A hits and misses guide to what’s new this week

The Lake House (PG) ★★
Directed by Alejandro Agresti. Starring Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Christopher Plummer 5 X 2 (R18) ★★★ ⁄2
Directed by Francois Ozon Starring Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Stephan Freiss
THE romantic impulse takes a further battering in Francois Ozon’s 5x2. After the sensual, teasing Swimming Pool, Ozon goes darker, anatomising the death of a marriage. The relationship between Marian (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) and Gilles (Stephan Freiss) is told in reverse order. So we start with the pits and move through torpor, drift and a glimpse of happiness. It’s the narrative strategy used by Irreversible, but Ozon doesn’t have the juvenile subtlety of a sledgehammer to the skull. Physicality has always been a strength of Ozon’s. He gets the camera in close, wielding it with cool (but not unemotional) precision, capturing the bodies and presences of his two lead actors. Freiss and Tedeschi register an impact. The interiority of the characters is not as well developed. They involve, they argue and argue, but they struggle to be sympathetic. Gilles puts the ill in Gilles. The part was reportedly first offered to Irreversible’s Vincent Cassel, but the associations with the actor could have detracted, and Freiss brings a raw, craggy force. Ozon has a bleak view of relationships — which, in the subplot, extends to gay couples — but despite some depressing content, this isn’t the excessive French nihilism that reached its sordid nadir with BaiseMoi. By the end (beginning) Marian and Gilles look much younger. This relationship has clearly knocked the life out of them. Swathed in moody tones, 5x2 is crisply shot and edited, with eruptions of animal cunning on both sides of the camera.

March of the Penguins (G) Movie: ★★★★ Extras: ★★★
Directed by Luc Jacquet. Narrated by Morgan Freeman
THIS Oscar-winning French documentary about Emperor penguins surviving an extreme Antarctic winter will melt your heart. The hardy film-makers spent a year observing their trek across nearly 160 kilometres of packed ice to create a colony for mating and raising their chicks before returning to the sea. Wildlife purists will abhor the anthropomorphism but the effect is less sentimental than illuminating, revealing behaviour, character and fortitude that would do the human species proud. The DVD comes with two supplementary documentaries: an annoyingly presented National Geographic “Crittercam” take on how penguins cope with global warming; and Of Penguins and Men, a 52minute making-of journal that recycles much of what’s in the feature but with different footage. As well as being surprisingly dull, it’s saddled with a pretentious voiceover prone to such epic proclamations as: “Life seems a lot more precious now that the Emperor penguins have shown us how fragile, delicate and miraculous it is.” ever heard about outback predators, it brilliantly escalates the terror only to twist the knife too far: what was scary suddenly turns sick and silly . On the excellent making-of documentary, writer-director Greg McLean says his aim was to “scare the crap out of the audience” by creating “an iconically Australian bad guy , in the same way that you have Freddy and Jason . . . an Australian bogeyman”. He talks of playing games with audience expectations, yet that doesn’t stop his characters from doing stupid things, like not killing their bogeyman (John Jarratt) when they have the chance. This twodisc edition also includes three deleted scenes, an in-depth interview with Jarratt and a giggly gabfest by the film-makers and female leads. Movie: ★★★ Extras: ★★★★ Wanna Be a Producer showstopper, and a director’s commentary that’s detailed but unnaturally delivered: it sounds as if Susan Stroheim is reading an essay when not telling us what’s happening on screen. Everyone was wonderful and everything stunning except her producer, Brooks: “He would say to me things like, ’Stro, you can have whatever you want — just don’t spend a penny .” Movie: ★★ Extras: ★★★

