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.
The first thing you need to understand about A Good Day to Die Hard is that it isn’t really a Die Hard movie. In the same way that instant coffee and espresso coffee share a name but are in fact entirely different beverages, you’d be wise to go to a Good Day screening with modest expectations – expectations that would already have been lowered if you’d seen 2007’s dismal Die Hard 4.0 (aka Live Free and Die Hard).
Bruce Willis plays Detective John McClane for the fifth time since 1988 but this time there’s no smirk, no glint in his eye and none of the recognisable human frailties that made the original character so appealing. Instead, he’s just what everybody always said he was – an asshole. When his son is arrested by Moscow authorities for what looks like a mob hit, McClane heads to Eastern Europe to try and save a boy he hardly knows. As usual, McClane becomes “the fly in the ointment, the monkey in the wrench” and he immediately lands in the middle of a CIA operation to extract a rebel oligarch hiding information that could bring down the government, his untimely intervention destroying most of Moscow’s traffic in the process.
It’s Back to BOURNE with Jeremy Renner; Meryl Streep gets it on with Tommy Lee Jones in HOPE SPRINGS; Hirokazu Koreeda’s I WISH is a little gem and we talk to the directors of the New Zealand documentary HOW FAR IS HEAVEN.
In The Bourne Legacy, Matt Damon’s amnesiac super-soldier Jason Bourne is a shadowy figure, looming invisibly over a plot that for contractual reasons can’t accommodate him. It’s as if he’s in the sin bin – after a yellow card for demanding director approval – watching the clock tick down until he can take the field again.
The director that Damon objected to is Tony Gilroy – co-writer of all the Bournes and writer-director of Michael Clayton – and next time someone should listen to Damon’s instincts. He said he wouldn’t do another Bourne without Paul Greengrass (director of the last two, Supremacy and Ultimatum) and the weird compromise concocted by Gilroy to keep the franchise alive will probably only satisfy the studio and the Robert Ludlum estate. Bourne is on life support but no more than that.
Eat Pray Love is what they used to call, in the old days, a “women’s picture” and the advertisers who have paid good money to annoy audiences before the film make sure you know it: feminine hygiene products. A chromosomal anomaly on my part means that I’m not in the target market for this film (or the bestselling book that inspired it) but I’ll give it a go. Manfully.
Julia Roberts plays Liz, a phenomenally bad playwright and (supposedly) successful author who has a crisis and ends her (supposedly) unsatisfactory marriage to bewildered and hurt Billy Crudup. Never having lived without a man in her life she goes straight into a relationship with handsome and spiritual young actor James Franco.
Still unhappy, and a source of enormous frustration to her ethnically diverse best friend Viola Davis (Doubt), she uses her share of the Crudup divorce to take a year off and find herself – Italy for the food, India for the guru and Bali for Javier Bardem.
It took well over 18 months for Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker to get a general release in New Zealand – a year in which it steadily built audiences and critical acclaim at worldwide festivals and public screenings. In fact, until it was nominated for a Golden Globe late last year the film had no New Zealand release date scheduled and many film buffs resorted to illicit online sources to try and see (what was being touted) as one of the films of the decade.
This is a worrying trend. Increasingly, some of the best films are heading straight to DVD (sometimes, if the timing works, with a Film Festival screening but not always) and, despite New Zealand having a fine track record for supporting arthouse and thoughtful product, I find myself confronted every week by rubbish like Law Abiding Citizen and Bounty Hunter. Somewhere along the line the distributors have lost their nerve: The Blind Side, which won an Academy Award for Sandra Bullock last month, has only just been given a slot by Roadshow (Warner Brothers). A Serious Man was one of the most brilliant and intelligent films I’ve ever seen and only one print was placed in Wellington – and it was a Coen Brothers Film!