Friday, 27 July 2012

New Zealand International Film Festival - Week One highlights

New Zealand International Film Festival - Week One highlights

Well, the first week of the New Zealand International Film Festival has nearly ended now and it's time to reflect back on what you should be making sure you see as the festival winds its way around the country.

There's been a heap of films to head to - and there's a stack of stuff ahead too.

But one thing I find when I watch films or people find I've been to see a lot, is they ask "What do you recommend?"

Every opinion's subjective of course, but my advice is not to listen to one critic - make sure you take in as many opinions as you can and views on the films and get out there and see something. Because to be honest, there's been more cinematic fare on this past week than there is actual time to view everything.

So far, though, to my mind, my highlights of what I've seen have been:

The Hunt - I was knocked sideways by this one and in a very good way. Mads Mikkelsen absolutely nailed the performance of a kindy teacher ostracised after a false accusation of child abuse - and the young girl actress Annika Wedderkopp (who plays Klara his accuser) was spot on too. But what's hit me most about this film is how much I'm still thinking about it. Trust me when I say that is a major thing for a critic - particularly at this time of the year when we gorge at the cinematic smorgasbord. (Or should that be DCP table?)
The Angels Share - Ken Loach comedy which centres on Robbie, a new dad on a last chance in Scotland and determined to change his ways. But, when all the odds seem stacked against him, he finds a salvation in whiskey. Thankfully, this is not a cue for trademark Loach miserabilism; rather a chance to cut loose and throw together a sweetly adorable heist movie with a bunch of first time actors. I saw this at a packed Civic and that certainly added to the atmosphere. Sometimes, a crowd (when not late, texting or talking) is a blessing in disguise.

The Cabin In The Woods
- This is another where the packed Civic helped stir up an atmosphere added to a great night out. Producer Joss Whedon's meta horror is certainly the most fun I've seen at the festival so far, adding in the right mix of gore and laughs to propel you through it. Kudos to Ant Timpson for fighting to get this one screened after it was heading direct to video.

Actually, Cabins and woods have been a recurring theme at my festival so far this year. I've been to four films at this point, which have had Cabins in woods - from the horror (of course), Your Sister's Sister, The Hunt and Die Wand, it seems to be the motif du fest.

The Wall (Die Wand)
- in which
The Lives of Others' Martina Gedeck stars as an unnamed woman, dropped off in a valley, and who finds herself trapped within by an invisible wall. The kicker - it appears everyone else has been frozen and she's trapped. Sparse, sombre and a tour de force one woman feminist performance, Die Wand, is a surprising piece of cinema which uses sound, its fantastic valley surroundings to maximum effect. A lack of resolution may frustrate some but the best films provoke discussion and this one certainly does that.

As for the Twitterverse. here's a round up of a few faves. Remember to use the hashtag #nzff when talking film and the conversations you can have will be continuous. 

Daniel Rutledge (@DanielRutledge) of 3 News Online, reckons Cabin In The Woods - "
amazing deconstruction of horror, + great horror itself, crazy fun at Civic" and Rebellion, which he says "packed an emotional punch"

- @Bridgetholland - "
Diana Vreeland; The Eye Must Travel. Such a talented and original fashionista. Visually beautiful fim, great photos, audio"

- @jacobunny - "
CABIN: funny, scary, way better than I'd expected | ROOM 237: fascinating meditation on obsession w/ a Kubrickian backdrop"

- @mimsycable -  "
Had some really good cries at 'Marina Abramovic: The Artist is present' at the  - my top pick so far at the fest"

- @themyrka -
Caesar Must Die, just friggin' awesome and inspiring. A winner straight out of the blocks "

There's plenty still ahead too - with the likes of West of Memphis seeming to be a guaranteed hit, Klown and Holy Motors providing stimulation ahead. Plus Mads Brugger will be in town to discuss his doco The Ambassador. And I'm certainly looking forward to Studio Ghibli's latest, Up on Poppy Hill - every year their animations are just eye poppingly gorgeous on the big screen.

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