Predestination (2014) – Trailer Review

August 24, 2014 at 5:45 am | Posted in Film Trailer Review | Leave a comment
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I went to see the first episode of Dr Who with Peter Capaldi in the starring role, and one of the trailers was for Predestination.

For once, the trailer matched the feature.

Predestination looks like a film about a rookie (Sarah Snook) time cop who needs to makes his bones – under the watchful eye of a veteran (Ethan Hawke).

Would you kill someone if they were going to bomb 1000’s of people?

It looks promising.


Ticket to Ride

June 13, 2014 at 3:05 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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Another year, another Warren Miller ski movie; winter is here; the ski season is almost upon us – in the southern Hemisphere.

Two standout segments: the incredible cheesy ninja segment; and the young lady skiing down a mountain in Greenland dressed in a pink one-piece swimsuit (all the way to a hot tub)!

This year’s movie is much like previous movies – ‘guys’ and ‘gals’ doing amazing things in amazing snowy places. Though I am noticing a growing theme: patriotism and climate change. This is the second year in a row with some footage featuring returned service men and a growing recognition of climate change. Of course climate change negatively affects snow sports – so just like hunters make for reasonable conservators, so skiers (and snowboarders) are keen to preserve snowy climate systems. Maybe if enough snow sports people band together, we can make a positive contribution to the climate change debate.

Hyde Park on Hudson

March 30, 2013 at 10:03 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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I went to see this the other night because, generally historical pieces interest me. I was also curious to see how Bill Murray would handle the part of FDR (Franklin D. Roosevelt – 32nd President of the United States of America).

He, Murray, did a very good job.

The film is centered around the visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to FDR’s mother’s house in up state New York just prior to World War II. The result of this visit would affect the course of history – the visit went well and America aided Britain in the War.

Times were different: no big entourages, little security (one stick of Fallschirmjäger and World War II might have had a very different outcome), and respect for privacy. The King and Queen have one one to advise them of to ‘interface’ with the Roosevelt household. There are four motorcycles around the Royal couple; Roosevelt drives himself, followed by a single local police car (no sign of a Secret Service detail, even though they started guarding the President after 1901). The Press never photographed FDR’s braces, being carried, or in any pose that might suggest he had been affected by polio. The Press never photographed FDR’s mistresses, or him with them.

The film explored his seemingly complex relationship with the women in his life.

The film is seen through the eyes of Daisy – a 5th cousin of FDR. The wider Roosevelt clan is well established in the Hudson Valley, and Daisy’s visits to distract FDR from his burdens, moves from tea to something much more intimate. This is a very disturbing element of the film: FDR’s mother seems to have procured Daisy for her son. Daisy’s relationship with FDR seems to be a closely held secret until after her death. Laura Linney is Daisy; and brings a naive innocence to the role. It turns out that FDR ha more than one mistress at a time – it is why he and his wife do not live in the same house!

Otherwise a gentle film set in another time and place: suitable for those seeking a gentle film with a bit of historical accuracy.

Source Code

May 15, 2011 at 12:45 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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I went to see Source Code the other day – curious to see how it would handle the central “ground hog day” premise.

Jake Gyllenhaal is Captain Colter Stevens, a US helicopter pilot ‘in Afghanistan’. But who seems to be trapped in a capsule, where the only means of communication is a video link to a mysterious (US Air Force) Captain Goodwin – played by Vera Farma.

The Air Force has some secret project that sends someone’s consciousness backwards in time – Stevens is that someone and Goodwin is his controller. Steven’s mission is to find out the identity of the person who put a bomb on a train. The only catch is that Stevens arrives just eight minutes before the bomb kills everyone on the train (including his ‘host’). But ‘they’ can, and do, send him back as many times as it takes; or until the nuclear bomb, that the train bomber has threaten Chicago with, goes off.

The whole science behind the project is implausible – but the usual suspension of belief gets one through.

Stevens strikes up a relationship with Christina – played by Michelle Monaghan – on the train. Christina is a regular commuter – along with Steven’s host – and Steven eventually falls in love with her.

Stevens must find the identity of the bomber and find a way to save Christina (and all of the people on the train), and spend the rest of his life with Christina. Stevens is very focused on ‘not leaving friends and comrades behind.’ Christina represents something good – someone to spend one’s last moments with (forever).

Goodwin is driven to find the bomber and save Chicago, and she must build a relationship with Stevens to keep him focused on the mission, and along the way they develop a mutual understanding. The film and Goodwin are time constrained as to how to build this relationship, and it ends up with Stevens recalling Hot LZs at night. Farma does a good job in a difficult role.

Stevens dies over and over again, each time he uncovers another clue, or overcomes an obstacle.

