cinephilia

Cinephilia: Opening This Week

by Dan August 28, 2009

The Strength of Water posterI have to keep this brief as time is short. There are another six films opening at Wellington cinemas this week, three returning from the Film Festival and three more. First up Ang Lee’s return to English-language filmmaking (after the atmospheric Chinese thriller Lust, Caution in 2007) Taking Woodstock. Released worldwide to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival, the legendary three day mud and music event, the film tells the behind-the-scenes story of how it all happened. Readings, Empire and Penthouse.

Multiplex-only releases this week are another demon-child horror, Orphan, and another Katherine Heigl rom-com, The Ugly Truth. I saw both this evening and can only say that new lows have been struck for both genres. Readings and Sky City Cinemas.

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

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Cinephilia: Opening This Week

by Dan August 20, 2009

Avatar teaser posterRighto, back again with a quick run down of what’s new in cinemas this weekend. First up, a special treat for film fans who want to some free entertainment tomorrow lunchtime – Readings are hosting a special fifteen minute preview of James Cameron’s Avatar in their digital 3D Cinema 5. Three sessions (11.45am, 12.30pm & 1.15pm) are running and tickets are available on a first-come first-served. If you can’t sneak out for these you’ll have to wait until the whole film opens worldwide on 17th December.

Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds is only playing at Readings and Sky City Queensgate but don’t let that put you off. I saw it this evening and enjoyed myself tremendously – there really is a lot of entertainment to be had at the pictures at the moment. Brad Pitt plays the leader of a Dirty Dozen type squad of jewish soldiers, parachuted behind enemy lines in WWII to extract extreme vengeance on the Nazis. Featuring impeccable casting (even the non-actors are somehow right) and his usual eclectic soundtrack, Tarantino is in fine form.

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

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Cinephilia: Opening This Week

by Dan August 14, 2009

District 9 posterThe big noise this week is being made by Neill Blomkamp’s District 9 which you can see at Readings, Empire, Embassy and Sky City Queensgate. Blomkamp had been tapped by Peter Jackson to direct the Halo movie that he was co-producing along with Microsoft. When that fell over Jackson offered Blomkamp the chance to expand and revisit his short Alive in Joburg from 2005. And the almost instant rush of acclaim for District 9 has been intoxicating. I don’t get to see it until the weekend but I know a lot of people who have and all are raving. What is it about? A bunch of aliens are segregated and ghetto-ised in modern South Africa. After nearly 30 years as second class citizens tensions are reaching boiling point.

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

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Cinephilia: Opening This Week

by Dan August 6, 2009

Separation City posterI thought I’d come out of hiding for a moment to trumpet the first Wellington feature film to get a decent release in ages, Separation City. Even though you have to go a long way down the cast list on IMDb to find a Wellington actor (Grant Roa coming in at number 12) the trailer contains enough glimpses of Wellington landmarks to set audience tongues wagging and get some early traction at the box office. Written by Wellington fixture (Dom-Post cartoonist, former Press Gallery journalist, playwright) Tom Scott it’s a "painful lesson about how unrequited love lasts forever and while requited love comes with a use-by date" according to the press material.

Two of the overseas leads have worked in New Zealand before: Rhona Mitra was a leather-clad vampire in the misbegotten Underworld Rise of the Lycans earlier this year and German Thomas Kretschmann played the captain of The Venture in Peter Jackson’s King Kong. Separation City can be found just about anywhere from today: Readings, Empire, Penthouse, Embassy, Lighthouse Petone.

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

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Cinephilia: Film Festival Preview

by Dan July 15, 2009

200907152020.jpgThe Wellington Film Festival (sorry, New Zealand International Film Festival, Wellington Branch) is a huge undertaking for the committed cinema-goer. Every year we devour the programme for weeks in advance, scheduling annual leave and long “lunch breaks”, trying to work out what is essential and what isn’t. After 20 years of this, I’ve only just begun to realise that in the search for the essential many other pleasures have been passing me by. This year, before I even looked at the programme, I asked the Festival to choose a stack of DVDs for me, with the emphasis on the unheralded and the unexpected. Thus, of the 13 films I’ve been watching over the last three or so weeks, all but one of them were from the back half of the book (and probably would not have been on my personal shortlist) but all of them had something special to offer. So, is my advice for the Festival to not book in advance but instead choose films at random depending on your own availability and proximity to a venue? Maybe it is.

