Documentary: Elstree 1976

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Elstree 1976

I like anything to do with Star Wars so when I spotted this on Rialto I jumped on it. Interviews with the extras sums it up. And it’s quite interesting. Apart from die hard fans who knew about the dude underneath the green mask of Greedo? This doco is also kinda sad. I felt sorry for the guy whose character was never made into an action figure. I was upset to hear our George Lucas is not talking to original Darth Vader – David Prowse. And that the extras were looked down upon by those with speaking roles even decades later at conventions. Sigh. Anyways. Well presented and well edited as all docos should be. This is a must watch for all those who as kids enjoyed episode IV.

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Film: James White [2015]

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Cynthia Nixon and Christopher Abbott

I’m not gonna lie, actress Cynthia Nixon was the main reason I gave this film ago. But Christopher Abbott was the real stand out performance. Abbott reaches deep into the soul of his character ‘James White’. Losing parents and struggling to cope is something all of us face at some point. Most viewers of this film will recognize themselves and others in Nixon and Abbott’s on screen performance. And perhaps some scenes will feel familiar. It’s a gutsy screen play and art direction by Josh Mond. It felt so true to life re navigating difficult hospital systems, dealing with craven relatives and the losing of one’s mind. Well done to all those involved in this production. Keep a box of tissues nearby when you watch this wonderful drama. 5 stars.  

 

Film: My Cousin Rachel

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Rachel Weisz and Sam Claflin

I would not normally choose a mystery romance type film/story but today I found myself in the ‘moms and bubs’ session of My Cousin Rachel. Having not read the book I kept an open mind. And I’m glad I made the effort. The film is really good. I hope readers of the Daphne du Maurier novel also view it favorably. There is a bit left unanswered by the screen play. Is she or isn’t she a witch? Was she really poisoning Phillip? Perhaps a femme fatale? I’ve got my opinions on this and a reading of the source material may assist me further. Anyways – great movie. Cast brilliant. Costumes wonderful. And I so love seeing Rachel Weisz on screen. And hats off plus a round of applause to all the babies that slept through the film at today’s viewing.

Book: It

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IT by Stephen King

“We all float down here”. The new movie is coming so it was time to catch up on the Stephen King novel IT. Partly responsible for that creepy clown craze the book is ‘out there’ to say the least. I couldn’t read it at night it was that scary at times. Hoping the new film is good. The previous flick was a let down to many. IT is a must read.

5 stars.

Classic: It Came From Outer Space

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It Came From Outer Of Space

An oldie but a goody. Most hard core Sci Fi nuts will have seen this one but for a newer generation it’s worth a visit. Released in 1953 it captures the spirit and even paranoia of it’s age. Misunderstood science, crack pots, poorly treated aliens! It’s all laid out. And it’s a fine mess indeed. Some may find the screen play simplistic but this is unfair criticism. It’s a good ole alien horror and many fine movies that have followed owe something of a debt to writer Ray Bradbury and director  Jack Arnold. The acting is satisfactory and screen play is sound. Actor Richard Carlson as amateur astronomer John Putnam is really good. Barbara Rush’s character needed more depth and if we are to knock this film at all it this is the lack of care taken with the female lead. Perhaps typical of the male dominated film industry of the time [still kinda is] and this particular genre. Nevertheless Barbara takes what is given to her and owns it. She sure can scream.

A relatively short movie at 81 minutes it’s rollicking fun. Add it to your list folks. I’d like to see it in 3D.

Film: All Eyez On Me

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Danai Gurira & Demetrius Shipp Jr.

Don’t listen to the high-brow critics, this film is good. A biopic about the late great Tupac Shakur the movie follows his life story from his East Coast child hood to a West Coast rise to rap royalty. Essential told in two main acts we begin with Tupac being interviewed in Clinton Correctional Facility covering his childhood and the events leading up to this incarceration. From here it breaks off into his time with Death Row Records. While many will be fact checking and even challenging the accuracy of some scenes the message is clear about the sordid underworld that was recording companies of the period. But this will be true of other genres as well and artists have been screwed over the world over since time began. Some folk may even feel slighted by this film. Never the less I’m happy with it. Actor Demetrius Shipp Junior is incredible. Wow. You would not find a closer match to the man he plays. And Danai Gurira  – I did a double take here – Michonne! [The Walking Dead]. But all the acting was good across the board. Jamal Woolard as The Notorious B.I.G was solid. As was Dominic L. Santana [Suge Knight].  So what’s my verdict overall? Well I need to ask those silly simple questions such as did I enjoy it? Yes. Am I glad I made the effort to see it? Yes. Would I recommend it? Yes. Go see it folks. Especially if you were a teenager of the 80s/90s.

