As well as editing the Your Weekend magazine and the weekly GO (Going Out) guide, Margaret Agnew writes film and DVD reviews, watching hundreds of films a year.

And fade to black...

02:20pm 22 Mar 2011 32 comments

Apologies for not writing since The Shakening.

For the first few weeks after February 22 it was a matter of heads down, finding beds for, feeding, watering and entertaining the 13 people who ended up at our house for an extended sleepover (soon down to a mere eight as we ate the non-essentials... I mean as the power and water came back on in other suburbs).

Press buildingI spent a lot of time doing therapeutic baking and cooking for the multitudes. Oh, and boiling water (still doing that, it's my new hobby). And no time watching films. Hard to watch films when there's only one cinema open, and it's waaaay across town. (At time of writing, four cinemas are now open in Christchurch, with two more having opened on Saturday.)

Plus we'd been told not to travel for non-urgent reasons. (Not that you want to drive anywhere unless you absolutely have to - the traffic is so crazy on Christchurch's bumpy roads right now, with the CBD cordoned off. The traffic's at Auckland levels of obnoxiousness, but with added liquefaction speed bumps and dips. It took me 20 minutes to drive 1km this morning!)

The first film I've seen in weeks was on Saturday, March 12 - nearly three weeks film-less must be some sort of record for me - partly this was due to a desire to not travel unnecessarily (I have coined the phrase "rubble-necking" for the tourists who like to drive through disaster zones gawking), and partly because for a while there were no new films released here.

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Truly Reeling

10:47am 25 Feb 2011 23 comments

Feb 22, 2011

Cathedral Minutes after quake Tues Feb 22, 2010First, let me say it was nothing like a disaster movie.

A disaster movie ends.

I was on the phone with a colleague in The Press's 102-year-old building at 12.51pm on Tuesday when my computer screen leaped up and smacked me in the face.

The features editor was out at lunch and a page needed to be resent to the printing press. I was about to send it when the world roared, the room started doing the shimmy shake, and my computer screen jumped at me – all at the same time.

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The death of originality

10:11am 21 Feb 2011 44 comments

Scream4It's a truth universally acknowledged that they don't make 'em like they used to.

And never has that been more true than in the modern era of movie sequels upon movie trequels, where it's nigh on impossible to get a movie off the ground if there's not at least a prior comic book, TV show, cartoon, and/or toy to hitch it on - preferably from the 80s.

Here's an alarming excerpt from a rather scathing article, titled optimistically The Day the Movies Died, moaning about how Hollywood is ignoring the success of something original like Chris Nolan's Inception in favour of more of the same pabulum (footnotes below, detailing exactly which future flicks the author is referring to):


"...Let's look ahead to what's on the menu for this year: four adaptations of comic books. One prequel to an adaptation of a comic book. One sequel to a sequel to a movie based on a toy. One sequel to a sequel to a sequel to a movie based on an amusement-park ride. One prequel to a remake. Two sequels to cartoons. One sequel to a comedy. An adaptation of a children's book. An adaptation of a Saturday-morning cartoon. One sequel with a 4 in the title. Two sequels with a 5 in the title. One sequel that, if it were inclined to use numbers, would have to have a 7-1/2 in the title.*

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A festival of documentaries

10:28am 18 Feb 2011 21 comments

Real life and reel life rarely coincide, except in the art of the documentary film.

Is She or Isn't He?
  Is She or Isn't He? - a new NZ documentary.

In this year's Documentary Edge Festival 2011 - which sadly only screens in Auckland (till March 16) and Wellington (March 1 - 27) this year - there are around 600 films to choose from, spanning a wide range, from very cinematic documentaries, to those which are more independent and more cinema-verite style, according festival co-director Alex Lee.

Here's his pick of this year's lineup. "I think a lot of us would remember the hippie generation Dirty Bloody Hippies, made by Dan Salmon [it's] a wonderful, joyous celebration and look back at the subculture that actually defined a lot of moments in our New Zealand history. It’s wonderful to see Tim Shadbolt  speaking about his days as a hippie. The documentary is irreverent, funny, but very, very worthwhile," Lee says.

The other festival director, Dan Shanan, has his own recommendation: "I Am the River is the story about a collection of old 19th-century Maori photographs found in an attic.  The collection was both very rare and very beautiful. The collection ultimately goes to auction, which causes controversy. The story then switches to become more of a story between Maori and Pakeha fighting over how this collection should be distributed and preserved."

There's everything from fanboys angry at George Lucas, South American revolution and transgender issues, to politics, standup comedy, genocide and "sweaty naked Finnish men crying". Sounds like a hoot.

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Let's start a film geek fight!

10:00am 16 Feb 2011 80 comments

spoiler alertI recently spent a day watching paint dry.

No, this isn't a film-reviewing metaphor. I was literally watching paint dry. Three coats of 8th Pavlova to be precise, which is a fancy name for cream. Well, off-white, sort of a light beige...

When you're painting, you have a lot of time to ponder the imponderables. One of those is how het up about the little things people can get.

While some people have taken the time to (anonymously) lambast me because I found certain parts of Black Swan absolutely risible (I seriously think the marketers may have missed an opportunity by not selling it as a comedy), others have come up to me to confess how they hated it. Ballet aficionados (of which I am not one) seem particularly upset and offended by the portrayal of the ballerina's lot.

Equally, I've had plenty of people tell me how they liked my comparison of The King's Speech to a sports movie, and how they also love-love-love True Grit, but were too squeamish for 127 Hours.

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