Cinephilia: Opening This Week

Death Proof posterI have it on good authority that Quentin Tarantino gave his personal permission for the Film Festival to screen the complete Grindhouse exploitation double-feature as he and Robert Rodriguez intended, despite it being yanked early from American cinemas due to dismal box office: however Roadshow intervened to prevent the screening and the only way NZ audiences can see Grindhouse will be on DVD at some future time. That big screen experience has been replaced by an expanded version of Tarantino’s Death Proof, opening today at Readings and Sky City Queensgate. The tale of a crazed stuntman (Kurt Russell) stalking two sets of beautiful women including kiwi stuntie Zoe Bell and Sydney Poitier, Death Proof looks like more of that patented Tarantino-like fun.

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

Cinephilia: Opening This Week

Venus posterThis week the Paramount has a special attraction for fans of oddball genius David Lynch: Inland Empire has been acclaimed by (several) critics worldwide as a return to the edgy and outrageous Lynch of his early career (think Eraserhead rather than, say, The Straight Story). Inland Empire screens exclusively at the Paramount for one week only. Set aside plenty of time.

Also returning from successful screenings at this year’s Festival is Venus, starring Peter O’Toole as an ageing actor getting a new lease on life when he meets a brash and beautiful teenage girl. Dominion-Post critic Graeme Tuckett has called it his film of the year although that may have changed since Eastern Promises. Venus is written by the never less than interesting Hanif Kureishi (My Beautiful Laundrette and Intimacy) and plays at the Embassy, Paramount, Rialto and Sky City Queensgate.

The rest of this week’s releases after the jump…

Cinephilia: Opening This Week

Eastern Promises posterViggo Mortensen reunites with director David Cronenberg (A History of Violence) for the acclaimed new drama Eastern Promises, set deep in the underbelly of present day London among the vicious Russian mafia. Naomi Watts plays a midwife investigating the death of a young prostitute whose diary leads to kingpin Armin Mueller-Stahl. Viggo plays his mysterious driver. Readings and Queensgate.

Fracture is a twisty courtroom thriller starring Ryan Gosling (just pulled/pushed out of The Lovely Bones) and Anthony Hopkins. Hopkins plays Ted Crawford, accused of murdering his wife; Gosling is the ambitious Deputy DA who sees this case as his ticket out to the big money corporate world but the case proves more complicated than it first appears. Readings, Empire and Queensgate.

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

Cinephilia: Opening This Week

Atonement posterThe best grown-up film of the year opens today. Atonement is directed by up-and-comer Joe Wright (Pride & Prejudice) and is adapted from the acclaimed novel by Ian McEwan. 12 year old Briony Tallis (played by Saoirse Ronan from Peter Jackson’s forthcoming The Lovely Bones) tells a terrible lie, condemning family friend Robbie Turner (James McAvoy) to prison and disgrace and her sister Cecilia (Keira Knightley) to heartbreak and loss. It takes a lifetime for Briony to atone. Atonement is playing at the Embassy, Readings, Penthouse, Lighthouse Petone and the Empire Island Bay.

New Zealand vampire thriller Perfect Creature gets a long-awaited cinema release, more than two years after completion. Directed by Glenn Standring (The Irrefutable Truth About Demons) and starring imports Dougray Scott and Saffron Burrowns along with locals Scott Wills and Robbie Magasiva, Perfect Creature offers us an alternative New Zealand known as Nuovo Zelandia where vampires and humans peacefully co-exist – until the balance is challenged by a renegade vampire known as Edgar (Leo Gregory). Readings, Embassy and Sky City Queensgate.

A kinder, gentler option is provided by Conversations With My Gardener from director Jean Becker (Children of the Marshlands). Daniel Auteuil plays an artist who returns to the family home to escape a messy divorce and renews a friendship with the old school mate (Jean-Pierre Darroussin) who tends his veggie garden. Penthouse and Lighthouse Petone.

Finally, the Italian Film Festival kicked off with a gala shindig at the Paramount last night. It runs for a fortnight and there’s plenty to keep you entertained.

Atonement and Conversations With My Gardener are reviewed at Funerals & Snakes, to be joined next week by Perfect Creature.

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]

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.

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.]