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Review: The Sessions, Arbitrage, Bait 3D and (regrettably) Alex Cross

By Cinema and Reviews

The Sessions posterBen Lewin’s The Sessions is a very rare beast – an American film that por­trays human sexu­al­ity with hon­esty, sens­it­iv­ity and no hint of pruri­ence. (Actually, writer-director Lewin is a Polish emigré who grew up in Australia and – after a brief career as a bar­ris­ter – went to England in 1971 to make tele­vi­sion, so maybe it isn’t all that American.)

Poet Mark O’Brien was crippled with polio as a child and forced to spend more than 20 hours a day in an iron lung, prac­tising his craft with a pen­cil held between his teeth, rely­ing on care­givers for – almost – every import­ant bod­ily func­tion. Although he spent his life hori­zont­al he wasn’t para­lysed and he could still feel everything that was done to his body – a fact that a pretty nurse giv­ing him his daily wash could prob­ably testi­fy to… As a red-blooded American male in his 30s, his head could get turned by a shapely fig­ure even though his inex­per­i­ence and dis­ab­il­ity meant he was totally lack­ing in romantic confidence.

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Review: The Trip, Pina and Paranormal Activity 3

By Cinema and Reviews

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.

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Review: Reel Brazil festival, Win Win, Shark Night 3D, The Help, The Holy Roller, Friends With Benefits & Upside Down- the Creation Records Story

By Cinema and Reviews

Reel Brazil 2011 posterTo really under­stand a coun­try you have to go and live there – embed your­self with the people, soak up the cul­ture. If you don’t have the time or inclin­a­tion for that then the next best thing to is to get stuck in to their com­mer­cial cinema. Not the stuff that makes it into major inter­na­tion­al film fest­ivals like Berlin and Venice, not the stuff that gets nom­in­ated for for­eign lan­guage Academy Awards, but the films that are made to excite and please a loc­al audi­ence. That’s what fest­ivals like Reel Brazil are all about – a week-long por­trait of a coun­try via its cinema.

In the late 60s Brazil had a kind of Brazilian Idol tele­vi­sion pop com­pet­i­tion where brave young artists per­formed their top song in front of a live audi­ence bay­ing for blood as if they were watch­ing Christians versus lions. But in A Night in 67 we see that year’s com­pet­i­tion rise above the boos and jeers to open a new chapter in Brazilian pop music – legendary names like Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso com­pete to win over the tough crowd and in the pro­cess launch massive inter­na­tion­al careers.

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2010 Wellington Cinema Year in Review

By Cinema

So, after trawl­ing through the many thou­sands of words writ­ten about cinema in these pages this year, I sup­pose you want me to come to some con­clu­sions? Do some “sum­ming up”? Help guide you through the great video store of life? Well, alright then. Here goes.

We don’t do Top Ten lists here at the Capital Times – they are reduct­ive, facile and, frankly, you have to leave too many titles out. I have taken to divid­ing my year’s view­ing up into cat­egor­ies: keep­ers are films I want to have in my home and watch whenev­er the mood takes me; renters are the films that I could hap­pily watch again; then there are the films that I enjoyed but am in no hurry to repeat, the films I might have mis­judged first time around, the films I can’t get out of my head (for bet­ter or worse), the films I am sup­posed to love but you know, meh, and most import­ant of all – the films you should avoid as if your very life depends upon it.

First, the keep­ers: a sur­prise for some will be Fantastic Mr. Fox which was released after my 2009 Year in Review was sub­mit­ted and the only film in the list that I already own. Animal Kingdom was the film I most recom­men­ded this year – a stun­ning, tense piece of work that gripped me totally.

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Review: Predicament, The White Ribbon & Piranha 3D

By Cinema and Reviews

The unhappy bard of Hawera, Ronald Hugh Morrieson, died in the sure and cer­tain know­ledge of his own fail­ure. Only one of his four nov­els had been pub­lished (and only in Australia) and the oth­ers lan­guished in obscur­ity. He wasn’t to know that his Taranaki-gothic vis­ions would prove per­fectly adapt­able to the big screen and that no less a Hollywood legend than John Carradine would appear in the first of them, The Scarecrow in 1982. Came a Hot Friday (1985) fol­lowed to huge box office suc­cess but then the Morrieson curse struck again and, due to the vagar­ies of the inter­na­tion­al movie busi­ness, Pallet on the Floor wouldn’t even make it in to cinemas in New Zealand.

Predicament posterHis oth­er nov­el, “Predicament”, has finally made it to the big screen and, I’m sorry to report, that Morrieson him­self might prefer that it hadn’t. It’s Hawera, 1933. A socially repressed New Zealand small town, pleas­ant and pla­cid on the sur­face but teem­ing with petty crims and sly-groggers under­neath. When gawky teen­ager Cedric Williamson’s moth­er died his fath­er (Tim Finn) suffered a break­down and is silently build­ing a huge wooden tower in his front yard.

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