HJW’s Top 20 Movies of 2014

Best 20 MOVIES of 2014 as voted by HJW

 We had some absolute crackers this year. A lot of sequels, remakes, films based on novels, and a few originals. Having gotten free movies all year and being a massive movie fan, I’ve been privileged enough to have seen the vast majority of theatrical released films in New Zealand.

In reverse order, here are my top 20 favourite films of 2014, rated using a complex emotional algorithm of enjoyment.

Please note, because I live in New Zealand, there are a number of fantastic films I haven’t seen this year due to them not being released here yet, like Birdman.

20 to 17 best films

20. Magic in the Moonlight

Director/Writer: Woody Allen
Starring Colin Firth, Emma Stone

Some people took the piss outta this one because of the age difference of the romantic leads. Granted, Woody Allen married his adopted daughter, so I kinda get where they’re coming from. But the film is charming. Colin Firth seems as if he’s trying his best to speak louder in every scene than anyone else, and Emma Stone, in my opinion, is at her most beautiful in this film. Cute, light, easy with enjoyable dialogue and an interesting pro-atheism undertone.

19. Predestination

Directors/Writers: Peter and Michael Spierig
Starring Ethan Hawke, Sarah Snook

I’m a sucker for time travel, and I loved the Spierig brothers last vampire film Daybreakers. This drama action thriller period piece sci-fi film dealing with chicken and egg time travel paradoxes was a breath of fresh air in terms of structure, having a forty minute dialogue scene drawing you in with a lax smugness. A sunny, stylish look with Australian actress Sarah Snook playing a convincing man. Ethan aswell, you’ll see him pop on the list again later…

18. Whiplash

Director/Writer: Damien Chazelle
Starring Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons

Many friends have this film in their top five. The tension, the music, the chemistry. It’s a great film. Developed through the Sundance program (like Taika Waititi’s Boy), Whiplash was a wonderful sidestep from the usual Hollywood paradigm.

17. The Trip to Italy

Director/Writer: Michael Winterbottom
Starring Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon

In their foray to Italy, it’s Rob Brydon who gets to fiddle with the locals, cheating on his loving wife. There’s something about older people’s constant search for happiness that I find intriguing and a great source for humour and pathos. Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s bromance really make the film, with their constant bickering and occasional genuine love for each other compliment the ambling plot.

16 to 13 best films

16. Mr. Peabody & Sherman

Director: Rob Minkoff
Writers: Craig Wright (screenplay), Jay Ward (original series)
Starring the voices of Ty Burrell, Max Charles

I laughed, learned, and teared up. There’s something really attractive about films made for a family audience. Something unapologetic. They ride out there, crossing the line of cheese, getting away with dialogue and plot twists that a more ‘mature’ film could never.

15. Gone Girl

Director: David Fincher
Writer: Gillian Flynn (novel and screenplay)
Starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike

I read Gone Girl when I learnt it was to be directed by David Fincher. I LOVED the book. There were constant twists and turns and the characterization is terrifying. People’s inherent desires are fucked. The film was really enjoyable to watch despite having all the substance of the story already given to me from the book.

14. Interstellar

Director: Christopher Nolan
Writer: Jonathan Nolan
Starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway

Oh man. What a ride. I saw this in the third biggest screen in the world, Melbourne’s SEVEN STORY HIGH IMAX. Good god I thought I was gonna have a panic attack in some scenes, it was glorious. There has been so much said about this film, so many different opinions, and the most common (and the one that I share) is that it was a beautiful mess. Overly emotional too quick, it had some incredible effects sequences and some pointless tension building, but was a helluva ride.

13. St. Vincent

Director/Writer: Theodore Melfi
Starring Bill Murray, Jaeden Leiberher

Another father son story. I’m a sucker for those. Like Mr. Peabody & Sherman, it just got to me. It’s the father son stuff. It was funny too. And it went to places I didn’t think it would go. An overlooked gem.

12 to 9 best films

12. The Interview

Directors: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg
Writers: Dan Sterling (screenplay), Seth and Evan (story)
Starring Seth Rogen, James Franco

After all the hullaballoo, I wasn’t let down. This is an insensitive, offensive romp filled with sex jokes and poo jokes. Loved it. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are filmmakers. They know their craft. They’ve written hit after hit, and this second whack at directing proves they can craft killer sequences and pay offs. Not for everybody – definite not – but I’m the target demographic and I laughed a lot.