As to whether Stevens can save anyone on the train, that depends on whether it is a time machine or a portal to a parallel universe or something else.

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

September 29, 2010 at 8:39 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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I never saw the prequel, but I though it might be interesting.

It certainly explains the causes of and the current global financial recession very well, and for this alone, it is worth seeing the film.

Gordon Gecko, played by Michael Douglas, is the inside trader from yesteryear, released from federal prison, in upstate New York. You are never sure if he is reformed or just trying to get back into the game. We find out at the end.

There is host of shady dealers and bankers.

Shia LaBeouf and Carey Mulligan play the main characters. They are engaged; Winnie (Mulligan) is Gecko’s estranged daughter; and Jake (Labeouf) is her fiance. Jake is an investment banker. Winnie runs a not-for-profit news web site, and has a million dollar trust fund that her dad wants (back).

The move takes place at the tail end of the recession. Jake’s bank collapses, and as he tries to stay afloat and strike back at the bank that took down his, we see him discover his powers and the way the world really is. Winnie leave him.

In some respects this is a master-and-the-apprentice movie. Though at times it is not clear who is the master: Gordon or clearly sleazy Bretton James (played by Josh Brolin).

The end is a little unsatisfactory – Gecko reforms, and he gets back with Winnie, and she gets back with Jake.

The Expendables

September 29, 2010 at 8:11 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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I saw the trailer I decided that this was a ‘must see’.

The ‘Expendables’ are a small team of mercenaries played by a dream team of action actors: Slyvester Stalone, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Jason Statham, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger! In the end it was hard to give each ‘star’ enough time in only 113 minutes !!!!

Giselle Itié provides a hint of romance, plays the good icon. She offers up some good contrast to Eric Roberts – who plays the bad icon, and to David Zayas – who plays the paper-tiger icon.

The film is a series of very well choreographed fight scenes. These are interspersed with some character scenes where the guys show off their tender sides – Lundgren like you have never seen him! The best is the brief by-play between Stalone and Schwarzenegger.

In the end good triumphs over evil, or in this case the CIA – or is it a rogue CIA element.

I expected a little too much – the Seven Samuri are hard act to follow. But it is very watchable, particularly if you like any of the dream team. Warning: Willis and Schwarzenegger don’t have much air face time.

District 9

September 18, 2009 at 1:43 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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Warning: plot elements revealed.

September 13, 2009 by

Film Hanger

Paper Hanger Blog
New Zealand

It is set in a ‘near future’ Johannesberg, South Africa. Where an huge Alien spaceship has floated above the city for 20 years. Where for 20 years the million plus (and multiplying) crew/passengers have lived in District 9 – in one massive ghetto. The film holds up a mirror for South Africa and the world.

Yes, the Aliens are treated very badly; and are being cleared out of their shanties to a new place – District 10 – where they can be better looked after – or is that controlled? (and where they can make the sequel); “you don’t want to be there it is like a concentration camp” – as if District 9 isn’t one already.

Humans can’t work any of the Alien technology; because, the equipment is keyed to DNA/biology. Yet, there are big business interests who are becoming increasingly frustrated at the delay in exploiting the Alien technology.

Into all of this steps Wikus Van De Merwe (superbly played by Sharlto Copley) – a mild mannered civil servant. What happens to him and the events that unfold around him will change the status quo and forms the film.

I am glad that I have watched all of the Aliens, Mad Max and Starship Trooper movies, they prepared me nicely – inured me – for the splatter elements in this movie. It is a good movie – but very violent. Neill Blomkamp has done a good job with the directing.

There might be a sequel – District 10. Events are set up nicely for one, with Wikus missing, his manipulative father-in-law still on the scene, and promises made by the aliens.


Mamma Mia

July 25, 2008 at 12:53 am | Posted in Film Review | 1 Comment
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Or rather Poppa Mia – since it is about a young women’s search for her true father.

I went to see the film of the stage musical Mamma Mia – which seems to re-use every ABBA song ever.

July 22, 2008 by

Film Hanger

Paper Hanger Blog
New Zealand

This film is a must see for ABBA fans; ABBA’s music is cleverly re-cast to tell the story of a young 20 year old woman – Sophie played by Amanda SiegFried – searching for herself. It is set on an incredibly picturesque Greek island – that must have been especially built by the Greek tourism commission.

Sophie is about to get married and after coming across one of her mother’s old diaries, she secretly invites the three men who could be her father to the wedding: Stellan Skarsgård, Pierce Brosnan, and Colin Firth duly turn up. I am not going to bother giving their characters’ names, because their star quality just powers through the plot!

