Tuesday, July 21, 2009

NZFF: 5-Day Round-Up

Sorry for the lack of film fest udpates, haven't had the time to blog about them in detail, so here's a brief round-up of what I've seen in the last week or so (though if you're following fatso on twitter you might have been enlightened by the occasional NZFF-related tweet):

Winnebago Man - Funny, very touching documentary, truly one of the highlights of the festival so far. Almost left me in tears. Director Ben Steinbauer and producer Joel Heller were in attendance and did a great Q&A after the screening where they called Jack Rebney! Amazing.

Goodbye Solo - Ramin Bahrani's intimate, bracing two-character drama contains some of the finely nuanced writing and acting in a film this year. Kind of like Happy-Go-Lucky by way of Taste of Cherry. Depressing subject matter, but not depressing at all. And it doesn't cop out.

Embodiment of Evil - Brailizian horror maestro Jose Mojica Marins returns to the character that made him famous, Coffin Joe. Third film in the series which began in the '60s; lots of midnight movie yucks in this one, including skin-munching and meat hook-hanging and rats crawling into vaginas, but I fell asleep through most of it (mainly due to the late hour/fatigue).

Birdsong - Still not sure what to make of this piece of IMMENSELY slow cinema from Albert Serra, a minimalist re-telling of the nativity story, but there's something about its mix of the absurd and the spiritual I found quite hypnotic and beautiful. I counted two or three walkouts.

Mother - Bong Joon-Ho's new darkly comic mystery-drama isn't as great as The Host and Memories of Murder, but it's still pretty solid work from a master storyteller whose films I'll always look forward to. Awesome main character and lead performance. Opening and final shots are killer.

The Horseman - Low-budget, DV-lensed Aussie revenge thriller might be the most violent and brutal thing I've seen this year. Father goes on a rampage to knock off porn-peddlin' baddies who killed his daughter. I love a good B-movie revenge flick, but the violence here gets numbing and repetitive after a while.

Blind Loves -A wonderful Slovakian film which follows the lives of four blind people and their relationships. Droll, moving doco with fictionalised elements, another festival winner.

Yes, Madam Sir - Megan Doneman spent 6 years documenting India's first policewoman Kiran Bedi and the result is this stunning, inspiring, illuminating portrait of one woman's resilience and determination to forge ahead in a bureaucratic system that wishes nothing more than to crush her. Must-see.

In the last week of the festival now, and only 5 films to go!

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