This week's big news isn't the regular theatrical releases - although if you're into yet another take on supernatural teenery (BEAUTIFUL CREATURES), the latest Bollywood heartwarmer (KAI PO CHE!), 3D surfing documentaries (STORM SURFERS 3D - which does look pretty cool, admittedly, and is only here for a week), or Cirque Du Soleil (um, CIRQUE DU SOLEIL: WORLDS AWAY 3D) you might be content. But for cinephiles, it's all about the French Film Festival, which has some films we can vouch for and some others that look damn promising:
SISTER (L'enfant d'en haut) was one of the overlooked gems of NZIFF 2012. Directed by Ursula Meier (who did the even more obscure but wonderful HOME) and shot lovingly by Agnès Godard (Claire Denis' regular DP), this simple story of a young boy who supports himself by stealing ski gear from a nearby resort sounds like unpromising social realist porridge in a capsule description, but is a deeply filmic, lovingly observed tale with a big surprise at the center and a note-perfect ending. If you only see one, etc.
JOURNAL DE FRANCE also received praise from those who saw it at NZIFF. It's a documentary portrait/journal by Raymond Depardon that combines clips taken from six years travelling around France photographing the landscape with archive footage from his 40-year reporting career. Deeply personal and, by all accounts, deeply rewarding.
Two undisputed masters of French film are represented on the program as well. Alain Resnais, who directed such classics as LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD (L'Année dernière à Marienbad)(1961) and HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR (1959), as well as the more recent World Cinema Showcase standout WILD GRASS (Les Herbes folles)(2009), returned to Cannes last year at the age of 90 with the pointedly titled YOU AIN'T SEEN NOTHIN' YET! (Vous n'avez encore rien vu). Whilst it's a quiet chamber piece set inside a theatre, for some it will be essential viewing. Jacques Tati, meanwhile, is represented with a 60-year anniversary screening (not e-Cinema, selling fast) of his black and white classic MR. HULOT'S HOLIDAY (Les Vacances de M. Hulot).
On top of those, there's an Academy Award-nominated film (WAR WITCH aka Rebelle), a two-fisted serving of animation (THE PAINTING aka Le Tableau - ANOTHER NZFF title - and a collection of Canadian shorts called ANIMATION EXPRESS), plus all the stuff you'd expect from a French Film Festival (a romantic comedy with neurotics, a film about cooking, and a historical portrait of an artist) and more more more!
And in the world of sneak previews, the arthouses all have advanced screenings of Michael Haneke's octogenarian romance/deathmarch AMOUR lined up for this weekend. Rumour to the contrary, it's not a remake of Don Hertzfeldt's AH, L'AMOUR. Or is it?
Event Cinemas begins four weekends of Disney Princess screenings. If you've ever wanted to see THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG (2009), TANGLED (2010), MULAN (1998), ALADDIN (1992), POCAHANTAS (1995) or CINDERELLA (1950) on the big screen, now's your chance.
And our favorite venue that we've yet to make it to, the Polish Heritage Trust Museum in Howick, is screening the Biblical epic QUO VADIS (2001) by donation Sunday at 2 PM. One day, we will check this place out; it has captured our imagination something fierce.
Oh, and there's some film awards this weekend (which means that Event has dropped all of the nominated films to $11). But personally, we recommend enjoying a movie, then curling up with the Skandies if you want some awesome awards reading (and not just because one of your contributors participated in the polling for the first time this year).
And finally, two to flag well in advance, because they will sell out:
Rialto Newmarket has announced the first in its Film Talk series for 2013, Alyx Duncan's debut feature film THE RED HOUSE, for 15 March, 2013. She'll be there for introduction and Q&As.