An adolescent in crisis. Intimate, observational storytelling. Powerful naturalistic performances. Lovely magic hour cinematography. This could describe any number of contemporary neo-realist dramas produced in Europe each year, and if you were to reverse engineer such a film The Last Hammer Blow (Le dernier coup de marteau) might resemble the result. Despite its familiar trappings, however, Alix Delaporte’s second feature manages to distinguish itself with an unexpected reserve and emotional impact.
The Alliance Française French Film Festival — a celebration of French cinema and culture which continues to display admirable growth each year — launches its 2015 event in Auckland this week, with César Award-nominee The Bélier Family (La Famille Bélier) opening the proceedings at Rialto Cinemas. This year’s programme boasts several high-profile French-language selections from the 2014 Cannes (The Blue Room), Venice (The Last Hammer Blow) and Toronto (The New Girlfriend) film festivals, among others, as well as a spotlight on The Great War (La Grande Guerre) following last year’s WWI centenary commemorations. You can find my five most anticipated picks of the programme below, and be sure to check back soon for reviews from the festival.
Mexican filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu — known for his dark, earnest, non-linear dramas (Amores Perros, 21 Grams, Babel) — delivers the most stylish and entertaining work of his career with Birdman. The film follows a former cinema superhero (Michael Keaton, in what will be his definitive performance), as he attempts to reinvigorate his career with an ambitious Broadway production. The impressive supporting cast includes Emma Stone, Zach Galifianakis, Naomi Watts, Andrea Riseborough and a terrific Edward Norton, not to mention the scene-stealing cinematography of Emmanuel Lubezki. Birdman lands in NZ cinemas this week on the back of some serious awards hype, and A Fistful of Culture has double passes available for five lucky winners.
Screenwriter Dan Gilroy’s impressive directorial debut Nightcrawler hits New Zealand cinemas this week, and A Fistful of Culture has five double passes to giveaway thanks to Trigger Marketing. The film details the sleazy world of L.A. crime journalism (”if it bleeds, it leads”), and Jake Gyllenhaal gives an utterly riveting, career-best performance as the opportunistic Lou Bloom. Gaunt, desperate and eerily charismatic, he is one of the most fascinating film characters in recent memory — a modern-day Travis Bickle — and Gyllenhaal’s intense portrayal makes this essential viewing.
In anticipation of The Tale of Studio Ghibli — a cinematic showcase celebrating the genius of filmmakers Hayao Miyazaki (My Neighbor Totoro) and Isao Takahata (Grave of the Fireflies) — A Fistful of Culture and Madman have put together two prize packs which include some of their best loved films. The first is made up of Princess Mononoke, My Neighbors the Yamadas and Howl’s Moving Castle on Blu-ray, while the second has Spirited Away and Pom Poko on DVD. You can find the competition details below (please specify Blu-ray or DVD preference with your entry details), and be sure that you take this rare opportunity to catch some of the greatest animated films of all-time on the big screen!
Two of the year’s most intriguing and enigmatic films — Richard Ayoade’s The Double and Denis Villeneuve’s Enemy — dealt with the discovery of a doppelgänger, so it’s only fitting that they should be given away together. For those who missed either at the NZ International Film Festival, both come highly recommended — Ayoade’s film is a wonderfully stylised and frequently hilarious head-trip with Jesse Eisenberg in great form, while Villeneuve’s is the more cerebral and creepy of the two, starring the increasingly impressive Jake Gyllenhaal. A Fistful of Culture has three Blu-ray prize packs available thanks to Madman and you can find the competition details below.
Timothy Tjahjanto (VHS2, ABCs of Death) and Kimo Stamboel (Macabre) aka the Mo Brothers have re-teamed on the gory thriller Killers, the first Indonesian-Japanese co-production of its genre. The intriguing story follows a deranged cat-and-mouse game between two serial killers (Kazuki Kitamura and Oka Antara) who post their increasingly violent crimes online. Following its Incredibly Strange debut at the 2014 NZ International Film Festival, the film is making a limited return to Auckland screens from this weekend, and A Fistful of Culture has secured double passes to this Saturday’s screening for two lucky readers courtesy of Vendetta Films.
Perhaps the most breathlessly anticipated sequel of the year, Gareth Evans’ The Raid 2 picks up from right where his breakout 2012 Indonesian actioner left off, only upping the ante with fight scenes that incredibly manage to top the original for intensity as well as an admirably grander story. Now available on Blu-ray — with an Uncut 148-minute running time — A Fistful of Culture has three copies of this action extravaganza to giveaway with thanks to Madman.
Two of my absolute favourite films of last year’s NZ International Film Festival — and, in fact, the entire year — are now available on Blu-ray/DVD: Jim Jarmusch’s uber cool Only Lovers Left Alive and Paolo Sorrentino’s stunning The Great Beauty. A Fistful of Culture is combining blu-ray copies of both into three awesome prize packs courtesy of Madman, and you can find the competition details below.
The Spierig brothers have reteamed with their Daybreakers star Ethan Hawke on another intriguing science fiction project. Predestination follows the life of a time-traveling ‘Temporal Agent’ (Hawke) as he pursues the one criminal that has eluded him throughout time. Early reviews suggest that this film is a must-see for genre fans and boasts a breakout performance from Australian actress Sarah Snook, and A Fistful of Culture has your chance to win one of five double passes below, courtesy of Trigger Marketing.