Their Finest (2016)

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Image via pinewoodpictures.com

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On the surface, this is the kind of feel-good WWII movie that the British do so well. Made, though, by Danish director Lone Scherfig (An Education), it has a subtle complexity, a slightly contrived but interesting subtext and a feminist slant that makes it more interesting than it seems (and almost works). Continue reading

Chappie (2015)

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Image via collider.com

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South African director Neill Blomkamp’s 2009 film District 9 was an unexpected delight. Ostensibly a sci-fi about prawn-like aliens who have been accepted into the Johannesburg population, it is instead an endearing and sobering look at the plight of refugees. Chappie is his third feature film, after Elysium in 2013, and I was expecting the same wry observation of white South Africa. Instead I got a story that seemed to replicate District 9‘s edgy style but without the same substance. Continue reading

Rogue One (2016)

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The best way to see a Star wars film is at iMax in 3D (thanks Vaughan for the tip) with your three daughters, some popcorn and a frozen drink. Why? Because it gives a movie reliant on action and special effects its best chance and it will be an enjoyable event regardless. Rogue One has something going for it; being only a fragment of the original Star Wars story (what happened just before Episode IV: A New Hope) it isn’t weighed down by the original Star Wars characters or the unquestioning reverence for Star Wars canon that The Force Awakens seems to struggle under. Continue reading

T2 Trainspotting (2017)

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Image via screensequel.com

For those born after 1980, Trainspotting was a genre-changing, career-making, 1996 film that made us fall in love all over again with 80s punk music and feel empathy for a group of low-life heroin addicts. The sequel, the rather cutely named T2 Trainspotting, unapologetically replicates the original’s style and shows us what becomes of 20-year-old smack heads as they approach middle age. Continue reading

The Rehearsal (2016)

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MIFF announced some surprise screenings on the last day. These are films that weren’t part of the festival program and were a mixture of classics – Abbas Kiarostami’s A Taste of Cherry to mark his passing last month – and new films like this New Zealand drama that had just premiered at the NZ Film Festival and been chosen for the New York Film Festival. It’s based on a book by Eleanor Catton, author of the much better know The Luminaries so it has some credentials. Overall it was a pleasant experience though I was left wondering what the film was really about. Continue reading

Zero Days (2016)

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If I’d seen this US documentary at the start of my MIFF journey, I suspect I may have given it a more positive review. On my second last day of the festival and slightly tired after 60+ films, I found the topic interesting but the storytelling technique overly dramatic and over-padded. It’s about the Stuxnet virus that turned up a few years back and its origin has been traced to US/Israeli intelligence, developed as a weapon to damage Iran’s nuclear enrichment factories. It’s worth a watch though if you can catch it on television someday. Continue reading

Soy Nero

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SOY-NERO-1Gosh this movie sounded good. The synopsis used words like ‘breathtaking’, ‘existential odyssey’, ‘abstract allegory’ and ‘a political version of a Beckett play.’ It really wasn’t any of those things though it has an interesting topic and some nice moments. It is a film in two distinct parts: we see Nero, a teen of Mexican origin who grew up in LA but was deported with his parents, trying to cross the border back to the US. In LA he meets up with his brother but not before being picked up by the police for looking too Mexican in a wealthy area of Beverley Hills. Nero’s plan is to be a ‘Greencard soldier’ where he can join the US military in exchange for a Greencard. Continue reading