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close encounters of the third kind

Review: Summer Holiday Roundup (2011/12)

By Cinema and Reviews

Time to clear the sum­mer hol­i­day back­log so that the next time it rains you’ll have an idea of what you should go and see. There’s plenty to choose from – for all ages – and there’s a bunch more to come too.

Hugo posterBest thing on at the moment is Martin Scorsese’s first “kids” film, Hugo, but it took a second view­ing for con­firm­a­tion. It is a gor­geous love let­ter to cinema, a plea for decent archives, a cham­pi­on of the latest tech­no­logy – all Marty’s cur­rent pas­sions – but it’s also about some­thing more, some­thing universal.

Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) is a little orphan ragamuffin hid­ing in the walls of a great Paris rail­way sta­tion, wind­ing the clocks and try­ing to repair a broken auto­maton that he believes con­tains a mes­sage from his dead fath­er (Jude Law). While steal­ing parts from the sta­tion toy shop – and its sad and grumpy old own­er – Hugo meets the old man’s god-daughter (Chloë Grace Moretz) and between them they try and unravel the mys­tery of the auto­maton and why Papa Georges (Ben Kingsley) is so unhappy. Hugo is a mov­ing story about repair – the kind of redemp­tion that comes when you don’t write off and dis­card broken machines – or broken people.

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Review: Super 8, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, Soul Surfer, Biutiful, The Tempest and Brighton Rock

By Cinema and Reviews

I’ve been busy over the last few weeks work­ing on New Zealand’s biggest par­ti­cip­at­ory film event, the V 48 Hours which reaches its loc­al cli­max tonight at the Embassy Theatre. It’s a won­der­ful cel­eb­ra­tion of Wellington film tal­ent and there may be door sales so check with the venue.

Super 8 posterOne of the inspir­a­tions for 48 Hours is the true story of a group of Mississippi kids who spent six years of week­ends and hol­i­days in the 1980s remak­ing Raiders of the Lost Ark – shot for shot – on home video. The pro­ject went from notori­ous to legendary in 2003 when the kids (now adults) were invited to meet Lucas and Spielberg and their story was even optioned by Paramount. I can’t see that pic­ture get­ting made now as Spielberg (and J.J. “Star Trek” Abrams) have come up with some­thing that, though par­tially inspired by the boys’ VHS efforts, goes in a dif­fer­ent dir­ec­tion entirely, hon­our­ing not just their homemade Raiders but Spielberg’s own E.T. and Close Encounters .

In a small Ohio town in 1979 a bunch of kids are mak­ing a zom­bie flick so they can enter the loc­al Super 8 film com­pet­i­tion. During an unau­thor­ised night shoot at the rail­way sta­tion they wit­ness a dev­ast­at­ing train crash which unleashes mys­ter­i­ous forces that the Government is des­per­ate to cov­er up. As the freaked-out cit­izenry are evac­u­ated so the Air Force can hunt down the whatever-it-is that’s escaped, our hero­ic kids head back in to the danger zone armed only with curi­os­ity and that child-like sense of right and wrong that Mr. Spielberg used to spe­cial­ise in.

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Review: District 9, Sunshine Cleaning, The Man in the Hat, The Rocket Post and Case 39

By Cinema and Reviews

It’s going to be a massive few months for Wellywood – District 9 seems to have come out of nowhere to take the world by storm (Currently #35 in the IMDb All Time list, just below Citizen Kane. I kid you not) and The Lovely Bones trail­er is whet­ting everyone’s appet­ite at just the right time. This Friday, Wellington audi­ences are the first in the world to see a fif­teen minute sampler of the loc­ally shot Avatar (Readings from 11.45am, free of charge) and three more Film Commission fea­tures are due for release between now and Christmas: The Strength of Water, Under the Mountain and The Vintner’s Luck, all of which have a sig­ni­fic­ant Wellington com­pon­ent to them.

District 9 posterAnd if the Hollywood big cheeses were wor­ried about The Lord of the Rings shift­ing the tec­ton­ic plates of enter­tain­ment industry power they ought to be ter­ri­fied by District 9, a new world demon­stra­tion of the SANZAR spir­it (minus the Australians) that achieves in spades everything that this year’s big-budget tent-pole fea­tures like Transformers and Terminator failed to do. It works thrill­ingly as pure enter­tain­ment and yet at the same time it’s a little bit more.

Aliens have arrived on earth but unlike in the 70s and 80s they aren’t here to tell us how to con­nect with the uni­verse and expand our con­scious­ness. And it isn’t like the 90s when they arrived to car­a­mel­ize us with their death rays. These ali­ens have arrived for remark­ably 21st cen­tury reas­ons – their ship is crippled and with no way home they are destined to become refugees, out­casts, mis­un­der­stood second-class citizens.

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