Tag Archives: Film

Doc Edge 18 | Spielberg

United States | 2018 | 147 min | English | Susan Lacy

Stephen Spielberg had always wanted to be a director, but when he watched Lawrence of Arabia at age sixteen he decided to give up on his dream because the perfection of that film had set the bar too high. How, he thought, am I ever going to make anything that good? Thank God, he changed his mind.

No director has ever made so many films that are universally loved. Especially if you grew up in the 90s, Spielberg movies were a huge part of your childhood. Blockbuster hits like Jaws, Jurassic Park, and E.T. made him a household name. The documentary Spielberg, directed by Susan Lacy, explores the person behind the Hollywood living legend. It provides illuminating insights into Spielberg’s relationships, personality and life experiences.

This documentary is extremely interesting in a surprising way. You know all his movies, so you almost feel as if you have grown up with Spielberg and that you know who he is. Spielberg may be a movie-making machine, but the documentary does a great job of revealing how human he really is.

The famous director talks openly about how nervous he gets each day he walks on set and his insecurities when he was young. Making films was a way he could focus and escape from his anxiety – a kind of therapy. “When I had too much time to think, all those scary whispers would start up. It was not fun to be me in between ideas or projects”, says Spielberg. When you understand his personal life, including that he was bullied as a child and the divorce of his parents, you realise how he has weaved those themes of the underdog and family ties into his movies.

It is amazing to see someone so revered reveal such vulnerable and sensitive aspects of himself. However, one would have to be sensitive to be able to create films grounded in humanity that speak to the audience the way Spielberg’s do. The documentary features interviews with his peers, such as directors and producers Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Martin Scorcese and Kathleen Kennedy. All say that Spielberg has a natural, intuitive talent for the art of telling stories through images like no one else. That is why he has such popular appeal.

The producer Walter Parkes said it best: “Stephen is arguably the most commercial director in the history of motion pictures. And I think it’s because he has a deep understanding of how the language of cinema elicits an emotional reaction in an audience.” Spielberg’s road to success was by no means smooth and paved with moments of doubt, but he persisted because he knew that film was his calling and there was nothing else for him.

Spielberg has come a long way from sneaking into Universal Studios to learn how to make films. Fascinating and endearing, the documentary Spielberg is an intimate look at one of the greatest directors of all time.

5 Stars

 

Spielberg is showing at the following times in Auckland as part of the Documentary Edge Festival 2018:

Rangatira/Q Theatre: 3 June, 6.30pm.

DocEdge 17 | Tokyo Idols

Canada / United Kingdom | 2017 | 89 min | Japanese / English Sub | Kyoko Miyake

Tokyo Idols focuses on idol culture in Japan and is more of an overview, rather than an in-depth look at what is a facinating subject.

We are introduced to young aspiring idols (some very young), and the journey that they inevitably will take on their road to success – or not. With so many eager would-be idols striving for the top spot, the competition is fierce and truly popularity based. A dominating factor of this popularity contest is based on a superficial image constructed by and for the individual. Innocence, youth, vitality, and cuteness are all key qualitites.

The fandom (and potential to profit from ‘super-fans’) is what seemingly drives this industry; However, once you start looking closer at this, questions start arising. Why are these sometimes significantly older men so emotionally invested in these young girls? Is it obsession? How healthy or unhealthy is this obsession?

With a constructed image of innocence and youth catering so blatantly to the personal desires of these fans, one has to consider some realities, such as safety of the idols (and perhaps a few other things).

This is cleverly illustrated with the characters we are introduced to; specifically Rio Hiiragi, or ‘RioRio’, to her fans. She is paving her way to hopeful success by doing her own promotional work, and utilises her small fan-base for support; you can truly see her earnest determination to succeed.

If you have little to zero knowledge of the subject, I would  highly recommend this as a introduction or taster if you will; It provides a fantastic overview as well as an objective take on Idol culture.

Absolutely recommend.

 

The 12th DocEdge Festival takes place Auckland 24 May – 5 June – www.docedge.nz

DocEdge 17 | 78/52

78/52, directed by Alexandre O. Philippe, is without doubts one of the best documentaries I have ever seen. If you love horror, Alfred Hitchcock, or just film in general, this one is for you.

The documentary focuses on the massive impact that the iconic shower scene in Hitchcock’s Psycho had on the rest of cinema and pop culture. The casual observer will notice countless odes to it in other films – even The Simpsons tips its animated hat to the scene. It features interviews with Marli Renfro (Janet Leigh’s body double for Psycho), Hitchcock’s granddaughter, and many notable names such as Jamie Lee Curtis (Janet Leigh’s daughter and a scream queen legend herself), Elijah Wood, Danny Elfman, Guillermo del Toro, Eli Roth and more.

