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An Angel at My Table

Recent screenings

The Fallen Idol

83%

  • What a gem! Superb acting, camerawork, and editing with not a frame out of place so the internal architecture becomes an integral part of the whole. No wonder it’s Polanksi’s favorite film.
  • Nicely plotted and really well-crafted. I especially loved the locations and the detailed principal set, which was so crucial to the action. A great example of mid 20th century film-making.
  • Give me Carol Reed shots of a post-war city at night and I’ll always be happy. Even with one of cinema’s most annoying child performances.
  • The irritating child was brilliantly portrayed and was really annoying by the end. Gratingly good. Baines!!
  • I was gearing up for a slow paced mystery and was so pleasantly surprised with the film. It was touching, comedic, dramatic. And what a wonderful performance by Bobby Henrey. It flowed so well, I didn’t want it to end.

Good Bye Lenin!

84%

  • So much to love in this movie, great premise, marvellous set, laugh out loud moments and tenderness between the characters.
  • The humour was more subtle than the plot summary suggests; and the observations of life before and after reunification, and effects on individuals and families were understated and well made.
  • At what point does a charming charade become a grotesque farce? It might have helped if it was just a little funnier.
  • Laugh out loud funny whilst providing plenty to think about. How easily we can believe in things. The lengths that people go to in leading others to believe a lie. Is living with a lie better than the truth?
  • It didn’t really come with the set of emotions you would expect for a story about losing someone you love. It was funny, and endearing and by the end of it both the characters and the audience were ready for the future.

Mishima:A Life in Four Chapters

77%

  • An extraordinary movie, at once fully integrated with Paul Schrader’s Bressonian obsessions and a singular portrayal of a unique man.
  • Never been so confused by a film
  • Loved the sets.  Wish I had read up on this movie beforehand so I could understand it better.
  • This film was an excellent vessel for Eiko Ishiokas absolutely stunning visual design. Every frame was a work of art.
  • Still moves me, creative genius and merging of life through art. Beautiful soundscape from Philip Glass.

Joint Security Area

90%

  • I absolutely loved this film, it had it all! Comedy, friendship, questioning of war, and a puppy. Would highly recommend to anyone who wants to dip their toe in Korean film.
  • Completely surprised by this. Didn’t expect a film about one of the tensest military standoffs in the world to be so (at times) light-hearted and wholesome. Glad WFS is putting on so much Korean cinema this year!
  • Paolo’s introduction was particularly useful to locate the film in a specific period of detente – and to acknowledge the genre stylings. Each time the plot machinations clumsily shook me out of the moment, I was brought back in by the warm, touching portrayals of the soldiers together.
  • Tense and gripping murder mystery with mostly amazing performances and demonstrating the power of cigarettes to break down barriers between sworn enemies.
  • Suspenseful, intriguing, funny, and emotionally poignant. It was a joy to be treated to such fantastic filmmaking. That last shot hit hard.

Silent Running

57%

  • Lovely opportunity to see this on the big screen for the first time, even if it means enduring Joan Baez’s warbling. The whole shebang wouldn’t work without Douglas Trumbull’s fantastic low-budget production design aboard the soon-to-be-decommissioned aircraft carrier USS Valley Forge and Bruce Dern’s committed lead performance; you can imagine a likely alternative lead, Donald Sutherland, bringing a completely different sarcastic energy to the role.
  • I found the whole ‘I didn’t realise plants need sun’ plotline rather implausible given the lead character’s gardening credentials but I didn’t know melons grew on the ground, so…yeah…
  • Engaging lo-fi tale. It was extraordinary to discover after viewing  that the rather touching drones were worn/operated by double-amputees.(Apparently the director got the idea from Freaks, which is also on this year’s programme.)
  • I apologise profusely to the two sophisticated, scholarly men on either side of me during this screening. I swear on my life I wasn’t even remotely sleepy before this film began.
  • Lots to like. Enjoyed watching it.

Rain

82%

  • Gorgeous, evocative portrait of a coming-of-age! Loved it – why hadn’t I seen this? Surely an undersung NZ classic!
  • Amazing! And it was so wonderful to have Christine there to share some stories before it started
  • A film full of good work and good performances. But to me the ending is a blunt whack in the face, substituting for resolution (or even for unsettledness) a heavy object that the rest of the story can’t heft.
  • So beautiful, so moving.
  • Another entry in Aotearoa’s remarkably robust array of visually striking and devastating cinema. Marvelous work from the cast, especially the younger ones who had to carry so much on their diminutive shoulders.

Shiva Baby

82%

  • I feel like I really need to show this to my parents. I also feel like that may be the worst idea I’ve ever had. 5 stars.
  • Cringeworthy, hugely clichéd,  the film rang true about real-life pain resulting from posturing and deception before again careering off into insensitive parental embarrassments…
  • Threatened at times to become cringeworthy, but brilliantly stayed the right side of the line on each occasion. Loved it.
  • Crescendo of irritating and cringy behaviour interspersed with humour, masterful in its execution. You thought your family are bad…
  • Hilarious but sometimes I felt like I was going to cringe right through the back of my seat.

