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LUKE BUCKMASTER | January 23, 2014 | NEWS & COMMENTARY | |

Up, up and away: this blog has moved

Crikey has launched a new culture website — and this blog has moved.

LUKE BUCKMASTER | November 15, 2013 | FILM REVIEWS | |

Bad Grandpa movie review: low, low, low-art

See itIs this worth it? Should I bother? At what point does the “low” in “low-art” stoop so low it no longer justifies serious analysis?

In Bad GrandpaJackass daredevil-cum-actor Johnny Knoxville, under a thick layer of makeup and prosthetics, plays a disgusting geriatric who goes on a series of drunken adventures with his 8-year-old grandson.

The incorrigible Irving Zisman (Knoxville) gets his penis caught in a vending machine, cracks onto young women and is wheeled around in a supermarket trolley as his dead wife gradually decomposes in his car trunk.

LUKE BUCKMASTER | November 05, 2013 | FILM REVIEWS | |

The Counselor: Ridley Scott breaks bad on the Tex-Mex border

See itAs if prompted by Oliver Stone’s cartel-themed drug drama Savages, in which Benicio del Toro gulped down co-star Blake Lively’s saliva and later likened it to fried chicken, fellow Hollywood heavyweight Ridley Scott breaks bad with another star-driven sun-baked story about dodgy deals and gnarly repercussions.

The Counselor is set on the Tex-Mex border, with Michael Fassbender headlining as a lawyer known only by his eponymous title. It’s unclear whether the language with which he is regarded — “hello Counselor,” “goodbye Counselor,” “thank you Counselor,” “‘scuse me Counselor — is intended to mark an Eastwood-like man with no name, duty bound and purpose driven, or is being used for ironic reasons.

Then again a lot is left willfully unclear in the debut screenplay of Cormac McCarthy, writer of Pulitzer-winning post-apocalyptic walkabout novel The Road and the literary source of the Coen brothers’ Oscar-winning manhunt drama No Country for Old Men (2007).

LUKE BUCKMASTER | October 29, 2013 | FILM REVIEWS | 7 |

Thor: The Dark World movie review: a superhero craptastrophy

Skip itThere are too many superhero movies! Hollywood is infantilising audiences! These days directors care more about action figurines than real characters!

Take a deep breath. Relax. And shut up.

While teenagers and young adults continue to inject windfalls of cash into the film industry — literally buying bucket loads of popcorn and snacks and investing heavily in ancillary markets such as VOD, DVD and video games — the argument continues that Tinseltown is pumping out way too many salt-burn superhero pics that are way too similar.

LUKE BUCKMASTER | October 29, 2013 | FILM REVIEWS | 5 |

Captain Phillips movie review: bus stops, billboards and HMS Hanks

See itPosters advertising high seas hostage drama Captain Phillips depict a close-up of Tom Hanks, prickly and unshaven, looking somberly ahead, a funereal glaze washing over his eyes.

Hanks’ name appears in bright red letters above the title. Its colour-matched to the words “based on a true story” which sit below a clump of squashed credits naming cast and crew, including the person who directed it: Paul Greengra-something-or-other.

It’s not his name that matters. “From the director of The Bourne Ultimatum” carries more currency with mainstream plebs and PR bootlickers, a line that hints at the old Hollywood dictum that you’re only as good as your last picture (or the last one the general public remember you for).

LUKE BUCKMASTER | October 20, 2013 | FILM REVIEWS | 3 |

About Time movie review: less rom-com, more tick-tock?

Don't rushIf you could go back in time whenever you liked, introduce yourself to the object of your affections again and again and keep refining your pick up moves until eventually this person fell for you, does that make you a romantic or a creep? Is it true love or an elaborate manipulation?

The protagonist in About Time, the latest syrup-lacquered rom-com from Love Actually and Bridget Jones’ Diary writer/director Richard Curtis, discovers at age 21 that if he retreats to a quiet place and clenches his fists he can zap himself back to the past and relive any moment of his life.

Father and mentor Bill Nighy advises him not to go crazy. Keep your goals modest, he says, correctly inferring the story about to unfold will not be the stuff of Sports Alamanacs, DeLoreans and tricked-up phone booths.

LUKE BUCKMASTER | October 19, 2013 | FILM REVIEWS | 1 |

Prisoners movie review: trapped in a maze of moral murkiness

See itIn Howard Suber’s screenwriting textbook The Power of Film, the UCLA lecturer argues there is no such thing as an antihero. Instead, there “are only characters who act heroically and those who do not.”

If we watch a person drive down a street, see a house on fire and run inside to rescue an elderly lady, we naturally bestow on them the status of a hero. If we watch a person drive down a street, see a house on fire, and respond by looking at their watch, grumbling and racing off to an appointment, he or she is not an antihero (so the logic goes) but simply a person who is not a hero yet.

That argument begins, if not to unravel, then certainly to enter far muddier territory when a character performs an otherwise unconscionable act because they believe it is in service of a wider moral imperative; muddier still if that moral imperative may not be obviously the “right” one. In other words, if a person believes they are doing awful things because they are acting heroically.

LUKE BUCKMASTER | October 18, 2013 | GIVEAWAYS | |

Win a double pass to About Time

Writer/director Richard Curtis’ time travel rom-com About Time is now playing in Australian cinemas. Cinetology has 10 in-season passes to give away, valid nation-wide.

LUKE BUCKMASTER | October 16, 2013 | INTERVIEWS | 1 |

‘Where the fuck were you?’ Interview with John Landis, director of The Blues Brothers & Three Amigos!