The passion and deep respect that these famous figures of cinema from all areas of the profession have for this particular scene is clear, absorbing and contagious.

78/52 is a documentary that, like its subject, has put a lot of thought into its aesthetic and the atmosphere it creates for the viewer. It begins with the scene of Janet Leigh’s character, Marion Crane, driving in the pouring rain to her fate at The Bates Motel. The slashing of windscreen wipers foreshadows what is to come. The documentary continues themes from Psycho, such as showing many of the interviews in black and white, against old-fashioned patterned wallpaper, or interspersed with foreboding music.

Every facet of the shower scene and its significance for the films that came after it is dissected in great detail – the symbolism, the unique way it was edited, the portrayal of violence towards a female body, sin and retribution, and of course the legendary musical score and cue by composer Bernard Herrmann.

Psycho was a film ahead of its time, not only because it did the unspeakable and killed off the main character early. The horror movie staple of the dramatic string ensemble music that immediately causes your heartbeat to quicken and tells you that something bad is about to happen was perfected in this shower scene.

In 1895, the Lumière brothers showed a film called Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat. Nothing like it had been seen before. The film showed exactly what its title promised, and legend has it that the audience was so terrified they ran over each other trying to escape the theatre, because they thought the train on the screen was actually coming at them. The first horror film was born. This is arguably what Psycho did for its own generation of film – its innovation was managing to put you into the place of the protagonist so that you feel the absolute horror of being stabbed in the sanctity of the bathroom. Hitchcock let you know that no space was safe anymore.

Watching 78/52 is a beautiful way to learn more about a piece of cinematic history.

 

The 12th DocEdge Festival takes place in Wellington 10-21 May and Auckland 24 May – 5 June – www.docedge.nz

 

 

heard | 10th Documentary Edge Festival opens tomorrow

The 10th Documentary Edge festival opens in Auckland tomorrow before moving to Wellington next month.  Each year the festival boasts more than 10,000 people in attendance and screens a selection of 50+ award-winning and critically acclaimed documentary films.

Not only does the festival include screenings, it also has Q&A sessions with filmmakers/guests, subject driven and industry-led free to the public talks (DOC Talks), a regional tour (for those outside of Auckland/Wellington) and they even have an education programme for schools.

This year, the festival will be introducing an interactive and immersive strand, Story Edge – No longer restricted to only traditional platforms such as the 2D screen, Documentary Edge is excited to launch the latest strategy to develop  and exhibit transmedia and digital storytelling.

With so many amazing films to choose from, we’ve put together some of our Top Picks.  We’ll also be reviewing films over the coming days.


In My Father’s House
– Grammy award-winning rapper Che “Rhymefest” Smith reunites with his homeless father, Brian, in a quest to discover what it means to be both father and son.

The Desk – NY Times journalist Andrew Goldman’s life and career implodes while making a short film about Paul Henry.

Tales of the Grim Sleeper – Filmmaker Nick Broomfield investigates the case of the Grim Sleeper, a serial killer terrorising South Central Los Angeles for 25 years

Trend Beacons – Most people are clueless about how trends emerge. A look at the hiddenworld of trend forecasting and how things really work.

Tomorrow We Disappear – Puran the Puppeteer, Rahman the Magician and Maya the Acrobat consider their looming eviction from Kathpitti, a hand-built colony of artistes in the back alleyways of New Delhi.

The Yes Men are Revolting – For the last 20 years, notorious activists The Yes Men have staged outrageous and hilarious hoaxes to draw attention to corporate crimes against humanity and the environment.

Tyke Elephant Outlaw – Tyke the Elephant tried to escape the captivity and abuse she suffered as a circus animal, only to have her life end in tragedy. What right does humankind have to keep animals in captivity?

20th May – 1st June – Documentary Edge Festival: Auckland – Q Theatre, Auckland CBD

3rd – 14th June – Documentary Edge Festival: Wellington – The Roxy Cinema, Miramar

29th May – Screen Edge Forum – Auckland   4th June – Screen Edge Forum –Wellington

For more information and to keep up to speed with the latest news regarding the 2015 season, visit: www.documentaryedge.org.nz

win | Our Top Picks for NZIFF 14

Returning for its sixth year, the New Zealand International Film Festival opens later this month and runs through ’til August throughout the country (dates vary in different areas).

