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RN 1/13: “You say you want a revolution...”

By Audio, Cinema, Rancho Notorious and Reviews

Kailey is in Toronto, Dan is in rainy Wellington and between them they review Kelly Reichardt’s “thrill­er” Night Moves and the dysto­pi­an night­mare of The Giver star­ring Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges and some kids, plus Robin Wright play­ing sev­er­al ver­sions of her­self in Ari Folman’s The Congress.

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Elysium poster

Review: Elysium, Stoker, We’re the Millers, The Heat, Giselle, Private Peaceful, Reality and Now You See Me

By Cinema and Reviews

Matt Damon in Neil Blomkamp's Elysium (2013).

With this year’s fest­iv­al now a rap­idly dimin­ish­ing memory – and my recov­ery from that event (plus anoth­er magazine pub­lished, some “live” pod­cast record­ings, a few Q&A’s, some dir­ect­or inter­views and a Big Screen Symposium) almost com­plete – I return to the com­mer­cial cinema and what do I find? Twenty-three new films have been released since my last set of reviews. Twenty-three! I only turned my back for a second. So, bear with me while I try and do some catch­ing up. Some of these films deserve more space than they are going to get here (and some of them don’t) but you can­’t have everything, am I right?

Elysium poster[pullquote]R‑rated these days appears to mean lots of unne­ces­sary curs­ing and com­ic male nudity.[/pullquote]Neill Blomkamp’s District 9 was a sur­prise smash-hit in 2009 and his follow-up, Elysium, is what we call ‘eagerly awaited’. Watching it I was reminded of the great strengths of that first film: a vividly cre­ated future soci­ety, dys­func­tion­al yet plaus­ible; a great plot setup with a genu­ine dilemma for the cent­ral char­ac­ter. Then I remembered the third act of District 9 – one long fight/chase/fight. And so it proves with Elysium. Wasted poten­tial as – like so many films this year – the film is resolved by who can punch harder rather than who can think bet­ter. I have lots of oth­er prob­lems with it but that’s the main one.

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Review: Rio, Hop, Oceans, Sucker Punch and some meditations on the Roxy

By Cinema and Reviews

Wellington’s first Roxy Cinema was either notori­ous or legendary depend­ing on your point of view. Originally the Britannia on Manners Street, it was renamed the Roxy in 1935 and ran as an idio­syn­crat­ic inde­pend­ent until demoli­tion in 1974. Old school pro­jec­tion­ists would tell you that the Roxy was a genu­ine fleapit, run­ning con­tinu­ous ses­sions (no clean­ing) and provid­ing a cent­ral city hideout for people skip­ping work or school.

According to “The Celluloid Circus”, Wayne Brittenden’s won­der­ful his­tory of cinemas in New Zealand, own­er Harry Griffith was once asked by a cash­ier if she should call the tru­ant officer to appre­hend some young miscre­ant. “Let him buy his tick­et first,” snapped Griffith, “then report him.”

Griffith took a showman’s approach to pro­gram­ming, once risk­ing the wrath of 20th Century Fox by schedul­ing an impromptu double fea­ture of Elizabeth Taylor’s Cleopatra and Kenneth Williams in Carry On Cleo. That’s the kind of spir­ited whimsy we tried to encour­age at the Paramount in my day and I do miss it.

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Review: Where the Wild Things Are, The Informant!, The Time Traveller’s Wife, Zombieland and The Cake Eaters

By Cinema and Reviews

Is it too early to sug­gest that we might be liv­ing in a golden age of cinema? Think of the film­makers work­ing in the com­mer­cial realm these days who have dis­tinct­ive voices, thrill­ing visu­al sens­ib­il­it­ies, sol­id intel­lec­tu­al (and often mor­al) found­a­tions, a pas­sion for com­bin­ing enter­tain­ment with some­thing more – along with an abid­ing love of cinema in all its strange and won­der­ful forms.

I’m think­ing of the Coens, obvi­ously, but also Peter Jackson (and protégé Neill Blomkamp), Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire), Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz and the forth­com­ing Scott Pilgrim), Jason Reitman (Juno and January’s Up in the Air), Guillermo Del Toro (work­ing hard on The Hobbit in Miramar), and even Tarantino is still pro­du­cing the goods. This week we are lucky enough to get new work from two oth­ers who should be in that list: Spike Jonze and Steven Soderbergh.

Where the Wild Things Are posterJonze made his name with oddball stor­ies like Being John Malkovich and Adaptation and the first thing you notice about his inter­pret­a­tion of the beloved Maurice Sendak children’s book, Where the Wild Things Are, is that it simply doesn’t resemble any­thing else you’ve ever seen. With the help of writer Dave Eggers (the nov­el “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius”, Away We Go) he has used the book as a start­ing point for a beau­ti­ful and sens­it­ive med­it­a­tion on what it is like to be a child (a boy child specifically).

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