Cinephilia: Opening This Week

Year of the Dog posterWhile the Film Festival dominates the screens at the Embassy, Paramount, Te Papa, the Film Archive (and partially takes over the Penthouse) there are still mainstream releases being flung to the four winds.

As a writer, Mike White has been responsible for some of the weirdest (Chuck & Buck), the straightest (The Good Girl) and the funniest (The School of Rock) films of recent times. Year of the Dog is his first film as a director and is about a decent, single, secretary (played by perennial supporting actress Molly Shannon) and her quest to replace her deceased pet. It’s a romantic comedy and the supporting cast is pretty flash: including John C. Reilly and Peter Sarsgaard. Penthouse exclusive.

The uplifting story of William Wilberforce (Ioan Gruffudd) and his quest to outlaw slavery (inspiring – or inspired by – the hymn) is told in Amazing Grace. Also starring the wonderful Romola Garai who will be here in less than a month to star with Ian McKellen in “King Lear” and “The Seagull”. Penthouse, Readings, Lighthouse Petone and Rialto.

Knocked Up is the story of an unlikely couple who, after a one-night-stand, are forced to deal with the pregnancy that binds them together. It’s by the team that made The 40-year-old Virgin and stars Seth Rogen (promoted from supporting actor in the previous film) and Katherine Heigl. A hoot by all accounts. Readings, Regent-on-Manners, Lighthouse Petone, Sky City Queensgate.

Finally, probably co-inciding with the Dowse’s “Making of” exhibition, King Kong gets another trot out at Queensgate at 2.30pm on Sunday.

Cinephilia: 36th Wellington Film Festival Preview

Wellington Film FestivalIt’s Film Festival time of year, that two and a half week period when watching three films a day becomes more than shameful self-indulgence, its almost obligatory.

Like life itself, preparing for the Film Festival is all about choices. You start with a virgin programme and then, over a period of weeks, notes are scrawled, dates are checked, friends are consulted and previews like this are read and then discarded. You check the timetable wondering whether you can leave work to, er, post a letter for a couple of hours on Friday morning; you find yourself at lunchtime checking how long it really does take to walk briskly between Te Papa and The Embassy, and you try and forget those moments during past Festivals when you come out of a disappointing but worthy Finnish drama at the Paramount and pass hordes of happy people who saw the extraordinary Japanese animation at The Embassy instead.

The whittling is relentless as the forces of time and space require choices to be made. To add an other layer of complication to your personal process here’s my list of the less obvious options, some of which I’ve been lucky enough to preview, but mostly I’m hanging out to see them like everyone else.

The rest of the preview, after the jump.

Cinephilia: Opening This Week

Bra Boys posterA very quiet week for openings, the calm before the Film Festival storm you might say. Slipping out a day early under cover of darkness is Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (or Harry Potter 5 as it said on my ticket this afternoon). Sneak preview of my Capital Times review next week: “meh”. (Empire, Readings, Regent, Sky City Queensgate).

The only other picture opening this week is the unfortunately titled Bra Boys, which is a documentary about the famous Sydney surf gang from the suburb of Maroubra. The film is directed by one of the Bra Boys himself, Sunny Aberton, and Exec Produced by Russell Crowe who is understandably more interested in his South Sydney roots than his South Wellington origins (documentary about Strathmore anyone?). Crowe is so into this particular story that he’s slated to direct and star in a fictionalised version of it in 2009. Rialto only.

Cinephilia: Opening This Week

"Razzle Dazzle" posterA quiet week this week for cinema releases (at least until Wednesday).

Returning from April’s World Cinema Showcase are Wordplay, well-regarded documentary about the New York Times crossword (very limited sessions at the Lighthouse in Petone only) and Aussie mockumentary Razzle Dazzle about the world of kids’ dance competitions (Lighthouse Petone and Penthouse).

For the school holidays the Paramount has a daily 11.00am screening of another Aussie flick, The Silly Billies Save The Circus. When I was at the Paramount we had two live visits from The Hooley Dooleys who I kind of considered to be the Wiggles you have when you can’t have The Wiggles. It looks like The Silly Billies are what you get when you can’t get The Hooley Dooleys.

Also at the Paramount this week, a children’s movie of a different kind, All The Invisible Children: an anthology movie supported by Unicef featuring seven short films about the plight of children around the world. Directors include Ridley Scott, Spike Lee and John Woo.

