The podcast version of the 2nd annual summing up of the year in film, tv and other cool stuff – originally streamed live from the Rancho kitchen on Friday 18 December.
Around the dinner table were Dan, Kailey, Sarah McMullan, Ben Woodward and Mike Dickison. On the line from Sydney was ABC Radio National’s Jason Di Rosso and, via the magic of the movies, the NZ Top Ten box office results are read by a famous British acting knight.
The show was recorded and engineered by Marc Chesterman (and what a good job he did of it too) in front of an audience of family and friends of the show.
Correction: the Boston Society of Film Critics did not snub Spotlight as it turns out (see below). That misunderstanding came about from taking a joke tweet seriously which is an occupational hazard in Film Twitter.
In the last (non-Rancho) post I made a commitment to get back in to regular reviewing and to end my year-long sabbatical. (For the reasons behind the hiatus, it is recommended that you have a quick read. Go on, I’ll wait here.) It has come as a bit of a surprise to me that I’ve actually seen as much as I have over the last few months. It didn’t feel like it but — thanks to Radio New Zealand, FishHead and Rancho Notorious — fully 18 of the films currently screening around Wellington are films I can actually have an opinion on.
Anyway, here goes, and I might as well start with the oldest first. Which, as it turns out, is also a contender for the worst film in this post.
I’ve never managed to hide my disdain for Little Miss Sunshine, a film which is beloved by many and held up as an example of quality screenwriting to which we all should aspire. It is, in fact, garbage. A collection of tics masquerading as characters stuck in a contrived-cute situation in which life lessons will be learned too easily and happy endings will be unearned. Theodore Melfi’s debut feature St. Vincentalso falls into all these traps only deeper. It also relies so heavily on the great Bill Murray that it manages to even bring him into disrepute.
The first Sione’s movie arrived in cinemas in 2006 — before I commenced this weekly catalogue of hits and misses — so I have to plead ignorance about the Duck Rockers and their earlier hijinks. I didn’t even try and download it. How lame! So, Sione’s 2: Unfinished Business has to stand on its own two feet and I’m pleased to report that it does just that.
It’s five years on from Sione’s wedding and the boys have been brought back together for a different kind of family gathering but one of them has gone missing. The minister (the great Nat Lees) gives them a mission: find Bolo (the great David Fane) and bring him back before he does something he will regret. So commences a mad dash around central Auckland in a commandeered taxi — from my memory of Ponsonby/Grey Lynn most of those journeys would have been faster on foot — trying to locate Bolo before all Hell breaks loose.
Michael Winterbottom’s The Trip is the best picture about middle-aged male angst since Sideways, and it’s possibly even better than that fine film. Two privileged English celebrities spend a week driving around the North of England from one fine restaurant to another, eating and drinking themselves silly on someone else’s dime. And yet, something darker is up.
Self-absorbed “Steve Coogan” (Steve Coogan) is separated from his girlfriend, distanced from his children, desperate for recognition as a serious actor but all too often welcomed by strangers with a warm-hearted but annoying repetition of his great TV catchphrase (Alan Partridge’s “Ah-ha”). On the surface, “Rob Brydon” (Rob Brydon) is a happily married man with a young child, a moderately successful TV and stand-up career but, as Coogan points out in a pathos-ridden trip the ruined Bolton Abbey, there’s something about Brydon’s neverending celebrity impressions and forced bonhomie that suggests he hasn’t quite got to grips with the real world.