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The House of Radio poster

Preview: 2013 New Zealand International Film Festival

By Cinema and Reviews

Now, I’m risk­ing the ire of the extremely help­ful and gen­er­ous New Zealand International Film Festival team here, but I’m going to recom­mend an approach to festival-going that will prob­ably reward you more than it will them. Here goes: don’t book for any­thing. Don’t plan your life around any par­tic­u­lar screen­ing of any par­tic­u­lar film. Especially, don’t book for any­thing because that’s the one all your mates are going to.

Try this instead. Wake up on any giv­en morn­ing dur­ing the fest­iv­al, feel like watch­ing a movie, have a look through the fest­iv­al cal­en­dar in the middle of the pro­gramme (or the handy-sized mini-guide, avail­able soon) and pick a some­thing you fancy based on the title. Or the cinema closest to you. Or the cinema fur­thest away. Or close your eyes and jab a fin­ger at the page. Either way, step out of your com­fort zone and try some­thing new. You won’t regret it. Well, you might, but prob­ably not for long.

Every year, this is kind of what I do when I ask the fest­iv­al pub­li­city team for help with this pre­view. Give me a stack of screen­er DVDs, I say, or those new-fangled inter­net links where I have to watch a film sit­ting at my desk. No, don’t tell me what they are. Let me guess. Some of my favour­ite fest­iv­al exper­i­ences have come watch­ing films I knew noth­ing about, but for those of you who are going to ignore my advice and, um, take my advice, here are some notes on the films I’ve already seen, in no par­tic­u­lar order.

The House of Radio posterI’m a radio-head from my child­hood. I love radio, listen­ing to it, appear­ing on it, mak­ing it. I love look­ing at stu­di­os, per­ving at micro­phones, the red lights that go on when the mics are live, the silently tick­ing clocks. Watching Nicolas Philibert’s The House of Radio, I was a pig in shit. I don’t think I’ve been as blissed out as this watch­ing a film for ages. It’s one day in the life of Radio France, where seem­ingly dozens of sta­tions share a giant Parisian cathed­ral ded­ic­ated to the wire­less. News, talk, cul­ture, music – clas­sic­al, jazz and hip-hop. Philibert’s polite cam­era peers into their stu­di­os and their offices, even the Tour de France cor­res­pond­ent report­ing live from the back of a motorbike.

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Review: Where the Wild Things Are, The Informant!, The Time Traveller’s Wife, Zombieland and The Cake Eaters

By Cinema and Reviews

Is it too early to sug­gest that we might be liv­ing in a golden age of cinema? Think of the film­makers work­ing in the com­mer­cial realm these days who have dis­tinct­ive voices, thrill­ing visu­al sens­ib­il­it­ies, sol­id intel­lec­tu­al (and often mor­al) found­a­tions, a pas­sion for com­bin­ing enter­tain­ment with some­thing more – along with an abid­ing love of cinema in all its strange and won­der­ful forms.

I’m think­ing of the Coens, obvi­ously, but also Peter Jackson (and protégé Neill Blomkamp), Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire), Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz and the forth­com­ing Scott Pilgrim), Jason Reitman (Juno and January’s Up in the Air), Guillermo Del Toro (work­ing hard on The Hobbit in Miramar), and even Tarantino is still pro­du­cing the goods. This week we are lucky enough to get new work from two oth­ers who should be in that list: Spike Jonze and Steven Soderbergh.

Jonze made his name with oddball stor­ies like Being John Malkovich and Adaptation and the first thing you notice about his inter­pret­a­tion of the beloved Maurice Sendak children’s book, Where the Wild Things Are, is that it simply doesn’t resemble any­thing else you’ve ever seen. With the help of writer Dave Eggers (the nov­el “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius”, Away We Go) he has used the book as a start­ing point for a beau­ti­ful and sens­it­ive med­it­a­tion on what it is like to be a child (a boy child specifically).

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