Thursday, March 28, 2013

In Cinemas: Mar 28 - Apr 3


* Nothing to do with the Donnie Yen flicks, IP MAN: THE FINAL FIGHT (葉問:終極一戰) is from the writer and the director of 2010's THE LEGEND IS BORN: IP MAN (葉問前傳). They are together again to detail Ip Man's twilight years, this time starring Anthony Wong from real good things like EXILED (放‧逐, 2006) and INFERNAL AFFAIRS (無間道, 2002). Playing on select Event screens starting now.

* Not even JGL could save the first one, but G.I. JOE 2: RETALIATION has arrived regardless (also in a 3D option). And weirdly, it looks kinda 'good'. With a cast featuring The Rock, Bruce Willis, RZA, the dude from I SAW THE DEVIL (악마를 보았다) / A BITTERSWEET LIFE (달콤한 인생) and Channing Tatum, I'm really hoping for FAST FIVE-type cartoonishness. In fact, remember when Bruce Willis has his own animated show? He even sang the theme song;

* Shot on lo-def 3/4-inch Sony U-matic magnetic tape, NO tells the true-ish tale of advertising executive Gael García Bernal and co. taking on Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet during the 1988 referendum. While I'm unfamiliar with the director, screenwriter Pedro Peirano has worked on a couple of wildly different things that've well impressed me over the years - psycho-servant drama THE MAID (LA NANA, 2009) as well as the adult-friendly kidnapped-TV-news-executive puppet-film 31 MINUTES: THE MOVIE (31 MINUTOS, LA PELÍCULA, 2008). I'm hoping that this thing has a similarly unique take and that my allergy to foreign politics doesn't come into play...

* RUST AND BONE (DE ROUILLE ET D'OS) is out in general release now, from the director behind UN PROPHÈTE (2009). I only know that it's a love story with Marion Cotillard as a killer whale trainer and that awards-folk seem to like it.

* On the other hand, Stephenie Meyer is back. THE HOST is thankfully NOT a remake of the awesome Bong Joon-ho monster flick; it's about aliens possessing human minds or something. Bridget von Hammersmark and Hanna are both in it, but I doubt that'll help.

* The poster actually says "Executive Produced by Ryan Reynolds & Scarlett Johansson". I s'pose THE WHALE is working with what it's got. Starting this Saturday at Rialto Newmarket and The Vic, this doco - also narrated by Reynolds - is about a friendly killer whale. Theme of the week. And don't forget - Friendship is bigger than we know.

* HYDE PARK ON HUDSON looks dull, but I doubt I can turn down a Bill Murray film. He plays Roosevelt, and this film assumes that he indeed did have an affair with Daisy Suckley, played here by Laura Linney. Also featuring Olivias Williams and Colman - Soph from PEEP SHOW as The Queen?!

* HIMMATWALA starts at select 'plexes on Friday and boasts being both a Sajid Khan "entertainer" and an action-romance that is a remake of the remake of 1981's OORIKI MONAGADU.

* And then there is the stack of Easter previews - Hoyts has a few screenings of IDENTITY THIEF; select Event and Hoyts cinemas have screenings of THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER for Hermione fans; and Ryan Reynold's other family flick of the week - caveman cartoon THE CROODS with Nic Cage and Emma Stone - has sneak previews EVERYWHERE.


* The long Easter weekend means that Auckland Film Society won't be playing Ernst Lubitsch's DESIGN FOR LIVING (1933) until Tuesday 2nd next week. Based on the Noël Coward play, it's a screwball comedy about a trio of Americans doing a terrible job living together platonically in Paris. Having not seen much Lubitsch, this'll be a highlight of my week.

* If you're a fan of Studio Ghibli's animated wonders or the magical testicles of Japanese raccoon-dogs, I'll meet you under the University Library this Thursday 28th. The Consulate-General of Japan is playing POM POKO (平成狸合戦ぽんぽこ, 1994) as their FREE monthly Japanese film screening. Things kick off at 6:50 PM with LIGHT UP NIPPON, a half-hour doco about the tsunami recovery. And to get you in the mood (actually I just use any excuse to thrust Ghibli-fan Kyary Pamyu Pamyu upon people), have some two-week old J-pop;

* West Auckland's EcoWest Festival wraps up in a few days, but before then they are playing the 2012 documentary FOUR HORSEMEN. Join them at 7:30 PM Thursday 28th to see loads of clever fellows like Noam Chomsky talk on film about how the world really works.

* Uxbridge Arts Cinema Club is playing 2009's I, DON GIOVANNI at 8 PM Thursday 28th. It follows Mozart and the titular Don as they mess about writing an opera.

