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willem dafoe Archives - Funerals & Snakes

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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Review: The Blind Side, The Book of Eli, Antichrist & Letters to Juliet

By Cinema and Reviews

God is in the house this week. He turns up in the values of a wealthy Tennessee family who adopt a poor black kid and turn him into a champion, He features in a big leather book carried across a post-apocalyptic America by enigmatic Denzel Washington, and He is notable for His absence in a Lars von Trier shocker that is unlike anything you will have seen before or see since.

First, the good version. Based on a best selling book by Michael Lewis, The Blind Side would not have made it New Zealand screens if it wasn’t for Sandra Bullock’s surprise Oscar win earlier this year and it’s easy to see why distributors might have left it on the shelf. Personally, I’m glad they didn’t. My companion had no knowledge of, or affinity for, American Football or the complex and baffling college sports structure and was, therefore, a bit left out of a story that managed to push all my buttons fairly effortlessly.

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Review: Daybreakers, Hot Tub Time Machine, Genova and The Necessities of Life

By Cinema and Reviews

I am sick of vampires. Sick to death. As a great philosopher once said, “What is point, vampires?” and I have to concur. They’re everywhere you seem to turn thses days and the most boring of the lot (the Twilight mob) are back in June to bore us all to death once again.

Daybreakers posterSo, my heart sank a little when I saw the trailers for Daybreakers, an Aussie horror about a world controlled by vampires, hunting and farming the remaining humans for their plasma. One of the pleasures of this gig is when the surprises are pleasant and Daybreakers definitely turned into one of those. Tightly wound and (for the most part) logically sound, the tyres have been well and truly kicked on the premise before the cameras (and digital compositors and Weta mask makers) got involved.

Ethan Hawke plays the Chief Blood Scientist for the big corporation that provides most of the world’s supply. Ten years earlier, an infected bat caused an epidemic which rendered most of the population undead — a few, like CEO Sam Neill went willingly when faced with the offer of immortality. Hawke is working on a substitute — he’s vegetarian in a human blood kind of way — and supplies for everyone are running low. When a renegade bunch of humans (led by Willem Dafoe) tell him about a possible cure he is forced to choose between his boss, his human-hunter brother and what’s left of his humanity.

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Review: It’s Complicated, Cirque du freak: The Vampire’s Assistant & Astro Boy

By Cinema and Reviews

It's Complicated posterThe first thing you need to know about It’s Complicated is that it isn’t very complicated at all. The plot, the characters, the gags (dear God, especially the gags) are all perfectly comprehensible — even to those of us with only modest intellectual faculties. Rest assured, at no point will anyone be talking over your head in this one.

Nancy Meyer’s previous film was The Holiday, which easily remains in the bottom ten of the 1200+ films I have reviewed in these pages, so It’s Complicated earns a single point for not being that bad, but that’s where I run out of positives.

Meryl Streep plays Jane, successful baker and businesswoman, who has a drunken one-night-stand with her rogue-ish ex-husband, played by Alec Baldwin. He thinks that they should try again. She isn’t so sure — mainly because he is now married to the woman he left her for ten years earlier and she really doesn’t want to be the “other woman” to the “other woman”.

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