Tempting fate: Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves want to waste 98 minutes of your life in The Lake House.
SAY what you like, but I reckon Sandra Bullock has all the sexual allure of a boiled turnip. Given my bias, I thought I’d give a precis of her new film The Lake House courtesy of the finely honed PR material. Feeling that it’s time for a change in her life, Dr Kate Forster (Bullock) takes a job at a busy Chicago hospital. One thing she is reluctant to leave behind is the beautiful house she’s been renting. It’s a place in which she felt her true self. Kate leaves a note in the mailbox for the house’s next tenant, noting that the inexplicable painted paw prints he might notice by the front door were there when she moved in. Alex Wyler (Keanu Reeves), a talented but frustrated architect, finds the lakehouse badly neglected: But no sign of paw prints anywhere. But then he sees a stray dog run across the fresh paint, leaving paw prints exactly where she said they’d be. The same day , two years apart. Can this be happening? As Kate and Alex continue to correspond through the lake house’s mailbox they confirm that they are, incredibly , impossibly , living two years apart, sharing their doubts and dreams, till they find themselves falling in love. They tempt fate by arranging to meet. But, by trying to join their two separate worlds, they could risk losing each other forever. See The Lake House and you’ll definitely lose 98 minutes of your life and $13. This leaky building of a movie is a load of bullock.

Directed by Philip Kaufman Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Juliette Binoche, Lena Olin
THIS brooding, claustrophobic, erotic Prague spring drama about a philandering Czech doctor, his wife and his mistress was first seen here at the 1988 Wellington Film Festival, a year before the Berlin Wall fell. It’s been out on DVD in the United States since 1999 but this two-disc edition is the first New Zealand release. It comes with a half-hour retrospective documentary and a commentary: the two overlap, as director Philip Kaufman, screenwriter Jean-Claude Carriere and editor Walter Murch contribute to each, but provide terrific context, with Carriere furnishing one of the most memorable quotes: “In Czechoslovakia, at the time of the Communists, making love was a way of resisting, of being free.” Movie: ★★★★ Extras: ★★★★ Philip Wakefield

Directed by Susan Stroman Starring Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Uma Thurman, Will Ferrell
ONLY ardent Mel Brooks fans should risk enduring this punishing Broadway spoof, a movie of the musical of his 1968 movie about the mounting of “a new neo-Nazi musical” called Springtime for Hitler . Stale, shrill and over-the-top, it’s little more than a filmed play , with a cast that shrieks its lines as if on stage and production numbers that are even gaudier than the geriatric gay stereotypes. At least the 15 minutes of out-takes on the DVD are funnier. There also are eight deleted scenes, an analysis of the I

Directed by Greg McLean Starring John Jarratt, Nathan Phillips, Cassandra MacGrath, Kestie Morassi
JEEPERS creepers! This homicidal maniac-on-the-highway horror is closer to home than most, having been filmed in South Australia. Exploiting every urban myth you’ve

Alexander Bisley

Festival recommended

Host and Guest

Mutual Appreciation

Less is More

China Blue


Dimmer ★★★★★
There My Dear (Warner Music)
THE RULE of thumb for most successful rock musicians is simple. Start young as experimental and by trial and error develop your craft. Reach a high period and create your best work. Then the rot sets in. Become self-indulgent. Produce your worst work or shamelessly try to repeat past glories. Dimmer’s Shayne Carter keeps breaking the rule. At 42, after most of his life making music, Carter has always been good and just keeps getting better. Unlike Dimmer’s I Believe You Are a Star in 2001 and You’ve Got to Here the Music in 2004, there’s only a tincture of electronica and Marvin Gaye and Sly Stoneinspired funk. Carter, who briefly reformed his old guitar band Straitjacket Fits last year, has returned to guitars and a threepiece band, with guitarist James Duncan, bassist Justyn Pilbrow and drummer Dino Karlis. But it isn’t the Fits revisited, even if the avalanche of guitars and drums on the haunting Scrapbook shows Dimmer’s pedigree. While pushing guitars to the foreground, Carter has retained the intimacy , the lessis-more ethos and the song craft he’s nurtured in the funky Dimmer and previous bands. With a relationship break-up as muse, it’s predictably dark in places — but still surprising. Even in the blackest moments, Bic Runga, Anika Moa and Anna Coddington’s gorgeous backing vocals act as slithers of light. Under The Illusion has the best pop hook, enhanced by Don McGlashan on euphonium. One Breath at a Time is disarmingly slow and funky , with Carter breathing in your ear. I Won’t Let You