* There is a FREE screening of THE CASTLE (1997) at Silo Cinema 9 PM Friday. Get the family down for an outdoor screening of some Australian comedy; who doesn't enjoy that film?

* Rialto are down to their final two screenings (for now) of CASABLANCA (1942); 6 PM Saturday or 3:30 PM Easter Monday if you haven't seen that in a while.

* The Vic still has MONSTERS, INC. (2001) and Alyx Duncan's THE RED HOUSE showing, plus have added Tim Burton's beautifully claymated FRANKENWEENIE to their current roster.

All sessions above are accurate at the time of publication. Your best bet would be to check Flicks or the theatre website before attending. Please let us know in the comments if you spy anything we've messed up/missed out!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

In Cinemas: Mar 21 - 27


Apart from the new 3D / IMAX blockbuster JACK THE GIANT SLAYER (which I may end up seeing for Stanley Tucci, Eddie Marsan, Ian McShane, Ralph Brown, Warwick Davis, Bill Nighy, et al...) and the new French film A LADY IN PARIS (UNE ESTONIENNE À PARIS) that I mentioned last post, this week is really all about next week;

* There's a Wednesday member's preview of G.I. JOE 2: RETALIATION (3D) at St. Lukes Vmax and Hoyts (the latter even has a midnight premiere for non-members). After part one was so horrible, it's kinda odd how they're treating this thing like it's highly anticipated. That being said, I ain't skipping a film with this cast-list; The Rock, Bruce Willis, the dude from I SAW THE DEVIL and A BITTERSWEET LIFE, Channing Tatum and RZA?!

* One of Gael García Bernal's recent films - NO - has weekend screenings at Bridgeway, Monterey and Rialto Newmarket.

* Event has a $10 member's preview of THE HOST on Wednesday (Stephenie Meyer's new thing with Bridget von Hammersmark and Hanna, not a remake of Bong Joon-ho's monster flick).

* And featuring Marion Cotillard and a load of light in the camera, RUST AND BONE (DE ROUILLE ET D'OS) from the director of UN PROPHÈTE is previewing at a bunch of the art-houses on Saturday and Sunday.

* The only other new thing out properly this week, is MetOpera's latest offering, AIDA. No idea what it is, but there is the link.


* Monday night, Auckland Film Society is playing Cronenberg's VIDEODROME (1983), with James Woods and Debbie Harry. Goodness me I'm having a lot of fun at the Academy lately...

* Silo Cinema has Indiana Jones in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981) on the big screen down the waterfront this Friday night. If I hadn't seen it on the big screen last year, I'd be there myself...

* AUT is having a four-day animation forum, something very close to my heart. Animation Revelations began on Wednesday the 20th and runs until Saturday. There'll be a run of collections showcasing animation of all sorts, from NZ, Canada, Belgium, etc...Shame that you can only purchase day-passes. Here's one that I saw there last night;

* There is still a film or two left out west at the EcoWest Festival; this Thursday at the Waitakere WEA is LAST CALL AT THE OASIS (2011), a documentary about our water crisis.

* Director Alyx Duncan is still on her Q&A tour for THE RED HOUSE. This week, Matakana Cinemas has a 6 PM and an 8 PM Thursday 21st, she'll be at The Vic on Saturday 23rd at 8 PM and on Sunday she's at The Bridgeway for a 5 PM chat.

* I squeezed CINDERELLA and TANGLED in last weekend before the Disney Princess Film Festival finished up at Event, then they went and continued it on me. You won't catch me at HI-5's new 'movie' SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL playing at Hoyts, though; not even I will stoop that low...

* The Vic is playing Pixar's MONSTERS, INC. (2001) again this week, ahead of the release of its sequel. They're also still playing THE RED HOUSE. A tonne of other films too, some of them cool, like ARGO...

* And finally, Rialto has a couple more screenings of CASABLANCA (1942) on, if you haven't already caught it.

All sessions above are accurate at the time of publication. Your best bet would be to check Flicks or the theatre website before attending. Please let us know in the comments if you spy anything we've messed up/missed out!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

In Cinemas: Mar 14 - 20


* There's not much I can say about Alyx Duncan's THE RED HOUSE that Cinephile hasn't already said this week; now on at The Bridgeway, The Vic, Matakana Cinemas, Waiheke Community Centre and Rialto Newmarket (the latter also have a Film Talk screening this Friday evening complete with a director Q&A!).