11. Nightcrawler

Director/Writer: Dan Gilroy
Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo

Oh man, I was not prepared for this film. It felt like the 2014 version of American Psycho, Jake Gyllenhaal’s gaunt, brooding, fiercely ambitious anti-hero serving as a much more entertaining watch than Christian Bale’s. The music, the editing, the tension, all of it made the film pack massive punch. Loved it.

10. Neighbours (Bad Neighbours)

Director: Nicholas Stoller
Writers: Andrew J. Cohen, Brendan O’Brien
Starring Seth Rogen, Zac Efron

With his second film in my top twenty, Seth Rogen is really impressing me this year. Last year his directorial debut This is The End blew me away with laughs and action, and this year he’s smacking it outta the park with juvenile humour that has a strange heart to it. Rose Byrne is one of the funniest and most loveable characters ever and Zac Efron topless gets a big thumbs up from me any day.

9. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Director: Matt Reevs
Writers: Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa
Starring Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke

It’s not often I see blockbusters twice at the cinema where I have to pay, but Apes was worth seeing on the Embassy’s massive screen twice. Cranking music, awesome effects, genuine heart and an interesting play on the development of language and the issues of pack mentality, Caeser and his son’s story brought this one into the top ten for me.

8 to 5 best films

8. Pride

Director: Matthew Warchus
Writer: Stephen Beresford
Starring Ben Shnetzer, George MacKay

My favourite Uncle died of AIDS when I was twelve so this story hit me hard. I saw this with my mum and her husband and couldn’t help but be brought into the story by the charm and irresistible flamboyance of the characters. Also, it’s a true story which makes it more weighty emotionally.

7. X-Men: Days of Future Past

Director: Bryan Singer
Writers: Simon Kinberg (screenplay), Jane Goldman (story)
Starring Hugh Jackman, James MacAvoy

Hugh Jackman is huge. Even though Wolverine has the most screen time and the most plot, he’s also the character with the least development and lacks an arc, but that’s okay coz his muscles are massive. Great to float back to the 70s, see James MacAvoy rocking out some tears again, and bring back so many well-loved characters. The only thing that let me down was the music. I miss Henry Jackman’s themes he set up so well in First Class.

6. The Equalizer

Director: Antoine Fuqua
Writers: Richard Wenk, Michael Sloan (original TV series)
Starring Denzel Washington, Chloe Grace Moretz

Violent, loud, over the top – the perfect movie to see with friends. It’s a remake of a TV show, but really it’s a simple premise. Denzel kicks arse. Chloe’s barely in the movie, which was fine by me. Ever since rewatching Man on Fire and Deja Vu, and seeing as Tony Scott has left a gigantic hole in action movie production over the last few years, I was looking forward to this and wasn’t disappointed. Big loud fun.

5. 22 Jump Street

Directors: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
Writers: Michael Bacall, Oren Uziel, Rodney Rothman
Starring Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum

These directors know what they’re doing. They seem to love films and enjoy playing with cliches, foreshadowing, MacGuffin’s, Red Herrings, and other plot devices which the cop action genre lends itself to so well. With a bigger budget comes bigger scope and Jonah Hill’s performance is more fun to watch than the action. Had to see this twice at the movies and rewatch at home too.

4 to 1 best films

4. How to Train Your Dragon 2

Director: Dean DeBlois
Writers: Dean DeBlois, Cressida Cowell (book)
Starring the voices of Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett

Since seeing this a second time, I realized I’ve put it this high up on the list largely based on nostalgia. John Powell’s incredible themes is half the reason I love these films so much, and the Kid and his Pet story harks back to films I loved as a kid like Free Willy and E.T. Every frame could be a painting and every sequence could be a carnival ride, the only thing marring this film (in my opinion) was the fact the family dog kills the father. It’s kinda full on.

3. Edge of Tomorrow

Director: Doug Liman
Writers: Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, Hiroshi Sikurazaka (novel)
Starring Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt

Mission Impossible III is my favourite action film (big call) so I was very disappointed and saddened by the Tom Cruise backlash of recent years. However, he really brought things back with MI4 and now, after Edge of Tomorrow, you can almost physically feel the public opinion of the Cruise sway back into his favour. This film is smart, exciting, and had a lot of people scratching their heads and being forced to use their brains. Always a good thing.

