Dan and Kailey are joined by film festival stalwart and emergency management specialist Rebecca Goodbehere to discuss the new Dwayne Johnson disaster movie San Andreas and the new Cameron Crowe disastrous movie Aloha. Plus the latest announcements from this year’s NZIFF and the usual mix of news and box office stats from around the world.
Dan and Kailey are joined by Steve Austin on the line from Auckland to talk about “Straight to Video”, his blog reviewing the increasing number of films that don’t get a theatrical release in New Zealand (including James Gray’s The Immigrant). He sticks around to help the team review Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper which stars Bradley Cooper as an all-American hero traumatised by the Iraq war.
Plus, Kailey interviews Tess and Jamie from the Circa Theatre production of Seed.
As is so often the case at this time of year (usually related to 48 Hours commitments) I am a little behind on my reviewing. This weekend I caught up on a lot the actual watching (although apologies to John Davies who sent me a screener of Remembrance that I haven’t yet sat down and watched) so now I will try and rustle up another one of my trademark collections of “Capsule Reviews of Questionable Utility”.
Of all the movies I’ve seen so far this year, Linklater, Delpy and Hawke’s Before Midnight (after three movies I think it’s fair to credit authorship severally) is the one that has stuck in my brain the longest. In it, we catch up with the lovers from Before Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset (2004) as they reach the end of an idyllic vacation in Greece. Hawke’s Jesse is wondering whether he should try and spend more time with his teenage son who lives with his mother in the States. Delpy’s Celine is about to start a dream job back in Paris where they currently reside with their two adorable daughters.
They are at a crossroads but, as the film makes clear, when are we ever not? Delpy is magnificent, creating a wondrous, beautiful, insecure, infuriating and righteous woman who is simultaneously proud and frustrated at the role she has found herself playing. Watching her I was thinking about a couple of relationships of mine that I ended. Maybe I was a little bit hasty. Maybe I wasn’t really listening.
Shopping (Mark Albiston & Louis Sutherland) starts with archive television news footage of the infamous 1970s dawn raids, tooled-up cops breaking down doors to track down “overstayers”. As a scene-setter it’s impressive. It gives the film an immediate sense of menace but it doesn’t follow through — the cops never arrive and the threat of deportation back to the islands (like almost everything else in the film) is never discussed. So, narratively then, Shopping may disappoint but as a psychological portrait of alienated working class teenage life it excels.
Newcomer Kevin Paulo is Willie, stuck in a dead-end job dreaming of something better. His white father (Alistair Browning, often threatening but with a heart in the right place) wants him to work hard and get on while his Samoan mother Theresa (Maureen Fepuleai) wants him to behave himself and set a good example to younger brother Solomon (Julian Dennison). He does neither of those things and falls in with a bad crowd of local crims led by charismatic Bennie (Jacek Koman). In their world “shopping” means thievery and the adrenaline, the parties and beautiful Nicky (Laura Peterson) keep Willie away from his own home and a family that needs him more than he realises.[pullquote]I wonder whether the world is ready for a Pakistani James Bond.[/pullquote]Shot with style — and a budget-protecting shallow focus — by Ginny Loane, Shopping leaves the audience with plenty of work to do — filling in the gaps — until it reaches a suitably enigmatic conclusion. Strong performances from seasoned pros and newcomers alike keep the tension up in individual scenes but I sometimes felt that the through-line was no more than a slender thread.
Local audiences can pretend they are Academy voters for the next few weeks because almost all the big nominees are being released at the same time. It’s the NZ way — try and maximise attention for your films while they are still contenders but before they become losers. It makes for a crush at local screens — you may not find the film you want at the time you want — but it also means the odds of seeing something really good are much better than usual.
Spielberg’s Lincoln is classy old school filmmaking, as you might expect from such a veteran. He’s assembled an A‑team of writers, performers and technical crew to tell one of the most important — and resonant — stories of the last 150 years. Abe Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis) has been re-elected to his second term as President and the painful and bloody Civil War is almost won. Why would he risk his considerable political capital to try and pass the Thirteenth Amendment to the constitution — prohibiting slavery — when the slave-owning south is almost defeated and many on his own side don’t feel it is necessary?
After an intense weekend running from picture theatre to picture theatre between — and sometimes during — rain showers, I have now caught up on everything in current local release. Except Tinker Bell and the Secret of the Wings but a Twitter correspondent assures me: “Just FYI my 5 year old great niece loved it so much she stood up at the end clapping & dancing…you should go you’ll love it ;)” and that review might just have to do for now.
A little harder to track down than Tinker Bell, Madagascar 3 or Hotel Transylvania — but well worth the effort — is Arrietty, a Studio Ghibli animated adaptation of The Borrowers, Mary Norton’s famous children’s book about tiny people living under a house who are discovered by a frail young boy who needs a friend. Beautifully animated — as always — and told with emotion and simplicity, Arrietty is a fine alternative to those over-hyped Hollywood confections. The version playing in Wellington is the English voiced one featuring Saoirse Ronan, Olivia Colman and Mark Strong — much easier on the ears than the American voices and much easier to follow for the littlies than the original Japanese.