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toy story Archives - Funerals & Snakes

Review: Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Horrible Bosses and Larry Crowne

By Cinema and Reviews

Rise of the Planet of the Apes posterBack in 1968 the world was amazed to see a simian-looking creature displaying rudimentary (and yet clearly) human qualities. But enough about my birth, I’m here to talk about Planet of the Apes, the nightmarish vision of a world turned upside down: apes that speak, humans that are mute and enslaved, orangutans doing “science”. And of course, the big shock back then was that “it was Earth all along” — we’d caused this catastrophe ourselves with our environmental pig-headedness and our nuclear arrogance. The success of that blisteringly effective original prompted several sequels to diminished effect — although the sight (in Beneath the Planet of the Apes) of Charlton Heston pushing the final atomic button to destroy the planet in disgust at the whole sorry mess was seared on to my childhood brain forever.

In 2001 the series got the re-boot treatment courtesy of Tim Burton, a miscast Mark Wahlberg (when is he ever not?) and the final triumphant display of latex ape mask technology. Now the apes are back and there’s no sign of rubber anywhere to be found — except in some of the human performances perhaps. Rise of the Planet of the Apes serves as a prequel to the Burton film rather than a total from scratch effort — although there’s no equivalent in the original series — and the film does a terrific job of setting up a story that many of us already know as well as fondly honouring many details from the original series.

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Review: There Once Was an Island, Bad Teacher, Cars 2, The Reluctant Infidel and My Afternoons with Margueritte

By Cinema and Reviews

There Once Was an Island posterWhen I first visited this country back in 1982 we flew across the Pacific Ocean in daylight and from my window seat I got a birds eye view of … not very much. Lots of flat blue uninterrupted sea, not even so much a rusty tramp steamer to break the monotony. No wonder they usually do this leg in the dark, I thought.

Once I got here I understood that there was a lot going on down there on many tiny speckled islands and atolls — and the richness of the Pacific and its relationship to New Zealand was just one of the reasons why I’m still here all these years later — but now the creeping specter of global warming is transforming the Pacific into the pristine environment I thought I saw all those years ago — unsullied by coral, sand, taro or people.

This process is already well under way as Briar March’s astounding documentary There Once was an Island illustrates. In 2006 Ms. March and a tiny crew spent several months on Takuu, a remote atoll overseen by the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG), serviced and supported by a rare and irregular shipping service and short wave radio. Even then the waves were lapping at the edge of peoples’ homes and the ABG offer of a haven among the mainland sugar plantations effectively meant asking 4000 people to say goodbye to their entire way of life.

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Review: 127 Hours, Gnomeo & Juliet, No Strings Attached and Fair Game

By Cinema and Reviews

127 Hours posterDanny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire was my film of the year for 2009 — a potent and punchy roller-coaster ride of a film that made everything for months afterwards seem quaintly old-fashioned. His new film, 127 Hours, doesn’t break the mould to quite the same degree but does feature similar stylistic effects: messing with time and structure, split-screens, domineering soundtrack, etc.

The new film is also an adaptation of previously existing material, Aron Ralston’s memoir “Between a Rock and a Hard Place”, and once again Boyle has collaborated with screenwriter Simon Beaufoy (notorious in New Zealand for The Full Monty). Ralston (played by James Franco) was an engineer by trade but an outdoorsman by inclination and he loved to roam the Utah canyons on bike and on foot. In 2003 he fall into a narrow ravine and his right arm was trapped by a boulder. He was there for five days before realising that the only way he was going to walk out was if he left the arm behind.

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Review: Toy Story 3, The Twilight Saga- Eclipse, Marmaduke & Me and Orson Welles

By Cinema and Reviews

For those readers tuned into these things, clear evidence emerged this week of the ‘end of days’ and our impending annihilation — culturally at least.

Simply put, Twilight: Eclipse is playing around three times as many sessions in Wellington cinemas this school holidays as Toy Story 3, despite the latter being demonstrably superior fare in every conceivable way. It was pretty depressing to check the papers last week to see that TS3 was only getting one Embassy session (in the matinée ghetto) as opposed to Eclipse’s four. It’s enough to make one wish for a friendly wall to bang one’s head upon.

Toy Story 3 posterIs Toy Story 3 that good? Yes, it is. In fact, I would venture the slightly dangerous opinion that if there’s a film in the Film Festival this year as good as Toy Story 3 then I will be very, very surprised.

The last couple of Pixar films reviewed in these pages have been gently chided for falling away in the third act — failing to maintain their genius right through to the end. No such problems occur with TS3. It stays on course, continuing to illuminate character and action with deft, surprising and eerily appropriate plot turns.

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Review: Shutter Island, Bright Star, Did You Hear About the Morgans?, Masquerades, Toy Story 3D and Crazy Heart

By Cinema, Reviews and Screenwriting

There’s something very odd about the opening scenes in Shutter Island and it takes the entire film for you to put your finger on it. Shots don’t match between cuts, there’s a stilted quality to the dialogue (too much exposition for a Martin Scorsese movie) and the pacing is off. For a while I found myself wondering whether Marty had lost the immense influence of his great editor Thelma Schoonmaker, but there she is, still in the credits, as she has been for Scorsese since Raging Bull.

Several years ago, Scorsese played a practical joke on me (personally, it felt like at the time) when an entire reel of The Aviator was treated to look like faded 1930s Technicolor – I went to the Embassy counter to complain and felt very sheepish to be told by Oscar, the projectionist, that the director meant it that way. So, this time around I decided to trust the maestro and roll with the strangeness and was rewarded with one of the best (and cleverest) psychological thrillers in many a year.

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