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Picks of the Week for 12 Jan 2019

By Cinema and Reviews

It has been a long time between drinks here at Funerals & Snakes but that does­n’t mean that I have been idle. I con­tin­ue to write and broad­cast for RNZ (filling in for At the Movies on RNZ National and writ­ing for the Widescreen chan­nel on the web­site) and since the begin­ning of 2019 have tried to post at least a couple of reviews a week.

My deal with RNZ means I can­’t repost that work here but there is no reas­on why I can­’t start run­ning sum­mar­ies and high­lights for my many ‘fans’. I’ll prob­ably try and restart the news­let­ter, too, although what form that might take is still to be decided.

Rancho Notorious will be back in some form in 2020, too.

Anyway, here are this week’s picks:

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RN 2/16: Universal

By Audio, Cinema, Rancho Notorious and Reviews

Dan and Kailey are joined by Andy James, one of the world’s fore­most experts on the MCU (or Marvel Cinematic Universe) to dis­cuss Avengers: Age of Ultron and how all the pieces are sup­posed to fit togeth­er. Also reviewed, the much more ser­i­ous Age of Adaline and Testament of Youth.

RN 1/11: The Chat Show

By Audio, Cinema, Rancho Notorious and Reviews

Kailey is in Telluride, Dan is in Wellington, Rene Naufahu from The Last Saint is in Auckland, Tara Judah from the Astor is in Melbourne, Darren Bevan and Simon and Joe from The Inbetweeners 2 are in Auckland. We also review Lucy and men­tion Game of Thrones.

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Review: Summer Holiday Roundup (2011/12)

By Cinema and Reviews

Time to clear the sum­mer hol­i­day back­log so that the next time it rains you’ll have an idea of what you should go and see. There’s plenty to choose from – for all ages – and there’s a bunch more to come too.

Hugo posterBest thing on at the moment is Martin Scorsese’s first “kids” film, Hugo, but it took a second view­ing for con­firm­a­tion. It is a gor­geous love let­ter to cinema, a plea for decent archives, a cham­pi­on of the latest tech­no­logy – all Marty’s cur­rent pas­sions – but it’s also about some­thing more, some­thing universal.

Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) is a little orphan ragamuffin hid­ing in the walls of a great Paris rail­way sta­tion, wind­ing the clocks and try­ing to repair a broken auto­maton that he believes con­tains a mes­sage from his dead fath­er (Jude Law). While steal­ing parts from the sta­tion toy shop – and its sad and grumpy old own­er – Hugo meets the old man’s god-daughter (Chloë Grace Moretz) and between them they try and unravel the mys­tery of the auto­maton and why Papa Georges (Ben Kingsley) is so unhappy. Hugo is a mov­ing story about repair – the kind of redemp­tion that comes when you don’t write off and dis­card broken machines – or broken people.

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Review: Iron Man 2, Home by Christmas and Dear John

By Cinema and Reviews

Iron Man 2 posterOh dear, what a dis­ap­point­ment 90% of Iron Man 2 is. Rushed into pro­duc­tion after the ori­gin­al became the sur­prise run­away hit of 2008, rely­ing far too heav­ily on the dead­pan cha­risma of a coast­ing Robert Downey Jr. – the first time I’ve ever seen him this dis­en­gaged – and with a story that does no more than tread water until the arrival of the inev­it­able epis­ode 3, IM2 offers very little in the way of char­ac­ter devel­op­ment and not enough action to compensate.

Downey Jr is Tony Stark once again, milk­ing his fame as saviour of the free world while the secret power source in his chaest that fuels Iron Man (and keeps him alive) slowly pois­ons him from with­in. Just when he doesn’t need an adversary, along comes a crazy Russian physicist/wrestler named Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) look­ing for revenge on the Stark fam­ily who stole his father’s research. Vanko’s tech­no­logy is co-opted by Stark’s greatest busi­ness com­pet­it­or, weapons developer Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) and between them they attempt to des­troy Stark and corner the mar­ket in high-tech mil­it­ary gadgetry.

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Review: Gomorrah, The Proposal and A Bunch of Amateurs

By Cinema and Reviews

Gomorrah posterMartin Scorsese isn’t just a legendary dir­ect­or, he is also one of the world’s great enthu­si­asts for cinema – the defin­it­ive cine­aste if you will. By head­ing the World Cinema Foundation, he has lent his sub­stan­tial imprim­at­ur to major works of film res­tor­a­tion and he also uses his influ­ence to endorse sig­ni­fic­ant new European work, help­ing to get films like 2007’s The Golden Door wider atten­tion and dis­tri­bu­tion. Thus, “Martin Scorsese presents” Gomorrah, which opened nation­wide this week after stints at last year’s film fest­iv­al and the World Cinema Showcase in March.

Acclaimed around the world as a mod­ern mas­ter­piece, I don’t have much to add to the read­ily avail­able exist­ing plaudits. Squarely in the Italian neo-realist tra­di­tion, Gomorrah is a hand-held look at the cur­rent state of mafia affairs in Naples where a bru­tal work­ing class gang known the Camorra holds sway over the hous­ing estates and the impov­er­ished peas­ant classes. From pro­tec­tion rack­ets and drugs to the dis­pos­al of tox­ic waste, there’s not much that they aren’t into, mak­ing sure that all the gains are laundered swiftly into legit­im­ate busi­nesses that con­tin­ue to oper­ate around the world.

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