Special presentations is the first section of the Film Festival program, and rightly so. It’s here that all the top films of the Festival are showcased. Now don’t get me wrong, by top, I don’t mean the only ones worthy of your viewing time, just the ones that stood out to the Festival organisers for whatever reason. As usual, we’re going to suggest just two for you to go and watch.
A housemaid is caught up in the deadly games of her wealthy employers in this stellar, voluptuous remake of a Korean classic, fresh from competition in Cannes.
“Slick, polished and sexy, Im Sang-soo’s The Housemaid is the sort of film simply not made in Hollywood any more. Directed with the same icy precision displayed by the coldly amoral family at its center, The Housemaid is an entirely grown-up thriller – one driven by lust, boredom, and not particularly subtle manipulation…
The Housemaid revolves around Lee Euny. A lower class, sweetly naive divorcee, Lee begins the film working in the kitchen of a cheap restaurant and sharing a tiny apartment with her only friend. Is it any wonder that she jumps at the opportunity to become the new nanny for the enormously wealthy Hoon family? The Hoons are outwardly perfect. He is handsome and successful, a true power broker despite his youth. She is young and beautiful and heavily pregnant with twins, new siblings for the couple’s young daughter. The daughter? Obviously very intelligent and mature beyond her years in truly adorable fashion. But you know what they say about perfection… give it a scratch and who knows what may lie beneath.
The script is very good, indeed, and the entire cast virtually flawless, though Park Ji-young deserves special mention… Elegant when called for, savage once you dip beneath the surface, The Housemaid is a triumph for Im and one of the strongest thrillers to emerge from Korea in the past several years.” -Todd Brown, Twitch
WHY THE HOUSEMAID?
It’s a friggen Korean thriller! Korean film are on the up, and Hollywood is taking note. The Housemaid looks like a tightly woven story where nothing is what it seems. The kind of film that draws you in, then throws a bag over your head and dumps you in the ring with a very angry Mike Tyson.
ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST
Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West is the Everest of Italian westerns, featuring the greatest movie score Ennio Morricone ever composed and the most glorious CinemaScope camerawork to ever grace a western. Forty years on it’s recognised as one of the definitive big screen movies. Its hallucinatory splendour towers again in this stunning restoration. We couldn’t be more pleased with ourselves for securing these screenings for the giant Civic screen. -NZFF
“Let’s celebrate… and appreciate the opportunity to see a gorgeous new restoration of a ‘classic’ that’s still one of the most enjoyable movies ever made: Bronson, Cardinale, Fonda, and Robards; Morricone’s unforgettable score; images of Monument Valley that rival John Ford’s. Right from the opening sequence – a quintet for three gunslingers, a fly, and a creaking windmill – it’s clear we’re being told a story whose familiar elements will appear in a new way…
This unusual film was born in an unusual way. After the financial success of his first three spaghetti westerns, Leone decided to try something more personal, so he invited two young filmmakers – Dario Argento and Bernardo Bertolucci – to… ‘dream together’. Agreeing that the western is the cinematographic genre par excellence, they discussed the American movies they loved, Hollywood dreams, and historical reality. The extraordinary film that resulted is a unique blending of popular fiction, the primal ‘once upon a time’ impulses common to all storytelling, and the Marxist ideas so in vogue in the late 60s. And ‘something to do with death’.” -Peter Scarlet, Tribeca Film Festival
WHY ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST?
Three words: Red Dead Redemption. Sure, Rockstar’s best game to date might, in reality, have little to do with Sergio’s genre defining masterpiece, but it has created a resurgence of interest in Westerns, and having played the game, I’m ready to see one of the films that no doubt influenced it.