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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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