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The Weight of Elephants poster

Review: Jobs, The Weight of Elephants, Red 2, White House Down, Salinger & In the House

By Cinema and Reviews

Demos Murphy in Daniel Borgman's The Weight of Elephants (2013)

Jobs posterThe best way I can think of to sum up Jobs, the hastily-prepared not-quite adaptation of Walter Isaacson’s hastily-published biography of the Apple co-founder, is that its subject would have hated it. After all, Steve had taste and — famously — exercised it. He also didn’t release products until they were ready whereas Joshua Michael Stern’s film feels like the winner of a race to be first rather than best.

Ashton Kutcher impersonates Mr. Jobs effectively enough, to the extent of mimicking the man’s strange lope, but never gets further under his skin than a blog post or tabloid headline might. I suspect that is not a comment on Mr. Kutcher’s talent but on the episodic script by first-timer Matt Whiteley. Josh Gad’s Woz provides comic relief only and the amount of fake facial hair on offer suggests the film might better have been titled iBeard.

The Weight of Elephants posterOperating on a much deeper level is Daniel Borgman’s The Weight of Elephants, a film that prioritises what goes on under the surface almost to the complete exclusion of plot. Gorgeous Demos Murphy plays 10-year-old Adrian, living with his depressed Uncle Rory (great Matthew Sunderland) and Gran (Catherine Wilkin) in suburban Invercargill. The strange disappearance of three local children has an upsetting effect on a boy who is struggling to fit in to the world around him anyway.

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Review: Existence, Song of the Kauri, Magic Mike, Bel Ami, The Princess of Montpensier

By Cinema and Reviews

Update (2 Aug 2012): The unfinished screener of Song of the Kauri that I watched had a caption that stated that New Zealand imported more timber than it exported. It turns out that this isn’t actually true and that the caption doesn’t appear in the finished version of the film that screens in NZFF. Director Mathurin Molgat emailed me last night:

This was a fact that my research proved to be incorrect. We import exotic hardwoods but our exports of Pinus Radiata far outstrip our total imports. In the finished film that statement is not included.

Funerals & Snakes apologies for any inconvenience the error might have caused.

End of update.

Existence posterIn a bleak and windswept environment, high in the hills surrounded by forbidding wind turbines, a ragged band of outcasts work tirelessy together to make something out of almost nothing. They are resourceful and determined — battling extreme conditions and overcoming impossible odds. I’m talking about the characters in new Wellington feature film Existence which gets its premiere in Wellington on Friday night, but I might as well be describing the filmmakers themselves who shot the film in the hills around Belmont and Makara in 2011. Existence is the first product of the NZ Film Commission’s low budget Escalator programme and is a testament to the depth of talent in the industry here.

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Review: The Devil’s Rock, The Lion King (3D) and Little White Lies

By Cinema and Reviews

The Devil's Rock posterWith The Devil’s Rock, Wellingtonian Paul Campion has created an effective slice of pulp cinema, perfectly pitched to fly off video store shelves around the world. A fiendishly simple idea — Nazi Devil-worshippers — is executed with a panache that belies the tiny (virtually) self-funded shooting budget. Despite being some distance from everyone’s cup of tea, The Devil’s Rock knows its intended audience and shouldn’t disappoint them.

Just before D‑Day in 1944 a pair of NZ commandos (Craig Hall and Karlos Drinkwater) silently beach themselves on a remote Channel Island. Their mission is to disable the German guns, and fool the enemy into thinking the Allied attack will be more than 150 km further west than the real plans to land at Normandy. As they make their way inside the spooky fortifications an unholy scream from the depths below raises the hair on the back of their necks and introduces them to a terror more … terrifying than anything in their original mission.

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