Oh, and on Wednesday, pretty much everywhere, the new Harry Potter opens: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Free tickets to Downstage (limited time, conditions apply)

Finding Murdoch posterThe lovely people at Downstage have offered Wellingtonista-readers the chance to see the new NZ play Finding Murdoch free next Monday or Tuesday.

Reviewer John Smythe at said of the show:

My partner loved it and rugby is not her bag. But then it’s written by a woman about a woman’s desire to achieve and understand, and it’s directed by a woman, so I shouldn’t be surprised. Which isn’t to say rugby orientated blokes won’t like it too. Heading for the car (after the Monday 6.30 show) I bumped into Keith Quinn – of sportscasting fame – and asked him if he’d just been to Finding Murdoch. “Saw it on opening night,” he said. “It’s terrific. You should go.”

There’s more about the show here, and we have 20 double-passes to give away to either Monday or Tuesday of next week. Simply email with the word “Wellingtonista” in the subject line, and the name of the All Black the play is about in the body of the email, and the magic of time-stamping will do the rest. First 20 are in.

“V” 48 Hours National Final – Live at The Establishment

Maori Detective posterFriends, supporters and other interested parties are invited to assemble at The Establishment on the corner of Blair St and Courtenay Place on Sunday evening to watch a bit of telly, specifically the C4 broadcast of the “V” 48 Hours National Final.

Three Wellington films are in contention for the big prize (and the even bigger prize for Best Cinematography): Wellington winner Maori Detective and the Boogie Fever (Team Good Times) and Peter Jackson-selected wildcards Shooting Star (Will She Wait) and WhoreCop 3: Night Justice (The Three Dicks).

Viewers around the country will be voting by text as soon as the show finishes – come along and add your support. The broadcast starts at 8.30 but the entire Wellington Final 12 (plus Taika Waititi’s ineligible but hilarious Arab Samurai) will be screened again from 7.30 to warm you up.

Cinephilia: Opening This Week

The Iron Giant posterSchool holidays start on Monday and Hollywood is doing its bit to turn your kids’ brains to mush with Transformers, an enormo-budget extravaganza about cars that turn in to robots (or the other way around). Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and directed by Michael Bay, Transformers should give the boys plenty of bang for your buck (while the girls get to swoon over current heart-throb Shia LaBeouf). Playing all over town including Readings Courtenay Central; Sky City Queensgate; Embassy; Regent-on-Manners.

Sensible-shoe wearing girls may well get more out of the latest incarnation of teen detective Nancy Drew, this time starring Julia Roberts’ niece Emma. A slightly smaller release this one, at Readings Courtenay Central and Sky City Queensgate only.

After the jump: Heartbreak Hotel, Starter for Ten, Francesca and Nunziata and The Iron Giant.

Cinephilia: Opening This Week

Paris je t'aime posterIt’s as if the gurus in Hollywood know that here in Wellington the Film Festival approaches and they’re trying to get the popcorn material out of the way before it is overpowered by more cerebral delights. Actually, that can’t be true, pretty much every week is like this…

The latest in the seemingly endless series of Will Ferrell sports movies in which our the star improvs himself a feature film while playing an emotionally stunted man-child is Blades of Glory and the sport this time is – Ice Skating! Figure Skating to be exact. Ferrell is joined by Napoleon Dynamite‘s Jon Heder as the two pair up to be the first all-male Olympic Ice Dancing champions (Readings and Sky City Queensgate).

After the jump: Fantastic Four: The Rise of the Silver Surfer, Paris je t’aime, Eden and Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Cinephilia: Opening This Week

UPDATE: How Much Do You Love Me? is also playing at the Lighthouse in Petone.

Ocean's 13 posterThis week’s blockbuster is the third installment in the Pitt/ Clooney/ Damon/ Soderbergh smug-fest, Ocean’s 13. This time the 11 from the first picture are joined by Ellen Barkin and Mr Hoo-Haa himself, Al Pacino. Diminishing returns? You be the judge at Readings, Sky City Queensgate, Penthouse or Empire Island Bay.

More down-to-earth is the messed-up Aussie no-budget romance Puppy (Paramount), described as a “weird and wonderful journey”. Another messed-up romance starts Thursday at the Paramount: How Much Do You Love Me? stars Monica Belluci as a prostitute who gets paid 100,00 euros a month to live with a lottery winner – until the money runs out. Also starring Gérard Depardieu.

Bridge to Terabithia, Pierrepoint, Scenes of a Sexual Nature and Off the Grid – after the jump.