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the hobbit

Review: The Sessions, Arbitrage, Bait 3D and (regrettably) Alex Cross

By Cinema, Reviews

Ben Lewin’s The Sessions is a very rare beast – an American film that por­trays human sexu­al­ity with hon­esty, sens­it­iv­ity and no hint of pruri­ence. (Actually, writer-director Lewin is a Polish emigré who grew up in Australia and – after a brief career as a bar­ris­ter – went to England in 1971 to make tele­vi­sion, so maybe it isn’t all that American.)

Poet Mark O’Brien was crippled with polio as a child and forced to spend more than 20 hours a day in an iron lung, prac­tising his craft with a pen­cil held between his teeth, rely­ing on care­givers for – almost – every import­ant bod­ily func­tion. Although he spent his life hori­zont­al he wasn’t para­lysed and he could still feel everything that was done to his body – a fact that a pretty nurse giv­ing him his daily wash could prob­ably testi­fy to… As a red-blooded American male in his 30s, his head could get turned by a shapely fig­ure even though his inex­per­i­ence and dis­ab­il­ity meant he was totally lack­ing in romantic confidence.

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Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Monsters and Lebanon

By Cinema, Reviews

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is the sev­enth film in the series but only the third that I’ve had to review in these pages. Sadly, my con­clu­sions are almost always the same – and almost always irrel­ev­ant. These films are increas­ingly made for Potter fans only and there are so many of them that box office suc­cess is guar­an­teed regard­less of churls like me.

And, of course, the Potter films are as import­ant to the British film industry as The Hobbit is to ours – hence why the final book in the saga has been, in a breath­tak­ing act of com­mer­cial cyn­icism, been split in to two block­buster films. If you were expect­ing any kind of con­clu­sion (sat­is­fact­ory or not) then you’ll have to wait until June. Maybe.

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Review: Water Whisperers/Tangaroa, Vampires Suck, The Other Guys and three more ...

By Cinema, Reviews

Water Whisperers posterMy big beef with most eco-documentaries is the lack of hope. Whether it’s Rob Stewart (Sharkwater), Franny Armstrong (The Age of Stupid) or even Leonardo DiCaprio (The 11th Hour) most of these films go to a lot of trouble to tell you what’s wrong with the plan­et but leave us feel­ing help­less and depressed.

That’s why I like Kathleen Gallagher’s work so much. Her film last year, Earth Whisperers/Papatunauku told ten stor­ies of people who were mak­ing a dif­fer­ence, inspir­ing change and show­ing us that there are solu­tions as well as prob­lems. This year she has repeated the ton­ic, focus­ing on our water­ways and our rela­tion­ship with the sea: Water Whisperers/Tangaroa.

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Review: Where the Wild Things Are, The Informant!, The Time Traveller’s Wife, Zombieland and The Cake Eaters

By Cinema, Reviews

Is it too early to sug­gest that we might be liv­ing in a golden age of cinema? Think of the film­makers work­ing in the com­mer­cial realm these days who have dis­tinct­ive voices, thrill­ing visu­al sens­ib­il­it­ies, sol­id intel­lec­tu­al (and often mor­al) found­a­tions, a pas­sion for com­bin­ing enter­tain­ment with some­thing more – along with an abid­ing love of cinema in all its strange and won­der­ful forms.

I’m think­ing of the Coens, obvi­ously, but also Peter Jackson (and protégé Neill Blomkamp), Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire), Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz and the forth­com­ing Scott Pilgrim), Jason Reitman (Juno and January’s Up in the Air), Guillermo Del Toro (work­ing hard on The Hobbit in Miramar), and even Tarantino is still pro­du­cing the goods. This week we are lucky enough to get new work from two oth­ers who should be in that list: Spike Jonze and Steven Soderbergh.

Jonze made his name with oddball stor­ies like Being John Malkovich and Adaptation and the first thing you notice about his inter­pret­a­tion of the beloved Maurice Sendak children’s book, Where the Wild Things Are, is that it simply doesn’t resemble any­thing else you’ve ever seen. With the help of writer Dave Eggers (the nov­el “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius”, Away We Go) he has used the book as a start­ing point for a beau­ti­ful and sens­it­ive med­it­a­tion on what it is like to be a child (a boy child specifically).

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