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Review: Toy Story 3, The Twilight Saga- Eclipse, Marmaduke & Me and Orson Welles

By Cinema and Reviews

For those read­ers tuned into these things, clear evid­ence emerged this week of the ‘end of days’ and our impend­ing anni­hil­a­tion – cul­tur­ally at least.

Simply put, Twilight: Eclipse is play­ing around three times as many ses­sions in Wellington cinemas this school hol­i­days as Toy Story 3, des­pite the lat­ter being demon­strably super­i­or fare in every con­ceiv­able way. It was pretty depress­ing to check the papers last week to see that TS3 was only get­ting one Embassy ses­sion (in the mat­inée ghetto) as opposed to Eclipse’s four. It’s enough to make one wish for a friendly wall to bang one’s head upon.

Toy Story 3 posterIs Toy Story 3 that good? Yes, it is. In fact, I would ven­ture the slightly dan­ger­ous opin­ion that if there’s a film in the Film Festival this year as good as Toy Story 3 then I will be very, very surprised.

The last couple of Pixar films reviewed in these pages have been gently chided for fall­ing away in the third act – fail­ing to main­tain their geni­us right through to the end. No such prob­lems occur with TS3. It stays on course, con­tinu­ing to illu­min­ate char­ac­ter and action with deft, sur­pris­ing and eer­ily appro­pri­ate plot turns.

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Review: The Chronicles of Narnia- The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Easy A, Megamind, Rare Exports and Skyline

By Cinema and Reviews

After the unusu­al occur­rence last week of actu­ally lik­ing everything, reg­u­lar read­ers will be reas­sured that nor­mal nit-picking ser­vice is resumed this week.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader posterFirstly, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the third in the series of big budget adapt­a­tions of CS Lewis’ beloved alleg­or­ies (and the first to screen in 3D). Roughly three years after the last film ended two of our hero­ic child-royals are returned to Narnia via a magic oil paint­ing of a ship at sea.

Edmund (Skandar Keynes), Lucy (Georgie Henley) and their annoy­ing cous­in Eustace (played with gusto by young Will Poulter) arrive in Narnia to join the Dawn Treader on a search for the sev­en lords (and sev­en swords) who will finally unite all the war­ring coun­tries and bring peace, etc., etc. All is much as you would expect from the pre­vi­ous install­ments, apart from the fact that Caspian (Ben Barnes) has lost that annoy­ing vaguely Mediterranean accent and the talk­ing mouse Reepicheep now sounds like Simon Pegg instead of Eddie Izzard.

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Review: Summer Holiday 09-10 Summary

By Cinema and Reviews

While hunt­ing the site for some links to add to the just pos­ted Winter’s Bone etc. review, I dis­covered that my Summer Holiday spe­cial had­n’t made it here. So, for com­plete­ness’ sake, here it is. Pretty sure, this is an early draft too but there’s no sign of an email sub­mit­ting it.

What a lovely Summer we’ve been hav­ing – for watch­ing movies. While the Avatar jug­ger­naut rolls inex­or­ably on there has plenty of oth­er options for a ded­ic­ated seeker of shel­ter from the storm.

The Lovely Bones posterReleased at any oth­er time of year, Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones would be get­ting a decent length eval­u­ation (and the head­line) here but with fif­teen films dis­cuss we’ll have to live with the bul­let point eval­u­ation: not un-moving. My com­pan­ion and I spent a about an hour after watch­ing TLB dis­cuss­ing it’s flaws and yet both ended up agree­ing that we’d actu­ally enjoyed the film a lot, des­pite the problems.

Personally, I think Jackson’s tend­ency towards occa­sion­al whim­sic­al in-jokery typ­i­fied the uncer­tainty of tone (I’m think­ing of his unne­ces­sary cam­era shop cameo as an example) but the fun­da­ment­al mes­sage – that the people left behind after a tragedy are more import­ant than the vic­tims – was clearly and quite bravely artic­u­lated. And when I saw the film at a crowded Embassy ses­sion, dur­ing the pivotal scene where the sis­ter dis­cov­ers the evid­ence to catch the killer, I could only hear one per­son breath­ing around me – and it wasn’t me.

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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 and 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: It’s Complicated, Cirque du freak: The Vampire’s Assistant & Astro Boy

By Cinema and Reviews

It's Complicated posterThe first thing you need to know about It’s Complicated is that it isn’t very com­plic­ated at all. The plot, the char­ac­ters, the gags (dear God, espe­cially the gags) are all per­fectly com­pre­hens­ible – even to those of us with only mod­est intel­lec­tu­al fac­ulties. Rest assured, at no point will any­one be talk­ing over your head in this one.

Nancy Meyer’s pre­vi­ous film was The Holiday, which eas­ily remains in the bot­tom ten of the 1200+ films I have reviewed in these pages, so It’s Complicated earns a single point for not being that bad, but that’s where I run out of positives.

Meryl Streep plays Jane, suc­cess­ful baker and busi­ness­wo­man, who has a drunk­en one-night-stand with her rogue-ish ex-husband, played by Alec Baldwin. He thinks that they should try again. She isn’t so sure – mainly because he is now mar­ried to the woman he left her for ten years earli­er and she really doesn’t want to be the “oth­er woman” to the “oth­er woman”.

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Review: Up, The Soloist, The Young Victoria, Paris 36, Casablanca, The Camera on the Shore and the Vanguard 30th Anniversary

By Cinema and Reviews

The Young Victoria posterThe theme for the week seems to be romance and some of the finest love stor­ies of recent (or in fact any) year have just made their way to our screens. Firstly, The Young Victoria where Emily Blunt (Sunshine Cleaning, The Devil Wears Prada) deservedly takes centre stage for the first time as the eponym­ous roy­al. Even review­ers are entitled to a little pre­ju­dice, and I wasn’t expect­ing much from this going in, but I left the cinema full of admir­a­tion for an intel­li­gent script, perfectly-pitched dir­ec­tion and con­sist­ently able per­form­ances from expec­ted and unex­pec­ted quarters.

Blunt’s Victoria is a head­strong teen­ager, frus­trated by the com­pet­ing polit­ic­al interests that push and pull her. Only Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (whose suit was instig­ated by yet more euro-intrigue) seems to see the real Victoria and offers the new Queen sup­port and inde­pend­ence. The rela­tion­ship between Blunt’s Victoria and Rupert Friend’s ini­tially nervous but ulti­mately self-assured Albert is charm­ing, nat­ur­al and mov­ing and the back­ground of polit­ic­al intrigue and mach­in­a­tions provide neces­sary (but not over­whelm­ing) con­text. The Young Victoria is a film that, and I hope this makes sense, is per­fectly balanced.

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