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.
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.
TangerineSean 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.
“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
“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.
Baden BadenRachel 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ex MachinaAlex Garland, UK/USA 2015 - R13 nudity, offensive language, content that may disturb - Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi - 1h 48min
Alex Garland, writer of 28 Days Later and Sunshine, makes his directorial debut with the stylish and cerebral thriller, EX MACHINA. Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson), a programmer at an internet-search giant, wins a competition to spend a week at the private mountain estate of the company's brilliant and reclusive CEO, Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac). Upon his arrival, Caleb learns that Nathan has chosen him to be the human component in a Turing Test-charging him with evaluating the capabilities, and ultimately the consciousness, of Nathan's latest experiment in artificial intelligence. That experiment is Ava (Alicia Vikander), a breathtaking A.I. whose emotional intelligence proves more sophisticated--and more deceptive--than the two men could have imagined.