* Much like his first feature (HAPPYTHANKYOUMOREPLEASE), Josh Radnor writes, directs and leads his second film, LIBERAL ARTS (NZIFF 2012). About a 30 year old falling for a college student while visiting his old professor, this one also features Liz Olsen, Dick Jenkins and Allison Janney. And Zac Efron.

* Legal comedies mightn't normally pop to mind when thinking Bollywood, but JOLLY L.L.B. is here to change all that. Opening at Sylvia Park, Botany Downs and Manukau Event this week. This would've been the perfect place to embed Taika's Heinous Crimes, but as I posted that last week, here's my other favourite legal comedy (and favourite cartoon intro):

* BROKEN CITY is directed by one half of the Hughes brothers (MENACE II SOCIETY, THE BOOK OF ELI) and is the first IMDB credit to the writer's name. And it's about an ex-cop vs. a corrupt mayor. I might go to see Markie Mark, Jeffrey Wright, Barry Pepper and Griffin Dunne, mind. Not so fussed with Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Kyle Chandler though.

* Rialto Newmarket & The Bridgeway also have 2011's SILENCE OF LOVE (TOUS LES SOLEILS) starting in their e-Cinema. It's a second feature for the writer-director behind 2008's Kristen Scott Thomas flick I'VE LOVED YOU SO LONG (IL Y A LONGTEMPS QUE JE T'AIME).

* The Bridgeway has A LADY IN PARIS (UNE ESTONIENNE À PARIS) screening twice this weekend. They must be previews and it'll no doubt be out properly in the next week or so...


* Jan Grefstad's Hollywood Cinema is dusting off its Mighty Wurlitzer organ once again, this time to provide live accompaniment for Charlie Chaplin's 1925 silent film THE GOLD RUSH. These are wonderful events that kick off with about an hour of scratchy old shorts and you're even required to stand up to footage of the Queen. Probably in the three hour region, this is one of the better ways to spend $20 this Sunday 17th.

* Crispin Glover himself is bringing his film IT IS FINE! EVERYTHING IS FINE. (2007) to Auckland this upcoming film week!! Chuck in a slide show, a Q&A and a book signing, and Tuesday 19th is going to be quite the film event. Crispin Hellion Glover!

* As well as a typically interesting line-up of films like MONSTERS, INC. (2001), THE IMPOSTER and ON AIR (PARLEZ-MOI DE VOUS), The Vic also has a treat for the hordes of Armenian film fans over on The Shore this weekend; 1968's THE COLOR OF POMEGRANATES (Սայաթ-Նովա) has been called "startling", "bizarre" and "straight-up bonkers", in a good way. I'll hitch a lift, if anyone is heading over to Devonport this Saturday 16th...

* Auckland's Film Society has a screening of DEEP END (1970) playing Monday 18th at Academy Cinemas. Set in a London bathhouse during the late 60s, this film from Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski (who got beaten up by ScarJo in THE AVENGERS last year) has me rather fascinated.

* I thought that by screening the double-episode opener to season 6 of DR. WHO this Thursday 14th, Event were forcing my hand; I was finally going to get around to checking this show out. But nope, both sessions bloody well sold out. Guess it's more popular than I thought. Queue just in case, assume the sell-out means there'll be a repeat or give up? Hmm.

* At the risk of sounding repetitive, THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (1975) is on yet again. $8 for a 10 PM showing at the Uxbridge Arts Cinema Club out in Howick this Saturday 16th. CASABLANCA (1942) has a couple more screenings at Rialto Newmarket this week, MARLEY is playing Silo Cinema on Friday night after being postponed last month, and the collection of Disney Princess movies calling itself a Film Festival has one final weekend.

* Auckland Arts Festival runs late this Saturday 16th; called White Night, a bunch of venues across town are open 6 PM till midnight showcasing all kinds of arty things; the piece that's caught my eye is David Downes' animated short "KINGDOM", with live score performed by NZTrio. Playing at 8 PM, 8:30 PM and 9 PM for free at the Auckland Art Gallery, this is just one tiny piece of all that Saturday madness.

* And finally in film-related; just as ONCE fans got to enjoy The Frames perform last Wednesday, those of us that enjoyed SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN can see Rodriguez play Logan Campbell Centre this Sunday 17th. Actually, that's not quite right, as that also sold out.

All sessions above are accurate at the time of publication. Your best bet would be to check Flicks or the theatre website before attending. Please let us know in the comments if you spy anything we've messed up/missed out!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Spotlight: THE RED HOUSE

When THE RED HOUSE debuted last year at NZFF, it slipped past many people's radar, mine included. This despite festival director Bill Gosden singling it out as a staff pick, noting director Alyx Duncan's "formal sophistication" and calling it "a thing of quiet wonder".

