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twilight Archives - Page 2 of 3 - Funerals & Snakes

Review: Zookeeper, What’s Your Number?, Abduction, Chalet Girl and The Round Up

By Cinema and Reviews

The Rugby World Cup was supposed to be a boon for the whole economy, the thousands of excited guests soaking up our food, wine, culture and hospitality. Ask any cinema (or theatre) owner what’s really happening and you’ll get the inconvenient truth — the Rugby World Cup itself is soaking up all the attention and most of the dollars. For at least one cinema owner numbers are down 30–40% on this time last year. This shouldn’t be news — even in my day running the Paramount we knew that a Saturday night All Black game meant it was hardly worth opening — a 7.30 kick-off killed your two best two sessions.

Night rugby has been a disaster for everybody except Sky TV and the bars that show it. At least in the days of afternoon games people could watch their team and go out for dinner and a movie afterwards — the interests of whole families could be accommodated. Those days appear to be long gone.

This week we see that New Zealand’s film distributors have thrown in the towel and dumped the year’s worst product in a week no one was going to the pictures anyway. For my sins I sat (mostly) alone in picture theatres all over the city to help you decide how best to (cinematically) escape Dan Carter’s groin.

Zookeeper posterTo be fair to Zookeeper, I was far from alone at the Saturday matinée screening — it seems portly comedian Kevin James (Paul Blart: Mall Cop) is a popular figure here in New Zealand. In The Dilemma he showed that there’s some nascent dramatic talent lurking beneath the lazy choices he’s been making but there’s no sign of it here. James plays a lonely but caring Boston zookeeper who thinks that his smelly occupation is holding him back, romantically-speaking.

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Review: Water for Elephants, From Time to Time, Burke & Hare, Catfish, Reflections of the Past, Hoodwinked Too and 3D Sex and Zen

By Cinema and Reviews

Water for Elephants posterSomeone described melodrama to me the other day as “unearned emotion” and that’s a helpful way to look at a few of this week’s offerings. Firstly the glossy adaptation of Sara Gruen’s bestselling novel of romance and tragedy at the circus, Water for Elephants. Twilight’s Robert Pattinson plays veterinary student Jacob who, after the death of his parents, runs away to join Christoph Waltz’s struggling Depression-era circus. There he falls in love with Waltz’s downtrodden but beautiful wife Reese Witherspoon (and also Rosie the downtrodden but beautiful new elephant).

Director Francis Lawrence makes a token attempt to show us the gritty and desperate side of Depression life but in the end the high fructose corn syrup of traditional Hollywood romance smothers everything. Pattinson remains dead behind the eyes as always, Witherspoon fails to convince as an acrobat and Waltz repeats his Oscar-winning psychopathic Nazi from Inglourious Basterds only without the great Tarantino dialogue.

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Review: Get Low, My Wedding and Other Secrets, Limitless, Battle Los Angeles, Force of Nature and Red Riding Hood

By Cinema and Reviews

Regular and attentive readers to this column will know that I heartily endorse membership of the Film Society as the best value cinema-going in town. For example, a few weeks ago this year members (and prospective members) were treated to a sneak preview of a lovely little film not yet released to the general public.

Get Low posterGet Low is the kind of film that gets made all too rarely these days: a thoughtful, detailed, slow paced meditation on character and personal history. It’s a drama, but with plenty of amusing moments, and it’s a showcase for two great screen actors — two actors who spend far to much of their time these days repeating old performances but here they prove that they’ve still got it when it counts.

Screen legend Robert Duvall (The Godfather, Apocalypse Now) plays Felix Bush, a lonely hermit living in Tennessee in the 1930s. Unkempt and irascible, the locals steer well clear because of his dangerous reputation and that’s just the way he seems to like it. But something is eating away at him and he decides to throw a party — a funeral party for himself so that people can tell their stories about him to his face and, maybe, he can tell one or two of his own. He enlists the help of local undertaker Bill Murray and, with the help of his assistant (Lucas Black), the old man gets a chance to set some records straight.

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Review: Saw VII (3D), Hall Pass, I Am Number Four and The Adjustment Bureau

By Cinema and Reviews

If aliens have been looking down on Earth, watching us with love and amusement over the last few million years (as so many movies have told us they are), they will surely be very worried about recent developments in our culture and what it all means for us as a species. I know I am.

Saw 3D posterOn the surface, the cinematic trend towards “torture porn” films like Hostel and Saw — and their even more dismal cousin The Collector — betrays a weird human human ability to take pleasure in the extreme pain of others that is at odds with how we most of us actually live our lives. I’m curious. What does it all mean?

This was the question I found myself asking as I watched Kevin Greutart’s Saw VII on Saturday afternoon (I say “watched” as, per usual, I found myself staring at the cinema EXIT signs during the more gruesome passages). On closer inspection it’s clear that what we have here is an Old Testament-style morality tale, updated for the attention-deficit, sensation-seeking, modern generation.

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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: Water Whisperers/Tangaroa, Vampires Suck, The Other Guys and three more ...

By Cinema and Reviews

Water Whisperers posterMy big beef with most eco-documentaries is the lack of hope. Whether it’s Rob Stewart (Sharkwater), Franny Armstrong (The Age of Stupid) or even Leonardo DiCaprio (The 11th Hour) most of these films go to a lot of trouble to tell you what’s wrong with the planet but leave us feeling helpless and depressed.

That’s why I like Kathleen Gallagher’s work so much. Her film last year, Earth Whisperers/Papatunauku told ten stories of people who were making a difference, inspiring change and showing us that there are solutions as well as problems. This year she has repeated the tonic, focusing on our waterways and our relationship with the sea: Water Whisperers/Tangaroa.

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