Documentary: McLaren

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Bruce McLaren

A documentary catering to motor sport enthusiasts to be sure. Well edited; this film follows the life and work of motor racing and car design legend Bruce McLaren. From humble beginnings helping his father out in the family garage to the giddy heights of Formula 1 and racing glory. There was a lot I did not know about Bruce before heading into this one at Roxy today. And I found this story riveting. I’m not gonna lie – I would have preferred a feature film in the vein of Rush starring Chris Hemsworth. Or even The World’s Fastest Indian. Perhaps down the track this could happen. [How about it Sir Peter Jackson!]. Nevertheless this documentary is sound and it was nice to see it on the big screen. The file footage was very interesting. And as a proud Kiwi it was great to catch up on some of our sporting history. Highly recommended.

Directed by Roger Donaldson

Classic: Night of the Living Dead

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Night of the Living Dead by George A. Romero

Before there was a Rick Grimes and The Walking Dead there was this wonderful zombie film Night of the Living Dead directed by George Romero. For a younger generation of Robert Kirkman fans this classic 1968 horror is worth a look. Outside the mainstream of it’s time – it’s pretty darn good. And it’s achieved a deserved cult status. A highlight for me is the strong dialogue between the diverse bunch of ‘survivors’ holed up in the big ‘ole house. Producer and actor Karl Hardman as Harry Cooper is a particular standout. ‘Cooper’ is convincing as a nasty sniveling coward and his interplay with our hero ‘Ben’ played by Duane Jones is epic. Walking Dead fans will be familiar with some of the broader themes as noted in the ‘public safety telecasts’ within the film. This is more than a cabin in the woods type flick – there is a sci-fi element and the US government of this movie is far more effective – and deadly – than in The Walking Dead. So long story short – if you haven’t already seen this classic – I’m setting you homework for the week ahead. Go to your local video store [if it still exists]. And track down Night of the Living Dead – before they get you!

4 stars.

Film: The Mummy

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Tom Cruise stars in The Mummy

Whilst not the worst film I’ve seen this year… Sorry, let me start again. It’s not exactly the best film… Another false start. I really want to like The Mummy but I’m struggling to get past yelling ‘meh’ [I shrug my shoulders]. Ok, so what did I like? Actress Sofia Boutella as Princess Ahmane. She was cool. And I liked the scenes in ancient Egypt. But that’s about it. At times the film felt like a poor relation to The Walking Dead. And it kinda tried to be a version of the wonderful Penny Dreadful TV series – it failed to get even close to those lofty heights. Tom Cruise was irritating. Russell Crowe was maddening. The screen play stilted. Perhaps the only reason I went to see this movie was all the advertising I had succumb to during TV time outs in the Stanley Cup. Let me tell you what was way better than The Mummy – the body FX and body painting in the cinema lobby today! So you ask – to mummy or not to mummy? It’s a no mama – save your cash for another film.

1 star.

Guest Reviewer: Rob Wilson

Alien Covenant – Rob’s take.

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Rob: Alien Covenant – What happened – ?

Guest Reviewer Rob Wilson : Alien Covenant
Alien Covenant – What happened – ?
I love the Alien series and have been an avid fan since the very first movie – but I have to say this was a conglomeration of pretty much all the movies again, and in no real order.
I even thought some of the elements even hinted on AVP – I loved the tie in with Prometheus.
I wont add spoilers but I found that a cool angle but there were again areas that I felt didnt quite add up.
We had super agressive giants that tore people in half and threw them around like rag dolls in Prometheus and then in Covenant we had peasants waving and smiling at one of the ships arriving.
So many possibilities and this was the end result – as a fan I was dissappointed.
People whinged about Prometheus – well this to me was a lesser beast.
Again, we are left with more questions than answers 😞
My score 6/10

Bio – Rob is the owner of Frontline Photography.
Also Rob is the New Zealand representative of the global initiative of Ghostfishing.
Rob is an avid technical scuba diver and loves the ocean and is regularly leading the charge with his team on ocean based clean ups.
Being a huge movie fan and also working in the photo and video industry Rob has interesting and educated opinions on films and cinematography.
Favorite genres are Sci-Fi/Horror/Action