World Cinema Showcase 2010 Preview

World Cinema Showcase 2010
By Hugh Lilly

For two weeks each autumn, the World Cinema Showcase brings together recent favourites and a few “sneak peaks” as an hors d’œuvre to satiate voracious filmgoers’ appetites ahead of the banquet that is the New Zealand International Film Festival (NZFF) in July. Among the films returning from last year’s main festival are Hirokazu Kore-eda’s brilliant, meditative family drama Aruitemo aruitemo (Still Walking), the four-hour Japanese weirdness extravaganza Love Exposure, , and Lars von Trier’s bloody, fantastic Antichrist—one of the best films of last year, and definitely one to see on the big screen while you still can.

The programme opens this Wednesday with screenings of Still Walking, Tom Ford’s glossy adaptation of the Christopher Isherwood novella A Single Man, and the first New Zealand showing of Kathryn Bigelow’s Oscar-winning war film The Hurt Locker. (Read a full review of the last in next Monday’s magazine.) Michael Hanneke’s Das Weiße Bande (The White Ribbon), which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes last year and screened in the Wellington leg of the NZFF, plays next Wednesday, the 31st, as well as on the 2nd, 3rd and 5th of April. Donnie Darko and Southland Tales director Richard Kelly returns with The Box, his take on the Richard Matheson short story “Button, Button” starring Cameron Diaz and James Marsden, plays on Friday the 2nd and Tuesday the 6th of April. Anne Perry: Interiors examines the life of the woman whose childhood was the real-life inspiration for Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures, and a wholly different kind of creature is on display in the Japanese ninja-thriller-cum-martial arts flick Goemon. Chris Rock’s documentary Good Hair, about African-American hairstyles, screens on Friday, next Tuesday and the 1st and 3rd of April. The doc Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae plays at various times from Thursday, and Herb & Dorothy, about a now-septuagenarian, ordinary couple who happen to be art collectors, screens from Saturday. Alain Resnais’ Les herbes folles (Wild Grass) and Gentlemen Broncos, Jared Hess’ follow-up to the much-loved Napoleon Dynamite starring Sam Rockwell and Jemaine from Flight of the Conchords, play from April 9th.

Student tickets to all sessions are $11.00; all screenings are at the Academy Cinemas on Lorne St. Full timetables, trailers and information on all the films in the programme are at worldcinemashowcase.co.nz

Soundtrack for a Revolution
Bill Guttenberg & Dan Sturman | USA/France/UK | 2009 | 82 mins.

Examines the music that surrounded the civil rights struggle, when Negro spirituals were transformed into powerful songs of protest, and call-and-response became calls to fight. Like Standing in the Shadows of Motown, the filmmakers punctuate documentary archival footage and talking heads with illuminative in-studio performances by artists in order to elucidate a point. In many cases the artists were directly involved in the events being discussed: Richie Havens, Harry Belafonte and Angie Stone appear alongside The Blind Boys of Alabama—still going strong after more than seven decades!—and younger artists like John Legend, The Roots and TV On the Radio, Joss Stone and Anthony Hamilton. (Curiously, there is no mention of Sam Cooke, who was instrumental in changing public preconceptions about civil rights.) Entertaining and illuminating from start to finish.

Soundtrack for a Revolution screens on the 2nd, 4th, 5th and 6th of April at various times, and is also newly available on DVD from Roadshow Entertainment.

Crude
Joe Berlinger | USA | 2009 | 105 mins.

Although it may seem like it on the surface, this is not just another environmental documentary, this is the story of a David-and-Goliath battle between one of the world’s largest corporations and one of the world’s poorest nations. Texaco’s 25 years in Ecuador left behind caustic, fatal and human damage: open drilling spots not properly sealed flowed into streams and then rivers from which local small villages gained their drinking water. Those villages included communities of the rapidly-vanishing Cólfon people, who now number less than 300. The damage left behind by the oil company—now subsumed by the corporate giant Chevron—was thirty times worse than the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989. The film follows an Ecuadorian lawyer and an American lawyer as they fight an ongoing legal battle that has been raging since 1993, and gives just about equal time to both sides of the argument.

Crude screens on Sunday the 11th and twice on Tuesday the 13th of April.

Automorphosis
Harrod Blank | USA | 2008 | 77 mins.

Peopled by ex-hippies, layabouts, rednecks, weirdoes, artists and various other chronically unemployable people living on the fringes of society, Harrod Blank’s eccentric documentary—about people who turn their vehicles into expressive, lively works of art—is a delight. From one of Blank’s own cars, rigged with hundreds of still and video cameras, inside and out, to “The Spoon Man” and a car that’s more moving gothic cathedral than automobile—something Wednesday Addams would drive—each creation is more fantastically weird than the last. Blank fashions his film, which has been at least 20 years in the making, around the idea that an art car is perhaps the highest expression of “freedom”: the open road combined with a frontier mentality meets the art world head-on. From art fairs to individual oddities encountered on highway sidings and small country towns, this catalogue of the unusual is a brilliantly vivid break from the predictable and quotidian.

Automorphosis screens on Thursday the 8th, Tuesday the 13th and
Wednesday the 14th of April.

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