For the last three weeks I’ve been enjoying the opportunity to sit in for Simon Morris on RNZ National’s At the Movies. It’s a lot of work – at least a lot more work than writing for the website – which means I haven’t had a chance until now to post the highlights.Read More
My friend Simon calls Twilight “Twiglet” but that’s pretty much the maximum amount of amusement that I’ve managed to derive from a franchise that I have never managed to appreciate. Actually, that’s not quite true. During the latest – and final – episode, Breaking Dawn Part 2, I did laugh long and hard at the arrival of the fiddle-dee-dee Irish vampires with their red hair and their tweed waistcoats, part of a motley band of multi-ethnic sparklers assembled to fight off the threat from the Vettori (or whatever they’re called).
The Vulturi, led by simpering Michael Sheen, want to destroy (or absorb) the dangerous hybrid child Renesmee, a terrifyingly unrealistic CGI baby supposedly born just before Kristen Stewart’s Bella was finally converted at the end of the previous film. Despite being able to travel at the speed of light they take their time getting to snowy Washington state, allowing the Cullen’s – and their werewolf neighbours – to formulate a plan.
After an intense weekend running from picture theatre to picture theatre between – and sometimes during – rain showers, I have now caught up on everything in current local release. Except Tinker Bell and the Secret of the Wings but a Twitter correspondent assures me: “Just FYI my 5 year old great niece loved it so much she stood up at the end clapping & dancing…you should go you’ll love it ;)” and that review might just have to do for now.
A little harder to track down than Tinker Bell, Madagascar 3 or Hotel Transylvania – but well worth the effort – is Arrietty, a Studio Ghibli animated adaptation of The Borrowers, Mary Norton’s famous children’s book about tiny people living under a house who are discovered by a frail young boy who needs a friend. Beautifully animated – as always – and told with emotion and simplicity, Arrietty is a fine alternative to those over-hyped Hollywood confections. The version playing in Wellington is the English voiced one featuring Saoirse Ronan, Olivia Colman and Mark Strong – much easier on the ears than the American voices and much easier to follow for the littlies than the original Japanese.
Grown-up comedies Your Sister’s Sister, The Watch and Hit and Run, family comedy Finding Nemo in 3D, Twiglet Kristen Stewart in On the Road and Dan reports on the cinephile life in NYC.
There are now four films in the Twilight “saga” which means I’ve spent 493 minutes in the Twilight universe, at least 492 of them wishing I was somewhere else. The latest episode, Breaking Dawn Part 1 follows the Harry Potter strategy of not separating uncomplaining fools from their money once when you can do so twice, and thankfully is the least rotten of the four films.
All of the “will they, won’t they” nonsense has been leading to this so – at least narratively speaking – they are finally getting on with it. After the longest wedding scene in cinema history – of films that don’t have the word ‘wedding’ in the title – Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) head off to a remote Brazilian island to play chess on the beach and consumate their relationship.
For those readers tuned into these things, clear evidence emerged this week of the ‘end of days’ and our impending annihilation – culturally at least.
Simply put, Twilight: Eclipse is playing around three times as many sessions in Wellington cinemas this school holidays as Toy Story 3, despite the latter being demonstrably superior fare in every conceivable way. It was pretty depressing to check the papers last week to see that TS3 was only getting one Embassy session (in the matinée ghetto) as opposed to Eclipse’s four. It’s enough to make one wish for a friendly wall to bang one’s head upon.
Is Toy Story 3 that good? Yes, it is. In fact, I would venture the slightly dangerous opinion that if there’s a film in the Film Festival this year as good as Toy Story 3 then I will be very, very surprised.
The last couple of Pixar films reviewed in these pages have been gently chided for falling away in the third act – failing to maintain their genius right through to the end. No such problems occur with TS3. It stays on course, continuing to illuminate character and action with deft, surprising and eerily appropriate plot turns.