The big guns still dominate proceedings at our cinemas (at least until Thursday when the little art-house films all gang up for the Festival). Last week was hardly worth writing a column about as all the big distributors sensibly made way for Will Smith’s annual 4th of July blockbuster, Hancock (Readings, Empire, Regent-on-Manners & Embassy).
This week, the ABBA musical (that had a season at the Civic in Auckland a couple of years ago) Mamma Mia! leads the pack. Justifiably described as a phenomenon since the stage show launched in London in 1996, the film features Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Stellan SkarsgÃ¥rd and Colin Firth singing and dancing their way through the ABBA back catalogue. It’s been trailered for months now, so awareness should be pretty high and it’s playing everywhere: Readings, Empire, Penthouse, Embassy, Lighthouse Petone, Regent-on-Manners.
Yet another school holiday looms and Dreamworks‘ attempt to capture the animated audience (or rather ‘the audience for animation’) before Pixar‘s WALLÂ·E emerges in September, is Kung Fu Panda starring the voice of Jack Black. Launched on the croisette at the Cannes Film Festival only a few weeks ago, KFP has been acclaimed by critics (88% at RottenTomatoes) and looks like it will be worth checking out this weekend. Readings, Empire, Regent.
The Paramount continues to slip interesting, single-print, releases into the marketplace: this week’s entry is a John Boorman (Deliverance, Excalibur) morality tale, The Tiger’s Tail, in which a self-made businessman (Brendan Gleason) discovers he has a sinister double who seems to determined to bring him down.
When times are quiet in the cinema business (as they have been all year) owners respond by opening more and more films and hoping something will stick. This week sees the Penthouse open yet another contemporary British comedy-drama, funded by the UK Film Council using National Lottery funds (much like Happy-Go-Lucky and Brick Lane which are still screening), Grow Your Own. Featuring the rapidly-becoming-ubiquitous Eddie Marsan (Vera Drake, Pierrepoint), Grow Your Own is about the inhabitants of a London allotment (where the poor grow their vegetables and/or get away from the Missus) forced to deal with the arrival of a family of refugees. Penthouse and Lighthouse Petone. [Check out the rest of this week’s new releases after the jump]
Back from an unscheduled layoff, and hopefully in time for the weekend, hereâ€™s a run-down of this weekâ€™s cinematic openings. At the top of the list is Todd Haynesâ€™ masterpiece Iâ€™m Not There. featuring Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Marcus Carl Franklin, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger and Ben Whishaw as versions of the legend of Bob Dylan. I wasnâ€™t expecting it be as funny as it is but once I recalibrated I enjoyed myself enormously. Paramount, Lighthouse Petone and Rialto.
Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher team up for romantic comedy about two individuals forced to become a couple in order to win a $3m slot machine prize. Dominion Post film reviewer Graeme Tuckett told me by text that he was surprised he liked it, but then he enjoyed Maid in Manhattan too. Vegas is all over the place: Readings, Empire, Regent-on-Manners.
Music Within is an indie American drama based on a true story about a deaf Vietnam veteran (Ron Livingston from â€œBand of Brothersâ€) who returned to the States and began a battle with the authorities for support for all Americans with disabilities. Rialto exclusive (and limited sessions due to the building work at the site so check in advance).
Also at the Paramount, just for Wahine Week is a documentary about the disaster called The Wahine Disaster. Another documentary, that I missed in my sweep last week, is John Pilger’s The War on Democracy which is now playing at the Lighthouse Petone only. It was originally going to play at the Paramount as well but was cut by the owners for being ‘too left wing’. Some Paramount customers have already begun a boycott protesting this simple-minded attack on free speech (not to mention an attack on the Paramount itself and it’s grand history of showing films with a humanitarian and anti-establishment position). Feel free to voice your displeasure to the management.
After last week’s pathetic attempt at weather forecasting, I will refrain from suggesting anything other than there are three new films at the movies this week.
