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June 29, 2010 | by  | in Arts Film | [ssba]

A look at the New Zealand International Film Festival 2010

And The Human Centipede

New Zealand’s isolation works horribly against it when it comes to seeing films not readily covered by the mainstream. Thankfully, we have several institutions, like the New Zealand International Film Festival, to save us from languishing in cinematic limbo. This year’s festival offers a literal smorgasbord of choice picks from across the world, all in order to sate the unquenchable thirst of so many viewers across the country. Isn’t that nice?

Also, one of them is The Human Centipede. Sorry.

Special Nights and Big Presentations: The Human Centipede is not here

Predicament: Jason Stutter’s adaptation of the lurid Ronald Hugh Morrieson novel looks gloriously irreverent (and has Jemaine Clement, always a plus). Hopefully, it’ll finally wash the slightly stale taste of Tongan Ninja out of our collective mouths.

The llusionist: French animator Sylvain Chomet’s feature-film debut, The Triplets of Belleville, was a deliriously entertaining and imaginative piece of work, full of whimsy and stunning animation. This time he’s working with an unfilmed script from legendary French filmmaker Jacques Tati. Which is ace.

Once Upon a Time in the West: A gen-u-wine spaghetti western classic, being shown on the big screen in a new print. Attendance is mandatory.

Also of note: Certified Copy; Carlos; Under the Southern Cross.

Why does Auckland get this and we don’t: Sherlock Jr.

Worlds of Difference: The Dutch contingent is not sorry for The Human Centipede

Poetry/The Housemaid/Hahaha/Like You Know it All: The South Korean contingent may not pack the one-two punch of last year’s Mother and Thirst, but with two films from dry-witted festival favourite Hong Sang-soo (Hahaha and Like You Know it All) and two films fresh from Cannes—Lee Chang-dong’s latest, Poetry, and Im Sang-soo’s sex-drenched remake of classic Korean melodrama The Housemaid—it’s a pretty formidable line-up nonetheless.

White Material: Last year, Claire Denis’ much-lauded 35 Shots of Rum breezed in and out of the festival; this year, we get the French auteur’s hard-edged drama White Material, about a French farmer in Africa who refuses to leave her land as the country plummets into chaos. It stars Christopher Lambert from Highlander.

The Killer Inside Me: Casey Affleck plays a small-town sheriff with a secret—he likes to beat up women. A lot. Michael Winterbottom directs, saturating the film in noir tones and chiaroscuoro lighting.

Also of note: Agora; Cell 211; Senso.

New Directions: Not regarding where the shit goes in The Human Centipede

Four Lions: British satirist par excellence Chris Morris (The Day Today, Brass Eye) explodes onto the big screen (lol) with his expose of an Islamic terrorist cell in Northern England, populated entirely by imbeciles and egotists. It promises much hilarity.

Winter’s Bone: This film’s festival buzz is pretty substantial—some circles are already prophesying Oscar nominations—which should pique any self-respecting cinephile’s interest. Rising star Jennifer Lawrence plays 17-year-old Ree, who must hunt down her meth-cooker dad and make sure he attends his court hearing lest her family lose their house and their lives.

Extraordinary Stories: It is 245 minutes long, but this daring offering from Argentinean director Mariano Llinas tells three interweaving stories about nameless male bureaucrats looks fantastic. If you can make the time, see it.

Also of note: Ajami; After the Waterfall; The Double Hour.

Documentaries: Real people do real people things and do not get their mouths sewed to someone else’s anus

Marwencol: Jeff Malmberg’s documentary follows Mark Hogencamp, a man suffering brain damage from a brutal assault, as he plays out an elaborate fantasy in a scale-model World War 2 village he has built as a coping mechanism—that is, until the art world sits up, takes notice, and asks how much for it.

Inside Job: Charles Ferguson won plaudits aplenty for his (late) expose of the Iraq War, No End in Sight—now, on time, he turns his lens to the global financial crisis and burrows into exactly what triggered the downfall.

Babies: Basically what it says on the tin.

Also of note: The Oath; The Invention of Dr. Nakamats; Gasland.

In praise of slow cinema: Next year, we bring you a ten hour documentary about the human centipede walking

Police, Adjective: A policeman begrudgingly follows a group of kids around after they’re spotted smoking marijuana, reluctantly detailing their every move as he laments the archaic laws in Romania that will costs these kids their lives. It sounds awesome.

Music and dance/Portrait of the artist: Artists and music and teardrops and surgery

The Red Shoes: Lovingly restored thanks to the sponsorship of one Martin Scorsese, this new print of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s seminal 1948 ballet drama is one of the most intoxicating prospects of the festival, and like Once Upon a Time in the West, a must-see for anybody with even a passing interest in cinema.

Strange Powers: Stephen Merritt and the Magnetic Fields: One of American music’s most audacious innovators, Stephen Merritt’s work with The Magnetic Fields is well-renowned for good reason, and this documentary, shot over ten years, promises some kind of insight into the mind of the man who brought us the excellent 69 Love Songs.

Two in the Wave: By 1969, the once-friendly relationship between French New Wave directors Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard had deteriorated into bitter sniping. With this as the focus, this should at least offer a welcome alternative to the typical French “oooh, aren’t we so great and better than the British” self-congratulatory wankfest for the New Wave.

Also of note: The Arbor; Oil City Confidential; HOWL.

Animation/incredibly strange: Here lies The Human Centipede

Birdemic: Shock and Terror/The Room—In the modern canon of awful films, no two works have achieved the notoriety of Birdemic and The Room. One is intentionally awful, the other is not—both must be seen.

A Town Called Panic: A bonkers-looking Belgian animation that’s taken its sweet time getting to New Zealand, this is stop-motion of the most ludicrous variety. You’ll never want to hold a barbeque for a horse again.

The Human Centipede: Yeah. You know what this is. (NB: If you don’t, I implore you, don’t Google it. Most importantly, don’t Google Image Search it. Ever. There, now you’ve been warned.)

Also of note: Summer Wars; Dream House; Splice.

In conclusion: The Human Centipede and other better things but mainly The Human Centipede.


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  1. Mark CR-2 says:

    The shorts for THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE looks awesomely and graphemically gruesome and at last, a new idea for the horror,terror genre.

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