by com­ic act­or Rob Schneider, best-known for a pair of ghastly adult com­ed­ies fea­tur­ing his hap­less male pros­ti­tute alter-ego Deuce Bigelow. Schneider amaz­ingly main­tains a sol­id career (largely via the pat­ron­age of his great friend Adam Sandler) but there’s no sat­is­fact­ory explan­a­tion for how he was let loose with a cam­era except that Hollywood is genu­inely out of ideas.

Schneider plays a real estate con man who is con­victed and sen­tenced to jail. Terrified at the pro­spect of immin­ent anal rape he enlists a mar­tial arts mas­ter (David Carradine) to make him, er, impreg­nable. Like being punched in the swing­ers by an angry dwarf for 90 minutes.

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Review: Venus, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Evening, Inland Empire and The Game Plan

By Cinema and Reviews

Venus posterThere’s some­thing creepy yet dis­arm­ingly human about Peter O’Toole’s age­ing lothario in Venus; a once beau­ti­ful act­or still work­ing sporad­ic­ally, his cada­ver­ous fea­tures best-suited to the lit­er­al por­tray­al of corpses, cling­ing to the prom­ise of beauty and pleas­ure des­pite the ulti­mate futil­ity of the chase.

Newcomer Jodie Whittaker (in a star-making per­form­ance) becomes the object of his affec­tion, tutel­age and rev­er­ence when she arrives in London to nurse his best friend (Leslie Phillips). While Phillips is appalled at the girl’s inab­il­ity to cook any­thing oth­er than pot noodle while drink­ing his best scotch, Maurice is intox­ic­ated by her spir­it and beauty and decides to take her under his wing.

While O’Toole’s per­form­ance has won all the plaudits (and the Oscar nom­in­a­tion), it is the por­trait of reck­less, inno­cent and impetu­ous youth that has stayed with me – the best por­tray­al of what it means to be young I have seen in a long time. Whittaker’s Jessie has all the con­fid­ence and bravado one gets launch­ing in to the world with the train­ing wheels off but not enough self-knowledge to pro­tect her from the dangers with­in it.

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Review: Stardust, Surf’s Up, Bratz, Underdog, Hula Girls, Five Moments of Infidelity and When Night Falls

By Cinema, Conflict of Interest and Reviews

It’s the school hol­i­days: that time of the year when this review­er obvi­ously has to atone for the sins of a pre­vi­ous life by sit­ting through the candy-coated com­mer­cial­ised detrit­us that we foist on our kids to keep them off the streets.

Firstly, the worst of the lot: Bratz is as tox­ic as the chinese-made toys that inspired it, a nakedly cyn­ic­al hymn to con­sump­tion, tri­vi­al­ity and shal­low­ness. To be avoided at all costs.

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