Night Train to Munich

84%

  • Cleverly paced screenplay, great supporting cast, and insouciant acting lift this pre-Bond intrigue to a high level.
  • It was very easy to follow, it was funny and charming. Quite baffled how they managed to produce it at the time…
  • It might seem quaint in the third decade of the 21st century, but films like this one released in July 1940 at the height of the Blitz… were absolutely crucial in maintaining British wartime morale. And all it took back then was an absolute faith in the innate pluck and decency of British chaps under pressure, plus perhaps a convenient inability to count to six when firing a service revolver.
  • Oscillating freely between a war time drama and a (very British) farce, but never taking itself too seriously at any given moment, and with the outcome never truly in doubt — our excessively jovial hero certain to Find A Way, no matter the odds.  Good triumphs over evil, and the trained German military are no match for a couple of good British sports with an inclination to pitch in, what!
  • A joy to watch, at times wonderfully comic and at other times unintentionally hilarious!

After Hours

81%

  • So much fun. So many great comedic performances packed in there – and paced so brilliantly, it was dazzling. Why didn’t Scorsese do more comedy? Amazing to see among an appreciative audience at another packed-out showing at The Embassy. Thank you, WFS, for putting it on!
  • Loose and frenetic, with more than a few truly funny moments and plenty of beguiling camera moves, but a bit too much coke-head pacing.
  • A comedy. What a delight.  So good to see this again, this time with the added joy of seeing familiar stars in their younger days.
  • Someone told me that this movie is what a dream from a 30 minute nap looks like. Couldn’t agree more.
  • Funny from start to finish, never loses its momentum, and packed full of some truly interesting and fleshed out characters.

Memories of Murder

87%

  • Thoughtful, haunting, and just so well-constructed. Bong Joon-ho is a master of ensemble framing: no boring ‘shot reverse shot’ here — careful blocking, acting choices, and dynamic camera movements made each scene feel so alive. So much great filmmaking to admire.
  • Dark, violent and a little bit funny.
  • Very funny but the violence was a bit much
  • This film had good acting and great cinematography, but that went to waste due to poor plotting. It couldn’t decide whether it was a police procedural/thriller, a comedy, or what I suspect it aspired to be: a philosophical examination of the nature of truth … I found it distasteful to see torture scenes played as comedy, and to be encouraged to feel sympathy for the torturers.
  • One of the most intelligent crime/detective films I’ve ever seen … It questions our need for reason and closure, delivering a brilliant questioning of both true crime and police.

First Cow

82%

  • Loved it! The kind of thing I would have switched off after 10mins at home (due to my poor attention span!) but at the cinema, enraptured in the film, admiring the cinematography, a masterpiece …
  • A pretty cheerful and charming film, not much emotion is shown but it doesn’t feel flat at all, rather just calming. Their vocabulary is pretty hefty too which adds to the calming and disconnected from today feeling.
  • Lovely to see Kelly Reichardt’s ‘slow cinema’ gem on the big screen again, and to remember the cameo from Rene Auberjonois (1940-2019) in his final film role – a direct link back to the legendary 1971 Robert Altman anti-western, McCabe & Mrs Miller.
  • I love her movies and you get time to think about them as they are in no rush to finish.
  • The meandering pace was difficult to trust at times, but overall I was charmed by the quirky dialogue and sparse use of music. Visually stunning.

Barry Lyndon

95%

  • Sumptuous vision that really needs the big screen of the Embassy.  Great way to kick off the start of a new WFS year – and with a full house no less.
  • A rather simple story elevated by the breathtakingly beautiful cinematography and set design, it was a joy to see this on the Embassy’s biggest screen. Kubrick’s period piece is a must-see.
  • A real joy getting to see an often-overlooked Kubrick on the big screen, and being reminded just how brilliant it is. I was particularly delighted to remember just how hilarious the film is – nothing staid or restrained about this work.
  • A simply gorgeous cinematic wonder. Seeing it with a capacity audience of cinephiles immersed in the beauty of the movie was one heck of an evening. The too good to be true handsomeness of Ryan O’Neal lit up the screen and the mise-en-scènes of the entire production left imagery in my dreams last night.
  • Once in a lifetime: to see this masterpiece on the big screen and in a packed house? Outstanding!

The African Queen

86%

  • The spontaneous applause from a packed theatre says it all. Five stars for two big stars in a real life adventure. Great cinematography (and a beautiful print).  Have now seen it three times and still enjoying it. 
  • Great female lead, she was ahead of her time
  • The absolute cheek of repeatedly describing a radiant 43-year-old Katharine Hepburn as ‘old girl’ is quite awe-inspiring when you think of it
  • Cheesy and corny- this film is at times ridiculous but with a charm that only old films can really have.
  • A great way to finish of the year! Super excited for 2024!!

