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greta gerwig Archives - Funerals & Snakes

Review: Kick-Ass 2, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, Much Ado About Nothing & Frances Ha

By Cinema and Reviews

Alexis Denisoff and Amy Acker in Joss Whedon's adptation of Much Ado About Nothing (2012)

There has been much discussion in the circles in which I move about the quantity of films released to local cinemas. Not only are there too many films coming out every week — too many for each one to generate much heat at any rate — but the ones that are coming out aren’t always the right ones. Smaller distributors are pushing everything they have into the system regardless of their potential and some of the majors — with bigger marketing budgets and overheads to worry about — are ditching their arthouse and mid-range titles and pushing them straight to home video.

[pullquote]Who says Americans can’t do Shakespeare? Nonsense.[/pullquote]At the same time, multiplex screens are full of big budget commercial gambles, with box office estimates based on local history and the hope that Twilight-like lightning might strike twice. See which ones in the list below fit into which category. (Clue: if your film has no hi-res English language poster available online  and your only official website is in Japanese, maybe you can’t really support it in NZ cinemas.)

Farewell, My Queen posterBenoît Jacquot’s Farewell, My Queen goes behind the scenes of Louis XVI and — more specifically — Marie Antoinette’s court during the dark days of the revolution as the regime tottered and fell. We see these events from the point of view of Her Majesty’s book reader, a young servant played by Léa Seydoux. Initially besotted by the Queen (Diane Kruger), her faith is shaken by the revelations of corruption, waste and — intriguingly — Antoinette’s relationship with the duchesse de Polignac (Virginie Ledoyen).

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Telluride Diary part seven: The show (part four)

By Cinema and Travel

It’s now Saturday morning in NYC and Telluride already seems like old news. Venice has just announced its prizewinners (The Master obv. — or not so obv.) and Toronto is in full flow. Still, I have one more day of my Telluride Film Festival experience to record and I’d better get it down before I forget.

The Monday of Telluride is a catch-up day. Most of the celebrities and honourees have departed and a lot of the programme is announced the night before, extra screenings of popular titles (or at least the films that most people were turned away from. This is an excellent plan and I was able to fill in quite a few of my gaps (though not all).

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Telluride Volunteer Fire Station.

The first screening was the Q&A session for Sarah Polley’s new documentary Stories We Tell, a film that had generated quite a bit of buzz over the weekend. Polley — with gorgeous six-month-old daughter in harness — briefly introduced a film that at first intrigues, then surprises and finally delights. She has done a marvellous job of making what might have been an indulgent piece about her own personal dramas into something universal. I sincerely hope this gets a decent New Zealand release so I can review it at more length but I’m also going to hold back the details of the story so readers without access to Google might come to it as unsullied by spoilers as possible.

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Telluride Diary part five: The show (part two)

By Cinema and Travel

Saturday dawned early and I was grateful that the first screening of the morning was at the Chuck Jones’ in Mountain Village, barely a fifteen minute shuttle from my accommodation. Time to grab a coffee and then wait in line for an 8.30am repeat of the Roger Corman Tribute from the night before. This time the host and interrogator would be Leonard Maltin (familiar to all New Zealanders of a certain age, I think) instead of Todd McCarthy.

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A fairly representative picture of Mountain Village architecture.

Before Mr Corman was invited on stage, we got to see an excellent documentary on his life and work, Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel. After that, Corman entered the stage to a standing ovation and we were treated to insights and stories from an exceedingly well-educated and thoughtful entrepreneur and artist for almost an hour. The surprise for me was hearing about Corman’s liberal politics and how he might have steered his filmmaking in that direction if it hadn’t been for the commercial failure of The Intruder (1962, starring William Shatner as a white supremacist).

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Telluride Diary part four: The show (part one)

By Cinema and Travel

After two days of “phony war” with evening teaser screenings in the Ralph Lauren-funded Elks Park Abel Gance Cinema, Telluride got under way formally yesterday with a full slate of screenings at all nine venues.

The “unofficial” programme — a 90 page newsprint guide featuring a mostly-there draft of the schedule — was made available on Thursday and a press release had announced the names of the three honourees and the main features, but there were still a large number of slots marked “TBA” including almost all of Monday. Even then, we were told not to put too much faith in the unofficial guide and to wait for the glossy DLE programme which would be available at Noon on Friday — the first day of the festival!

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Review: Another Year, Sarah’s Key, Arthur, Heartbreakers, Mars Needs Moms and Queen of the Sun

By Cinema and Reviews

Another Year posterGenius filmmaker Mike Leigh has been on a bit of an up and down streak in recent years. 2002’s All or Nothing was wonderful, Vera Drake (2004) I found frustratingly unwatchable and, most recently, Happy-Go-Lucky seemed too thin — beneath his significant talents — and yet, despite not liking it very much, I find myself thinking about Happy-Go-Lucky quite often. And that’s Leigh’s skill — he gets under your skin even when you resist.

Another Year is his latest film and it’s terribly good. It’s Secrets and Lies good, that good, despite having no plot to speak of. Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen (Leigh regulars) play Tom and Gerri, a happily married couple who seem to be surrounded by people who simply aren’t as good at coping with life — Lesley Manville’s Mary, a highly strung, alcoholic, work colleague of Sheen’s who turns up to embarrass herself in their kitchen periodically; Tom’s old university buddy Ken played by Peter Wight (overweight, depressed, lonely, also alcoholic); Tom’s taciturn widower brother Ronnie (David Bradley). They all drift into and out of Tom and Gerri’s welcoming suburban kitchen while tea is made and drunk and banalities are spoken.

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