While Netflix releases a gem maybe once every couple of weeks among a constant tidal wave of new content, HBO has a far more successful hit rate. Their less-is-more approach means fewer shows of far superior quality, which in the past couple of weeks has seen the arrival of Big Little Lies 2 and Euphoria, both screening on SoHo and Neon. I was as suspicious as anyone over the necessity of a second BLL but after watching the first three episodes, I've realised I probably couldn't care less whether it lives up to the first; the joy of returning to the show's finely detailed characters and extraordinary performances makes it as watchable as ever. Similarly, Euphoria is not without its problems – its shock value is less nuanced than its creators seem to think – the highly-stylised, borderline surreal teen drama is nonetheless utterly compelling viewing.
I missed Clairo's set when she played Laneway this year, which I'm regretting now that she's released her insanely good new single, Bags. The track, produced by the incredible former Vampire Weekend member Rostam, is the first taste of Clairo's upcoming debut album, Immunity, and it's unlike anything she's released before. Whereas her early EPs were ponderous lo-fi tracks, Bags is a sharp indie-rock tune that tracks Clairo's diaristic observations of a fledgling relationship, the end result of which is unclear. The song is packed with emotionally potent lines, including: "pardon my emotions/I should probably keep it all to myself/Know you'd make fun of me". As she repeats that last sentence over and over, you'll remember every insecure feeling, every withheld word, every moment you've rewritten in your brain.
Parasite, the Palme d'Or winning feature from Korean director Bong Joon-Ho, arrives in New Zealand cinemas today, and I can't wait. The film, following a poor family who entrench themselves as servants of a wealthy family, won universal acclaim after its premiere at Cannes, with IndieWire calling it a "brilliant family saga" that leads a slate of 2019 films about class warfare. Looking at Joon-Ho's unrivalled filmography – he directed The Host (2006), Snowpiercer (2013) and Okja (2017) – I'm expecting a chilling, surprising and darkly comic film.
The main event that pulls me through winter is upon us: the New Zealand International Film Festival. The line-up was announced this week, and I'll be spending my weekend deep-diving and figuring out how to fit everything in. An early glance has me excited for the queer period romance Portrait of a Lady on Fire, which won the Queer Palm at Cannes this year; High Life, Claire Denis' new sci-fi thriller; and The Farewell, which stars Awkwafina in a dramatic turn as the grandchild of a Chinese-American family saying goodbye to their matriarch – who doesn't know she's dying.