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Chris Hemsworth as James Hunt in Ron Howard's Rush (2013).

Review: Rush, Blancanieves, Mood Indigo, Metallica Through the Never, Planes, The Smurfs 2, Percy Jackson- Sea of Monsters and One Direction- This is Us

By Cinema and Reviews

Chris Hemsworth as James Hunt in Ron Howard's Rush (2013).

Firstly, I need to apo­lo­gise for the infre­quency of updates. Real world work has inter­vened. The res­ult is that this col­lec­tion of reviews will be even more curs­ory than usual.

Rush posterRon Howard’s Rush is a great show­case for Chris Hemsworth (Thor) to prove that he has some poten­tial bey­ond the com­ic book beef­cake. He plays British play­boy racing driver James Hunt with a per­fect lan­guid English accent and a rock star twinkle just fail­ing to hide his under­stand­able insec­ur­it­ies. Daniel Brühl as his on-track nemes­is Niki Lauda also does a cred­it­able job of mak­ing an unat­tract­ive char­ac­ter appeal­ing. Downsides are that the film is about 20 minutes too long and it’s the first 20 minutes that you could eas­ily lose. Peter Morgan’s script is – unusu­ally for him – very by-the-numbers until the incit­ing incid­ent occurs after the halfway stage, also kick­ing Howard’s dir­ec­tion into gear.

Blancanieves posterBlancanieves was reportedly Roger Ebert’s final favour­ite film, added to his own fest­iv­al earli­er this year after only a hand­ful of screen­ings. As usu­al, Mr. Ebert’s taste did not let him down and the film should win over lov­ers of clas­sic cinema at least. Much closer to a genu­ine silent pic­ture than Oscar-winner The Artist’s pas­tiche, Blancanieves resets the Snow White legend to 1920s Spain with a back­ground of bull­fight­ing and intrigue. It’s lus­cious to look at and as romantic as any of the great vin­tage silents that inspired it, although view­ers with lower tol­er­ance for melo­drama and arch, high intens­ity per­form­ances may struggle to buy in.

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The World's End poster

Review: The World’s End, Pacific Rim, The Look of Love + School Holiday Roundup

By Cinema and Reviews

Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan, Simon Pegg, Paddie Considine and Martn Freeman in The world's End

I can ima­gine some people not enjoy­ing The World’s End. People who don’t care about – or even notice – cine­mat­ic crafts­man­ship, people who think that being self-referential means being self-indulgent, audi­ences who prefer their action sequences to be cos­mic in scale and meas­ured in mega­bytes per second rather than laughs per minute – I expect those people might feel that the latest mas­ter­piece by Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost goes sail­ing over their heads. After all, a film like The World’s End rewards con­cen­tra­tion (and second and third view­ings) where­as most block­busters rely on increas­ingly destruct­ive spec­tacle for audi­ences to get their kicks.

The World's End posterThat’s not to say that this film is light on apo­ca­lypse – it prom­ises the end of the world after all – but its core remains the deep friend­ships between men of a cer­tain age and how those friend­ships grow when tested – the same theme that infused their pre­vi­ous two films togeth­er, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.

[pullquote]Pacific Rim shows how lov­ing bad films some­times means you make bad films.[/pullquote]Pegg plays Gary King, middle-aged lost soul, pin­ing for the glory days of High School and des­per­ate to com­plete his mas­ter­piece – the 12 pub crawl through Newton Haven known as “The Golden Mile”. He and his mates failed back in 1993 and he’s round­ing them up for one last crack at it. His four old mates (played by Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine and the won­der­ful Eddie Marsan) are reluct­ant to leave their tidy grown-up lives behind but, per­suaded, they get to their old stomp­ing grounds only to find they are human­ity’s only hope to avoid inter-galactic colonisation.

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Review: Kon-Tiki, Snitch and Broken

By Cinema and Reviews

Speaking as someone whose taste for adven­ture does­n’t stretch much fur­ther than going to the dairy in the rain, the reck­less self-endangerment rep­res­en­ted by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg’s Kon-Tiki was a genu­ine eye-opener. The bones of the story are well-known enough to any­one who built balsa mod­els of Heyerdahl’s raft at primary school in the 1970s but bear repeat­ing here.

While research­ing nat­ive Tahitians in the late 1940s, Norwegian ethno-explorer Thor Heyerdahl pos­ited a the­ory that the islands of Polynesia had ori­gin­ally been settled by sail­ors from South America (actu­ally, bear­ing in mind the tech­no­logy of the time they would have been more like the drift­ers from South America, but hey). Unable to per­suade any­one in the sci­entif­ic com­munity, he was forced to exper­i­ment on him­self. He went to Peru, built a raft, crewed it with oth­er north­ern European adven­tur­ers and set off to find Polynesia.

