September 13, 2013


Oh. Hey there. Hi. Sooooo... things have been pretty quiet around here lately, huh?

I just wanted to say (to those of you still reading) thanks for doing so. I have had a blast writing this blog. And, for those interested in doing so, you can now find me over at - my official site as an official writer type fellow. It's in the early stages at the moment but I hope to build on it and add some really cool things soon. I have some ideas, I'm playing around with some things but the site is really more of a home for me as a writer and the blogs will be random - in both subject and timing.

This blog will be sticking around on the web (for now) as I am actually rather proud of some of the things here. And it's like some sort of digital historical document. For me, anyway.

So, hey. Thanks again. It's been emotional, there's no place like home, etc. etc.

- Andy

March 8, 2013

2013: Curious and Curiouser

This list of upcoming 2013 films is mainly remakes or sequels - and they're ones that I'm genuinely curious about. They could, like most remakes and a lot of sequels, be irredeemably terrible. But there's something, an undefinable air of What the hell is this-ness, that has me intrigued about these upcoming films.

And with that, we'll kick it off with one of the films I'm most curious to see:

GI Joe: Retaliation
You could be forgiven for believing this had already come out. In fact, this sequel to GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra was slated to kick off the blockbuster season last year but at the very last minute, Paramount pulled it. The official reason given was to fix the post-converted 3D; some online sites speculated it was to shoot more footage with Channing Tatum - the star of the first film who reportedly bought it in the opening minutes but who had a bumper 2012.

Whatever the reason, I'm intrigued to see what this film turns out to be. The Rise of Cobra was enjoyable in a terrible kind of way; enough fun, pulpy ridiculousness made it through the noise to give it a pass. Also, the trailer was stonking and crazy and silly in a very good way. Plus The Rock. He's already saved one dumb action franchise with his presence. Who's to say he can't do it again?

NZ Release Date: 28 March 2013

Kick-Ass 2
I enjoyed the curse-word damn hell out of the first Kick-Ass (it made my Favourites of 2010), but the sequel has lost original director Matthew Vaughn (a man who has gained a reputation for having the propensity to leap from project to project). Vaughn and his writing partner Jane Goldman were the reasons the film worked as well as it did - they were both fans, they both fought to have it made their way and they both knew the best way to adapt Miller's original comic (which, it must be said, isn't as great as the film).

Having said that, Vaughn is staying on as producer, and the concept - that the eponymous hero inspires a raft of new heroes and that they must team up Justice League/Avengers style to take down the Red Mist and his team of baddies - is an intriguing one. Add Jim Carrey as Colonel Stars and Stripes and you have me cautiously interested.

NZ Release Date: unknown. 16 August for the States.

A Tom Cruise Sci-Fi Action film is usually a pretty fair bet and to be fair I'm looking forward to this more than Will Smith and Son's M. Night Shymalan directed post-apocalyptic film. But director Joseph Kosinski's Tron: Legacy was a triumph of design over... anything else really.

Once again, however, the trailers thus far released look intriguing enough, even if the plot feels a little played out and obvious. I'm always up for a lark in a dystopian future but I'm hoping there's a little more to Kosinski this time out.

NZ Release Date: 11 April 2013

You should've seen Old Boy by now - the original Korean film, directed by Chan-wook Park that is. It's one of those films that is so singular, so perfect in the execution of its vision you cannot imagine it as a film in any other way.

Yet Spike Lee is going to give it a shot. And he's not the first to have attempted the American remake of this stone-cold classic - Spielberg was attached at one point. Lee has got it across the line though, and with a fairly incredible cast: Josh Brolin in the Dae-su role and Elizabeth Olson as his daughter. Samuel L. Jackson and Sarlto Copley also make appearances. The big question, aside from whether it's any good, is how far they took it this time? The South Korean original went to some incredibly dark and disturbing places in its exploration of revenge. Will the Yanks - even a film-maker as singular as Spike Lee - have the stomach for it? I'm intrigued to see.

NZ Release Date: 17 October 2013

Warm Bodies
Just when you think the whole zombie thing is played out, along comes something else shambling and groaning towards your visual cortex.

