Cinephilia: Opening This Week

The Tattooist posterA fairly insane week for new releases is headed by NZ horror-feature The Tattooist, about Samoan tattoos that take on a life of their own and turn their owners into blood-thirsty zombies – or something like that: Readings and Sky City Queensgate only.

Also Readings and Queensgate is Sandra Bullock’s new mystery Premonition about a woman who may have foreseen her husband’s death in a car accident. I get to see this one tomorrow but the 8% rating on the Tomatometer doesn’t fill me with enthusiasm.

[Remaining new releases listed after the jump.]

Cinephilia: Opening This Week

The Bourne Ultimatum posterThe biggest movie in the world last weekend was The Bourne Ultimatum (US$47m on Thursday, Friday and Saturday alone) and it opens here tomorrow. The last of the big tent-pole franchise attractions of the (northern) summer, this Bourne brings Jason back home to New York (with a detour in Blighty). Playing at Readings, Regent-on-Manners, Sky City Queensgate and (probably the ultimate Bourne experience) the Embassy

Also opening tomorrow is Russian art-house weepy The Italian (direct from the Festival): Rialto and Lighthouse Petone only. The Singer (Quand j’étais chanteur) places one of France’s all-time greats (Gérard Depardieu) alongside one of her freshest new faces Cécile De France (Orchestra Seats) for some May-December romance. Depardieu plays a fading nightclub singer who woos De France’s single mother real estate agent. Also at Rialto and (unsurprisingly) the Penthouse.

Finally, The War Within opens at the Paramount: it’s a drama about a Pakistani terrorist in New York and it was made for dotcom billionaire Mark Cuban’s HDNet, the cable channel devoted to breaking down the established studio/distributor/exhibitor stranglehold. Other titles produced by Cuban include Enron: the Smartest Guys in the Room, Bubble and Good Night, and Good Luck.

The Italian and The War Within are reviewed at Funerals & Snakes; reviews of the other two will appear there next Wednesday.

Cinephilia: Opening This Week

Breach posterThe industry is in an interesting state when a relatively small film like Breach can get a release at Readings and the Paramount across the road – and also at the suburban Empire and Lighthouse. Made and distributed in the US by major studio Universal, here it is being distributed by independent Rialto (no longer connected to the cinema chain), hence all the indie exhibitors. My understanding is that Readings, however, want everything and will simply hoover up any and all available titles and no one can afford to turn them down.

Breach is based on the true story of a CIA double-agent played by Chris Cooper and his ultimate exposure by ex-Mr Witherspoon Ryan Phillippe and one Imdb contributor calls it “the best of the year to date” although the comment was made in February…

Cinephilia: Opening This Week

Die Hard 4.0 posterOnce described by Terry Gilliam as “a monument to cranial architecture”, Bruce Willis’ shiny bonce is on full display in Die Hard 4.0 (known in US-centric territories as Live Free or Die Hard), playing at Readings, Regent-on-Manners, Empire, Sky City Queensgate and the Embassy where it looked kind of murky this evening.

Adam Sandler does his bit to fill the gap left by Ingmar Bergman with I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry: he and the guy from “The King of Queens” play two firefighters who pretend to be gay to get the marriage benefits (any relationship to the limp Australian comedy Strange Bedfellows starring Paul Hogan is entirely coincidental): Readings and Sky City Queensgate. Aside: I saw a film in one of the two Gold Lounges at Queensgate on Tuesday night and an usher stopped by my seat to ask me if I wanted popcorn or a soft drink which was nice except THE FEATURE HAD JUST STARTED! And for health and safety reasons they don’t dim the lights fully so it was an experience I can’t recommend. The film was good though (more on that in another post).

The rest of the new releases after the jump, including Black Snake Moan and Ten Canoes.

Cinephilia: Opening This Week

License to Wed posterStrange things are afoot concerning the release of the film License to Wed (the trailer for which has been torturing audiences for weeks). The radio preview was at Readings tonight, they have been trailering it heavily and it’s got a start date of Thursday on their web site. But they don’t have any sessions listed for Courtenay Central.

It wouldn’t be the first time that Readings have dropped a film at the last minute as a bargaining position (they have been known to throw their weight around with distributors) or maybe they just wanted to give The Simpsons Movie triple the usual number of sessions (which they have done).

Then again, they might have seen the film and exercised some critical judgement. No, of course not, how stupid of me.

License to Wed is therefore only playing at the Empire in Island Bay so to experience it at the multiplex you’ll have to trek out to the aircraft hangar at Queensgate.

[Because I Said So and Catch a Fire after the jump.]

Cinephilia: Opening This Week

The Simpsons Movie posterThe highlights of the Northern Hemisphere blockbuster summer keep on arriving, led this week by the long-awaited Simpsons Movie. I previewed it today and I recommend that you stay through all the credits. Playing Readings, Empire Island Bay, Sky City Queensgate and Regent-on-Manners which despite the best efforts of some enthusiastic staff is complete pants.

Lindsay Lohan teams up with Jane Fonda and Felicity Huffman for the inter-generational comedy-drama Georgia Rule. Love interest is provided by Dermot Mulroney and Garrett Hedlund (Eragon). Again all over town: Readings, Regent-on-Manners and Sky City Queensgate.

More after the jump

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.