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Review: No, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, The Host and Hyde Park on Hudson

By Cinema and Reviews

Gael García Bernal in No by Pablo Larraín
No posterNo sounds like the kind of thing a toddler in the middle of a tantrum might say, while stomping around your lounge room at bedtime. At the cinema, though, the tantrum belongs to the corrupt dictatorship of Chile’s Augusto Pinochet, forced through international pressure to let others play in his sandpit. In 1988 he announced a referendum that would demonstrate — by fair means or foul — that the people loved him, weren’t interested in democracy and that those who thought different were nothing but communists and terrorists.

15 years after he and his military junta overthrew the legitimate left-leaning government of Salvador Allende, the question in the referendum would be a simple one: “Yes” to keep the dictatorship and “No” for a return to free elections. No, Pablo Larraín’s brilliant movie, looks at the campaign from the perspective of an ad guy — a Mad Man — played by Gael García Bernal, who harnessed the latest corporate sales techniques and the power of television to change the direction of a nation.

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Review: The Hobbit- An Unexpected Journey and Love Is All You Need

By Cinema and Reviews

The Hobbit: An Unoexpected Journey posterIt may be playing in cinemas but I’m not entirely convinced that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey — and, by extension, the forthcoming Desolation of Smaug and There and Back Again — is actually cinema. At least not cinema the way that this particular old geezer remembers it. First, let us put aside the technological innovation for a few paragraphs and focus on the story. These films have been been created to deliver an experience to existing fans of the Lord of the Rings films and is arguably even more tailored to their needs than, say, the Twilight franchise is to their fans. It certainly makes as few concessions to the neutral.

Fans from Bratislava to Beirut want to spend as much time as possible in Middle Earth and writer-director Peter Jackson delivers — to the extent that several familiar characters make inelegant cameo appearances and the audience gets to spend considerable time acclimatising. It really doesn’t matter that I think the whole thing faffs around for far too long and already feels hyper-extended. Criticising The Hobbit for length is falling in to the trap of reviewing the film you wish you were watching instead of the one in front of you.

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Review: Twilight- Breaking Dawn Part 2, Monsieur Lazhar, Delicacy, Diana Vreeland- The Eye Has to Travel and Electrick Children

By Cinema and Reviews

Twilight: Breaking Dawn part II posterMy friend Simon calls Twilight “Twiglet” but that’s pretty much the maximum amount of amusement that I’ve managed to derive from a franchise that I have never managed to appreciate. Actually, that’s not quite true. During the latest — and final — episode, Breaking Dawn Part 2, I did laugh long and hard at the arrival of the fiddle-dee-dee Irish vampires with their red hair and their tweed waistcoats, part of a motley band of multi-ethnic sparklers assembled to fight off the threat from the Vettori (or whatever they’re called).

The Vulturi, led by simpering Michael Sheen, want to destroy (or absorb) the dangerous hybrid child Renesmee, a terrifyingly unrealistic CGI baby supposedly born just before Kristen Stewart’s Bella was finally converted at the end of the previous film. Despite being able to travel at the speed of light they take their time getting to snowy Washington state, allowing the Cullen’s — and their werewolf neighbours — to formulate a plan.

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Review: The Hunger Games, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Hunter, 21 Jump Street, The Raid and In Search of Haydn

By Cinema and Reviews

Hunger Games posterOf all the massively successful franchise conversions from best-selling-books-that-I-haven’t‑read, I’m pleased to say that I like this Hunger Games film the best. I’ve been justifiably scornful of the Harry Potter films in these pages and downright disdainful of Twilight but — while still not reaching out much to me personally — I can say that Hunger Games actually succeeds much more on its own cinematic terms.

Jennifer Lawrence basically repeats her Academy Award-nominated turn from Winter’s Bone as a plucky Appalachian teen forced to risk everything to protect her young sister while her traumatised mother remains basically useless. In this film, though, the enemy isn’t toothless meth dealers but the full force of a fascist state where the 99% is enslaved in various “districts” and forced to produce whatever the decadent 1% back in Capitol City require in order to keep them in their Klaus Nomi-inspired makeup and hair.

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Cinematica: Bite Me!

By Audio, Cinema and Cinematica

Cinematica logoIt’s over a week since the last time I published a Cinematica podcast update and we’ve recorded and released two episodes since then.

Last week (22 November) we spoke to Gerard Smyth, director of When a City Falls about his documentary and life in shuddery Christchurch. You can listen to that episode here:

In that show we also eviscerate Twilight but talk up Project Nim.

Feel free to subscribe via iTunes (or if you are an Apple agnostic there’s a Feedburner subscription option), leave us feedback or ratings. There’s even a Facebook page where you can commune with other Cinematica fans — see the link to the right.