Friday, 14 August 2020


No, I haven't seen enough movies recently. Especially when it is a New Zealand comedy!

Sean is looking for love... unfortunately the police are also looking at him, after he was declared innocent of having killed his family. While he does find a possible someone, the ex-police officer isn't letting up, sure he is the one, even after all this time. Will love prevail? Will justice?

This is an odd movie in presentation. There is the romantic subplot, but there is also the grim and at times rather aching story of the murder and its impact. However, there is another dichotomy in that sometimes these are normal movie scenes, and sometimes they are documentary style talking to someone interviewing them, with no sign of which is which (other than someone suddenly talking towards the camera). It's an odd mix, but it does help portray the movie and enable you to get into the people's heads without needing anything like inner narration.

And yes, it is funny in parts, usually quite a dry humour of people just being a bit crap. We get great performances from Robyn Malcolm and David White, and a great cast of characters to go with them.

I wouldn't say head out to the theatres to see this is you aren't comfortable, but certainly try to see it some time.


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Monday, 10 August 2020

The Perfect Candidate

I would usually use the title in the original language, but can't find it to copy.

In Sauda Arabia, a female doctor ends up running for local elections, because she can't travel... although that's not related, but the important point is that she is female. In Saudi Arabia. She faces more than a little opposition, but she has a lot of determination. Also, her father is on tour in a band.

That last line may seem rather odd, but it also feels like a completely separate plot in the movie too. It's sort of tied together at the very end, but only after a not very surprising conclusion to the a-plot.

But the point is the trouble the doctor faces, as people focus on the woman more than the doctor. We get just a small taste of what women figures over there have to face. Although something else occurred to me while watching this: do movies have a problem with showing women uncovered? Even filming them? And one point in the movie we are told that women can't speech in front of men as it is against the law, so how did filming that scene happen? Is there a documentary about that I can watch?

Anyway, decent movie to round out my Film Festival experience. 20 movies on my wishlist, and 20 movies seen!


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Sunday, 9 August 2020


I can't say I'm fond of zombie movies, but this is the Film Festival, so let's see what they think is festival worthy.

A young woman is going to a rather disreptuable clinic for a breast reduction, with her boyfriend and mother (who is also getting work done). But as this is a zombie movie, there are basically failed experiments which come back to life and start running rampant through the clinic, and so everyone must try to escape, while trying not to get bit, and not be arseholes. They fail on all fronts.

People keep telling me zombie movies are great, and the zombies are always standing in for something. The most obvious choice the zombies could be representing here are the seeking of beauty and perfection at all costs... but they aren't. There's a one line reference to "punishing for meddling with god's creation", which doesn't go anywhere either. No, the zombies here are representing "let's put zombies in our movie because we want a zombie movie!"

And it's not like this movie is taking itself seriously to need more than that. From blood splatters to axes slamming, the movie isn't going for any degree of subtly and just trying to have fun. The unfortunate aspect is that is just another zombie movie, with nothing else to make it stand out.

Yeah, this isn't making me change my position on zombie media.


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Saturday, 8 August 2020

Tabi no Owari Sekai no Hajimari

A foreign language film about dealing with foreign language.

A Japanese TV reporter is in Uzbekistan to do some travel news, and we see her be chipper on camera... and not so much off camera. She does get out, but is very unsure of the people and places around her, and the crew struggle to put a show together. She does have one idea involving a goat, but it doesn't go brilliantly. And definitely can't find a fish. What can she do when the big thing she tries goes very wrong?

This is one of my nightmares: being in a country where I don't speak the language, so I can totally relate to what she is going through. That said, she gives it more of a go than I probably would.

However... that's pretty much the whole movie. Japanese person has trouble being in Uzbekistan. It's a nice movie, but there isn't a lot to it.


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Friday, 7 August 2020

Le voyage du prince

Hey, an animated movie! About time I watched one.

A monkey turns up on a new continent and it taken in as a new marvel to be studied. However, he is just as intelligent as the monkeys already here, but the monkeys here aren't interested in him as a person, but it what he represents. Eventually he has to leave, perhaps there is a better society out there?

So, this isn't subtle, but sod it, some times it's nice to have a clear allegory for things, especially if that means I can actually get it. The new world mocking the old world and being short sighted about what it allows, oh yeah, we are all there.

It's also very nicely animated. The images are clean and clear, and everything flows well. This is just a great movie that's a joy to watch.


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Thursday, 6 August 2020

Bor Mi Vanh Chark

A time travel sci fi supernatural foreign language film? Don't mind if I do!

A hermit can see ghosts, and spends time alone. When one woman dies, her daughter comes to him seeking to talk to her. However, one particular spirit he has been spending time with as well can link him to himself as a young boy, so he can help his younger self overcome problems. Which has no repercussions at all...

