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Shit worth watching

on screen Arthur Christmas FILM llll

Let’s face it, last year’s excellent Finnish actioncomedy Rare Exports apart, Christmas movies have been something to dread for sometime now. From the garish ‘family’ comedies Jingle All the Way and Deck the Halls, to the dead-eyed horrors of The Polar Express and the laughterfree zones that were Four

Holidays and Fred Claus, Hollywood’s holiday offerings have been less than joyful or triumphant. Thank little baby Jesus then for Aardman, whose latest computer-animated offering (think Flushed Away rather than Wallace and Gromit) refreshes the old sonof-Santa storyline with both wit and aplomb.

As we’ve come to expect from the brilliant Bristol-based animation experts, the visuals are crisp and clean with an attention to detail that’s both breathtaking and rewarding for those who like to scan the full frame (and these are guys who have never met a visual pun they didn’t like). Likewise, the script is jampacked full of zingers and action – the opening Operation Santa montage a particular highlight – while eagle-eared audience members will catch the cues which homage much-loved blockbusters like Harry Potter and Superman amongst Harry GregsonWilliams’s excellent score. Amongst a universally

impressive vocal cast, Bill Nighy threatens to steal the show as the cantankerous and crafty Grandsanta in a thoroughly entertaining movie that deserves to sleigh audiences both young and old this Yuletide. WRITTEN BY JAMES CROOT,


Further info directed by GERAD SMYTH Further info directed by SURE BOURNE



When A City Falls





The concept is sound enough: follow a handful of contestants of all ages and walks of life to the World Irish Dancing Championships. Here we get to meet some truly exceptional characters, such as the wealthy American parents who relocate to Ireland for their only son’s mind-blowing Irish-dancing talent. Or the Scandinavian couple whose adopted son attempts to find an apology for his birth parents’ abandonment. My favourite is Brogan, whose major competition is Julia, a force to be reckoned with from New York whose parents effortlessly afford the $25,000 dresses and one-on-one training for their scarily determined daughter. Brogan is from Ireland, she’s in the competition for her 26


dead grandmother and talks with an affable awareness of life’s vicissitudes in such a way that makes me cry. Although Jig‘s purity does give it a certain something, there are no shifts in gear; we literally watch these kids practice then compete, win or lose. That said, the cast of characters have stuck firmly in my mind and their crazy allure and dedication to what looks like an incredibly complex, demanding and unrewarding (fiscally speaking) art is pretty outstanding. And if you’re interested in show mums and/ or scary trainers who live vicariously through their charges – this doco definitely delivers. WRITTEN BY LILY RICHARDS,

It’s been nine months since one of the biggest natural disasters to ever hit New Zealand. In that time, local media outlets have saturated us with images and issues relating to the Christchurch earthquake, and you could be forgiven for having become a touch desensitised to the whole episode. This documentary differs from that coverage by virtue of its homegrown roots. Made about Cantabrians by a Cantabrian, the sense of tragedy remains but is balanced by footage of the community pulling together and recovering. Whether it be the dry, laconic humour used in coping with the aftermath or witnessing small acts of kindness, there is a great deal of optimism evident. This

sense of hope is an organic and natural response as opposed to a construct of filmmaking technique. The wide range of said interviewees creates an emotional mosaic of the city, although it would have been interesting if the subjects were followed with a little more depth. There are also a few moments when the camera is bordering on invasive. Still, this was a vital moment in our history and needed to be captured for posterity. As time goes on and the Christchurch earthquake becomes a foggy, painful memory, hard evidence such as this will only grow in importance. WRITTEN BY ANDREAS HEINEMANN,

393 Groove Guide  

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