I was faced with a choice, at a difficult age. Would I write a book, or should I take to the stage

Wednesday, August 11


We say that we'll write about film here. But lately it's all been Big Brother, Idol and the brilliant Sara-Marie. But please know that we DID get to the Melbourne International Film Festival, and we DID have ourselves a Minipass of 10 films (despite the program being full to bursting with samey Asiatic martial arts kick/punch ones and gritty crime "affairs".) So, here is a halfarsed whistlestop tour of what it is that we saw on the Minipass:

It began with a Finnish film called A Bride of the Seventh Heaven, which was about a story of the life of an old woman of the indigenous people of north-west Siberia (or possibly of far northern Finland), who was betrothed as a child by her mother to a god in exchange for some sort of commodity that we can't quite remember.

Striking images of the old woman as little girl sitting on a hill in stark arctic surrounds, waiting for her husband, the god, to arrive, and a satisfyingly otherworldly feel get this one 7/10.
Then it was on to Proteus, a film for gays. It is a period piece, set in South Africa. A love story between two young men in a penal (haaa) colony.

Every gay in Melbourne turned out for this one since it was the only film in the program that had a picture of two men pashing in the program. Unfortunately it was embarrassingly bad and just went on and ON. Worst film of the year so far (worse than 21 Grams, even). 1.5/10.
Luckily the standard improved with our next, Evil. It's a Swedish film set in the 1950s, in a posh boys' boarding school where there's bullying going on (which is really quite brutal) and the teachers simply do not CARE. Reminiscent of Year 10 text "The Chocolate War", this one had good restrained Scandinavian acting, hot boys, well-executed fight scenes and a more than unsettling back story of ongoing domestic violence and subsequent revenge. 8/10.

Then it was MORE Scandinavia with the Icelandic drama Cold Light, about a man who lives in a little village who is haunted by Something Terrible, in his past. He goes to drawing classes to buck himself up but it doesn't do much good. The story was complicated and we were frankly too tired to appreciate all the subtleties but we give high marks to all Scandinavian films that have sweeping landscape shots and patterned 70s knitwear and this will be no exception, despite it being a bit uneven. 7.5/10

Then we viewed a Canadian one called Far Side of the Moon. A pair of middle-aged French-Canadian twin men have lost their mother. One is a weatherman, which is a profession which lends itself to limited hilarity, we came to realise during the screening. The other twin works in a call centre (but NOT VERY ENTHUSIASTICALLY you'll be pleased to hear, perhaps) and has a physics thesis that he'd like someone to have a look at. Crystal may or may not be pleased to hear that there are many visual references to 2001: A Space Odessey going on in this one. Some of the acting marred it a little bit but visually it was pleasing and we are pleased to award a probably overgenerous 6.5/10.

Then, an Australian premiere! Tom White. How exciting, because many celebrities were in attendance. The MIFF even tried to have a "red carpet" entrance for them (except it was quite quite crap)! Apart from senile old Geoffrey Rush the attendant celebrities were fairly B-list from what we could tell. Mick Molloy. Matthew Newton. Sibylla Budd. These people were seated first. And the film. Well. A man living a comfortable life as a draftsman goes on a bender after making some mistakes at the office and never goes home to his adorable family. Eventually he becomes a disgusting old tramp and you can tell this from his beard which gets longer and more unkempt throughout. We wanted to like it, you know. It's always pleasing to see Melbourne in a film. But the acting's all a bit forced, particularly between Tom and his wife, the dreadful Rachael Blake. There's something faintly ridiculous about a lot of it, but the last 10 minutes makes up for this to some extent. 7/10, but only because the Australian film industry needs encouragement (and because it isn't a high-larious comedy about Aussie battlers waging war on a takeaway joint or bowling club etc etc).

Then, Twentynine Palms, which we just couldn't be bothered attending (we were getting farily sick of MIFF by this stage). It seemed like it would be alright. But we can't say for certain, since we just did not GO, to it!

Kirsten, who is ordinarily quite reliable about such things, offers the following "appraisal":
It's about an American photographer and a Polish woman who go on a trip to the desert town of Twentynine Palms. They communicate in French. The film mostly focuses on the couple's miscommunications and forays into the desert. But it all ends on a VERY NASTY note. Overall, quite good. 7/10

We see.

Then, The Grafitti Artist, about an isolated teenage boy who likes skateboarding and tagging everything in SIGHT. He falls in love with another tagger, but just like Twentynine Palms (apparently), it ends in a sour, unsatisfactory manner. The boys are quite good, until they speak, and presumably that's why they have about 3 lines each for the duration of the film. Still, quite heartbreaking, in the aggregate. 7/10.

ANOTHER Canadian film was next, called Twist. This was a fairly grim little outing, based on the story of "Oliver Twist". But instead of pickpockets, everyone's a hustler and addicted to heroin. This is the feel-bad film of the MIFF, and Nick Stahl ought to be a big star. And yet, he isn't. 8/10.

We finished with Jean-Luc Godard's Notre Musique. We will almost certainly be needing some essays on this one. 7/10 (may change post essay-reading).

General comment: The Capitol is Melbourne's most uncomfortable cinema; can something not be done about this. It is owned by RMIT, and we were under the impression that they now have pots of money just LYING around.


At 12:22 pm, Blogger Crystal Gallagher-Starr said...

Ah, essays.are.required., I see. I suspect I would need to read essays for all of them, but 9 times out of 10 films leave me feeling confused. I also see you tend to favour the 7/10 'score'.

RE: 2001, I am pleased, but also concerned.

At 12:32 pm, Blogger Fop said...

Mmm, I was thinking there should perhaps be a little bit more light and shade to the scoring. I just find it hard to go out on a limb, you know? Too embarrassing, to resile from extreme viewpoints later one you've changed your mind.

You would only need an essay for the last one I think. If anyone reckons they don't need an essay for it, then they are telling a fib! The rest of them were fairly straightforward.

Reading back over it all I feel that this mammoth MIFF review has really raised the tone of my blog. Don't you think?

At 3:37 pm, Blogger Crystal Gallagher-Starr said...

Yes! Most definitely.

I just find it hard to go out on a limb, you know? Too embarrassing, to resile from extreme viewpoints later one you've changed your mind.I have certainly never had THAT problem.


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