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Shopping poster

Review: Shopping, The Reluctant Fundamentalist and The Hangover Part III

By Cinema and Reviews

Julian Dennison and Kevin paulo in Shopping (Mark Albiston and Louis Sutherland)

Shopping (Mark Albiston & Louis Sutherland) starts with archive tele­vi­sion news foot­age of the infam­ous 1970s dawn raids, tooled-up cops break­ing down doors to track down “over­stay­ers”. As a scene-setter it’s impress­ive. It gives the film an imme­di­ate sense of men­ace but it doesn’t fol­low through – the cops nev­er arrive and the threat of deport­a­tion back to the islands (like almost everything else in the film) is nev­er dis­cussed. So, nar­rat­ively then, Shopping may dis­ap­point but as a psy­cho­lo­gic­al por­trait of ali­en­ated work­ing class teen­age life it excels.

Shopping posterNewcomer Kevin Paulo is Willie, stuck in a dead-end job dream­ing of some­thing bet­ter. His white fath­er (Alistair Browning, often threat­en­ing but with a heart in the right place) wants him to work hard and get on while his Samoan moth­er Theresa (Maureen Fepuleai) wants him to behave him­self and set a good example to young­er broth­er Solomon (Julian Dennison). He does neither of those things and falls in with a bad crowd of loc­al crims led by cha­ris­mat­ic Bennie (Jacek Koman). In their world “shop­ping” means thiev­ery and the adren­aline, the parties and beau­ti­ful Nicky (Laura Peterson) keep Willie away from his own home and a fam­ily that needs him more than he realises.

[pullquote]I won­der wheth­er the world is ready for a Pakistani James Bond.[/pullquote]Shot with style – and a budget-protecting shal­low focus – by Ginny Loane, Shopping leaves the audi­ence with plenty of work to do – filling in the gaps – until it reaches a suit­ably enig­mat­ic con­clu­sion. Strong per­form­ances from seasoned pros and new­comers alike keep the ten­sion up in indi­vidu­al scenes but I some­times felt that the through-line was no more than a slender thread.

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Review: The Red House, 21 & Over, Liberal Arts and Broken City

By Cinema and Reviews

The Red House posterAlyx Duncan’s The Red House is a lovely example of how ideas that evolve, adjust, trans­form over time can pro­duce work that is just as coher­ent and com­plete as if it arrived fully formed. Originally con­ceived sev­er­al years ago as a doc­u­ment­ary about her age­ing par­ents who were think­ing about leav­ing the house she grew up in and start­ing again over­seas, her film is now a poet­ic and impres­sion­ist­ic – as well as fic­tion­al – med­it­a­tion on place and belonging.

In the fin­ished film – unlike real life – Lee (Lee Stuart) fol­lows Jia (Meng Jia Stuart), his wife of 20 years, to Beijing where she has trav­elled to care for her own frail par­ents. He packs up the few belong­ings he is able to take with him from the years of assembled memen­tos, books and treas­ures, burn­ing much of what is left over. Voiceover from both char­ac­ters lets the audi­ence know how dif­fi­cult this trans­ition is, as well as telling the back­story of an unlikely – and lovely – relationship.

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Review: Like Crazy, Chronicle, A Few Best Men, J. Edgar and Julia’s Eyes

By Cinema and Reviews

Like Crazy posterThree films this week point the way towards pos­sible futures for cinema – and if two of them are right then we should all find anoth­er hobby. Like Crazy is a mostly-improvised romance shot on one of those pro-am stills cam­er­as that can also shoot hi-def video (the Canon 7D in this case). These devices are afford­able and highly port­able but the look that they have, while effect­ive in music videos and short sequences, doesn’t keep your interest over the length of a full fea­ture. And, just because your cam­era lets you shoot a lot of foot­age of people nood­ling around mak­ing stuff up, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still have an actu­al plan.

Actually, the pho­to­graphy is less of a prob­lem in Like Crazy than the story: two young lov­ers not so much star-crossed as US Department of Immigration-crossed, have to decide how much they care for each oth­er when their efforts to be togeth­er are thwarted by the pesky Atlantic ocean and their own shal­low­ness. Felicity Jones (Chalet Girl ) is the Brit who over­stays her stu­dent visa so she can be with Californian fur­niture design­er Anton Yelchin (Fright Night), set­ting the wheels in motion that will actu­ally keep them apart for years.

