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costa botes Archives - Funerals & Snakes

Review: Arrietty, Taken 2, On the Road, Life in Movement, Searching for Sugar Man, The Last Dogs of Winter and The Words

By Cinema and Reviews

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.

Arrietty posterA 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.

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Preview: New Zealand International Film Festival 2012

By Cinema and Reviews

It’s extremely quiet in terms of new releases in cinemas at the moment. The major international distributors are keeping well clear of the overwhelming force that will be The Dark Knight Rises and the indies know that all the arthouse money is going into film festival tickets.

This year — for a change — I’m not booking in advance for anything. There’s so much goodness in the programme — and my faith in serendipity needs a bit of a boost — that I’ll just see what happens to be playing whenever I get a spare moment and then give it a go. With well over 150 individual films and short programmes to choose from I’m sure there’ll always be something on that’s going to challenge and enlighten me.

Rampart posterIt helps that, thanks to festival management, I’ve already seen ten of what’s on offer — ten films that might be easy to miss when flicking from one end of the 80 page book to the other. In Rampart, Woody Harrelson finally lays to rest the ghosts of Cheers with a lacerating performance as an LA cop who’s as tormented and corrupted as Harvey Keitel’s legendary Bad Lieutenant. Collaborating once again with writer-director Oren Moverman (the brilliant and under-seen The Messenger), Harrelson plays a character so awful that 108 minutes later you are amazed to find you actually care about him.

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Preview: 2010 Wellington Film Festival

By Cinema and Wellington

New Zealand Film Festival poster 2010It’s never been a tougher time to be running a film festival. In addition to the usual commercial considerations of just selling enough tickets to stay afloat, each year brings with it fresh wrinkles to be accommodated. The window of availability of titles shrinks every year because distributors don’t want to sit on their investment. There’s increasing pressure to get films into cinemas before downloading destroys the market and less time for films to build a deserving international buzz.

In previous years films like the Argentinian Best Foreign Language Oscar winner The Secrets in their Eyes might have been tent-pole features for a Wellington Film Festival but have already been and gone from local cinemas so it’s incumbent on director and chief programmer Bill Gosden (and his cohorts) to dig deeper to find more gems for our annual mid-winter fix.

People keep asking me, Dan, they say, what sort of Festival is it, this year, and I have to answer that I really don’t know. I’ve only seen 19 out of the 160+ movies in the book. That’s not enough to know anything, really, about the Festival as a whole. It’s less than 15% of an enormously rich and diverse smorgasbord of potential goodies.

As usual, I asked the Festival people to feed me the unheralded and unknown, the films that might miss out on attention from the big media, and they did. As might be expected, not all of them worked for me but I have some suggestions for films that I am assured will not be coming back on general release later this year.

AB7288B0-44D3-4906-A3B7-6966FC3D2C18.jpegIn the drama section I was very affected by Honey, a beautiful Turkish film about a young boy with some kind of learning disorder, desperate for the approval of his teachers, classmates and his taciturn beekeeper father. A fine example of slow cinema, I feel certain that you will be absorbed by its beauty and the miraculous central performance.

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