The New Zealand International Film Festival is back for another stellar year, and 2015’s line up is packed with stellar cinema presentations from both local and international filmmakers.
With such an amazing selection, we thought we’d present our top 10 picks:
Synopsis: In a dystopian near future, single people, according to the rules of The City, are taken to The Hotel where they are obliged to find a matching mate in 45 days. If they fail, they are transformed into animals and sent off into The Woods. In this setting, one man, David (Colin Farrell) escapes into The Woods and falls in love with a Loner (Rachel Weiz) despite the rules, and might just have a chance at love before he’s turned into an animal.
Why we’re excited: The Lobster screams originality from director Yorgos Lanthimos, with a completely bizarre but fresh cocktail of science-fiction and romance. Plus, we’re dying to know whether Farrell actually escapes his intended fate of being turned into a Lobster if he can’t find true love.
Synopsis: A young programmer (Domhnall Gleeson) is selected to participate in a breakthrough experiment in artificial intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a breathtaking female A.I. names Ava (Alicia Vikander).
Why we’re excited: Writer/director Alex Garland is a cinematic creative force who has conquered a vast array of genres with works such as 28 Days Later, Sunshine and Dredd, and Ex Machina looks to be another absolutely absorbing tale. Then there’s the addition of Oscar Isaac’s completely out there turn as reclusive genius Nathan to look forward to.
Synopsis: Two teenage boys unwittingly summon an ancient evil entity known as ‘The Blind One’ by delving into black magic while trying to escape their mundane lives, which turns everyone they know into flesh eating monsters.
Why we’re excited: This distinct tale is a literal cinematic opera of horror-comedy-death metal goodness from director Jason Lei Howden, who looks to have created good ol’fashion splatter fun. Sign us up!
Synopsis: An intimate, overwhelmingly moving tribute to Amy Winehouse, the great young British soul singer whose talent and charisma brought her more fame than anyone might be able to handle.
Why we’re excited: Constructed from Winehouse’s personal diaries and audio recordings, director Asif Kapadia is the ultimate look inside this brilliant, but troubled star’s turbulent life. With such unprecedented access we’re interested to see the complete human portrait of exactly who Amy Winehouse truly was.
Synopsis: 99 Homes is about Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield), a struggling single father evicted from his home by a corrupt real estate broker, Rick Carver (Michael Shannon). With nowhere else to turn, Nash is forced to work for Carver in hopes of reclaiming his house. It’s not long before he gets swept up in Carver’s glamorous lifestyle. But it comes at a price — Nash must perform the same eviction practices that were used on him. As Nash falls deeper into Carver’s world, his situation grows dire and hard to escape.
Why we’re excited: Michael Shannon looks to have created a brand new devil in corrupt real estate broker Rick Carver who will no doubt stand toe-to-toe with other villainous business characters such as Michael Douglas’ Gordon Gekko and Al Pacino’s Ricky Roma. Knowing Shannon, he’ll definitely take audiences to the edge, and that’s exactly where we want to be.
Synopsis: Adapted from Thomas Pynchon’s seminal work, Inherent Vice follows the misadventures of drug-fueled Los Angeles private investigator Larry “Doc” Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix), who investigates the disappearance of a former girlfriend.
Why we’re excited: The dual combination of Paul Thomas Anderson and Joaquin Phoenix. Enough said.
Synopsis: Following the extravagant life of genius fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent’s life from 1967 to 1976, during which time the famed designer was at the peak of his career.
Why we’re excited: A committed portrayal from French actor Gaspard Ulliel, and director Bertrand Bonello’s eye for detail has definitely set the stage for the most stylish film of the year.
Synopsis: Set against the political intrigue of the mighty Tang Dynasty, Nie Yinniang returns to her family after several years in exile, and is tasked with the mission to eliminate the tyranny of the Governors who avoid the authority of the Emperor. Now she will have to choose between sacrificing the man she loves, or break definitively with the “order of the Assassins”.
Why we’re excited: Not only did director Hou Hsiao-hsien win the Best Director Award at this years Cannes Film Festival, but The Assassin looks to be a beautifully crafted, and fully realised martial arts epic that must be seen up on the silver screen.
A Most Violent Year
Synopsis: In New York City 1981, an ambitious immigrant, Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac) fights to protect his business and family during the most dangerous year in the city’s history.
Why we’re excited: Director J.C. Chandor thoroughly impressed us with his debut film Margin Call, and the prospect of Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain together on screen make this a must watch.
Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans
Synopsis: Lavishly illustrated with long-lost motor racing footage and rich in interviews with the veteran drivers who were there, this documentary explores the making of Steve McQueen’s ill-fated Hollywood epic Le Mans.
Why we’re excited: Steve McQueen is the undoubted King of Cool, and his we have to take up this definitive look into his passion for motor racing, and the obsession that drove it.