From Alfred To Barbie: The Film Festival is Everywhere So Dive In Deep

The 13th Floor’s Marty Duda has been to a few films recently and its got him thinking. Always a dangerous precedent, here are a few of those thoughts about Oppenheimer, Barbie, Hitchcock and more.

NZIFFIs this another golden age for film? With the New Zealand International Film Festival in full swing, and blockbusters like Barbie and Oppenheimer in cinemas, it’s time to look at what’s worth your time.

And time is a major element these days. Several of the biggest films showing are also the lengthiest:

Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Pt 1: 163 min.

Oppenheimer: 180 min.

Anatomy Of A Fall: 150 min.

My Name Is Alfred Hitchcock: 120 min.

With Barbie sneaking in at just 114 min.

So, while you’re stocking up on adult diapers (intermissions seem to be out of vogue) here’s what I can tell you about the glut if film fodder on offer.

I’ve already reviewed several Film Festival movies:

Click here to read the Anatomy Of A Fall Review

Click here to read the King Loser review

Click here to read about Little Richard: I Am Everything

Click here to read the review of Squaring The Circle (The Story Of Hipgosis)

Click here to read the review of Anatomy Of A Fall

Click here to watch the interview with Tiki Taane who directed In Session With CSO

Click here to watch the interview with Rebecca Tansley who directed The Strangest Of Angels

HitchcockThat’s a lot of clicking, but it turns out I’m not done yet. I just watched Mark Cousins’ documentary, My Name Is Alfred Hitchcock, which only made me more passionate about Hitchcock specifically (easily my pick for best ever film director) and the movies in general…something a film festival should be doing (and this one is).

So, I’ll give capsule reviews on those still needing to be written about here.

The Hitchcock documentary could have gone very badly. Cousins chose to hire an actor to impersonate the great man and narrate the entire film, essentially putting words in Hitchcock’s mouth. Amazingly, it works. But what really works is the way Cousins cut and pastes Hitch’s 50 year film career…over 50 features, almost every one a classic.

Cousin’s tackles this huge career by dividing the film into six chapters: Escape, Desire, Loneliness, Time, Fulfilment and Height, foregoing the timeline of 1926-1976, and giving new insights and perspectives into well-known films like The Birds, Vertigo, Psycho and Rope along with lesser known but equally important pictures such as Marnie, I Confess and Notorious (my personal favourite)

Yes, Cousins get into the nuts and bolts of Hitch’s technique, but in a way both film nerds and average punters can appreciate.  Do yourself a favour and revel in the work of the best director to ever yell, “cut!”

Closer to home, I can wholeheartedly recommend Home Kills, a very Kiwi film, that, like a good Hitchcock thriller, has a decent body count.

Directed by Hayden Butler, Home Kills takes place in rural New Zealand  where two brothers run their late father’s ‘home kills’ business. Despite living in NZ for almost 30 years, I was unfamiliar with the term Home Kills, but a quick Google reveals that it is when:  animals are slaughtered and butchered on the farm itself, minimising the stress that the animals may experience during transport and in the abattoir.

That’s all well and good, but things get sticky when the brothers start plying their trade on humans. I don’t want to give a wrong impression; this is a very serious film that explores the relationship between these two brothers and rural New Zealand in general. As a Kiwi who rarely leaves Auckland, this was a real eye-opener…excellent filmmaking from Haydn Butler and his crew.

Outside of the Film Festival we have two blockbusters to discuss.

Christopher Nolen’s Oppenheimer is massive. Clocking in at 180 minutes, this bio pic of Oppenheimerthe man who is credited with creating the atom bomb is classic Nolen featuring several timelines cutting back and forth, a riveting performance from Cillian Murphy and a story that, though it takes place in the mid-1900s feels completely relevant today.

My only gripe is the length of the film. I thought it was about to end once the bomb had been dropped, instead it went on for another hour. Granted, I did get sucked back into the story and am happy to have spent the time with this film, but where are the editors out there?

I can’t say I feel the same way about Barbie. I know I’m not exactly the target demographic for this super-charged ‘cartoon’ but I still think it is overhyped. Greta Gerwig is a talented director and BarbieMargo Robbie is fun to watch, but other than some well-intentioned messages of empowerment, I don’t see what all the fuss is about.

But that’s just me. Millions would disagree, which is what makes watching, making and discussing motion pictures so rewarding.

So do yourself a favour and challenge yourself with something at the NZIFF.

I’ve given myself the challenge of watching every one of Alfred Hitchcock’s features…there are over 50…a perfect way to spend winter in Auckland.