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pierce brosnan

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

By Cinema and Reviews

It 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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