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Review: The Skin I Live In, Martha Marcy May Marlene and Ghost Rider- Spirit of Vengeance

By Cinema and Reviews

The Skin I Live In posterAnyone won­der­ing wheth­er the great Pedro Almodóvar had lost some of his edge at the ripe old age of 62 should imme­di­ately check out his new film The Skin I Live In which is as deranged as any­thing else he has pro­duced in more than thirty years of fea­ture film mak­ing. Puss In Boots him­self, Antonio Banderas, plays a suc­cess­ful plastic sur­geon with a dark secret. Many of his greatest med­ic­al achieve­ments are a res­ult of the exper­i­ments he con­ducts on a beau­ti­ful woman (Elena Anaya) held cap­tive in his mansion.

Who is she? Why is she there? These ques­tions are answered in the film but have to be skir­ted around here for even the tini­est hint at spoil­ers will wreck some of the twisti­est (in all senses of the word except per­haps con­fec­tion­ary) sur­prises you will exper­i­ence all year. It’s enough to say that if this film had been made in the 1950s then Banderas’ char­ac­ter would have been played by Vincent Price (think House of Wax) and that every­one involved would have been run out of town by the authorities.

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2011 Wellington Cinema Year in Review

By Cinema

I’ve been watch­ing reac­tions to oth­er people’s “Best of 2011” with interest. It’s fas­cin­at­ing to see online com­ment­ors insist that films they have seen are so much bet­ter than films that they haven’t. Even though I do, in fact, watch everything I’m not going to pre­tend that this list is defin­it­ive – except to say that it gets a lot closer than most…

I also don’t believe in the arbit­rar­i­ness of “Top Tens”. I have my own entirely arbit­rary scale: Keepers, Renters and Respecters.

Secretariat posterKeepers are the films that I loved so much I want to own them – films that make me feel bet­ter just hav­ing them in the house. The first film I adored this year was slushy Disney horse racing story Secretariat. It should have been everything I hate – manip­u­lat­ive, worthy, a faith-based sub­text – and yet I cried like a baby – expert button-pushing from dir­ect­or Randall Wallace. Rise of the Planet of the Apes was my favour­ite block­buster. Superb dir­ec­tion by Rupert Wyatt over­came the flaws (ahem, James Franco, ahem) and it care­fully walked the tightrope of both respect for its pre­de­cessors and kick­ing off some­thing new.

The Tree of Life posterTerrence Malick’s The Tree of Life is my favour­ite film of the year by a long stretch. A second view­ing allowed me to stop think­ing about it and just feel it, mean­ing that I got closer than ever before to the soul of a film artist. Profound in the way that only the greatest works of art are. Tusi Tamasese announced him­self with one of the most mature and con­sidered debuts I’ve ever seen – The Orator placed us deeply inside a cul­ture in a way that was both respect­ful and chal­len­ging of it. That film’s jour­ney hasn’t fin­ished yet.

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Review: Puss in Boots, Jig, Red Dog and Tomboy

By Cinema and Reviews

Puss in Boots posterEvery so often a film comes along that fits so squarely and neatly inside one’s own per­son­al set of interests and enthu­si­asms that it is impossible to be object­ive about it. I try and keep my work here dis­in­ter­ested and arms’ length – clin­ic­al, if you will – but, y’know, I’m only human. Just so you know. With that dis­claim­er out of the way, then, here’s my review of Puss in Boots.

So. Much. Fun. Soooo. Much. Fun. As one of the smart Embassy staff poin­ted out to me after­wards, Puss (Antonio Banderas) has been basic­ally single-pawedly keep­ing the Shrek fran­chise alive for a while so a spin-off was not only likely but neces­sary. And welcome.

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