On at the movies: May 11, 2013

by Helene Wong / 04 May, 2013
Helene Wong reviews Song for Marion and Jurassic Park 3D.

Films are rated out of 5: • (abysmal) to  ••••• (amazing).


Hanky alert. Combine the current wave of titles targeting the grey dollar (Quartet, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Amour, etc) with community warbling (Young at Heart, As It Is in Heaven) and you get Song for Marion, a wee Brit story pretty much guaranteed to set off the waterworks. At least the manipulativeness is cushioned with restraint.

Song for Marion

The restraint comes as a surprise from Williams, a director of mostly poorly rated, under-the-radar thrillers playing variations on crime, mystery and horror. Worry not, there’s none of that here, though a spot or two of tension would have helped the pacing. There is of course death and dying, but it’s all very dignified. And it seems to have been a good career move – he’s working now on a biopic about ace war photographer Robert Capa.

There’s no doubt the A-list cast here would have helped with that. Vanessa Redgrave plays Marion, the wheelchair-bound wife of dour, emotionally repressed Arthur (Terence Stamp). She has cancer, but refuses to give up singing with the OAP’z, the local community choir. Arthur whinges, worried about what it’s doing to her, especially when the choir’s bright young conductor (Gemma Arterton) enters them in a competition and ramps up the rehearsals. Marion does succumb, and Arthur becomes a recluse, even shutting out his own son (Christopher Eccleston). How he pulls out of that is the stuff of the film’s second half. And, yes, it involves the choir.

Williams’s plot is episodic, predictable and lacking in complication. It periodically loses momentum. It starts out as a love story and ends as Arthur’s story. But it’s saved by Redgrave, Stamp and Eccleston, who inject thin material with emotional substance by applying their talent for underplaying and subtext. Cancer, curmudgeon and choirs – a recipe for sentiment, pulled back from the brink of mawkishness by keeping moments intimate and real.

It’s not by any stretch as deep and powerful as Amour, but it does have universal resonance. And when first Redgrave, then Stamp, step forward to do their solos, that’s when you’ll need the hanky. Believe me, things get pretty damp.

Rating: •••½

Opens May 9


It’s back – for the 20th anniversary and the de rigueur conversion to 3D. A decent enough interval for us to have forgotten bits, and for a new generation to see it in a format that’s not entirely old-school.

Jurassic Park 3D

Although you might want to tell them that back then, the animatics and CGI were pretty damn groundbreaking (show them the 1933 version of King Kong as proof of that, as well as of how much this was inspired by that classic).

So – prepare to reacquaint yourself with Robert Muldoon (googly-eyed Bob Peck), accents that frequently go AWOL (Sam Neill and Richard Attenborough, you know who you are), and objects in the mirror that are definitely larger than they appear. See Samuel L Jackson as a chain-smoking system administrator, cackle at Jeff Goldblum’s bare-chested camp while admiring his ease in performance, and helloooo … Newman (Wayne Knight, putting his clammy Seinfeld persona to hissable effect). Laugh occasionally, and get important messages about genetic meddling.

The dinosaurs still have that Spielberg combination of scary and cute, and sequences still hiccup back and forth while expertly delivering thrills. The 3D? Modest, but it sure adds some wonder to the size difference between us and them.

Rating: •••

Opens May 2

Now Showing


First in a series of great art on screen. It’s filmed at the Royal Academy of Arts exhibition of Manet’s portraits. The clear, insightful commentary, background anecdotes and generous time spent just looking at the paintings make this both informative and pleasurable.

Rating: ••••


Yet another competition doco, with ballet boys and girls. There’s a real spark to this one though, because you just can’t help falling in love with these kids. Damn, they’re talented.

Rating: ••••

The Company You Keep


Catherine Frot shines as a provincial chef summoned to Paris to cook for the President. Somehow both Antarctica and New Zealand manage to feature too. Caution: food porn.

Rating: •••


Yes, Virginia, there were terrorists in the 1960s, and they were American. Robert Redford’s fictional look at the Weathermen and the cost of idealism has a Hollywood sheen, but it kicks along courtesy of a knockout cast.

Rating: •••½

MostReadArticlesCollectionWidget - Most Read - Used in articles
AdvertModule - Advert - M-Rec / Halfpage


Jane Goodall: We can live in harmony with nature
76836 2017-07-25 00:00:00Z Profiles

Jane Goodall: We can live in harmony with nature

by Sally Blundell

A world in which humans live in harmony with nature is still possible, says veteran environmental campaigner Jane Goodall.

Read more
Film festival 2017: David Larsen on the highlights (and lowlights) so far
76887 2017-07-25 00:00:00Z Movies

Film festival 2017: David Larsen on the highlights…

by David Larsen

The New Zealand International Film Festival is back for another year and Metro's David Larsen is in his happy place.

Read more
Richard Dawkins' truth, science and tediousness
76845 2017-07-25 00:00:00Z Books

Richard Dawkins' truth, science and tediousness

by Danyl McLauchlan

Richard Dawkins’ profound admiration for himself comes through loud and clear – with footnotes.

Read more
As anti-vaccination numbers rise, is it a case of herd stupidity, not immunity?
75047 2017-07-25 00:00:00Z Health

As anti-vaccination numbers rise, is it a case of …

by Sarah Lang

It’s astonishing just how many well-educated, presumably semi-intelligent New Zealanders subscribe to and try to spread this kind of nonsense.

Read more
The dreaded autocorrect disaster
76840 2017-07-25 00:00:00Z Life in NZ

The dreaded autocorrect disaster

by Joanne Black

Autocorrect may hide your texting and typing bloopers, but it won’t stop your blushes.

Read more
Retailers say competition laws block charge on plastic bags
76850 2017-07-24 16:14:42Z Environment

Retailers say competition laws block charge on pla…

by RNZ

1.5 billion plastic bags are used here each year and on average it takes just 12 minutes before a bag enters the waste stream.

Read more
Crossword 1037 answers and explanations
6 reasons your next family holiday should be in Taranaki
76777 2017-07-24 08:32:07Z Travel

6 reasons your next family holiday should be in Ta…

by Venture Taranaki

How to holiday like a local in the Naki.

Read more