Too late to be more than 50% useful to anyone, here’s my World Cinema Showcase preview:
As summer gives way to autumn, and Daylight Saving Time gently releases its grip on our priorities, the first significant film festival of the year returns to take up residence at the Paramount. The World Cinema Showcase is two very tidy weeks of great filmgoing, almost as if the grand, winter, Festival has been distilled down to a manageable essence.
Within, 33 features (and one omnibus collection of shorts) compete for your attention and, luckily, the long Easter weekend allows you take full advantage. A few of the titles were made available to critics as previews, but many more are on my list of films I simply must see on the big screen and, depending on your tastes and interests, nothing is un-recommendable.
Those of us that try and take cinema seriously have very few forums where we can truly express our passion and the Monday evening screenings at the Wellington Film Society are the alter at which we worship.
For over 60 years Wellingtonians have been gathering to watch flickering images from all over the world. In the days before the words nerd or geek we were called buffs (and were proud of it) and we still gather in our hundreds at the Paramount picture theatre to bathe in the glory of a rectangular image on a silver screen — shadows cast by films from exotic places (and some from less far afield).
This year’s Feb-Nov programme kicks-off on Monday with a real treat — Garden of Earthly Delights is the first screening in a series of films by acclaimed Polish filmmaker Lech Majewski and it’s a prime example of the kind of screening that only the Film Society can provide. It’s an award-winning art movie about love, loss, morbidity and creation and the director will be present at the screening to take questions.
I first visited the Moscow Arms near Pembridge Square in 1970, when the room fee at the hotel now named the Blue Bells was £4 a night. I have never met anybody in that pub. I always sit in the same corner booth. There is a man who comes in every lunchtime, tattooed, bald, and wearing a motorcycle jacket. He is nearly 40 years older now, but he is still there, and it looks like it’s still the same jacket. Has he noticed me crossing his field of vision 50 or 75 times in his lifetime? Certainly not. But if he still comes at lunchtime every day, it is my duty to bear witness, because by now I have become the only person in the Moscow Arms who knows how long he has been doing this, or cares. I believe this includes him.
I too enjoy sitting alone in cafés, restaurants and bars. Indeed this very morning I took brunch at The Cheeky Pipi in Island Bay and, despite the average-ness of the coffee and the meal, I enjoyed the sitting, the reading and the watching.
Often on these occasions people will say, “without this person I wouldn’t be here” but in Sunny’s case I believe it to be literally true. When my parents got married in 1966, Sunny (and Ralph McAllister) organised the event, cooked the kai (meatballs and pavlova) and the reception was hosted at Sunny’s flat in London. Therefore, she’s always been a presence in my life (although I didn’t actually meet her until 1993 when I started working for Downstage the first time and she was on the Board).
I’m very happy that I’ve got to know her since, and that Downstage (where she was the first woman Director back in 1970) is where I have landed.
According to TreeHugger, wine in 3 litre cardboard casks is significantly more environmentally friendly than the equivalent volume in glass. I was pleased to read this as, in my final year of drinking, when I was giving it a bit of a nudge, pretty much all my consumption was from those cheap casks of Country Medium you get at the front of the New World in Newtown. So, I’m glad to confirm that, even then, I was doing my bit for the planet.
Yesterday, Friday, marked two years sober, two years which have easily been the most productive of my life. To celebrate (and while we are on the subject of the environment) here’s John Clarke and Bryan Dawe discussing an environmental catastrophe: “The Front Fell Off”.