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richard dreyfuss Archives - Funerals & Snakes

Review: Predicament, The White Ribbon & Piranha 3D

By Cinema and Reviews

The unhappy bard of Hawera, Ronald Hugh Morrieson, died in the sure and certain knowledge of his own failure. Only one of his four novels had been published (and only in Australia) and the others languished in obscurity. He wasn’t to know that his Taranaki-gothic visions would prove perfectly adaptable to the big screen and that no less a Hollywood legend than John Carradine would appear in the first of them, The Scarecrow in 1982. Came a Hot Friday (1985) followed to huge box office success but then the Morrieson curse struck again and, due to the vagaries of the international movie business, Pallet on the Floor wouldn’t even make it in to cinemas in New Zealand.

Predicament posterHis other novel, “Predicament”, has finally made it to the big screen and, I’m sorry to report, that Morrieson himself might prefer that it hadn’t. It’s Hawera, 1933. A socially repressed New Zealand small town, pleasant and placid on the surface but teeming with petty crims and sly-groggers underneath. When gawky teenager Cedric Williamson’s mother died his father (Tim Finn) suffered a breakdown and is silently building a huge wooden tower in his front yard.

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Review: Winter’s Bone, Red, Made in Dagenham, Paranormal Activity 2, Resident Evil- Afterlife and I’m Still Here

By Cinema and Reviews

Winter's Bone posterHalf way through Winter’s Bone I found myself thinking, “So, this is what the Western has become?” The best Westerns are about finding or sustaining a moral path though a lawless frontier and the frontier in Winter’s Bone is the hidden world of the rural poor and the path is a strange and terrifying one.

In the rough and remote Ozark Mountains, teenage Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) is single-handedly bringing up her two young siblings while caring for her emotionally damaged mother. One cold morning the Sheriff turns up with the news that her father, Jessup, used their house as his bail bond and unless Ree can find him and persuade him to turn up for Court, the family will lose everything.

Jessup is (or maybe was) what we would call a ‘P’ dealer — the only economy in the area showing any kind of growth. But the company he was keeping were the meanest of the mean and to find her father Ree must venture into dangerous territory.

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Review: My Life in Ruins, Stone of Destiny and Drag Me to Hell

By Cinema and Reviews

While the Film Festival continues to deliver untold pleasures to Wellington cinephiles, the commercial distributors dump (shall we say) less-heralded product at our currently very quiet multiplexes and arthouses.

My Life in Ruins posterMy Life in Ruins is a belated follow-up to the international smash hit My Big Fat Greek Wedding. That film was produced by Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson as a favour to their friend Nia Vardalos and, to the surprise of everyone, it went on to make squillions at the box office and promised to make comedienne Vardalos a romantic comedy star. Things didn’t quite work out like that and it’s taken seven years for a follow-up to hit the screens, also supported by Hanks and Wilson.

Sadly, My Life in Ruins is likely to disappoint those that remember MBFGW fondly — the warmth and good humour of that film has been replaced by cheap laughs at the expense of international stereotypes and there’s a flatness to the execution that Vardalos’ mugging can’t hide.

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Review: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Arranged, Bride Flight and W.

By Cinema, Conflict of Interest and Reviews

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen posterAfter hits like Bad Boys and The Rock, as well as failures like The Island and Pearl Harbor, we all know that Michael Bay is better than any director alive at blowing things up and in the motion picture business this not an ignoble pursuit. What he can’t pull off are other important things like suspense, comedy or drama. There’s no doubt that it takes a special talent to sit in a room with the effects bods and say “sink that aircraft carrier — I’ll be back after lunch to see how you are getting on” but it isn’t really filmmaking in it’s purest sense.

Which bring us to his latest, monumental, effort, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, in which a tiny sliver of the shiny magic cube from the first film is discovered by Shia LaBoeuf while he’s on his way to college. Somehow its magicky goodness rubs off on him, fills his mind with symbols, gives him special mental powers and alerts the remaining Decepticons up in space to its existence. Perhaps they could use it to restart their war with the Autobots, erase the human race and steal the power of the sun for themselves?

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