NBR's guide to the International Film Festival Part II

Kim Dotcom's story hits the big screen.

NZIFF 2017
Auckland, followed by Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and nine other centres
July 28-Aug 6
(in order of screening)

The local highlight of the second half of the New Zealand International Film Festival (NZIFF) in Auckland is the premiere on July 29 of Annie Goldson’s documentary about Kim Dotcom.

The first two screenings of Kim Dotcom: Caught in the Web will be followed by Q&A sessions with the director.

As with the first week, the selection below – from 170 unique sessions – is based mainly on feature films I imagine would please the typical arthouse audience; that is, foreign language comedies, dramas and thrillers from mainly established directors with a few English-language ones thrown in.

Please check the first week where I have delivered verdicts on those I have seen. A couple of extras have also been added to the original choice.

Call Me By Your Name Luca Guadagnino has emerged as one of Italy’s most impressive recent directors with I am Love and A Bigger Splash, both aimed at international audiences. His latest, set in the summer of 1983, has the same cosmopolitan mix, with the disruptive character being a young American (Armie Hammer).

Lady Macbeth The 1865 Russian novella inspired by Shakespeare was turned into an opera by Shostakovich in 1934 and revised in 1962 after being banned by Stalin. It is now a British film, also set in the Victorian era. But the story remains much the same: a lonely and abused young wife (Florence Pugh, pictured) falls in love with one of her husband's workers and is driven to murder.

Una A young woman (Mara Rooney) is reunited with her childhood abuser (Ben Mendelsohn) in an adaptation of Scottish playwright David Harrower’s Blackbird (2005).

Happy End Michael Haneke (Amour, Hidden) seldom fails to disturb with his studies of the human condition. This concerns a rich Calais family beset by problems with its construction company. Starring Isabelle Huppert and Jean-Louis Trintignant, two stalwarts of the French cinema.

Kim Dotcom: Caught in the Web The story of the country’s most famous (and notorious) German emigrant is told for the first time on film with all its legal, political and personal fallout.

A Gentle Creature One of two bleak Russian offerings (the other is Loveless, below) examining post-Soviet society and far darker than others at the festival featuring life under communism (The Teacher, Hostages and In Times of Fading Light. In this one, a woman (Vasilina Makovtseva, pictured) tries to get a parcel to her imprisoned husband.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Lobster was one of the festival’s weirdest (and annoying) entries in 2015, also failing to win a general release. His new thriller re-teams Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell from The Beguiled as wife and heart surgeon husband, who are threatened with their children when an operation goes badly wrong.

God’s Own Country Yorkshire-set rural drama with overtones of Brokeback Mountain.

Loveless The director of Oscar-winning Leviathan, Andrey Zvyagintsev, produces another struggle of the helpless against the all-powerful in a story about a divorcing couple and their missing child.

A Woman’s Life (Une vie) Franco-Belgian adaptation of a Maupassant’s first novel set in the 19th century about a young woman (Judith Chemia, above left) whose marriage turns out to be much harsher than her upbringing.

The Nile Hilton Incident Nordic police procedural set in Cairo as a detective investigates a pop singer’s death during a time of political upheaval and finds corruption at high levels.

Good Time An action-packed bank heist thriller set in New York and starring Robert Pattinson in his best role yet as one of two street-life brothers. The other has a learning disability and is played Benny Safdie, who co-directs with brother Josh.

Full details of screenings and times are at NZIFF 2017.

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