Ones to watch

JAMES CROOT
Last updated 11:57 19/08/2014
Jarvis Cocker
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KIWI DOCO: Pulp singer Jarvis Cocker in an onstage moment from Kiwi director Florian Habicht’s Pulp: A Film About Life, Death & Supermarkets.

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The New Zealand International Film Festival hits New Plymouth early next month. Fairfax's national entertainment editor James Croot takes a look at 10 of the highlights on offer.

Diplomacy

French acting titans Andre Dussollier (Amelie) and Niels Arestrup (War Horse) face off in this compelling two-hander set in the final days before the Allied forces retook Paris from the Germans during World War II. Based on the hit play by Cyril Gely, it suggests what went on between German General von Choltitz (Arestrup) and Swedish counsel Raoul Nordling (Dussollier), as the latter attempted to dissuade his increasingly desperate counterpart from blasting the City of Lights to the ground.

The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came To Eden

A comprehensive and compelling unveiling of a now little known scandal surrounding one of the world's most remote locations. About 100 years after Charles Darwin visited Galapagos, his "survival of the fittest" theory was graphically illustrated via a series of strange disappearances involving the inhabitants of the island of Floreana.

And you thought Lost was complete fiction?

Housebound

Kiwi black comedy that's a kind of cross between Disturbia and the Sir Peter Jackson duo of The Frighteners and Brain Dead. Morgana O'Reilly (Sunny Skies) plays a troubled young woman, who after a scrape with the law, finds herself in a hell far worse than prison - home detention at her mother's place. Veteran comedian Rima Te Wiata (Via Satellite) plays the matriarch who is convinced that her house is haunted.

Human Capital

A throwback to portmanteau dramas like Amores Perros, Bable and Traffic that swept the world in the noughties, this absorbing Italian drama focuses on the fallout from a pre-Christmas traffic accident involving a cyclist. The truth slowly emerges as we see the buildup and aftermath from the perspective of three different people crucial to the events that take place.

The Lunchbox

Proof that Indian cinema isn't all singing and dancing. Irrfan Khan plays lonely accountant Saajan, who is counting down the days to his retirement when his life is turned around by receiving the wrong lunch in this delicate and delightful romantic drama. Seeking to regain her husband's attention, a young housewife has sent in a tasty dish, which when it mistakenly makes its way to Saajan's desk piques his interest. A sweet twist on the You've Got Mail conceit.

Locke

We've had films set in a single hotel room, a phone booth and a coffin - now here's 90 minutes in a car. Far more audible than in The Dark Knight Rises, Tom Hardy (doing his best Anthony Hopkins impersonation) is on screen virtually the entire time as he makes his way from Birmingham to London while receiving and sending phone calls that will completely alter his life. Gripping, compelling, bravura film-making.

Particle Fever

The countdown to the switching on of CERN's Large Hadron Collider is captured in Mark Levinson's "particle physics for dummies" documentary. While addressing the doomsayers who thought the experiments might end the world, the film is also a celebration of scientific collaboration and a showcase for the enthusiasm for their work of many of those involved.

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Pulp: A Film About Life, Death & Supermarkets

Kiwi director Florian Habicht (Kaikohe Demolition, Love Story) turns his camera on the 1990s Britpop band Pulp's finale (a concert in their hometown of Sheffield in December 2012) to their brief comeback. Lead singer Jarvis Cocker and the band engagingly reflect on fame, the stories behind their hits songs and coming home for one last hurrah.

Under the Skin

The Year of Scarlett Johansson continues with this creepy and compelling low-fi, sci-fi. She plays a mysterious woman trawling Scotland looking for male specimens of the Celtic race. What could have been simply an art- house version of Species or The Terminator is elevated by liquid and luscious visuals, a slowly unfolding mystery and the hypnotic power of both Mica Levi's score and Johansson herself.

Yves St Laurent

The famous French designer gets the biopic treatment as director Jalil Lespert charts his rise to the top and his relationship with business partner and lover Pierre Berge. While not as absorbing as 2010 documentary L'Amour Fou, it still serves as an excellent primer on St Laurent and his aesthetic.

The 38th New Plymouth International Film Festival will be held at Event Cinemas New Plymouth from September 4 to 21. For more information, see nziff.co.nz

- Taranaki Daily News

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