Skip to main content
Tag

italian film festival

Preview: 18th Italian Film Festival

By Cinema

caesar-must-die-01

Feel like vis­it­ing some­where new but don’t have the time or money right now? A film fest­iv­al is the next best thing. If you want to under­stand a coun­try and its cul­ture it’s hard to go past watch­ing their com­mer­cial cinema – their mul­ti­plex and block­buster fare rather than the arthouse.

18th Italian Film Festival posterThat’s why the region­al film fest­ivals are so import­ant – and the Italian Film Festival is king with attend­ance num­bers every year that are great­er than all the oth­er region­al fest­ivals put togeth­er. Festival dir­ect­or Tony Lambert has been at this for over a dozen years and his for­mula works – a well-constructed sur­vey of the cur­rent Italian cinema fea­tur­ing broad com­ed­ies, romances and his­tor­ic­al dra­mas. These are the films that Italians have been watching.

This year’s fest­iv­al opens at the Paramount on the 9th of October with a gala screen­ing of Welcome to the North (a sequel to the 2010 smash hit Welcome to the South, itself a remake of the French com­edy Welcome to the Sticks). After that we have two and a half weeks of screen­ings with most films play­ing four or five times.

Read More

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.

Read More

Review: Spy Kids 4D, The Smurfs, Johnny English Reborn, Real Steel, Footloose, The Orator, Norwegian Wood and the 2011 Italian Film Festival

By Cinema and Reviews

While thou­sands of protest­ors gath­er in Manhattan to “Occupy Wall St”, the European eco­nomy teeters on the brink of col­lapse, unem­ploy­ment across the developed world grows and sev­er­al Pacific island nations report short­ages of drink­ing water due to cli­mate change, here in New Zealand we con­tin­ue to party like it’s 1987 and at the pic­tures for the school hol­i­days we have the most blatant and des­per­ate examples of cor­por­at­ist “enter­tain­ment” I’ve ever seen lined up togeth­er. Is this the cinema equi­val­ent of fid­dling while Rome burns?

In The Smurfs the mega-sized Sony cor­por­a­tion makes sure that its name and products are nev­er very far from the centre of the screen, ren­der­ing the lumpy end product utterly charm­less. In Real Steel the product place­ment is more like product bom­bard­ment. Nothing goes without a logo – from Hugh Jackman’s sunglasses to HP (or are they still known as Hewlett-Packard?) spend­ing thou­sands of dol­lars to pro­mote products they don’t even make any­more. Meanwhile, the spies in Spy Kids 4 all use Apple products – although for the most part they are pre­tend­ing to be some­thing oth­er than com­puters and iPads.

Johnny English Reborn even goes so far as to make a joke out of its depend­ency on the rap­idly declin­ing cor­por­ate dol­lar – English’s beloved MI7 has changed it’s name to Toshiba MI7 while he was on an enforced sab­bat­ic­al. Whether the pres­ence of a sen­su­ously pho­to­graphed (and glow­ingly described) Rolls Royce will prompt the aver­age audi­ence mem­ber to trade in their fifteen-year-old Mazdas is neither here nor there. The fact remains that if you send your kids to the pic­tures this hol­i­days they will be indoc­trin­ated more than any gen­er­a­tion before them.

Spy Kids 4 posterBut are the films any good? Actually, yes, a couple of them are OK. I’m a big fan of Robert Rodriguez and his abil­ity to altern­ately churn out grown-up pulp like Machete and family-friendly fare like Shorts. His Troublemaker Studios in Austin knows how to make things look good (enough) on mod­est budgets and Rodriguez’ relent­lessly invent­ive ima­gin­a­tion keeps everything lively and fun. I thought Spy Kids 4 was endear­ing and it man­aged to deliv­er a good mes­sage along with the thrills and spills.

Read More

Review: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest, Devil, La Danse, Love Crime, The Eclipse and Glorious 39

By Cinema and Reviews

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest posterThe irony of watch­ing a film in which shad­owy fig­ures from the Swedish gov­ern­ment lie, steal and murder in order to dis­cred­it a journ­al­ist try­ing to reveal embar­rass­ing secrets, in the same week that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was accused of rape by a Swedish pro­sec­utor wasn’t lost on this review­er. Sadly, that was the only pleas­ure to be found watch­ing The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest, num­ber three in the Millenium tri­logy that star­ted in 2009 with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

This film picks up almost imme­di­ately after the pre­vi­ous epis­ode fin­ished and you may be sur­prised to dis­cov­er that pretty much every­one you thought was dead turns out to be still alive and mak­ing mis­chief. Feisty Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) is stuck in hos­pit­al recov­er­ing from her injur­ies while dour journ­al­ist Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) and his mates do their investigatin’.

Read More

Review: Dinner for Schmucks, The Insatiable Moon and Picture Me

By Cinema, Conflict of Interest and Reviews

Dinner for Schmucks posterAfter a week when New Zealand has been forced to con­front its own intol­er­ance and social myopia it seems fit­ting that two films that are essen­tially about under­stand­ing and accept­ing diversity should arrive in cinemas in the same week. They both take drastic­ally dif­fer­ent approaches to the top­ic, too.

In Dinner for Schmucks, ambi­tious hedge fund ana­lyst Paul Rudd has to find a guest to take to a monthly seni­or man­age­ment party in which unusu­al people are secretly held up to ridicule. When his Porsche knocks over mild mannered pub­lic ser­vant and ama­teur taxi­derm­ist Steve Carell he thinks he’s found the right man. But Carell’s char­ac­ter, Barry, latches on to him caus­ing may­hem wherever he goes.

Eventually, after Rudd’s rela­tion­ship and career are wrecked, they both reach a deep­er under­stand­ing of each oth­er and some decent human val­ues: laugh­ing with someone is ok. At someone? Not so much. And if you are any­thing like me, you will laugh.

Read More