I had a ticket for this morning's screening of Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, the Scientology documentary. Fortunately for Tom Cruise and the rest of the crazies at Scientology, I stayed up too late noodling around on the Internet last night so decided to sleep-in and so my seat at the 11am New Zealand International Film Festival (NZIFF) remained empty.
By the time the film was 25 minutes into the 120 minute screening, I was sitting down to a breakfast of leftover (tinned) spaghetti on toast and coffee. It's cold here today - we had a really big storm yesterday that caused a lot of power outages and damage in Auckland (but thankfully for us not in our area) - but the sun has been breaking through the clouds to dapple my living room with patches of brightness.
I've booked nine movies to see during NZIFF. I've seen three already and only have mild regret at ditching today's session.
Song of the Sea
Ben's beloved mother mysteriously disappears giving birth to his little sister Saoirse. His father is so distraught at losing his wife and withdraws into himself leaving the children to pretty much fend for themselves in and around the lighthouse where they live. Ben resents Saoirsa for his mother's disappearance and isn't very accommodating with his toys or his time. Saoirsa hasn't learned to speak and follows Ben and his dog Cu around adoringly, just hungry for his attention and favour.
When Saoirsa is six, Ben's grandmother takes them both away to live in the city. It's here that Ben discovers Saoirsa is a mythical selkie and can turn into a seal - trouble is, in the city they are far from the sea and Saoirsa becomes ill. It's now up to Ben to look after his little sister, keep her safe, get her well and get her home; and it's also up to Saoirsa to find her voice to free all the fairy-folk who have been turned to stone by the evil Macha.
This movie is beautiful. The artwork glows on the screen; weaving traditional Celtic patterns and images into a graphic and beautiful watercoloured backdrop to this story of love an belonging.
When Marnie Was There
I adore Studio Ghibli films and I'm going to say right here and now I think this is the best of all their great body of work. The depth of emotion and complexity of the characters is astonishing. I found myself leaning into the screen as the story unfolded, and tears falling down my cheeks as they overflowed in the eyes of the animated characters on screen.
Like the Song of the Sea, When Marnie Was There is about a child who has lost her mother. Anna is an asthmatic who is sent to the country for the healthy air and lifestyle by her foster mother, who she believes is only looking after her because the government pays her to do so. Anna feels alone and different and doesn't feel like she fits in anywhere.
In the country she feels drawn to a seemingly abandoned mansion across the bay. This is where Marnie lives and Anna soon forms a tight bond with her new friend. Things don't seem right though and a mystery begins to unfold.
The backgrounds and animation are gorgeous. The level of detail of the hand drawn backgrounds, and the beautiful animation of the water and the skies, adds to the mood and
The Misfits (1961) was considered a box-office flop at the time of its release, today it's considered superb. Some say it is Clark Gable's finest performance. All I could see was Marilyn Monroe. To me she owned every scene. Her face shone with vulnerability and nuanced expression that was mesmerising. This movie shows what an incredible actress she was - and what an incredible beauty. It's no wonder the men stopped in their tracks in ever scene to vie for her attention and affections.
I still don't really know what to think of The Misfits. There are scenes that I found really disturbing and I'm not sure if that is because of the comparison of the 1961 sensibilities when compared to modern day or if something else is going on.
When I figure it out I'll let you know. Or, if you see it, tell me what you think.