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robert de niro

RN 1/9: Anatomy of a Rock

By Audio, Cinema, Rancho Notorious and Reviews

Dan and Kailey are joined by Mark Roulston to talk about his web­site Cinema Aotearoa and to review Dwayne Johnson in Hercules. Dan inter­views Glenn Kenny about his new book, De Niro: Anatomy of an Actor.

Also fea­tur­ing – to Dan’s chag­rin – the return of the Two Word Review.

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Review: Rust and Bone, A Lady in Paris and Jack the Giant Slayer

By Cinema and Reviews

It’s no dis­grace to come second at Cannes to Michael Haneke’s Amour, espe­cially so when your film is Rust and Bone. Writer-director Jacques Audiard has a track record of unset­tling and con­front­ing dra­mas, start­ing (for New Zealand audi­ences) with Read My Lips in 2001 and – most recently – pris­on drama A Prophet in 2009. Rust and Bone is equally rugged but with some beauty to bal­ance the viol­ence and despair.

Academy Award-winner Marion Cotillard is the big name on the mar­quee but the film really belongs to Matthias Schoenaerts who lays down a por­trait of wounded mas­culin­ity as riv­et­ing as any of De Niro’s clas­sic per­form­ances. He’s Alain, a drift­er and waster who lands in pic­tur­esque Antibes with his young son. He’s use­ful in a scrap but use­less as a par­ent and some of the most dif­fi­cult scenes in the film are of him fail­ing to look after the boy.

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2012 Wellington Cinema Year in Review

By Cinema

As usu­al, the vagar­ies of hol­i­day dead­lines mean that, just as you are arriv­ing back at work to glee­fully greet the New Year, here I am to tell you all about 2012. The best way to use this page is to clip it out, fold it up and put it in your pock­et ready for your next vis­it to the video shop – that way you won’t go wrong with your rent­ing. Trust me – I’m a professional.

But this year I have a prob­lem. Usually I man­age to restrict my annu­al picks to films that were com­mer­cially released to cinemas. I’ve always felt that it wasn’t fair to men­tion films that only screened in fest­ivals – it’s frus­trat­ing to be told about films that aren’t easy to see and it makes it dif­fi­cult for you to join in and share the love. This year, though, if I take out the festival-only films the great­ness is hard to spot among the only “good”.

As usu­al, I have eschewed a top ten in favour of my pat­en­ted cat­egor­ies: Keepers, Watch Again, Mentioned in Dispatches and Shun At All Costs. In 2012, only two of my nine Keepers (films I wish to have close to me forever) made it into com­mer­cial cinemas and one of them isn’t even really a film.

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Review: The Artist, El Bulli: Cooking in Progress; The Vow; Safe House; Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace 3D and Killer Elite

By Cinema and Reviews

Two of the big three Academy Award con­tenders this year are about look­ing back on the early days of cinema itself. While Scorsese’s Hugo uses the latest tech­nic­al whizz­bangs to bring to life the idea of early cinema and its nov­elty and excite­ment in The Artist, Michel Hazanavicius recre­ates the tech­niques of old Hollywood in search of pure nostalgia.

A painstak­ingly cre­ated silent movie with sev­er­al moments of love­li­ness, The Artist fol­lows the riches to rags story of screen hero George Valentin and the con­cur­rent rags to riches story of star­let Peppy Miller – who tries to catch him as he falls. The per­form­ances of Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo as the two leads are both splen­did, Dujardin in par­tic­u­lar dis­plays a tech­nic­al pre­ci­sion that most act­ors can only dream of.

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Review: New Year’s Eve, The First Grader, Red State and Courageous

By Cinema and Reviews

For years now I’ve been fight­ing a single-handed defence of the later career of Robert De Niro (no defence, of course, being neces­sary for the early career which fea­tured Mean Streets, Taxi Driver and The Deer Hunter). This defence has sev­er­al argu­ments. Firstly, his decline hasn’t been nearly as pro­nounced – or as strange – as Al Pacino’s. Secondly, he was mak­ing some unusu­al decisions even dur­ing the eighties and, frankly, one Harry Tuttle – the reneg­ade cent­ral heat­ing engin­eer in Brazil – or foul-mouthed bail bonds­man Jack Walsh (Midnight Run) will get you a free pass for an awful lot of We’re No Angels.

In the nineties, too, he would make choices that fans of Raging Bull and King of Comedy would think were beneath him – Mad Dog and Glory, Frankenstein – but also pull out Wag the Dog and Jackie Brown. It’s been clear for a while now that De Niro is some­thing of a work­ahol­ic – and an act­or who waits for pro­jects as good as Goodfellas is an act­or who doesn’t work all that often.

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Review: Blue Valentine, Never Let Me Go, Certified Copy and Rango

By Cinema and Reviews

For years I’ve been com­plain­ing about films that give audi­ences everything on a plate – they tell what you should be think­ing and feel­ing, leav­ing no room for us. This week I have noth­ing to com­plain about as three out of our four make you work for your rewards (although three tough emo­tioanl and intel­lec­tu­al workouts in one week­end turns out to be pretty draining).

Derek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine is a ter­rif­ic indie achieve­ment, brave and uncom­prom­ising, emo­tion­ally raw but intel­li­gent at the same time. A rela­tion­ship is born and a rela­tion­ship dies. Bookends of the same nar­rat­ive are clev­erly inter­cut to amp­li­fy the tragedy (and tragedy is a fair word to use – there’s a beau­ti­ful child get­ting hurt in the middle of all of this).

Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams) meet and fall in love. He’s a dro­pout start­ing again in New York. She’s a med stu­dent with an unhappy home life and a douchebag boy­friend. Five or six years later she’s a nurse try­ing not to think about unful­filled poten­tial and he’s a house paint­er who drinks too much.

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