24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: New Zealand

Around Town: Classic cinema from Hitchcock, Truffaut and more

September 22, 2011 |  6:00 am

 Shadow

The earliest surviving work of Alfred Hitchcock and two romantic dramas from French master François Truffaut are among the cinematic highlights screening around town in Los Angeles this week.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is presenting the recently discovered first 30 minutes of the 1923 British film “The White Shadow” on Thursday evening at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater. A young Hitchcock wrote the script, designed the sets, edited the film and was the assistant director on the movie, which was directed by Graham Cutts. It’s considered the earliest surviving feature film work of the master of suspense and was one of the “lost” films recently discovered at the New Zealand Film Archive. Also screening are two comedy shorts unearthed last year at the archive -- “Won in a Closet,” starring and directed by Mabel Normand, and “Oil’s Well" with Monty Banks. Michael Mortilla will supply live musical accompaniment. www.oscars.org

The 14th annual Arpa International Film festival kicks off Thursday evening and continues through Saturday at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. The festival, which is dedicated to indie filmmakers that “cultivate understanding and global empathy," includes six features, 11 short films, nine documentaries, three music videos and an animated film from such countries as the U.S., Afghanistan, Canada, Australia, France and Israel. The festival's opening-night offering is the L.A. premiere of the road movie “Here,” with Ben Foster. affma.org.

The New Beverly Cinema presents two intimate romantic dramas from Truffaut on Friday and Saturday evenings: 1964’s “The Soft Skin,” with Françoise Dorleac and Jean Desailly, and 1981’s “The Woman Next Door,” with Fanny Ardant, who was the director’s last great love, and Gerard Depardieu. www.newbevcinema.com

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Sundance 2010: New Zealand comedy 'Boy,' the son of 'Son of Rambow'

January 31, 2010 |  3:01 pm

Boy

At film festivals, as with stand-up comedy and sniper fire, timing is everything. Three years ago at Sundance, a 1980s coming-of-age story out of Britain about a pop culture-enthralled young boy from a broken home was one of the most pursued and buzzed-about films of the festival. The picture, "Son of Rambow," was coveted by studio specialty divisions that saw in it an awards contender and a commercial hit, and wound up being bought for $8 million. (It then ran into rights issues, was seen by about 14 people and contributed to the demise of Paramount Vantage.)

Three years later, another 1980s coming-of-age-story about a pop culture-enthralled young boy from a broken home (this time out of New Zealand) came riding into Park City, Utah. It's titled, less fancifully, "Boy," and it's made by and stars the comic hyphenate Taika Waititi (who's worked on "Flight of the Conchords" and wrote and directed another New Zealand coming-of-age movie that came through Sundance, "Eagle vs. Shark"). The sweet but never cloying "Boy" concerns the adventures of an at once precocious and naive Maori 11-year-old whose ex-con father shows up one day, generating comedic and dramatic havoc for him and his family.

Unlike the preoccupation in "Rambow" with the titular, deliberately misspelled 80s action franchise, the boy here (named simply Boy) is obsessed with Michael Jackson. But the King of Pop basically serves the same purpose as Sylvester Stallone did in the earlier film: He's a link to a larger world for someone trapped, in many ways without even knowing it, in his own small one.

Waititi, who in person displays a stand-up performer's sensibility, fires in "Boy" a spear of social comment that he tips with comedy. Asked at the post-screening Q&A about how he wanted to depict the Maoris in his film, he responded, "We get portrayed two ways, like the [goons] in [the 1994 New Zealand family epic] 'Once Were Warriors.' Or we get shown as the blue people in 'Avatar.' I wanted to show that we are normal, awkward people -- indigenous geeks."

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