Cinephilia: Opening This Week

Watchmen posterI expect there’ll be an awful lot of disappointed 15 year olds when they discover that long-awaited graphic novel adaptation Watchmen has been rated R16 despite being trailered in front of every big movie since The Dark Knight. Evidently, it earns the rating being every bit as bloody as the book (not to mention featuring 50 foot high blue penises). Director Zack Snyder looks to have used plenty of actual frames of Moore & Gibbons work as inspiration (much as he did with 300 in 2006) but it remains to be seen if he can successfully film the "unfilmable" book: Readings, Empire, Embassy, Sky City Queensgate.

The Paramount provides plenty of balance as usual, opening two American documentaries this week. Gonzo: The Life & Work of Hunter S. Thompson (which sort of speaks for itself) and Crazy Love (of which I said in my Festival preview last year: "… it helps to not know too much detail going in, as the reveals are deliciously handled. Suffice to say that love is blind, in more ways than one."

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

Cinephilia: Opening This Week

Dean Spanley UK posterAnother light-ish week of cinema releases to report: Readings have so much confidence in the new Rob Schneider prison-comedy Big Stan that the only evening sessions are at a deadening 9.20pm at night. According to IMDb this is the first film directed by the Deuce Bigelow star which means we now have the phrase "a film by Rob Schneider" to terrify and depress us. Also Sky City Queensgate.

Cinephilia: Opening This Week

My Bloody Valentine 3D posterWith most Wellington screens growning under the weight of Oscar-bait, only Readings (and Sky City Queensgate if you are so inclined) is opening anything new this week. My Bloody Valentine 3D was well attended at sneak previews last week but sadly isn’t much of a film. It’s a remake of a beloved horror of the same early-80s (same vintage as last week’s Friday the 13th). Apart from the title though there isn’t anything terribly ‘Valentine-y’ about it.

A potential date movie (for a certain kind of date, maybe) is Zack and Miri Make a Porno, the new film by Clerks‘ Kevin Smith. Loveable schlub Seth Rogen (Knocked Up) stars with Elizabeth Banks in a comedy about flatmates needing to find money for the rent.

Turbine @ Downstage. Hot Deal.

Tim Spite & Lee Smith-Gibbons in The SEEyD Company's Turbine at DownstageDownstage Theatre are offering Wellingtonista readers a special deal for tonight’s performance of Turbine at 7.00pm.

Mention the word "Wellingtonista" at the box office or over the phone (04 801 6946) and you’ll get as many tickets as you like for only $20 each.

Cinephilia: Opening This Week

Marley & Me posterThis has to be the most middle-of-the-road week for new cinema since I started these little updates. Check these out:

First up Marley & Me, a rom-com-weepy best-seller adaptation starring Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson as a couple who adopt a puppy. Click here for the spoiler. Readings, Empire, Lighthouse Petone, Sky City Queensgate. Then we have He’s Just Not That Into You, the first film to be based on a best-selling book based on a throwaway line of dialogue from "Sex and the City": Readings, Empire and Sky City Queensgate.

Winds of Change

Turbine at DownstageDownstage opens its doors for the first time this summer with three new shows opening in less than a week!

This time last year Tim Spite’s SEEyD Company thrilled audiences with the paua poaching action adventure Paua (netting Spite the Chapman Tripp Director of the Year Award in the process). Now they’re back with a re-working of earlier success Turbine, which blew people away at BATS in 2006: An environmentally conscious family have their principles tested when a power company wants to build a wind farm in their ‘back yard’.

Turbine opens officially on Friday but early birds (or the price sensitive) can see previews on Wednesday or Thursday night for only $20.

Percussion-monsters Strike are back for one night only on Sunday, playing favourites and showcasing tracks from their forthcoming CD. Guests Lisa Tomlins (The Eggs) and Mana (Rhombus) collaborate and DJ Samu adds breaks. Strike Soundsystem is on Sunday at 8.00pm.

Cinephilia: Opening This Week

Slumdog millionaire posterMore Oscar contenders hit our screens this weekend. Gus Van Sant’s biopic of the first openly gay elected politician in the USA, Milk opens today at Readings, Penthouse and Lighthouse Petone. Sean Penn plays San Francisco city supervisor Harvey Milk who was assassinated by fellow city official Dan White in 1978. Penn is supported by Josh Brolin (No Country for Old Men), Emile Hirsch (Into the Willd) and James Franco (Pineapple Express).

I got to see Slumdog Millionaire last Friday at the Embassy – if it doesn’t romp home with the best picture Oscar I’ll be very surprised. Kinetic, colourful and heartfelt, it’s an object of great beauty. Slumdog is also playing Readings, Penthouse and Lighthouse Petone.

