This weekend I saw four films for the New Zealand International Film Festival. I loved all of these very different films for different reasons. If you are looking for something to go to while the festival is on, check out my take on four great films from Italy, Wellington, America and Auckland below.
Summary: A dreamlike romp through one man’s alternative lifestyle in America and his journey raising his six children, on a ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ like mission to their mother’s funeral.
Overall rating? 4/5
How did I feel when I arrived? Ready for an adventure.
How long did it take to lose myself in the film? No time at all - the opening scene is dramatic and powerful, reminding me of ‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’. Think Swallows and Amazon’s or ‘The Good Life’ gone to the extreme.
What did I like/favourite scene? I enjoyed seeing how Viggo Mortensen as the father of six children was raising them off the grid. The scene where he and the children go from reading their books around the fireside to an impromptu Peter Pan lost boys style musical extravaganza.
What’s the takeaway? Family is everything.
Anything I didn’t like? The end was somewhat weak with loose ends that didn’t explain what happened to threads of the story and no real explanation as to why certain changes happened. However, I appreciate a happy ending and this film definitely delivered on that.
How did I feel when I left? Happy, inspired and uplifted by another quality indie American movie. If you loved Thumbsucker, Little Miss Sunshine, Moonrise Kingdom or Sunshine Cleaning, you will adore Captain Fantastic. Also, it has a killer soundtrack.
Ten words or less? Indie American flick with raw Viggo raising amazing kids.
Summary: Daniel is a Wellington barrista living a relatively mundane life, not interested in girls or where he’s going, except on his runs through the city. One day, he wakes up to find strange writing on his window. Who put it there? And why is he having weird dreams? Daniel finds himself thrown into an unexpected journey where coincidences end and fate comes to life. Welcome to Chronesthesia.
Overall rating? 4.5/5
How did I feel when I arrived? Unsure what to expect. I’ve never seen a feature film set in Wellington, so I was unable to imagine what the story would involve. But I was soon intrigued after hearing the filmmaker speak before and understanding some of the background to the movie.
How long did it take to lose myself in the film? I couldn’t help but check out where the scenes were through the movie. Much of Chronesthesia is outside, so it was awesome but slightly jarring to see a movie set in so many familiar places around Welly from Mount Victoria to Seatoun. After not too long however, I was swept away by the magic of this romantic dramedy.
What did I like/favourite scene? Every scene where Daniel runs through Mount Victoria was super amazing because it was just near by my old flat. Seriously stoked!
What’s the takeaway? Life works in mysterious ways. You’re never too old for love. Fall in love with Wellington.
Anything I didn’t like? I couldn’t fault this movie. For a film created with no budget, it blew my socks off! Can’t wait to see what these guys do next. I seriously want these guys to do something more in Wellington - maybe even with a budget.
How did I feel when I left? Seriously wow-ed and amazed at what a beautiful city we are lucky enough to live in.
Ten words or less? Memories of love, learning to live and beautiful scenery.
Summary: Italian screw-ball comedy about a surgeon living a perfect life in Rome, founded in science alone, who’s life is turned on its head when his son says he wants to become a priest. Chaos ensues. If you want to go to a great movie with plenty of laughs, this is the one.
Overall rating? 4.5/5
How did I feel when I arrived? Ready for some fun and a glass of vino rosso!
How long did it take to lose myself in the film? We arrived a little late so we settled into the film quietly and quickly.
What did I like/favourite scene? The scene where the priest sits with the protagonist on the hill and explains how god is in everything. This beautifully defused the tension between science and religion that modern Italian’s feel in their country.
What’s the takeaway? Leave your prejudices and fears at the alter.
Anything I didn’t like? This movie left the ending somewhat ambiguous which was clever but also frustrated me. I wanted to know what happened next!
How did I feel when I left? Very very happy and ready to move to Italy. I think I even turned to Matt and actually said “Let’s just move to Italy.” Ciao Wellington!
Ten words or less? Italy is beautiful, the people are crazy, enjoy the ride.
Summary: Teenage boy Stanley (James Rolleston) attends his first year at drama school ‘The Institute’. The film tracks his progress month by month. On the bus one day in February, he meets school girl Isolde. Isolde’s family is having a difficult time. Stanley grows closer to Isolde and begins to use his family troubles as inspiration for his groups devised piece at drama school.
Overall rating? 5/5
How did I feel when I arrived? I knew the film was based on Eleanor Catton’s first novel and that the screenplay is written by Wellington’s Emily Perkins. So I was sure this would be a cinematic storytelling of the highest order.
How long did it take to lose myself in the film? 2 seconds. This movie is haunting, funny, devastating and powerful. You will see people you knew at university and school in Stanley and his friends. It made me wistful for a time in my life now past, of dirty house party’s, dirty love and feeling invincible.
What did I like/favourite scene? I loved all of the scenes in Stanley’s flat. Although the movie is set in Auckland, the flat could be any student flat in Kilburn, as I remember them at Victoria Uni. It made me feel weirdly nostalgic, and also happy that I am no longer in that confused lustful stage of life.
What’s the takeaway? Sometimes it takes a follower to create a movement.
Anything I didn’t like? I felt a bit depressed after the film to find out James Rolleston has been in a terrible car crash. This made me feel quiet unexpectedly upset (I only put it all together when I saw his name in the credits).
How did I feel when I left? Sad for a time I can never return to when I was in that crazy time where you leave home for the first time and meet those friends who become like family. Moved and inspired to create better work by Miss Catton and Miss Perkins.
Ten words or less? New Zealand drama school = drama on and off stage.