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Review: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Jack & Jill and Contraband

By Cinema, Reviews

For 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: Law Abiding Citizen, Remember Me and Max Manus

By Cinema, 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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