New this week: Hanna, Senna, Steam of Life, and Footrot Flats: The Dog’s Tail makes a comeback. There were also a couple of things we didn’t manage to see. And we’ve got over our denial: Transformers is still in theatres. We’ve added it to the list. Sigh … dear old Michael Bay. He just won’t leave the room.
Bill Cunningham New York Easily one of my best of 2010. Brilliant doco about octogenarian New Yorker who’s so much more than a street fashion photographer – a gently eccentric artist still operating with the enthusiasm of a child. HW
Billy T: Te Movie Lively and nostalgic ride through the life and career of the multi-talented comic and musician. Ian Mune’s doco soft-pedals the darker episodes arising from Billy’s Mäori heritage, but demonstrates how it was also the source of his unique talent, and why he’s Te Legend. Review here. HW
Bridesmaids “Look! Chick-flicks can be so good even men will want to see them!” Have heard this a lot since this film arrived. Yawn. It’s hardly news. How about, “Look! Kristen Wiig is brilliant! She’s written herself a great vehicle!” Frequently raunchy, occasionally gross, mostly hilarious. More from the House of Wiig, please. DL
Captain America In the top three of this year’s superhero movies, which no one will mistake for effusive praise. WWII-era Marvel comics action, featuring several great performances, a few great moments, and nothing that will make you hate yourself for seeing it. So much better than it could have been, but still three miles short of memorable. DL
Cars 2 The worst film Pixar have ever made; but since Pixar have never made a bad film before, the shock/horror critical response should be read as a predictable over-reaction. Though barely tolerable for adults, the story is child-friendly enough to get by, and the animation, as always, is top drawer. DL
Cowboys and Aliens So much to admire, so little to like. Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford are great, the classic Western bits look properly classic, and the aliens … just want to torture people and steal stuff. Don’t you dare ask why. With a few more laughs or a plot that makes any sense at all, this would have been a fun night out. DL
Crazy Stupid Love Male mid-life crisis romantic comedy. Superb cast, clever writing, and quite a lot of covert misogyny dressed up as liberal-friendly family values. But it’s mostly funny, and – Ryan Gosling! Emma Stone! Julianne Moore! Steve Carrol! In a world awash with Katherine Heigl romcoms, the acting here is a welcome raising of the bar. DL
Final Destination 5 Not so much a case of “Not seen” as “Actively avoided”. You’re on your own here. Good luck. DL
Footrot Flats: the Dog’s Tail Kiwiana classic makes brief comeback. In all honesty, we haven’t rewatched it yet and the memories have dimmed, but – come on, it’s Wal and the Dog, plus Dave Dobbyn and Herbs. Hard to imagine there’s not something there to love. DL
Hanna She looks like a consumptive Bronte heroine, and she could snap you in half. This latest variant on the Extremely Violent Little Girl meme (see Kick-Ass, Let The Right One In) (not kidding, you should go watch them both) has style to burn and not a single weak performance. Director Joe Wright answers the obvious question – “Pride and Prejudice and Atonement prepared you for high concept action thrills how, exactly?” – with aplomb, though the ending is weak and suggests a degree of contempt for the genre. Still, and without meaning to give away which characters in particular survive said ending, I’d line up for a sequel. DL
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 2 The grand finale the series deserved. In other words, it has some problems, but it’s great fun. Don’t pay extra to see it in 3D; it was shot for 2D and it looks better that way. Yes, I watched it both ways to be certain. Yes, I’m a nerd. Reviewed here. DL
Horrible Bosses Comedy. About Horrible Bosses. We haven’t seen it.
How I Ended This Summer Welcome return of one of the best films at last year’s film festival. Slow-burning, gorgeously shot arctic wilderness suspense drama. Bleak and wild. No polar bears were harmed in the making of this movie. DL
Incendies Stark, severe, powerful, gorgeous. A grand drama about the intergenerational transmission of violence and hatred, and yet such a passionately hopeful film. Not something to see alone. Not something to miss. Review here. DL
Kung Fu Panda 2 For the first time, DreamWorks’s big mid-year children’s animation is better than its Pixar rival; and not just because Pixar dropped the ball with Cars 2. A conventional slacker hero comedy-action adventure, without vast amounts of crossover adult audience appeal, but very sweetly done. DL
Larry Crowne It might have the starpower of Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, but this tepid treatment of middle-age job loss and reinventing yourself is flat and forgettable. Review here. HW
Love Story Florian Habicht surprises and delights again with this left-field take on New York. It’s a romance, but the grand conceit is that it’s made up as they go along, the plot turns determined by suggestions from people on the street. Despite questions left hanging maddeningly in the end, it’s still a joyous, whimsical ode to the Big Apple. Review here. HW
Mr Popper’s Penguins Not seen.
