John Robinson

John Robinson

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John Robinson Tuesday 10th April 2012 Screening of 'Waiting For Lightning' held at the ArcLight Cinerama Dome

John Robinson
John Robinson
John Robinson

John Robinson Tuesday 18th October 2011 The New York Premiere of Like Crazy New York CIty, USA

John Robinson Tuesday 8th April 2008 Los Angeles Premiere of 'Remember the Daze' held at Egyptian Theatre - Arrivals Hollywood, California

John Robinson
John Robinson

John Robinson Monday 25th June 2007 2007 LA Film Festival - World Premiere of 'Kabluey' held at the Mann Festival Theatre Westwood, California

John Robinson

John Robinson - Friday 22nd June 2007 at Los Angeles Film Festival Los Angeles, CA, USA

John Robinson

Seraphim Falls Review


Bad
Director David Von Ancken's first feature after a lengthy stint in television shows his influence and experience without the slightest sense of shading. Out of the gate, Von Ancken found himself at the helm of Law & Order disciples CSI: NY and Cold Case, not to mention HBO's seminal Oz, and has been making his living at these shows ever since. Now, faced with a tale of post-Civil War vengeance, Ancken not only has to deal with the problem of sustaining fluidity, but of heftier emotional weight.Gideon (Pierce Brosnan) hides in the snowy drifts of the Ruby Mountains in northern Nevada. His hide has become a sought-after item; after a misunderstanding in the final days of the Civil War, Gideon's cold ignorance caused the unneeded death of one man's family. That man in question, Carver (Liam Neeson), has hired a trio of bandits to hunt down Gideon and exact what Carver sees as very just revenge.Much like Mel Gibson's misbegotten Apocalypto, Seraphim Falls takes its surroundings and time period simply as hallmark images to frame what is, sadly, a rather rudimentary look at vengeance and survival. Putting aside the outfits washed in waves of dirt and the small spurts of dialogue, the film could have taken place at any time and seems uninterested in exploring how the world the men inhabit and their time period affect their decisions.There's also a timid nature to the camerawork that sticks out. As Carver and his band of miscreants trails Gideon, they stomp through snowy mountains, faith-based wagon towns, and cracked-earth deserts. These areas seem flat and lacking character under Von Ancken and cinematographer John Toll, who somehow is also responsible for the shattering imagery of Terrence Malick's revelatory The Thin Red Line.The bland photography puts acute pressure on the actors to keep things popping, and most of the actors seem to take their roles with a passive grasp of character. Michael Wincott, an actor who oozes menace, is regulated as a rather forgettable sidekick to Carver, where he would have been more at home with the role of Carver. When Carver's men start getting picked off, the action gives a slight pulse to what is mostly a tepid pool up until then. After the final (and best) death scene, the two men, both visited by a strange bargainer (a particularly wasted Angelica Huston), face each other for a showdown.Seraphim Falls brings a hammering reminder that Westerns can still be made under tired eyes and loose constructs. Where the last few years have brought some strong evocations of the genre (The Proposition, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada) and just last week we were blessed by Tears of the Black Tiger, Von Ancken seems to take the basics of his genre as reassurance that he doesn't have to try as hard to make them work. As it is, Von Ancken can't seem to get his concentration away from the episodic nature of the small screen.Uncle Owen and Luke seem pretty upset.

The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things Review


Good
Only a month after acclaimed author J.T. LeRoy was exposed by The New York Times as a fictional persona concocted by writer Laura Albert - a revelation that all but demolished the credibility of the scribe's supposedly semi-autobiographical books - cultish actress/diva-turned-director Asia Argento arrives with her adaptation of LeRoy's The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things, the tumultuous road-tripping saga of young Jeremiah and the psycho birth mother who introduces him to a world of whoring, pill-popping and delusional paranoia. Having proven herself more than slightly familiar with society's seedy underbelly with 2000's skuzzy Scarlet Diva, Argento attacks LeRoy's (untrue, but still affecting) tale of corrosively corrupted childhood with nasty relish, employing severe close-ups, nightmarishly surreal stop-motion animation, curdled primary colors and a dissonant Billy Corgan score for this descent into degenerate nomad hell. Yet despite such avant-garde showmanship, Argento's second effort behind the camera is significantly more polished than her debut, lacking the truly gonzo verve that might have overcome her film's more pressing, primary failure to capture the boy's-eye-view of LeRoy's tome. Closed off from her protagonist's internal turmoil, Argento's Heart is Deceitful gets the horrific literal facts straight but, disappointingly, captures only a trace of the mental anguish and manipulation that bestowed her source material with its coal-black tragedy.