2. The Grand Budapest Hotel

Director: Wes Anderson
Writers: Wes Anderson, Hugo Guinness (story), Stefan Zweig (inspired by the writings of)
Starring Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori

It’s almost as if all Wes Anderson’s previous films have been leading up to this one. The score is perfect, the production design is perfectly fit, the acting, dialogue and story are really firing on all cylinders, making this film the most well crafted piece of art of the year. Ralph Fiennes had me in hysterics with his love of old women and sporadic outbursts of anger, and the sweet relationship between his character and his protege made the film climb to number 2 on my most enjoyed films of the year list.

1. Boyhood

Director/Writer: Richard Linklater
Starring Ellar Coltrane, Ethan Hawke

Everything I can say about this film can be summed up in my review I wrote after seeing it. What a deep ride from such a committed and enthralling filmmaking team. My favourite film of the year, Boyhood.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

honourable mention

 

 

Begin AgainBest Indie Vibe Film

Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley are secondary stars to the music in this film, and it’s message about how an audience respects and will appreciate genuine heart in a product over money-making ideals inspired me. Also, any film where you’ve got a scruffy haired scoundrel waking up in New York apartment with an empty bottle beside the bed and smoking a cigarette on their balcony gets points for effort.

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesMost Fun Film

The turtles had character and made me genuinely laugh. The sequence at the end where they come out and tell each other how they really feel made me tear up, and Megan Fox was in the movie too, however overshadowed she was by the masterful visual effects sequences.

 

Housebound and The Dark Horse | Best Kiwi Films

Wow. What a year from New Zealand films. These two are already slated as kiwi classics in my mind. Hilarious micro budget horror comedy Housebound and dark dramatic true story biopic The Dark Horse.

 

Reading back and remembering all the joy filled hours I had sitting a darkened room with light splayed on a white screen, I feel very fortunate to be in a world where such entertaining stories are created.

I came out of each of these films with a wide smile and something roaring inside me; a yearning to be part of that world. The world of movies. This year, 2015, I’m joining that world with my no budget feature. Please subscribe and follow my journey at HJWBTS.

 

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Like What You Like

Do you ever feel embarrassed admitting you like Iggy Azalea and Ariana Grande’s song Problem? Greeted with furrowed brows when confessing to rereading the Harry Potter series? Laughed at when coming clean about your love for anal?

 

NOT ANYMORE!

 

hayden j weal naked queenstown

FREEDOM!

 

You don’t choose what gets you going any more than you choose to be heterosexual or Asian or have freckles, dimples, crooked teeth, red blood or brown poo. It’s ingrained in our genetic code, meshed and melded by various life experiences . We have no control over it, so why must we have any emotional protectiveness over what other people think of it?

 

I dig The Beatles despite my parents never listening to them in the house. I never listen to The Bee Gees although their hits were on every family cassette tape and played on a constant, screeching loop in the car. My favourite colour is purple and I have no idea why. I’m not gonna question it. Why would I? Why should I?

 

The Beatles. Purple. The dream.

 

Okay sure, I kind of understand certain associations. If you say you genuinely like Justin Bieber as a person, you’re putting yourself out there for scrutiny because you’re saying you feel some level of parallel thinking toward him and the silly mistakes he continues to make. I’d also cringe and jump to assumptions about you as a person if you told me you were a fan of Hitler. Unanimously, the world agrees Hitler’s views were evil so if you feel an affinity for that dude, we’re gonna look at you with scared eyes and you’ll have a hard go of it making friends.

 

Hitler and Bieber

 

However, let me paint a picture and let’s dissect it. This actually happened.

 

I’m at work. Standing behind a counter, serving movie tickets, making coffees, flirting with ladies over 60, the usual. I’m chatting with workmates about films when two young ladies approach us. I turn, flash my winning smile and ask them how I can help.

“Two tickets for the 6:30, please. Students,” one of them says. She’s got straw coloured hair and little stud earrings. She’s pretty.

“No worries. You heard much about it?” I ask.

“‘Sposed to be good,” she says.

Her friend pipes up. “Awesome soundtrack apparently.”

“Yeah, the music is great,” I say. “It’s kinda like Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, you ever see that?”

Blank looks.