The Naked City

Street scene with detectives and car in The Naked City

85%

  • Superb police procedural – ennobled by innovative framing and camerawork, extraordinary sculptural effects created with light and dark, and a forensic focus on working class NYC street-life.
  • I think the comparisons to neorealism and films noir are overstated. Lacking both the political conscience of the former and the west coast moral ambiguity of the latter, this is very much its own thing. But as a well-crafted, entertaining police procedural, this film’s lineage can be seen in the following century of TV.
  • Beautiful storytelling, what a charming film. Fun fact: there’s a case to solve in the video game L.A. Noire that’s based on this film, took me a second to connect the dots!
  • The murder plot was not so interesting, but the snippets of life in the city were fascinating.
  • A simple story well told with New York city the star of the film.

Taxi Driver

Robert de Niro sitting in a movie theatre in a scene from Taxi Driver

89%

  • A masterclass that hasn’t dated. As much a film about one disaffected man, it’s also brilliant in its portrayal of a crumbling decaying city. What a ride.
  • Incredibly vivid translation of alienation into cinematic language.
  • Saw this in 1976 at Radio City Music Hall visiting NYC for the first time when I was 17. It has lost none of its minatory power and pure cinematic grace.
  • A classic. Robert brilliance hasn’t changed a bit
  • Taxi driver, nighttime thriver
    Take you somewhere for a fiver.
    Travis Bickle, super fickle
    Hates the freaks, pimps, hammers, sickle.
    Jodie Foster, Keitel Mobster
    Travis thinks he might’ve lost’er
    So he’s a killer, letter quiller
    In this dodgy 5 star thriller.

The Searchers

Group of riders with large rock formations from the film The Searchers

76%

  • This is a polarizing film, sometimes we just need to be able to put it into context.
    On one hand it is stunning, especially visually, and the struggle of a man to find his last connection to family. On the other hand it is a stereotypical western where all Indians are bad and racists are okay.
  • A perfect Western and a great film. Discrimination is gently prised from the hands of Ethan. In a way the more worrying treatment is of women – forever waiting, supporting, feeding the men. Despite all, it’s a triumph.
  • These racist and misogynist white male stories feel very dated. Time to rethink “the Classics”.
  • Undeniably racist, sexist, and ‘disturbing’ in all its tacit assumptions, but still wonderfully formal film-making in a classic genre with stunning landscapes. Same problem with Leni Riefenstahl and Philip Larkin.
  • Those landscapes! That racism! I enjoyed most of it apart from when I was cringing. Still cried though. What an ending!

Nightmare Alley

Tyrone Power and Joan Blondell in a scene from Nightmare Alley

80%

  • Fabulous movie, looked gorgeous on the big Grand screen… I really enjoyed Guillermo de Toro’s recent version – the similarities are uncanny. With modern tech and set design the latter movie looks sumptuous. Saying that, Tyrone Power and Joan Blondell really lit up the screen Monday night. Thanks for bringing this movie to us.
  • With fastidiously expressive lighting and camerawork, this was even more creepy than the recent remake, perhaps only bettered by Tod Browning’s ‘Freaks.’
  • It was indeed a nightmare watching the suave, debonair Stan (Power) fall from the dizzying heights into the carni pits.
  • Just say ‘No’ to Noir! Free November from its grabby claws!
  • Beautifully filmed with an engagingly classic plot, some fine acting and some genuinely scary moments.

The Wicker Man

Christopher Lee as Lord Summerisle in The WIcker Man

87%

  • Simply the best – soundtrack, casting, cinematography, acting, and plot all outstanding.
  • It’s delightful to see David Bowie’s mentor in mime, Lindsay Kemp, as the publican, hear Christopher Lee’s wonderful baritone, savour Britt Ekland being ‘extremely Scottish’ and… for those who remember him from The Equaliser, witness Edward Woodward actually acting.
  • Imagine my surprise when I discovered the Salmon of Knowledge is not made up but is in fact part of Celtic folklore! Otherwise this wasn’t as good as I remembered – too many fruity folk songs.
  • I expected to be left haunted and uneasy. I did not expect to watch a man boast so loudly of his own virginity. Great flick.
  • The ne plus ultra of folklore-horror-musicals.

