The Wellington Film Guide

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 T H I S   W E E K   I N   W E L L I N G T O N

T H U R S D A Y   2 5   A U G U S T  -
  W E D N E S D A Y   3 1   A U G U S T   2 0 1 6  

t h e   f i l m s

n e w s   c l i p s

  • The Wellington Film Society, 6.15pm Monday 29 August at the Paramount: THE TALES OF HOFFMANN (Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger, UK 1951).
    Prepare to be astonished by the audacity and inventiveness of Powell and Pressburger's dazzling take on Jacques Offenbach's 1881 opera. Drawing on some of the greatest film, music and dance talents of the period, they transform it into a musical phantasmagoria. This revelatory restoration (containing previously unseen footage) from the original 3-strip Technicolor negative unleashes feverish colours straight from the candy box: a cacophony of clashing yellows and purples as disturbing as they are enchanting. Out of this decadent world of surreal, sensual delights Ludmilla Tcherina seduces us as a 19th-century dominatrix; a menacing chorus of pan-sexual mannequins appear to have raided the dressing-up box of Marc Bolan and, most unsettling of all, there's the image of Moira Shearer's dismembered head as it blinks back at us. - Robin Baker, London Film Festival, 2014.
    Members only. You can join on line, or at the cinema before the screening starts..

  • Nga Taonga Sound and Vision. At the Mediatheatre this week, New Zealand films with some connection to Olympic Games.
    VIA SATELLITE, Anthony McCarten, NZ 1998.
    ALEX, Megan Simpson Huberman, NZ/Australia 1992.
    For more, check out Nga Taonga's calendar of screenings and events.

  • Film Festivals to note:
  • German Film Festival 2016 Nga Taonga Sound and Vision, 21-24 September.
  • Polish Film Festival 2016 Paramount, 30 October - 9 October.
  • Show Me Shorts Film Festival 2016 Embassy, 13-26 October.
  • If your festival is not listed here, please advise the Cinemaster

    This site relies on the various cinemas having their own websites up to date to access their screening times. The paragraphs describing the films starting this week are in most cases adapted from the linked reviews.

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    For comments and movie news, contact the Cinemaster at

    s t a r t s   t h i s   w e e k!

    BAD MOMS - Surprisingly, this was written by two men, directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore - but it balances its nuggets of truth with hilariously raunchy humor. For the film to be about more than just wildly outrageous behavior, these have to feel like real people and we have to care about them too. And we do, thanks to a strong cast of comic actresses who have an easy chemistry with each other. Also Empire, Readings, Lighthouse, Queensgate and Coastlands.

    PAWNO - A particularly good contemporary drama, set in a Melbourne suburb, that boasts a perceptive screenplay, written by leading actor Damian Hill, and assured direction from first-timer Paul Ireland. It also has the benefit of an unusually strong cast of fine Australian actors, veterans alongside relative newcomers.

    THEEB - A classic adventure film of the best kind, boasting stunning locales in a well-told story about a young Bedouin boy outwitting potential enemies in the desert. Naji Abu Nowar's impressive debut feature riffs on oater themes, and the stunning location work in southern Jordan supports a well-told WWI-era story grounded in Bedouin-specific customs. From the NZIFF.

    BEN HUR (2016) - An epic tale of revenge and forgiveness with a junk-food centre, Timur Bekmambetov's remake offers robust spectacle and some decent performances. But ultimately, its a movie whose good intentions are trampled by rampant earnestness and the project's overall superflousness. Also Empire, Readings, Queensgate, Monterey and Coastlands.

    SWISS ARMY MAN - Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe star as, respectively, a suicidal castaway and his best friend, a flatulent corpse, in this surreal feature debut from Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, collectively known as Daniels. It's entirely to the directors and the two lead actors' credit that what sounds like a bunch of overextended body humor gags of the most juvenile variety evolve, by sheer repetitious attrition, into something bizarrely poetic and strangely touching.From the NZIFF.

    EMBRACE - This rousing documentary by Australian body image activist Taryn Brumfitt should prove a most effective tool in her popular campaign to counteract the gazillion pressures on Western women and girls to fixate on appearance. All ages, shapes and sizes are included in the film's empowering embrace. From the NZIFF. Also Lighthouse Petone.

    A FLICKERING TRUTH - Here is an outstanding film from the New Zealand director Pietra Brettkelly that starts off slowly, but builds into a revelatory document about Aghanistan and its current travails. Its unlikely vehicle is the attempt to restore and rescue the Afghan film archive in Kabul, trashed by the Taliban in a religiously inspired frenzy. From the NZIFF.

    TIME RAIDERS - Unlike a lot of other recent polished imports from China, this film's shortcomings may outweigh its charms even for those who know the stars and dig its particularly bizarre brand of pulp fiction.

    HARRY AND SNOWMAN - Ron Davis' documentary is one of those classic 'truth is stranger than fiction' stories: in 1956, horse trainer and riding instructor Harry DeLeyer gets held up on his way to a horse auction, so by the time he arrives it's all over. While looking over the leftovers, one white horse catches his eye and he buys it for the lowly sum of $80. Fast forward a few years and the horse is a champion show jumper. The incredible bond that formed between man and beast, is the subject of this moving and powerful award-winning film. You couldn't make this stuff up!

    u p c o m i n g   f i l m s
    Sep 01 Readings
    CHASING GREAT Sep 01 Readings
    NERVE Sep 01 Readings
    FREE STATE OF JONES Sep 01 Paramount
    BLOOD FATHER Sep 08 Readings
    SAUSAGE PARTY Sep 08 Readings
    SULLY Sep 08 Penthouse
    THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS Sep 15 Readings
    THE FOUNDER Nov 24 Lighthouse


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    Classic and contemporary cinema from around the world, from NZ's only non-profit network of film exhibition