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Earlier this year I arbit­rar­ily decided that the Hannah Montana 3D con­cert movie was not cinema and chose not to review it. Now, a few short weeks later, I exer­cise my right to indulge in rank hypo­crisy by stat­ing that the U2 3D con­cert movie is cinema and, thus, belongs in this column. Pieced togeth­er from con­certs in soc­cer sta­dia across Latin America (plus one without an audi­ence for close-ups), U2 3D is an amaz­ing exper­i­ence and truly must be seen to be believed.

I hadn’t expec­ted the new digit­al 3D medi­um to be used so expertly so soon but cre­at­ors Catherine Owens and Mark Pellington have man­aged to make the entire sta­di­um space mani­fest with float­ing cam­er­as and intel­li­gently layered digit­al cross-fading, giv­ing you a con­cert (and cinema) exper­i­ence that can not be ima­gined any oth­er way. Even if you are not a U2 fan this film deserves to be seen as an example of the poten­tial of 3D to trans­form the medium.

For the school hol­i­days Nim’s Island is an unex­pec­ted bonus. Dependable Abigail Breslin (Definitely, Maybe) plays the tar­get mar­ket, an 11-year-old girl stran­ded on her idyll­ic pacific island when ocean­o­graph­er fath­er (Gerard Butler) is lost at sea. With only her sea lion and pel­ic­an for com­pany she reaches out to her hero, fic­tion­al adven­turer Alex Rover, and instead gets Alex’s agora­phobic author played by Jodie Foster. Cook Islanders might be a little put out by their por­tray­al but Australians get it worse, all of them are fat and boor­ish oafs. I liked Nim’s Island and I know one per­son who is likely to get the DVD for Christmas.

The most inter­est­ing thing about viol­ent reneg­ade cop thrill­er Street Kings is the cast: Johnny Utah from Point Break is the pudgy anti-hero; Idi Amin is the big boss and jolly Bertie Wooster runs Internal Affairs. Apart from that there’s noth­ing you won’t have seen before and you’ll pick the plot apart some reels before Keanu does.

Some people would have you believe that British cinema is exem­pli­fied by David Lean epics like Lawrence of Arabia or Michael Powell’s The Red Shoes. Not so. The archetyp­al British cinema is found in those Carry On box sets at Whitcoulls, Confessions of a Taxi Driver , Hammer Horrors and Ealing Studios’ suc­cess­ful St Trinian’s series which spanned four films in the 50’s and 60’s. And now the gym-slipped young hellcats enter the 21st cen­tury, sup­por­ted by reli­able old stagers like Stephen Fry and Colin Firth. Rupert Everett takes on Alistair Sim’s dual roles of head­mis­tress and broth­er and Russell Brand (a com­plete unknown in this coun­try) plays Flash – a role ori­gin­ated by George Cole and (it would seem) writ­ten in this ver­sion for Ricky Gervais. Sadly, none of it works in the slight­est and the latest ver­sion of St Trinian’s is a cer­ti­fi­able laugh-free zone.

College Road Trip is anoth­er entry in the list of films fea­tur­ing black men scream­ing: this time the screamer-in-chief is Martin Lawrence, over-protective fath­er of teen­ager Raven-Symoné who is about to go to col­lege. The whole thing lacks pep and when the best thing about it is Donny Osmond you know you have a problem.

Earlier this year I said that delight­ful French rom-com Hunting & Gathering was “too good for the Penthouse”. I wish to unre­servedly with­draw that frivol­ous wise­crack and apo­lo­gise to the Penthouse as, by defin­i­tion, it can’t be too good for them if they’re actu­ally play­ing it. It’s heaps bet­ter than any­thing French they played last year, though.

Finally a quick word about the abund­ant doc­u­ment­ar­ies around at the moment. Blindsight is the best: the story of a group of blind Tibetan stu­dents, taken into the Himalayas by Erik Weihenmayer, blind con­quer­or of Everest. There are sev­er­al under­ly­ing stor­ies also told, each of which deserves a doc­u­ment­ary of it’s own.

I Have Never Forgotten You is a power­ful and human­it­ari­an bio­graphy of Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal, told largely in his own words.

The Real Dirt on Farmer John is a study of a unique agrari­an char­ac­ter, John Peterson: organ­ic entre­pren­eur and show­man. He seems nev­er to have done any­thing without someone beside him with a motion pic­ture cam­era which adds con­sid­er­able visu­al fla­vour to an inter­est­ing life story.

Printed in Wellington’s Capital Times on Wednesday 23 April, 2008 (minus St Trinian’s and College Road Trip which were cut for space).

Notes on screen­ing con­di­tions: U2 3D was, as you might have gathered, amaz­ing in Readings Dolby Digital screen (6). I’ll be going back to that one, I sus­pect. Nim’s Island was at a Saturday mat­inée at the Empire. St Trinian’s was also in Island Bay, on a very dreary Friday morn­ing. Street Kings was watched along­side Dominion Post review­er Graeme Tuckett at Readings on Monday after­noon. College Road Trip was the film before (although Graeme wisely avoided that one). Hunting & Gathering was viewed on a DVD screen­er sup­plied by the World Cinema Showcase a few weeks ago. Blindsight was screened on Sunday even­ing at the soon to be late and unla­men­ted Rialto (although the staff there are nev­er less than friendly). I Have Not Forgotten You was in The Brooks at the Paramount, out of focus until I aler­ted the pro­jec­tion­ist and with a smudge in the top right corner of the screen – either in the gate, on the lens or on the pro­jec­tion box glass. Very annoy­ing. The Real Dirt on Farmer John was a digit­al present­a­tion in the Vogue Lounge at the Penthouse: while the vin­tage Super 8 con­tent looked beau­ti­ful the scenes ori­gin­ated on video were very washed out and lack­ing in con­trast. Could do better.

Nature of con­flict: Adam Clayton from U2 is a second cous­in of mine (his Mum and my Dad are cous­ins). I don’t think that sways me at all, though.