Le Franc + The Little Girl Who Sold The Sun

Dieye Ma (Marigo) sitting in a shop iin the film Le Franc

83%

  • Sili, a girl with a smile as bright as the sun, was stunning in a delightful film.
  • The first had a silly plot, but was quite beautiful. The second had a decent plot and was extremely beautiful.
  • Le franc – Farcical, colourful, & wonderful musical interludes.
    Little girl – gorgeous & hopeful. Loved the music. Just loved all of it.
  • Most interesting for showing us such a different world. But the stories felt quite opaque to me.
  • Joyous, heartwrenching, funny and beautifully shot.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

86%

  • Loved it! Every actor was exquisite, able to act with their eyes. The music was constantly surprising, in a brilliant way. And the cat…
  • Loved seeing this on the big screen and love a horror@!
  • The black and white photography was so atmospheric. The music so fitted the differing scenes settings. Never a fan of vampire movies, but this is so much more than typical. Casting was spot on. Just loved this movie.
  • five stars from five stars (me and my four friends) striking, sexy, textured, brooding, and fun!
  • Moody and sparse, with a gorgeous soundtrack. The kind of film you can really sink your teeth into.

The Gravedigger’s Wife

Omar Abdi (Guled) and Yasmin Warsame (Nasra) in The Gravedigger's Wife

85%

  • At its core this is a film about family, the family you’re born into versus the family you can choose…
  • Terribly sad, but a story from the heart of Africa
  • A beautifully told story, with several aspects not fully spelt out. Marred only by the gravedigger’s wife’s wardrobe, which changed in every scene!!!
  • Some contrived emotional beats and an overwrought Oscar bait score detract from a really nice story about a wife guy.
  • The Wedding Crashers 2: Djibouti Nights. Cracking film from one of the world’s smallest nations. This is what being a film society member is all about.

Gallant Indies

A troup of dancers in Gallant Indies

87%

  • Simply stunning – moved more than a few of us to tears – best film of the season so far!
  • Left baffled and grinning. Erudite and bursting with humanity. Found myself so moved by the labour of dance and the body as instrument.
  • Potential to be a really moving film but it had little clear narrative, focused on too many people and the inserts of Instagram videos were distracting. This would have more room to breathe if not screened a week after the last film which was also a doco about the arts.
  • Absolutely fantastic!  An excellent counterpoint to last week’s movie.
  • Electric and kinetic. Made me want to see the full show immediately.

System K

85%

  • This movie has changed the way I see the world. Human creativity can thrive under any circumstances. Societal collapse requires collective response.
  • African outsider art in action, both in terms of expression and protest, amidst the poverty and injustice of a corruptly-run city with enormous inequality. A rousing survey of the power of creativity in the midst of hardship. Unsurprisingly, a great soundtrack too.
  • Chaotic art in a corrupt country. Charlatans or serious agitprop artists? I’m not sure that sacrificing a goat and drinking its blood is coherent political action?
  • The top rating is more for the artists than for the movie. Except that no other movie as far as I know has shown what these artists are capable of. They are truly great artists. I especially admired the bible performance and the act with the riding blood bath. So much meaning, guts and powerful drive.
  • Mesmerising. The kind of film that makes the world look different when you come out.

The Captain

80%

  • A brilliantly executed Black Comedy which was incredibly based on true events. When the soldier, hunted in the first few minutes of the movie miraculously escapes a hunt, the actor (Max Hubacher) playing him transforms completely before our eyes as he grabs the clothes mantle left by a missing Captain. Gorgeous cinematography and dramatic VFX made for a visceral but highly enjoyable watch.
  • Premise was fine but it was unnecessarily relentlessly and gratuitously violent, to the point of making me nauseous. There were better ways to get the point across…
  • Chilling yet compelling, with a sense of humour so dark I wouldn’t want to be caught laughing.
  • A very hard watch, but so striking and beautifully made. The credits sequence in modern times shook me.
  • Kafka meets Inglourious Basterds meets Lord of the Flies.

Tilaï

Rasmané Ouédraogo (Saga) in a scene from Tilai and  Ina Cissé (Nogma)

70%

  • Short but poignant in its simplicity.
  • A movie that showed that erotic, family and societal relationships shape the fate of humans no matter the place or time in history.
  • A visually beautiful and well made movie with a great soundtrack, that was unfortunately let down by the stilted acting and boring plot.
  • Enjoyed the 35mm celluloid print (despite all the negative scratches and dirt), untutored performances, and Abdullah Ibrahim’s haunting score, but it seemed all rather dated and distant now.
  • So many great things about this simple tale, the cinematography, especially the night scenes, was lovely. A great performance from the actor playing the impish teenager. The film’s quality stirred nostalgia for when I first started going to WFS.

