Category Archives: Movies

Movie: Equity

It’s good, if rather distasteful, to see that female investment bankers can be just as greedy and ambitious as male investment bankers.   I must confess that I still don’t know what an IPO is, but I understood enough to know that these women were mixing it with the Gordon Geckos of the world in a rarefied world of glossy, hotel-like interiors and lots of alcohol. They worked all hours too but were rarely forgiven for their mistakes and had to use their sexuality as well as their brains. Thank God I live a boring little suburban life.

Movie: Eight Days a Week

Fifty years ago I sat in the now-disappeared Hoyts Theatre in Ivanhoe and screamed at a film. It was ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ and the theatre full of girls screamed from the opening shots right through to the end.  Thinking back, it seems a particularly pointless thing to do. And here I find myself, fifty-one years later, sitting at Cinema Nova with four other patrons, watching the 2016 Ron Howard documentary ‘Eight Days a Week’, and wishing that I could scream again (except it would probably be a cracked and strangled old-lady warble by now).

Produced by the American Ron Howard, this documentary has a strong American focus – an appropriation that, swayed by my sour mood towards America after Trump’s presidential victory, I found myself resenting. But I couldn’t resent the care with which this documentary has been put together, and the sterling work that has been carried out in remastering both the sound and image quality. Certainly I’ve seen much of the footage before, and I’ve heard the story of the Beatles over and over, but there was much here that I hadn’t seen.  It’s impressive to remember just how good they were playing live, particularly when they couldn’t hear what the others were singing or playing, let alone hearing themselves.

At the start of the screening there had been a rather cryptic message about viewing a Beatles film afterwards. “It’s a bit late for that” I thought, knowing that the season at the Nova is drawing to an end.  The documentary ended, and I stayed as I usually do, to see the credits as three of the audience of five left.  But what’s this? All of a sudden, in glorious clear colour, was the Shea stadium concert – all thirty or so minutes of it – as a parting gift.

I really enjoyed this documentary. Loved it. It’s still on at Cinema Nova, although it’s now its “last days”.

There’s a good Rolling Stone article here, complete with old footage – particularly the British Pathe documentary

Movie: High Rise

When, within the first ten minutes or so of the movie starting I saw a head sawed in half vertically and the skin peeled off, THEN I remembered that this was a J. G. Ballard story. I do not like J. G. Ballard stories (except perhaps for Empire of the Sun).  This was a dystopian, violent nightmare of a movie that I didn’t understand one little bit.

All those four and five star ratings! No, this was too bleak and ugly for this little old lady. I certainly wouldn’t recommend it.


Movie: The Arbor

Don’t read this posting. Go straight to iview instead and watch this movie/documentary before 1.58 a.m. on November 3, 2016 while it’s still available. It’s one of the most powerful pieces of cinema that I’ve seen in years.

I hadn’t heard of Andrea Dunbar. She was a young British writer who followed the adage ‘write what you know’. What she knew was the wasteland of a Bradford housing estate in Thatcher’s Britain of the 1980s, where the eponymous Brafferton Arbor was a bleak patch of blighted grass, surrounded by terraced public housing with boarded windows.  Her first play was performed at the Royal Court Theatre in London when she was a 20 year old single mother, and her follow-up  Rita Sue and Bob Too was developed as a film in 1987.  She was dead by 1990 at the age of 29, leaving three children by three different fathers.

This film is based on interviews with the family, most particularly her two daughters, conducted by the filmmaker Clio Barnard. The oral interviews have been lip-synced by actors.  I only learned this later, and spent most of the movie, transfixed, wondering whether I was watching a movie or a documentary.  It was only when I recognized the actor who plays Inspector Barnaby in the new Midsomer Murders, and marvelling at his accent, that I realized that it wasn’t a documentary. It is interspersed with documentary footage from the 1980s of Andrea Dunbar, and a performance in 2010 of her play ‘The Arbor’ on the estate itself, watched by the current residents.  I was amused that this extract from the film had subtitles: I found myself craving them on several occasions:

It is a very dark film about intergenerational poverty and harm. Her two daughters have diametrically opposed views of their mother, and it’s so easy to judge.  Absolutely brilliant.

Movie: Girl Asleep

I wanted to like this Australian movie but – oh dear- there’s 1 hour and 17 minutes of my (not inexhaustible) life wasted.  A mixture of ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ and ‘Heathers’, ‘Grease’ and every other teen movie you’ve ever seen, it was derivative and wallowing in 1970s kitsch nostalgia.  The red-headed boy from ‘Upper Middle Bogan’ (Harrison Feldman) played exactly the same character here; Bethany Whitmore was quite good as 15 year old Greta but overall it just left me cold.  Very disappointing.

Two stars from me, David.

Movie: ‘Tickled’

This is REALLY good! It’s a documentary about a NZ journalist who, while doodling around on the internet, stumbles onto a website about ‘competitive endurance tickling’. Watching people being tickled tickled his sense of humour and curiosity as well, so he emailed the owner of the site with a view to doing a documentary about it.  His investigations about something so ostensibly quirky and amusing took him into some very dark places.  It’s a very unnerving, discomfiting film and one of the best docos I’ve seen in a long time.

Movie: Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie

Much as I love Ab Fab, it’s best viewed in small doses. I think I enjoyed this trailer as much as I did the whole movie, to be honest. I am absolutely clueless about fashion and popular culture, so much of this went right over my head. But of course, it’s lovely seeing everyone again- Mother (who would have to be the most beautiful 90 year old around); Bubble; Marshall and Bo; Saffy and Lola. I found myself grinning away like an idiot just from the joy of seeing familiar faces again.  At least Eddie and Patsy (who’s pretty damned good for 70, too) can grow into their old age disgracefully and embarrassingly, which is of course the whole shtick.

But while half-an-hour of Ab Fab is perfect, a whole movie is too long. Really, I think you’d be better off sitting down with an Ab Fab box set and just enjoying it in its original and absolutely fabulous format.