“You know, Josh Hutcherson and The Rock team up with Vanessa Hudgens and they go on an adventure…” I continue. “It’s awesome. The Rock does his pec-pop of love in 3D and the berries come out at you…”

An awkward silence.

“Isn’t that film for kids?” the pretty one asks, lip curling in an ugly sneer.

I shrug. “Yeah. It’s good fun.”

Her eyes bug out and she draws in a big breath. “Okay…”

 

Hayden J. Weal About Last Night

Wut…?

 

Alright. What the fuck happened there?

I was made out to feel like I should apologise for not being cool. As if enjoying a film made for kids means I have inferior tastes to someone who exclusively enjoys classics. This is not an okay way to make people feel. Everybody is allowed to like whatever they damn well please.

 

LIKE WHAT YOU LIKE

 

And relax if it’s not synonymous with everyone else’s likes. Yes, I like the song Problem by Iggy Azalea and Ariana Grande. I love the Harry Potter books and reread them often. I rewatch the movies too.

As for the anal thing, I’m actually unsure. But if I had a penchant for it, I’d come out with it.

I also like The Hunger Games and Zac Efron and went and saw The Equalizer the other night and loved it. Denzel Washington kicking arse and taking names in an R18 violent vigilante flick that critics scoff at but audiences love. Some of these things are considered uncool for a 26 year old male to enjoy but I’m stoked! I dig them!

 

WHOA!

WHOA!

 

A lot of people are so concerned with how they’re coming off to the rest of the world, poring over status updates, rewording tweets and applying filters to photos that they have no idea how to react when somebody unashamedly states they enjoy something that’s deemed ‘uncool’ by a ‘cool’ demographic.

 

Same goes for the pressures to like something. Don’t enjoy smoking? Sex? One Direction? That’s entirely up to you and don’t let anyone tell you it’s strange or embarrassing. I’m lucky I have a relatively fortified self esteem so insults about my preferences tend to bead off my feathers onto the dusty ground. But for a lot of people, the ridicule sinks in and they find the best solution is to alter their likes according to what’s acceptable in their social group. Fuck ’em. Like what you like.

 

When you’re watching that cheesy romance film or listening to that guilty pleasure album, what do those people’s views (I believe the modern term is ‘haters’) matter?  Besides, their scoffing faces blur into the background when placed alongside Zefron’s rock hard abs.

 

ABS ABS ABS

ABS ABS ABS

 

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Boyhood

Boyhood worth the 12 year wait

Alright, alright, alright.

 

Richard Linklater has directed two films in my top ten. The eternally entertaining (and career making) Dazed and Confused, and the beautiful romance trilogy Before Sunrise, Sunset, Midnight (it’s a series, but I’m gonna refer to it as a single entity for the sake of cleanliness).

 

 

Ethan Hawke Julie Delpy

Before Sunrise. A dialogue driven romance. I’ve lost track of the names people have called me for liking these films so much.

 

Because of this, I’ve anticipated the release of Boyhood for a very long time. It was always listed on IMDb as Linklater’s ‘Untitled 12 Year Project’ since I can remember. I used to scour the internet for details like a mum nit-checking their kid, frantic and forever hopeful, and I’d return fruitless. Nitless and dejected.

 

For those of you not familiar with the project, let me summarize:

Richard Linklater, phenomenal director specialising in coming-of-age, existential, poignant and funny films, was watching his 6 year old daughter dancing and singing around the hosue one day.

‘I’d love to capture that feeling of growing up,’ he thought. ‘But how do I do it? I don’t wanna center the story around one particular experience because that doesn’t encapsulate the feeling of growing up, so what do I do?’

His solution: he’d shoot 3-5 days per year for TWELVE YEARS, capturing the essence of growing throughout the life of a modern, normal kid. The good times, the bad times, the times that nobody think matter, a bit of all of it.

So that’s what he did.

 

I was around 14 when they started shooting this damn thing, and I was obsessed with Dazed. I’d watch it every Saturday with my friends. It helped us get in the mood for partying and encouraged us to do something stupid. Fast forward twelve years and Linklater’s given us Before Sunrise, SubUrbia, Waking Life, School of Rock, Before Sunset, Fast Food Nation, A Scanner Darkly, Me and Orson Welles (starring my good friend Zac Efron), Bernie and my favourite film of last year, Before Midnight.

 

Boyhood

Ellar Coltrane, the boy in Boyhood, in his youngest portrayal of our hero, Mason.

