The Wellington leg of the New Zealand Film Festival 2016 ended last weekend so I was determined to suck up the last of film festival goodness. On Sunday, I saw three very different films to waive it off in true movie buff style.
From an American documentary about malicious cyber weapons at 11am to a Italian drama-dy at 6:15pm and then to a languid 'No Country for Old Men' style French flick at 8:30pm, these films - and the New Zealand International Film Festival 2016 - were one hell of a ride.
I am so excited I have been able to bring reviews to readers of this blog - Let me know if you have found these helpful in the comments below. You can read my other reviews here, here and here. You can also read my interview with two Wellington film-makers about their film Chronesthesia which was selected as part of the festival here.
I would like to be able to tell you that I did vigorous exercise in between movies. But I didn't - I might have lain in bed and watched House of Cards. Ahhh - modern life eh?
1. Zero Days
Summary: A zero-day (also known as zero-hour or 0-day) vulnerability is an undisclosed computer-software vulnerability that hackers can exploit to adversely affect computer programs, data, additional computers or a network. It is known as a "zero-day" because once the flaw becomes known, the software's author has zero days in which to plan and advise any mitigation against its exploitation (for example, by advising workarounds or by issuing patches).
This movie is about a particular malicious computer virus that was released onto the world by the US government to attack the Iranian nuclear program. It asks: Do we need to talk about Cyber Weapons? Why is everyone silent?
Overall rating : 3.5/5
How did I feel when I arrived? I had high expectations for this film after seeing director Alex Gibney's film in the festival last year 'Going Clear' (about Scientology). I was very excited to see this film, particularly because lately I've been enjoying lots of films about the internet, such as 'We are Legion'.
How long did it take to lose myself in the film? I found some of the film hard to follow because it is REALLY dense on some of the tech stuff. I would prefer it be explained rather than be glossed over but it is truly complicated shizzle.
What did I like/favourite scene? The first third of the film is harder going, but then the second and third section pick up the pace when the tech stuff is applied to real world.
What’s the takeaway? We need to talk about Cyber Weapons y'all.
Anything I didn’t like? Sometimes the film suffered from its own crux - no one is talking. It means sometimes the film can chase its tail somewhat. When on one is talking properly, it is hard to find a sense of closure about what should be done.
How did I feel when I left? A bit frustrated to be honest. I didn't LOVE this movie the way I did with 'Going Clear'. 'Going Clear' also was driven by interesting people, whereas this film sometimes felt a bit grey - like the public servants talking. While I found the film enjoyable, and would watch it again, it didn't feel like a complete picture - just pieces of code that didn't completely add up.
Ten words or less? Geek out on Government bringing Cyber Weapons to the party.
2. Perfect Strangers
Summary: Seven friends come together for a dinner party. They decide to play a game where they place their cell phones on the table throughout the entire meal to prove they have nothing to hide.
Overall rating? 5/5
How did I feel when I arrived? I had heard good things about this film so I was expecting a good watch. I was also stoked to see the same dashingly mature lead Italian actor from 'God Willing' in another role as a surgeon. Type-casting eh.
How long did it take to lose myself in the film? I was quickly immersed in the characters and their quirks. This film has enough twists and turns to keep you gripped from beginning to end, despite it all taking place in real time over the course of an evening. The result was an audience that laughed out loud and cringed openly with our amici Italiani.
What did I like/favourite scene? I don't want to answer this one because it will give the film away - and this is one film where it is best enjoyed like an Italian pasta dish - fresh, flavoursome and sensually.
What’s the takeaway? Keep your enemies close, keep your friends closer.
Anything I didn’t like? Someone complained about the ending but it didn't bother me at all. A flawless film in my eyes.
How did I feel when I left? Excited and talking quickly about the film.
Ten words or less? Don't try this at home.
3. The First, The Last
Summary: Two French Bounty Hunters are looking for a couple on the run with a cell phone. Along the way, the hunter becomes the hunted. Slow, stylish and with a strong flavour of High Noon country western.
Overall rating? 3/5
How did I feel when I arrived? Still jazzy from 'Perfect Strangers' and it's quick, witty pace.
How long did it take to lose myself in the film? Quite a while - this film is a slow, long picture that doesn't really tell you very much about its key protagonists, or anyone really. Watch it if you like long, lingering action and a 'Waiting for Godot' like vibe.
What did I like/favourite scene? I loved the wide shots of the barren French countryside. I also enjoyed the ending of the movie. It had a satisfying conclusion, unlike 'Zero Days' (that's fiction for you though, 'innit).
What’s the takeaway? We're all getting old - but life can be embraced at any age.
Anything I didn’t like? Sometimes overly slow. You need to be comfortable about this film's languid pace. Not one to take a fidgeter to.
How did I feel when I left? Fine - nothing to write home about. Matt did not enjoy this film at all - he made it know. I was neither here nor there overall but admitted it would have been nice to have a bit more from the characters and a slightly more voluptuous plotline. I know, however, this was not the point of this movie.
Ten words or less? French Bounty Hunter's can be boring but stay awake - it pays off.
What was your favourite New Zealand International Film Festival Film? Let me know in the comments below.
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