Except that it does. This does do somewhat interesting things with time travel and you need to reasonably be paying attention to keep up with what is going on, but I feel I followed along well. There are certainly many things to pick up on, and I'm sure a thorough second watch is warranted... but I don't feel that I would be doing that any time soon.

Apparently Mattie Do likes to make genre movies, so I should keep an eye out for what she's done.


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Wednesday, 5 August 2020


While not a documentary, this is based on a true story... at least, on a true thing that does happen to some people.

Jeanne works at a fair park, where there is a new attraction, a large seat whirling machine known as the Move It. Or, as Jeanne calls is, Jumbo. She develops an attraction to Jumbo and Jumbo responds to her. She tries to tell her mother, but her mother doesn't understand. No-one does. She even tries to be with the park operator to see if that works. But Jumbo is the only one for her, but can that last?

Objectophilia is a known thing, and that is the basis of this. A lot of the movie is showing a) that Jeanne and Jumbo are having a perfectly normal relationship, and b) that no-one understands this. For the movie we are on Jeanne's side, but can't say we don't agree and understand that others are having trouble with this.

Jeanne cleans the park at night and ends up alone with Jumbo, which reacts and moves. So we get that feedback that she is seeing, but this isn't presented as something supernatural and eventually we find out Jumbo is alive! No, we just get to see Jumbo through Jeanne's eyes and really helps to show how this works. That said, I'm not sure everyone who has objectophilia goes through this, but it's a good way to show it.

Decent movie, but as it is French, hope you like nudity!


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Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Coded Bias

Systems can only be as good as the data lying underneath them (and even then).

This documentary talks to a few different people about how machine learning/algorithms are being put into place around the place and used to run things. Especially how the people running the algorithms don't really understand them. And that the algorithms are putting into code biases that are already in the data but are socially accepted anyway (especially disfavouring women and people of colour). London already has identification in place, and it's going wrong. China has identification everywhere and people are happy about it (honest, guv). And America is looking into it. Not yet, but let's be honest, it isn't far off.

While we see cases of where the algorithms are deficient, being efficient isn't necessarily good either. Depending on what has been programmed, by those that control the programs, what you get out will depend a lot on what you put in. Not that that's always known.

And even if it is known, and this point isn't addressed although they bring up resume and teacher etc assessment, what gets measured gets done. So if people find out "you need X", then "X" is what they will focus on. We already see this in terms of what is taught for students to pass exams, now extend that to whether or not you get hired, or can keep your job, or get a mortgage, or... That's just as inequal as everything else.

We definitely need to keep an eye on this, but acknowledge something basic: as soon as something happens (as it already has) that the lawmakers can point to to say "we need technology to do this for us", this will be implemented with all the bugs inherent in place.


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Monday, 3 August 2020

Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on The Exorcist

Documentary... or commentary?

Just a quick FYI: William Friedkin is the director of The Exorcist. And so this movie is him talking about how he made The Exorcist. That's it. In some ways this is The Exorcist: The Commentary Track: The Film. Friedkin takes us through various scenes, tells us about his inspirations, and how he decided shots should go. It is, in short, fascinating.

Which kinda makes it hard to review. Either you want to hear him talk about how he made The Exorcist, or you don't. I did, so this movie was aimed right at me, and I enjoyed it immensely.

However, that does make this review rather short.


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Sunday, 2 August 2020

Huo zhe chang zhe

Based on a documentary.

A Sichuan Opera troupe is experiencing trying times. Audiences are less and less as opera becomes less popular, and all the buildings around them are being destroyed. The troupe tries to stay together, but the younger members want to move on to other activities, and their theatre is about to be demolished as well. They face the end, and must accept what is happening.

This features an actual Sichuan Opera, but they haven't quite disbanded yet as this was filmed, but it is looking inevitable. In the mean time, Johnny Ma takes advantage to tell their story and portray the conflicts the team went through as well as extrapolate out what is going to happen. (All events are real if not actually as they occurred.)

This is quite a charming story, and I quite enjoyed it!


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Saturday, 1 August 2020

Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets

Another documentary... or is it a "documentary"?

It's the last night of the bar, and we are there as it happens. From the opening at 11am through to the close at around 5am the next morning, we see various dezidens of the bar make their home there, chat about anything and everything, and pass the time in their home one last time.

There isn't much to say about the plot, because that's it. Just filming people on the last day of the bar, as they pass time away. There isn't much more to it...

...or is there? This might be spoilers, on the other hand I do think the movie is better knowing this fact (which I have only seen on a review or two), to whit: the bar is a fake. This is all on a sound studio somewhere else and they are all just putting it on. Certainly this seems real, but then it goes to say a lot that this could just be any bar anywhere. There isn't any particular traditions being observed, and while they are saying goodbye, no-one seems that really upset... and some of the names are actually actors who have appeared in other things. Suspicious much?

Given that this puts a different spin on it, it's a well captured moment that neatly encapsulates a lot of human experience. Otherwise it's just a bunch of people drinking at a bar.


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