On the subject of business in Hollywood, veteran John Landis — director of classics such as The Blues Brothers, Three Amigos! and Animal House — pulls no punches.

LUKE BUCKMASTER | October 09, 2013 | FILM REVIEWS | |

Rush movie review: pole position for Ron Howard, the invisible auteur

See itThe real-life events that defined the headline-hogging animosity between Formula 1 racers James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl), whose public spats and fierce rivalry engrossed sports fans in the 1970s, is perfect fodder for dramatisation.

Ron Howard’s new movie Rush is a foot-to-the-pedal sports movie broad enough to appeal to non-petrol heads, such is the director’s middle of the road sensibilities. The 59-year-old filmmaker’s extensive body of work (A Beautiful Mind, Back Draft, The Da Vinci Code, Apollo 13Willow etc) suggests a genetic incapability to make niche pictures.

In a gift to dramatic convenience, Howard’s two main characters are polar opposites. Hunt is the handsome bad boy Englishman and Lauda, the disciplined Austrian who doesn’t like taking risks.

LUKE BUCKMASTER | October 04, 2013 | FILM REVIEWS | 3 |

Gravity movie review: a new space odyssey

See itIn Mexican writer/director Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men (2007), a science fiction drama set in a future world where humankind no longer has the ability to procreate, several elaborate long takes evolve the film from a visually impressive work to one of gut-punching bravado.

An engrossing three-and-a-half minute shot positioned inside a car captures the sudden death of a key character played by Julianne Moore, who is shot in the head by a bikie as Clive Owen hopelessly flaps about on the seat behind her.

Cuarón recently described this tremendous take as a “happy accident.” During filming, fake blood splattered on the lens. The director yelled “cut” but amid the roar of explosions and gunfire nobody heard him. The camera kept rolling and the footage was discovered in the editing room.

LUKE BUCKMASTER | October 03, 2013 | FILM REVIEWS | |

The Best Offer movie review: the finer points of fakery

Italian filmmaker Giuseppe Tornatore directs a perfectly cast Geoffrey Rush in this gloomy and deceptive film set in the industry of high-end art dealing.

LUKE BUCKMASTER | September 26, 2013 | FILM REVIEWS | 1 |

Stories We Tell movie review: basking in narrative confusion

See itAt first it feels like a vanity project: an elaborate exercise in navel-gazing from a famous actor convinced there must be something awfully important about her own middle class upbringing.

It is to the credit of Canadian actor/writer Sarah Polley that her debut documentary, Stories We Tell, evolves from a talking heads sit-down exploring family relations and the freewheeling personality of her late mother, Dianne (she died young, when Polley was 11), to something much more ambitious.

The film begins with a voiceover of a Margaret Atwood quote: “when you’re in the middle of a story, it isn’t a story at all, it’s a confusion.”

LUKE BUCKMASTER | September 20, 2013 | FILM REVIEWS | 2 |

Mood Indigo movie review: don’t cry for me, I’m already dead

Skip itThe films of Michel Gondry seem to germinate in a waking life, the detritus of a series of long naps from which the 50-year-old French director emerges, squinting at the daylight, with a fresh set of dreamy ideas.

Some of his films take a direct look at sleep and memory (The Science of Sleep, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). Others play kooky premises straight (Human Nature, Be Kind Rewind).

In Gondry’s latest head trip, Mood Indigo, you won’t blink when you see a four inch tall man dressed in a rat costume driving a tiny car. It’s that sort of film. Immediately afterwards, Gondry cuts to a man who puts on a tie by having it hammered into him with nails. The tie is alive (naturally) and flopping about like a fish drowning in oxygen.

LUKE BUCKMASTER | September 18, 2013 | NEWS & COMMENTARY | 3 |

So, Harvey Weinstein is coming to Australia. Here’s 5 things he can do to help us out

Legendary studio mogul Harvey “Scissorhands” Weinstein is coming to Australia. Here are five ways he can help the Australian film industry.

LUKE BUCKMASTER | September 15, 2013 | FILM REVIEWS | 3 |

Blue Jasmine movie review: dramatic masterclass c/o Woody Allen and Cate Blanchett

See itIn James L. Brooks’ 1997 romantic comedy As Good As It Gets, brilliant misanthropic author Melvin Udall (Jack Nicholson) is approached by a nervous doe-eyed fan who musters the courage to ask him how he writes women so well. The curmudgeon snaps back: “I think of a man. And I take away reason and accountability.”

Reason and accountability are not virtues common in the personalities of Woody Allen protagonists. They are colourful loose-lipped creatures who tend to be iterations of a single voice syndrome – that of neurotic foggy-minded people floundering about in prisons of their own anxiety.

In Blue Jasmine, a characteristically verbose Woody Allen drama given real oomph and humanity by a wide-ranging performance from Cate Blanchett, the prison is more of an asylum — a place where Allen-brand angst spills into something much more serious than mealy-mouthed shtick.

LUKE BUCKMASTER | September 11, 2013 | FILM REVIEWS | |

The Rocket movie review: explosive melancholia

See itThere is no glossing over the setting of Australian documentarian Kim Mordaunt’s narrative debut The Rocket. There are no rose-tinted glasses to present the poorest country in Asia and the most bombed country on Earth as a happy-go-lucky child-friendly zone.

And yet this lovely Laos-set film, Australia’s selection for contention in the best foreign language category at next year’s Academy Awards, is a feel-good picture populated by vividly rendered characters who reverberate in the memory like companions from a warm and vaguely familiar dream. In his own subtle and measured way Mordaunt has pulled off a Life is Beautiful (1997), offsetting icy realism with a spirited sense of humanity.