Movies By Starlight + Good Shit Happens DVD (A++)

Movies By Starlight is an annual summer event here in Wellington. This was the first time I went, for just one of the three nights to see the Short Films program. It was truly outstanding. All of the films, with perhaps one exception (“The Hill”), were extremely well made, finely crafted, intelligent pieces of work that all had a distinctly Kiwi voice.

Highlights included “The Platform”, which featured a great soundtrack and a fun little plot. “The Freezer” had a really nice story with superb cinematography. “French Doors” was a sweetly odd ‘thriller’.

However, the film that stole the show is one of the best short films I think I have ever seen in my life. “Two cars, one night” is a really touching story about a few little kids who have been left to wait in the family car outside a bar at night. The dialog is so real and beautiful. The kids’ acting is brilliant. The atmosphere is perfectly captured. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything so perfect.

There’s a great write up about the filmmaker in the Listener. And if you want to buy the film, along with some yummy Kiwi beats, you can buy it on DVD from Smoke.

After getting a copy of the Loop 005 Good Shit Happens CD/DVD/Book I must say it is absolutely brilliant. It’s got great music, great music videos and great short films. The production values and the shear talent are pretty mind blowing. If you ever wanted a taste of what’s happening in New Zealand youth culture then this is it. And I’d say it’s more interesting than most things happening in youth culture anywhere.

March 4, 2004 in Art House, Comedy, Documentary, Experimental, Fantasy, Intellectual, Musical, New Zealand, Sci Fi, Slow Paced | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

The Good Girl (B)

This was a good renter. Jennifer Aniston was surprisingly good in Office Space and it seems her talents are better suited for the big screen than TV. In fact, the entire cast were really solid. John C Reilly is always a fave, the actor who played Bubba (also seen in O Brother) was goofy and creepy as, and the rest of the supporting cast were also really excellent.

The fascinating thing is that the guy who played Corny the security guard wrote the screenplay. Not only that, it turns out he wrote the screenplay to School Of Rock, as well. Which we also happened to have just seen this week (to be reviewed).

The writing, the location, the art direction were all dead on. The story was fairly dark and tragic, but not overdone. A scary insight into mainstream America. It's the story of what happened to some of the people you knew growing up that never left their hometown. Which is another way of saying here's one of the bullets you dodged.

Acting: B+
Direction: B
Editing: B
Script: B
Cinematography: B-
Soundtrack: B

February 15, 2004 in Art House, Comedy, Cringe, Drama, Moody, Romance | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Lost In Translation (C+)

Interesting moments, but ultimately it has no depth. Mildly funny. Definitely not hilarious, as people have been raving.

Aimless. Yes, I know that's the point. But it's aimless and it has nothing important to say. Which makes it aimless and pointless.

It seems like Copolla wants to show character depth using the least amount of dialog possible. That works well for others (Jim Jarmusch) but in Copolla's case it's a thin disguise for having nothing to say and not knowing how to say it. She uses style and superficial conversations in an attempt to imply something deep, but never actually says anything deep.

Stylistically, it has its moments, but Virgin Suicides was a lot more interesting in that regard.

Bill Murray was okay, but definitely not Oscar worthy. The whole performance I was looking at Bill Murray, not his character, being bored and unchallenged. His performance in Rushmore was a real departure and the character completely came to life.

IMO, Giovanni Ribisi stole the show. His character and his acting had more depth, more intrigue and more substance than any others. I would have much rather seen a movie following his character.

It also had the interesting effect of de-glamorizing Tokyo for me. It made Tokyo seem a lot less appealing and a lot less mysterious than I have always imagined it to be.

I identified with a lot of the situations of being bored in the company of hipsters, including the Charlie Brown character and the Tokyo scenesters. And just like in real life, it made me think of all the other better things I could be doing with my time.

Acting: C
Direction: C
Editing: B
Script: C
Cinematography: B
Soundtrack: B+

February 12, 2004 in Art House, Comedy, Drama, Moody, Slow Paced | Permalink | Comments (3)

Camp (B)

The HoursMeatballs meets Fame with occasional moments of Mighty Wind (and/or Waiting for Guffman).

I was expecting it to be overly self-referential and smug and try-hard. Instead, it's quite earnest, naive, vulnerable and well, duh, campy. Everything gets a bit cheesy but it has been cleverly delivered so that it looks and feels intentional, and feels right.

The acting is surprisingly good. The music is surprisingly good (except for one song/scene). It has its too cheesy for its own good moments. But overall holds up.

Acting: B
Direction: B
Editing: B
Script: A
Cinematography: B
Soundtrack: A

January 9, 2004 in Art House, Comedy, Drama, Mockumentary, Romance | Permalink | Comments (0)

Rain (A+)

Rain beautifully captures and evokes an amazing range of emotions and memories. It is a quintessential Kiwi film that translates perfectly across cultures. Albeit, white middle class cultures. It's the story of a family spending a summer holiday together. Mostly it's about growing pains.

The one major flaw with the film is the ending, which is sadly predictable. It is a terribly unfortunate way to end the film, because it completely moralizes the story. All throughout the film you identify so deeply with all of the characters and then by taking things to the extreme it suddenly distances you from those people - it allows you to feel superior when in fact you are not at all.

Despite the unfortunate ending this film is an absolute must see. Perfect in every other aspect.

Acting: A
Direction: A+
Editing: A
Script: B
Cinematography: A+
Soundtrack: A+

September 24, 2003 in Art House, Cringe, Drama, Moody, New Zealand, Slow Paced | Permalink | Comments (0)

You Can Count On Me (A)

Perfectly balanced movie, excellent acting, excellent story, excellent characters, funny, poignant, and plenty of cringe moments. It does land on the conventional side of things, but as far as conventional movies go, it's very well crafted.

Mark Ruffalo is amazing. Rory Culkin is extremely good. Matthew Broderick revives his Election character with all the cringe in tact. However, I'd say Kenneth Lonergan arguably makes the strongest performance in my favorite scene, when 'Father Ron' (Lonergan) confronts the 'thoughtful fuck up' Terry (Ruffalo) about his personal world philosophy. I would have loved it if the film followed this line of thought more deeply.

I wish more people would have the courage to ask thoughtful questions and really pursue thoughtful answers.

This movie gets pretty close, but in the end, it decides not to make any statements. Instead, it opts to simply tell a good story about regular, but nevertheless interesting people.

Acting: A+
Direction: A+
Editing: A
Script: A
Cinematography: C

September 24, 2003 in Art House, Cringe, Drama, Intellectual, Slow Paced | Permalink | Comments (1)