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March 26, 2018 | by  | in Arts Film | [ssba]

Bears in Film

(Only one of these films is actually about bears.)

The New: Paddington 2 (2017)


By Meg Doughty

When the world of uni, Studylink, and your damp Aro Valley flat feels especially cold and cruel, snuggle yourself up and put on Paddington 2. If you haven’t seen the first instalment,  Paddington, I would highly recommend a double feature.

Be careful when watching Paddington. I was feeling a little emotionally vulnerable and was in full blown tears in the first ten minutes, sobbing “they better be f**king nice to Paddington”. At least I knew I was invested.

Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins are especially delightful as the bear’s caretakers, and the titular character, voiced by the gorgeous Ben Whishaw, will make you cry, sigh, and laugh your socks off. In Paddington 2 Hugh Grant’s excellent (self aware?) performance of an actor past his prime is rather tongue in cheek, carrying great comedic value. The rest of the cast includes every British actor you’ve ever seen on television, and they all do splendidly.

However, the stand out of the film is its bright colour palette, and equally vibrant script. The writing is truly excellent, and not one part of the narrative is irrelevant. The writers trust their audience to recollect and connect events in a very adult way, while also creating ridiculous situations everyone can laugh at. Genuinely, there are several pee-your-pants laughs in this film.

If your fancy is tickled by absurdity, kind hearts, and Hugh Bonneville doing yoga, this is the film for you. Paddington and his shenanigans (because this is a film that will make you want to use words like shenanigans) are chicken soup for the soul in the best of ways. So if you don’t have plans this evening, or even if you do, put on Paddington 2.

The New(er): Annihilation (2018)


By Emma Maguire

Annihilation scared me shitless and I’m not even ashamed to say that. After it was released on Netflix a couple of weeks back, post-Paramount’s weird removal of it from Kiwi cinemas (because they thought it was too intellectual, come on), I watched it in the dark late at night and freaked the absolute fuck out.

This film isn’t a horror film in the traditional sense. It’s sci-fi, a psychological thriller, and horror, all rolled into one. Former soldier Lena (Natalie Portman) decides to venture into the ‘Shimmer” — a mysterious scientific anomaly — to figure out what caused the near-death of her husband. She, along with four other women with nothing to lose, discovers that the world within the “Shimmer” is quite unlike their own. They must stop the Shimmer’s spread before it consumes Earth.

Annihilation is a stunning celebration of life, death, and the self-destructive nature of humanity. The wordless climax of the film (and I will not give you any spoilers, but it is stunning and horrific in equal measures) reads exactly like an allegory for depression. Lena’s own self is what is trapping her, and without a lifeline out of her head, she’s unable to escape.

This film is brutal, there’s no doubt about that. It pulls no punches with the bloodiness and the violence of some of its scenes.The “bear” scene in particular stuck with me for hours after I finished watching. Annihilation is not light sci-fi, but it’s smart sci-fi; forcing you to confront your humanity, your grief, and how you see the world, which is surely the greatest power that fiction has to offer.


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