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pierce brosnan Archives - Funerals & Snakes

Review: The Hobbit- An Unexpected Journey and Love Is All You Need

By Cinema and Reviews

The Hobbit: An Unoexpected Journey posterIt may be playing in cinemas but I’m not entirely convinced that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey — and, by extension, the forthcoming Desolation of Smaug and There and Back Again — is actually cinema. At least not cinema the way that this particular old geezer remembers it. First, let us put aside the technological innovation for a few paragraphs and focus on the story. These films have been been created to deliver an experience to existing fans of the Lord of the Rings films and is arguably even more tailored to their needs than, say, the Twilight franchise is to their fans. It certainly makes as few concessions to the neutral.

Fans from Bratislava to Beirut want to spend as much time as possible in Middle Earth and writer-director Peter Jackson delivers — to the extent that several familiar characters make inelegant cameo appearances and the audience gets to spend considerable time acclimatising. It really doesn’t matter that I think the whole thing faffs around for far too long and already feels hyper-extended. Criticising The Hobbit for length is falling in to the trap of reviewing the film you wish you were watching instead of the one in front of you.

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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: Rio, Hop, Oceans, Sucker Punch and some meditations on the Roxy

By Cinema and Reviews

Wellington’s first Roxy Cinema was either notorious or legendary depending on your point of view. Originally the Britannia on Manners Street, it was renamed the Roxy in 1935 and ran as an idiosyncratic independent until demolition in 1974. Old school projectionists would tell you that the Roxy was a genuine fleapit, running continuous sessions (no cleaning) and providing a central city hideout for people skipping work or school.

According to “The Celluloid Circus”, Wayne Brittenden’s wonderful history of cinemas in New Zealand, owner Harry Griffith was once asked by a cashier if she should call the truant officer to apprehend some young miscreant. “Let him buy his ticket first,” snapped Griffith, “then report him.”

Griffith took a showman’s approach to programming, once risking the wrath of 20th Century Fox by scheduling an impromptu double feature of Elizabeth Taylor’s Cleopatra and Kenneth Williams in Carry On Cleo. That’s the kind of spirited whimsy we tried to encourage at the Paramount in my day and I do miss it.

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Review: The Social Network, The Ghost Writer, Matariki & Ladies & Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones

By Cinema and Reviews

The Social Network posterFrom the tour de force of A Few Good Men in 1992 (“You can’t handle the truth!”) to the winning Charlie Wilson’s War in 2007, Aaron Sorkin’s sparkling dialogue and intelligent characters provide (all too rare) beacons of brilliance among the parade of dross that is most commercial cinema.

And that doesn’t count his contribution to television. I’m one of those people who love “The West Wing” so much that I wish I could simply mainline it direct into a vein, so a new Sorkin script of any description is an event.

Torn from the blogs (and a best-selling book by Ben Mezrich), The Social Network is the heavily mythologised story of the invention of Facebook and the legal tussles over the plentiful spoils. Sorkin is in his element, here: He doesn’t write action or gun-battles, he writes smart, literate people arguing over ideas and it’s an unending pleasure.

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Review: Law Abiding Citizen, Remember Me and Max Manus

By Cinema and Reviews

Stars are important. Despite their supposedly waning influence on box office (Avatar managed perfectly well without a marquee name and Bruce Willis hasn’t carried a hit film in years) the charisma of a leading man is still a key factor in how we much we enjoy our escapism.

Law Abiding Citizen posterExhibit A is the inexplicable success of Gerard Butler. Despite an unpleasant on- screen persona that mostly oozes brutishness and condescension he continues to rate well with certain target markets and, as a result I still have to watch his films. The latest is a repellent revenge fantasy called Law Abiding Citizen in which Butler gets to smirk his way through several remote-control murders while supposedly locked away in solitary confinement. How does he do it, we are supposed to ask.

Butler is Clyde Shelton, an inventor and family man whose family is randomly targeted by two low-life home invaders. They kill his wife and child (but inexplicably leave him alive as a witness) but hot shot Assistant DA (Jamie Foxx) is worried about his win-loss ratio and cuts a deal that saves one of the perps from Death Row. Shelton is upset about the supposed lack of justice and hatches an eight year plot to teach everyone involved (including the entire Philadelphia city administration and the Pennsylvania justice system) a lesson.

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Review: Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The X-Files: I Want to Believe, Closing the Ring, Smart People, Married Life, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day and Journey From the Fall

By Cinema, Conflict of Interest and Reviews

Forgetting Sarah Marshall posterForgetting Sarah Marshall is an ideal post-Festival palate cleanser: a saucy comedy fresh off the Judd Apatow production line (The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up). Here he gives the spotlight to one of his supporting players: Jason Segal (Knocked Up) plays tv composer Peter who within two minutes of the start of the film is dumped by tv star Sarah M. (Kristen Bell from “Veronica Mars”). He goes to Hawaii to recover only to discover that his ex is also there – with her new English rock star boyfriend. Very funny in parts, surprisingly moving at times thanks to a heartfelt performance from big lump Segal, FSM gets an extra half a star for featuring professional West Ham fan Russell Brand, playing a version of his sex-addicted stage persona.

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