This comes as a unwanted surprise to Sophie’s mother – played by Meryl Streep. Two of her old friends – played by Julie Walters and Christine Baranski – who have proper invitations help to balance out the sexual dynamics. Once again I won’t bother giving their characters’ names, because their star quality just shines through!

The storyline is appealing: young woman searching for her father, but really searching for herself. Minor threads include: single parenthood; love that lasts a 20 year separation; and being true to yourself.

The music was wonderful; the singing was patchy: the mum, aunts and dads were not great singers, but hey, it was sunny and it didn’t get in the way of the story being told.

The dancing was nice. As someone said to me afterwards: “It is a bollywood movie with white people!” Who can turn down the cygnet dance done by four men wearing flippers! Did Meryl Streep really do the cossack unassisted off the bed?

The flow of the movie was a little stilted – stop start – due to the need to work in or set up the lines of the next song. This is where the movie betrayed its beginnings as a stage musical. But it did not really matter – the music and scenery carried all before it!!

The only thing that did not work, for me, was the visual age of the dads, aunts and the mother. Amanda SiegFried looks 20, but for me the others looked more like six grandparents. Still good on them for putting themselves outside of their genres.

I think that between them Christine Baranski and Julie Walters nearly ‘stole’ the movie.

They must have really enjoyed themselves making the movie – imagine getting paid to hang around on a sunny Greek island.


In some ways, this is long ad. for Mamma Mia the stage musical ! I will certainly go if given a chance !! I might even buy the sound track if it comes out.

The Golden Compass

January 11, 2008 at 10:30 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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An Alethiometer – it tells the truth. This review contains spoilers.

Jan 11, 2008 by

Film Hanger

Paper Hanger Blog
New Zealand

The film is based on Northern Lights – the first book in Philip Pulman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. I have not read the books, but I might be tempted – just to see how much they changed. Chris Weitz was the director.

The first chunk of the film sets up the story for the first book/film and the sequels. It got a little tedious. It was fascinating to consider a world where people (a) have souls, and (b) these souls have their own physical manifestations, and act more like a close companion.

Inspired decision to cast Nicole Kidman in the role of “Mrs Coulter” – the trouble shooter for Magisterium. The Magisterium is an example of the kind of government you can end up with when there is no separation between religion and civic government; they are not the good guys! Consequently, Mrs Coutler is at best a grey character – all the more fitting that she is played as pale skinned blonde haired woman who wear pale/light colours. Mrs Coulter is bright in a grey world; she is an assertive woman in a man’s world; she is ruthless. For me, she stole the movie !

The heroine is actually Lyra Belacqua – played by newcomer Dakota Blue Richards. She has to rescue some children that the nasty Magisterium is conducting experiments on.

Between them, these two are the movie. Yes, there are lots of other characters – most notable, is somekind of polar bear. But they are just there to move the plot along and give Lyra and Mrs Coulter points to engage with. One of the reasons they engage so well, is that Lyra is not an orphan living with her uncle after all; she is actually living with her father, and Mrs Coulter, is actually Lyra’s mother. Presumably the parents split up when ‘uncle’ Lord Asriel (Daniel Craig) had a falling out over scientific and polictical philosophy with Mrs Coulter. In many subtle ways, mother and daughter are alike – they are both: fearless, manipulative, willing to be frugal with truth, not unwilling to do what needs to be done, and resourceful. Daniel Craig is hopelessly under utilised – maybe he has a bigger role in the sequels.

The alethiometer – golden compass – is the major plot device for moving Lyra around and getting her into and out of trouble. It turns out that not everyone can use it.

The last part of the movie was really disappointing. There is a long segment after the climax that has no entertainment value – it just seems to set you up for the sequel. It had the effect of making the film seem like half a film; you just know that there is more story to come. It really pulls the rug out from under the film.

An interesting question that popped into my head, as I watched Mrs Coulter and Lyrac lie and manipulate: when is it, if ever, alright to do such things?


National Treasure : Book of Secrets

January 9, 2008 at 12:00 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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Just been to see this film.

Jan 9, 2008 by

Film Hanger

Paper Hanger Blog
New Zealand

The film is the continuing adventures of treasure hunter Bejamin Franklin Gates (Nicolas Cage), his on-again-off-again girlfriend Abigail (Diane Kruger), his side-kick Riley (Justin Bartha), his father Patrick (Jon Voight). This time we are introduced to his mother ! – Emily Appleton, played by Helen Mirren!!

Asside from the injection of Helen Mirren, it all seemed a bit formula. The Gates family name needs to be cleared, and before you know it, we off on a treasure hunt. There is the usual car chase and Riley gets a little character development.

I have to confess that I am a Helen Mirren fan, and felt those scenes with her were definitely the better ones!! At 60+ she is still attractive and gives her character a fullness that some the other minor characters lacked.


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