The New Zealand International Film Festival is currently underway in Wellington, Dunedin and Christchurch, much to my excitement, and, as per usual, I’ve rather overestimated the number of films it is possible to attend in addition to having a life (let us pretend I have one of those shiny things for argument’s sake). Below are a few that I simply cannot wait to see, and that have been stirring interest on the festival circuit for the past year. If you can’t catch them while they are here with the NZFF, I strongly recommend keeping an eye out for the next six months or so when they will be popping up in cinemas. You can check out screening times near you here.
The Mill and the Cross
I’ve really got myself overexcited about this one. Firstly, because the trailer is so awesome that I considered resigning from all other activities today to watch it on repeat. (Has anyone else noticed that a really good trailer is almost impossible to find now? I’m yet to discover why this is but I have my suspicions that it’s to do with imps).
Secondly, it has a interesting and novel premise (these too, are few and far between, I’m just saying again: Imps). The plot is centered on Pieter Bruegel’s 1564 painting, The Way to Cavalry, and follows a dozen of the 500 characters depicted. It focuses on themes of Christ’s suffering and religious persecution in Flanders. Finally, it stars Rutger Hauer, who I have a perverse fascination with after watching the original of The Hitcher. His face is strangely transfixing, and I’m not sure if he’s a real person or just pretending?
I went to see this film just yesterday afternoon and it was absolutely brilliant. As the directorial debut of Richard Ayoade, it’s really cute and quirky without trying too hard to be. Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts), a fifteen year old Swansea boy, spends much of his days pondering his own genius and imagining his death causing mass mourning in Wales. He is in love with Jordana (Yasmin Paige) and the pair of them are extremely likeable characters. They appear as teenagers without the painful omnipresence of some adult’s idea of what teenagers are like and thus their flaws and ridiculous behaviour are very endearing.
Lars Von Trier, Melancholia‘s director, is an interesting fellow, to put it lightly, and received a lot of heat at Cannes this year when he made some rather stupid statements leading the press to declare he had crawled out of the Nazi closet. This really disappointed me as I was very much looking forward his new sci-fi/drama, and while Von Trier is no stranger to controversy (see: Antichrist), it’s a particularly repugnant quality to be charged with.
Possible Nazism aside, I still very much want to see this film (I never know where to stand on these debates, the same applies to Polanski – are we still allowed to appreciate his films as outstanding cinema?) Melancholia follows the story of two sisters (Charlotte Gainsbourg and Kirsten Dunst, both of whom I would rather like to marry and/or befriend) involved in a dispute while the planet is endangered by the approach of a large foreign body threatening collision. The film focuses upon the subject of depression and is sure to be very beautiful with a lot of references to Romantic art and Wagner. Additionally, Dunst was awarded the best actress award at Cannes despite her director’s comments.
I have always enjoyed John C. Reilly’s (Stepbrothers, Gangs of New York) role selections based purely on how different they all are. He can throw down in Will Ferrell comedies, and then has We Need to Talk About Kevin with Tilda Swinton coming out later this year. (As a sidenote, has anyone read Lionel Shriver’s book? Because I really want to, and I really want to see this film, but … I’m scared. I do not expect to come out of that theater feeling overjoyed about life.)
However, back to Terri, I am very excited to see this film. I rather hope to have my faith in humanity renewed, is that expecting too much? The film follows the relationship between Terri (Jacob Wysocki), an overweight teenage boy, and his loquacious but well-meaning school principal, Mr. Fitzgerald (Reilly). After Terri begins wearing pajamas to school and incites the annoyance of his teachers (I’m going to assume they’re jealous, obviously), Mr. Fitzgerald takes an interest in him and begins a series of Monday-morning counseling sessions for Terri and a group of his socially marginalized peers.
I’m trying really hard to ignore Mr-Movie-Time’s (why?!) voice in this trailer because I want it to be the slick and entertaining crime film that everybody is saying it is. Viva Riva! is set in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and centers on a gang war ignited by a fuel crisis (cultural relevance? Check). It won the awards for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Cinematography at the 7th African Movie Academy Awards this year and features enough, sex, drugs and violence to promise some entertaining cinema. I can’t wait!
Please let me know if you guys see any good ones to recommend! There will be a few reviews of the best of the NZFF to come, including one from Kimberley on Love Story so look out for that tomorrow.