Three great films!

The NZ International Film Festival has come to an end and I am (VERY) embarrassed to say I only made it to three films. In the past I have usually made it to 15-20 films over the 3 weeks of the festival – the selections made by Bill & the team are reliably excellent & the only reason I didn’t get to more is due to work and other commitments – my schedule meant I was away down South for most of the festival & got back to just in time to catch some excellent films this weekend…

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Cemetery of Splendour by Apichatpong Weerasethakul

My memories of Uncle Boonme Who Can recall His Past Lives are so strong that I juggled my schedule to see Weerasethakuls new film in a cinema. If you have any experience with his films, you will know patience is a virtue… and a virtue which is rewarded. Slow film is a sub-genre that requires submission – no matter what it took to get there, the race through traffic to find a park or whatever, the film requires you discard your sense of time and slowly adopt the pace, sensibilities and amorphous spiritual world of this brilliant Thai director & artist.

The film employs the metaphor of a hospital room full of psychologically damaged soldiers who spend 95% of the film sleeping (or in a coma) to enable the audience to slowly question the basis of the reality they are suspending their disbelief from. One of my theories relates closely to a film I am working on later in the year, so I wont go into it too much, but for me the bottom line of any film is not based on its box office success, or some review. It is solely based on how I feel when I leave the theatre, and how long those feelings stay with me. For half an hour after the screening I wasn’t sure I should be driving – I felt like I had slowly fallen into a trance or waking dream, that was so complex that a day or two of thought was required to assimilate it (while knowing aspects of it could never be assimilated). To quote Einstein: “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.”

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Our Little Sister by Hirokazu Koreeda

I grimaced when I saw someone post a comment online about how great Mad Max Fury was for its strong female character & I thought hmmmm… does that really equate to a woman acting like a testosterone fueled male? But at the end of this beautiful film I couldn’t but help feel how great it was to spend almost all of a film in the company of an excellent ensemble female cast, working with such a beautifully complex script. Such great characters & a story that isn’t afraid to confront some of lifes most profound issues… Beautifully observed & highly reccomended!

Ex Machina by Alex Garland

AI, right? I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy this film, and the start had me doubting my choice but slowly the psychological complexity grew until I was trying to second guess the third act…

For me, there are two forms of sci fi. One involves robots, explosions and spaceships (i.e. is action based & aimed at physical and/or emotional 12 year olds) – the other probes & questions our morality, our core reasons for being & the deepest recesses of the psyche. No prizes for guessing which I prefer…. Ex Machina is definitely worth a look, sharing some philosophical aspects with HER but without Spike Jonzes deft touch…

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