Mrs Carey’s Concert Fly-on-the-wall documentary which manages to make the teaching of music at an elite Sydney girls’ school completely fascinating. Reviewed here. DL
My Afternoons With Marguerite The sentimental premise of an unlikely bonding between a lumpen tradesman and an elderly woman is elevated to something touching and human by Gérard Depardieu and 95-year-old Gisèle Casadesus. Review here. HW
Of Gods and Men A more powerful or affecting film about religious faith would be hard to imagine. Slow-building drama, both intelligent and wise; consummately well acted, and gorgeously shot. DL
Operation 8 Powerful, openly partisan film about the 2007 “anti-terror” raids and the still unresolved legal actions which flowed from it. Every New Zealander should see this. Review here. DL
Oranges and Sunshine The items in the title were promised to British children separated from their mothers and sent to Australia in the 40s. What they really got is revealed in this dramatisation of a social worker’s quest to reunite families and heal the damage. The sense of history being documented is tempered by a restrained script and heartbreaking performances. Reviewed here (scroll down). HW
POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold Documentarian-cum-showman Morgan Spurlock seeks funds for film about product placements. Will give funder in return … product placements. Slick, hardly investigative, but an entertaining look at the world of pitching, branding and risk-taking. HW
Potiche Catherine Deneuve and Gérard Depardieu join forces across the class divide to save her family business. Competent, pleasant, unremarkable – industrial filler for two aging stars. HW
Priest Not seen.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes Still not seen. People keep telling us this is the big hole in this list at the moment. Sorry. We’re working on it.
Senna This documentary on Brazilian racedriver Ayrton Senna’s short but brilliant career is as gripping as a thriller, not just for the action on the track, but for the political shenanigans that accompany high-stakes sporting rivalry. Review here. HW
Something Borrowed Another wedding, another romcom in which the bridesmaid falls for the groom-to-be, but the “com” slips away from the “rom” and the whole drags on through nearly two hours of flaccid dialogue and a mire of patheticness. HW
Steam of Life Or, Naked Finnish Men Talk About Their Lives. Relaxed, slightly over-earnest documentary about being a man in today’s Finland, via the novel device of following a wide assortment of Y chromosome owner/operators into the place they’re most likely to, er, come clean: the sauna. Forgive me for this, but, yes, these rambling, freestyle interviews are pretty revealing. DL
The Double Hour Taut, intelligent noir thriller. Killer twist. Literally? That would be telling. Back from last year’s film festival, and well worth going out of your way for. DL
The Guard FBI meets the Garda. Not your usual odd-couple / buddy-cop movie, and much more amusing as a consequence. For once, in the face of Irish blarney (Brendan Gleeson), an American (Don Cheadle) is at a loss for words. Review here. (Scroll down). HW
The Reluctant Infidel No Brits, Muslims or Jews are safe from David Baddiel’s comic prodding at stereotypes in this multicultural mayhem piece about a Pakistani Muslim suddenly learning he’s actually Jewish. The ending’s a bit lame, but the humour’s kept rolling by stand-up comedian Omid Djalili’s physical and verbal gags. Reviewed here. HW
The Tree of Life One of this year’s most talked about films, partly because no one understands it the first time they see it, and partly because it so richly repays multiple viewings. Reviewed here. DL
The Violin Not seen.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon If I ever go to another Michael Bay movie, just slap me. I mean it. My review here. British art of the rant specialist Mark Kermode, on why all of us who lacked the wit to stay away from this should feel guilty, here. DL
TT3D: Closer to the Edge The rare sports movie that lets non-enthusiasts see what the fuss is all about. In 3D, and, most unsually, all the better for it. Brief review here (scroll down). DL
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