NZ International Film Festival ’18: What To See
I’m obsessed with the NZIFF and try go to as many films as possible each year when the festival rolls around.
Here’s my pick of what you might want to see in the coming weeks! No one has said my taste in films is particularly relevant, so do with this information what you will.
Claire Danes and Jim Parsons play a Brooklyn couple who have divergent responses to their four-year-old son’s experience with “gender-variance”. Described as “smart, topical, moving and sensational.”
Starring Jon Hamm (Don Draper!) and Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl psycho!), this is an old-fashioned spy thriller set in war torn Lebanon. Basically go for Mr Draper, because it’s apparently his best performance yet.
Simon Baker (The Mentalist), directed, produced and starred in this film-adaptation of Tim Winton’s famous novel about surfing culture and coming of age in Western Australia during the 1970s. Baker hired two first-time actors for the film who grew up surfing competitively. One critic said, “The film speaks with loving nostalgia about passion, risk and the ripples of our decisions.” As you can probably imagine, the cinematography is beautiful.
Director Frederick Wiseman, who is well-regarded as a “documentarian of institutions”, explores the familiar space of a public library through one of the world’s most famous examples – the New York Public Library. The film covers everything from the people who fill the space and give it meaning, to budget meetings, enthusiastic archivists, educators, and live events with the likes of Patti Smith. I can’t wait to see this.
Belgian filmmaker Lukas Dhont won the award for best first feature at Cannes with this empathetic, emotionally rich portrait of a 15-year-old trans girl who aspires to become a ballerina.
Described as one of Japanese director Kore-eda Hirokazu’s finest films, Shoplifters won the Cannes Palme d’Or award this year. The film follows the Shibatas, a low-income family of five struggling away in a tiny corner of Tokyo. Saving and stealing whenever necessary, this overcrowded household one day opens their door to an abused child wandering the neighbourhood. It’s described as a combination of “joyous naturalism and sad wisdom”, and audiences loved it.
Chloë Grace Moretz delivers a “heartbreaking and nuanced performance” as a queer teen shipped off to a gay conversion camp in Desiree Akhavan’s touching drama, this year’s Sundance Grand Jury winner.
Perhaps the film I am most excited to see this year. Often called “the Notorious RBG”, US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has developed a breathtaking legal legacy while becoming an unexpected pop culture icon. RBG has been fighting against gender discrimination since the 1970s, working on sex discrimination cases for both men and women, her professional life was focused on providing equal protection under the law and elevating women from second-class citizenship.
The term “stranger than fiction” doesn’t even come close to this insane documentary. In 1980 a college freshman named Bobby arrives at his new campus, only to be immediately recognised as someone else – an ex-student named Eddy. Within 24 hours, Bobby and Eddy are standing face-to-face: two identical twins, given to separate adoptive families at birth, completely unaware of the other’s existence. Their heartwarming discovery makes the front page of the paper, only to catch the attention of David, another 19-year-old who bears a similarly striking resemblance. Yep, triplets. But apparently that’s not the craziest part of this story….we’ll just have to see it to find out.
The first reason we need to see this film is that Jake Gyllenhaal is in it. The second is that Carey Mulligan plays his wife. The third is that this melancholy drama is an “evocative portrait of a crumbling marriage in 1950s Montana” and has been described as the best performance of Mulligan’s career. But mainly. Jake. JAKE!