Taken from the loving arms of his foster parents by unstable mom Sarah (Argento), Jeremiah (Jimmy Bennett for the first half; Dylan and Cole Sprouse for the latter section) finds himself unwillingly thrust into an itinerant life of substance abuse and sex-for-sale, a babe cast into the big bad woods of Middle American tract house communities and interstate truck stops. An odyssey of innocence parentally defiled, Argento's film strives, from the opening shot of a stuffed animal being waved in Jeremiah's face, to assume the perspective of her pint-sized protagonist, both through straightforward knee-high point-of-view shots as well as by grotesquely distorting her carnival-esque compositions to create a mood of terrified awe and dread. The result is a funhouse-mirror vibe rooted in squalor, from the decrepit apartments that Sarah and Jeremiah temporarily occupy with her assortment of boyfriends, to the parking lots where she plies her trade as a prostitute, to a combustible crack kitchen where the filth is so tangible that it can almost be felt creeping under one's fingernails. Still, working with cinematographer Eric Alan Edwards, Argento carefully balances these more out-there inclinations - felt most strikingly in Jeremiah's visions of cawing, flesh-eating red crows - with conventional setups and chronology, thereby deftly maintaining a tremulous sense of coherence even as her narrative begins spiraling into madness.

Continue reading: The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things Review

Lords Of Dogtown Review


Very Good
Catherine Hardwicke's Lords of Dogtown tells virtually the same story recounted by Stacy Peralta's 2001 documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys, which autobiographically detailed his and his friends' teen years as pioneers of modern skateboard culture. Peralta, along with buddies Tony Alva and Jay Adams, were hardcore surfers from the grimy "Dogtown" of Venice, California, and with the help of some cutting-edge urethane wheels and legendary surfboard sculptor Skip Engblom - whose Zephyr store financed their original skate team, and bestowed them with the nickname "Z-Boys" - the brash trio became overnight icons for a new asphalt-grinding youth movement that championed experimentation and insolence in equal measures. Their rags-to-riches story is one in which triumph was achieved from go-for-broke rebelliousness, and thus stands as the complementary flip-side to Hardwicke's girls-gone-wild Thirteen, which illustrated the audacious and often-injurious lengths to which kids will go for attention, popularity and defiant thrills.

During the height of California's suffocating drought in the mid-1970s, quiet, long-haired Peralta (Elephant's John Robinson), cocky Alva (Raising Victor Vargas' Victor Rasuk), and self-destructive Adams (Emile Hirsch) began transferring their ocean-skimming techniques to the city's blacktop and empty swimming pools, resulting in an almost instantaneous phenomenon that thrust them onto the covers of magazines, into lucrative endorsement contracts, and onto the set of Charlie's Angels. Hardwicke's film (written by Peralta) presents this real-life tale with a mixture of exuberance and cautionary wariness, depicting the benefits (sex, money, fame) and pitfalls (jealousy, clashes over girls, obligations to their less-than-supportive parents) of these adolescents' sudden rise to superstardom. Thanks to Elliot Davis' bleached-out, nostalgically hazy cinematography (which mirrors the pulverizing propulsion of street skating by twirling, spinning and sticking low to the ground) and liberal use of thunderous '70s tunes by Hendrix and Sabbath, Hardwicke's period piece has a groovy, hard-charging dynamism. And as in her last film, the director - via Peralta and Adams' rivalry over Alva's sister Kathy (Nikki Reed) and Adams' difficulties at home with his irresponsible mom (Rebecca De Mornay) - laces such heady, sun-dappled optimism with an undercurrent of looming menace.

