Patema Inverted (Sakasama no Patema) (2013) MIFF Review



Japan (98 min)

Patema lives in an underground world, the only world she knows. But she is an explorer and wants to get away. When she does, she finds a world where she is inverted – literally. An experiment to attempt to obtain power from gravity years previously went terribly wrong, and many people floated off into the air. Some survived and went underground, and in both communities, there are many lies and secrets that are intended to protect the population; lies and secrets that need to be challenged and exposed.

Essentially, this is a story of friendship and love, family and community and hope. Some of the ‘science’ of the film was a bit lost on me – I think if I were asked to explain it in detail, I would get very confused and find some parts to be superfluous even thought they may be crucial. But as long as I don’t get too caught up in that, I can enjoy it for what it is; a delightful tale.

Patema Inverted is part of the Next Gen program and has school screenings on Wednesday 13 August at 11am and Friday 15 August 1.30 at ACMI and Saturday August 16 at 1:30pm at Hoyts. Book through ATOM or at MIFF or call 9662 3722

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Nine Days by Toni Jordan


Over nine days told from nine different characters’ points of view, Toni Jordan lets us into the world of one family, covering generations, from the thirties through to present day. Ambitious? Yes, indeed.

The main focus is Kit, one of two brothers growing up in Richmond in the working class, pre-WW2 days and his sister, Connie. Although is it? It is the whole family, it is legacy. It is change and time and pain. I thoroughly enjoyed the non-chronological nature of the structure that shot us forward and back in time and revealed the main story bit by bit. I felt that it only just captured much of the story, and that I would have liked Fifteen Days, or Eighteen Days, or even Twenty-Five days. There was much untold, and perhaps that was the beauty of the story.

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We Are Mari Pepa (Somos Mari Pepa) (2013) MIFF Review


Mexico (95 min)

We Are Mari Pepa follows Alex, a sixteen-year-old boy in urban Mexico who lives with his grandmother and has little aspirations beyond playing in a band with his mates. But as they move on, finding other things in life such as girls, jobs and parties, he is left to figure out what to do.

It was great seeing this side of Mexico, a side that is quite different to the dusty border towns so typically depicted in films and television. But for me, that was pretty much all I liked about the film. Not that it doesn’t have some charm in the way it shows that teenagers in Mexico are pretty much the same as those in Melbourne; teasing each other, calling each other names, joking, swearing a lot and talking about sex.

What it could have used was tighter editing. It was one of those types of films where nothing much happens for an hour and a half. Yes, his life changes, but a lot of the most interesting, key stuff is missed, and the rest is dragged out. Lots. I’m curious as to why it was chosen as part of the Next Gen program with school screenings as I think many students would become extremely restless, and if I needed to listen to a group of teenagers singing the band’s misogynistic song for the rest of the term (as they would no doubt do) I would be very quickly coming to the end of my tether.

We Are Mari Pepa is part of the Next Gen program and has school screenings on Wednesday August 6 at 1:30pm and Thursday August 14 at 11am at ACMI. Book through ATOM

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The Adventures of Tintin (2011) Film Review


As a little kid, I loved reading Asterix comics. I know, I know, that’s not Tintin, but they always looked kinda similar – same size and shape, kind of. Yes, I do judge a book by its cover. That’s just me, I’m afraid. When I attempted the Tintin comics, I didn’t really get them. There wasn’t much humour and I wasn’t really interested in the whole mystery aspect. I tried again a few years later and I enjoyed them a lot more – still not as much, but I liked them.

I was pretty concerned when I heard that there was going to be a live action motion capture animation film. Was it going to look as crap as that Tom Hanks Christmas film many years ago? I still haven’t seen that one – Polar Express, I believe. I just couldn’t get over that scary face from the trailer. I still have nightmares.

As it happens, Tintin is the absolutely perfect film for this technology.

Herge creates beautiful characters in his books, often with slightly enlarged features, and live capture animation allows these characters to come alive. If you are familiar with the comics, you will share my delight in seeing these characters brought to life – whether it is the sailors or the absolutely wonderful Captain Haddock.

I find it quite hard to critique the acting in the film as the animation dominates the appearance of the actors, and so I found myself relying on the voice to convey the character. Certainly, Andy Serkis portrayed a marvelous Haddock, and Nick Frost and Simon Pegg gave Thompson and Thomson voices exactly as I’d always wanted to hear them, but how much of the credit of their performances should be attributed to the animators? It’s an interesting thought.

Recently, Tintin won the Golden Globe for Best Animated Film, and it was deserving of this accolade. The animation is wonderful, and the story is well created, taking elements from several of the books. It is filled with action and humour and after a first watching, I was more than happy to go again with my nephew. The second watching was even better – oh, and I’d recommend a big screen, go for 3D and sit right at the back. It’s worth it.

The Adventures of Tintin was nominated for an Oscar for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score (John Williams)


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Anina (2013) MIFF Review


Uruguay/Colombia   80 Mins

Having been teased at school for having a name which is a palindrome, Anina ends up in a fight with a fellow student, who she refers to as the elephant. Each girl is punished by having to carry around an envelope that is sealed with wax and contains their punishment. How will Anina get through the week with this hanging over her head?

This animation is extremely beautiful, the characters are delightful and the story simple with a strong moral. It’s a joy to watch, and a film that is perfect for the upper primary audience that is recommended by MIFF Next Gen.

Anina is part of the Next Gen Program and has school screenings on Monday August 4 at 1:30 and Wednesday August 6 at 11am at ACMI. Book through ATOM

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Clara and the Secret of the Bears (2013) MIFF Review


Switzerland/Germany   93 Mins

Clara has returned to her village in the Swiss Alps after her summer holiday. She sees a bear cub playing in a meadow and suspects the father is not far away – the mother was killed by poachers the year before. Clara starts to have visions brought on by the house her step-father is renovating; visions of a young girl from the past and her troubles. It becomes clear that Clara must find a way to help this girl and the bears.

I get very nervous about bears. I think that’s quite natural. They are wild and have claws and teeth and kill people. I found some of the scenes with Clara interacting with the bears, even from a distance, very unsettling, even though there was no real indication that anyone would be hurt. It was not that type of film.

It is, however, a gorgeous film. The alps are so beautiful, the story is strong and you are quickly on the side of Clara, who is quite strong and capable, yet a bit out of her depth. I felt, at times, that the editing took away from the story, possibly missing some crucial points and dwelling on things that had been clearly stated, but it is none-the-less a film worth watching, and a film I think many younger teenagers would enjoy.

Clara and the Secret of the Bears is part of the Next Gen Program and has school screenings on Thursday July 24 at 1pm at the Forum and Thursday August 7 at 11am at ACMI. Book through ATOM

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Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) Film Review


Surely you know of the Holy Grail, about King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table and about the many legends that surround them? So what happens when Monty Python takes it on? It is so magnificently ridiculous. So many stupid characters, silly voices and just general wonderful insanity. Although if you don’t like the absurd, and if you don’t like the Monty Python style of comedy, don’t bother. Leave it for the rest of us to snigger at all the quotes and references that have made their way into everyday pop culture references.


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