I’ve rewatched The Shining recently and went to the Astor Theatre with a friend to see 2001: A Space Odyssey, so I kept Stanley Kubrick theme going and revisited his last movie made with pre-divorce Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.
Brutal, powerful and at times hard-to-watch drama about a Maori family wrecked by the domestic violence. You get an indication of what you’re up for in the opening shot: a picture-perfect view of the New Zealand landscape set to a wistful tune that quickly reveals itself an advertising billboard near an ugly and noisy construction site. If you want the pretty, look elsewhere.
I finally watched the DVD I bought on sale almost three years ago. This is why I prefer to rent movies – if I have a fixed deadline ahead I’ll make time to watch them rather than procrastinate and let the box collect dust. There are just way too many other distractions around. I’m glad I freed it from the plastic wrapping, because the movie was a blast. Like Oblivion, that other Tom Cruise sci-fi film from the recent years, Edge of Tomorrow steals from the best in the genre, but unlike Oblivion it feels genuinely like its own beast. And it’s heaps of fun.
Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan back in the dark days when he was making one stinker after another, The Happening has too many dull stretches to be a proper good bad movie. Still, I find Shyamalan’s bad movies fascinating in the same way I find Star Wars prequels and films like Jupiter Ascending weirdly fascinating. Say what you want about them, but they’re not your generic bad movies and they bear the individual stamp of their creators.
Last book club read for this year before we regroup in January, Purple Hibiscus is an engaging and beautifully written coming-of-age story set in postcolonial Nigeria. Its heroine, Kambili, is a shy and timid 15-year-old girl growing up within the confines of her wealthy family, ruled by her devoutly religious, authoritarian, verbally and physically abusive father Eugene. When Kambili and her brother Jaja get a chance to spend time with their liberal aunt Ifeoma and her children, freed from Eugene’s oppressive regime, Kambili slowly begins to find her confidence and her own voice.
I haven’t seen much of Amy Schumer’s comedic material, but her turn in Trainwreck was memorable enough for me to read this enjoyable autobiographical collection of essays and recollections, told with frankness, humour and quite a bit of raunch and cussing. There’s always a measure of scepticism when one reads a memoir by a celebrity – particularly a performer – in how much of it is a carefully edited performance and how much is genuine. As far as my impressions went, Schumer at least doesn’t come off as a person who pretends to be someone they’re not.
I continued my Disney exploration with this cute and quirky 2002 movie about a little Hawaiian girl who unknowingly adopts an alien creature from outer space. One of our heroes is a strange, angry, destructive force, another is shaped like a cross between a koala and an insect.
I’ve decided to catch up on Disney’s traditionally animated films I never saw, so I watched this 1996 odd duck which, along with Pocahontas, heralded the end of the early 90s Disney Renaissance and the beginning of the diminishing returns. If you asked me to name a literary source that could serve as a jumping-off point for a family entertainment blockbuster, Victor Hugo’s classic novel Notre-Dame de Paris probably wouldn’t be it. The Powers That Be at Disney obviously had a different opinion and greenlit the project; while the results are rather mixed I thought the film was definitely worth seeing.
I’m not fussed to watch the latest Thor extravaganza, but its release at least reminded me to track down director Taika Waititi’s earlier film, a mockumentary about house-sharing vampires in Wellington, which he made with Flight of the Conchords’ Jemaine Clement.