 

Then I saw it, in the 2014 NZ International Film Festival program, Boyhood. I bought tickets with a large group and waited.

And waited.

And scrolled through twitter, my heart lurching every time it was mentioned. Boyhood sat comfortably on 100% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and some industry friends had seen it at a super-mega-VIP screening to glowing reviews.

Eventually, the day dawned. Sunday 3rd August. Me and my girlfriend (ultra-aware of my excitement – poor girl has become nearly as sensitive as I to nearby popcorn chewers or chip-packet-rustlers or whisperers) walked into the Embassy Theatre. It was packed. People everywhere. Large sweaty bodies milling around sipping Americanos, twiddling their facial hair and nibbling popcorn.

The 12 year progression of Mason (Ellar)

The 12 year progression of Mason (and Ellar)

 

Then the film played. The whole premise is risky. It’s different. The result is beautiful. Just under three hours of naturalistic acting and wavy emotional beats with no distinctive “plot”, but a strong and affecting “story”. Laughs are scattered throughout, especially when Mason is a boy, and there are some heavily dramatic scenes, through the most intense of which I could feel my heart racing in my ears. Linklater nails tension, something he’s not particularly known for.

The films starts Ellar Coltrane in the leading role, the boy whose boyhood we watch unfold and unravel. He’s mega-natural and charming, an adorable kid who grows into an awkward but likable man.

Patricia Arquette (who I’ve never liked – don’t tell anyone) is fantastic in her ‘single mother struggling with bad life decisions’ role. It’s easily the best I’ve ever seen her.

Ethan Hawke plays Ellar’s father and you could feel the audience yearning for more every time he left a scene. I dig him, he’s intelligent and cool (the guy wrote Before Sunset and Before Midnight with Linklater and co-star Julie Delpy and is coming fresh from an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay last year!).

Mason’s fast-talking and eye-rolling sister Samantha is played by Linklater’s real life daughter Lorelei, the former 6 year old dancing, singing, kooky kid who inspired the thought process behind the project.

Lorelei Linklater

Lorelei Linklater and Patricia Arquette – the two beautiful women who play the beautiful women in Mason’s life

 

Lorelei begged her dad to play the role when she was 6 and daddy acquiesced. Years later when entering her early teens, Lorelei wanted out and begged for her character to be killed off. Relax, this doesn’t happen, Lorelei regained enthusiasm in the project after those awkward image conscious, breast-growing years and  lo, she seems to be a lot of people’s favourite thing about the film. Particularly as a young ‘un, she’s hilarious.

 

The look of Boyhood is perfunctory but lovely. Despite being shot over 12 years, the colours match almost seamlessly. The first half of the film has that beautiful, muted, slightly pastel patina reminiscent of great ’90s films, pulling me straight into Dazed and Confused nostalgia.

 

Dazed and Confused

Dazed and Confused (1993)
The epitome of teen coming-of-age film. The role that made McConaughey cool.

 

The soundtrack. The soundtrack. It kills it. It absolutely nails every period of time, encapsulating the feeling of that period of your life and pulling you back to it. I’m talking Britney Spears, The Hives, Coldplay, Blink 182, then we get into the indie hits that everyone felt they were original for listening to, Phoenix, Wilco, Kings of Leon, Foster The People… oh, and there’s a Sheryl Crow number in there too, that’s the only one that stumped me.

 

And maybe best of all…

 

Besides the amazing premise, killer soundtrack, gorgeous look and naturalistic acting, Boyhood references Harry Potter and The Beatles numerous times. I was in heaven. One of my favourite directors referencing Harry Potter is like putting crack in the chocolate sauce of a chocolate cake laced with ecstasy. And, as if he needed to push my euphoria even further, Ethan Hawke relishes these lengthy Beatles diatribes as he’s genuinely into them. I felt myself leave my body. Who needs drugs when you have pure escapism like this film?

 

Zoe Graham

This girl is in the film too. Zoe Graham. Truly, go see this movie

 

The supporting cast are flawless too. There’s a wonderful Dazed and Confused cameo, a couple of cracker real world villains and this little number above, Zoe Graham. Linklater has a penchant for casting strange looking girls whose beauty grows on your brain like moss and Boyhood is no exception. But for once, I’m not gonna wax lyrical about pretty girls. Suffice it to say she’s a fantastic actress and plays her part as well as she plays my heart and let’s leave it there.

