Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: When A City Falls

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  • Rob Stowell,

    Ah... My partner and I are considering going to see it on our anniversary on Thursday. Which would be kind of appropriate, because our first 'leaving the house' date? Was a screening of Once Were Warriors.

    Yeah, not exactly a date movie. But we went on our anniversary, and not a scrap of regret. There's quite a lot of natural beauty. Those skies... I came out feeling more subdued than uplifted- but not in a bad way.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 1532 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    We saw Once Were Warriors in the US, after living away from NZ for 10 years - we went in knowing nothing about the film other than that it was a film from home .... we came out quite blown away, in many ways, ......

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2119 posts Report Reply

  • John Norman,

    Not without its humor. As when a bunch of Maoris were at the meeting house, one standing as he addressed other attendees in their seats, when an earthquake (if an aftershock it looked some event anyway!) took place. They lived through it, shaking, shuddering, fixed staring each other etc. On cessation a voice was heard saying: Friend, you have a forceful argument.

    Despite which, however, I'd honestly say it is overlong as mentioned already, and a tad depressing.. couldn't really say how cantabrians would want relive this stuff. 12 in-theater with us.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2011 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    I think it might be a little over-long, but I dunno about depressing. What I came away with was a sense of kiwi voices and faces, ways of speaking, of understated humour, of goodwill, of honest emotion in the face of a shitty situation.
    That really shone.
    ETA- and yeah, in many ways it's a bloody depressing situation. But I didn't come out of it- or When the Levees Broke, or Patu! feeling depressed . Angry, some, with the last two.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 1532 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to John Norman,

    and a tad depressing..

    Yeah, but some things are “depressing” … well, life’s like that. I’ll go out on a limb and say When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts was the most depressing four hours of dubiously legal viewing I’ve ever had. It's also, in my not at all humble opinion, the best thing Spike Lee’s ever done.

    Patu! & Bastion Point:Day 507 aren't films you watch for the giggles either – if you’re not feeling sick, angry and downright despairing at multiple points during both Merita Mita failed in her unapologetic mission as a politically engaged (and enraged) documentary film-maker . Or you’re a sadistic bunghole.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11902 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Yes, I am going to Wellington again next month...

    I'm beginning to suspect that living in Christchurch is just a front for you :)

    I’ll go out on a limb and say When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts was the most depressing four hours of dubiously legal viewing I’ve ever had.

    I watched it back to back in a theatre. By hour three I was just numb from the pain. I don't know how anyone can do justice to a story that is that fucked up however.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6162 posts Report Reply

  • Felix M,

    I went to the earthquake movie with my folks in Christchurch. We all cried quite a bit. My old man doesn't talk about it, so I suspect it was quite cathartic for him. Important to see it at a plex with good sound though I reckon. Agree -- it's not depressing, and more about folks holding hands after the crap hits the fan.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2011 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Isabel Hitchings,

    I think I want to see When a City Falls but I think the timing and company need to be exactly right to see me through it and I'm not sure if it will (or could) come together.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 705 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    The vital element is getting the word out about films and where they are screening. I would really like to see this doco but haven't seen nor read anything about where or when it is screening. Is it travelling the independent/art house circuit? Will it screen in Wellington (I will be down there next week)?

    It was not my primary objective in setting it up but once I have full information up on my http://cinemasofnz.info site, it might well help getting films like this around the country.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2301 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Is it travelling the independent/art house circuit? Will it screen in Wellington

    Hi Geoff-
    Reading cinemas in Wellington- current times. Rialto in Auckland; Hoyts in Chch- which seemed odd, but they are almost the only screen left.
    It'll probably get to Hamilton- unless it really fails to get bums on seats. 'Sposed to be in something like 50 cinemas! It will be a real shame if it doesn't do ok at the box-office.
    (I wonder if part of the problem is that a lot of people who've seen it talk about crying, and people think: nah, not today thanks. I dunno- I didn't cry, but I had seen a fair bit of it before. But I am a sook- who on occasion will shed a tear over a children's book :))

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 1532 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    Thanks, Rob ... and I would like to add to Craig's praise of The Orator. Slow cinema tends to divide audiences; some fall asleep, other delight in the gradual unfolding of the plot. The Orator could not be made any other way.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2301 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    I wonder if part of the problem is that a lot of people who’ve seen it talk about crying, and people think: nah, not today thanks.

    I wouldn't know about outside of Christchurch, but the mood abroad seems to be almost a stampede to forget. It's particularly evident in the callously dismissive attitudes towards the minority who've lost out badly to the quakes. Rather less so, but perhaps equally telling, in the sanitized and mesh-fenced CTV building site, where photos and other mementoes to those who died there are still renewed as they deteriorate in the weather.

