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July 31, 2012 | by  | in Film |
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The Salient Wellington International Film Festival Diary


  • Dir: Hirsch
  • Reviewed by Adam Goodall
  • Actually saw this a couple of weeks ago at a media screening (fancy). Hirsch’s doco gives a really incisive and heart-rending look at the way bullying affects its victims and the way parents and schools try to brush it under the rug and turn to the victims to make it all better rather than addressing the problem, but its scope is too restrictive for it to effectively or honestly answer the questions it asks about why bullying isn’t being stopped.
  • The Verdict: B

  • Dir: Kossakovsky
  • Reviewed by Adam Goodall
  • Kossakovsky stretches to fill his Koyaanisqatsi-esque documentary with binaries, with moments feeling staged and some segments feeling asinine to an extent (IN SPAIN, A CATERPILLAR TURNS INTO A BUTTERFLY/IN NZ, A BEACHED WHALE IS CHOPPED UP). However, it’s probably one of the most beautiful films I’ve seen, crisp and striking and full of audacious imagery. Check it out on the big screen, you really should.
  • The Verdict: B+

  • Dir: Vinterberg
  • Reviewed by Adam Goodall
  • Mads Mikkelsen dominates with a sympathetic, nuanced performance of a kindergarten teacher falsely accused of molestation, and while the story treads extremely familiar ground in its condemnation of the human tendency to come to kneejerk conclusions about a person’s humanity and use those conclusions as a justification for committing inhuman acts against them, it’s still an effective (and sadly necessary) provocation.
  • The Verdict: B

  • Dir: Zeitlin
  • The closest film to it is probably Pan’s Labyrinth, and even that comparison would sell short the originality and the beauty of Beasts, a gruff yet enchanting post-Katrina fable about growing up and coming to terms with obligations as a human being to yourself and to others. Quvenzhané Wallis gives an exceptional lead performance as six-year-old Hushpuppy, balancing a steely resolve with genuine naivete and vulnerability in a way Jennifer Lawrence only wish she could have in Winter’s Bone. The aesthetic is a little Levi’s Jeans Ad at times, but you can’t have it all.
  • The Verdict: A

  • Dir: Goddard
  • Reviewed by Adam Goodall
  • The Internet’s hyped this up as The Great Postmodern Narrative of The Last Decade, but it really isn’t. It’s more like Hot Fuzz – a very knowing, tight, funny take on the slasher film and on the role of the audience in horror cinema. It’s a shitload of fun, genuinely frightening at points, and has a slew of great performances, including the three-hander of Bradley Whitford, Richard Jenkins and Amy Acker as jaded techs in the world’s most ominous profession.
  • The Verdict: A-

  • Dir: Hewison
  • Reviewed by Adam Goodall
  • New Zealand has a pretty dire track record when it comes to big screen comedy, but is in a pretty good place when it comes to theatre. So thank fuck people have started noticing this state of affairs and have realised it’d be a pretty good idea to give some money to theatre types like Dean Hewison to make movies. Its third act gets trapped in loaded one-liners and meaningful speeches telling you exactly how to feel about the main character, but the script is consistently hilarious and the production design and cinematography is unnaturally vibrant and accomplished. If you’re from a NZ television/cinema funding body, see this, realise that horror projects are a money-sink and start throwing all of the money at people with shows at BATS. Including maybe me. (Please.)
  • The Verdict: B+

  • Dir: Van Beek
  • Reviewed by Adam Goodall
  • A short film about a girl who has to collect an item from a hospital for her grandmother’s funeral. Crisp photography and solid performances elevate material that’s structured as a flashback for no apparent reason and uses an intertitle at the end of the film to give it its emotional weight.
  • The Verdict: B-

  • Dir: Pummell
  • Reviewed by Adam Goodall
  • This film is pretty much unlike anything I’ve seen before. Part documentary, part drama, Pummell’s portrait of 19th century German judge Daniel Paul Schreber’s descent into schizophrenia is vivid and arresting. Schreber documented his mental illness in an autobiography that’s brought to life through creepy, painterly imagery and a measured, intense performance from Hugo Koolschijn as the judge. Meanwhile, Pummell offers insights into Schreber’s role in the development of understanding of mental illness through talking heads dressed in period-appropriate garb, which is neat.
  • The Verdict: A-

  • Dir: Sorrentino
  • Reviewed by Adam Goodall
  • Speaking of films unlike anything I’ve seen before, Sorrentino’s lackadaisical road-movie-but-not-really has an identity to it that no film can emulate. Penn’s mumbly, surprisingly soulful performance basically marks out the film’s dedicated approach to emulating a feeling of aimlessness – bizarre causality, stunning vistas, weird dialogue and quirky characters. It also has a million versions of the titular Talking Heads song, including a stunning one-take David Byrne performance of it as the centrepiece. It’s one of a kind.
  • The Verdict: B+

  • Dir: Bendjelloul
  • Reviewed by Gerald Lee
  • Searching for Sugar Man is not just an evocative and well-constructed documentary about a lost musical talent; it’s also a tale of the connections between art and rebellion, of the harsh reality of the music industry and about the incidental nature of fame. In many ways, the film is more engaging if you have no knowledge or Rodriguez or his music. The way the story is told is what makes it extraordinary. It employs an unusual narrative style, slowly peeling back the layers of mystery and intrigue to uncover the life of a man few have heard of. Just when the story appears to be resolved, another revelation arrives to completely upend the narrative. Combined with Rodrigeuz’s enchanting, lyrical music as well as some stunning imagery, and you have a true crowd-pleaser of a film.
  • The Verdict: A-

  • Dir: Anderson 
  • Reviewed by Gerald Lee
  • Every so often I encounter a film that speaks to my love of the cinematic medium for its ability to affect, touch and enthral. Moonrise Kingdom is one of those films. Anderson cobbles together a fantastic cast, all of whom manage to master the comedic timing needed to execute the script’s brilliantly deadpan dialogue. His characters are at once dysfunctional and awkward, but also charming and endearing. Moonrise Kingdom takes the strongest aspects of Wes Andersons’s filmmaking repertoire and distils them into a whimsical 99 minute feature that just might be the film of the festival.
  • The Verdict: A+



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