The Spectacular Now

I bore witness to yet another little beauty from the International Film Festival on Sunday evening, The Spectacular Now.

In the very first scene, Sutter Keeley is attempting to answer an abstract question in his college application about challenges he has overcome. In the very last scene, he is doing the exact same thing; the only difference being the way in which he answers the question. What happens in between is the story of his transformation from a reckless  party boy to an ambitious young man. Thanks to a chance encounter with a girl in his neighbourhood, Aimee Finnickey, Sutter gradually turns his life around, though not without a few bumps along the way.

With their raw and often improvisational performances, it’s not surprising that Miles Teller (Sutter) and Shailenne Woodley (Aimee) both won acting prizes at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, where the film similarly garnered overwhelmingly positive reviews.

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Behind the Candelabra

Judging from the synopsis, I was anticipating a deep, dark, colourless and raw portrayal of Liberaci and his younger male lover – something along the lines of A Single Man. Lo and behold, these expectations were quashed after the first scene alone. Soderberg effortlessly threw all 2,400 members of the opening film festival audience into downtown 70s Vegas; a world of diamonds and gold, oversized ornaments and marble hot tubs, diet pills and champagne, fake tan and plastic surgery. Yet overindulgence and vulgarity aside, the film managed to capture the nuances of a tragic love affair. A perfect balance which was no doubt struck by the stellar performances of Michael Douglas and Matt Damon. This adaptation is clever, absorbing and hopefully mind opening to many. Catch it at the Film Festival this month.

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World Press Photo Exhibition 2013

A harrowing, albeit insightful exhibition has graced Auckland with its presence – a collection of press photographs from around the globe. It’s hard to believe that some of the photographers chose to capture a shocking and disturbing moment in time to sell a media story, rather than intervene. Nonetheless, this sobering and haunting exhibition is a must see. Check it out at Smith and Caughey’s. 

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Take the long way home

“When it all goes quiet behind my eyes, I see everything that made me lying around in invisible pieces. When I look too hard, it goes away. And when it all goes quiet, I see they are right there. I see that I’m a little piece in a big, big universe. And that makes things right. When I die, the scientists of the future, they’re gonna find it all. They gonna know, once there was a Hushpuppy, and she live with her daddy in the Bathtub.”

– Hushpuppy, Beasts of the Southern Wild 

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Book Club: Less Than Zero

This Roman à clef is based in part on Bret Easton Ellis’ life, and in part on fiction. Written by Ellis at the tender age of 21, this novel quickly became a cult classic. Through stream of consciousness first person narration, Clay takes us back to his hometown of L.A during college break in the 80s. He returns to find many of his close friends now addicted to heroin and cocaine, succumbing to prostitution to pay their debts. Clay joins his “rich kid” friends in drug fuelled nights, picking up both men and women for various one night stands along the way. But no amount of short term pleasure can fulfil Clay internally, or allow him to escape his thoughts even if only for a night. He visits his psychiatrist to no avail, often reflecting on past vacuous and vulgar summer holidays with his family. I was blown away by Less Than Zero. 

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