    Someone's even attached a framed corkboard to the fence, but there's no official provision or endorsement of the real need for ongoing grieving.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3427 posts Report Reply

  • Stupid,

    I really wanna see that, so is it on general release? Thanks for the heads up Russell. I'm in Christchurch now till Saturday, would be cool to see it down here.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 44 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    I wouldn’t know about outside of Christchurch, but the mood abroad seems to be almost a stampede to forget.

    One of the most teeth-gritting conversations I've had this year: with a scientist who does a lot of field research in Antarctica, flying through Christchurch. "Oh, you came here from Christchurch, how lovely, I've been there so many times, it's so English, all those lovely buildings...wasn't there some sort of earthquake or something?"

    I feel it is to my credit that what I said was "Yes, a very bad one," not all the things that came to mind.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2093 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    I can picture your hands on her shoulders, lovingly recreating the ground acceleration. Or maybe her neck (early Bart Simpson styles).

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16599 posts Report Reply

  • Felix M,

    It seems to be on in quite a few theatres - care of good ol' 'Flicks':
    http://www.flicks.co.nz/movie/when-a-city-falls/

    Auckland • Since Nov 2011 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Folks, anyone looking for screenings of When A City Falls in your town, Flick.co.nz has a useful function on its page for the movie.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11902 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Sacha,

    I can picture your hands on her shoulders, lovingly recreating the ground acceleration. Or maybe her neck (early Bart Simpson styles).

    It was part of a wider range of WTFery, so I had time to moderate my reactions. (Probably only scientists will get this, but the best bit was "I don't like hiring postdocs who know more about their subject area than I do.")

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2093 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    If only it were just academia. That's a prime symptom of *this* country's widespread poor management too: managers whose egos can't cope with specialist staff and other parties like suppliers knowing more than them - which is exactly how it should be.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16599 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Sacha,

    If only it were just academia. That's a prime symptom of *this* country's widespread poor management too: managers whose egos can't cope with specialist staff and other parties like suppliers knowing more than them - which is exactly how it should be.

    It's just such a jaw-droppingly stupid way to run things. In this instance we got there because it had been mentioned that their lab was having trouble with [thing outside their subject expertise], and only hiring undergrads in [other subject], who of course didn't have the experience to fix the problem before they moved on. It was such a classic ego-impeding-progress problem. I can understand wrestling with it, especially given the comparative budget and effort involved; I can't understand not biting the bullet and hiring in the specialist you need after multiple failures.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2093 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Calder,

    Uh, zero publicity about the screening?

    Yep, it sure wasn't in your face the way Arthur Christmas or whatever will be. The budget for publicity for Hollywood films regularly exceeds the production budget these days, certainly in the case of films that have giveaway toys in McDonalds or whatever. By contrast most NZ films have virtually nothing - particularly the below-the-radar, small-scale movies like this or Hook, Line and Sinker or Rest for the Wicked (for which the publicity was done by one of the actors!). When A City Falls actually had a media screening and an experienced publicist attached. Many films just send a dvd screener out and hope for the best.
    I'm guessing that underneath Russell's "why were there only five people there?" comment is a kind of despair that really good local work is often ignored because people don't find it and they don't find it because they don't go looking for it. It's not going to hit you in the face with a hoarding or a full-page newspaper ad because they don't have the money for that. The way i see it, if we believe in buying NZ-made at the supermarket and the fruit and vege shop, can't we make a bit of an effort to chuck some money in the direction of our local artists too?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 64 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Felix M,

    Snaps! :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11902 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Stupid,

    The Hollywood in Sumner is a good wee theatre, one of the few (only one?) left, there are eating places open around there. My in-her-80s mother-in-law was there watching When A City Falls the other day when a nearby 3.4 hit; said she levitated but stayed staunch to see the film through until the end. Getting out to Sumner, do watch the road from Mount Pleasant corner on, over 35km/h in the dark and the surf effect starts to get rough.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2601 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe,

    Re the comments about publicity: google it; it's not hard (having to work a little to find a movie gives a taste of everyday life in Christchurch right now). This film is one that will endure, and judging from the number of DVD requests I have read, it will be more like a 10-year wonder than a 10-day one. It's not a Hollywood film, doesn't pretend or aspire to be, and the time constraints on the production were immense. Most of the negatives I have read directly reflect that there was not enough time to put it together much differently and still have the breadth of view.

    For me, the film's "thing" is the good side of humanity that shines through: of the people filmed, the director, and everyone that took part; no blackness to be seen. Just people doing their best in an indescribably difficult situation that they are powerless to stop.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2601 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    have you seen this, Lucy?

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2008 • 659 posts Report Reply

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