Adventures In Celluloid

Film critic Dominic Corry celebrates, clarifies and justifies his love for all things film.

Dominic Corry: Five festival films I'm excited about

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A scene from The Hunt. Photo / Supplied
A scene from The Hunt. Photo / Supplied

As the vibrant, beating heart of the yearly film calendar in this country, the International Film Festival can be a touch overwhelming.

The bottlenecking of 90 per cent of our non-studio filmmaking cinema-going choices can cause mild dizziness, a bounty of thrills and concentrated emotional enrichment.

I plan to be talking about my film festival experience a lot in this space, so allow me to begin by mentioning five selections I'm particularly excited to see.

1. Room 237: Being an Inquiry into The Shining in Nine Parts

Ever since I stumbled across this crazy website a year or so back, I have been transfixed by the possibility that director Stanley Kubrick was up to something more than just making a really awesome horror film with The Shining.

Room 237 is a film that delves into The Shining to illuminate potential hidden meanings and bring to light certain paradoxes and symbols that pepper the film.

Some of the theories that surround the film are quite extreme - even laughable. But they perpetuate because it was the one and only Stanley Kubrick at the helm.

Kubrick's inscrutable public persona along with his legendarily specific method of filmmaking gives tantalising life to notions that would be rejected in infancy if related to any other director.

It's gonna be a treat seeing the angle Room 237 takes on these ideas, and The Shining itself is being granted a couple of screenings at The Civic. I am tempted to attend both.

2. The Imposter

The festival's documentary offerings are always bountiful, but I never get used to to the seemingly endless variety on offer. It's like when the seasons roll around - it always seems slightly colder/hotter/lighter/darker than you remember.

Anyway, of many amazing sounding docos, one that really jumped out at me was this film about a French-Algerian conman who got away with the kind of things that would stretch credulity in a fictional context.

The still underrated Catfish (seriously, watch it) showed that documentaries examining fluid identities in the modern world can be as gripping as any scripted thriller, and I am applying this enthusiasm to The Imposter.

3. Sound of My Voice

As a die hard devotee of all things Twilight Zone, you only have to mention Rod Serling's ground-breaking TV show to get me to sit up and notice.

The Twilight Zone is referenced in the festival programme description of this film which features co-writer/actress Brit Marling (who also co-wrote and starred in 2011's indie sci-fi breakout Another Earth) as the leader of a cult infiltrated by a journalist and his girlfriend intent on exposing them.

It's the kind of genre premise that you just know wouldn't benefit from a studio approach, and I am greatly looking forward to being drawn into its world.

4. The Hunt

Most people still recognise Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen from his performance as the antagonist in Casino Royale, but the Scandinavian superstar has been delivering a string of devastating lead performances in European films since then - in addition to character roles in American blockbusters.

He's on New Zealand cinema screens from today in the lush Danish historical epic A Royal Affair, which I heartily recommend.

His visibility will no doubt rise with him having been cast as Dr Hannibal Lecter in a new TV show about the serial killer's early years, but he got the world's attention recently when he won the best actor prize at this year's Cannes Film Festival for his role in The Hunt, directed by Dogme 95 co-founder Thomas Vinterberg (The Celebration).

Mikkelsen plays the resident of a small town who becomes the victim of mass hysteria when a child falsely accuses him of wrongdoing. I love movies about the mob mentality, and Mikkelsen's peculiar face should sit fascinatingly on a man who finds himself the target of his former friends.

5. V/H/S

There's a slow, gentle movement in genre cinema toward the return of the anthology horror, which has played a significant role at various times in horror history. Films like Trick r' Treat and Chillerama are proponents of this movement, and Kiwi producer Ant Timpson's upcoming The ABCs of Death will no doubt kick it into hyper drive.

I am a big fan of this type of horror movie, so I am very excited to see V/H/S, which announces its retro-inclinations with the title. The individual stories have a cool-sounding framing device, and all conform to the increasingly prevalent "found footage" style, which I guess is a genre now.

Plus my interest is piqued by the involvement of Ti West, the man behind stellar horror throwbacks The House of The Devil and The Innkeepers.

He's a rising horror writer/director with talent to burn and a strident independant streak - naturally he is contributing to The ABCs of Death - and I'm committed to checking out everything he does.

* Do any of these films look like they will float your film festival boat? What are YOU excited to see? Comment below!

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