I was initially put off by the original concept - a sort of Twilight, with a zombie in the Edward role - but the trailer quickly set me right. The film - from director Jonathan Levine, who's great 50/50 criminally never made it to NZ screens - is lighter in tone to the hormone and angst-ridden lip-biting and staring into the distance of Twilight. Where Edward was a sparkly, controlling freak, Nicholas Hoult's R worries if he's being creepy and keeps a charming and witty narration up.

The film has already been released in the States and received some favourable reviews. It looks to be more in line with Shaun of the Dead - with the light comedic touch but complete understanding of the genre - than the abominable sparkle-vamps.

NZ Release Date: 11 April 2013

I'm one of the very few people who was not utterly swept up and taken away with Neill Blomkamp's District 9. Yeah, sure, it was a pretty cracking wee original sci-fi film (of which there should be more), but whatever it was that everyone else seemed to find in it, I didn't.

Which is not to say that I doubt Blomkamp's intelligence or talent at all. District 9 just didn't do it enough for me. But so I am intrigued to see if what he offers in Elysium - with Matt Damon going up against Jodie Foster in a future dystopia - clicks for me this time.

NZ Release Date: 15 August 2013

The Wolverine
The first stand-alone Wolverine film was an unmitigated disaster - they got absolutely nothing right. Not one thing, which is an achievement in of itself really.

Have Hugh Jackman (and new director James Mangold) learnt from the mistakes made? There is hope that they have. The Wolverine is said to be a stand-alone adventure, set in Japan sometime after X-Men 3. It's based on one of the most celebrated runs on the comics, where Frank Miller took Logan to Japan and made something of a ronin out of him. There's the opportunity for something fun, exciting and new to the superhero-movie genre here. But, as the first Wolverine proved, it can also all go horribly, hilariously wrong.

NZ Release Date: 25 July 2013

Evil Dead
A remake of Sam Raimi's oft-copied but never beaten spook-a-blast? Sacrilege, surely? Surely?!

And that was my initial thought. But then I read the script was written by Diablo Cody. I heard the film is an outright horror. Then I saw the trailer.

Yikes. I mean, holy crap, this film looks nasty. In a very, very good way. Don't expect to find Bruce Campbell mugging at the camera throughout this little cabin-set horror.

But the question remains: will it be any good? Rarely for a remake, I think it has the genuine possibility to be great, and I look forward to seeing for myself. Just not, y'know, by myself.

NZ Release Date: 9 May 2013

Pain & Gain
Michael Bay and explosions. Explosions and Michael Bay. They go hand-in-hand like Michael Bay and inappropriate racial humour. But Bay has taken a brief reprieve from directing Transformers movies for this remarkable based-on-a-true story.

Mark Wahlberg and The Rock (that guy again) star as two muscley muscle-men who (along with Anthony Mackie) get themselves caught up in extortion, kidnapping and identity theft in the mid-90's. The trailer was a cracker, with Bay seeming to hit the right tone for the first time in awhile. This could be one of those enjoyable larger-than-life films that you watch with a shaking head and incredulous grin. But then, Transformers 2 & 3. Don't let us down this time Bay. 

NZ Release Date: 8 August 2013

Ender's Game
What a year for Orson Scott Card, eh? There's been a lot of hullabalooh and a stink kicked up about him writing a Superman comic for DC, given his well-known views on gay marriage (he is very, very, very much opposed).

Vile stone-age political views aside, Card's Ender's Game is one of the great sci-fi novels (interestingly without a trace of homophobia. If anything, it edges towards the homoerotic in parts). It follows Andrew "Ender" Wiggin as he goes through the torturous and unrelenting Battle Schoool - all in order to prepare him to command the united Earth fleet against a coming alien invasion.

There's a lot going on, thematically speaking, in the original story in addition to it taking place over a number of years with some pretty brutal treatment doled out to its young characters. Will Gavin Hood (director of the original disastrous Wolverine, but also Tsotsi) be able to pull it off?