Scintillating playing
Liszt: Symphonic Poems — No 7; Festklange, S101, No 1: Ce qu’on entend sur la montagne, S91, No 11; Hunnenschlacht, S105. New Zealand Symphony Orchestra conducted by Michael Halasz. Naxos 8.557846 (CD 63mins)
THERE is some absolutely brilliant playing on this disc — sweeping strings displaying some astonishing articulation under pressure; lovely , expressive wind playing and gloriously expansive brass. With this sort of playing Liszt’s orchestrations come fully alive, allowing us to appreciate some music that is very easy to see as inflated. After No1 — What is heard on the mountain — was composed in Weimar in 1849, Liszt went on to compose another 12, and although they are good as the previous two discs were — the first featured the Polish Radio Orchestra at Katowice — this one is the finest of the three. With playing such as we have here the music takes over in exhilarating fashion, sweeping all before it. The empty pages seem merely unimportant, and the big moments have adrenaline galore. The engineering by Aucklander Paul McGlashan captures the orchestra in wonderfully realistic fashion, though the level is a touch low. To fully appreciate the splendours on this disc the volume must be set higher than usual, but what splendours there are and at a touch less than $15 all music lovers should have this in their collection. ★★★★★ John Button

Break my Heart Again, Don’t Even See Me, Mine and the almost ambient What’s a Few Tears to the Ocean? all, in their own ways, are a remarkable palette. Carter also comes closest to hero Leonard Cohen on brittle ballad You’re Only Leaving Hurt. Somehow everything is just right. We don’t have to believe Carter is a star. We know that. There My Dear is so perfectly realised, it proves he’s a bloody genius. Tom Cardy

WITH its all-star cast, Mel Brooks’ classic film, The Producers, has been given a new lease of life and, thanks to Sony Pictures, we have three Producers prize packs to give away, which include a DVD, T-shirt and cap. And, thanks to Roadshow Entertainment, winners will also receive a copy of the heartwarming, Oscar-winning, documentary March of The Penguins. DUNEDIN rock legend Shayne Carter returns with a new Dimmer album, There My Dear, and, thanks to Warner Music, we have three copies to give away.


an uneven bunch, they must have sounded visionary at the time. This disc is the third in a series devoted to all 13, and the second played by the NZSO. Michael Halasz has the full measure of this music and as



The Eraser (XL)
THERE aren’t many people who can generate the global interest that the Radiohead frontman did when the rumour turned into reality and the much talked about solo album — a word Thom Yorke hates — eventuated. And, to be honest, it sounds exactly as you’d expect: gloomy washes of synthesisers, eerie piano tinkering, simple electronic rhythms, a disillusioned feeling of coldness. Yorke’s biggest asset is his lyrics and here, under the guidance of long-term Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, his nervous, politically charged vocals shine. Standouts include Harrowdown Hill, the place near Oxford where police discovered the corpse of Tony Blair’s United Nations weapons inspector Dr David Kelly . On the Clock Yorke snarls: “Time is running out for us, but you just move the hands upon the clock”, and the concluding Cymbal Rush recalls those dark, minimalist, moments Bowie achieved with his piercing saxophone on Low. There are moments when I really miss the thunderclap of Jonny Greenwood’s guitar — Black Swan being a brief occasion when Yorke strums a guitar. As some wit said, it’s more Kid B than Kid A, but there’s no denying that underneath the emotional turmoil misery hasn’t sounded so good in a long time. ★★★★ Lindsay Davis

Honey from the Tombs (Rhythmethod)

