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Review: Terminator Salvation, Love the Beast, Fugitive Pieces, JCVD and In Search of a Midnight Kiss

By Cinema, Reviews

Terminator Salvation poster’Tis the sea­son to reboot tired fran­chises and this week we get an explos­ive new look at James Cameron’s beloved Terminator. Set only nine years in the future (when open-air bat­tle­field heart trans­plants will be de rigeur dur­ing la guerre), the Judgement Day of T2 has des­troyed most of the West Coast of the USA and only a hardy band of ill-equipped rebels are keep­ing the mon­strous Skynet at bay.

John Connor, proph­esied future saviour of the human race, is a only a sol­dier in the rebel army but his reg­u­lar radio broad­casts bring hope to the scattered, ragtag freedom-fighters. In a battle to res­cue some human pris­on­ers his entire squad is killed – but he does man­age to release the mys­ter­i­ous Marcus Wright (Aussie boof­head Sam Worthington) who may hold the key to the defeat of the machines.

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Review: Run Fatboy Run, Vantage Point, The Other Boleyn Girl, Interview, Step Up 2 the Streets and 10,000 BC

By Cinema, Conflict of Interest, Reviews

My nor­mal, equable, approach to Hollywood block­buster product has been upset this week by the news that, in a decision of quite breath­tak­ing cyn­icism, Warner Bros. are going to split the final Harry Potter film (The Deathly Hallows due in 2010) in to two parts and thus, with a wave of a Potter-like wand, make $500m appear where no money was before. Normal ser­vice may well be resumed next week but for now I am grumpy and it may show.

Run Fatboy Run posterSimon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead) leaves his hit-making col­lab­or­at­ors, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright, behind for a while for his new com­edy Run Fatboy Run. He plays love­able waster Dennis Doyle who could eas­ily be a cous­in of Shaun (or Tim in “Spaced”). Five years ago he ran out on his beau­ti­ful preg­nant girl­friend, Thandie Newton, on their wed­ding day. Now, she has hooked up with hand­some, rich, American mara­thon run­ner Hank Azaria (The Simpsons) and Dennis (with the help of very funny best friend Dylan Moran from “Black Books”) decides to win her back by prov­ing he can fin­ish a London Marathon. Competent and ener­get­ic but with the occa­sion­al bum note, Run Fatboy Run is like a pub band cov­er ver­sion of a great British romantic com­edy. One of the reas­ons why it does­n’t always work must be down to first-time fea­ture dir­ect­or David Schwimmer (Ross from “Friends”) whose tim­ing, sadly, isn’t always on.

Vantage Point posterThey say you nev­er come out of a film hum­ming the struc­ture, which in the case of plucky little thrill­er Vantage Point is a shame as the struc­ture is really all it has going for it. An attemp­ted assas­sin­a­tion of US President Ashton (William Hurt) in Salamanca, Spain is told and retold from the dif­fer­ing per­spect­ives of sev­er­al prot­ag­on­ists and wit­nesses, includ­ing Dennis Quaid’s age­ing Secret Serviceman and Forest Whitaker’s handicam-toting tour­ist. The plot is nev­er fully unrav­elled, though, leav­ing too many ques­tions unanswered not least of which why Spanish ter­ror­ists would col­lab­or­ate with jihadists. There’s one great car chase, though, involving what looks like a Holden Barina. Everything else disappoints.

The Other Boleyn Girl posterWith The Other Boleyn Girl, The Queen scribe Peter Morgan turns his atten­tion to anoth­er chapter in Britain’s roy­al his­tory: the bed-hopping, neck-chopping, Tudor soap opera star­ring Henry VIII and his search for an heir; a pre­quel, if you will, to Cate Blanchett’s Elizabeth. Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman play the Boleyn sis­ters, com­pet­ing for the atten­tion of Eric Bana’s hand­some but unstable Henry (if they only knew he was going to turn into Charles Laughton they might not have tried so hard). The ori­gin­al nov­el was bodice-ripping romantic fic­tion dressed as lit­er­at­ure and the film serves the same pur­pose. Entertaining.

Interview official siteSteve Buscemi takes the dir­ect­or’s chair (and stars in) Interview, a low-key two-hander also fea­tur­ing Sienna Miller. Buscemi plays cyn­ic­al polit­ic­al journ­al­ist Pierre who is forced to inter­view a fam­ous soap star. Based on, and far too respect­ful of, a film by murdered Dutch film­maker Theo Van Gogh, Interview feels like a stage play – and not in a good way.

Step Up 2 The Streets posterEver since West Side Story (and pos­sibly earli­er) dance has been used as a meta­phor for urb­an viol­ence but in recent years the trend has got some com­mer­cial legs as film­makers real­ise they can present hip-hop music and urb­an situ­ations in a PG envir­on­ment. In Step Up a white urb­an free­style dan­cer (Channing Tatum) tried to make it at bal­let school. In the sequel (Step Up 2 The Streets), a white free­style urb­an dan­cer (Briana Evigan) tries to make it at the same bal­let school. But she’s from The Streets, you see, and she’s an orphan so she gath­ers the oth­er out­casts and eth­nics from the school so they can com­pete with the gang-bangers in an “illeg­al” dance com­pet­i­tion. I’m fas­cin­ated, obvi­ously, by these films not least the pro­mo­tion of dance as com­pet­i­tion over dance as expres­sion. But I’m over-thinking as usual.

10,000 BC posterFinally, 10,000 BC is fit­fully enter­tain­ing twaddle. Historically and anthro­po­lo­gic­ally inac­cur­ate not to men­tion eth­no­lo­gic­ally offens­ive, my recom­mend­a­tion is to wait for the video, get stoned with your mates and then talk all the way through it.

Printed in Wellington’s Capital Times on Wednesday 19 March, 2008 although space con­straints saw the last few items cut. So, Interview, Step Up 2 The Streets and 10,000 BC are like web-only bonus items.

Nature of Conflict: Interview is dis­trib­uted in New Zealand by Arkles Entertainment who I some­times do a little work for.

Review: The Bucket List, Jumper, Rescue Dawn, Goodbye Bafana, We Own the Night and Delirious

By Cinema, Conflict of Interest, Reviews

The Bucket List posterThe trail­er for The Bucket List has been play­ing for weeks now, indu­cing groans at every appear­ance. By col­lect­ing a series of Jack Nicholson’s now trade­mark Jack-isms plus Morgan Freeman’s reg­u­lar, twinkly, wise old man schtick and then sprinkled with plenty of schmaltz, the trail­er made me act­ively want to avoid a film that looked like a lame set of sac­char­ine clichés and tired ham act­ing – cyn­ic­al Hollywood at its worst.

I am pleased to report, how­ever, that The Bucket List is a much more enjoy­able film than I was expect­ing. There is some excel­lent work from Nicholson and Freeman who are well coached by dir­ect­or Rob Reiner, with the help of a script by Justin Zackham that has sev­er­al decent moments. Nicholson plays mis­an­throp­ic health tycoon Edward Cole who is dia­gnosed with brain can­cer and forced, due to his own tight-fisted policies, to share a room with car mech­an­ic and lung can­cer patient Freeman. When he dis­cov­ers Freeman has a wish-list of things to do before he dies, he takes it upon him­self to make them come true using the bil­lions he has accu­mu­lated in the cor­rupt American health care sys­tem.

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