NZ Release Date: 31 October 2013

Again, why the hell are they remaking a classic Hollywood horror film? De Palma's original Carrie is a perfect iteration of the work: stylish, gory, thematically packed and horrific as all get out. How could you possibly beat the casting of Sissy Spacek as the violently picked-upon psychic school-girl?

Chloe Grace Moretz, Hit-Girl herself, is going to take a shot at it. She's a very different presence to Spacek and director Kimberly Peirce (Boy's Don't Cry) is very different to De Palma. And that's why I'm curious to see what this version is going to be like. The trailer released thus far is pure tease, revealing that this time the end destruction is bigger - but will the rest of the film stand up to that sweeping single shot?

NZ Release Date: 14 November 2013

The Last Stand
The return of Arnie to leading man is, reportedly, a fun enough old fashioned action film. And I'm a big Arnie fan (especially of his earlier, not-funnier work). Not only is it the return of the Austrian Oak to his bread-and-butter, it's the English language debut of versatile South Korean director Jee-woon Kim (The Good, The Bad, The Weird and I Saw the Devil).

Reviews have been favourable, praising the use of practical effects and old-school feel to proceedings without being outstanding. I'm curious to see myself how well Arnie does, after his year's running California. It should, I hope, be a bunch of good-time explodey fun. The trailer promises as much.

NZ Release Date: 9 May 2013

A remake of a little-known horror film from the 80's (ok, yes, there's some sort of horror-remake trend going on here) starring the Ring Bearer himself, Elijah Wood. Normally that wouldn't be enough to pique my curiosity, but the intriguing gimmick of the entire film being shot from disturbed killer Wood's point-of-view has me wondering if it'll work.

Past the gimmick, the film itself looks positively creepy as the trailer demonstrates. This is an interesting step for Wood - he of the big dreamy eyes and diminutive stature. He's the last person you'd pick for a demented killer. Which is exactly why it might work, in a really fucking terrifying kind of way.

NZ Release Date: unknown

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2
I love the first Cloudy. I foolishly missed it at the movies, but I must have watched it a dozen times on DVD since - it's hilarious and weird and heartfelt. An almost perfect combination for me.

The original directors, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, have moved on to 21 Jump Street and the Lego movie and incoming helmers Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn don't have much of a track record. But then, the first Cloudy was Lord and Miller's first feature film so here's hoping they've imparted some wisdom to the new kids.
The freshly-released trailer is packed with delicious puns (and if you know me, you know how much of a sucker I am for puns) and I'm currently cautiously optimistic that they've managed to maintain the same strange tone of the first film, while not losing sight of the emotion underneath it all.

And if it's terrible, I'll just pop Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs back in the DVD player and laugh myself silly again.

NZ Release Date: 28 November 2013

March 4, 2013

2013: Keenly Anticipated Singular Visions

These aren't necessarily the big money-spinners, or the super-explodey popcorn flicks. But these are the films that, due to the creative talent involved, I'm actually most looking forward to seeing this year. These are the films that aren't set in stone though, films that don't have release dates set in stone and will likely do a festival or two before they make it to NZ.

The World's End
Edgar Wright. Simon Pegg. Nick Frost. They've gifted us with Spaced, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Paul and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. This is the conclusion of their (very) loose "blood & ice-cream" trilogy. It is guaranteed to be hilarious, intelligent and a veritable all-round cinema-extravaganza. I am busting at the seams with anticipation.

NZ Release Date: 3 October 2013

The Raid: Retaliation

Hey, so did you see The Raid last year? Or, more aptly, did you experience the full-force physical assault that was last year's most explosive action film? If you did, then I need explain no further.

If, however, you sadly didn't I'll break it down for you. The Raid was the action film to beat last year, focussing on a team of cops caught completely out of their depth in an apartment building ruled by criminals. It was a smorgasbord of violence, an extravaganza of knees and fists and feet and elbows to face and body and joints. It was an all-around blast and if the sequel is anything like the original, whooo. We're in for a treat.

NZ Release Date: unknown (Indonesia: 8 September 2013)


Chan-wook Park has built up a truly impressive body of work in his native South Korea: JSA, Oldboy, Sympathy for Lady Vengenace and Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance. Stoker, his English-language American debut, stars Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode and Mia Wasikowska. The trailer is a suitably tense and atmospheric slice of what's in store for audiences.

