The Wellington Film Guide

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  • The Covid alert in the Wellington region is at Level 1. Be sure to scan yourself in everywhere you go with the Covid-19 Tracer app, and turn on Bluetooth tracing.

  • The Wellington Film Society, Embassy, Monday 9 Aug at 6.15pm, BAMBOOZLED (Spike Lee, USA 2000).
    With this blisteringly funny, unapologetically confrontational satire, writer-director Spike Lee examined the past, present, and future of racism in American popular culture, issuing a daring provocation to creators and consumers alike. Under pressure to help revive his network's low ratings, television writer Pierre Delacroix (Damon Wayans) hits on an explosively offensive idea: bringing back blackface with The New Millennium Minstrel Show. The white network executives love it, and so do audiences, forcing Pierre and his collaborators to confront their public's insatiable appetite for dehumanizing stereotypes. Shot primarily on unvarnished digital video and boasting spot-on performances from Wayans, Savion Glover, Jada Pinkett Smith, Tommy Davidson, Michael Rapaport, Mos Def, and Paul Mooney, this is a stinging indictment of mass entertainment at the turn of the twenty-first century that looks more damning with each passing year. -
    Anyone can join the Film Society at any time on line.

  • Film Festivals to note:
    The Cinema Italiano Festival 2021, 13-27 August. Empire. A .pdf of the programme is available from the website. If you can work out how to print it out as a booklet - let me know!
    The NZ International Film Festival 2021, 4-21 November. Embassy, Penthouse, Roxy, Lighthouse Cuba and Petone, and Readings Porirua. Check the "News" link for more details and the rationale for this year's delayed dates.
    If you have a festival due to run in Wellington and it's not listed here, contact the Cinemaster.

    This site relies on the various cinemas having their own websites up to date to access their screening times. The paragraphs describing the films starting this week are in most cases adapted from the linked reviews.

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    For comments and movie news, contact the Cinemaster at

    s t a r t s   t h i s   w e e k!

    THE SUICIDE SQUAD - The most fun and least depressing superhero movie in a very long time, James Gunn's deliriously ultra-violent film wears the yoke of its genre with a lightness that allows it to slip loose of the usual restraints, if not quite shake them off altogether. It must be liberating to make a $150 million (give or take) mulligan for a widely maligned disaster that still managed to gross almost a billion dollars despite becoming a punchline along the way, and that's really what this unhinged carnival of R-rated cartoon mayhem amounts to at the end of the day. Also Empire, Roxy, Lighthouse, Readings, Monterey and Coastlands.

    HOW TO BE A GOOD WIFE - French cinematic touchstones and a powerful feminist message merge in Martin Provost's slightly bonkers film, which traverses similar ground to Philippa Lowthorpe's Misbehaviour, and does it with a similarly entertaining flair. But it also leans heavily into the traditions of French farce. Here he unleashes his comedic instincts to explore a pivotal moment in French history through the microcosm of a stuffy finishing school for the daughters of the middle class to learn what we'd now call home economics. But in the process, they reinforced outdated ideas of a woman's role in the world. From the French Film Festival. Also Lighthouse.

    THE MOLE AGENT - There's a certain immersive thrill that comes from documentaries that hide themselves, and Chilean director Maite Alberdi's delightful character study unfolds as an intricate spy thriller, in which a sweet-natured 83-year-old widower infiltrates a nursing home at the behest of a private detective. The plan goes awry with all kinds of comical and touching results, so well-assembled within a framework of fictional tropes that it begs for an American remake. Also Shoreline.

    QUEEN BEES - There will always been a place in the world for older-skewing movies as pleasant as this lightweight but likable comedy set primarily in a retirement community where close friendships are forged and autumnal romance can blossom. Director Michael Lembeck's indie offering is bound to please nearly anyone in its target demographic who isn't easily offended by unmistakable indications that, as the old saying goes, although there's snow on the roof, fire can still burn in the hearth. Also Monterey and Coastlands.

    u p c o m i n g   f i l m s
    FREE GUY Aug 12 Readings
    COMING HOME IN THE DARK Aug 12 Readings
    STILLWATER Aug 12 Penthouse
    RESPECT Aug 19 Lighthouse
    THE MAN IN THE HAT Aug 19 Penthouse
    CANDYMAN Aug 26 Readings
    THE ICE ROAD Aug 26 Readings
    JUNIPER Aug 26 Penthouse
    ANNETTE Aug 26 Lighthouse
    Sep 30 Lighthouse
    NO TIME TO DIE Oct 08 Readings


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    Classic and contemporary cinema from around the world, from NZ's only non-profit network of film exhibition