 

I love this movie. It’s a real head-spinning heart-twister. It comes to cinemas in NZ at the end of the month and I’ll be telling everyone who I respect to see it.

Richard Linklater, I can’t wait to shake your hand and thank you.

 

Ellar and Linklater

Leading man Ellar with legendary director Richard Linklater

 

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I know. Big call. But bear with me.

Okay, I just got back from the NZIFF’s Wellington premiere of Housebound. It’s a NZ made microbudget horror-comedy. It’s a scary movie that’s genuinely scary and what’s more, it’s a funny movie that’s genuinely funny. The crowd (while admittedly being an excitable audience) whooped and hollered throughout. I’m talking screams, guffaws, mass intakes of breath, the whole horror film shebang.

Housebound nz

 

Written and directed by Gerard Johnstone, Housebound was made as part of the Escalator scheme, chosen in 2010 for a measly but significant $250,000. It sounds like fuck all, and that’s because it is. Nobody is paid anywhere near half rate but that being said, without such a scheme, filmmakers on the shy side of experience may never get a shot at it, and the country should rejoice that Gerard Johnstone got the opportunity to craft this comedy milestone in NZ horror cinema.

 

Gerard Johnstone award

Gerard’s won awards and yet he looks so young!

 

Gerard has come into success with The Jacquie Brown Diaries, snagging Best Comedy Show at the NZ Film and TV Awards in 2009 and 2010, so he’s not new to comedy. Also, he won the 48hour filmmaking competition the very first year it was on. This is where his relationship with Ant Timpson (executive producer on Housebound) grew its manlove roots.

 

When the lights grew dim in the cinema, I looked around to see the Embassy Theatre FULL, save for a couple of the shitty rows down the front. A feat in itself, and on a Saturday night? Magic. I hastily switched my phone to Do Not Disturb but not before sending a final tweet.

 

About to see NZ horror comedy Housebound. Go kiwi comedy!

At the end of the film, I checked my phone to see a flurry of twitter notifications. Quint from aintitcool.com had replied claiming, ‘It’s a good un!’ which, coming from a world class reviewer of all films awesome, is high praise. I mean, I know Quint because he was flown to Aotearoa to hang out on set of The Hobbit for weeks at a time, one of the only film writers to be granted unadulterated access to Peter’s kingdom – because they’re friends.

 

While we’re on Peter, he’s been quoted saying Housebound is ‘bloody brilliant’. So there’s some nice praise too, from the director of NZ’s greatest horror comedy.

 

Morgana O'Reilly

Rima Te Wiata and Morgana O’Reilly – Two funny, fantastic, beautiful leads

 

I gotta tell you about the leading actress Morgana O’Reilly. She’s natural, she’s gorgeous, and she looks great and believable throwing some physical action around. She plays Kylie, a very unlikable, sarcastic, defensive bitch with a permanent scowl. It’s hard to like a character like this.

Sure, it doesn’t hurt that Morgana happens to be gorgeous, but there’s more going on. As the film progresses, Kylie softens to a number of other characters in a very slight way, but that ends up being enough for us to fall for her. Apart from being a superb actress, Morgana looks the part. Rocking stained sweat pants and a loose hoodie, she doesn’t fit the mold of ‘sexy bimbo horror lead’. She ends up giving of a ‘maneater bitch you used to see at parties who steals your weed and humiliates you but goddamn you wish you could kiss her’ vibe.

 

Glen-Paul Waru

A strong supporting cast ensures laughs

 

Housebound boasts the funniest performance by an on-screen mother since Shaun of the Dead, a bumbling but sweet Miriam played by Rima Te Wiata. Every time her face appeared on screen wearing a doltish expression, sympathetic laughter would ripple through the audience. Another huge source of laughs was Kylie’s adorable supernatural-enthusiast sidekick Amos, played by Glen-Paul Waru. It’s like you’re watching three of your best friends banter back and forth – which turns out to be very close to what happened. Waru is an old mate of Johnstone and, by the way Gerard talked about Rima at the Q&A afterward, he adores her. Add to the supporting cast a weathered possum-skinning neighbour, a dimwitted local police duo and a near-mute stepdad constantly draped in the world’s most horrendous woolen sweaters, you’ve got a pretty sweet lineup.