NZ Release Date: 29 August 2013


The new film from Alfonso Cuaron - who directed what may still possibly be the best Harry Potter film - Gravity though long delayed will surely be worth the wait. This is Cuaron's first feature film since the fantastic Children of Men in 2006 and continues in the science-fiction vein with George Clooney and Sandra Bullock as astronauts having to get their way back to earth after a mid-orbit collision.

NZ Release Date: 3 October 2013

Cloud Atlas
The Wachowkis and Tom Tykwer have tackled something extraordinary. Whether they were successful or not depends on who you ask. TIME magazine had it on their Worst of 2012 list, whereas any number of other reviewers online had it amongst their best.

The extended trailer that was released for the film goes some way towards capturing the scope of what the trio were reaching for and dang I'm keen to see for myself what this ended up like. With a phenomenal cast playing multiple characters across different eras and stories, I can see why Cloud Atlas could trip and fail but could also be something new. Despite being released in the States already, I have no idea when or if this will get any sort of release here in NZ.

NZ Release Date: unknown

Before Midnight
The capper to one of the most intriguing trilogies in film history with Richard Linklater once again following Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke as they walk and talk around a European locale. Early word has been good (very good). Linklater is one of those intriguing directors, one you're never quite sure of what he's going to do next or how it's going to play out, and that's exactly why I'm looking forward to it.

NZ Release Date: unknown

Spike Jonze is, so far, three for three with feature films. Being John Malkovich and Adaptation with Charlie Kaufman and Where the Wild Things Are with Dave Eggers all managed to be very much their own things, while also being distinctly Spike Jonze films.

There's not a lot out there about this at the moment - not even a US release date - but for the simple fact that it is a voice as distinct as Jonze's I can't wait to see what it's all about.

NZ Release Date: unknown

Inside Llewyn Davis
The Coen Brothers are, once again, on a hot streak. From No Country for Old Men to True Grit, their recent filmography has contained some of their best work. Inside Llewyn Davis, following a struggling folk singer in Greenwich Village in 1960, promises to be one of their smaller films. The trailer intrigues without revealing much.

As with all of the other films on this list, my interest is primarily down to the talent involved in the writing and directing chairs and when that talent is the brothers Coen, well of course I'm looking forward to what's on offer.

NZ Release Date: unknown

February 18, 2013

2013: The Tentpoles and Blockbusters

Well this has taken me a little while longer to get to and complete than I had anticipated and so I've split my 2013 preview up into a couple of different, themed, posts.

First up, as you can see, are the Big Movies of the year. The popcorn flicks. The films the action and the explodey and the (hopefully) fun and crazy times.  
These are the BIG films; the films the studios earn (or expect to earn) most of their moolah of the year from. 

This is my favourite time of year; looking forward to all of the (possibly) great films that are to come. Hopes have not yet been dashed. We can still dream of something amazing somehow making its way through the studio system.

So here, in no particular order, are those films I'm most looking forward to having my eyeballs dazzled by:

Pacific Rim
While the first trailer didn't absolutely blow me away, this is still Guillermo del Toro directing a film about giant robots (Jaegers) punching giant monsters (kaiju). Enough said, really. I'm there.

NZ Release Date: 11 July 2013

Man of Steel
Zach Snyder doesn't have the best track-record in the director's chair. We all know that. I'm not entirely sure where I stand in regards to him - Dawn of the Dead was better than it had any right to be but Watchmen was rather lifeless while Sucker Punch was an exercise in style over substance. And Warner Bros. continue to flail about, unsure what to do with their vast stable of DC characters.

But damn if the trailers haven't been getting me jazzed for this new Superman. Let's hope the film is as big, emotional and exciting as they suggest. One thing's for certain: it'll be more action packed than Superman Returns.

NZ Release Date: 27 June 2013

Iron Man 3
The first of the Marvel films to follow last year's box-office storming Avengers and the beginning of Marvel's Phase 2 (leading to the Avengers 2 in 2015). This time Robert Downey Jr. is joined by his Kiss Kiss Bang Bang director Shane Black and (Sir) Ben Kingsley. There have been all sorts of exciting hints and rumours (that I have attempted to studiously avoid with marginal success) and I can't wait to see what these guys put Tony Stark through.

