Cinephilia: Opening This Week

The Devil Dared Me To posterIn 2006 the New Zealand Film Commission announced a new ultra-low budget feature film scheme called Headstrong and asked for submissions. The Headstrong team (including the Incredibly Strange Ant Timpson, director Paul Swadel and producer Leanne Saunders) went through the 300 scripts to select 10 to develop in the hope that four would go in to production. The first completed film gets a large scale national release today: The Devil Dared Me To (in which legendary stuntman Randy Campbell attempts to jump Cook Strait in a rocket car).

The Devil is screening at Readings, Empire, Regent-on-Manners, Sky City Queensgate

At Readings, Lighthouse Petone and the Penthouse, Angelina Jolie plays Marianne Pearl, widow of murdered journalist Daniel Pearl, in the true story A Mighty Heart. Directed by the great Michael Winterbottom, A Mighty Heart has been described as “moving and frighteningly real” by the LA Times.

[The rest of this week’s new releases after the jump]

From the Archive: Gavin Soper, Cabin Steward and Ratepayer

With my usual excellent sense of timing I have decided to make my contribution to the Intenscity event some days after it has been dismantled but I hope Wellington history aficionados will appreciate it anyway.

This short video features Brian Sergent playing his well-loved character Gavin Soper (Air New Zealand Cabin Steward) for TV3’s Nightline in (I think) 1992 or 3. Gavin is celebrating the impending completion of the refurbished Te Aro Park, the cost of which was a source of some local controversy at the time. The other great contemporary issue he alludes to is the number of glue-sniffing street-kids predominating around the Te Aro area. Simultaneous with the beautification of Te Aro Park was the WCC scheme to house these “poor glue-addled kiddies” in a couple of converted shipping containers on waste ground south of the Basin Reserve.

Written by Brian Sergent; directed by Jonathan Brough; produced by Jonathan Brough, Gordon Harcourt and myself.

Cinephilia: Opening This Week

La vie en rose posterEdith Piaf’s life was full of drama, drama that poured out of her when she sang. Born into poverty in WWI-era Paris, raised in a brothel when both parents abandoned her, discovered singing on street corners, she became one of the biggest stars of the 20th Century and died of liver cancer at the age of only 47. Her life is given the big screen treatment in La Vie En Rose, a big budget French production that opened the Berlin Film Festival this year. La Vie En Rose is playing almost everywhere from today: Reading Courtenay Central, Rialto, Lighthouse Petone, Penthouse and Embassy.

Also opening today is a Michael (Heat) Mann produced thriller called The Kingdom, starring Jamie Foxx. A bomb explodes in Saudi Arabia, targeting Americans working there. The US Government offers the locals an elite team of FBI investigators to support the investigation and they rapidly find themselves culturally out of their depth even though they have the skills and technology to locate the terrorists before they strike again. Also starring Jennifer Garner, Chris Cooper (Breach) and Jason Bateman. The Kingdom plays at Readings, Regent-on-Manners and Sky City Queensgate.

Finally this week, Scarlett Johansson stars in The Nanny Diaries, adapted from the smash hit novel by the people who brought you the wonderful American Splendor (Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman). Star of American Splendor, Paul Giamatti, also features as one of the poisonous parents entrusting their offspring to decent hardworking Scarlett (the other is Laura Linney). Readings Courtenay Central and Sky City Queensgate.

La Vie En Rose has been reviewed at Funerals & Snakes and the other two will show up in due course.

The Hollow Men at BATS

Hollow Men imageJust a quick note to recommend Dean Parker’s theatrical adaptation of The Hollow Men, which is on now at BATS. My position in the theatre industry prevents me from doing a proper review which means I can’t tell you how funny and pointed it is, nor how expertly directed it is (by Jonathan Hendry) or how good many of the performances are (particularly Stephen Papps as Brash).

Several reviews are online at John Smythe’s excellent Theatreview resource so you can get the full down-low from there.

The Hollow Men plays at BATS until Thursday 11 October and then travels to Centrepoint in Palmerston North for a season.