 

The film is shot incredibly well considering the budget. These guys mustn’t have had a lot to play with but numerous light sources in all scenes allows for complex shadows and the clever camera work allowed for effective shocks.

The special effects are good enough that you’d forget they’re even there.

The score is right on the mark, carrying the story comfortably through the suspense building sequences and a surprisingly touching end to Act Two.

But the real hero in Housebound is the art department. The house is ornately decorated with shining wood. Bizarre artifacts line the walls, a creepy basement is filled with cabinets, antiques and toys, and a secret room in a secret place is crowded with … I don’t wanna ruin too much. How they managed it with the budget is beyond me.

 

I was able to completely lose myself in this film because it felt like a film. Perhaps this is why the moments worked so well with an audience. There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, cheering moments, and gotcha moments. This was where Johnstone’s talent became clear. The audience were eating out of his hand. The music would build here, everyone would lean forward in their seats, the the camera would whip around, past the massive prop of Jesus (yup, there’s a massive Jesus in there) and the perfectly placed sound effect would do its job and audience loses their shit. Johnstone orchestrates his scenes like a director in control and in full knowledge of what each moments needs.

 

Housebound is a fun film. While horror isn’t a genre I rush to cinemas for, this film was different. It made me laugh and squirm in spades. Keep your eyes on Gerard Johnstone.

Fingers crossed he scores a decent fund for what his next feature film endeavour may be because he’s the kind of talent we should showcase more.

 

Housebound film

Housebound will be getting a NZ theatrical release September 2nd

 

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I just returned from watching The Dark Horse, a new New Zealand film based on the true story about Genesis Potini, a charismatic chess champion with slight mental instability.



The Dark Horse film

 

Uncle Cliff Curtis plays Genesis (or Gen) and Aptent he’s fucking incredible. He scoffed down a whole bunch of pies in order to gain 60 pounds so wholesale nfl jerseys he sports a nifty belly over the top of his trackies. Combine that with a carelessly patchy haircut, knocked-out front teeth and Curtis’ signature droopy-eye-look and we’ve got ourselves a monumental entry into the kiwi character actor’s hall of fame. Curtis, please join the likes of … hold on, that’s right, I don’t believe we have a hall of fame for character actors. Possibly we can count Sam Neill or Russell Crowe… shall we count them? Na, though amazing, I think everyone will agree that Cuzzy Cliff rocks it out on top of the pack. Cliff, allow your fine self to be our first.

 

Cliff Curtis Genesis

Cliff Curtis embodying Genesis Potini

We open in the Gisbourne rain as our lead actor and hero walks down the street draped in a multi-coloured quilt, wanders into a second-hand store and mumbles incessantly to himself over a chess board. Soon, we meet his charming dreadlocked brother of high rank in the violent Vagrant patch gang, and his nephew, a well-meaning but insecure and beaten-down young boy called Mana, played by the boy James Rolleston who played the boy in Boy. James has grown up and looks it with the teenage trademark acne and scowl combo. His character is the most heartbreaking and pitiful of the lot. James plays Mana perfectly, with loads of energy but restraint. There’s a scene where he cries and I immediately lost it. As soon as the credits were rolling, the cinema was alive with whispers praising his presence on screen and I’m in full agreement. Rock’n’Rolleston.

 

James Rolleston in Dark Horse

James Rolleston plays Mana and nails it

 

Emotionally, this film packs a solid punch. It has laughs, an underdog story, intense dramatic status battles, a slice of small-country action, a coming of age tale, a monster-in-my-head tale, and great dialogue delivered with gusto. The only thing it doesn’t have, and it’s inconspicuous in its absence, is a romance. This factor lacking doesn’t affect the film at all. There’s a lot of love, a lot of heart, but no sexual lust. If you’re going to a film about a mentally unstable chess guru coaching unbalanced kids and you’re looking for oder romance, you’ve come to the wrong place. DO NOT TAKE A FIRST DATE TO THIS FILM.

 

Although, I gotta say, Kirk Torrance is a dreamboat. He’s solid in this film too, arguably my favourite part about it. He is a joy to watch.

 

Kirk Torrance

Kirk strutting the red carpet

 

Visually, the film has some sexy shots. We’ve got some out of focus city lights, we’ve got harsh shadows, we see almost every possible time of day on screen, we’ve got camera trickery involving Genesis’ imaginary nosebleed, and we’ve got a lot of handheld action.