France

66%

  • Great performers and relevant satire. Great plot and sensitive performance by Lea Seydoux. The Journalist as perpetrator and victim of sensational media reporting techniques…
  • Not funny enough to be an effective satire and not politically coherent enough to be taken seriously. This cynical, empty film doesn’t seem to have much more to say than “isn’t it hard being France?”
  • Appalling, tedious, overwrought and shallow – only highlights were France’s clothes and lipsticks.
  • A film that felt like it was always just about to end but never did
  • Splendid entertainment that just kept coming

Waxworks

A man looking at exhibits in a waxworks museum

73%

  • What a treat! The wonderful expressionists sets, the melodramatic miming, the barely suppressed eroticism – and a rich and vibrant live score. Thank you WFS and the Goethe Institute!
  • Looked and sounded fabulous but let down by awful elements in the plot – extended attempted rape scenes by sleazy old men – yuk!
  • Loved the live music! But the film wasn’t for me. Not as good as Faust!
  • 5 stars to the musicians, they did an amazing job! But although I enjoyed the production design and the creative choices for the third story, the film as a whole just didn’t get me engaged.
  • Brilliant. May this tradition continue.

Celia

78%

  • Exciting, playful, thought-provoking, and surprisingly gripping. Full of surprises.
  • Enjoyable but messy, as though the filmmaker had a million ideas they wanted to squeeze into the film, and as a result nothing quite held together.
  • The mesmerising depth and psychopathy of children and adults made this film impossible NOT to watch, even when it was hard to.
  • A humorous and haunting crescendo. It’s also great to see children’s stories being told with nuance.
  • Wild turns left and right but an amazing film and so glad to have seen it!

B Movie: Lust and Sound in West Berlin

73%

  • Extraordinary and fascinating. Wonderful interviews telling the story of the hedonism and yet intense artistic endeavour that Berlin extracted from its inhabitants at the time. A Time Capsule.
  • Achingly good. I want to be in 80s Berlin right now.
  • If one day a man loves me as much as this man loves Berlin, I would die a happy woman.
  • I’m exhausted from watching this movie, I guess you had to be there.
  • Exceptional. Great addition to the program this year. Lived in Berlin for many years. Extremely Nostalgic.

Sweet Smell of Success

83%

  • Tony Curtis had all the acting chops to convey Falco’s combination of sliminess, malice, energy and charm. Great script that kept up the pace and let the short dialogue exchanges reveal the story and the subplots. Great B&W cinematography. An outstanding film of its time.
  • A  movie that is 4 parts seething disgust to 1 part open jawed admiration for these lizards slithering through the transactional jungle of mid century American capitalism.
  • it had more twists than a barrel of pretzels
  • Like a precursor to the Nouvelle Vague, shot with stunning crispness by James Wong Howe and a story which was as black as midnight on a moonless night. Welcome to Noir York.
  • Not a weak aspect from script and individual performances, through music, cinematography, and editing, to direction. Pure genius!

Never Gonna Snow Again

Zhenia (Alec Utgoff), an angelic masseur is massaging a man's back while talking to a woman in the room

77%

  • This film was so gorgeous
  • Why should I care about these characters? Their connections seemed meaningless which made the movie feel clinical and unengaging.
  • Intriguing and mesmerising.
  • Beautifully realised, with the main enigmatic character carrying the entire movie. Was this a political message about Chernobyl’s consequences? Is this a movie about mysticism, hypnotism and brain-bending techniques? Or, is is just the need for human contact in our lives?
  • I have no idea what was really going on, but it was great

The Wild Goose Lake

Poster for The Wild Goose Lake showing a couple sitting in a train

70%

  • Great film! Sensational — aesthetic.
  • Appalling. Too violent. A waste of time.
  • I’d have liked to have given this 3.5. But couldn’t round up to 4. I am annoyed that the censor’s rating failed to mention sexual violence.
  • More-or-less worthless genre mimicry, directed by someone with far too much cowardice to embrace the unabashed angst of noir, nor the ultra-violent thrills its setup promises. Film students in the audience, I hope you were taking notes — many lessons to be learned.
  • My absolute favourite type of film is a 2010 Chinese neo-noir in which darkly comic violence unfolds against the backdrop of neon-lit, crumbling urban landscapes. Throw in a Boney M dance number and you got yourself one of the best films of the past decade.

Honeyland

Hatidze Muratova, tending to her bees, in “Honeyland.”

90%

  • Beautiful but bleak insight into survival and living with, or against, one’s environment
  • Thought provoking on sustainable farming practices and it’s interaction with capitalism
  • Despite the stunning cinematography and sympathetic depiction of a traditional culture I felt uncomfortable with the romanticisation of the poverty it portrayed.
  • Beautiful, haunting, sad, uplifting
  • Brilliant. Demonstrates what film societies are about.

Crash

Holly Hunter as Helen Remington looking toward camera from back seat of a car in Crash film

76%

  • Challenging. From reaction of total quiet in the theatre during the movie and loudest chatter after, we all felt complicit to have been so invested / engrossed.
  • Love the bravery guys, would love to see more stuff like this in the future!
  • I guess we had to go through this phase as the moral barriers to film-making were coming down, but it sure isn’t that interesting. Cronenberg has done much better both before and after!
  • Beautifully filmed, the moving car sequences particularly were magic to the extent we believed it was made in ordinary motorway traffic. All praise one of the masters of unease – Cronenberg
  • Deliriously dangerous and delicious. Without caring about the characters’ backstories, sublime film-making drew us into their depraved and dreamlike world.

Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?

78%

  • Great fun, heaps of terrible puns, Jayne obviously having the time of her life. With a cameo appearance from Groucho Marx and the de rigueur mid-comedy movie song it made for a fun evening.
  • A very funny, refreshing film, despite obvious mores of the time. Who else noticed Tony Randall’s mirthful dancing scene? A hint of Mr Bean.
  • An all white cast, apart from the stereotypical happy-go-lucky musicians, performing humour that hasn’t aged well. Not saved by some genuinely funny moments, reading Peyton Place in the bath for example.
  • Fizzy fun that has travelled through time far better than anyone probably expected.
  • Breaking the 4th wall, if not the glass ceiling, this is a confection of sweetness and squeals, that might just be a lesson in our own self-absorbed society.

Collective

A crowded press conference seen from behind the woman being questioned

89%

  • Such a brilliant doco.
  • Devastating. An unrelentingly sad story, from start to finish, but utterly compelling and fascinating. Very well paced.
  • Devastating and maddening. A reminder of what a scourge corruption is and the necessity of accountability in government.
  • Really not worth ranking at all. Please ditch the dreary documentaries in future. No one’s interested in watching dismal reportage, just creative and innovative film-making.
  • Thanks for showing this excellent, deeply disturbing yet compelling documentary.

The Big Steal

Australian actor Steve Bisley plays the part of a slimy secondhand car salesman in "The Big Steal"

82%

  • I couldn’t believe I’d never seen this Aussie movie before – what a gem!.
  • This movie was a delight! So many surprisingly laugh out loud moments with Danny’s parents absolutely stealing every scene they were in!
  • Best scene for me – When Marshall Napier stands in the backyard screaming, as the VLine train goes past and the neighbour’s dogs howl – classic Film Victoria.
  • Stunningly silly. Good natured fun Gr8 to share a comedy with a crowd.
  • Loved everything thing about this!

Pigs and Battleships

70%

  • Absurdist romp through early 60s Japan. A tale of best laid plans gone wrong. Loved every minute.
  • Stunning use of Cinemascope frame, spinning cameras, and endless backing dolly shots without tracks.
  • Might be missing some of the cultural references. Great performances from the two leads
  • I really couldn’t stand this film. There was a compelling story in there somewhere but it was totally lost behind the 3-Stooges-level slapstick and over the top performances.
  • Crazy ending! But ultimately not for me!

Smash Palace

80%

  • Great!
  • Objectively super great! But I didn’t really like it. Way too stressful for me!
  • Not only is it great to see a kiwi story, but it stands the test of time.  Separation is never easy, and the beauty of this is it tells the tale from all sides. Of course Bruno Lawrence and Greer Robson are the standouts. Ultimately the drama is so realistic and you can see all viewpoints.  More like this please!
  • No doubt an important film in the kiwi historical canon. However, in 2023 hard to feel any attachment to a character who instigates sexual violence.
  • It’s an incredibly fine line Roger Donaldson and star Bruno Lawrence tread, depicting an abusive spouse with a tone of legitimate humour that successfully humanises an increasingly sociopathic and potentially revolting ‘Man Alone’ character. The film is also considerably enriched by the utterly charming juvenile performance by young Greer Robson, setting a gold standard for the winningest child roles.

Spaceship Earth

82%

  • Stunning insight. Though based on archival film with all its flaws, it presented its defence of the project in an apparently neutral manner. Wanted to hear from Bannon and Bass the apparent villains
  • Fascinating, if remaining a bit “surface level” relative to inter-personal relations and the project’s achievements. Was keeping an eye out for a cannabis plantation in the bio-sphere
  • Capitalism meets idealism and it doesn’t go well for either
  • Please stick to movies – no more American “documentaries” (they just don’t know how to do them)
  • Love good documentaries – more please! Amazing what free thinking hippies and a billionaire backer can achieve. This is the kind of billionaire I’d be.

My Brilliant Career

84%

  • Wonderful to see this Australian classic for the first time on the big screen. Judy Davis absolutely shines. Glorious cinematography! So happy.
  • Hats off to Sybylla for shunning a man and marriage for her writing and aspirations for a bigger life.
  • “Loneliness is a terrible price to pay for independence”
  • Pride and Prejudice with possums!
  • Stunning performance from Judy Davis, It took me quite a while to even recognise her. This, her second film, must have propelled her to future stardom because she lights up the screen here.
  • Absolutely loved it! Such a fantastic film!

