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111 Reviews

Reviews

A Wine in Time

A cleaner is left to sort out a storage shed and finds an ancient bottle of alcohol. His demanding boss has told him to lay off the booze while he's working but the temptation is too great and he takes a swig. His chair disappears, another swig and he's on a farm in the past with a local yokel. Turns out the wine is all taking him back in time. But its all good, a quick vom and he's back home, but busted by his angry boss for drinking on the job. No such luck for the local yokel who ends up somewhere far further back in time - cue excellent shadow of T-Rex. This film was nicely written, with a clear and simple premise that worked well. The way were were led along at the start before we realised he was time-travelling was nice and the wrap up effective. The performances were also really good and it played well to the audience with lots of laughs. Some issues with the camera-work which was a little grainy and over-exposed at times but the story carried it along.

I'm Actually There

Genius premise! Invisible superhero! I loved the invisible guy meets invisible girl at the waterfront scene with lots of empty shots and a vo. It totally worked. I wished there was some cool fight foley over the ninja fight scene, but otherwise - great!.

Bloody Mary

'I paramedicked myself out before the accident'. Best line of heat. So many weird things going on in this film. odd, odd and unnecessary cgi, creepy laugh scene... man on toilet, spewing blood,so many magic moments. So incredibly strange.

The Long-Con

A hitwoman receives a new target - a Greenpeace hippy. She acquires her target but she's in it for the long game. So long in fact that (you guessed it) the film spans 10 years. The hitwoman and the Greenpeace hippy hook up, move it, marry, have a baby etc. The hitwoman plays it full deadpan straight the entire time which is where the laughs in this film are - especially the physical comedy gags. Technically it wasn't super polished but it was a good idea and got lots of laughs.

Playing House

A sweet young couple make brunch together, but something is a bit off. Fried crumpets eaten with a knife and fork look like cheap art department but then it gets odder and odder - some pretty strange dialogue, some weird costume changes and generally pretty childish behaviour escalates until the reveal at the end explains it all. I really enjoyed this film, at first it was pretty strange, were they acting badly? Why were they saying these strange things? but the explanation was a lovely simple way of approaching the genre. (I'm trying not to spoiler it). The shooting was a bit grainy and out of focus at times - I think you needed more light inside to get the best out of your camera, but great work on the concept.

Super Self Me

This film did a whole lot of things right. It looked good, it was funny, it had some weird 'oh god' moments and the acting was great. The story started fairly expectedly but then kept surprising which is hard to do in 7 mins. And lovely sick ending.

The quest for redemption of young robert young

Nice looking quest film where Bobby Young heads off to a school reunion to apologize for his childhood bullying. It had some odd editing and the ending didn't quite give a big enough payoff but the start was good and the main actor did an awesome job.

Reign

In a dystopian future we see a young boy in a lab - 10 years later that future is destroyed and he returns. I love me a super short film and nothing makes me happier than teams who tell a story in well under the time limit. This year Blowfish took that to the extreme with a bare minimum one minute job that is a lesson in how much can be told with so little. It may be that they went a touch too far and its been great to be able to re-watch this film as there are subtleties that you can pick up on a re-watch which the audience in the heats may have missed out on. Please put it up on the screening room for everyone else! The animation is great and the sound works well and all in all its pretty slick.

Dark Side

This film did well on the technical front - looked really good and well done sound. I thought the actors did a good job, the female lead did well being subtley evil. There were a few creepy bits early in the film but it could have got scarier sooner.

The Grate Cheese Caper

I really liked this film. A nice comedy approach to heist crossed with a little reservoir dogs name humour. A gang of baddies heists a cheese factory but it goes wrong and all the cheese is lost. The cheese loosing is all told through short still frame sequences which I thought worked really well. I also liked the subtle hook up between Bobbi and the guy she bullied as a child. Nice Team intro as well.

Safety is the key

For some reason my enjoyment of this film is increased by the many questions I have around the team name - enter next year and explain it me please. The story here is set in a workshop and begins with a safety briefing by the hilarious and arrogant boss. His parents bought property in the 70s so he doesn't have to wear high vis, but by god everyone else does. Anyone who's had to deal with workplace safety would have been rolling around with laughter at the parody of what is now a regular part of a work day. Unfortunately the risk assessment didn't include the weird and really disgusting monster thing that is unpacked from a delivery, early on in the film. Some kind of jelly worm thing on a string leaps into people and causes them to attack each other. Ensure much unsafe activity. The last workers are only saved at the end by Wellington's best door slam - the garage door beheading the monster. This was one of those films that was a bit rough and ready technically but the story was really funny and weird, it had a bunch of great lines and you can't help but feel the team had a ball making it.