 

Cliff Curtis The Dark Horse

Beautiful cinematography adds a bonus sheen to The Dark A Horse

 

The sound design contributes greatly to the rising tension throughout the film, as does the score. Okay, this is a point that I’m quite biased on. I’m a fiend for movie scores and I hold a lot of stock in the power of music in a film. While the music does its job in The Dark Horse, I was underwhelmed. This Moves is partly because my expectations were sky high due to the trailer music being so affecting. wholesale nfl jerseys Good gosh I wanted some strings, I wanted some staccato violins in the angry scenes but I didn’t get that. What I did get was drawn out synthy tones and a muted on piano, an unremarkable yet apt choice. This is the sole reason I won’t be seeing this film a second time in cinemas. Rest assured, if this film had a score akin to Beasts of the Southern Wild let’s say, a drama not dissimilar in tone, I’d be there again tomorrow.

 

 

All up, this film hits the kiwi-film nail on the head. It’s cultural. It’s beautifully made and obviously has a lot of community behind it. It sheds light on massive societal problems society we still have. Numerous people have likened it to Once Were Warriors, perhaps because they see a bunch of Maoris drinking and listening to loud music and their minds go to the only frame of reference we have for it, and I can see why. It attaches a story to the big, loping men we sidestep to avoid on our way down a small-town street. It lends a moment of reconsideration for the next time you snap at a streetkid or snub your nose at the ratty kid down the back of your kid’s class. While not the main point of the film, I walked out with this feeling: Everyone is fighting their own battle so try not to be a cunt.

And for this, the film is a success in my mind. For that cheap jerseys free shipping reason and all aforementioned, The Dark Horse shall take its rightful place at the top of the NZ film pile and kia kaha, stand strong, I salute you.

 

The Dark Horse

The Dark Horse – a hopeful, optimistic film set in a cynical, greasy world

 

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If you haven’t seen it, go watch it now. If you have, go rewatch it.

 

man-on-fire

 

The other day we rewatched Unstoppable and despite its association with a stange nostalgic sadness (Tony Scott’s last film before his supposed suicide), it’s such a fun watch. The camera doesn’t stop moving the entire ARC time! The shutter speed is flipping all over the show and the constant cuts from slo-mo to cheap MLB jerseys sped-up makes for compelling albeit occassionaly nauseating viewing. Thanks to alive! films wholesale jerseys Domino and Deja Vu, this ADD-esque filmmaking has been made inconic to Scott and he’s inspired many copycats, most favourably Edgar Wright. Wright nails the Tony Scott shooting style wholesale MLB jerseys in his Hot Fuzz quick-cut montages and wonderful camera moves and overly loud sound design.

 

I think the moment I realized how much I love Man on Fire was the moment Dakota Fanning’s character Lupita jumps into the school swimming pool. As her body submerges and she wriggles like a little seabiscuit to the surface, our surround sound system was BOOMING. The sound of a child hitting water has never sounded so epic. It sounds like a giant metal hammer slamming onto a hollowed out metal shed. This approach to sound design is used throughout the film. As Denzel’s character Creasey clicks the safety off his gun, a deafening ‘CRACK!’ sounds, when he turns around to faces someone, ‘WHOOOOOOSH!’, and almost every cut in the kidnapping sequence is accompanied with an echoing ‘BOOOOOM!’.

 

Our 48hour film this year, Dick Off, is a revenge movie. And I felt we did a pretty good job. But wow, after seeing how Creasey takes revenge… I wanna reshoot it. This guy takes names. He busts down doors, cuts a dude’s fingers off and plants a bomb inside another dude’s arse. All for the love of a ten year old girl. And you know what rocks? I totally buy that relationship. Writings He’s a down-and-out alcoholic ex-insurgency rebel and she’s wholesale NFL jerseys an innocent, disarmingly confident young girl. She kinda crushes on him for a bit of the film because he’s black and big and like a second daddy, and he at first withdraws and holds out on her, but once they bond through Creasey teaching her how to perform better in her swimming competition, they’re an inseparable friendship. It’s adorable and touching, so much so that the finale had me tearing up.

 

I might buy it on Blu Ray and watch it over and over and over. I think it’ll make me a better filmmaker.