Spike Jonze’s Her will likely be snubbed by the Academy next week, but don’t let that oversight fool you as this is one of the most ingenious and resonant American films in recent years — one which is likely to become a Millennial touchstone. Joaquin Phoenix delivers yet another great performance here as a withdrawn writer who, following a difficult divorce, falls in love with his advanced operating system (remarkably voiced by Scarlett Johansson). This frighteningly plausible near-future premise is wonderfully realised by Jonze, with dazzling visuals and production design — as well as a terrific score performed by Arcade Fire — and Her is his most profound and poignant film. A Fistful of Culture is delighted to have five double passes to giveaway courtesy of Sony Pictures, and you can find the competition details below.
For those who haven’t been paying attention recently, Matthew McConaughey is currently in the midst of a terrific renaissance — or McConaissance; the increasingly prolific actor gave a great performance in Mud last year, stole the few scenes he was opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street, and is currently doing some of the best work of his career on HBO’s incredible True Detective. He also won a Golden Globe and earned an Academy Award nomination last month for his transformative performance in Dallas Buyers Club. A shockingly thin McConaughey plays real-life AIDS patient Ron Woodroof, who began smuggling unapproved pharmaceutical drugs into Texas during the mid-80s to combat his own illness as well as make a profit. Jennifer Garner and Jared Leto — who also underwent drastic weight loss and is nominated for Best Supporting Actor — co-star in Jean-Marc Vallée’s acclaimed film, and A Fistful of Culture have three double passes to giveaway thanks to Trigger Marketing.
The biggest breakout success of last year’s SXSW Film Festival was Destin Cretton’s Short Term 12, which centres on a compassionate social worker who supervises at-risk teens while hiding troubles of her own. Brie Larson gives a revelatory lead performance that is sure to put her on everyone’s radar, and Cretton’s quietly powerful film has justly been acclaimed as one of the most resonant and authentic indie dramas in recent memory. A Fistful of Culture has three double passes up for grabs courtesy of Madman, and you can find the entry details below.
Stephen Frears is back in top form with Philomena, a powerful and affecting true story that is easily his best work since The Queen. Judi Dench is wonderful as ever as the titular character, a kindhearted Irish woman who wishes to track down the son she was forced to give up by the Catholic church, and Steve Coogan (who co-writes) is perfectly cast as the cynical journalist who reluctantly ends up telling her story. While it may seem like a predictable feel-good film on the surface, Philomena is often poignant in unexpected ways thanks to Frears’ avoidance of sentimentality and the subtle performances of his great leads. A Fistful of Culture has three double passes to giveaway thanks to Trigger Marketing, and you can find the entry details below.
Morgan Neville’s spirited music doc 20 Feet From Stardom won over audiences during the NZ International Film Festival earlier this year, and this insightful and often moving film is now returning to NZ cinemas for those who missed it. Just as 2002′s Standing in the Shadows of Motown shed long-overdue light on the overlooked session musicians of the era, 20 Feet details the varied careers and lives of several talented back-up singers — including Darlene Love, Judith Hill, Merry Clayton, Claudia Lenner, Lisa Fischer, Táta Vega and Jo Lawry — who collectively worked with the likes of the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Bette Midler and Sting (each make appearances throughout). Featuring exciting archival footage, enthusiastic performances and most importantly some great characters, this loving tribute to unsung heroes is a must-see for any music history buffs and A Fistful of Culture has three double passes up for grabs courtesy of Trigger Marketing.
Sundance favourite Nicole Holofcener (Please Give) returns this year with Enough Said, a very promising romantic comedy starring a resurgent Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep) and featuring one of the final performances by the late, great James Gandolfini. The film centres on a divorced single parent (Louis-Dreyfus) who falls for a sweet man (Gandolfini), only to have matters complicated when she befriends his bitter ex-wife (Catherine Keener). This looks to be a charming, insightful comedy about grown-up romance and A Fistful of Culture has five double passes to giveaway thanks to 20th Century Fox.
One of my more anticipated films of the year is The Counselor, a star-studded thriller — including Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Penélope Cruz, Cameron Diaz and Brad Pitt – that tantalizingly pairs author-turned-screenwriter Cormac McCarthy (No Country For Old Men) and director Ridley Scott (Blade Runner). The film has been divisively received by U.S. critics, with several comparing it to Andrew Dominik’s similarly uncompromising Killing Them Softly (one of my favourite films of 2012), which makes me all the more curious. A Fistful of Culture has three double passes up for grabs courtesy of 20th Century Fox, and you can find the entry details below.
Chasing Ice – one of last year’s must-see documentaries — has now hit Blu-ray in New Zealand, and if you missed it A Fistful of Culture is giving you the opportunity to win one of three copies. The film follows esteemed National Geographic photographer James Balog as he documents the increasingly rapid decline of our planet’s glaciers, employing unprecedented usage of time-lapse cameras to capture extraordinary and devastating images. By simply focussing on ice, this film is one of the most straight-forward, compelling and urgent pleas to address climate change at a time when America is still alarmingly polarised by the issue, and the astounding visuals Balog delivers are unlike anything you have seen on the subject before.
Paul Greengrass’ acclaimed new drama Captain Phillips is out today in New Zealand cinemas, and A Fistful of Culture has three double passes to giveaway thanks to Sony Pictures. This intense, urgent and realistic biopic stars Tom Hanks as the courageous titular captain whose cargo ship was taken hostage by Somali pirates in 2009, and the iconic American actor gives his best performance in well over a decade here — one which is understandably being hyped as an Oscar frontrunner, and ensures that this film is a must-see.
Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan returned to The Colbert Report last night to discuss his hit show’s feverishly anticipated finale. For those not completely up-to-date, the interview obviously contains spoilers — which Colbert makes light of part-way through — as Gilligan opens up about the ultimate fate of Walter White (Bryan Cranston), living with the character in his head for six years, and compared Walter to John Wayne’s character in The Searchers as well as The Lord of the Rings‘ Gollum. The show concluded with a fun epilogue in which Colbert has Gilligan imprisoned in a basement, forced to write more episodes of Breaking Bad, and you can also find that below.