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Our Ten Must-See Movies of the New Zealand International Film Festival

Popcorn at the ready.
By Laetitia Laubscher
July 16, 2015
By Laetitia Laubscher
July 16, 2015

It's here again, friends (the New Zealand Film Festival, that is). Turn out your wallets, grab your popcorn and bunker up at your nearest NZIFF-affiliated cinema because come July 24 the NZIFF is the best thing to do in town (okay, as a non-partisan city guide website we probably shouldn't say that, but we totally are saying it and totally mean it).

For those still unsure what films to to see, we've compiled a list of the ten films we will most gladly throw our cash at.

For more features like this including articles, news and reviews suited for the modern man, head to the LYNX Black Gentleman's Guide.

Lobster MIFF

The Lobster

Look, you thought your dating life consisting of Tinder was bad; well, things could be worse. Dogtooth director Yorgos Lanthimos' The Lobster is a Kafkaesque world where 'non-attached' humans are sent to a compound of singles and have 45 days to find a partner or face being turned into an animal of their choice.

Starring Colin Farrell (if there's no hope for you mate, we all might as well give up) and Rachel Weisz (same, again), The Lobster may in its magical realism provides possibly the most poignant satire of all this year's films. Ignatiy Vishnevetsky from the AV Club observed, "As the shocks and surreal-satirical conceits pile on, they accumulate meaning, leading to a semi-ambiguous finale that questions whether it’s even possible for two people to be in love on terms other than the ones their culture has laid out for them. There’s comedy that’s weird for its own sake, and then there’s this.” Take our money already.

7:15pm on Friday, July 24 and 3:30pm on Thursday, July 30

The Wolfpack

Crystal Moselle's The Wolfpack takes the idea of fandom to the next level. Locked inside their Lower East Side apartment by their father, the hermitic Angulos siblings spent most of their lives watching thousands of movies (e.g. Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and The Dark Knight) and then making very detailed, filmed re-enactments of them. Basically their collection of 5000+ movies provided their sole means of connection to the outside world for most of their lives.

We're not really sure how the hell Moselle found these guys, but we're intrigued and impressed, and so is the rest of the world – it won the Documentary Grand Jury Prize at Sundance this year. “The Wolfpack indeed has much to say about fandom, the reciprocal bonds between consumption and production”, said Blake Williams from Cinema Scope. Rolling Stone called it a "film that puts a hypnotic and haunting spin on movie love."

5:15pm on Sunday, July 26, 8:45pm on Tuesday, July 28 and 4:15pm on Thursday, August 8.

The Tribe

Shot entirely in sign language and without any subtitles, Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy's debut film The Tribe is a visceral cinematic experience which relies entirely on body language to document a Lord of the Flies-type gang of kids living on the streets of Kiev. It's a total mould-breaker, which is ironic considering it's also an absolutely nostalgic trip back to the days of silent movies .

1pm on Monday, July 27, 3:45pm on Tuesday, July 28, 8:30pm on Tuesday, August 8.

Inherent Vice

While we're still yet to forgive the film's New Zealand distributors for abruptly pulling Oscar-nominated Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice from the cinematic release schedule earlier this year (and we've been pining to see it ever since), thankfully the NZIFF is tending to our needs with some screenings of the film.

Based on the novel by Thomas Pynchon, Inherent Vice spins a Los Angeles-based web of drugs, crime and private detectives (set in the sixties). All confidence lies with Paul Thomas Anderson to pull off adapting a Pynchon, having already painted quite a similar world for his earlier film Boogie Nights (a film that follows Mark Wahlberg's rise from being a nightclub dishy into being a lauded porn star; it's well worth the watch for its warm, very human rendition of the adult film scene).

8:30pm on Saturday, July 25, 1:45pm on Friday, July 31, 8:30pm on Sunday, August 2 and 5:15pm on Saturday, August 8.