[The rest of this week’s releases – and there’s heaps – after the jump]

Cinephilia: Opening This Week

Revolutionary Road posterAs Oscar night approaches another of the expected heavyweight contenders goes into cinemas: Sam Mendes’ Revolutionary Road reunites Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio for the first time since Titanic (still the highest grossing film of all time fact-fans) in a story of a middle-class 1950s couple dissatisfied with the American suburban dream. Based on (what I understand to be) an awesome novel by Richard Yates. Playing at Lighthouse Petone, Regent-on-Manners, Readings, Penthouse and Sky City Queensgate.

Roadshow will be hoping that Clint Eastwood lightning will strike twice at the Oscars and are using that rare tactic, the sneak preview, to launch his new film (and his last as an actor) Gran Torino. His last performance was in the multi-award-winning Million Dollar Baby in 2004. You can see Gran Torino early at Empire, Readings, Penthouse and Sky City Queensgate. (Eastwood’s other new film Changeling opens on Feb 12)

For those inclined toward the crappier end of the market there’s Bride Wars, a "comedy" starring Anne Hathaway and the woefully-managed Kate Hudson. Please note that I totally have an open mind about this film – I just don’t have any hope or faith: Empire, Regent-on-Manners, Readings, Sky City Queensgate.

The Penthouse keeps it classy with a biggish-budget French WWII movie called Female Agents about some young French women enlisted into the British Special Forces and sent on a suicide mission to rescue a British geologist. True story apparently. Meanwhile the Paramount’s eclectic run continues with a Czech comedy-drama called Beauty in Trouble. It’s by one of my favourite filmmakers, Jan Hrebejk who made the fantastic Divided We Fall from 2000. Also at the Paramount, for just a few sessions, is a surfing movie called Bustin’ Down the Door.

All of the above will be reviewed in next week’s Capital Times (and online at Funerals & Snakes), although I may draw the line at the surfing flick.

Cinephilia: Opening This Week

The Tale of Desperaux posterFollowing the flurry of Christmas and New Year releases (all of which are still playing), there are only two new titles to report this week. Firstly, The Tale of Desperaux an animated adaptation of a supposedly beloved children’s book. Matthew Broderick plays a noble little mouse with enormous ears who teams up with a kitchen-loving rat (Dustin Hoffman) to rescue a lonely Princess (Emma Watson) – sounds a bit like Dumbo meets Ratatouille. The rest of the voice cast is similarly prestigious including two gentlemen probably on the the Academy long-list for Best Actor this year: Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon) and Richard Jenkins (The Visitor). Playing at the Empire, Regent-on-Manners, Readings Courtenay and Sky City Queensgate (does anyone go there?).

Frank Miller is a hero to comic book aficionados everywhere. He created The Dark Knight Returns, 300 and Sin City (and co-directed the Sin City movie along with Robert Rodriguez). Now he has both hands on the wheel of another comic book adaptation, Will Eisner’s The Spirit and the promotional material makes it look like a long-lost cousin of Sin City. US reviews have not been kind but you can check it out at either Readings or Sky City.

The Paramount‘s Summer "Best of" series continues: Adam’s Apples, The Edge of Heaven, I‘m Not There. and Lars and the Real Girl get a second chance and they’re also raiding the vault with rare opportunities to see West Side Story, The Conversation, Elvis: That’s The Way It Is and North by Northwest.

Along with a rundown of all the Christmas releases, Desperaux and The Spirit will be reviewed next week at Funerals & Snakes (and in the Capital Times on Wednesday).

Cinephilia: Opening This Week

Too late to be of any use for Friday night entertainment, here’s a summary of the films opening this week across the city.

The Day the Earth Stood Still (Readings, Sky City Queensgate and Empire). That’s it. The calm before the inevitable Boxing Day storm.

But if Keanu Reeves playing a deadpan alien isn’t enough there’s always the annual ‘V’ Movie Marathon at the Paramount, kicking off at 4.00pm on Saturday. Organiser Ant Timpson has been somewhat scathing of Wellington’s ability (or inability) to hack the Marathon and is offering a special mini-Marathon ticket valid for 12 hours. Only problem, is you have a wear a nappy for the whole 12 hours ’cause you’d be a big baby.

On a different kind of kick, this weekend sees the first Korean Film Festival in Wellington – (only) three screenings of recent Korean movies, all at the Lighthouse in Petone on Saturday and Sunday.

The Day the Earth Stood Still will get a review in the Capital Times on Weds (and online at Funerals & Snakes soon after).