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2009 Wellington Cinema Year in Review

By Cinema

Welcome to the 2010 “cut out and keep” guide to video rent­ing (or down­load­ing or how­ever you con­sume your home enter­tain­ment these days). I sug­gest you clip this art­icle, fold it up, stick it in your wal­let or purse and refer to it whenev­er you are at the video shop, look­ing for some­thing to while away the long winter even­ings of 2010.

First up, the ones to buy – the Keepers. These are the films that (if you share my psy­cho­logy and some of my patho­lo­gies) you will cher­ish until you are old and the tech­no­logy to play them no longer exists. Best film of the year remains Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire. Mashing togeth­er sev­er­al archetyp­al stor­ies with a vivid visu­al style and a per­cuss­ive energy, Slumdog may not rep­res­ent India as it actu­ally is but instead suc­cess­fully evoked what India feels like, which is argu­ably more import­ant. After Slumdog everything I saw seemed, you know, old-fashioned and noth­ing has been any­where nearly as thrill­ing since. There are films you respect, films you admire and films you love. Slumdog is a film you adore. “Who wants to be a … miy­on­aire?” indeed.

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Review: The Strength of Water, Séraphine, The Cove, Taking Woodstock, Orphan and The Ugly Truth

By Cinema, Reviews

Festival titles are return­ing to cinemas at such a rate that it seems like pre-Festival cinem­a­goer cyn­icism was well-placed. 50% of this week’s new releases were screen­ing loc­ally only a month ago but as they are eas­ily the best half of the arrange­ment I’m inclined to be forgiving.

Armagan Ballantyne’s debut NZ fea­ture The Strength of Water is a strik­ingly mature piece of work and one of the most affect­ing films I’ve seen this year. In a remote Hokianga vil­lage a pair of twins (excel­lent first-timers Melanie Mayall-Nahi and Hato Paparoa) share a spe­cial bond that tragedy can’t eas­ily break. A mys­ter­i­ous young stranger (Isaac Barber) arrives on the scene, escap­ing from troubles of his own and… and then I really can’t say any more.

Full of sur­prises from the very first frame The Strength of Water shows that qual­ity devel­op­ment time (includ­ing the sup­port of the Sundance Institute) really can make a good script great. Ballantyne and writer Briar Grace-Smith offer us lay­ers of fas­cin­a­tion along with deep psy­cho­lo­gic­al truth and gritty Loach-ian real­ism. The mix is com­pel­ling and the end product is tremendous.

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