In 2018 all movies are moving to Friday evenings. Doors now open at 7pm and movies begin at 7.30pm. Depending on length, most nights we will show a short film before the feature.
Ex Machina Alex Garland, UK/USA 2015 - R13 nudity, offensive language, content that may disturb - Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi - 1h 48min
Novelist and screenwriter Alex Garland (The Beach) makes a decisive directorial debut with this smart, sleekly designed and flawlessly performed psy-fi drama.
“Ava (Alicia Vikander) doesn’t mean to scare you. She only wants to get inside your head. The heroine of Alex Garland’s Ex Machina has sharp blue eyes, an even, inquisitive voice and skin so clear it seems to soften the air around it. She’s also a robot, pieced together by a reclusive genius in a house shrouded by mountains, and her thought processes are sparked by the terms millions of humans are keying into Blue Book, the world’s most popular internet search engine.
Ava’s creator, the alpha-male tech guru Nathan (Oscar Isaac), describes his eureka moment thusly: it was when he realised that Blue Book didn’t simply tell him what people all over the world were thinking, but how they were thinking too… Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) has won a staff lottery to visit Nathan at his isolated home-slash-HQ, a helicopter ride away, to bear witness to the company’s top-secret new product… The aim of the week-long visit is for Caleb to carry out a Turing Test: over the course of seven daily encounters with Ava, he has to get to know her and decide whether or not she can pass for a human being… This is bewitchingly smart science fiction of a type that’s all too rare. Its intelligence is anything but artificial.” — Robbie Collin, The Telegraph
Tatarakihi: Children of Parihaka - Dir: Parihaka Paora Te Oti Takarangi Joseph‧ 2012 ‧ Documentary ‧ 1h 5m
In 1881 the children of Parihaka greeted the government invaders with white feathers of peace. Tatarakihi tells the story of a ‘journey of memory’ taken by a group of Parihaka children who travel to the South Island 130 years later.
They follow in the footsteps of their male ancestors who were transported south after the Taranaki land confiscations of the 1860s. Wellington War Memorial, Addington Jail and Ripapa Island in Lyttelton Harbour are key stations on the long bus journey to the caves at Andersons Bay in Dunedin where the Parihaka men were imprisoned. The prisoners were forced to labour on buildings, roads and embankments.
These enduring expressions of Dunedin’s 19th-century prosperity were founded on something closely resembling slavery. Ensuring that the experience of the slaves endures as well, the passage of knowledge conveyed in and by Tatarakihi is both sombre and enriching. The film is narrated by the children and combines footage of their hikoi (some of it shot by the children themselves) with vivid archival photography. — Bill Gosden, NZIFF 2012
Mustang Deniz Gamze Ergüven, France/Turkey 2015 - M violence, sexual references ‧ Drama ‧ 1h 37m
While it begins in a burst of lyrical exuberance with schoolchildren frolicking in surf, this knockout first feature from Deniz Gamze Ergüven builds increasing tension culminating in an edge-of-seat finale. It’s the tale of five orphaned sisters growing in sexual consciousness, and their guardian uncle and grandmother’s increasing attempts to lock down this adolescent force. In their coastal Turkish town, watchful neighbours defame the spirited girls’ purity: it’s a world where parents still bang on newly-weds’ doors demanding blood on the sheets.
So the girls are imprisoned in their sun-filled, several-storeyed house until one by one they are married off – as long as their virginity can be guaranteed. Masterfully under-told, the story rarely leaves the house, unfolding through the eyes of the youngest girl, Lale, who reaches her own brave conclusion that escape is the only option. Likened to The Virgin Suicides in its dreamy style and narrative, Mustang has a more urgent political drive, as we see several different versions of severely compromised female life. Pared-back storytelling and a bold, very present musical score (by Warren Ellis) culminate in a phenomenally emotional climax as the possibility of freedom diminishes.
Mustang depicts a modern patriarchal Turkey with a deeply enculturated repression: the apparent normality of the restrictions belies their shocking violence. Ergüven operates with a light touch, however, expertly drawing the viewer into a total empathy with Lale, her diminishing life options, and one clear principle she surmises: that if you don’t fight, you die. — Jo Randerson, NZIFF 2015
The Selfish Giant Clio Barnard, UK 2013 - R13 offensive language - Drama - 1h 31min
The notable British film at Cannes 2013 was the fiction debut of Bradford filmmaker Clio Barnard, who first came to attention with The Arbor, her unforgettable documentary about playwright Andrea Dunbar.
