FREE FIRE

2016; directed by Ben Wheatley; written by Amy Jump and Ben Wheatley; 86 mins

So, we didn’t see this one in NZ cinemas because apparently no one would want to see a bunch of stars in a slam bang, feature-length action exploitation flick, presented by Martin Scorsese. No one. You couldn’t sell that! Much like Kiwi distributors didn’t bother selling Wheatley’s previous film, High-Rise, a big dystopian sci-fi starring Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Elisabeth Moss and Luke Evans and they didn’t so the same with Midnight Special, American Honey, Inherent Vice and countless other top-notch US and UK, director-led genre movies (to say nothing of the scores of foreign language films that don’t even get a look-in) and I am fucking sick of this! 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 ’17/10: IT COMES AT NIGHT

2017; written and directed by Trey Edward Schults; 91 mins

I really, really liked this movie BUT we must first talk about the reaction this one has had. Much has been said about the marketing of this movie and the fact that the hype vs the final product divided the critics and the audiences. Critics were wowed by it’s craft and gut-gurgling tension building and audiences were underwhelmed by the lack of obvious thrills and slow pace. Now, one can write a million theses on either side but having seen the movie, thought it had been mis-marketed and then watched the trailer again, more closely… I think ultimately it’s the title that’s the mistake. Continue reading