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

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

By Cinema, 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Life in Ruins is likely to dis­ap­point those that remem­ber MBFGW fondly – the warmth and good humour of that film has been replaced by cheap laughs at the expense of inter­na­tion­al ste­reo­types and there’s a flat­ness to the exe­cu­tion that Vardalos’ mug­ging can­’t hide.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: Stardust, Surf’s Up, Bratz, Underdog, Hula Girls, Five Moments of Infidelity and When Night Falls

By Cinema, Conflict of Interest, Reviews

It’s the school hol­i­days: that time of the year when this review­er obvi­ously has to atone for the sins of a pre­vi­ous life by sit­ting through the candy-coated com­mer­cial­ised detrit­us that we foist on our kids to keep them off the streets.

Firstly, the worst of the lot: Bratz is as tox­ic as the chinese-made toys that inspired it, a nakedly cyn­ic­al hymn to con­sump­tion, tri­vi­al­ity and shal­low­ness. To be avoided at all costs.

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