The Twenties Club’s Guide to the New Zealand International Film Festival ’17
The NZIFF kicks off tomorrow and I.love.the.cinemas.
Truth be told I’ve been known to take myself to the movies a lá solo on a rainy afternoon just for the absolute joy of it (cringe Maddy). But the movies really are dreamy and I’m such a sucker for a french film. Not because I like to sound chic because I do but because french films are all about dialogue. They aren’t interested in action, they’re interested in relationships, conflict, resolution and human emotion. French films are often just 90 minutes of conversations in homes and restaurants that feel like ours, and discuss problems that sound like ours. I live for that.
Anyway, I digress. Here are my picks for what you might love at the NZIFF this year. Let me know if you head along to any of them and tell me what you think!
20th Century Women
Annette Bening stars as a single mother who recruits two women (Elle Fanning and Greta Gerwig) to help raise her son in this funny, warm, drama set in the late 70s.
“A wonderfully rich, brilliant comedy…packed with dialogue that absolutely sings and characters we want to stay with forever.”
“An unambiguous celebration of women. As pioneers, as protectors, and as invaluable role models.”
Beatriz at Dinner
This perfectly honed chamber drama from director Miguel Arteta and writer Mike White begins as a squirmy dinner-party-gone-wrong comedy and expands into something much more soulful and timely. Salma Hayek plays Beatriz, a Mexican-American holistic healer invited to stay on for dinner by her wealthy client and avowed friend Cathy (Connie Britton).
“Dark, hopelessly humane…Beatriz at Dinner is the perfect film for the Trump Era. Salma Hayek is remarkable.”
Call Me by Your Name
This gorgeous and moving adaptation of André Aciman’s acclaimed novel, directed by Luca Guadagnino (I Am Love), stars Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet as lovers in sun-kissed northern Italy.
“A swirling wonder, a film about coming of age, about the secrets of youth, the magic of summer, the beauty of Italy.”
In director Hong Sang-soo’s wry observation of the end of an affair, Isabelle Huppert plays a French photographer who befriends a young Korean woman (The Handmaiden’s Kim Min-hee) at the Cannes Film Festival. Both a loving homage to the film festival that has built Hong Sang-soo’s reputation and an accomplished work on its own terms, Claire’s Camera proves that its director’s talent can’t be fenced in by national borders.
“Nobody probes deeper into the ways that men and women misread each other’s feelings than Hong Sang-soo.”
The 30-year career of prolific Belgian fashion designer Dries Van Noten is celebrated in this doco, which visits the designer’s atelier and home while following his production of four collections a year.
“The fashion industry has been dying in its own grave, and people like Dries keep the fame alive.”
In this adrenalised Cannes sensation from filmmaker siblings Josh and Benny Safdie, Robert Pattinson is riveting as a small-time criminal on a frantic nocturnal mission to break his brother out of custody. It is Pattinson’s best post-Twilight performance to date: he’s quick and coarse yet also lends the character a glint in the eye and a spark in the brain –he’s always more than just bad.
“A riveting race-against-time thriller with a pounding heart.”
House of Z
The meteoric rise, fall and rise again of the prodigiously talented fashion designer Zac Posen is documented with sympathy and a little suspense in a many-storied documentary, packed full of his splendid creations. Famously well connected, Zac Posen rode a rocket ship to fame and success at the age of 21. But his is a cautionary tale of what happens to those whose PR machines are steps ahead of reality.
“A thoroughly enjoyable documentary filled with stunning pieces of clothing, both on its models and on its star.”
I Am Not Your Negro
This Oscar-nominated documentary draws an astonishing, challenging and utterly contemporary examination of race in the United States entirely from the writings and interview footage of civil rights icon James Baldwin.
“Masterfully addressing the American racial divide, past and present…a galvanizing, ominous film, thrumming with a sense of history repeating itself.”