Ex Machina

The last time I saw something from Alex Garland – his screenplay adaptation of Ishiguro's sci-fi romance Never Let Me Go – I ended up outright sobbing in my airplane seat during a long-haul flight (sorry concerned-looking person sitting on seat F9). Garland's also the one behind the novel and screenplay for The Beach, and the screenplays for 28 Days Later and Sunshine. So, 'tis fair to say this guy has some writing chops. And now he's back writing and directing an AI sci-fi drama exploring the emotional capacity of robots and humans. Robbie Collin from The Telegraph called it "anything but artificial”, and given our quite emotional experiences of his past work, we're definitely buying it.

8pm on Friday, July 24, 4pm on Tuesday, July 28, 6:15pm on Thursday, July 30 and 9pm on Saturday, August 1.

The Look of Silence

Every now and then a filmmaker comes along that really, truly profoundly moves you. That is what Joshua Oppenheimer does. His new documentary, The Look of Silence, is a follow-up on his Oscar-nominated The Act of Killing - which confronted the audience with what was described as a moral vacuum in which those responsible for the 1965 politically-motivated massacres in Indonesia that have basically just been swept under the rug.‘I felt I’d wandered into Germany 40 years after the Holocaust, only to find the Nazis still in power’, Oppenheimer said in describing the experience. The Look of Silence is another take of the situation, but this time including the perspective of the victims.

8:45pm on Thursday, August 6 and 1:30pm on Friday, August 7.


Welcome to what is possibly the zeitgeist film of 2015: a film shot entirely on an iPhone about a transgender chick hunting down her man who cheated on her 'with some white chick'. It's like 'BBHMM', with a tad less blood and as if it had been directed by a way more street version of Sofia Coppola. Tangerine has an amount of distilled sass that you just cannot buy, earn or cultivate. Also Sundance totally backs it, in case you had your doubts.

9:15pm on Friday, July 24 and 4:15pm on Wednesday, July 29.


For those with a penchant for films of the same ilk as Peter Jackson's Braindead, Gerard Johnstone's Housebound and Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement's What We Do in the Shadows, we have another horror-comedy to cater to your very niche taste.

The film is, kind of strange. Brodie (Milo Hawthorne) goes to live in a small town with his Christian aunt and uncle. There he befriends Zakk (James Blake) and begins a punk band. They find an unrecorded song from their death metal idol, but realise that playing the song turns everybody in the nearby vicinity into zombies (stay with us here). As good protagonists do, they then attempt to save the world from said zombies.

After winning the Make My Horror Movie competition, Jason Lei Howden's Deathgasm ended up premiering at SXSW festival earlier this year - so you know, if the world outside of New Zealand likes it it's probably pretty decent.

9:30pm on Friday, July 31, 4:15pm on Tuesday, August 4, 8:30pm on Friday, August 7 and 6:30pm on Saturday, August 8.

Banksy Does New York

Banksy. It's the name that's been bled dry since it was first conceived within the art and media circuit. The artist who's work is fiercely pure, poignant and takes political issues face-on, the world's been excavating for profit pretty much from the moment he or she began getting noticed. Banksy Does New York is a retrospective discussion of the artist's residency on the streets of New York. It's a self-deprecating film which vomits up the fame and hype piled onto the artist and dissects it. Using mostly user-generated content, the film traces the the extend to which the name was become exploited and absorbed by the superficial and capitalistic culture it wanted to criticise.

4:15pm on Wednesday, July 29, 4pm on Saturday, August 1 and 6pm on Sunday, August 9.

Cartel Land

Normal people have survival instincts. Normal people don't purposively hunt out near-death experiences. Normal people don't go jumping into the line of fire. Nor do they sit down to have fat chats with meth cooks. But no, Matthew Heineman did not get the normal person memo and does basically all of that and somehow survives in order to bring our eyes a pretty full-on doco on the Mexican narcotic scene.

8:30pm on Wednesday, July 29, 4pm on Tuesday, August 4 and 4:30pm on Sunday, August 9.

Published on July 16, 2015 by Laetitia Laubscher

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