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Review: Love Story, The Guard, Crazy Stupid Love, Cedar Rapids, TT3D - Closer to the Edge and Priest 3D

By Cinema and Reviews

Firstly I want to apo­lo­gise that there is no review of Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life in this week’s column. I saw it dur­ing the Festival and like most audi­ences was per­turbed, baffled, chal­lenged and ulti­mately awed but I needed a second screen­ing to make sense of it. Arguably less sense rather than more sense was what I would be aim­ing for.

The film opened com­mer­cially this week­end at a couple of loc­a­tions but neither of them offered the sort of grandeur (i.e. screen size) and qual­ity (i.e. DCP 2k digit­al trans­fer of the kind I am start­ing to love) so I thought I would hold off until it reaches a few more screens. I know – I sound like a pom­pous ass but that’s as genu­ine a response to The Tree of Life as I can muster. A more con­sidered response next week.

Love Story posterBut that omis­sion gives me more room for the rest of this week’s releases. Florian Habicht’s Love Story charmed (most) of the Film Festival, includ­ing your cor­res­pond­ent. Habicht’s indefatig­able curi­os­ity and demon­strable love of people powers this strange romantic com­edy made while he was liv­ing in Manhattan on an Arts Foundation residency.

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Review: Get Low, My Wedding and Other Secrets, Limitless, Battle Los Angeles, Force of Nature and Red Riding Hood

By Cinema and Reviews

Regular and attent­ive read­ers to this column will know that I heart­ily endorse mem­ber­ship of the Film Society as the best value cinema-going in town. For example, a few weeks ago this year mem­bers (and pro­spect­ive mem­bers) were treated to a sneak pre­view of a lovely little film not yet released to the gen­er­al public.

Get Low posterGet Low is the kind of film that gets made all too rarely these days: a thought­ful, detailed, slow paced med­it­a­tion on char­ac­ter and per­son­al his­tory. It’s a drama, but with plenty of amus­ing moments, and it’s a show­case for two great screen act­ors – two act­ors who spend far to much of their time these days repeat­ing old per­form­ances but here they prove that they’ve still got it when it counts.

Screen legend Robert Duvall (The Godfather, Apocalypse Now) plays Felix Bush, a lonely her­mit liv­ing in Tennessee in the 1930s. Unkempt and iras­cible, the loc­als steer well clear because of his dan­ger­ous repu­ta­tion and that’s just the way he seems to like it. But some­thing is eat­ing away at him and he decides to throw a party – a funer­al party for him­self so that people can tell their stor­ies about him to his face and, maybe, he can tell one or two of his own. He enlists the help of loc­al under­taker Bill Murray and, with the help of his assist­ant (Lucas Black), the old man gets a chance to set some records straight.

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Review: The Losers, Every Jack Has a Jill and A Single Man

By Cinema and Reviews

This week’s review comes to you from sunny/rainy Auckland where your cor­res­pond­ent is catch­ing up with old friends and enjoy­ing the Auckland cinema scene. The first thing to report is that audi­ence beha­viour in the 09 is as selfish and imma­ture as it is at home. Texting and talk­ing is as pre­val­ent at com­mer­cial films like The Losers (screen­ing at the oth­er­wise well-appointed Sky City St Lukes) as in Wellington.

The Losers posterThe Losers itself would be an easy film to avoid if it wasn’t the only not­able Hollywood release of the week. A crack com­mando squad are hung out to dry by mys­ter­i­ous forces back in Washington. Somehow they have to get back stateside, clear their names and take their revenge on the shad­owy mas­ter­mind who tries to des­troy them. Sound famil­i­ar? Yes, it’s The A‑Team and a remake of that comes out in a week or two so you can safely bypass this low-rent ver­sion fea­tur­ing some B‑list stars like Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Watchmen ), Chris Evans (Fantastic 4) and the bland­est super vil­lain in his­tory, Jason Patric (Speed 2).

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