Match Frame

Thoughts from an American editor and filmmaker in New Zealand about film and video production and post-production. Plus whatever else I feel like talking about.

Location: Balmoral, Auckland, New Zealand

A work in progress.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


I'll make a few lists this year. Unlike many, I like waiting to the year is done. However, I'm reasonably confident I won't have another chance to see a retro screening of a film in a cinema this year, so herewith are my top ten highlights of the year. (This doesn't include home screenings; that's a separate list.)

10. ENTER THE DRAGON @ Event Albany, Auckland
How good is this film? This good: I was so physically exhausted I passed out in the middle and it was still a highlight of the year. Still the only Bruce Lee I've seen, a film that demands the big screen, and one of the best experiences of a retrospective bonanza by Event Cinemas that I haven't seen the likes of in my time here in New Zealand. (And, sadly, one that I expect won't be repeated, given the paltry attendance.)

9. FOOD OF THE GODS @ Laurelhurst, Portland, OR, USA
The Laurelhurst is kind of a shithouse, but it's a wonderful shithouse - a four screen theater that serves beer and pizza and still believes in celluloid, and seeing any movie here is always a fun time for me. That it was this absolute disasterpiece of giant animals gone mad, on a pink-y print, was a true blessing - the exact way this sort of film should be seen. (Which is to say, on film, up close, amongst friends, and slightly tipsy.) Note: some animals may have been harmed in the making of this movie. Also: Ida Lupino!

8. THE MECHANIC @ Hollywood Theatre, Auckland
The finale for the 24-Hour Movie Marathon (an event that, considered in its totality, would hit #3 in this list) was also the highlight of the retro screenings on hand this year, and while RAPPIN' was in contention for this list, getting introduced to this Bronson masterpiece was a personal highlight for me. Icy and ass-kicking by turn, feels smarter than most films of its ilk. See it before the disastrous remake hits in 2011. Below is a scene, not a trailer, and indicative of the pace and feel of the movie.

7. GONE WITH THE POPE @ Academy Cinemas, Auckland
Not sure that mere words can capture how awesome this film is, a free association riff of twenty ideas that coalesces into one continuous film through sheer force of will, jaw-dropping in a dozen different ways. Seeing it at a late session makes the whole thing feel like a half-remembered fever dream to me, but I'm pretty sure it felt that way walking out of it as well.

6. THE RED SHOES @ Civic Theatre, Auckland
I saw this once before on DVD, but on the newly restored film print going around, I really got lost in the glory and beauty of this film. Anyone who loves movies needs to see this. There's a reason Scorsese requested that it play with SHUTTER ISLAND when it debuted in Austin at last year's Butt-Numb-A-Thon.

5. BADLANDS @ Event Albany, Auckland
I could watch this movie every week for a year and still find more in it. The strange turns of phrase in Sissy Spacek's narration, the unexpectedly glorious music choices, the absolutely stunning photography, the details in the sound editing ... there's so much in this film.

4. THE ROOM @ Sky City Theatre, Auckland
My first theatrical experience of this and its first New Zealand screening, and I didn't know what to expect. What I got was a sold-out theatre going absolutely ape-shit, shouting along, throwing spoons, and generally providing easily the most energetic and unforgettable audience response I've ever seen in New Zealand, maybe ever period. Thankfully I had seen it before, so I didn't resent missing the dialogue. I'm pretty sure nobody heard "Hi, doggie", for instance:

3. BLUE VELVET/ANDROID @ Academy Cinemas, Auckland
A screening hosted as a fundraiser, what was a sombre affair turned first joyous with a reel of vintage trailers, then actively surreal when a reel came up upsidedown and backwards. Watching a minute of the film this way was a truly Lynch-ian experience. I tried to get somebody to agree to play the whole thing that way while the print was in town, to no avail. I seriously would have paid money for it. ANDROID was the B-feature, and it was enjoyable if forgettable (as in, I've mostly forgotten it already).

2. BEST WORST MOVIE/TROLL 2 @ New Beverly Cinema, Los Angeles, CA, USA
I've written about this screening and the circumstances around it before here, so let me use this space to mention that, even if the idea of watching TROLL 2 somehow, despite my repeated entreaties doesn't appeal to you, don't let that keep you from watching BEST WORST MOVIE, a film that is about much, much more than cult movies and which anyone with a heart will love.

1. ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST @ Civic Theatre, Auckland
I think this is now my favorite movie of all time. Seeing it on the first day of the NZ International Film Festival, in the glorious Civic, was almost unfair to everything that followed: there's good, there's great, and then there's this.