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the smurfs

Chris Hemsworth as James Hunt in Ron Howard's Rush (2013).

Review: Rush, Blancanieves, Mood Indigo, Metallica Through the Never, Planes, The Smurfs 2, Percy Jackson- Sea of Monsters and One Direction- This is Us

By Cinema and Reviews

Chris Hemsworth as James Hunt in Ron Howard's Rush (2013).

Firstly, I need to apo­lo­gise for the infre­quency of updates. Real world work has inter­vened. The res­ult is that this col­lec­tion of reviews will be even more curs­ory than usual.

Rush posterRon Howard’s Rush is a great show­case for Chris Hemsworth (Thor) to prove that he has some poten­tial bey­ond the com­ic book beef­cake. He plays British play­boy racing driver James Hunt with a per­fect lan­guid English accent and a rock star twinkle just fail­ing to hide his under­stand­able insec­ur­it­ies. Daniel Brühl as his on-track nemes­is Niki Lauda also does a cred­it­able job of mak­ing an unat­tract­ive char­ac­ter appeal­ing. Downsides are that the film is about 20 minutes too long and it’s the first 20 minutes that you could eas­ily lose. Peter Morgan’s script is – unusu­ally for him – very by-the-numbers until the incit­ing incid­ent occurs after the halfway stage, also kick­ing Howard’s dir­ec­tion into gear.

Blancanieves posterBlancanieves was reportedly Roger Ebert’s final favour­ite film, added to his own fest­iv­al earli­er this year after only a hand­ful of screen­ings. As usu­al, Mr. Ebert’s taste did not let him down and the film should win over lov­ers of clas­sic cinema at least. Much closer to a genu­ine silent pic­ture than Oscar-winner The Artist’s pas­tiche, Blancanieves resets the Snow White legend to 1920s Spain with a back­ground of bull­fight­ing and intrigue. It’s lus­cious to look at and as romantic as any of the great vin­tage silents that inspired it, although view­ers with lower tol­er­ance for melo­drama and arch, high intens­ity per­form­ances may struggle to buy in.

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Introducing Cinematica (part one)

By Audio, Cinema and Cinematica

Things have been mighty busy around here although it might not be evid­ent in these pages. After elev­en years in the same Newtown flat I finally moved last week. To Newtown. So, a gen­tle­man of Newtown I remain.

Cinematica logo

Freelance work has picked up after a hor­ror start to the year and some of the pro­jects are prov­ing to be pretty excit­ing. One of those pro­jects is now ready to launch: Cinematica, a weekly movie review pod­cast that I pro­duce, edit and co-present with Simon Werry and Kailey Carruthers (from the Lighthouse Cinema chain).

We’ve recor­ded three epis­odes and they are all avail­able now on iTunes and via the snazzy new web­site, cinematica.co.nz (made by Ocular in Lyall Bay).

We record the show weekly (Tuesday even­ings) and review every NZ new release as well as inter­view spe­cial guests. Over time, with sup­port from loc­al dis­trib­ut­ors, we hope to offer com­pet­i­tions, prizes, giveaways, etc. and maybe even pro­mote our own spe­cial screenings.

It’s early days, of course, and we need an audi­ence and their feed­back to take the show to the next level. We’d really appre­ci­ate it if you could give us an audi­tion, bet­ter still sub­scribe to us via the iTunes Store and then rate and review the show. That’s how we get bet­ter pos­i­tion­ing in the store and how we grow the audi­ence even more.

In a couple of weeks we will even start stream­ing the show live from Petone so listen­ers can con­trib­ute as it happens.

So. Exciting.

I’m par­tic­u­larly pleased with Episode 001 which fea­tures an inter­view with Tusi Tamasese, the writer/director of The Orator:

Review: Spy Kids 4D, The Smurfs, Johnny English Reborn, Real Steel, Footloose, The Orator, Norwegian Wood and the 2011 Italian Film Festival

By Cinema and Reviews

While thou­sands of protest­ors gath­er in Manhattan to “Occupy Wall St”, the European eco­nomy teeters on the brink of col­lapse, unem­ploy­ment across the developed world grows and sev­er­al Pacific island nations report short­ages of drink­ing water due to cli­mate change, here in New Zealand we con­tin­ue to party like it’s 1987 and at the pic­tures for the school hol­i­days we have the most blatant and des­per­ate examples of cor­por­at­ist “enter­tain­ment” I’ve ever seen lined up togeth­er. Is this the cinema equi­val­ent of fid­dling while Rome burns?

In The Smurfs the mega-sized Sony cor­por­a­tion makes sure that its name and products are nev­er very far from the centre of the screen, ren­der­ing the lumpy end product utterly charm­less. In Real Steel the product place­ment is more like product bom­bard­ment. Nothing goes without a logo – from Hugh Jackman’s sunglasses to HP (or are they still known as Hewlett-Packard?) spend­ing thou­sands of dol­lars to pro­mote products they don’t even make any­more. Meanwhile, the spies in Spy Kids 4 all use Apple products – although for the most part they are pre­tend­ing to be some­thing oth­er than com­puters and iPads.

Johnny English Reborn even goes so far as to make a joke out of its depend­ency on the rap­idly declin­ing cor­por­ate dol­lar – English’s beloved MI7 has changed it’s name to Toshiba MI7 while he was on an enforced sab­bat­ic­al. Whether the pres­ence of a sen­su­ously pho­to­graphed (and glow­ingly described) Rolls Royce will prompt the aver­age audi­ence mem­ber to trade in their fifteen-year-old Mazdas is neither here nor there. The fact remains that if you send your kids to the pic­tures this hol­i­days they will be indoc­trin­ated more than any gen­er­a­tion before them.

Spy Kids 4 posterBut are the films any good? Actually, yes, a couple of them are OK. I’m a big fan of Robert Rodriguez and his abil­ity to altern­ately churn out grown-up pulp like Machete and family-friendly fare like Shorts. His Troublemaker Studios in Austin knows how to make things look good (enough) on mod­est budgets and Rodriguez’ relent­lessly invent­ive ima­gin­a­tion keeps everything lively and fun. I thought Spy Kids 4 was endear­ing and it man­aged to deliv­er a good mes­sage along with the thrills and spills.

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