First up, slipping in to the wee cinemas at the back of the Paramount is French romantic comedy Change of Address. Musician Emmanuel Mouret has arrived in Paris without accommodation and is approached by Frederique Bel about sharing her flat. Ignoring the life-rule that goes “Don’t f*ck your flatmates, don’t mix your drinks” they become, er, acquainted. Complications ensue. Change of Address is described by Urban Cinefile in Australia as “playful and amusing”. Paramount only.
I saw Never Back Down yesterday and I’m not giving too much away if I tell you that it is then most repulsive and objectionable film I have witnessed in a long time. As Ken Duncum once said (in another context) not only should this film never have been made but all those responsible should have to atone for having made it. Readings (and maybe Regent-on-Manners but their web site is down).
Finally Definitely, Maybe is a romantic comedy starring Ryan Reynolds and Abigail Breslin (relax, they’re not the romantically entwined couple – give her a few more years yet). Breslin plays Reynold’s 11-year-old daughter who wants to know why Daddy is getting divorced. Through the medium of extended flashback, Reynolds then tries to explain his life and how he and her mother fell in love. The twist: we don’t find out which of his three significant former lovers is his one true love until the end. Readings.
Looks like the weekend is going to be beautiful, again. Perfect weather for, ahem, sitting in a darkened air-conditioned room watching a flickering light on a screen. And Hollywood has come to the party with a couple of films that are going to make sitting in the sunshine seem like the most natural thing in the world.
Sly Stallone brings John Rambo out of retirement for his first film since 1988 at Readings and Regent-on-Manners. Living in quiet retirement in Thailand, Rambo is forced back into action to rescue Christian missionaries in Burma. In Rambo tradition it’s rated R18 for violence and offensive language.
The second asia-horror-remake to come out in two weeks (Shutter was last week) is The Eye. Jessica Alba plays a blind woman who gets a haunted cornea transplant and can see more than she bargained for. Readings and Regent-on-Manners.
[The rest of this week’s new releases after the jump]
The Festival of the Arts has been soaking up almost every spare minute of my working day so this is going to be a bare bones update.My highlight: Simon “Shaun of the Dead” Pegg back on screen in Run Fatboy Run about a marriage-shy waster who tries to win the love of his life (Thandie Newton) back by running the London Marathon. Readings, Empire, Regent-on-Manners, Lighthouse Petone, Penthouse.
For the kids who like those dance-as-a-substitute-for-gang-warfare movies we have Step Up 2 The Streets, sequel to the massive 2006 hit that launched Channing Tatum on an unsuspecting world. He returns for the sequel. Readings only.
After the excitement of the pre-Oscar rush it’s another quiet week at the cinema. Opening all over town (that’s Readings, Empire, Penthouse, Regent-on-Manners and Lighthouse Petone) is the historical drama The Other Boleyn Girl featuring the dream team of Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson along with Eric Bana as ‘Enery the Eighth.
Even more historical (at least in terms of distance if not accuracy) is 10,000 B.C. which stars our own Cliff Curtis as a character called Tic’Tic (I kid you not). Directed by Independence Day‘s Roland Emmerich, 10,000 B.C. was partially filmed in New Zealand last year and tells the story of a young mammoth hunter’s desperate efforts to save his tribe. There’s no sign of Raquel Welch but Camilla Belle (When a Stranger Calls) comes off the bench to play eye-candy: Readings and Regent-on-Manners.
If neither of these take your fancy, there are sneak previews again this weekend of the Simon Pegg rom-com Run Fatboy Run (directed by his good mate David Schwimmer). You’ll find that at Readings, Empire, Regent-on-Manners and Penthouse today, Saturday and Sunday only.
All three of these titles will be reviewed at Funerals & Snakes next Wednesday (and in the Capital Times on the same day). Meanwhile, tickets have gone on sale for the 2008 World Cinema Showcase which is an absolute doozy this year – a worthy competitor to the main Festival. And the Film Society got under way on Monday which must mean that Summer is nearly over.
Just in time for the weekend, here’s a quick run down of the films opening this week in cinemas across town.
Returning from last year’s Film Festival is Lady Chatterley, a French adaptation of an earlier (“kinder, gentler” according to Ebert) version of D. H. Lawrence’s famous erotic novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover. It sounds like it could have been titled There Will Be Sex: Rialto only.