This year we’re spoilt for choice with a plethora of films from all corners of the globe. With the films sorted by section, you can easily find what’s on show by what you’re interested in.  The sections include: Animation, Aotearoa, Big Nights, Champions, Framing Reality, Fresh, Incredibly Strange, Legends, Music, Out of Africa, Portrait of an Artist, Thrill, World, Shorts with Features.

Tickets are now on sale and we suggest you get in quick.  For everything you need to know about NZ International Film Festival, like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter (#nziff) or visit their website (and start scheduling your films!).

WIN – We have a double pass to giveaway to a screening of Yves Saint Laurent.  Read on to find out more.

Here’s our some of our top picks:

“Something awfully close to a masterpiece… Boyhood is a moving and memorable 12-year epic of family life that isn’t quite like anything else in the history of cinema." Andrew O’Hehir, Salon

“Something awfully close to a masterpiece… Boyhood is a moving and memorable 12-year epic of family life that isn’t quite like anything else in the history of cinema.”
Andrew O’Hehir, Salon

Boyhood – Richard Linklater

Richard Linklater’s enthralling and moving drama of a boy’s progress from childhood to young manhood is truly unprecedented: it was shot over 12 years, capturing its star and his fellow cast as they themselves grew and changed.

“A stunning visual narration of the largest gathering of human beings in the world, the epic Kumbh Mela… a chronicle of great heart and acute observation.” Harsh Mander, The Hindu

“A stunning visual narration of the largest gathering of human beings in the world, the epic Kumbh Mela… a chronicle of great heart and acute observation.”
Harsh Mander, The Hindu

Faith Connections – Pan Nalin

A fascinating, spectacular and arrestingly intimate excursion into the heart of the Kumbh Mela, where millions of Hindu pilgrims converge every three years to purify themselves in the waters of a sacred river.

“Raw, intense, and heroically crafted, I’ve never felt more violated by a movie I fully enjoyed.” Matt Donato, We Got This Covered

“Raw, intense, and heroically crafted, I’ve never felt more violated by a movie I fully enjoyed.”
Matt Donato, We Got This Covered

The Mule – Angas Sampson, Tony Mahony

A reluctant and seriously inept drug-runner finds himself in police custody with a belly full of heroin in this ingeniously gut-wrenching comedy of suspense set in the Melbourne crime-world of the 80s.

“As a pure head-trip visual and auditory experience it feels like one of the biggest discoveries, and biggest surprises, of 2014.” Andrew O’Hehir, Salon

“As a pure head-trip visual and auditory experience it feels like one of the biggest discoveries, and biggest surprises, of 2014.”
Andrew O’Hehir, Salon

The Double – Richard Ayoade

A faceless bureaucrat (Jesse Eisenberg) and his suave doppelgänger (Jesse Eisenberg) compete for Mia Wasikowska’s attention in Richard Ayoade’s stylish, retro-future take on Dostoevsky.

“This is a movie made not with obligatory biopic beats but with verve and freedom, and offhand, I can’t think of a better way to honor the genius of Jimi Hendrix.” Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

“This is a movie made not with obligatory biopic beats but with verve and freedom, and offhand, I can’t think of a better way to honor the genius of Jimi Hendrix.”
Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

Jimi: All Is By My Side – John Ridley

This provocative portrait of Jimi Hendrix as a fledgling rock legend features Outkast’s André Benjamin as the supremely gifted young guitarist in Swinging London. Directed by 12 Years a Slave screenwriter John Ridley.

Cliff Curtis, James Rolleston and Kirk Torrance star in an inspiring story based on the life of New Zealand hero and chess champion Genesis Potini.

Cliff Curtis, James Rolleston and Kirk Torrance star in an inspiring story based on the life of New Zealand hero and chess champion Genesis Potini.

The Dark Horse – James Napier Robertson

Be the first in the world to acclaim a moving new New Zealand film. Cliff Curtis is superb as the late Genesis Potini, the speed chess champion who passed on his gift to countless East Coast children.

Dior and I is a fashion doc with both a sense of history and a feel for the energy of a work in progress. John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter

“Dior and I is a fashion doc with both a sense of history and a feel for the energy of a work in progress.”
John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter

Dior and I – Frédéric Tcheng

This fascinating and entertaining documentary takes us behind the scenes at the House of Dior as incoming designer Raf Simons conceives his first collection, and Dior’s highly skilled ateliers bring it to life.

“Michael Fassbender spends the majority of Lenny Abrahamson's irreverent comedy Frank buried underneath a giant plastic head, but the honesty of his performance is on full display.” Eric Kohn, Indiewire

“Michael Fassbender spends the majority of Lenny Abrahamson’s irreverent comedy Frank buried underneath a giant plastic head, but the honesty of his performance is on full display.”
Eric Kohn, Indiewire

Frank – Lenny Abrahamson

Michael Fassbender and Maggie Gyllenhall play fiercely avant-garde musicians in this weirdly celebratory satire of an obscure art rock band propelled via Twitter into the limelight.