Cinephilia: Opening This Week

200709262145Fully 60% of all the opening films this week are at the Paramount: first up indie thriller Unknown has a great ensemble cast including James Caviezel, Greg Kinnear and Barry Pepper. It’s a riddle of a thriller as five guys wake up locked in a deserted warehouse unable to remember what happened or which of them are the good guys and which are the baddies. A gas leak has caused multiple amnesia and the race is one to work out who is the kidnapper and who the kidnapped. By all accounts there are plenty of twists which make this a thriller to get the old brain box going.

The rest of this week’s new cinema releases after the jump.

Cinephilia: Opening This Week

Stardust posterThe school holidays get under way on Monday and the major movie distributors are making sure you have plenty of choice about where to drop the sprogs while you head off to play the pokies. First up British fantasy film Stardust, based on a Neil Gaiman novel and featuring a catalogue of famous names, from Robert De Niro and Ricky Gervais to Sienna Miller and Michelle Pfeiffer. In the tradition of The Princess Bride (as the saying goes), Stardust is directed by Matthew Vaughan who produced Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch and directed Layer Cake so expect plenty of swearing and gunfights (perhaps not). Readings, Empire, Regent-on-Manners, Queensgate.

[The rest of this week’s new films after the jump.]

Cinephilia: Opening This Week

Super Bad posterAfter a disappointing week of un-suspenseful suspense films we welcome a couple of potentially comedic comedies this week. Firstly, from Judd Apatow, creator of The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up, comes Super Bad. Co-written by Knocked Up star (and funny guy) Seth Rogen with childhood friend Evan Goldberg when they were about 14, it follows two High School kids (who at one point were going to be called Seth and Evan) on a search for booze and girls so they can lose their virginity before they go to college. Playing at Readings, Regent-on-Manners, Sky City Queensgate.

The 40 Year Old Virgin himself, Steve Carell, stars in an un-anticipated sequel to Jim Carrey’s Bruce Almighty: Evan Almighty. Carell returns as Evan Baxter: egotistical newscaster in the original; egotistical Congressman in this one and Morgan Freeman is also back as God. Readings, Regent-on-Manners, Sky City Queensgate.

[The rest of this week’s releases after the jump]

Cinephilia: Opening This Week

Ratatouille posterOur annual opportunity to worship at the feet of Pixar arrives this week in the shape of Ratatouille (I’m a fan, can you tell?). Written and directed by Brad Bird, who made The Incredibles and Iron Giant, Ratatouille is about a rat named Remy with a talent for fine cuisine but who, obviously, isn’t welcome in the kitchen. Voices include Peter O’Toole, Ian Holm and the lovely Janeane Garofalo. Readings, Empire, Regent-on-Manners, Lighthouse Petone, Sky City Queensgate.

Writer and director of Waitress (Empire, Lighthouse Petone, Penthouse), Adrienne Shelly (alumni of the once-great Hal Hartley), was sadly murdered soon after finishing the film – as pointless and random an act as you can imagine. There aren’t enough women film directors in the world as it is without losing them like that.

[The rest of this week’s new releases after the jump.]

Cinephilia: Opening This Week

The Tattooist posterA fairly insane week for new releases is headed by NZ horror-feature The Tattooist, about Samoan tattoos that take on a life of their own and turn their owners into blood-thirsty zombies – or something like that: Readings and Sky City Queensgate only.

Also Readings and Queensgate is Sandra Bullock’s new mystery Premonition about a woman who may have foreseen her husband’s death in a car accident. I get to see this one tomorrow but the 8% rating on the Tomatometer doesn’t fill me with enthusiasm.

[Remaining new releases listed after the jump.]

Phoenix in Thriller at Stadium

Ross Aloisi of the Phoenix in action during the round one A-League match between Wellington Phoenix and Melbourne Victory.Photo: Getty ImagesFourteen and half thousand of us watched the Phoenix get their A-League campaign under way with a thrilling 2-2 draw at Westpac stadium this afternoon. An estimated (by myself and a couple of other self-appointed experts) couple of thousand more were stuck in queues for the first quarter and gave up and went home.

Yes, it was another triumph of event ticketing with the combination of a huge walk-up due to the good weather plus a huge pick-up queue for those that booked by phone yesterday causing chaos on Fran Wilde Walk.

If it hadn’t been for Sky and other Asia-Pacific broadcast commitments I’m sure the kick-off would have been held back but, as it was, those of us in our seats were treated to an entertaining spectacle with the Phoenix saving their best for a sensational last 15 minutes.

[Match report after the jump]