Ace in the Hole

82%

  • Great to see this absorbing, cynical, prescient movie for their first time. Wilder and Douglas are in top form and it was wonderful to see Porter Hall demonstrate his class as the local editor.
  • Excellent mix of drama, comedy and craziness, perhaps only Billy Wilder could have pulled this off. Oh, and that triple slap!!!!!
  • Savage. The relentlessness of the carnival that couldn’t stop was great.
  • The clothing and hairstyles may change but media circuses never go out of fashion!
  • Take note all ye public sector spin doctors of Wellington.

Mandabi

78%

  • Social studies brought to life and paving the way for understanding today’s unrest in Senegal, in this emotional and fascinating snapshot of this society in the sixties.
  • Another depressing depiction of a way of life that is the sad reality for many Africans struggling under neo-colonialism. Nice restoration of an important film.
  • So interesting to see a slice of the global past we rarely see. Different culture but the theme and the humanity are universal.
  • Amazing how bureaucratic nightmares can be so cross cultural.
  • Excellent!

Girlhood

85%

  • Loved it on the big screen. Beautifully composed and shot film.
    Made me miss my girlhood friends.
  • Loved this with the intensity of a thousand suns. Please play more Celine Sciamma films. True Cinéma bb!!
  • Slow burner but fitting denouement made it worth sticking with the journey.
  • Empowering, beautiful film
  • This is why I joined Film Soc!  Deftly told story of the tragic cycle of dead ends for those with few options, overlaid with the strength and support that comes from finding your tribe. Five stars!

Sleeping Dogs

78%

  • Such an interesting piece of Aotearoa cinema history, with plenty of political resonances that still feel fresh and sharp
  • Brilliant how well the film has aged. The time in which it is set does little to detract from suspending reality and allowing the viewer to enter the world of turmoil and tyranny. The cinematography A+.
  • I wanted to laugh a lot during the movie, but the rest of the audience seemed to be taking it seriously.
  • I couldn’t believe that the people behind me were actually laughing! Yes, the film is a time capsule and shows NZ when it was less ‘sophisticated’, but the plot itself is very current. People are still easily manipulated by fear and don’t see through empty promises until it is too late…
  • What a stunning restoration and a groundbreaking feature film of which we should all feel proud. Michael Seresin’s cinematography popped on the big screen and Sam Neill was always destined for stardom.

Tokyo Drifter

69%

  • Narratively sparse to the point of almost being surreal played out with a texture you can almost feel through the screen.
  • I still can’t get over the multiple commercial breaks in the film, but what a riotous good time overall!
  • Odd. But entertaining
  • A visual and stylistic treat, and a cooler Japanese cousin of both Godard’s gangster froth and ABC’s Batman TV hijinks
  • Styley, stylistic and sexy, with lots of laughs.

The Night of the Hunter

88%

  • Ominous and perplexing throughout. The score was agitating in a good way!
  • This director really understands something about trauma uncommon for films of this time. What a gorgeous reverie!
  • Great to see a classic on the big screen. Had a surprisingly slapstick quality to it. While Mitchum chews the scenery, the child actors were great!
  • A very stylized and over the top movie. But amazing cinematography and what a creepy guy
  • Awesome to see a bunch of fantastic performances; the tension was riveting; the photography was beautiful in a fairy-tale way (were there a ton of composite shots? What a fascinating style). Classics on the big screen is what brought me back to the Film Society.

Nashville

92%

  • So thrilled to finally see this on the big screen, what an absolute triumph!
  • I think the entire audience at The Embassy tonight was seduced by Keith Carradine singing I’m Easy.
  • More 70s auteur-type films please!
  • Sensational!
  • Top ten movie ever? The Great American Movie? Both seem kind of reasonable in the afterglow of the screening!

King of Jazz

56%

  • Very proto-Busby Berkeley in some of the dance numbers. Great to see a very young Bing Crosby, with his instantly recognisable voice.
  • It was supposed to showcase great America music but the music was mostly terrible. The skits were appalling. It felt a bit like an early version of America’s Got Talent. Please don’t stop playing the classics though!
  • One black person – a little girl in a movie about jazz!!! That kind of says it all!
  • Excruciating and appalling, worst film this year – sexist, racist and just vile, it looked and sounded truly awful, what a disaster.
  • Made too long ago to be a culture I can really understand, but too recent for me to be able to accept the weird sentimentality and racism underlying it as being simply “just how things were back then”.

Criss Cross

76%

  • Great movie, thanks heaps
  • A predictable story line saved by the cinematography, the highlight being the nightclub scene when Tony Curtis is dancing with Anna to “Jungle Fantasy” performed by Esy Morales and his Rhumba Band.
  • THAT ending! More ham than on a Christmas buffet. Glad I watched it in the cinema- Miklós Rózsa’s music was outstanding.
  • Beautiful restoration
  • I really hope Noir-vember is a recurring theme!