Psylent Night

A great POV journey into some kind of random drug trip that is part music video, part abstract dream. This film is pretty beautiful, with a fisheye camera that travels around, taking us into a house and then into someone's mind/the city. The editing is great and the cuts between sections flow really well, but what stands out is the sound design and music. The sound is subtle and really creates a world for us that takes us on what is a strange and weird journey. Not all films need a clear and detailed story and I really enjoyed the playful way this film explores visuals and sound in a surreal way that leaves you feeling satisfied despite the lack of specific detail.

Connections

Connections begins with the main character losing his phone in the required puddle - but with dire consequences in a world where everyone is deeply addicted to their phone. Unable to engage online he is suddenly separated and unable to connect. His family take photos of their dinners, his girlfriend selfies them, but no one pays him any real attention. The hero scene for me is the cinema of viewers all on their phones while no movies plays. The ending is charming and hopeful. I liked the way this film took todays' phone addiction and really only shifted it slightly to satirise our behaviour. It was clever and its great to see school teams telling stories that feel relevant to their own lives. Things to improve would have been adding some more stakes for the main character so that we felt more connected and empathetic about his lack of device access and also polishing up the production values.

Crossroads

Three way standoff - some really nice shots and fast cutting and I liked the harsh lighting. I got a bit confused about what they were fighting about, but it was still totally enjoyable. The actors did a great job too.

Sammy

This film hit most of the marks for me. It was beautiful (who says one room can't look good), the actors and dialogue were great, and they tried for a serious story which is also hard work in 48 hrs. The ending didn't quite nail it, it felt a little abrupt and I'd have liked to see the mother's reaction at the end more. The Mother was incredible - Hope she gets a best actress nomination. One of the best I've seen so far.

Life is Better With You

The main character tries his best to get close to the girl of his dreams, but this is a case of only one star crossed lover who is perhaps maybe a little bit more of a stalker. There are some humorous moments as his efforts are repelled time and again and the scene with the roll in the back yard is a pretty sweet stunt. It was a bit rough around the edges technically but I did think that the stalker chap still seemed fairly human and likeable which made the final scene slightly touching and funny.

Lost

Late one night, a young man is driving to his mate's house when his cell phone begins to play up. At first his map app starts repetitively telling him to do a u-turn, then changes the music randomly. But what initially seems like a series of irritating technical difficulties increasingly becomes sinister. Alone on the road in the dark, the tone changes and frustration turns to fear. This was a great film, and deserved its track through to the Grand Finals. It was a small story - one actor, set in a car, and Jordan's performance really took us on a journey, from humour, right through to dread. There was one moment where he looks around that you felt the character shift into vulnerability. The sound design on this film was also really great - changing the music volume unexpectedly threw us off and was a big part of carrying the audience on the journey. I wasn't sure the ending needed the figure to appear, there was already a sense of aloneness that was really threatening and for me I wondered if you could have left the audience to imagine what might follow but thats just my feeling. Great work - its been a pleasure seeing this team develop over the last few years and I look forward to seeing more from you.

Don't Clique

A budding student president bases her campaign at school on an anti-bullying platform. She asks that students vote for equality and destroys all the cliques in an attempt to make everyone the same. It all gets very dictatorial and her idea of equality soon becomes pretty fascist. The film is a nice little parable about individuality vs the system and how badly wrong things can go when someone thinks they know better, no matter what their intentions. The lead character was really strong and the opening monologue/speech is pretty dramatic and engaging. I did think it was a little long and could have benefitted from a tighter edit. I enjoyed the ending even though it was quite metaphorical. In general it was thought-provoking and original.

In The Basement

"There's a ghost in the basement and it's gonna grant me a wish"... And so begins a sort of scary, sort of funny quest through a strange institutional basement that looks like some kind of abandoned hospital. At first the group of kids play around, fake scaring each other and being idiots with a wheelchair, until things get sinister as everyone slowly disappears. The build up could have been a bit tighter, with the tension increasing towards the climax, which unfortunately didn't feel quite scary enough. The comedy ending worked well though and the final wish was sweet. This team has some solid music chops and it was good to see them not head directly to musical, but instead focus that energy on a great score and sound design which has earned them another well-deserved nomination. And that wheelchair silhouette is primo!

Flower Boys

Two young men studying Shakespeare mirror the beginning of Romeo and Juliet with some charming flirting. But various things serve to keep them apart despite their stolen smiles. Finally, in an extremely heartwarming scene, the filmmakers give over and let them get together. Cue much 'awing' in the audience. This was a wee gem of a film with a charming story that did what all good films do - made me care about the characters and their needs. There was some dodgy focus at points and wind noise but this film really bought the feels which always cuts through the odd technical mishap. Great to see some same sex romance coming from younger entrants - good work.

