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holymotors7If, like me, you love going to the movies but, unlike me, you actu­ally have to pay for the priv­ilege, you will be exper­i­enced at count­ing the pen­nies and hunt­ing for Cheap Tues­day-type bar­gains. Let me then remind you of the film-lover’s best friend: the Wel­ling­ton Film Soci­ety, which con­tin­ues to screen import­ant and influ­en­tial movies from all over the world – and from all eras – for a season’s sub­scrip­tion of less than a hun­dred bucks. If you take full advant­age of the mem­ber­ship dis­counts offered by the Pent­house, Roxy and Light­house (stu­dent prices) cinemas, and the $3 dis­count off New Zea­l­and Film Fest­iv­al tick­ets, it’s almost as if they are pay­ing you to go the movies.

Since the soci­ety returned to down­town after a long and unpro­duct­ive sojourn at the Nation­al Lib­rary in Thorndon, mem­ber­ship has flour­ished and you’ll now find hun­dreds of eager – and strangely quiet – cinephiles queuing up at about 6pm every Monday for the Paramount’s best seats (full dis­clos­ure: I was co-own­er of the ven­ue when we invited the soci­ety in back in 2003, an offer I am extremely proud to have made).

High­lights of this year’s pro­gramme include a three-film Louis Malle sea­son (which includes the won­der­ful Van­ya on 42nd Street), Fritz Lang’s ‘cour­ageous and hal­lu­cin­at­ory’ silent epic Die Nibe­lun­gen (across two Mondays) and a ret­ro­spect­ive of films by Nic­olas Roeg, who was a house­hold name dur­ing the 1970s and 1980s but has largely dis­ap­peared from view since. Three of Roeg’s best-known works screen: Insig­ni­fic­ance, in which Mar­ilyn Mon­roe debates quantum phys­ics with Albert Ein­stein and Joseph McCarthy; Eureka, star­ring Gene Hack­man as a gold pro­spect­or who ends up decay­ing in a Bahamas man­sion in much the same way as Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood; and the hal­lu­cin­at­ory The Man Who Fell to Earth, fea­tur­ing Dav­id Bowie as a lonely alien.

A soci­ety screen­ing is also going to be the last chance you get to see the amaz­ing Leos Carax’s Holy Motors on the big screen as it has become a vic­tim of com­mer­cial dis­trib­ut­ors’ recent aver­sion to art-house risk. Finally, there are the Hol­ly­wood clas­sics: Hawks’s Bring­ing Up Baby, in which Cary Grant and Kath­er­ine Hep­burn spar; and An Amer­ic­an in Par­is, in which Gene Kelly and Leslie Car­on sparkle.

The first screen­ing of the year is on 3 March (Ber­beri­an Sound Stu­dio, pre­vi­ously unseen in Wel­ling­ton) and they con­tin­ue every Monday, with breaks for pub­lic hol­i­days and the July Film Fest­iv­al, until 24 Novem­ber. All screen­ings are at the Para­mount on Cour­tenay Place.


March Film Recommandations


3 MILE LIMIT (Craig Newland)

6 March: The story of Auckland’s first off­shore pir­ate radio sta­tion, Hauraki, and its battles with the author­it­ies. It stars Matt ‘The Most Fun You Can Have Dying’ Whelan.

STORIES WE TELL (Sarah Polley)

6 March: One of the best doc­u­ment­ar­ies I have ever seen, inex­plic­ably not nom­in­ated for an Oscar this year.

THE MONUMENTS MEN (George Clooney)

13 March: The true story of a mot­ley pla­toon of art his­tor­i­ans try­ing to save European her­it­age from the Nazis is giv­en the Hol­ly­wood treatment.

THE GREAT BEAUTY (Paolo Sorrentino)

27 March: Sorrentino’s fol­low-up to This Must Be the Place and the best film I saw at last year’s fest­iv­al (or the whole of 2013 for that matter).


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