Book Review: Cinema, by Helen Rickerby

Available now at selected bookstores. 

Grab your popcorn.cv_cinema_helen_rickerby Adjust your vision to the dim of the theatre. Helen Rickerby is taking us
to the cinema. But this is no standard ninety minute B-grade flick. This is a movie buffet. And Rickerby pans cinematic history, and its people, in her new collection.

Rickerby introduces the cinema as a ‘revolution’, conquering ‘distance and memory’, bringing about the annihilation of time. In Cinema, time can be travelled and situations rehashed. Characters can be transformed into ‘wittier, more stylish’ versions of themselves. Yet Cinema‘s characters ‘do not think, (they) are thought’, and their fates are governed by their directors – the likes of Kubrick, Malick, Lynch and Campion.

Cinema is an Escher-scape, where recursion is the crux of reflection, where one might announce, ‘this is myself, playing myself playing myself’ or ‘I have glasses over my glasses’. Hidden meanings lurk beneath objects. ‘A bathroom means a closed door, a sanctuary, asylum…’. Objects are not all they seem – ‘her mirror is her mother’. People change form to become flowers.

Cinema straddles the line between fiction and reality. Narrators may be unwittingly deceitful and the reader may ask ‘Can the people be trusted? Can he trust himself’. It is a place wherein doppelgängers prowl, spontaneous combustion may or may not happen, and an ‘anteater of self-doubt’ may land upon the unsuspecting.

Rickerby’s world is at once compelling and absurd. One gets the feeling one is not in Kansas anymore. As Rickerby’s poem, ‘New Worlds’, suggests – ‘this is a strange place, a foreign land’.

Strange as this place Rickerby takes us to may be, there is entertainment beyond the discombobulation. Rickerby’s poem, ‘This is the way the world ends’, articulates this perfectly:

‘This story is about remembering
and forgetting

Not knowing where you are
or if it’s real

But you can die with a martini in your hand’.

Reviewed by Elizabeth Morton

by Helen Rickerby
Published by Makaro Press
ISBN 9780473276485

Book review: New Zealand Film an illustrated history

This book is in stores now and is a finalist in the New Zealand Post Book Awards.

For a little country we sure punch above our weight when it comes to film making, but parochial little scrappers yapping around the feet of the big boys we are not.

New Zealand’s film industry has long been sophisticated in what it creates even if what goes on behind the scenes isn’t as extravagant as studios in countries 10 times our size. So who better to compile a definitive history of New Zealand film than The New Zealand Film Archive?

Released in 2011 as part of their 30th year celebrations, this catalogues in detail everything from our first film screening (1896) to our first New Zealand-made film less than three years later right through to the experimental ’60s and ’70s, booming early ’80s, increasingly international ’90s; the early 2000’s that saw Peter Jackson ascend his throne and finally, the films we’re making these days, revelling in all things New Zealand but on a bigger international stage than ever before. It’s not surprising that this is a finalist in the 2012 New Zealand Post Book Awards.

Beautifully bound with a stunning design featuring gorgeous colour photos and an accompanying DVD, this is a tome that will appeal to both the casual Kiwi filmgoer as much as a dyed in the wool film aficionado.

Written by a range of academics, industry experts and devoted fans of the art form, it’s easy to read – not too academic yet not too plainly written. One thing is for sure, when it comes to learning about the history of New Zealand cinema, no other title comes anywhere close to this from both a research and analysis point of view. Every home should own this. No argument.

Reviewed by Sarah McMullan.

New Zealand Film an illustrated history
Edited by: Diane Pivac with Frank Stark and Lawrence McDonald
Published by Te Papa Press in association with the New Zealand Film Archive
ISBN 9781877385667

In conjunction with this review we had four copies of the book to give away. Congratulations to Ben, Stephanie, Jacki and Penny who were our winners. We picked them using – a random number generator.