With little or no exper­i­ence, train­ing or even aptitude, it was a giant leap of faith – Thor’s faith. Unable to steer, threatened by sharks and – for most of the time – without radio con­tact, it was a com­pletely potty idea but an idea that trans­formed our know­ledge of human devel­op­ment and changed history.

In Rønning and Sandberg’s film, Heyerdahl comes across as an obsess­ive and extremely dif­fi­cult man, but the way they por­tray the adven­ture it becomes clear that there was really no oth­er way. Heyerdahl’s faith was­n’t a mil­lion miles away from the totally blind faith of the first explorers who set out from Peru all those cen­tur­ies ago. That obses­sion is also shared by the film­makers who insisted on using a rep­lica ocean-going raft (incid­ent­ally named Tangaroa) built by Heyerdahl’s grand­son, and then chose to shoot on the open sea rather than in a tank.

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Review: There Once Was an Island, Bad Teacher, Cars 2, The Reluctant Infidel and My Afternoons with Margueritte

By Cinema and Reviews

There Once Was an Island posterWhen I first vis­ited this coun­try back in 1982 we flew across the Pacific Ocean in day­light and from my win­dow seat I got a birds eye view of … not very much. Lots of flat blue unin­ter­rup­ted sea, not even so much a rusty tramp steam­er to break the mono­tony. No won­der they usu­ally do this leg in the dark, I thought.

Once I got here I under­stood that there was a lot going on down there on many tiny speckled islands and atolls – and the rich­ness of the Pacific and its rela­tion­ship to New Zealand was just one of the reas­ons why I’m still here all these years later – but now the creep­ing specter of glob­al warm­ing is trans­form­ing the Pacific into the pristine envir­on­ment I thought I saw all those years ago – unsul­lied by cor­al, sand, taro or people.

This pro­cess is already well under way as Briar March’s astound­ing doc­u­ment­ary There Once was an Island illus­trates. In 2006 Ms. March and a tiny crew spent sev­er­al months on Takuu, a remote atoll over­seen by the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG), ser­viced and sup­por­ted by a rare and irreg­u­lar ship­ping ser­vice and short wave radio. Even then the waves were lap­ping at the edge of peoples’ homes and the ABG offer of a haven among the main­land sug­ar plant­a­tions effect­ively meant ask­ing 4000 people to say good­bye to their entire way of life.

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Review: Summer Holiday Round-up (2010/11)

By Cinema and Reviews

T.J. MillerThis year the sum­mer hol­i­days seemed to have been owned by the unlikely fig­ure of T.J. Miller, dead­pan comedi­an, sup­port­ing act­or and eer­ily famil­i­ar back­ground fig­ure. In Yogi Bear he was the ambi­tious but dim deputy park ranger eas­ily duped by Andrew Daly’s smarmy Mayor into help­ing him sell out Jellystone to cor­por­ate log­ging interests, in Gulliver’s Travels he was the ambi­tious but as it turns out dim mail room super­visor who pro­vokes Jack Black into pla­gi­ar­ising his way into a fate­ful travel writ­ing gig and in Unstoppable he’s the slightly less dim (and cer­tainly less ambi­tious) mate of the doo­fus who leaves the hand­brake on and then watches his enorm­ous freight train full of tox­ic waste roll away.

So, a good sum­mer for T.J. Miller then, what about the rest of us?

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2010 Wellington Cinema Year in Review

By Cinema

So, after trawl­ing through the many thou­sands of words writ­ten about cinema in these pages this year, I sup­pose you want me to come to some con­clu­sions? Do some “sum­ming up”? Help guide you through the great video store of life? Well, alright then. Here goes.

We don’t do Top Ten lists here at the Capital Times – they are reduct­ive, facile and, frankly, you have to leave too many titles out. I have taken to divid­ing my year’s view­ing up into cat­egor­ies: keep­ers are films I want to have in my home and watch whenev­er the mood takes me; renters are the films that I could hap­pily watch again; then there are the films that I enjoyed but am in no hurry to repeat, the films I might have mis­judged first time around, the films I can’t get out of my head (for bet­ter or worse), the films I am sup­posed to love but you know, meh, and most import­ant of all – the films you should avoid as if your very life depends upon it.

First, the keep­ers: a sur­prise for some will be Fantastic Mr. Fox which was released after my 2009 Year in Review was sub­mit­ted and the only film in the list that I already own. Animal Kingdom was the film I most recom­men­ded this year – a stun­ning, tense piece of work that gripped me totally.

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