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wellington film society

RN 2/13: High Society

By Audio, Cinema, Rancho Notorious and Reviews

Dan and Kailey are joined by pres­id­ent of the Wellington Film Society Chris Hormann to talk about this year’s pro­gramme (mostly shared with the rest of the coun­try), the import­ance of film soci­et­ies in a world where the­at­ric­al present­a­tion is becom­ing rare for art­house films. The trio also dis­cuss cur­rent releases The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Jupiter Ascending, Focus and others.

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Review: Oz the Great and Powerful, Samsara, Cirque du Soleil Worlds Away, Great Expectations and The Sweeney

By Cinema, Reviews and Wellington

Oz The Great and Powerful posterIt’s a ques­tion that has been burn­ing away inside all of us for nearly 75 years – how did the Wizard (who wasn’t really a wiz­ard at all but a car­ni­val show­man with a knack for gad­gets) get to Oz in the first place? You neither, huh? Ah well, this least essen­tial ques­tion has now been answered by Spider-Man (and Evil Dead) dir­ect­or Sam Raimi and his team of pixel-wielding min­ions. As a pre­quel to the beloved 1939 film star­ring Judy Garland and a dog called Toto, Oz the Great and Powerful is not without risk. Other attempts to recre­ate L. Frank Baum’s magic­al world have been either com­mer­cial or artist­ic fail­ures – The Wiz, for example, or Return to Oz.

Casting the human smirk, James Franco, as the car­ni­val magi­cian trans­por­ted to the land of the yel­low brick road by a hot air bal­loon (via tor­nado) is also a risk but it even­tu­ally pays off, even though Franco’s boy­ish fea­tures are start­ing to look a bit ragged. Escaping vari­ous romantic and fin­an­cial pres­sures back home in black and white Kansas, Franco’s Oz finds him­self blown off course to a technicolor(ish) fant­ast­ic­al land where a proph­ecy sug­gests he will pro­tect the peace-loving cit­izens from wicked witches but also gain con­trol of the palace for­tune. Guess which one appeals more.

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Review: Brother Number One, We Need to Talk About Kevin, John Carter, My Week With Marilyn, Headhunters and Warrior

By Cinema and Reviews

Project X posterEvery week on Cinematica – the movie pod­cast I co-host with Simon Werry and Kailey Carruthers – we sign-off each film with a two-word review. It’s a gag, of course, but no more reduct­ive than “two thumbs up” or “two stars”, and it’s become a bit of a meme with listen­ers sup­ply­ing their own – often extremely good – contributions.

Underworld: Awakening posterAnd see­ing as I missed a column through ill­ness last week, I have a feel­ing that my two-word reviews might come in handy help­ing us to catch up. So, for the found-footage High School party-gone-wrong movie Project X for example, my two-word review is “Toxic Waste”. The third sequel in the vam­pires vs lycans styl­ised action fran­chise, Underworld: Awakening gets “Strobe Headache”. And for the notori­ously low budget found-footage posession-horror The Devil Inside you’ll have to make do with “Didn’t Watch”.

Brother Number One posterWhich brings us to the good stuff (and there’s plenty of it about at the moment). Brother Number One is a superb and affect­ing NZ doco about trans-atlantic row­er Rob Hamill’s attempts to find out the truth about his broth­er Kerry’s dis­ap­pear­ance at the hands of the Khmer Rouge régime in Cambodia. This is a film to remind you that the great tides of his­tory aren’t tides at all and if you look closely enough you see mil­lions of indi­vidu­al stor­ies – of heart­break, tragedy and redemption.

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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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Wellington Film Society - new season starts tonight

By Cinema and Wellington
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Wellington Film Society opens tonight? You don’t say!”

All over the world it is volun­teer organ­isa­tions like the Wellington Film Society that keep the flame of film art alive so that cinephili­acs like me can get a decent pal­ate cleanser every Monday night after a week­end of Hollywood tosh.

I can’t recom­mend Society mem­ber­ship highly enough. Your mem­ber­ship fee equates to around three bucks a screen­ing (33 Mondays!) and your mem­ber­ship gets you enough dis­counts (at the Film Festival and par­ti­cip­at­ing cinemas) that it doesn’t take long to pay for itself.

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