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August 6, 2018 | by  | in Film | [ssba]

New Zealand International Film Festival

4.5/5 – Searching — David Kim (John Cho) finds himself as an amateur investigator when his 16-year-old daughter goes missing. Told entirely through a computer screen, this work is a heart-wrenching thriller that far transcends the bounds of its medium. – Emma

4/5 – Skate Kitchen — A charming, subtle, and revitalised coming-of-age story set against the gorgeous backdrop of New York City, centring on fictitious versions of the titular female skate crew. Crystal Moselle incorporates fluid camera movement to capture the urban skater jungle, intimate shot types and unfiltered dialogue to reflect the youth and humanity of these teenagers, interwoven with a driving score to match. – Monty

2.5/5 Thelma — A young woman begins to suffer from unexplained seizures and hallucinations after she falls in love with another woman. While it is good to see queer films that aren’t just about being queer, this Norwegian film is let down by unexplained plot threads, discomforting subtext, and the way it plays heavily into the male gaze. – Emma

4/5 Petra — A Spanish drama on the surface but layered beneath is a story akin to Greek tragedy. The film also utilises a non-linear narrative structure which carefully reveals or omits information to the audience through a melancholic sting. While the acting in Petra might seem expressionless, contrary to the events onscreen, this stillness reflects the character’s fragility as they uncover the truth. – Monty

3.5/5 Burning — The tale of awkward man meets attractive girl then attractive girl meets attractive guy, elevated to a high art in this Korean thriller. The film is a slow burn from the start, filled with long takes that emphasise the thought process of the protagonist, Jong-Soo. While some dialogue is painfully obvious foreshadowing of the film’s climax, it’s a vast improvement and expansion of the love triangle storyline. – Monty

5/5 You Were Never Really Here — Joaquin Phoenix delivers yet another stellar performance as Joe, a hired gun who finds young trafficked women using violent methods. However, the film inverts the hitman tropes and focuses on delving into Joe’s psychological torment through slickly edited sequences to his repressed, abusive past. This character study is deepened through some scenes having minimal dialogue or action, drawing the audience’s attention to the screen; be it the aftermath of his violent rampage, or Joe’s reaction to narrative events. Lynne Ramsay has crafted yet another high calibre art piece that focuses very much on the show-don’t-tell element of filmmaking. – Monty

3.5/5 Our New President — Maxim Pozdorovkin’s satirical take on the election of Donald Trump is a horrifying and badly-edited 78 minutes of film. Stringing Russian propaganda footage together in the search of some goal — presumably to show the world how anti-Hillary Clinton and pro-Donald Trump Russia is — Pozdorovkin’s documentary misses the mark in more than a few ways. It is, however, fascinating — if you want to see how bizarre the Russian propaganda machine is. – Emma


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