This contemporary fable about the friendship of two 13-year-old boys of strikingly different temperaments falling under the influence of a scrap metal dealer who runs gypsy horse races on the side is partially modeled on Oscar Wilde’s story of the same name. Exciting, tough and superbly acted by a mix of non-professional and recognisable character actors, this is a bracing dispatch from the bottom of the heap, in an inimitably British tradition of heightened realism.
“So hauntingly perfect is Barnard’s film, and so skin-pricklingly alive does it make you feel to watch it, that at first you can hardly believe the sum of what you have seen: the astonishingly strong performances from her two young, untutored leads; Barnard’s layered script; Mike Eley’s snow-crisp cinematography that makes the streets of Bradford shine… Like Ken Loach’s Kes, the film knells with myth: we get a keen sense of an older, purer England buried somewhere underneath all this junk, from the early wide shots of horses in meadows, idling belly-deep in morning mist, to the extraordinary, almost wordless final sequence that hints at redemption and reincarnation.” — Robbie Collin, Telegraph
After the Storm Hirokazu Kore-eda, Japan 2016 - M adult themes - Drama - 1h 57min
This characteristically worldly, affectionate and wryly amusing family drama was this year’s Cannes entry from NZIFF’s favourite Japanese director, Kore-eda Hirokazu.
It centers on handsome, charming Ryoto (Abe Hiroshi), a formerly successful novelist who pines for his ex-wife, the pretty Kyoko (Maki Yoko) and his 12-year-old son Shingo (TV actor Yoshizawa Taiyo). Working as a private detective to support a serious gambling habit, he seems an unlikely prospect for re-marriage, but when they are stranded together at his mother’s home during a typhoon, he sees a chance to reunite.
“A young divorced dad tries to get back into the good graces of his ex-wife and son in After the Storm, a classic Japanese family drama of gentle persuasion and staggering simplicity from Kore-eda Hirokazu. As sweet as a ripe cherry at first glance, it has a rocky pit, as viewers who bite deeply will find out… This bittersweet peek into the human comedy has a more subtle charm than flashier films like the director’s child-swapping fable Like Father, Like Son but the filmmaking is so exquisite and the acting so calibrated it sticks with you.” — Deborah Young, Hollywood Reporter.
Baden Baden Rachel Lang, Belgium/France 2016 - M sex scenes, offensive language, nudity - Comedy, Drama - 1h 36min
“A coming-of-age comedy about a ditzy French twenty-something looking for meaning in her life sounds like nothing new – but first time director Rachel Lang’s Baden Baden is utterly distinctive. Ana (Salomé Richard) is a chaotically disorganised driver on a movie shoot who ‘borrows’ one of the swanky hire cars and returns to her home town of Strasbourg where she flits between old flames and decides to renovate her grandma’s bathroom – despite knowing nothing about plumbing or tiling.
The brilliant editing always leaving us guessing where this woman or the next shot will take us. The overall effect is beguiling yet slightly bonkers. It will drive some viewers up the wall, but fans will feel the rush of discovering a unique new director and, in Richard,a gawky yet captivating screen presence.” — Trevor Johnston, Time Out
Neither Heaven Nor Earth Clément Cogitore, France/Belgium 2015 - Drama, Fantasy, Mystery - 1h 40min
“The ingenious conceit of Neither Heaven Nor Earth, a critical success at Cannes 2015, is to transform the Afghan battlefield – dust and boredom and jolts of explosive violence – into the backdrop for a metaphysical thriller. Jérémie Renier stars as a French army commander who begins to lose the loyalty of his company, as well as his sanity, when soldiers start mysteriously disappearing one by one. Rarely is the madness of war conveyed on screen with such simmering tension and existential fear. Rarely, too, is the ignorance and mistrust between cultures – are the shepherd villagers innocent civilians or Taliban spies? – limned with such poetic insight.”
