It’s that time of year to feel cultured and unabashedly indulgent. The New Zealand 2012 International Film Festival has arrived and it’s time to get booking!

This year’s announcement features a ridiculous amount of good movies and documentaries. In a perfect world, I would probably go watch most of what’s on offer, but those things called life commitments prohibits me to watch every single film.

I’m continuously culling through the Festival package but these are my absolute must sees.

The Shining: Arguably one of the greatest horror films ever made by arguably one of the greatest directors of all time, Stanley Kubrick. For me, this is the standout in the Special Presentation section of the festival.

Jack Nicholson stars as struggling writer Jack Torrance, who takes a caretaker job at the isolated Overlook Hotel with his wife Wendy and psychic son Danny. Trapped by a snowstorm, Jack descends into chaos fuelled by the supernatural and goes bonkers, chasing his wife and son with an axe.

Parodied endlessly, this movie is a pop culture icon. Nicholson’s over the top ad-lib “Heeerres Johnny!!” is one for the ages. The Overlook Hotel is a character itself, providing memorable set pieces captured with sweeping cinematography (the flawless camerawork following Danny on his plastic ‘Big Wheel’ is one of cinemas unforgettable sequences). Screening in high definition, expect a Kubrick pilgrimage to the cinema.

Moonrise Kingdom: Considering this movie is being released in the not too far away future, I wouldn’t feel too bad to leave this one out but heck, it’s a Wes Anderson film and I can’t really contain the unbridled ecstasy of anticipation.

The critics cannot stop praising this movie, the performances, the set pieces, the cinematography and the music. A story about young love inevitably intruded by a colourful array of adults in 1960’s New England. Is this Wes Anderson’s masterpiece? It’s possible.

Holy Motors: There have been a lot of noises about this one. Some critics love it, some critics hate it, and some critics simply don’t know what to make of it. This is why I want to watch it.

The French film caused uproar amongst its ardent supporters at this year’s Cannes Film Festival having been overlooked for the big prizes. Leo Carax’s Holy Motors follows a man who is chauffeured in a white stretch limo around Paris, who travels in between multiple lives to make several appointments in one night. Oh and get this, he has a theatrical dressing room in the back of the limo in order to change into his disguises. Yep I have booked this one.

There is a whiff of a David Lynch influence here, and if you’re familiar with David Lynch (Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive) Holy Motors, like it did in Cannes, will likely polarise and mesmerise audiences at the Film Festival. Will there be a standing ovation or a defiant walk out? The title alone makes it seem so promising.

Killer Joe: William Friedkin, director of the acclaimed films The French Connection and The Exorcist hasn’t really lived up to the glory he once had since...well The Exorcist and that was released almost 40 years ago. But with Killer Joe, it looks like the man is making a comeback.

The film follows a tough laconic hitman aptly named Killer Joe (Matthew McConaughey) who takes on job for a young man (Emile Hirsch) whose debt puts his life in danger and thus hires Killer Joe to murder his evil mother to collect the insurance.

The movie’s genre has been marketed as a comedy drama which may be hard to believe given the plot description. However, there is an offbeat Western vibe to this one. Surprisingly, McConaughey seems to have reinvented his career as a character actor, with many critics suggesting this is his best performance since Dazed and Confused.

Side by Side: Keanu Reeves takes a rest saving the world and becomes interviewer in this documentary about the digital revolution of film and the perceived decline of making movies on film stock.

This may seem like perhaps a film geek indulgence, wanting to know the mechanics, the pros, the cons of digital and traditional filmmaking. However, Reeves seeks the revered opinions of some of the best in the business. Directors such as Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, George Lucas, James Cameron, David Fincher and Christopher Nolan offer their opinions and preferences about which is ultimately better, digital or celluloid.

Side by Side seems like a great offering with directors expressing how they want to present their craft in the best way possible. This looks like an enlightening watch for all and not just one for the film lovers.

By Jordan Esekia

For more info, check out the NZ International Film Festival website.




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