And, again, what a trailer.

NZ Release Date: 18 April 2013

Thor: The Dark World
I enjoyed the first Thor more than I had any right to. It is, objectively speaking, not a particularly great film. But Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston were such fun (such fun) in the roles of Thor and his scheming brother Loki that it proved to be a lot of fun. I'm also a sucker for insane sci-fi production design (Flash Gordon anyone?).

The sequel has jettisoned K-Bran as director, but picked up Alan Taylor (a veteran TV director of, among other things, Game of Thrones and Mad Men). The Dark World aims to (of course) go bigger with Thor and a merry band travelling to some of the other Nine Realms to battle dark elves and such forth. Should, at the very least, be more crazy sci-fi/fantasy fun.

NZ Release Date: 31 October 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness
This nearly didn't make the cut, despite how much I enjoyed the first Star Trek from JJ Abrams. And why did it almost not make the cut? Because of Abrams' obsession with mystery and obfuscation. Despite a couple of trailers, clips and press there is still no clue as to who Benedict Cumberbatch's villain is. Which is beginning to get more than a little annoying.

But, so long as the script improves on 2009's effort, this could be a welcome return to the bridge of the Enterprise. But then again, the script is from Orci & Kurtzman... so who knows.

NZ Release Date: 16 May 2013

Fast and the Furious 6
I know, right? What the hell is this doing on here? But, if like me, you caught Fast 5 (despite not seeing any of the previous films) then you're hoping this film is just as much vehicular fun as that entry. And that it's once again written by Chris Morgan and directed by Justin Lin (as well as the recent super crazy fun-tastic trailer) seems to back that up.

Look, it's not going to be particularly deep or meaningful and I never thought I'd see the day where I was more keenly anticipating the latest entry in a dumb car franchise over the latest Die Hard film, but here we are. Vroom vroom kaboom.

NZ Release Date: 30 May 2013

January 9, 2013

2012: My favourites

It feels like years have passed in the 12 months just been.

2012 was a big year for me, on a personal level. I started the year with no job and about to embark on my Masters in Scriptwriting. Would I survive the year? Could I actually write worth a damn? Would I still be able to see movies; would I have the time and the money?

Thankfully, the answer to all of those questions was "yes".

So, after a lengthy absence from the blog writing here I am, back with my Favourite Films of 2012. 
Looking back at the films I saw at the start of the year, I can scarcely believe that it was barely 11 months ago when I saw these. It's been that kind of year. 

2012 was, in some respects, the year of the big hype followed by the big disappointment: John Carter, Prometheus and The Dark Knight Rises all, in my estimation, failed to deliver on their promise. The Amazing Spider-Man was also something of a disaster, but I was expecting that. Thank the gods we've had a number of really great films to temper that disappointment with.

Before we get into that list of my favourite great films, I just wanted to run through the films I'm still looking forward to seeing; those films you'll be seeing on other 2012 "best of" lists but that haven't been released here in NZ yet: Lincoln, Perks of Being a Wallflower, ParaNorman, Django Unchained, Cloud Atlas, Zero Dark Thirty, Anna Karenina and The Master. All here soon (I hope) and likely to make it into the 2013 list.

As always, what follows is in no particular order and is purely my favourite films from the last calendar year - and I have attempted to be particularly brutal this year in winnowing this list down to only this films that have truly, really impacted on me.

The Avengers

Perhaps not a surprise to find this on my list. Of all of the films I saw this year, I probably enjoyed (and continue to enjoy) The Avengers the most.

As a comic-book geek from way back, The Avengers seemed like an impossible dream; a fantastical promise offered up at the end of Iron Man. Could Marvel, and their filmmakers, actually pull this off? Joss Whedon, as much as we all love him, was far from a safe bet for wrangling a big-budget "gang's all here" super-hero film. I'll admit to still having my own doubts heading in to that first midnight screening; I've been burned before.