Sorry, Bill. I won't ignore you again. When I finally got to view THE RED HOUSE, I was fully struck by its beauty and intellect, its compassion and rigor. It's simultaneously a spare, finely observed love story between two people in their 60s (in and of itself a rare cinematic gift, so infrequently are these stories explored cinematically) and a quietly meticulous, thoughtful exploration of the intrinsic dialectics of the situation (which, in a nutshell: he's a white man, she's a Chinese immigrant, and after creating a life together in the titular red house on a rural island, she must return to her homeland to take care of her aging parents, leaving him to pack up their life).

But freaking hell you're probably bored already when I use phrases like "intrinsic dialectics", and I do find THE RED HOUSE difficult to discuss in a way that does full justice to not only its cinematic craft but also its basic approachability. While I love some films that demand a lot from the viewer, and while I do think THE RED HOUSE has much to offer the viewer who's willing to wrestle with it, I also think that it's not a film that requires you to do battle, so to speak; between the beautiful surfaces and the lovely human story at the core, it's far from a dry, rigourous experience. Or perhaps the pictures can speak for themselves for a moment.

Thankfully, others were more on the ball than I, and are more articulate to boot. Tim Wong at The Lumiere Reader prefaced his excellent, lengthy interview with Duncan with a well-deserved smattering of praise:

"DIRECTED WITH PATIENCE, intelligence, and visual finesse, Alyx Duncan’s The Red House is one of the strongest local features to emerge in the digital era. Seldom do we get to witness a New Zealand filmmaker reconcile artistic practice and cinematic vision so seamlessly; rarer still, do we get to encounter a narrative work from this country as serious minded and artistic minded as Duncan’s independently funded film."

Wong proceeded to include the film in his top ten of the year for that publication, and in the same article Steve Garden also made note of THE RED HOUSE, remarking:

"Alyx Duncan deserves special mention for The Red House, a rare New Zealand film in that the filmmaker’s personal and artistic vision is so successfully (and intelligently) integrated into the aesthetic fabric of the work. Duncan’s film is one of the most contemporary and forward-thinking cinematic achievements yet from a New Zealand filmmaker, a film that does more for my sense of pride in New Zealand film-art than all of the vapid hyperbole (let alone the mind-numbing boredom) of middle-earth."

All of which is to say that, whether or not you trust my personal raves for the film (I included it on my list of ten favorite films of 2012 and, along with my co-host Jacob Powell [who ALSO loved the film], spoke with Duncan on episode 15 of Best Worst Podcast about her film), quite a few other people have also fallen for THE RED HOUSE. (Most recently, Helene Wong's 4-star Listener review evoked Ozu.)

Now, it's being self-released across New Zealand. While it's a pity that no distributor saw fit to pick up the cause of such a well-received and accomplished film, there's some consolation in the number of theatres (from Auckland to Feilding, from Nelson to Dunedin) that will be screening the film. It's great to see THE RED HOUSE getting a national audience - hopefully as a first step to it getting an international audience. (Which, if by some strange passing chance, you're an international festival programmer? Get on it now or regret passing it up later.)

(For further reading: an interview with Flicks; another interview with Jane Ross at; a summary of a Script to Screen roundtable discussion; and an interview with The Big Idea.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

In Cinemas: Mar 7 - 13


* OZ: THE GREAT AND POWERFUL - Sam Raimi's prequel to Dorothy's adventures - is out now in 2D and 3D (and Dolby Atmos for you Wellington folk). It stars Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams, which would normally sound all class to me. James Franco and Mila Kunis have both impressed me before, plus I'm totally fine with Zach Braff and a Bruce Campbell cameo. Yet I'm unenthused...

* From the director of the 4th Harry Potter, comes the Dickens classic GREAT EXPECTATIONS, starring Voldemort, Bellatrix and Hagrid. He also directed PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME, DONNIE BRASCO and FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL, but I was enjoying the theme there. This tale of the orphan Pip, wealthy spinster Mrs. Haversham and the convict Magwitch has been told by so many folk - David Lean & Obi-wan; Ray Winstone & Scully; Charlotte Rampling & Theoden; De Niro & Paltrow; Sir Anthony & Gimli; James Mason & Michael York; Jean Simmons even had two turns, 45 years apart. This stab also features the wonderful Sally Hawkins, Jason Flemyng, LITTLE BRITAIN's David Walliams, TRAINSPOTTING's Spud and Finchy from THE OFFICE. AND there's an Executive Producer credit for Our Very Own Cliff Curtis, the pizza delivery guy from 2004's Heinous Crime;

* The duo that wrote THE HANGOVER and THE CHANGE-UP have had a crack at directing; enter 21 & OVER. The kid from RABBIT HOLE and the dude from PITCH PERFECT get crazy with Eric from the TWILIGHT films on his 21st or something. Surprisingly, it sounds like nobody likes it.

