James Griffin 's Opinion

James Griffin is a columnist for Canvas magazine.

James Griffin: Selecting the best films to not see

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James Griffin. Photo / Dean Purcell
James Griffin. Photo / Dean Purcell

"The passage of time is surely the true third dimension in cinema ... Li Hongqi's mercilessly deadpan comedy charts the endless boredom of the last day of winter school holidays ... in remote inner Mongolia ... there is no real sense that the man is dying, but rather that the vessel which contains him and infuses him ... is dying ..."

That level of bollocks can mean only one thing: it's time to go through the programme for the New Zealand International Film Festival and to tick off all the films I might want to see - and then to not go to any of them.

I love the Film Festival, I really do. I used to love it a lot more when I could actually get along to see actual films. But then life and children and stuff started getting in the way. Nowadays all that is left is the thrill of going through the programme and deciding which films I would definitely maybe see if I maybe definitely could.

And what a treasure trove I will be missing this year.

I got quite excited when I read the blurb for the Swedish film She Monkeys, because it said the film was "immersed in the world of competitive equestrian vaulting ..."

And then I got even more excited when I found out what equestrian vaulting is (sort of gymnastics on horseback, as it turns out). What I'm not so sure about is how we get from horseback gymnastics to "... just about everything to do with the depiction of developing sexuality..." because that sounds a wee bit too racy to me, especially because the film involves horses. So, as it turns out, maybe not such a bad one to miss.

Possibly more acceptably intriguing to me is The Forgiveness of Blood, which actually seems to be about the lack of forgiveness of blood, given that it is all about blood feuds in Albania.

Albania, if the blurb about this film is to be believed, is the sort of place where a reality television show called Neighbours at War would literally involve a war - which would certainly make it more exciting than Road Cops.

Le Quattro Volte, meanwhile, is intriguing on many levels - quite literally on many levels, if the write-up in the programme is anything to go by: "a meticulously staged and richly loaded drama - in which some of the principal actors are mineral, vegetable and animal."

While, on paper, this might sound like a film starring Nicolas Cage, he is nowhere to be seen in the cast list.

In lieu of Cage, however, we have here a film that "chronicles the earthly transit and material transmutation of an old man, a young goat, a tree and a batch of charcoal."

Which, I guess, makes it more like a Jim Carrey film. Given how few films are made about charcoal, I shall be rather sad to miss this one.

Gloominess seems to be a bit of a theme for this year's film festival, which I guess means it is the perfect antidote for those school holiday films it so perfectly aligns with. Greece's Attenberg has a terminally ill architect, preparing for death in a "decaying seaside town". Take Shelter is an "allegory for the troubles of the world bearing down on ordinary people in an age of natural, industrial and economic cataclysm", while The Turin Horse tells us the story of a "horse, its elderly owner and his daughter, and their stark, middle-of-nowhere existence, which is beset by an entropic windstorm which may, or may not, portend the end of the world". Sounds like the perfect antidote to Transformers: Dark of the Moon to me.

And then there's everyone's favourite Nazi-lover, Lars von Trier, winner of the Pied dans la Bouche Award at Cannes. Lars' film, Melancholia, which screens on closing night, should send everyone away feeling good about themselves, with its tale of "Justine ... a bride sinking deeper and deeper into her own terrible depression on the day of her sumptuous wedding" with extra "mounting terror and foreboding" thrown in for good measure.

Whether this is wedding day nerves or is to do with "the coming temporal and psychological apocalypse" isn't clear, But I'm sure it will become clearer upon actually watching the film. Or not.

- NZ Herald

James Griffin

James Griffin is a columnist for Canvas magazine.

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