But I guess all those years wrangling an ever-increasing ensemble cast on Buffy et al paid off in spades for the Whedon. The Avengers was everything you could want from a Hollywood blockbuster: a smart script that managed to allow just about every character a chance to shine, a stack of memorable moments, humour, a fairly incredible cast and spectacular action that never drowned out the character beats.

Seeing how Marvel pulled off this "Phase One" part of their world-wide movie domination plans, I cannot wait to see what they bring us with "Phase Two". 


Rian Johnson's third film is a deceptively small and intimate sci-fi action time-travel... thing. Dense with information and intricate at the same time, Johnson eschewed the expected pyrotechnics of studio science-fiction (though certainly didn't waste the casting of Bruce "Die Hard" Willis) to give us a film that ruminated on destiny, nature vs. nurture, mothers and sons, the choices that define you and more.

Johnson, while creating a richly textured and detailed world, never falls into the trap of explaining too much. It is a pitfall many science-fiction films, particularly time-travel ones, collapse into. Looper is not concerned with the mechanics and causal loopholes of time-travel; time-travel is merely the conceit by which Johnson explores his ideas.

I've seen Looper twice in the cinema and cannot wait to revisit it again. The film is still swimming around in my mind some months later. Killer soundtrack too. 


I mentioned Craig Zobel's deeply unsettling debut feature film back in my wrap-up of the 2012 NZIFF, where I chose it as my "pick of the Fest"; the stand-out film for me of the fortnight. And I'm quite happy to still stand by that. While it was in no way my favourite film of the festival, it was a film that I couldn't easily shake.

No film in 2012, and very few in years previous, had such an immediate and profound impact on me. Though there were no scenes that could be easily labelled stomach-churningly violent or horrendous, the film had a number of walk-outs in my screening purely down to the horrifying atmosphere and gradually building degradation that Zobel and his lead actress, Dreama Walker, built.

Compliance was a dark little gem of a film that pulled me in, fucked around with the darkest most voyeuristic and horrifying things inside us all and then spat me back out into the night. I found myself spiralling down into a very dark place, almost unable to pull myself back up. 

Young Adult

Diablo Cody's third film (and make no mistake, this is very much a Diablo Cody film, despite the Jason Reitman director credit) has, I feel, been overlooked by just about everyone. Which is maddening, as it is a flat-out incredible film. It walks a delicate tightrope, with a central character so deeply unlikeable and unredeemable as to almost alienate the audience - but Cody's script is too smart for that, and Charlize Theron too adept an actress.

There is very little sympathy to be felt for Theron's Mavis - she's an emotionally stunted woman-child who returns to her po-dunk hometown to lure away her high-school sweetheart from his happily married life - but there is a certain empathy to be felt. Perhaps it's because of my increased focus on the art and craft of script-writing this year, but I found Young Adult to be something of a remarkable achievement.

And to have got this far in my write-up without mentioning the work of Patton Oswalt as the crippled and sardonic Matt Freehauf seems criminal. Oswalt gives the character a softness, without overdoing it, that helps to take some of the tartness out of Theron's Mavis. To me, if there were any justice in the movie world, Cody and her cast would have swept the awards boards last year. It's also really freakin' hilarious.

The Raid

If you missed seeing this in a cinema packed with an excited and pumped audience, I really feel for you. The Raid is a tight, no holds barred, economical martial-arts actioner, best enjoyed with a rowdy and appreciative audience.

The second teaming of director Gareth Evans and star Iko Uweis, this was the action film from the past year. Paring everything to do with plot and character right down to the bone (but still giving us the essentials), The Raid was an almost physical experience and was an abject lesson in how to really do an action film right. Hell, I'm calling it. This is the best action film since Die Hard.

There's good guys and a whole building full of bad guys. And everyone knows martial arts. Or has a weapon. Or an exploding fridge. There's a goal. There are clear stakes. And then there's a shit-ton of amazing, brutal and very physical fight-scenes.

If you've not seen The Raid, get a bunch of friends together, the biggest, loudest TV you can, a few beers and get ready to enjoy the hell out of your night.


