Match Frame

Thoughts from an American editor and filmmaker in New Zealand about film and video production and post-production. Plus whatever else I feel like talking about.

Location: Balmoral, Auckland, New Zealand

A work in progress.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

NZFF 2010: Films I'm Very Excited About, Part Two.

As promised from yesterday, another dozen films that I'm very excited to check out at the New Zealand Film Festival, that I mention here because you might want to check them out, too. Divided into sections of three films each, for your browsing leisure.

FEST HYPE: Some films come to my attention because they get attention elsewhere. So if you trust other people more than me, maybe you should see these.

Police, Adjective: I loved Corneliu Porumboiu's first film, 12:08 EAST OF BUCHAREST, so it's not an unknown quantity entirely, but many who were bored by that film have gone to great lengths to praise this one. I expect being in the "Slow Cinema" thread may scare some off locally from what I've heard is a masterpiece, which would be a shame, as it's highly doubtful it will return and I'm betting will wind up being this year's DOGTOOTH (in terms of a film that everybody skips over and regrets missing later). Whether the trailer sells it or not, I don't know: I'm going blind on this one.

Winter's Bone: "From the director of DOWN TO THE BONE" didn't really mean much to me, but then the reviews from Sundance and Cannes began deluging this film with praise, even notorious hardasses. Honestly, I have very little idea what it's about, other than that it's set in the Ozark Mountains and I think somebody gets murdered, and I could even be wrong about that. Also: the director, Debra Granik, is coming!

Animal Kingdom: Another phrase that doesn't really excite me: "Aussie gangland thriller". But there were the awards at Sundance, and then I watched the trailer, and it seems like this could transcend its roots in a major way. And again, visiting director!

DOCUMENTARY DOCUMENTAGE: The documentary section is, as is often the case, very very awesome this year. This is just scraping the surface: I could have also easily mentioned EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP, NOSTALGIA FOR THE LIGHT, INSIDE JOB, and COLLAPSE.

The Oath: Osama Bin Laden's former bodyguard, to be brutally honest, probably wouldn't be enough to get me to go to a documentary alone, even though it's undoubtedly compelling material - in fact, I often find that the less interesting the documentary subject sounds on the surface, the more interesting it is if it's gotten international attention. But this has been getting praise as a complex and powerful work from many quarters, with one critic I trust calling it the best documentary he's seen in decades. And it even won a cinematography award at Sundance, so it should have form to match the content. I stopped the below trailer after 22 seconds so as not to spoil, but if you need convincing, look below.

Space Tourists: I have always, always dreamed of going into space. I had a Space Shuttle poster over my bed for most of my youth. Barring sudden wealth, I remain unconvinced it's a dream I'll realistically be able to attain. But I'm pretty excited about getting to experience it viscerally.

Marwencol: I don't really have a handle on what this is going to be, exactly: I know it involves a troubled man who, having lost much of his memory to amnesia, creates a fantasy world with dolls. I've heard a lot of excitement from the Incredibly Strange quarters in particular about this one, and considering they've vouched for such films as WINNEBAGO MAN and DEAR ZACHARY, that's enough endorsement for me.

LAUGHTER IS (NOT) FORBIDDEN: I see you, over there. The guy who's all, like, oh yeah, I saw a film festival movie once, it was about senior citizens making homes for pelicans, it was really boring, so I'm never watching a film festival movie again. And I'd like to convince you that the ratio of good to bad arthouse movies is no different than any other genre, but you've given up. But you can at least go to a comedy, right?

Four Lions: Two words: terrorism comedy. Two more words: Chris Morris. The genius behind the BBC series BRASS EYE, one of the funniest and most complained about shows ever put to air, has come up with a new provocation, showing, among other things, that terrorists can be idiots, too.

The Room: This is one of the few films at this year's festival I've already seen, and I don't even think the writer/director/producer/actor, Tommy Wiseau, is being honest when he says this was intended as a comedy. But I doubt you'll see a funnier movie this year. It's like a film written and acted by aliens who have no idea of what actual human behaviour is, and Mr. Wiseau is one of the most unintentionally compelling screen presences ever. (And I'm proud to own a football autographed by him.)

American: Bill Hicks: Ok, so this one's a documentary about a comedian rather than a comedy per se, but it's undoubtedly going to be full of the late, lamented Hicks' best lines. At the same time, he's a comedian who was as concerned with sharing his ideas as making laughs, a combination that never made him comfortable to the masses. I am slightly nervous that the trailer is a bit overblown musicwise and stylistically, but still: can't be missed.

SHOTS IN THE DARK: I know next to nothing about these films, and haven't heard a single recommendation of them anywhere, but often my favorite films of the festival in years past have fit that description. (LONGING and 12:08 EAST OF BUCHAREST spring immediately to mind.)

Alamar: I think people sometimes think that I have dark tastes in movies. That's not true per se; I like good innovative films, regardless of their emotional register, and I'd love to make something expressly designed to produce intense happiness. The problem is, most films that set out to achieve that goal are formulaic mainstream crap, and most film festival material tends to mine darker threads, perhaps because it's easier to mine drama from them. So the pull quote from the director - "I was inspired by the simplicity of happiness" - caught my eye.

A Somewhat Gentle Man: Deadpan Scandinavian humor has been a perennial favorite of mine at previous festivals, from A BOTHERSOME MAN to YOU, THE LIVING. This looks to be another entry in that form. Add a brochure pull quote comparing it to early Coen Brothers = ticket booked, without watching the trailer.

The Peddler: I'd never heard of this documentary before, about a nomadic filmmaker in Argentina who goes village to village, and gets the local community to collaborate with him in making a film. It's probably not surprising that I'm a sucker for narratives that celebrate the joy of filmmaking, but I'd like to think it has a universal appeal. Will know if it does in a few days ...


So, yeah. If you still haven't made up your mind, here's some films to get you started. Hope to see you at the film fest!


Anonymous Jim Ebenhoh said...

Thanks for putting in the hard yards thinking about and filtering the offerings for us workaday schleps. Since Kelly and I can afford exactly 1.8 Film Festival events, we value your guidance in separating the wheat from the chaff...

7/7/10 9:29 PM  

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