The River in Reverse (Universal)
IN the past decade or so, Elvis Costello releases have been more miss than hit, but on The River in Reverse he teams up with New Orleans R&B legend, and pianist extraordinaire, Allen Toussaint to create some of the finest soulful ballads you’ll hear all year. With a selection of Toussaint’s back catalogue, along with material newly written by the duo, Costello excels when singing the spiritual The Sharpest Thorn. With its anti-war message — “the sharpest thorn defending the rose” — and rolling piano, the funeral-like rhythm gives way to Toussaint’s horn section, The Crescent City Horns’, uplifting ragtime. In fact, war and disappointment at the response to Hurricane Katrina are especially preying on both their minds. Costello’s title track looks at the response to Katrina with some very bitter wordplay and Broken Promise Land, Ascension Day and the classic New Orleans swing of International Echo deal with the hurricane’s aftermath. The album is fabulously arranged with Costello’s band the Imposters firing on all cylinders while the horns swing and punch with the finesse of a prize fighter. ★★★★ Lindsay Davis

Gold Digging: As Sampled By Kanye West (Triton)
THIS double-disc set showcases the original tunes that form the backbone of some of Kanye’s finest songs. Disc one highlights the storming soul and flat-out funk that has been recast on West’s two solo albums. We all know that Ray Charles’ I Got A Woman was appropriated by West and reinterpreted by Jamie Foxx for Gold Digger , then there’s Chaka Khan’s great vocal on Through the Fire (taken for West’s hit, Through the Wire). The superb hook of The ARC Choir’s Walk With Me made Jesus Walks the funkiest affirmation of God to ever hit the airwaves. The second disc focuses on West’s earlier productions for artists such as Brandy, John Legend and Alicia Keys. Original songs by The Staple Singers, Bobby Bland, Lenny Williams, Al Green and The Chi Lites sound superb, of course. Aretha Franklin’s Call Me was cleverly worked into Slum Village’s Selfish — but it’s twice as good hearing the original in the company of some other oft-overlooked soul gems. This either makes a case for West as someone bringing the art of sampling back into hip-hop or happily stands alone as a superb funk-soul compilation. Maybe it does both? ★★★★★ Simon Sweetman

Rinocerose (Shock)
THIS is a compilation of four albums from a French rock-and-electronica duo, sparked by the very catchy Cubicle recently featured in a television advertisement for Apple’s ubiquitous iPod. The song, with sneering faux Stooges vocals from Daniel Zak Braan Watts of the Infidels, soars with clipped guitars and beats. Reminiscent of Chemical Brothers, it’s a tune that sounds great in the car or on headphones while walking to work, though it will date quickly . Better is Bitch, almost like a mash-up of AC/DC, guest singer Jessie Chaton sounding like a female version of Bon Scott. The other tracks, probably because they span nine years, vary in style —almost too often as the rockbased, sampled guitar tracks are the freshest. Le Rock Summer with a disco string sample is enjoyable, but indistinguishable from other dance music. It’s the same on mellow funk number Lost Love — even though it samples The Cure. It could have been done by Daft Punk or Bob Sinclar. More enjoyable, though not exactly risky , are instrumentals Mes Vacances a Rio and Le Triangle. Things get better, however, on the electro Get Ready Now, a slightly darker turn on Goldfrapp. ★★★ 1⁄2 Tom Cardy

