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Review: Shutter Island, Bright Star, Did You Hear About the Morgans?, Masquerades, Toy Story 3D and Crazy Heart

By Cinema, Reviews, Screenwriting

There’s some­thing very odd about the open­ing scenes in Shutter Island and it takes the entire film for you to put your fin­ger on it. Shots don’t match between cuts, there’s a stil­ted qual­ity to the dia­logue (too much expos­i­tion for a Martin Scorsese movie) and the pacing is off. For a while I found myself won­der­ing wheth­er Marty had lost the immense influ­ence of his great edit­or Thelma Schoonmaker, but there she is, still in the cred­its, as she has been for Scorsese since Raging Bull.

Several years ago, Scorsese played a prac­tic­al joke on me (per­son­ally, it felt like at the time) when an entire reel of The Aviator was treated to look like faded 1930s Technicolor – I went to the Embassy counter to com­plain and felt very sheep­ish to be told by Oscar, the pro­jec­tion­ist, that the dir­ect­or meant it that way. So, this time around I decided to trust the maes­tro and roll with the strange­ness and was rewar­ded with one of the best (and cleverest) psy­cho­lo­gic­al thrillers in many a year.

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Review: Brüno and The Sicilian Girl

By Cinema, Reviews

Bruno posterSacha Baron Cohen is, in this reviewer’s opin­ion, the most gif­ted com­ic act­or of his gen­er­a­tion – a new Peter Sellers for those of us who remem­ber who Peter Sellers was. A first-rate com­edy tech­ni­cian, a vir­tu­oso impro­vis­or and vir­tu­ally fear­less, he has stolen films like Madagascar, Talladega Nights and Sweeney Todd from much big­ger names. Why then am I left so cold by his most fam­ous cre­ations, Borat and now Austrian fash­ion report­er turned gay cul­tur­al icon Brüno?

At first I thought it must just be a ques­tion of taste. After all, a rather large group of people at the Embassy on Thursday whooped and hollered and gave Brüno a round of applause. The edit­or of this paper told me it was her favour­ite film of the year. Maybe it is just me, but I didn’t laugh once – at least not at loud.

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Review: The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls, Monsters vs. Aliens, The Uninvited, 12 Rounds, Pink Panther 2 and Ip Man

By Cinema, Reviews

I’m not nor­mally one to make box office pre­dic­tions but I have a gut feel­ing that The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls is going to be massive. It’s an inspir­ing New Zealand story, well told with plenty of humour and music, and the lit­er­ally irre­press­ible Topps’ lust for life shines like a beacon through­out. Using plenty of archiv­al foot­age and pho­tos, Leanne Pooley’s doc­u­ment­ary fol­lows the Twins from idyll­ic rur­al Calf Club Days, through the rough and tumble protests of the 80s, to their cur­rent status as liv­ing legends.

I recom­mend you take your kids so they can see how much of what’s good about New Zealand (that we take for gran­ted) was fought for by these strong and prin­cipled women, who also just hap­pen to be beloved fam­ily entertainers.

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Review: Children of Men and more ...

By Cinema, Reviews

I grew up under the high-heeled jack­boot of Margaret Thatcher’s Britain, when post-apocalyptic vis­ions of futur­ist­ic fas­cist dic­tat­or­ships seemed to turn up as reg­u­larly as London buses. Back then we all felt that the world was at risk from the insane plans of a men­tally defi­cient, war-mongering, US pres­id­ent cap­tured by the military-industrial com­plex. Of course, now things are com­pletely dif­fer­ent (ahem) but Children of Men still seems like the product of a bygone era.

20 years into a grey British future: the pop­u­la­tion is sterile and extinc­tion of the human race is inev­it­able. Alcoholic pub­lic ser­vant Clive Owen is per­suaded by ex-girlfriend and freedom-fighter Julianne Moore to trans­port some pre­cious cargo to the coast but her plan (and her team) is soon shred­ded by the forces of reac­tion and Owen is forced to go it alone. There are sev­er­al abso­lutely jaw-dropping set-pieces and I won­der wheth­er the people of Bexhill real­ised what sort of mess was going to be made of their quiet little sea­side town. Never lend any­thing to a film crew!

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