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Posts tagged ‘Film’

What has it got in its pocketses?

We were lucky to have won tickets to the first public screening of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. We were seated quite close to the front, but the free popcorn and coke were a nice bonus. Because really, who wants to pay for popcorn? Free popcorn really does taste better.

Meanwhile, some excellent spot prizes were given away*, after which we settled in. But for what were we settling in? Many people at this screening (at 12:01 am, 12 December) were very excited, and appeared determined to love the film. We were a little more ambivalent — were three films necessary for the very slim Hobbit? is the fuss over the frame rate warranted? what about its troubled start in life? could Peter Jackson and his team create the same magic again?

So, a few days on, having had some time to ruminate, here are some thoughts on An Unexpected Journey. As a warning, there will be elements below that may constitute spoilers. If you don’t like spoilers, perhaps it would be wise to stop reading here.

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Who watches the watchmen?

Cover of "Watchmen"

Cover of Watchmen

I recently read Alan Moore’s Watchmen for the first time. Initially, I was not impressed — the story didn’t immediately grab me; the artwork felt strangely muted; the fear of nuclear apocalypse antiquated. The quotes from various reviewers (“Watchmen is peerless”; “A brilliant piece of fiction”; “A work of ruthless psychological realism”) seemed overstated.

Time magazine included it in its list of “100 best English-language Novels since 1923”. I thought this curious. After all, Watchmen was initially released as 12 separate issues. Is it really any kind of novel at all? Deeper consideration had me thinking of Victorian novelists (Charles Dickens, George Eliot, and many others) whose work was published in serialised form* so my skepticism was overcome, at least on that front. What finally convinced me, however, is that the more analysis I have applied to Watchmen, the deeper I think about it, the more rewarding I found it. For me, only great books can have this effect.

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Now that’s one photogenic city

In the weeks leading up to Wellington’s most recent world premiere, I was getting pretty excited, to be part of the spectacle (as a spectator!) and to soak up the atmosphere of the whole “Wellywood” celebration. But then work decided to rain on my parade and notify me that I would be needed in Auckland on the day of the premiere. What?! Nooooo! Disappointing, sure, but at least I got to experience it vicariously via PJD’s most excellent coverage here on foldedcranes. Seeing the way the city got into the spirit of the occasion and the joie de vivre shown by the city’s people has had me reflecting (from afar, up the island!) on what a truly lovely city Wellington is, and these photos, taken during the course of a long walk that we took together last weekend up Mount Victoria (one of the best vantage points from which to view the city panorama – and incidentally, a Lord of the Rings location site!), are a reminder that Wellington has a whole lot more going for it than just the odd world premiere or two. But those sure are cool, when they do happen. So, keep bringing it on Wellington, the world’s coolest little capital city for sure.

Halfway up Mount Victoria – looking towards Oriental Bay

Picnic in the long-grass? – further up Mount Victoria, looking towards Newtown, Brooklyn

At the summit – looking towards our compact little city

Look at that harbour! Beautiful.

CIA

Photos by CIA, Wellington, New Zealand, 24 November 2012.

On the red carpet

Everything reached its peak this afternoon, as 100,000 people (about a quarter of the Greater Wellington population!) gathered in and around Courtenay Place. Last night, the set up was in full flight, and quickly joining those who stayed out overnight, dedicated fans snapped up the barrier spaces so that by 7:00 am, all those spaces were taken. When I arrived, a  little before 3:00 pm, my first impression was one of wry amusement, overtaken quickly by a more generalised “good mood” – so many fans, looking so happy – it’s a nice thing to have seen.

The weather was exceptionally good. I should probably pretend (for those of you who’ve never been here) that it’s always like this, but the truth is, is often isn’t. Kia ora weather, kia ora. The trolls looked lovely, having already been seen at Comic Con in San Diego, and matched the Gollum statue at Wellington Airport and the enormous Gandalf above the Embassy Theatre itself.

Trolls

The atmosphere was very relaxed, friendly and egalitarian. Hierarchy did not seem quite so important as fairness, and people were often willing to stand aside so everyone could get some pictures. The fans were very diverse – the people around me were from Romania, Germany and elsewhere – and I saw signs showing people hailing from France and Mexico.

Neil Finn performed, he quipped that this song was the reason he got the job. Nevertheless, it was his rendition of the Misty Mountains song (sung by the dwarves in the film) which roused the largest cheer.

After this, the stars started arriving, but I was some 300 metres down the red carpet from them. Instead the next highlight was the flyover of the Air New Zealand 777 (complete with largest decal ever!). It’s in the details!

Air New Zealand 777 Flyover

So, we waited patiently, for our first sight of the films stars. Before they made their way down from the beginning of the carpet, we saw instead some of the guests. Local actors, musicians, politicians, footballers. And then? Peter Jackson himself! Among others, there was Sylvester McCoy (the first Doctor I remember!), Elijah Wood, Martin Freeman, Hugo Weaving. Sadly, there was nothing to be seen of Cate Blanchett, Richard Armitage, or Barry Humphries all of whom I’d have like to see (albeit each for different reasons). Evidently there was more than one path down the carpet, meaning not everyone saw everyone – but that minor quibble aside, it was just with a little bit of excitement I snapped the following pictures

Wellington really knows how to turn it on for these events – and it’s great to leave this kind of impression on the world. Even if Wellington won’t be the Middle of Middle-Earth for much longer, it’s been a lot of fun. New Zealand might well be 100% Pure, but as I have said before, you can’t beat Wellington on a good day.

PJD

Photos by PJD, at the World Premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. He had an unexpectedly good time, and would love to hear from anyone else who was there, or who wanted to be there…

Dedication?

The hours are counting down, and the preparation is proceeding at pace. The final touches have been made to the film, the actors have arrived, the red carpet is being rolled out, fans are already lining up. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey* is premiering tomorrow.

I was in Australia when the other movies provided Wellington with its last moment in the world’s filmy glare. No big deal. I’m here now. And trying to make the most of it. So check it out, the night before the night before the morning after.

Even my hard-bitten cynicism is being chipped away by enthusiasm and dedication.

PJD

Photos taken just now, minutes ago, by PJD, Wellington (the Middle of Middle-Earth).

* Not to say the first of unexpected parts

An ambassador for the Embassy?

Look who appeared on the front of the Embassy Theatre (our local cinema, definitely the best place to catch a film in town, as it is both beautiful on the inside and out) today. That’s right folks, Wellington is continuing to be Hobbit-ified (or should I say Tolkien-ised or Weta-fied?) more and more as the days count down to the world premiere of Sir Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit. Overnight (street closure? Why not?!), the front of the Embassy (where the premiere will screen) was decorated with a new Weta Workshop creation, replete with over-sized hobbit-hole and Gandalf watching over Courtenay Place (if we can’t have Sir Ian McKellen in town for the premiere, we can have a giant sculpture of his character’s likeness, right?!). It’s definitely going to be a focal point in this city over the coming days and doubtless will look great at the end of the red carpet in nine days time…

… we had some fun taking photos of this latest Hobbit-related sculpture in the city tonight.

CIA

Photos by PJD and CIA, Wellington, 19 November 2012. Gollum is already in town too.

Simply cool

Sometimes, you see a piece of design – graphic in this case – which is just so cool, it’s worth taking a photo of.

CIA

We do love Swiss design (who doesn’t?!) and the high quality of graphic design posters advertising various events as we wandered around Zurich was inspiring. Photo by CIA, Zurich, Switzerland, May 2012, International Experimental Film and Video Festival, Zurich, 2012.

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