* And aside from The 'Big' Three above, there is also a new Bollywood thriller - SAHEB BIWI GANGSTER RETURNS (साहेब बीवी और गैंगस्टर) - and a new MetOpera - UN BALLO IN MASCHERA - this week.

* Some of the films that have recently impressed Auckland Cinephile are still showing; DJANGO UNCHAINED and ANNA KARENINA haven't completely disappeared yet; AMOUR, SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS, THE IMPOSTER and ARGO are all still showing in some form or another, too.


* The biggest film news this week though is the return of Auckland Film Society! $165 (less for returning members) for 31 screenings throughout the year is pretty exciting, plus they're back at the recently-refurbished Academy Cinema. Their 2013 program kicks off with 1971's TWO-LANE BLACKTOP, which I won't say much about, because SOMEHOW, I've never seen it. Ask me again next week.

Doug stepping in for a moment here: TWO-LANE BLACKTOP is what the French refer to as a motherfucking masterpiece. Go see it.

* West Auckland doesn't get a lot of special screenings, so it's nice to see the EcoWest Festival out in Henderson this month. This week's film at the Waitakere WEA is THE END OF THE LINE: A WORLD WITHOUT FISH (2009), a documentary about overfishing and the notion that we'll be completely out of seafood by 2048. That plays for FREE at 7:30 PM Thursday 7th, but in the meantime, a cartoon about the seafood fighting back;

* Good ol' CASABLANCA (1942) has received another limited theatrical run, this time at Rialto Newmarket. And while it feels as though we get the chance to see this every year on the big screen, it IS a fantastic flick. Bogart, Claude Rains, Peter Lorre, that dialogue...So if you haven't caught it yet, these eight $12.50 screenings begin this week with sessions at 4:30 PM Saturday 9th and 1 PM Wednesday 13th.

* As part of "Fashion In The Big Little City", the Auckland Art Gallery is screening a Film Archive compilation entitled THE WAY WE DRESSED, about how film and television have influenced NZ fashion over the years, for better or worse. Playing for FREE at 1 PM and 2:30 PM Saturday 9th.

* Back from NZIFF 2009 for "Fashion In The Big Little City", the Auckland Art Gallery also has a FREE screening of THE SEPTEMBER ISSUE (2008) at 10 AM Sunday 10th. Documenting the making of Vogue Magazine's September 2007 edition, it's the Creative Director vs. Editor-in-Chief battle that folks seem to like about this one.

* Also back after a not-so-long break, also as part of "Fashion In The Big Little City" and also screening for FREE - this week's Silo Cinema offering, BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S. With Hannibal from THE A-TEAM, Jed Clampett from THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES, a staggeringly un-PC Mickey Rooney and Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly, this screens at 9 PM Friday 8th down the waterfront.

* Uxbridge Arts Cinema Club has A ROYAL AFFAIR (EN KONGELIG AFFÆRE) playing this week. Starring Mads Mikkelsen from PUSHER (1996) and CASINO ROYALE (2006), and Trine Dyrholme from THE CELEBRATION (FESTEN)(1998) and IN A BETTER WORLD (HÆVNEN)(2010), this well-respected Danish historical drama from last year is about the titular affair between the Queen of Denmark and the royal physician. $8 entry, 8 PM Thursday 7th, out Howick way.

* ALLIANCE FRANÇAISE FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL has got a few days left in it! This week you can catch a bunch of films, including Jacques Tati's 1953 comedy MR. HULOT'S HOLIDAY (LES VACANCES DE M. HULOT), YOU AIN'T SEEN NOTHIN' YET! (VOUS N'AVEZ ENCORE RIEN VU) from the 90 year old Alain Resnais or Raymond Depardon's deeply personal JOURNAL DE FRANCE. Those're the three I'mma see, anyway. That's after I've seen CINDERELLA (1950) at the so-called Disney Princess Film Festival, naturally...

* And finally, don't forget the stack of great films still in rotation over at The Vic in Devonport - MARY AND MAX (2009), HOW TO MEET GIRLS FROM A DISTANCE, PARANORMAN, THE MASTER, SKYFALL, etc...