WIKILEAKS

USA 2013
A totally riveting and entertaining film dealing with the rise and fall (although I wouldn’t be surprised if he resurrects) of Julian Assange,and the unfortunate life and preoccupations of Private Bradley Manning, and their intense desire to expose the secrets of governments and large corporations. Documentary-maker Alex Gibney has interviewed many interesting journalists and keen advocates of freedom of speech and the internet. One can only wonder how much more provocative the narrative would have been if he had a crystal ball and could have included the hapless Edward Snowden! I highly recommend this film.

GISELLE

New Zealand 2013
This is essentially a filming of a pretty ballet on stage interspersed with real-life shots of the lovers in other settings. Gillian Murphy is a lovely, delicate Giselle, Qi Haun is Albrecht, the prince who woos her but of course he is disguised as a commoner and it all goes to custard in he first act. The second act is dominated by the ghosts of women who have been jilted at the alter,who induce men into their midst and force them to dance until they die. A lovely pas de deux here as the lovers are shown rehearsing in the studio.

GLORIA

Chile/Spain 2012
Gloria is beautifully portrayed as a 58 yr old divorcee who frequents nightclubs because she like to dance, but of course ultimately hopes to find romance. And she does, but he turns out to be hopelessly tied to his divorced wife and two adult daughters. Some of Gloria’s actions are foolish, some are sympathetic, but one is always on her side because she is an honest person, true to herself.

THE GREAT BEAUTY

Italy/France 2013
Apparently critics were stupefied when this film left Cannes prizeless. I would have been more surprised if it did win prizes—personally I thought it was a rather boring rendition of La Dolce Vita—the rich and famous cavorting about in debauched splendour with the blessing of the Catholic clergy! It does have a thin plot, A long-stalled writer feels he ought to write another novel, but the party scene and the seductive women are just too much for him to set himself into a work mode. Lovely shots of Rome, though.

MOOD INDIGO

France/Belgium 2013
A quirky futuristic/retro tale which starts off in blazing colour and as tragedy unfolds turns into black and white. It is based on a well-known 1947 novel by Boris Vian “Froth on the Daydream”, which might explain the lack of the sort of technology we are accustomed to today. It probably never occurred to him we would have gadgets like smart phones! Once I overcame my squeamishness of watching eels emerge from the kitchen taps, I found it very compelling viewing.

GINGER AND ROSA

UK/Denmark 2012
Ginger and Rosa were born at the same time as their mother’s went into labour together, then as they grew up they vowed to remain friends forever. However, it is perhaps inevitable that they would eventually start to mature in in different, directions, Ginger becomes obsessed with the Cuban missile crisis (the story is set in 1962, when the girls are 17) but Rosa is more interested in exploring the world of sex and her emotions, being drawn by Ginger’s philandering father. An absorbing drama.

THE PAST

France/Italy 2013
The latest film by the Iranian director, Asghar Farhadi (The Separation). In a multicultural Parisian neighbourhood he deals with the fallout of infidelities, marriage breakup and divorce, not only as it affects the adults involved, but the children, and how their actions profoundly affect the outcomes. In this film, many ends are left untied, it is your own experience or imagination that will have to decide how the issues resolve themselves.

BLANCANIEVES

Spain 2012
A fascinating take on the tale by Brothers Grimm, “Snow White and the 7 Dwarves”, filmed in black and white, in the early 1920’s. Snow White’s parents were a flamenco dancer and a bullfighter, the wicked stepmother is more wicked than you could possibly imagine, and the ending leaves you wondering. I enjoyed it very much.

NZ International Film Festival

THE BEST OFFER Italy
I thoroughly enjoyed this film—a scam within a scam within a scam. It’s in English, so there is no problem if you don’t like subtitles. Geoffrey Rush plays an auctioneer who loves women but doesn’t get close to one until he reaches a later age—the sets are beautiful, as are the objets d’arte.

ANTARTICA – A YEAR ON ICE New Zealand
A highly touted film which was filmed over 15 years. Magnificent photography, but could have done with more editing, just when you thought it was over, there was another gasp for breath and on it went.

STORIES WE TELL Canadian
This film is quite interesting about Sarah Polley, a well-know Canadian actress/film-maker’s search for her biological father. It would have been improved with about 1/2 hour edited out of it. The end credits feature a who’s who of well-known Canadian identities.

NORTH BY NORTHWEST USA
Well-known Hitchcock thriller featuring Gary Cooper, a dapper and dashing advertising executive who has been mistaken for an FBI agent, with James Mason, also dapper and dashing playing the villain. Eva-Marie Saint is the beautiful female lead coveted by both men. I could say “They just don’t make movies anymore like they used to” and not be far from wrong!

NZ International Film Festival

ERNEST AND CELESTINE France/Luxembourg/Belgium
A thoroughly delightful hand drawn animated feature relating the friendship that develops against all odd between Celestine, a mouse who wants to be an artist, not a dentist as mice are expected to become, and Ernest, the “big bad bear” who wanted to be a performer but lives an existence as an outcast.