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Non-Review Review: Mandela – Long Walk to Freedom

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is very clearly a sentimental life-affirming true story, very clearly pitching itself as an upbeat and hopeful account of one of the most iconic statesmen of our time. A collection of all the “greatest hits” of Mandela’s struggle against oppression and hatred, Mandela is an efficiently calculated piece of cinema. It’s a grand sweeping historical epic that never really pulls back the layers of the character it examines, instead opting (mostly) to film the legend.

And it works. After all, what other world leader in the past half-century can lay claim to such an inspirational narrative? Nelson Mandela’s journey lends itself to this sort of optimistic and inspirational adaptation, and the subject is a comfortable fit for this sort of sweeping life-affirming whirl-wind exploration of Mandela’s personal history.

Courting public opinion...

Courting public opinion…

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Les Miserables Trailer

Just a quick one. The guys at Universal Pictures Ireland just sent on this trailer for Les Miserables, the next film from the Tom Hooper, the director of The King’s Speech. It features Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman… and Hugh Jackman’s great big bushy beard. All joking aside, I’m amazed that Hollywood hasn’t been quicker to adapt more of the more vintage or “classical” stage musicals. Sure, occasionally you end up with Phantom of the Opera, but I really enjoyed Sweeney Todd.

With films like Hairspray proving you can adapt a musical in a fun and sharp (and engaging) manner, there’s no reason to be afraid of the genre – if done right. And Hooper, I think, definitely has the elegant style necessary to transition a work like this from stage to screen. I’m quite curious about this one, and I like that it’s up front about being a musical – unlike the infamous Sweeney Todd trailer that made a point of cutting around the singing.

There Will Not Be Blood: Thoughts on Movie Ratings and a PC Culture…

I feel decidedly behind the times in writing this. After all, the gigantic scuffle over the MPAA’s rating of the documentary Bully seems to have resolved itself, with both the Weinstein company and the MPAA reaching a settlement that both can agree on to get the film distributed with a rating that won’t alienate its target audience. However, I can’t help but feel like this single case of compromise managed to avoid the heart of the issue at question. By allowing this single film to slip through the net, the censorship authority avoid an actual discussion on the role and obligations of a ratings authority. It’ll only be a matter of time before another controversy erupts, and that will undoubtedly be dealt with on its own terms as well, avoiding any actual debate or discussion about how censorship bodies rate particular films.

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Grand Larson-y: Nick Swardson and Being Critical of Comedies…

This type of thing happens every once in a while, to the point where it’s almost not really news at all. Kevin Smith took to twitter to lambast critics of his (admittedly) disappointing Cop Out, and studios have a habit of releasing potentially divisive films around critics (look at how they sold G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra). Nick Swardson, who has only come to my attention of late with a solid supporting role in the perfectly adequate but unexceptional 30 Minutes or Less, has taken to lashing out at the critics who didn’t respond especially favourably to Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star. He suggests:

I knew the critics were going to bury us. It was a softball. They were waiting, waiting to hate that movie. It’s kind of funny that they get their rocks off on reviews like that. They review The King’s Speech, then they review Bucky Larson.


It’s a lot of work and a lot of reviewers aren’t going into that movie to like it. They don’t want to like it. None of those reviewers was psyched to see Bucky Larson and laugh. They go in with the mentality, fuck these guys for making another movie. They go in there to kind of headhunt. It makes me laugh because it’s just so embarrassing. It makes them look like such morons. You can’t review Avatar then review Bucky Larson. Comedy is so subjective, you know what I mean? To sit there and technically pick it apart is so stupid. We’ve never made movies for critics, so we could give a f***.

There’s obviously more than a hint of bitterness (the last line is very much “well, we don’t care what they think!”), but does Swardson have a point about the difficulty of reviewing comedies?

Bucky bites back...

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5% Solution: Why the Oscars’ New First-Preference Rule is a Step in the Wrong Direction…

We’re officially out of the summer blockbuster season, which might lead you to believe that it was time for us film folk to have a bit of a rest. After all, we’ve been yammering on about “box office this” and “3D that” for quite some time now, and it makes sense we’d use the lull to compose ourselves. Of course, we can’t – it’s time to start Oscar-speculating. Because I’m situated in Ireland, there’s no point in me putting together a list of potential nominees, as it would just involve plagiarising countless individuals far more informed than myself. However, I have been thinking quite a bit about the latest amendment to the Academy’s infamous “ten nominees” amendment to their Best Picture nomination process: whereby every nominee will now be required to have at least 5% of the first preference votes. The more I think about it, the more I don’t like it.

Not quite the gold standard anymore?

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Long Live the King: The Appeal of the King’s Speech…

The King’s Speech was available to rent this weekend, and will go on sale next weekend. Indeed, it seems like perfect timing to release the DVD, what with all the press buzz about the monarchy this past week. It seems you can’t turn a corner without bumping into a newspaper vendor who is stocked up on tabloid promising exclusive looks at various aspects of the ceremony, or turn on the television without being subjected to a five-hour marathon of How to Marry a Prince. I’m not making that one up either, it’s actually a show running on Living HD. Yep. And I live in Ireland, a country that spent a significant amount of time trying to distance ourselves from the monarchy… imagine how overwhelming it might be if I was based in Britain. Still, it seems royalty has a very special appeal, at least based on the box office success of The King’s Speech and the viewing figures from the ceremony… so why, when most of the globe struggled to be free of this particular monarchy, are they so fascinating?

Colin all film fans!

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Critics Just Wanna Have Fun: Why I Dislike the “They Don’t Get It” Argument…

I like to think I am open minded. Just a few weeks ago, I published an article defending big budget blockbusters from their detractors. However, I find myself growing frequently frustrated when it comes to fans using the old “critics don’t like fun” argument to defend a given movie from any sort of meaningful debate and criticism. It happens a few times a year, most spectacularly with Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen back in 2009, but also this year with Sucker Punch. The film has received a critical lambasting, but fans are always quick to rush to the internet to critique the critics, claiming things like “they don’t get it” and “they don’t understand” or nonsense like that.

And, you know what? That’s just plain wrong.

Movie for suckers?

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