— New Directors/New Films 2016.
Les Cowboys (Thomas Bidegain, France 2015 - Drama - 1h 44min
“Best known as co-writer of Jacques Audiard’s A Prophet and Rust and Bone, Thomas Bidegain makes a striking directing debut with this timely twist on a classic Hollywood theme. A French family obsessed with country and western is thrown into crisis when teenage daughter Kelly suddenly disappears. Stetson-toting father Alain (François Damiens) heads off in pursuit, later accompanied by his son ‘Kid’.
As time passes and we move into the uncertainties of the 21st-century, this twisty, provocative drama-thriller offers a modern variant on John Ford’s The Searchers, with Alain in the John Wayne role as a man forced to confront his own prejudices – not about Native Americans, but about Islam and its transformation of the contemporary world. With terrific performances from Damiens, up-and-comer Finnegan Oldfield, and John C Reilly, Les Cowboys combines real-world commentary and classic French cinephilia to potent effect.” — Jonathan Romney, London Film Festival 2015
Tangerine Sean Baker, USA 2015 - R16 violence, offensive language, drug use, sexual material - Comedy, Crime, Drama - 1h 28min
It’s Christmas Eve in West Hollywood. Two transgender prostitute BFFs talk trash and storm the LA streets in this R-rated comedy of infidelity, retribution and sorely stretched friendship. Their taxi-driving biggest admirer is having a bad night too.
Sean Baker (Starlet) shot the entire movie on a souped-up iPhone5S, and the blazing HD hyper-reality of the imagery is a perfect match for the awesome, OTT emotions on display.
“It’s trashy, lurid, and hilariously profane – exploitation in the best, most cinematic sense – but without ever losing the thread of human ache that connects the handful of characters (including two transgender prostitutes, an Armenian cab driver, and his family) to each other. Alexandra (Mya Taylor) accidentally tells Sin-Dee (Kiki Kitana Rodriguez) that her man (and pimp) has been seeing someone else. She goes ballistic, stalking the streets of Los Angeles looking first for him, then the actual woman (a ‘fish’) he’s been seeing.... This is what you came here for: something that feels real – and not because the filmmakers are telling you it is, but because the filmmaking has brought pavement and doughnuts and wigs and the smell of crystal meth to life.” — Wesley Morris, Grantland (In English)
Listen to Me Marlon Stevan Riley, UK 2015 - M offensive language - Documentary, Biography - 1h 43min
There is no other actor who possesses the cinema screen with the authority of Brando in his great roles. And there’s not been a biography yet that cut to the quick of his life and art with the clarity of this documentary.
“Marlon Brando reveals himself posthumously as he never publicly did in life in the remarkable documentary Listen to Me Marlon. Making marvellously creative use of a stash of audio recordings the actor privately made, plus a striking amount of unfamiliar and never-before-seen photos and film footage, British documentarian Stevan Riley delivers an enthrallingly intimate look at the brilliant, troubled and always charismatic screen legend.” — Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter.
The Brand New Testament Jaco Van Dormael, Belgium/France 2015 - M nudity, offensive language, sexual content - Comedy, Fantasy - 1h 54min
In Belgian director Jaco Van Dormael’s universe, God (Benoit Poelvoorde) is a mean-spirited bastard lounging around his Brussels apartment in dressing gown and trackies, watching sport on TV and wreaking havoc on the world from his DOS-run PC. Goddess (the marvellous Yolande Moreau), his long suffering wife, sticks to her embroidery and bides her time. But ten-year-old daughter Éa (played by a fantastic young actress, Pili Groyne) has taken one too many strappings from the old man and resolves – with the help of her better-known older brother – to liberate the world from the malign hand of Dad.
Not to give away too much about her mission, she sets about recruiting six disciples whose testimony about their own miracle-free lives will constitute the Brand New Testament. Surreal silliness ensues, with some florid CGI assistance, and memorable encounters with, amongst others, a small boy who wants to be a girl and Catherine Deneuve as a wealthy shopaholic who bonds with a gorilla. Literal adherents of the previous two Testaments need not apply, but there’s a daffy innocence – a touch of Amélie – about this brand new one. — Bill Gosden, NZIFF