[Read the rest of the Wellingtonista Film Festival Preview after the jump]

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Cinephilia: Opening This Week

by Dan April 23, 2009

The International posterClive Owen has his second big film of the year in cinemas now, following the romantic-thriller Duplicity in March. The International is a full-time thriller about an international banking conspiracy and it’s directed by Run Lola Run‘s Tom Tykwer. Naomi Watts plays second-fiddle. What happened to her career? Readings, Sky City Queensgate and the Empire, Island Bay.

All the other releases this week go straight to the art-house: 2008 Cannes-winner The Class gets a season immediately after headlining the World Cinema Showcase (Paramount), as does The Grocer’s Son, about a young French waiter forced by his father’s illness to return to rural Provence and run the mobile grocery van – a situation about which he is not happy. Penthouse and Lighthouse Petone.

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

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Cinephilia: Opening This Week

by Dan April 17, 2009

Fast & Furious posterAt last I get some time to preview this week’s new releases and, frankly, it hardly seems worth it. I’ve just got in from two of the most dispiriting experiences I’ve had in a cinema in some time. Full reviews will come when I’ve had a chance to find the right kind of language to describe precisely how unambitious Fast & Furious and 17 Again are, a challenge I must rise to before Capital Times deadline on Monday night. Fast & Furious is the fourth in the series of petrol-head thrillers and original stars Vin Diesel and Paul Walker are both back. That fact might mean something to someone, somewhere.

Meanwhile, High School Musical star Zac Efron gets a vehicle of his own as the young version of depressed 37 year old failure Matthew Perry. Some not quite explained magic gives him his young body back and the chance to put things right. Both Readings and Sky City Queensgate.

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

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Cinephilia: Opening This Week

by Dan March 27, 2009

The Wrestler posterPick of the week at the movies must be The Wrestler, Mickey Rourke’s triumphant return to major leagues after years wandering in the wilderness. It’s a comeback of sorts for director Darren Aronofsky, too. His last film, The Fountain, was a strange and beautiful fable about trying to escape death but he’s probably best-known for Requiem for a Dream, nine years ago. Rourke plays a rung-out and strung-out professional wrestler trying to reinvent his life outside the ring. Readings, Penthouse, Lighthouse Petone.

In other news, Elizabeth Banks (Zack and Miri Make a Porno) tries a change of pace as a (possibly) evil nanny in the chiller The Uninvited (Readings and Sky City Queensgate) and my favourite B-movie action hero Jason Statham returns as the eponymous Transporter in the third episode of Luc Besson’s action series. Big question in Transporter 3? Is Frank Martin gay. The director has a perfect action movie name: Olivier Megaton. Readings and Sky City Queensgate.

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

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Cinephilia: Opening This Week

by Dan March 20, 2009

Adoration posterIt’s a busy week at the Paramount: exclusive seasons of Atom (The Sweet Hereafter) Egoyan’s new drama Adoration and the documentary The Spirit of the Marathon started today along with a shared season of Al Pacino Shakespearean vehicle The Merchant of Venice. Pacino plays Shylock, and fans of his Richard III doco Looking for Richard will already know Pacino’s facility and enthusiasm for Shakespeare’s greatest characters. Merchant is also playing at the Lighthouse in Petone.

Tony Gilroy’s debut feature Michael Clayton was a stand-out last year and he’s constructed a new (although lighter) corporate thriller in Duplicity. Clive Owen and Julia Roberts star as spies teaming up to sting two rival companies. I enjoyed it a lot but remember almost nothing. Regent-on-Manners, Readings, Sky City Queensgate.

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

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Cinephilia: Opening This Week

by Dan March 5, 2009

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]

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