Tuesday, August 2, 2011

NZFF '11: Wrap-up

The Auckland Film Fest has wrapped, and as usual, the saddest realisation for me is thinking "damn, that'll be the last time I'll be at the Civic for another year". But I'm pleased my last session there ended mind-blowingly well with Lars von Trier's Melancholia. It was one of those weird synergies where time (the festival's end), location (Civic's starry dome) and content (the film's apocalyptic themes) worked towards creating an utterly memorable cinema-going experience that probably can't be replicated. The film itself is a beautiful work by von Trier, maybe his most polished and 'friendly' in a while, but still unmistakably his (what would a LVT film be without a few walkouts?).

Other last films seen: Julia Leigh's much-ballyhooed Sleeping Beauty, a pretentious, sophomoric bore of a film - not aesthetically uninteresting, and Emily Browning is good, but just felt like an empty (s)exercise in arthouse provocation; Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, a Turkish police procedural which took its sweeeet time in getting anywhere (it lingers better in memory); Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Werner Herzog's doco of the Chauvet Caves where some 32,000-year-old (!) cave paintings are housed (not top Herz, but fascinating all the same; the 3D wasn't all that).

Best film? That award goes to Wild River, Elia Kazan's glorious 1960 Depression-era romance about the Tennesee Valley Authority's attempts to relocate rural folk to build dams around the flood-stricken region. Wonderful performances by Montgomery Clift, Lee Remick and Jo Van Fleet, a poignant, sensitively told story, and the Technicolor print looked ravishing and otherworldly. The sort of movie that reminds you why 35mm FILM still = BOSS.

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