Dominion Post and Newstalk ZB reviewer Graeme Tuckett joins Dan and Kailey to talk about Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement’s vampire mockumentary What We do in the Shadowswhich is out this weekend across New Zealand (September in Australia) as well as meta-sequel22 Jump Street which goes into it’s second weekend here and opening weekend across the Tasman.
This week’s Australian correspondent is Chris Elena and he’ll be giving his impressions of the recent Sydney Film Festival and telling us about shooting and editing a short film on film.
Also, we’re joined by joined by Kiwi playwright David Geary from Vancouver, Canada, who has just spent an evening with Oscar winner Oliver Stone at the Vancouver Biennale.
There are also a number of utterly non-gratuitous mentions of Game of Thrones in the programme that will no doubt be extremely helpful for search engine optimisation.
As is so often the case at this time of year (usually related to 48 Hours commitments) I am a little behind on my reviewing. This weekend I caught up on a lot the actual watching (although apologies to John Davies who sent me a screener of Remembrance that I haven’t yet sat down and watched) so now I will try and rustle up another one of my trademark collections of “Capsule Reviews of Questionable Utility”.
Of all the movies I’ve seen so far this year, Linklater, Delpy and Hawke’s Before Midnight (after three movies I think it’s fair to credit authorship severally) is the one that has stuck in my brain the longest. In it, we catch up with the lovers from Before Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset (2004) as they reach the end of an idyllic vacation in Greece. Hawke’s Jesse is wondering whether he should try and spend more time with his teenage son who lives with his mother in the States. Delpy’s Celine is about to start a dream job back in Paris where they currently reside with their two adorable daughters.
They are at a crossroads but, as the film makes clear, when are we ever not? Delpy is magnificent, creating a wondrous, beautiful, insecure, infuriating and righteous woman who is simultaneously proud and frustrated at the role she has found herself playing. Watching her I was thinking about a couple of relationships of mine that I ended. Maybe I was a little bit hasty. Maybe I wasn’t really listening.
Readers of last week’s column will know that I am currently overseas on a quest, a mission — a pursuit if you prefer — hoping to discover a new kind of cinema. After a week at the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado I am now in New York and have got a clearer idea of what that vision should look like.
I think I’ll name this new cinema goodcinema and it’s main characteristic will be the absence of films like Hit and Run and The Watch, two of this week’s new releases. Is it possible to redefine rubbish like this out of existence?
The first is a Dax Shepard vanity project about a man choosing to give up his place in a dull witness protection programme so that his girlfriend (Kristen Bell) can get a job in the big city. In the space of a single day his previous identity as a top getaway driver is revealed to her and his new identity as a dreary small-town non-entity is revealed to the dimwitted but single-minded hoods who he ratted out.
Of all the massively successful franchise conversions from best-selling-books-that-I-haven’t‑read, I’m pleased to say that I like this Hunger Games film the best. I’ve been justifiably scornful of the Harry Potter films in these pages and downright disdainful of Twilight but — while still not reaching out much to me personally — I can say that Hunger Games actually succeeds much more on its own cinematic terms.
Jennifer Lawrence basically repeats her Academy Award-nominated turn from Winter’s Bone as a plucky Appalachian teen forced to risk everything to protect her young sister while her traumatised mother remains basically useless. In this film, though, the enemy isn’t toothless meth dealers but the full force of a fascist state where the 99% is enslaved in various “districts” and forced to produce whatever the decadent 1% back in Capitol City require in order to keep them in their Klaus Nomi-inspired makeup and hair.
This week Philip Seymour Hoffman features in two new American sports movies, one about their most venerable — if not impenetrable — pastime of baseball and the other on the modern-day equivalent of bear-baiting, the presidential primaries. In Moneyball, Hoffman plays Art, team manager of the Oakland Athletics, left behind when his boss — Brad Pitt — decides to throw away decades of baseball tradition and use sophisticated statistical analysis and a schlubby Yale economics graduate (Jonah Hill) to pick cheap but effective players.
Hoffman steals every scene he is in but disappears from the story too early. Having said that, Pitt and Hill do great work underplaying recognisably real people and all are well-supported by Steve Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin’s script which has scene after scene of great moments, even if some of them lead nowhere (like poor Art’s arc). Moneyball might start out a sports movie but it’s actually a business textbook. If the place you work at clings to received wisdom, experience and intuition over “facts” then organise an outing to Moneyball as fast as you can.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall was one of the surprise pleasures of 2008. An Apatow comedy that was relatively modest about it’s ambitions it featured a break-out performance from English comedian Russell Brand, playing a version of his own louche stage persona.
As it so often goes with surprise hits, a spinoff was rushed into production and we now get to see whether Mr Brand’s brand of humour can carry an entire film. Get Him to the Greek sees Brand’s English rock star Aldous Snow on the comeback trail after a failed seven year attempt at sobriety. Unlikely LA A&R man Jonah Hill (Knocked Up, Funny People) sells his record label boss, Sean “P Diddy” Combs, on a 10th anniversary concert featuring Snow and his band Infant Sorrow at the Greek Theatre of the title.