New Zealand International Film Festival Reviews - Day One
With the New Zealand International Film Festival now underway, here's a quick wrap up of what I've seen so far. Keep checking back for more as the festival plays out in Auckland.
Wish You Were Here - When two Aussie couples head to Cambodia for a holiday, (two sisters and their respective partners) you'd expect it would all go to plan. However, when only three of them return, the pressure to find out what happened to Antony Starr's missing Jeremy ramps up - from the government and the police. But only Joel Edgerton's Dave holds the key to what exactly happened to them all... A tautly wound piece, this well paced piece offers up flashbacks to the event as well as secrets which are exposed with devastating consequences. A lack of real background to the four rarely proves a stumbling block to investing in the mystery and the clues provide dark hints as to what went on. Edgerton is the stand out here as the nervy and potentially guilty Dave, offering up a performance that's subtle, stifling and superb. A full review will follow when the film gets a nationwide release later in the year.
This Must Be the Place - Sean Penn as retired rock star Cheyenne (who's part Edward Scissorhands, part Ozzy, part Robert Smith from the Cure first thing in the morning) sets on a road trip to find the Nazi war criminal who persecuted his recently deceased father. Full of quirky offbeat visual moments and subtle touches of humour throughout, This Must Be The Place is a road trip film which is fuelled by heart as well as a stonkingly good OST (and appearance from David Byrne). Penn's a touch above what you'd expect from him as the oddity unfurls bringing layers of subtlety to the performance - but with cameos from David Byrne and Harry Dean Stanton, the film's a classy if bizarre affair. However, in all the occasional weirdness and whimsy, there's a strong beating centre which remains with you long after it's finished - and most of that is thanks to Penn's measured performance as the ex glam rocker looking for redemption and a sense of identity. Definitely worth catching while the buzz is very hot.
- Matthew McConaughey brings the menace as a Texan cop Joe, who's also a contract killer in this black humoured slice of trailer trash luridness which is peppered with some sickening violence. When a trailer park family concocts a plan to bump off their mother for an insurance pay-out, Joe's brought into the picture - but as ever, things don't go according to plan. There's a sleaziness amongst the pitch black humour which means KJ won't be to everyone's tastes (and certainly the violent denouement may appal some like Killer Inside Me did) but McConaughey is very good as the measured mean man whose every calm delivery is peppered with menace and implied threat; but it's Juno Temple as trailer park Dottie who scores the break-out here, with a turn that's way above those around her. KJ is a polarising piece, but with some great performances which will linger after the lights have gone up, it shows director William Friedkin is still a force to be reckoned with.