Loaded with topical references to today’s millennial party kids… The Noble Family is a slick, stylish and very funny comeuppance comedy Vancouver International Film Festival

“Loaded with topical references to today’s millennial party kids… The Noble Family is a slick, stylish and very funny comeuppance comedy.”
Vancouver International Film Festival

The Noble Family – Gary Alazraki

A self-made mogul tricks his three spoiled-rotten kids into believing they are paupers. Mexico’s biggest box-office hit of all time made millions by taking satirical aim at the idle rich.

Jalil Lespert’s fashion biopic – which tracks YSL’s progress from Dior protégé, in 1957, to world-famous brand icon – is surprisingly entertaining and, in places, scissor sharp. Charlotte O’Sullivan, Evening Standard

“Jalil Lespert’s fashion biopic – which tracks YSL’s progress from Dior protégé, in 1957, to world-famous brand icon – is surprisingly entertaining and, in places, scissor sharp.”
Charlotte O’Sullivan, Evening Standard

Yves Saint Laurent – Jalil Lespert

Comédie Française actor Pierre Niney (It Boy) is sensational in this surprisingly frank ‘authorised’ biopic of the fashion designer who took over from Christian Dior at 21 and eventually established his own enduring brand.

WIN: Thanks to NZIFF we have x1 Double Pass to giveaway to the 31 July screening of Yves Saint Laurent.  

To go into the draw, head over to our Facebook page and tell us the year YSL was Dior’s protege.

*You must like the page to be in the draw.

been | 5 Reasons to watch Chef

Chef is a light-hearted comedy centred around Chef Carl Casper, a passionate man who is fired from his restaurant job after having ‘creative-differences’ with the owner.  He returns to his roots in Miami and ends up with a food truck he calls El Jefe Cubanos which he then drives across the country to reclaim his success in L.A.  While the movie is a little slow and rather predictable, there are a few reasons why you should go and watch it:

  •  The mouth-watering food served up throughout the film.  Make sure you don’t watch this on an empty stomach and don’t get too hung up thinking about all those calories.

chef-2014-01

  • The All-Star cast.  This film has everyone from Robert Downy, Jr to Scarlett JohanssonSofia Vergara, Oliver Platt and Dustin Hoffman.  There’s even a special appearance by Russell Peters.  While Peters doesn’t do much for the story, he does add some comic relief in his own signature style.
  • The actor who plays Casper’s son Percy (Emjay Anthony).  He’s absolutely adorable and definitely holds his own with the more senior actors.

CHEF_08612.NEF

  • The use of social-media throughout the film and how in this day, it can make the world of difference (good and bad).  I especially loved the idea of the 1-second a day video (I’ll think I’ll try this at home!).

CHEF_09380.NEF

  • And finally, the fabulous soundtrack that mixes salsa, soul music and country blues with Caribbean styles.

Check out the trailer below.  CHEF is playing in cinemas nationwide.

seen | The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear

The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear is the first film by Tinatin Gurchiani, a promising Georgian filmmaker whose background in psychology and art shows through in this documentary. The 2012 film has done the rounds of international festivals, taking out a host of awards, most notably the Directing prize at Sundance, and appearing on our own shores in the recent Documentary Edge Festival.

The films premise is simple; its results less so. Gurchiani put out a casting call for youth interested in being in her film. She wanted to document life in Georgia through the stories of these young people, and she has done quite a remarkable job. Most people are presented first standing alone in the eye of camera, in front of a grimy concrete wall. They answer progressively personal questions with progressively personal answers. It is a method that elicits an honest type of confession. She follows some of them out of the audition space, where we meet their families and see them in their day-to-day roles.

Gurchiani covers a lot of ground in this documentary. She juxtaposes urban and rural life, the hopeful elderly and despondant youth, the echoes of a recalcitrant past and the insistent approach of an uncertain future. Georgia appears to be caught between its Soviet past and something that is new, but not quite in view yet.

Many peoples’ stories are fit into this film’s 101 minutes. There are stories of pain and poverty, of future hopes and past horrors, of unrequited love and unwanted affections. There are funny parts, but this is by no means a funny or lighthearted film. It is, however, eye opening and a little inspiring. Gurchiani shows us a world very different to our own, inhabited by people not so different to ourselves.

The Documentary Film Festival is now over, but you can see the trailer for The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwKlRTrkJM4