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toa fraser Archives - Funerals & Snakes

RN 2/1.1: Soul Boys and Dead Lands

By Audio, Cinema, Rancho Notorious and Reviews

Special guest host (and exec producer) Tony Pratt joins us for an epic start to Season Two, so big that it has to be split into two parts. Part One features interviews with Spandau Ballet’s Martin Kemp, The Dead Lands director Toa Fraser and a review of the comedy This is Where I Leave You starring Justin Bateman and Tina Fey.

Show Notes are coming after we post Part Two on Monday. Sorry…

RN 1/13: “You say you want a revolution...”

By Audio, Cinema, Rancho Notorious and Reviews

Kailey is in Toronto, Dan is in rainy Wellington and between them they review Kelly Reichardt’s “thriller” Night Moves and the dystopian nightmare of The Giver starring Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges and some kids, plus Robin Wright playing several versions of herself in Ari Folman’s The Congress.

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Elysium poster

Review: Elysium, Stoker, We’re the Millers, The Heat, Giselle, Private Peaceful, Reality and Now You See Me

By Cinema and Reviews

Matt Damon in Neil Blomkamp's Elysium (2013).

With this year’s festival now a rapidly diminishing memory — and my recovery from that event (plus another magazine published, some “live” podcast recordings, a few Q&A’s, some director interviews and a Big Screen Symposium) almost complete — I return to the commercial cinema and what do I find? Twenty-three new films have been released since my last set of reviews. Twenty-three! I only turned my back for a second. So, bear with me while I try and do some catching up. Some of these films deserve more space than they are going to get here (and some of them don’t) but you can’t have everything, am I right?

Elysium poster[pullquote]R‑rated these days appears to mean lots of unnecessary cursing and comic male nudity.[/pullquote]Neill Blomkamp’s District 9 was a surprise smash-hit in 2009 and his follow-up, Elysium, is what we call ‘eagerly awaited’. Watching it I was reminded of the great strengths of that first film: a vividly created future society, dysfunctional yet plausible; a great plot setup with a genuine dilemma for the central character. Then I remembered the third act of District 9 — one long fight/chase/fight. And so it proves with Elysium. Wasted potential as — like so many films this year — the film is resolved by who can punch harder rather than who can think better. I have lots of other problems with it but that’s the main one.

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Review: Dean Spanley, Big Stan, Zack and Miri Make a Porno and Welcome to the Sticks

By Cinema and Reviews

My favourite post-Oscars quote came from David Thomson in The Guardian: “When the Slumdog mob – Europeans and Indians, adults and kids – took the stage to claim the best picture Oscar, a landmark was being established which directly reflects America’s reduced place in the world.” And as if to illustrate that very point, this week Hollywood have offered us a piteous prison comedy called Big Stan and Zack and Miri Make a Porno. It’s like they aren’t even trying anymore.

Big Stan posterBig Stan is the debut feature by comic actor Rob Schneider, best-known for a pair of ghastly adult comedies featuring his hapless male prostitute alter-ego Deuce Bigelow. Schneider amazingly maintains a solid career (largely via the patronage of his great friend Adam Sandler) but there’s no satisfactory explanation for how he was let loose with a camera except that Hollywood is genuinely out of ideas.

Schneider plays a real estate con man who is convicted and sentenced to jail. Terrified at the prospect of imminent anal rape he enlists a martial arts master (David Carradine) to make him, er, impregnable. Like being punched in the swingers by an angry dwarf for 90 minutes.

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