Many Happy Returns

A young girl blows out the candle on a birthday cake in a silent house filled with the sadness of recent lost. Her wish returns her sister to life, but at what price? This film is beautifully shot and has an amazing soundtrack, hence the nominations in score and cinematography and the sound design win which are much-deserved, along with its place in the Wellington final. The thing that I think sets this film apart is the tone of it. It is creepy and filled with intense foreboding, we feel viscerally that something is wrong but as we move through the story with the main character we are captured by her hope at the return of her sister. This underlying darkness is cleverly controlled and keeps us enthralled throughout. The only point of improvement is that the ending didn't feel surprising and it kind of just plays out as expected. Its still a beautifully put together short though and I commend what is a new team to the competition on putting together something so slick and tonally confident.

Claymore

Lots of effort in this film in terms of locations, people and props. Seemed like all of Otaki came out to help.

Slaughter High

A b-grade version of the breakfast club turns splatter as a vicious murderer stabs the high school cliches one by one. This team took some great high school movie tropes and combined them with some serious splatstick so good work on the genre-mashup that fitted perfectly for a high school team. I loved the dramatic and weird over-dubbed voices and the characters were great. It did get a bit rambly towards the end but everyone got stabbed and thats what we expect from a film called ‘Slaughter High’. Also, as a side note, i love this team name. It makes me giggle every time.

Super Self Me

This film did a whole lot of things right. It looked good, it was funny, it had some weird 'oh god' moments and the acting was great. The story started fairly expectedly but then kept surprising which is hard to do in 7 mins. And lovely sick ending.

Followed

Two Cheech and Chong themed leads are leaving a movie when they come to believe a woman is following them. Plagued by a deep sense of paranoia they defend themselves and kill her in an alley. Turns out she was just trying to return something to them. Bummer. The second half of the film involves disposing of the body, accompanied by more humour. Script-wise the escalation to killing wasn't quite believable and we could have felt a lot more threatened before it would have made sense for them to kill her. I get it was splatstick and you were trying to get into the bloody body cutting up etc but an accidental death might have worked better and given you more fodder for comedy. We see a lot of problems being solve by killing someone in 48Hours and I cant emphasis enough that its not that believable and you really need to set killers up to be capable of murder, even in the heat of the moment and these guys were hilarious bumblers. Keep in mind as well that everyone also makes women the victims of violence in 48Hours and that has gotten pretty tired. Despite that there were some great moments in this film and it played really well in the heat. The two leads in this were great, really funny as a duo of bumbling stoner idiots and the banter made the film. It was also shot really well, editing was snappy and the music was on point. I also note that it looks like you did it all at night so either you started really early or took a risk and waited until Saturday night which is brave.

A Dinner For Sinners

A creepy murdered sets up a dinner party where all the guests are dead and the last live one, a woman, gets killed. Stylistically this film was pretty beautiful. Black and white with a record playing over the movie, it had quite a style going on. The opening scene in particular was quite gorgeous. The story however fell flat. It didn't take me anywhere and was pretty cliched.

Love.

A young man fights his inner voices to reveal to his friends that he’s gay. This was a heartwarming story by Taita Clubhouse and I love it when young people make films that are relevant to issues that are in their world. This film felt authentic, took us on a journey and finished with a sense of warmth. The two young leads were great and the sound design to bring out the inner voices that called ‘shame’ were a great way to show the character’s battle with his own thoughts. There were a few sound issues with filming by noisy roads but all in all you should be really proud.

Hot Knights: The Bob, Rob Medieval Bod Swap

Medieval knights, spear in the eye, bromance, wizard, castle, everyone learns a lesson, what could go wrong? Answer - nothing! This film was hilarious and awesome.

Jumbo

Ness has already written an eloquent review for this film but I did just want to add for the filmmaker's benefit that my kid watched it 5 times in a row and asked me to tell the filmmakers that it was excellent.

Sammy

This film hit most of the marks for me. It was beautiful (who says one room can't look good), the actors and dialogue were great, and they tried for a serious story which is also hard work in 48 hrs. The ending didn't quite nail it, it felt a little abrupt and I'd have liked to see the mother's reaction at the end more. The Mother was incredible - Hope she gets a best actress nomination. One of the best I've seen so far.

Straight Outta Wellington

Townie cousin William comes to visit Foxton and can't find the wifi. His four teenage cousins try to make him welcome by making him play a series of increasingly unsuccessful team sports which result in some great physical comedy. The puddle and sand dune falls are great. It is a little repetitive and the ending is abrupt with a sense that the characters didn't really learn to get on as I expected they might, so perhaps a little more work on the character evolution in the story could be something to think about next time. I have to say the dad was great - I laughed out loud both times he appeared.

