Friday, July 29, 2011

NZFF '11: Week Two

I haven't been too many films this week but the ones I saw were worthwhile:

Martha Marcy May Marlene - found this disturbing indie drama effectively grueling. If nothing else, it boasts an amazing performance from Elizabeth Olsen, the younger sis of the Olsen Twins, that'll definitely put her on the One-To-Watch-in-the-Future map. She plays a former member of a creepy cult who leaves the compound and tries to get her life back on track living with her older sister, but yeah, it's not easy, seeing as she's pretty pretty screwed up. The Blue Valentine-style flashback-vs-present day structure maybe a bit too studied at times for my liking, but director Sean Durkin has made an impressively assured debut feature that knows how to unsettle the viewer without being too in-your-face about it. Also, John Hawkes (Deadwood, Winter's Bone): skin-crawling.

Le Quattro Volte - The most relaxing film of the fest yet, this endearing, calming little pic looks at the cycle of life-and-death in various forms (human, animal, mineral) in a rural Italian village. Standout scene featuring a dog being a bit of a jerk is one of the most incredible things I've seen in cinema all year. Oh and the goats... SO MANY GOATS. And their trance-inducing ringing bells. Contemplative, beautiful.

The Turin Horse - Taking its inspiration from a moment in German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche's life that apparently caused his mental breakdown, revered Hungarian filmmaker Bela Tarr's last film sent at least 12 people walking out of the theatre, and unsurprisingly so, as it's easily one of the more difficult works screening at NZFF this year (appropriately, in the "Go Slow" section). If you're not familiar with Tarr's works, it's torturous - the slowest, most depressing and desolate cinema you can imagine where nothing happens for 2.5 hours. But get into "the zone" - as you would with a Tarkovsky film or something - and the thing just works away at your soul and mind with its searing, bleak imagery and grinding, repetitive score, and when the lights come up and you sorta see everything in a different light... The awesomely minimalist trailer:

Stray stuff:
  • How about dem coughers? Out in full force as usual.
  • The focus during Le Quattro Volte at the Civic was particularly shonky. In fact there've reportedly been a lot of tech issues this year, which is a shame.
  • Check out the daily diary reviews by our very own Steve at 3 News Entertainment.
  • Still to see: Sleeping Beauty, Melancholia, Wild River, Cave of Forgotten Dreams.
  • Heading over to Melbourne next Wednesday so will catch a few festival films there too.

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