Continue reading: Lords Of Dogtown Review

Elephant Review


Very Good
Gus Van Sant has made an eclectic career out of portraying vastly different avenues that adolescents use to focus the anxieties they grapple with. From the strangely compelling My Own Private Idaho to the more mainstream Good Will Hunting, he remains consciously aware of the often erratic motives of youth while creating an effective story.

With Elephant, he takes a more documentarian approach, shooting seemingly handheld style right up in the faces of the teens he is following, or right above the back of their shoulders. He follows a wide range of clichéd characters, from jock to nerd to slacker, up until the moment two of them go haywire on their fellow schoolmates with weapons purchased off of the Internet. And, yes, it is fairly obvious who the troublemakers will be as soon as they appear on camera.

Continue reading: Elephant Review

Lords Of Dogtown Review


Weak
"Lords of Dogtown" is a fictionalized accountof the birth of modern skateboarding that doesn't have half the spontaneityand maverick spirit of the vivid, kinetic, crowd-pleasing documentary thatinspired it.

2002's "Dogtownand Z-Boys" (now available in an excellentDVD) was an adrenaline-rush history of the Zephyr Skateboarding Team, adaredevil band of teenage surf bums who were the first to take wave-ridingmoves to the streets and empty swimming pools of drought-stricken SantaMonica in the early 1970s.

This handful of young turks (oneof whom became the director of that film andthe writer of this one) invented the board-gripping, back-scratching, wall-climbingstyle that launched the entire rebel culture of extreme sports -- but youwouldn't know it from "Lords of Dogtown," which concerns itselfmore with fabricated love triangles, unhappy home lives and rivalries thatformed when fame came calling.

While the performances of the young cast members -- keyZ-Boys are played by John Robinson from "Elephant,"Emile Hirsch from "TheGirl Next Door" and Victor Rasuk from "RaisingVictor Vargas" -- are multifaceted, they sometimes have the under-rehearsedfeel of a bawdier after-school special. Or maybe that's just the clumsyexpository dialogue: "Hey, I think we should start a skateboard team,man," says one shirtless, long-haired dude to another. "There'smoney in this!"

Continue reading: Lords Of Dogtown Review

Elephant Review


Weak

This year's Cannes-winning, observational drama-commentary about the violence-deadened soul of America, Gus Van Sant's "Elephant" was clearly inspired by the 1999 student massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo. -- although "inspired" may be a poor choice of words. The film has so little to say about such events and the culture which produces them that it becomes paradoxically tedious once the killing starts.

Structured like verses in a round, overlapping in time, Van Sant's verite camera follows, one-by-one, a handful of seemingly unremarkable kids (the director cast mostly non-actors) going through the paces of a seemingly unremarkable day in lengthy tracking shots that become strangely intimate and engrossing in their moment-by-moment normalcy.

A nerdy girl is hassled by her gym coach for wearing sweats instead of shorts. A jock throws wads of paper at a quiet boy in class for no discernable reason. A bulimia squad of catty Barbies gossips over lunch before, in a sarcastic touch of dark humor, giggling their way into the bathroom and taking side-by-side stalls in which to upchuck what they just ate.

Continue reading: Elephant Review

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John Robinson Movies

Seraphim Falls Movie Review

Seraphim Falls Movie Review

Director David Von Ancken's first feature after a lengthy stint in television shows his influence...

Lords of Dogtown Movie Review

Lords of Dogtown Movie Review

Catherine Hardwicke's Lords of Dogtown tells virtually the same story recounted by Stacy Peralta's 2001...

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Elephant Movie Review

Elephant Movie Review

Gus Van Sant has made an eclectic career out of portraying vastly different avenues that...

Lords of Dogtown Movie Review

Lords of Dogtown Movie Review

"Lords of Dogtown" is a fictionalized accountof the birth of modern skateboarding that doesn't have...

Elephant Movie Review

Elephant Movie Review

This year's Cannes-winning, observational drama-commentary about the violence-deadened soul of America, Gus Van Sant's "Elephant"...

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