Kenneth Lonergan's Margaret is... I don't want to say a difficult film, but it's something of a confounding film. It almost defies any sort of simplistic description or summation; being the opposite of The Raid in those respects (also, markedly less kung-fu).

It has been a long a time in arriving at cinemas in any sort of form, with Lonergan working on cut after cut after cut. There is reportedly a 5 hour version of the film out there, which is easy to believe; there are characters and story-lines in the released version that feel more like ellipses than completed arcs.

Like with Young Adult our central female protagonist is unsympathetic - a precocious, manipulative, self-absorbed, not-as-smart-as-she-thinks teenage girl - while still being empathetic. And Anna Paquin simply inhabits the skin of this character; it is a performance seemingly shorn of artifice and she simply is Lisa Cohen.

Margaret was a heady experience in the cinema; an almost free-forming, pinwheeling emotional journey that is nevertheless always moving forward. For all of its wandering and contemplative tones, nothing feels unnecessary.

Cabin in the Woods

The primary feeling I had before heading in to watch Cabin of the Woods for the first time (I ended up seeing it the three times it played at the NZIFF), was that I was very, very lucky.

If you haven't yet heard the tale of Cabin in the Woods, a quick summation: I first heard of it more than two years ago when, I think, it played the 2010 SXSW film festival. It went over like gangbusters; the film geek crowd went, understandably, apeshit over it. Then... nothing. MGM (the studio behind the film) shat the bed, financially speaking. There was talk of Cabin being post-converted to 3D in order for MGM to turn a couple more (much-needed) bucks. No dice. Then, again... nothing. Until mid-way through 2012 when it was quietly announced that Cabin would finally be released Down Under - direct to DVD. The internet went a bit batshit. Not even just here - there were a couple of big-time American entertainment writers who got involved. With all of the furore, Ant Timpson and the New Zealand International Film Festival stepped in and brought Cabin to NZ for the NZIFF. Thank the dark lords.

Cabin in the Woods is script-writer Drew Goddard's directorial debut and it is a joyous celebration and deconstruction of horror movie tropes, all done with intelligence, humour and a fair amount of actual horror. All three screenings at the Embassy Theatre in Wellington (a 700-odd seat cinema) were packed out and the audience lapped it up - laughing, whooping and hollering. As with The Raid, this is a film best enjoyed with an audience.  


Up-and-coming English filmmaker Ben Wheatley's latest film was an utter, joyful surprise for me. Before perusing the NZIFF line-up for 2012, I had no idea Wheatley had a new film out. Hell, I hadn't even seen his previous, much-lauded Kill List (I have since, and it was not anything I was expecting at all). So I was going into Sightseers just about as blind as possible.

I was cheerfully surprised at the obsidian-black humour that ran through this tale of two English weirdos who take off on a campervan trip across the verdant landscape. These two are your typical small-minded sort of English folk; quietly annoyed at others, always up for a cuppa and going about things in a pragmatic sort of way. Even, yes, becoming accidental serial-killers.

I certainly wouldn't recommend it to everyone; there is a very particular flavour to the film and Wheatley and his cast enjoy twisting things beyond your expectations. Is there some sweetness to it? More of a black bittersweetness I think. And it was that gentle defiance of convention that really tickled my fancy. 
Sightseers has just come out on general release here in NZ and I'm really looking forward to seeing it again. 

And just to wrap it all up, a quick list of those other films that didn't quite make it but that were damn fine films in their own right. I heartily recommed you give them a look-in if you haven't already: The Adventures of Tintin; Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; Hugo; The Descendants; The Ides of March; Shame; The Hunger Games; 21 Jump Street; We Need to Talk About Kevin; Our Idiot Brother; Damsels in Distress; The Front Line; Good for Nothing; Searching for Sugar Man; The Angel's Share; Beasts of the Southern Wild; How to Meet Girls From a Distance; Your Sister's Sister; The Hunt; Killer Joe; Magic Mike, Sound of my Voice; Holy Motors; The Sessions; Moonrise Kingdom; The Expendables 2; Pitch Perfect; Dredd; Argo

As always I'd be dead keen to hear your picks from the last year. And what films from 2012 are you still looking forward to seeing?