If, 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.[info]
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).[/info]