The Most Fun You Can Have Dying is a film that I would not have had the pleasure of seeing if it wasn’t for a chance tweet from @RialtoCinemas. I have to admit I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to things New Zealand, be it movies or music. I just don’t have much faith. I don’t subscribe to the mantra that we should support New Zealand whatever just because it’s New Zealand. I’d rather celebrate finding out that something I love is Kiwi made. And celebrate I will with The Most Fun You Can Have Dying.
The film is loosely based on Steven Gannaway’s novel Seraphim Blues and follows the ups and downs of the life of Michael, a good looking kiwi lad, who we meet just before he gets the news that he has only a couple of months to live. But just as there seems to be no future for Michael, his doctor calls him back in with some good news; experimental treatment from the US has become available, with a 10% chance of success and a hefty $200,000 price tag. Hope again seems dashed until the local community rallies around and raises the money for the treatment.
Michael however is acutely aware of the statistical probability and has other ideas. Instead of turning up for his first day of treatment, he flees the country with the money, determined to have the most fun he can in his remaining months. He leaves without saying goodbye to anyone, not even his dad or best mate.
In other words, Michael, the main focus of the film, and the character the director Kirstin Marcon wants us to empathise with, is a complete and utter dick. This isn’t that much of a shock in reality, after we see him stealing his flat-mates underwear in the opening scene.
But empathise with him we do. If for nothing else than the fact that we’d love to have the balls to do what Michael did if we were to ever be in the same unfortunate circumstance. Read the rest of this entry »
Set in the high-stakes world of the financial industry, Margin call is an entangling thriller involving the key players at an investment firm during one perilous 24-hour period in the early stages of the 2008 financial crisis. When an entry-level analyst unlocks information that could prove to be the downfall of the firm, a roller-coaster ride ensues as decisions both financial and moral catapult the lives of all involved to the brink of disaster.
I feel like I don’t need to say anything more about this incredible film and you should just stop reading and sprint to see the it now – but the boss would probably fire me. So here goes my attempted at doing this masterpiece justice.
A Separation is a drama about an Iranian middle-class couple who separate. The separation arises when Simin (Leila Hatami) wants to leave Iran to give her daughter, Termeh (Sarina Farhadi), a better life, while her husband, Nader (Peyman Moadi), feels the needs to stay and look after his elderly father, who suffers from Alzheimer’s.
After Simin goes to stay with her mother, while she sorts out her affairs, Nader is forced to hire a caretaker to look after his father while he is at work. While he thinks this will take care of his troubles so he can start putting his and Termeh’s lives back in order, he discovers that his maid has been lying to him, and leaving his father tied to a bed while she goes out during the day. The story takes a radical twist which lands the whole family in and out of courts, and their lives in danger.
Although the characters in the film face similar obstacles that someone in New Zealand may face – a parent with Alzheimer’s, divorce, concern over your child’s wellbeing – the culture and religion bring out issues that most of us have never even thought about. Like changing an old mans clothing for him after he wets himself, or requiring your husband’s permission to have a job. Read the rest of this entry »
The Round Up (La Rafle) is the second film I’ve seen recently about the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup, the first being Sarah’s Key, which is the fictional tale of two very different people from different timelines, tied together through the Roundup. This is where The Round Up differs, in that it’s based on the memoirs of survivor Joseph Weismann and Protestant Red Cross nurse, Annette Monod.
The Round Up focusses on neighbours the Weismanns and the Zyglers, and what happens to them in the lead up to, and after the initial roundup. Whilst focussing on two families, The Round Up also takes a much broader look at the events, including the behind the scenes plotting by the French to rid themselves of the Jewish vermin, and the contrasting scenes of Adolf Hilter enjoying life with Eva Braun as he arranges the death of 13,000 French Jews.
The key difference to the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup from many other Holocaust stories we may have seen, is that it was perpetrated, not my the occupying Nazis, but by the French Police.
Whilst The Round Up paints a pretty dim picture of the French – as it should – it also goes to great lengths to show the not ever Parisian believed in the lies spread by the French Government about the Jews, choosing to put their lives in danger by protecting and hiding as many as they could, resulting in around 10,000 less Jews being rounded up than what was planned for. Read the rest of this entry »
Puncture has two things going for it; it has an interesting story, that is based on a real life lawsuit, and it has Chris Evans driving it in style, with an intensity that draws you in, but also a reckless character than annoys the heck out of you from time to time.
The problem is that the film just doesn’t do the story justice. It’s full of cliches that don’t make sense – the biggest being these two lawyers who have no money left, yet one of them can throw lavish parties and have a high maintenance drug and prostitute addiction.
The story itself flits around from being about the story to being about Evan’s character’s drug habits and the trouble it gets him into. Read the rest of this entry »
Gomorrah is a difficult film to review, mainly due to its complexity and its desire to reflect the reality of life in the crime infested poverty of Naples. On the surface it’s an agonisingly long film with no clear-cut storyline, and as such is a movie that many will find too arduous to keep up with. Those that persevere will be faced wit the challenge of deconstructing what they have seen, and it’s here that the movie becomes either a masterpiece or a disaster.
Based on a book by Robert Saviano, Gomorrah is a realistic reflection of life under the rule of the Napoli Mafia. Such was the intensity and honesty of the book; Saviano now has permanent police protection from the various mob families mentioned in his book.
A film however can never do justice to a book, so Director Matteo Garrone has focussed on five interwoven stories that represent a common slice of life. Told in a scattered manor with no care for the normal rules of story telling, trying to keep up with everything that is going on will probably take a number of viewings.
As the neighbourhood slides into all out war we begin to get a taste of the old adage; violence begets violence, as the one striking feature seems to be the never ending – and often very graphic – reality of violence and death as one group takes revenge on the other and such forth. Read the rest of this entry »
This is a biographical movie on the life of Seraphine Louis Maillaird a little known artist who was discovered by the “discoverer” of Henri Rousseau, Wilhelm Uhde.
Seraphine was born in 1864 in a small French village where she attended school and when not at school she was a shepherdess. At the age of 13 she was sent to Paris to work as a maid. Her work sees her hired by an institute for young women where she is introduced to art by observing the drawing teacher’s classes. Following this she is a servant in a convent for 20 years.
The movie starts in 1912 when Seraphine is 48 years old living in the town of Senlis. She has a humble life working very hard as a maid, doing laundry & other menial tasks, attending Mass and painting.
She had had a visitation some years earlier from her Guardian Angel who suggested that she paint. Since this experience she is very devout to the Virgin Mary and continues to have visions and “voices” in her head that plague her for the rest of her life. Read the rest of this entry »