GOD’S OWN COUNTRY

2017; written and directed by Francis Lee; 104 mins

British Brokeback Mountain has been the rather lazy comparison to what is, at face value, the most Daily-Mail-baiting movie of the year (last year, of course, was The Neon Demon). Well, happily, it’s way more than that, it’s a harsh, elemental British kitchen sink drama of the highest pedigree which features one of the finest love stories I’ve seen since I dunno when! Continue reading

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NZIFF ’17/13: LET THE SUNSHINE IN

2017; directed by Claire Denis; written by Christine Angot and Claire Denis; 94 mins

[Sorry, no trailers yet but here’s a nice clip to get you going]

Final fest flick* and why not finish with Binoche and Denis (sounds like a magic act)? Quite different from my previous experience of Denis’ work, from the notices it got at Cannes, I’d’ve expected the Woody Allen** mixed with the quagmire of atrocious French farces I’ve been subjected to amidst the weekly releases. Happily, whilst not up there with either White Material or 35 Shots of Rum, we’re far, far away from the self-satisfied witterings of the aforementioned shite. Continue reading

NZIFF ’17/12: POP AYE

2017; written and directed by Kirsten Tan; 104 mins

So, here’s a strange one. I’m not sure what I think of this film and I may have to discover that as I write. Honestly, I’m not sure if it was the unusual Buddhist, Thai-centric pacing of the film that had me unsure of what to think. Maybe it was the natural short-comings of first time feature writer/director Kirsten Tan. Maybe it was all the drinking I did the night before, which is a hazard of this job. Was it people coming in late to the screening and all being sat down near us that hindered those ever crucial first ten minutes? Or was it that I just didn’t quite know what to make of Pop Aye which, from the outside, looked like a fairly genteel road movie about a man and his elephant? Continue reading

NZIFF ’17/11: LOVELESS

2017; directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev; written by Oleg Negin and Andrey Zvyagintsev; 127 mins

I remember flying over Russia once and being struck by the fact that I couldn’t see the sea. For miles and miles, there was just uninhabited green and the idea of landing in it was more terrifying than ditching in the ocean. Russian cinema often has that feel, for me. Vast, empty, agoraphobic spaces filled with harsh, deep-voiced people. Loveless takes this trend to the nth degree and – much like Michael Haneke’s Amour turned out to be a strait-laced look at undying love – Zvyagintsev gives us an equally harrowing look at the drowning effects of it’s absence. Continue reading

JASPER JONES

2017; directed by Rachel Perkins; adapted by Shaun Grant and Craig Silvey; 105 mins

Here’s a really good little movie that continues the case for Australian cinema as a distinctive voice all of it’s own and a sorely underappreciated corner of the movies. Although, one could make that case for Australasian cinema in general. Halfway through this year, the three films that really stuck out ahead of the pack, for me, were all Kiwi flicks: One Thousand Ropes, Pork Pie and Pecking Order. Our mates across the ditch do a pretty good job too. With this, Hotel Coolgardie and Vanuatu’s Oscar nominee, Tanna, it’s shaping up to be a bloody good vintage for the continent! Continue reading

NZIFF ’17/08: THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER

2017; directed by Yorgos Lanthimos; written by Efthymis Filippou and Yorgos Lanthimos; 109 mins

Forewarned is forearmed: get onboard with this one otherwise you’re going to have a tough time of it! This is a deliberately difficult, alienating, uncomfortable, squirming, off-kilter horror movie that is ear-splittingly loud in places. If you do choose to go with it, you’ll find it… mostly rewarding. Continue reading

NZIFF ’17/07: HAPPY END

2017; written and directed by Michael Haneke; 107 mins

[By the way, sorry but no English language trailers available at the time I write this]

Aki Kaurismäki’s bleak, Finnish, immigration comedy, The Other Side of Hope had a cautious strain of good faith in it’s look at Europeans’ attitude towards immigrants and immigration. It was a glass half full (of vodka). Here is a film that makes it look like the most sunny-side-up, beaming, bouncing bundle of joy. Continue reading