The Picture Palace
It's that time of year again. Like birds migrating, daffodils blooming and the turning of the seasons. This is the time of year when the New Zealand International Film Festival programme is released.
It is an exciting time.
If you listen carefully, you can hear the squeak of highlighter pens across the country as movie geeks plan their schedules for a film binge.
You can have a look at the Auckland schedule here.
What films do you fancy this year? Here are a few of my quick picks from a first browse of the programme.
Cabin in the Woods
A few weeks back, I wrote how disappointing it was that a great film like Cabin in the Woods was going to go straight to DVD in Australia and New Zealand.
Cabin in the Woods has impecabble geek credentials. Avengers-director Joss Whedon is the film's producer, it stars Thor actor Chris Hemsworth and has some kind of intriguing twist on the horror genre that I have managed not to spoil for myself.
So, it would have been a shame to see it go straight to DVD.
Since then, Ant Timpson has stepped in to save the day, including the film in his lineup for the Incredibly Strange section of the festival.
Timpson, who also founded the amazing 48Hours film festival, is fast becoming New Zealand's movie godmother - making sure we get to see brilliant films that would not normally make it here. We owe him a great debt. Thanks Ant. Thants.
But the only way to really thank him is to buy a ticket. Do it. Do it now.
I love Alfred Hitchchock.
Blackmail is one of his early British movies. It is stunning proof that he was a genius right out of the gate.
Blackmail is more than 80 years old, but still utterly gripping. I have seen the restored print on the big screen before and it is fantastic.
It is a gothic tale of murder, blackmail and deception that draws on Jack the Ripper to create a tense fog-bound thriller. It also borrows from German expressionism to create a world of shadows and threat. Hitchock proved adept at taking on that new cinematic technology - sound. Blackmail was originally going to be a silent film, but sound came along and changed all that. Hitchcock was never going to just use sound for dialogue and singing. Instead, he uses it subjectively to draw us into his character's state of mind.
In Auckland, you will be able to catch the film with even more sound - live music provided by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra.
Richard Linklater and Jack Black together again for the first time since School of Rock? Yes please.
Linklater is an interesting and often overlooked director who has that magical ability to cross from family-friendly entertainment like School of Rock to slacker indie fare like Before Sunrise.
Bernie does not fall into the family-friendly category. It is the true story of a Texas man who befriended an old widow and then killed her. But he was so beloved by his community that no one believes he could be a murderer.
It looks eccentric and left field and difficult and interesting. Also, you have to see a film where Jack Black looks like this:
But which films are you excited about? What are your top festival tips? Let me know.
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