Waiting

After some kind of attack a lone man hides out, trying to get in touch with a girlfriend. Eventually her texts dry up and he goes to find her, discovering the house has been ransacked. He gathers supplies and waits. And waits. Eventually a dog joins him, bringing respite from his loneliness. The film ends when some kind of threat occurs and he has to flee. I think the idea was a good one and I do like the unseen monster in this genre, but we could have done with more threat - blood at the house, sounds in the distance, something to bring the tension and danger to life. I think that the soundtrack was where you could have bought in a lot more to the story and this would be something to play with more next time.

Minor Transgressions

A pair of robbers accidentally steal a kid along with a car. They keep the kid in their warehouse lair and he ends up becoming part of the gang, finding out more and more about criminal life. The kids is smarter than the criminals and ends up giving them helpful suggestions which eventually lead to the twist in the tail. This was a really great use of Ultra and the fish out of water genre, together they made a pretty great match. With the script, the beginning and end in particular worked really well. I thought in the middle it could have been a bit tighter, there was a lot of sitting around that could have been shorter and we could have had a bit more insight into the kid's character. We were definitely quite observational in this film rather then clearly following the kid or the gang. Some of the performances were a bit too 'nice' - the gang weren't really that threatening - but that did lend to the comedy of it somewhat. Ultra is hard work and good on you for signing up - I definitely felt that you dived into ultra wholeheartedly, making it core to your story. This film was enjoyable and while I've noted some areas for improvement I think overall you did a good job.

Beard I be without you

Lovely simple story that nailed the quest genre in a cute original way. Production values weren't amazing, but I didn't really care. Just loved the animated beard escaping through the city. Poor beard. I did wonder why it left and whether it was happy to be reunited.

streets of wishes

An animated retro video game (set outside the Paramount - thanks for that fantastic bit of homage) with a hero who has grown tired of cleaning up the mean streets and wishes to have a break. Great story and original ending. I loved the consistent aesthetic, voice acting was great and it was heaps of fun to watch.

Love, Pain and Chow Mein

A Chinese exchange student tries to win the girl of his dreams. This film was a hilarious and poignant cross cultural friendship that failed to get the girl. I loved the Chinese language with subtitles and pop culture references. Sadly that segment of Baywatch meant a DQ, because while funny it was a breach of copyright. The strongest thing in this film were the characters, they were funny and energetic. Unfortunately the Freinds song at the end went unnecessarily long but overall this film was really enjoyable and a good approach to the genre.

Passing Lane

A young man is picked up from the side of the road by a supernatural taxi. Will the driver give him a second chance? Set almost entirely in a car on the south coast this is a very impressive film. Tonally it is very gentle, mostly a conversation between two people in a car, but the beauty of it is that the story has depth enough that make us care about what is important to the characters and feel for what happens to them. We see them make decisions and we feel really strongly for them at the end. The only beat I didn't buy in the film was the doll - I am being picky here but it was a touch heavy-handed and wasn't necessary - we still had the connection to the young man knowing he had a young daughter. Its not often that 48Hours films have depth and subtley, its very hard to achieve in such a short time, but I really felt there was a lot of work and thought put into that script and those performances, which is what made the film what it was. Of course it was also beautifully shot and the score and sound design were incredible, but this film is a lesson that it is story first and those technical elements make what is already good, great.

Heart of Wire

Nice work sorting a whole bunker set and also big ups for taking on the challenge of making a serious musical. The soldier characters were all great but needed more music for a musical.

Fused

A young woman/robot escapes from some kind of institution in the future. In search of a mysterious target she travels to Kaitaia to find that it is out in the ocean. This film was an impressive entry from a solo filmmaker who is only 16 and I'd still be impressed if this film was made by a group of adults. The performance was great, the shooting was well thought-out, and I imagine quite tricky considering the filmmaker had to set up the camera, then act. This did mean that the shots were all quite static and occasionally had some focus issues but it still had lots of energy with action happening in the frame and that carried us past any technical probelms. The use of locations was clever to give a sense of the future and I liked the little touches like the "no humans allowed" sign in the toilets. Well-done and fantastic work.

Breadcrumbs

Boy relives the last day before he is horribly injured/paralysed. I thought it was a great attempt at a serious script and there were some lovely poignant moments. I thought the acting was great and it looked good. I felt the body-switching didn't quite work - I got a little confused because he was still there in the group, and there was maybe a touch too much of him in the present. Someone else has mentioned the awesome music and I also wanted to agree - the music was beautiful. Nice work from what looked like a really young team.