Thursday, 18 July 2013

Questions for Ant Timpson, head honcho of Incredibly Strange

Questions for Ant Timpson, head honcho of Incredibly Strange

The New Zealand International Film Festival is upon us - and it's time to put curator of the Incredibly Strange, Ant Timpson under the spotlight.

Another year, another incredibly strange festival – what were the pickings like out there this time?
The pickings are always plentiful but that doesn't necessarily translate into snagging all the films I want to screen. Even with my godlike powers I am still humbled by foreign distribution plans and the like. Pretty happy with the line-up that I ended up with though.

What’s the one film that’s an absolute must from your programme?
You know I hate playing this game, Darren, and every year you ask me this same question. Well listen here, I won't be bullied by this line of questioning into make some snap decision that I'l regret for years later. Don't you know the power of the internet? Whatever I say now will end up like some epitaph on my tombstone. Don't you realize the pressure such a question puts on a film fanatic like myself?  Have you no shame? In saying that, I'd highly recommend both Cheap Thrills and You’re Next because they're crowd-pleasers in the best sense that come alive with a packed amped audience.

Another Ben Wheatley film – what can you tell us about the delicious sounding A Field in England?
You make it sound like a chore. "Another Ben Wheatley".. Let me rephrase that for you boyo… HOLY
GUACAMOLE! YOU'VE GOT ANOTHER BEN WHEATLEY FILM!!" - Why yes Darren, we're extremely lucky to have his psychedelicalicious period piece. The less you know about the film the better. I can tell you it's in B&W and if that scares you off, then what the hell are you doing at the Film Festival in the first place?

Cheap Thrills appears to have the potential to shock – what’s been the audience reaction to this one?
Potential? Ahem - it will shock some. And it will definitely arouse the most jaded film fans to sit up and take notice. It's got a very wicked streak of black humoor running throughout it's outrageous set-up. I saw it at SXSW earlier this year and the audience went gaga over it. It reminds me of the early work of Paul Bartel (Eating Raoul, Private Parts) in that he liked playing with traditional dramatic set-ups - and then twisting them until they become hilariously deranged. This will be the one people will talk about to friends the next day for sure.

And a chance to see Arrested Development’s Michael Cera play quite dark – tell us more about Magic, Magic?
Well it's a Chilean psychological thriller film that premiered at Sundance this year. It's part of a two film collaboration between the Chilean director and Michael Cera and it recently wowed the folks at Cannes. Simply put it's the story of young woman, (Juno Temple) who is travelling in Chile with her cousin (Emily Browning), her cousin's boyfriend, his sister, and their friend (Michael Cera). As she starts suffering from insomnia, she begins to lose her grip on what is real and what isn’t. It's hard to classify as it's a real hybrid, part psychological thriller part horror movie, heavy on atmosphere and performance.

Elijah Wood as a killer in Maniac, a reboot of what’s believed to be one of the most suspenseful films ever - sounds enticing?
Well I've never heard the 1980 Maniac, referred as suspenseful - I've heard disgusting, misogynistic and repellent. It's a classic 80s nasty that wallows in its deviancy and you have to admire the chutzpah of the film to never waver from its commitment. The remake matches the commitment but surrounds the film in this intoxicating veneer of grindhouse chic - where there's incredibly thoughtful execution in the film-making but the subject matter is still as grotesque and unhinged as the original. Elijah is only seen in reflections because the entire film is stunning shot via POV - and I think it’s that distancing that really allowed Elijah to embrace the role of the titular Maniac and really go to town. This is not a date movie unless your date has multiple piercings and numerous demon tattoos on their chest.

V/H/S was popular last year and now the sequel’s here – you’ve been a producer of an anthology series (The ABCs of Death), how do you rate the creativity of this latest?
Well V/H/S 2 lifted the game a lot and I was very impressed with the calibre of the shorts. I wasn't knocked out by all the shorts in Part 1 but this time around they're all good and one of them is a 20m descent into hell that is just elfin unbelievable. This is a lot of fun, the mean-spiritedness of the original has gone and this is all about making the audience scream and laugh. This and You’re Next are the two bright spots on the horror calendar for 2013. You'd be foolish to miss them on the big screen.

Outside of the IS, what other films are you looking forward to seeing and why?
That's a good question. I haven't even had time to go through the programme properly to see what I want to see. These days, I kinda like just jumping in blind to films at the festival. It's such a rare feeling to have today - there's so much pre-discussion and picking apart films before they get a chance to breathe. It's rather sad. The fest is one opportunity for me to literally just see a title and take a chance. That's where the real surprises come and the films that knock you for six. You have to be willing to just be swallowed up by cinema sometimes, otherwise it's like fighting a rip. You're gonna drown unless you just go with the flow.

Describe your perfect film festival day...
Good films. Good projection. Good audience. Good night.

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