Thieves Like Us

81%

  • Two great stars and memorable character actors.
  • Pretty cool narrative with some zany heist ideas. Maybe Shelley Duvall reprised her iconic scream Queen sensation in “The Shining” from this movie?
  • Exquisite evocation of Depression-era morality with luminous performances and cinematography making up for the languid pace.
  • The story was skilfully told, but I didn’t find any connection or empathy …
  • Shelley Duvall slugging back Coke after Coke is everything

 


The Killers

Ava Gardner and Burt Lancaster in a scene from The Killers

90%

  • Man dies first reel. People ask, “What’s the deal?”
  • The kind of shadowy chiaroscuro that only the big screen can do justice to.
  • Can’t beat that with a stick – loved the one-take heist, the Citizen Kane-like structure, and the two beautiful leads …
  • Great to watch – reminded me of way films were made – very masculine with token woman who mostly poses …
  • Fortunately the script only used the word Betelgeuse once.

 


Utu Redux

86%

  • Very reminiscent of Leone’s underrated Duck You Sucker/Once Upon a Time in the Revolution.
  • So many familiar names! Such a trip down memory lane. An excellent reminder that concerns about land issues have remained a concern over the ages, and are not some 21st century invention
  • A tale… of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
  • Too many stereotypes but a powerful ending.

 


Thelma

88%

  • Both creepy and haunting it was a perfect Monday evening Halloween screening.
  • This was beautiful and tense in equal measure, I kept forgetting to breathe.
  • Would like to mark it down a few percentage points for the supernatural stuff – but it WAS well done 🙂
  • Not only visually interesting and highly atmospheric, but also managed to maintain our narrative attention to the end.
  • Did you know that the Oslo opera house is designed so in winter you can ski down its roof?

 


Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains

86%

  • Excellent film, thank you. Fascinating picture of the interplay of traditional attitudes, poverty and an unsupportive governmental structure!
  • Boring. No redeeming cinematic virtues beyond interminably long takes. Besides, Ozu did it much better over seventy years ago.
  • Exceptional movie
  • First character- the river
    Second character- money
    Third character  – food.
  • Magnificent

 


Elevator to the Gallows

91%

  • Captivating opening shot of Florence on the phone accompanied by Miles Davis’ sultry music had me hooked.
  • What a brilliant movie from Louis Malle. A thriller murder mystery with plenty of twists, turns and comedic moments. The audience loved it!!
  • One star for the cool cars. The rest was too silly for words.
  • I will leave the house ANY DAY to watch Jeanne Moreau wandering through Paris’ lonely streets. What didn’t this film have! Beautiful ode to Hitchcock.
  • The soundtrack is perfection

 


Faust

96%

  • Fabulous and spectacular – what a treat, worth waiting 2 years for : )
  • The music was phenomenal! (And the visuals, although I would love to see a restored version)
  • Just simply amazing. The musical score complemented the film in an extraordinary manner.
  • I’d sell my soul for more live cinema in Wellington.
  • An incredible evening of film and music.

 

 

 


L’Argent

86%

  • No acting; story jumps about; gloomy view of the human condition; but captivating viewing.
  • Incredible. Thanks so much for screening this
  • Thoroughly enjoyed the movie – it had a mysterious Claude Chabrol feel to the direction for me. Both unnerving and sinister.

 


You will die at 20

83%

  • Films from unseen places are always appreciated
  • Wonderful movie, so beautiful to look at and such an engaging story.

 


Dance, Girl, Dance

81%

  • Seldom has a film so consistently ludicrous been so entertaining
  • The melodrama! The tremulous closeups! The fruity accents! There was much to love here.
  • Great to see this kind of subversion of Hollywood cinema. Arzner could only have got away with it at RKO!
  • Wonderful entertainment and loved O’Hara’s two ‘speeches’ on stage and in court – bravo!

 


Rafiki

77%

  • Those colours!
  • Great storytelling ably supported by massive pops of colour.

 


Pickpocket

77%

  • Interesting but not particularly riveting  (from a 3 star voter)
  • Oh he was such a rotter but I couldn’t help liking him anyway.  The love of a good woman sorted him out – maybe? (from a 4 star voter)
  • Great to see Bresson in top form and looking forward to ‘L’Argent,’ also the Altman films.  Let’s have more of these classics by such wonderful dead directors. How about Roeg? (from a 5 star voter)

 


Under Snow

85%

  • Such a cozy, gentle film
  • If I had watched it on a tv I might have wandered away during its occasional longueurs. But on the big Embassy screen I was totally committed and loved the slightly mysterious mix of legend and cultural tourism. And the snow! I dreamt in white that night.
  • I loved this movie. Its slow, meditative pace forced me to slow down with it. I can’t remember having such a strange, pleasant movie-watching experience as this one. Thanks for programming this!