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Review: Black Swan, The King’s Speech, The Fighter, Desert Flower, Unstoppable, Burlesque, Little Fockers, Green Hornet and The Hopes and Dreams of Gazza Snell

By Cinema, Reviews

Following up on the 2009 sur­prise hit The Wrestler, Darren Aronofsky has offered us anoth­er film about people who des­troy them­selves for our enter­tain­ment – this time in the rar­efied world of bal­let. Tiny Natalie Portman is plucked from the chor­us of the fic­tion­al but pres­ti­gi­ous New York City Ballet for the dream role of the Swan in a hot new pro­duc­tion. It’s the chance of a life­time but her fra­gile psy­cho­logy shows through in her per­form­ance even though her dan­cing is tech­nic­ally per­fect. Maestro Vincent Cassel tries to recon­struct her – as you would a first year drama school stu­dent – while dom­in­eer­ing stage moth­er Barbara Hershey is push­ing back in the oth­er dir­ec­tion. Something has to break and it does.

Black Swan is excep­tion­ally well made, beau­ti­ful and chal­len­ging to watch – and Portman’s per­form­ance is noth­ing short of amaz­ing – but films that aspire to great­ness need to be about some­thing more than, you know, what they’re about and once I’d decoded was going on I couldn’t see enough under the sur­face to jus­ti­fy the hype.

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Review: The Wrestler, Before the Rains, Transporter 3, Empties and The Last Great Snail Chase

By Cinema, Reviews

I’d like to think of Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler as a kind of grand meta­phor for America, a bank­rupt and exhausted old cul­ture, coast­ing to the fin­ish line on the fumes of former glor­ies, unable or unwill­ing to rein­vent itself des­pite every sig­nal telling it to change. In one, of sev­er­al, heart­break­ing scenes Mickey Rourke’s Randy “The Ram” takes his estranged daugh­ter to the aban­doned and derel­ict amuse­ments of Asbury Park where he hopes to rekindle memor­ies of hap­pi­er times but the moment of grace is short-lived. Of course, it may just be a film about a wrest­ler, I’ll give you that.

The Ram was a big star in the 80s when MTV and pro-wrestling col­lided, but now he lives in a trail­er and wrestles in school halls. And wrest­ling, too, has changed. It’s still show­busi­ness but now it’s degrad­ing and dehu­man­ising, the pub­lic bay­ing for even more blood and demand­ing ever great­er sacrifices.

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Preview: World Cinema Showcase

By Cinema, Wellington

Too late to be more than 50% use­ful to any­one, here’s my World Cinema Showcase preview:

As sum­mer gives way to autumn, and Daylight Saving Time gently releases its grip on our pri­or­it­ies, the first sig­ni­fic­ant film fest­iv­al of the year returns to take up res­id­ence at the Paramount. The World Cinema Showcase is two very tidy weeks of great filmgo­ing, almost as if the grand, winter, Festival has been dis­tilled down to a man­age­able essence.

Within, 33 fea­tures (and one omni­bus col­lec­tion of shorts) com­pete for your atten­tion and, luck­ily, the long Easter week­end allows you take full advant­age. A few of the titles were made avail­able to crit­ics as pre­views, but many more are on my list of films I simply must see on the big screen and, depend­ing on your tastes and interests, noth­ing is un-recommendable.

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