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Review: The Social Network, The Ghost Writer, Matariki & Ladies & Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones

By November 17, 2010November 28th, 20107 Comments

The Social Network posterFrom the tour de force of A Few Good Men in 1992 (“You can’t handle the truth!”) to the win­ning Charlie Wilson’s War in 2007, Aaron Sorkin’s spark­ling dia­logue and intel­li­gent char­ac­ters provide (all too rare) beacons of bril­liance among the parade of dross that is most com­mer­cial cinema.

And that doesn’t count his con­tri­bu­tion to tele­vi­sion. I’m one of those people who love “The West Wing” so much that I wish I could simply main­line it dir­ect into a vein, so a new Sorkin script of any descrip­tion is an event.

Torn from the blogs (and a best-selling book by Ben Mezrich), The Social Network is the heav­ily myth­o­lo­gised story of the inven­tion of Facebook and the leg­al tussles over the plen­ti­ful spoils. Sorkin is in his ele­ment, here: He doesn’t write action or gun-battles, he writes smart, lit­er­ate people arguing over ideas and it’s an unend­ing pleasure.

It really helps that his script is sup­por­ted by able dir­ec­tion from David “Fight Club” Fincher who pro­pels the story for­ward at blis­ter­ing pace. Hugely enter­tain­ing, but with less insight into the mod­ern world of vir­tu­al com­munit­ies and social media than one might have hoped. Perhaps that film is still to come from somewhere.

Matariki posterThe latest in a string of Auckland-produced Kiwi indies opens on Thursday: Matariki is a brave multi-character drama set in a self-consciously multi-cultural South Auckland. When a League star (Mark Ruka) is beaten up try­ing to save a stranger from a gang hid­ing, the ripples spread out to affect plenty of people includ­ing the star’s broth­er, the brother’s boy­friend (co-writer Iaheto Ah Hi), the star’s cop wife (Sara Wiseman), etc.

The mod­el for this sort of thing is the great Lantana (from Australia nearly ten years ago) and it’s a brave struc­ture to attempt. Matariki falls into a few of the traps (it’s heav­ily con­trived at times) but it has a big heart which it wears proudly on its sleeve.

The Ghost Writer posterThe Ghost Writer turned out to be an enter­tain­ing watch, des­pite the plen­ti­ful holes in the plot and the rushed dénoue­ment. Ewan McGregor plays a hack spe­cial­ising in ghost­ing celebrity auto­bi­o­graph­ies. He gets the chance of a life­time when the Blair-like former Prime Minister (Pierce Brosnan) needs help with his manu­script – turns out the pre­vi­ous ghost writer threw him­self off a ferry. Soon, the con­spir­acy the­or­ies escal­ate and so does the para­noia. Fun and games, well manip­u­lated by dir­ect­or Roman Polanski.

Ladies & Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones posterThere was a dis­ap­point­ing turnout for the Saturday after­noon screen­ing of Ladies & Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones, a restored digit­al present­a­tion of rarely seen con­cert foot­age from 1972. Perhaps the “event” pri­cing of $25 a tick­et put off the cas­u­al buy­er, or maybe audi­ences aren’t yet aware that the digit­al pro­ject­ors at Readings (and soon the Embassy) are going to be screen­ing more than just, what’s the word, films.

In any case, you all missed a fas­cin­at­ing his­tor­ic­al arte­fact. The per­form­ance was lively and rough around the edges, Jagger’s ana­tom­ic­ally improb­able cod­piece was dis­tract­ing and (like almost all Stones movies) there wasn’t enough Charlie Watts.

Printed in Wellington’s Capital Times on Wednesday 17 November, 2010.


  • Lucy says:

    People haven’t actu­ally missed their chance to see Ladies & Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones. Saw this last night at the Penthouse Cinema and it is play­ing again on Tuesday night. Also, the tick­ets are now $15 I think. Great show.

  • Lucy says:

    You should give it a shot if you fancy going again. My boy­friend went to both Reading and Penthouse and said that he thought the sound was bet­ter at the Penthouse and a bit too loud at Reading. Anyway, keep up the great reviews.

  • Lucy says:

    Haha, yeah. Big fan! Then return­ing home to read Keith Richard’s new auto­bi­o­graphy (which has an inter­est­ing ‘behind the scenes’ descrip­tion of Mick’s cod­piece). By osmos­is I am learn­ing way too much about these guys.