So a few great things to note about this year's Auckland Film Society schedule.
1. They're playing one of my top ten films of all time - OF ALL TIME! - Nicolas Roeg's experimental masterpiece, WALKABOUT.
2. One of my favorite cinema screenings was seeing the little-known but fantastic CONSEQUENCES OF LOVE for the first time a few years back. I actually had to turn to my companion during the middle of the first shot (linked below) and say "I already love this film". It doesn't work quite the same in miniature, but on the big screen it's electric. The rest of the film is substantially more dynamic, but equally engrossing. And it is back, and if I only see one film at film society this year, it's this one.
3. Several films with great reps that I've never seen before are playing, from such directors as Max Ophuls (LE PLAISIR), Jean-Pierre Melville (LA SILENCE DE LA MER), Jacques Becker (CASQUE D'OR), Michael Curtiz (MILDRED PIERCE), F.W. Murnau (TABU), De Sica (THE GARDEN OF THE FITZI-CONTINIS), and - possibly most exciting to me - R.W. Fassbinder's WORLD ON A WIRE.
4. Three pieces of New German Cinema - one of the more exciting film movements around are playing. I'm unfamiliar with AFTERNOON and VACATION, but JERICHOW is a sturdy, clinical piece of filmmaking that's also underseen. The trailer is spoileriffic; below instead is an unsubtitled scene that should nonetheless give you a sense of the slow-burn vibe and the precise compositional eye.
5. A decent number of the films are showing on 35mm. A few years ago, I was angry - petulant, really - when digital projection was introduced to the AFS, and took a break from it. Now, I'm grateful that we're getting to see so many films on 35mm - all of the above except WORLD ON A WIRE, plus such gems as THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE, LA STRADA, THE ASPHALT JUNGLE, and the relatively obscure - but fantastic - WAKE IN FRIGHT (released as OUTBACK).
6. As for the digital offerings, while I'd prefer seeing a film print of ASHES OF TIME REDUX, I'll still give the projected Blu-Ray a shot, and when it comes to documentaries like RACHEL and PLUG AND PRAY, I'm guessing the source material was digital anyway. The latter, in particular, hits an area that I'm fascinated with (artificial intelligence and the potential for post-humanity once AI parallels human abilities).
7. It's back at the Rialto this year, which means easier parking than downtown.
8. Okay, I'm going to double around to 5. one more time. It's likely that the major distributors of film in New Zealand will all phase out 35mm this year, as they are doing worldwide. It's a medium with many faults and foibles, but it's what I fell in love with when I got into film, and what I will miss when it's gone, and the chance to see 35mm is quickly moving from something you can take for granted to something that is rare and precious. Seeing these movies at home - ESPECIALLY, especially, THE CONSEQUENCES OF LOVE (which has no NZ DVD or Blu release, although you can import the UK DVD) - is not the same. Honesty in reporting: I've left film society slip through the cracks the past few years. I'm determined not to make that mistake this year.