Musical treats at the Film Festival

nz film festival poster image, used with permissionEvery year when the New Zealand International Film Festival brochure comes out, I immediately flip to the music page. These are always the films that I can’t miss seeing on the big screen, surrounded by big sound. This year I’m particularly pleased with the selection, here are some of my highlights along with catalogue links to the artists …


Shut Up and Play the Hits – LCD Soundsystem (catalogue link)
This is the film I had most hoped to see in the lineup at this year’s festival after seeing the trailer above when it came out a few months back. A document of the last ever LCD Soundsystem show, one of the best bands of the last decade going out at the peak of their powers in front of 18,000 fans. If you’re going to this don’t be shy about dancing in the aisles, I certainly plan to. This film features interview style narration from Chuck Klosterman, who has several books that are well worth reading.


Searching for Sugar Man – Rodriguez (catalogue link)
A great talent that never quite broke through – despite releasing an amazing debut, seriously, check it out – that subsequently slipped off the radar, and the story of his rediscovery. Rodriguez, despite being unknown to most music fans in his native America, enjoyed a cult following in South Africa, where he was bigger than Elvis. This eventually leads us to two South African fans journeying to discover what happened to their idol.


Neil Young Journeys – Neil Young (catalogue link)
Follow Neil Young as he drives through his hometown in Ontario, on his way to perform a show in Toronto. Along the way he revisits old haunts and memories, interspersed with footage of the concert. This one is going to be good.

World Cinema Showcase

The World Cinema Showcase is on now at the  Paramount Theatre until the 30th of April.  To supplement your viewing experience, here are some links to items in Wellington City Libraries’ collections relating to five of the films being showcased:

Freakonomics, described by Variety magazine as “A revelatory trip into complex, innovative ideas and altered perspectives on how people think”,  is based on the 2005 bestselling book of the same title by Steven D Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner (subtitled “a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything”), which incidentally had a follow-up in 2009 entitled Superfreakonomics: global cooling, patriotic prostitutes, and why suicide bombers should buy life insurance. If these strike a cord with you then visit the Freakonomics website for more, including their blog on, well, just about everything.

Waiting for Superman is a documentary (not a Lois Lane biopic sadly) which looks at the failures of the American public education system. Several keen students are hopeful of getting a place in the Harlem Success Academy, a charter school for the poorest children in the area. Entry is determined by lottery – if they cannot get in they will have little chance of furthering their education elsewhere. This doco has been very successful and has earned a lot of praise. It also has its critics, who claim that it is inaccurate. Anyway, it is by Davis Guggenheim, who also made An Inconvenient Truth (conveniently in the library), and a surprising number of TV dramas (including Deadwood, also in the library).

Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why is Everybody Talking About Him?). In fact, Harry Nilsson (1941 to 1994) was a singer and songwriter who wrote such varied hits as ‘Makin’ Whoopee’ (remember this from The Fabulous Baker Boys with Michelle Pfeiffer and the Bridges?), ‘Many Rivers to Cross’, and ‘You Put the Lime in the Coconut’ among many others. At the risk of becoming far too trivial, he also composed the music for the 1980 film Popeye starring Robin Williams (again, conveniently in the library).

Continuing the popular music theme, Lemmy is a biopic about Lemmy Kilmister, the frontman for Motörhead (and previously the bassist for epic space rock hair band, Hawkwind). Lemmy is 65, and has led a life of rockstar excess for decades. This rockumentary is three years of the full Lemmy experience, both on-stage and off-. There are interviews with loads of his fans, including Dave Grohl, Dee Snider, Metallica, Joan Jett, and even Jarvis Cocker (all of whom are, of course, in the library).

Reign of Assassins is a bit like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (remember how cool that was the first time) in that it is set in Ye Olde time China, stars Michelle Yeoh and has epic martial arts. A married couple are each unaware that their spouse is a highly-skilled assassin. Not only that, but they are mortal enemies! In addition to the Mr & Mrs Smith twist there is also a little Romeo & Juliet thing happening. Romeo Smith & Juliet Smith? Maybe not. Anyway, watch it for the fights!