Picks from the 2016 Alliance Française French Film Festival programme

AFFFF 2016 Header

The Alliance Française French Film Festival launches its 2016 season in Auckland this week, celebrating 10 years with their biggest line-up yet. Boasting a diverse range of French-language cinema that caters to all tastes, the 37-film programme includes the New Zealand premieres of Palme d’Or winner Dheepan, Isabelle Huppert and Gérard Depardieu vehicle Valley of Love, Pascale Ferran’s truly surreal (and recommended) Bird People, a new Michel Gondry film (Microbe and Gasoline), and César Awards frontrunner Marguerite, as well as a new ‘TV Out of the Box’ section featuring new shows The Last Panthers and Un Village Français. You can find my five most anticipated picks of the programme below, and for further details head to the French Film Festival site. Read the rest of this entry »

Concert Review: PUSHA T @ The Studio

Pusha T

Pusha T is one of the greatest living rappers, and he knows it. “I feel like I’m the last rap superhero,” he recently told Rolling Stone. A two decade veteran with hard-earned cred among peers and fans, King Push has positioned himself in a sphere of his own, looking down on the rap game from above with scorn. While hip hop culture becomes increasingly fickle and youth-obsessed, the 38-year-old’s retrograde dedication to lyricism and an ice-cold dope-boy persona remains uncompromising (who else has the confidence to share their lyrics on Genius before the album drops?). In support of his latest and greatest solo effort, King Push – Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude, the self-described “Kim Jong of the crack song” made his overdue New Zealand debut last night at Auckland’s The Studio, treating fans to an intense career-spanning set that left most hungry for more. Read the rest of this entry »

NZIFF Review: Christian Petzold’s PHOENIX


Over the past 15 years German filmmaker Christian Petzold and his muse Nina Hoss have been crafting an oeuvre of austere thrillers to rival the best, and theirs is one of the greatest director-actor partnerships in cinema today. Petzold continues to finetune a consistently effective formula: slow-building character studies with Hitchcockian suspense and noirish atmosphere which ruminate on Germany’s past and present — Yella (2007) was a surreal meditation on post-reunification capitalism; Jerichow (2008) addressed the Turkish diaspora via The Postman Always Rings Twice; and their best film, Barbara (2012), immersed us in the paranoia and desperation of life under the Iron Curtain. Their sixth collaboration, Phoenix, is a dark melodrama which delves further into Germany’s chequered history and finds the pair at the peak of their considerable powers. Read the rest of this entry »

Win tickets to Adam Wingard’s THE GUEST

The Guest

2014 provided two future classic B-movies in the form of The Guest and John Wick, although rather inexplicably neither found itself a theatrical release in New Zealand. Action fans now have cause to celebrate, however, as the former — ostensibly director Adam Wingard’s badass love-letter to ’80s genre flicks — has made its way at last to our cinemas. Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) gives a mesmerising, career-redefining performance as David, a mysterious soldier who ingratiates himself into the lives of a family whose son died in action, with Maika Monroe (It Follows) in her breakout role as the suspicious teenage daughter. A Fistful of Culture has three double passes to giveaway thanks to Rialto Distribution, so if you would like to catch this wicked actioner on the big screen check out the competition details and enter below. Read the rest of this entry »

NZIFF Review: Hou Hsiao-hsien’s THE ASSASSIN

The Assassin

Hou Hsiao-hsien’s The Assassin is unquestionably one of the most staggeringly beautiful films I have ever seen; in fact, so intricate are its period details and stunning its compositions that to simply label it “beautiful” does the film a disservice. It is also one of the slowest and most inscrutable, making it an especially bold choice for the NZIFF’s Centrepiece screening. Unlike Ang Lee, Zhang Yimou and even Wong Kar-wai before him, Hou’s foray into wuxia sees his elliptical style remain completely intact, which may prove maddening for fans of the genre. Cinéastes accustomed to the Taiwanese master’s quiet realism, however, will relish the way his years-in-the-making endeavour meticulously brings imperial China to vivid life. Read the rest of this entry »

NZIFF Review: Miguel Gomes’ ARABIAN NIGHTS trilogy

Arabian Nights

Esteemed auteur Miguel Gomes (Tabu) delivers the most exhilaratingly ambitious cinema of the year with Arabian Nights, a marathon six-hour triptych which portrays straitened life in contemporary Portugal through a fanciful lens. Just as his 2008 feature Our Beloved Month of August delightfully blurred the line between documentary and drama, this experimental year-long project blends exhaustively-researched fact with fiction to create a more poetic truth, borrowing the structure and narrator of its literary namesake to tell a dozen or so stories inspired by real occurrences. Often dazzling, occasionally frustrating and always adventurous, this unwieldy enterprise feels akin to a sprawling postmodern novel — a Gravity’s Rainbow or Infinite Jest — and as such your mileage may vary, but the overall experience is one not to be missed for intrepid cinephiles. Read the rest of this entry »

Five must-see films at the NZ International Film Festival

NZIFF 2015

The New Zealand International Film Festival launches this Thursday in Auckland with a sold-out session of The Lobster, the new film by the Greek satirist Yorgos Lanthimos. If you’re still mulling over what to go to, here are the five films I’m most looking forward to. Read the rest of this entry »

Win tickets to Woody Allen’s IRRATIONAL MAN starring Joaquin Phoenix

Irrational Man

The resurgent Joaquin Phoenix makes an unexpected foray into the farcical world of late-career Woody Allen in Irrational Man. He stars as a burned-out philosophy professor who takes a job at a Rhode Island College and becomes involved with a teacher (Parker Posey) as well as a precocious student (Emma Stone), but won’t find meaning in his life until an existential act is committed. A Fistful of Culture has double passes to giveaway to three lucky readers courtesy of Trigger Marketing, and you can find the competition details below. Read the rest of this entry »

Win a mystery prize!

Mystery prize

A Fistful of Culture is beyond excited for the upcoming New Zealand International Film Festival, and if you’re reading this then no doubt you feel the same way, so let’s celebrate together: let us know which film from this year’s programme you are most eagerly anticipating, as well as your preference of Blu-ray or DVD, and you’ll be in the draw to win a mystery Madman prize! Read the rest of this entry »

Picks from the 2015 NZ International Film Festival programme

NZIFF 2015

Grab your highlighters, folks: the New Zealand International Film Festival’s 2015 Auckland programme has been unveiled. Opening in bold style with Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Lobster and closing in tears with Australian drama Holding the Man, this year’s festival looks as relevant as ever. Cinephiles can rejoice over the inclusion of 17 exciting titles direct from the Cannes Film Festival, which despite the noticeable absence of Palme d’Or winner Dheepan and critics’ favourite Carol remains an impressive haul. Also cause for celebration is this year’s Live Cinema collaboration with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra: Charlie Chaplin’s classic 1921 feature The Kid and 1917 short The Immigrant. Poring over the selection, a few trends jumped out at me: several of the 2012 festival’s best filmmakers make a welcome return — Miguel Gomes! Joshua Oppenheimer! Pablo Larraín! Christian Petzold! Hirokazu Koreeda!; documentaries are increasingly becoming the most-buzzed titles (The WolfpackAmyGoing Clear); and most encouraging is the number of strong directorial debuts from around the globe, including Alex Garland’s Ex Machina; Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy’s The Tribe, Ana Lily Amirpour’s A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Chaitanya Tamhane’s Court, Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s Mustang, Yared Zeleke’s Lamb and Shim Sung-bo’s Haemoo. Read on for my most anticipated picks of the programme, and be sure to check back throughout the festival for reviews and coverage.

Read the rest of this entry »

Older posts «