That Great October Sound (Glitterhouse/YellowEye)
THE Glitterhouse label has produced some gems over its 20-year history; but not many of them have made it to New Zealand. Fortunately the label has local distribution now so Thomas Dybdahl’s solo debut is finally available here. The Scandinavian alt-country-pop singer was a member of cult act The Quadraphonics and actually released this album in 2002. It’s easy to see why his reputation rapidly grew. With a voice that is one part Jeff Buckley and one part JJ Cale, Dybdahl’s spacey take on alt-country will find favour with fans of Turin Brakes (particularly those who liked the band’s superb first album but have felt their subsequent releases a tad underwhelming) and carries plenty of darkness also. The cowboy croon of opener, From Grace, is superbly arranged as Dybdahl’s soaring tenor practically duets with a wash of scratchily brushed snare drum shuffles. It’s delicate and catastrophic all at once. All’s Not Lost is picture-perfect pop and Dreamweaver (not a cover of Wayne and Garth’s favourite fantasysequence number) is a lovely , lilting end to an album that deserves discovering. Made four years ago, hopefully there’s enough interest to get this man out here playing. He’d be superb with his Howe Gelb-like ramblings and his Tindersticks fragility . ★★★★ Simon Sweetman

FALLING somewhere between Jenny Lewis, The Be Good Tanyas and Emmylou Harris comes Canadian Amy Millan. With her sugary innocence she oozes country twang but it’s just a veil she hides behind as her evocative voice easily switches between exploring sunsets and dumping boyfriends on a delightful debut where death runs through it like a burst dam as she explores the wellmined terrain of love and loneliness. Members of Toronto bluegrass band Crazy Strings accompany Millan on Honey, gently picking at banjos and mandolins and generally providing solid musicianship throughout — just listen to the fingerpicking on Ruby II. While there’s one too many lyrics about drinking whiskey (He Brings Out the Whiskey, Pour me up Another , Blue in yer Eye), there’s an unhurried pace to Honey and a lot of warmth, as on Come Home Loaded Roadie with its organ drone and melancholic tone. Millan also covers a great variety of styles, from the warm bluegrass of Blue in yer Eye to experimental touches of Brian Eno in Wayward and Parliament. Standout is Skinny Boy with its clever lyric — “Skinny boy , all bones no lies” — sung on an indie-pop wave, it’s as far from Nashville as you could imagine. ★★★ 1⁄2 Lindsay Davis

To enter
To be in the draw for a chance to win these competitions, write your name, address and telephone number on the back of an envelope and mail it to The Producers draw or Dimmer draw, Arts and Entertainment, PO Box 3741, Wellington 6140. Alternatively you can e-mail us at In the subject field write the name of the contest and in the body of the e-mail write your contact details. Our mailbag closes at noon, Wednesday, August 2. Dominion Post staff cannot enter. There is no cash equivalent. Syriana winners are: L Carter, Lower Hutt; G Luke, Hastings; K Kilkelly, Wellington. The Black Seeds winners are: C Fulton, Wanganui; C Peita, Plimmerton; N Anderson, Taupo, B Hoof, Upper Hutt; L Lee, Wadestown All prizes have been mailed out.


GAME PS2: Super Dragon Ball Z
(Atari) ★★1⁄2

THIS is a truly odd game. Billed as a traditional arcade fighting game if you remember watching Dragon Ball Z cartoons then you are bound to get at least some enjoyment out of it — though it lacks the depth of the Street Fighter or Tekken series. The truth is Super Dragon Ball Z is just so Japanese that it makes everything so gosh darn confusing. For example, on the controls random button bashing — as is always the way with fighting games — will get you a long way , but trying to learn moves is a different story . When you go to the control menu all the combinations are written out in miniature diagrams that appear to have very little to do with the PlayStation controller at all. The main menu is also absolute rubbish and it becomes a chore just to figure out how to play the different game modes. Having said that, once you do manage to figure out the different modes the game is quite a laugh, especially for the fact that even the male characters voices are clearly done by women — not that you have a chance of understanding what they’re saying. Options include a training mode that allows you to try out each character’s special moves, as well as an original arcade mode and survival mode, both of which pit you against a series of seven increasingly tough opponents. As always it’s the versus mode, which allows you to challenge your mates to a one-off fight, that’s the most entertaining. But the fact that there’s a huge sign on one of the levels saying Wel Come reinforces that the English-speaking market was, perhaps, not their target. Jacob Reilly-Davis







Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful