Scandinavian Film Festival 2015

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Well, they time this one perfectly, don’t they? Right in the middle of our coldest time of year, what more can you want but to see some films from Scandinavia? The festival is playing across the country, having started this week in Melbourne and Sydney and moving through Canberra, Brisbane and Byron Bay to end out the month in Hobart, Perth and Adelaide.

Highlights of the festival include the opening night film Here is Harold, about a Norwegian furniture maker who is driven to bankruptcy by the new IKEA that has opened next door. So, he fights back – by setting out to kidnap IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad.

Then there is the closing night film Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words, the documentary that received a Special Mention at Cannes 2015 – L’Oeil d’Or Award for Best Documentary.

After something a bit more dramatic? Check out the award-winning Underdog (Best New Director at the Chicago Film Festival 2014 and Critics’ Award for Best Film Debut at the Zurich Film Festival 2014). A young Swedish girl is struggling to beat her demons and make ends meet in Oslo until she begins working as a housekeeper, but things are never straightforward.

 

The Scandinavian Film Festival is at Palace Cinemas in Melbourne until July 26. For the dates for other cities and for the full program, click here.

Melbourne Queer Film Festival 2014

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It’s the 24th MQFF and it’s looking like a great one. Everything kicks off on March 13 with the Melbourne premiere of Any Day Now featuring the always amazing Alan Cumming.

There are several films in the festival that were also part of MIFF last year and I’m so pleased there is another opportunity to get audiences into the cinema to see them. Valentine Road was a film that tore my heart out; the story of an openly gay teenager shot dead by one of his classmates. So many layers of complexity to the story and, indeed, in the trial. I Am Divine is a documentary on the late performer Divine who many of us remember from John Waters films, or perhaps from his singing career. Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia has commentary and footage of the life of the fascinating American commentator. Or for a bit of drama, the Taiwanese film Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? follows a couple as they struggle with sexuality and social expectations.

Other festival highlights include Noor, a film based on the true story of a transsexual man in Pakistan, Yoshiko and Yuriko, another true tale, this time set in post-war Japan and Five Dances, the story of a young dancer in New York. My highlight, however, would have to be the very light-hearted and totally fun Israeli film Cupcakes. When a group of friends end up representing their country in a Eurovision style contest, there is no way you won’t be smiling.

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? plays at Hoyts Melbourne Central on Wednesday March 19 at 9pm.

I Am Divine plays at ACMI on Tuesday, March 18 at 8pm.

Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia plays at ACMI on Tuesday, March 18 at 6pm.

Valentine Road plays at ACMI on Saturday, March 15 at 2pm.

Cupcakes is playing at ACMI on Saturday, March 15 at 6:15pm and on Wednesday March 19 at 8:30pm.

Yoshiko and Yuriko is playing at ACMI on Saturday, March 22 at 8:15pm.

Noor is playing at Hoyts Melbourne Central on Friday, March 21 at 6pm.

Five Dances is play at ACMI on Friday March 21 at 6pm.

For tickets, visit MQFF.

A Gun In Each Hand (Una Pistola En Cada Mano) (2012) Film Review

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Opening the Spanish Film Festival is the hit comedy from Spain, A Gun In Each Hand. Structured like a play, the film is a series of long conversations between pairs of people meeting inBarcelona. They are people who know each other, often who haven’t seen each other for some time, and who manage to reveal a lot about themselves and their deeper feelings in a very short period of time.

Initially, during the first scene, I began to wonder how long they would talk. Not that it was not working in any manner – just simply because it is not usual to have such extended dialogue. I particularly enjoyed the way the conversations naturally unfolded, raising questions in the audience that are gradually answered. And it was very funny. Funny enough to continue to make me laugh despite the annoying people behind me who continued to provide their own commentary despite being shushed several times. Although clearly, I am still quite bitter about that.

A Gun In Each Hand won Gaudi Awards for Best Film, Screenplay, Supporting Actor (Eduard Fernandez) and Supporting Actress (Candela Pena). It also won Best Film at the 2013 Festival of Spanish Film (Nantes) and the Jury Prize for Best Performance (group award) at the Miami International Film Festival. The Spanish Film Festival takes place in Melbourne from June 12 to June 26 at Palace Como and Palace Westgarth Cinemas. For ticket information, visit http://www.spanishfilmfestival.com/

A Gun In Each Hand is also getting a cinematic release from July 4.

Eddie Adams : Saigon ’68 (2012) – Film Review

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USA 17 mins

You’ll know the photos of Eddie Adams. You may not be aware of who took the photos, but you’ll know them.

This eighteen minute documentary looks at the experience of Adams in Vietnam, most particularly at the story behind the second photo. The question that is asked is; does a picture tell the absolute truth? The answers from a variety of academics swings from a definite yes to a definite no and anywhere in between. It’s very interesting, and no doubt this short doco will be used in classrooms when looking at representation and truth.

Eddie Adams: Saigon ’68 screens at ACMI at 6:30pm on Monday May 20

Ace Attorney (2012) MIFF Film Review

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Based on a popular adventure video game, Ace Attorney follows rookie lawyer Phoenix Wright as he battles several high-profile cases against prominent prosecutors. But this is no dull courtroom drama; there is action, technology, humour and some magnificent hairstyles.

So far, this is my favourite film of MIFF 2012. In fact, I think it has made it into my top ten films of all times. Ace Attorney has everything I could possibly want from a film – awesome characters, great plot and lots of humour. Lots and lots. What’s more, it was an awesome audience who laughed loud and hard.

Amazingly, there was even some genuinely dramatic and beautiful scenes during which I could not believe just how actually sad I felt at the plight of some of the characters.

Melbourne Queer Film Festival

Melbourne Queer Film Festival

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http://www.mqff.com.au/

Melbourne Queer Film Festival opened last week for its 23rd year, making it one of the world’s oldest queer film festivals. Much of the publicity this year has been over the Classification Board’s refusal to grant an exemption of classification for the film I Want Your Love. It is important to open discussions in relation to classification and that whole debate, however it has over-shadowed the fact that there are many, many more excellent films from across the globe screening as part of MQFF.

Melbourne Queer Film Festival is running from March 14-24 at ACMI and Hoyts Melbourne Central.

Gayby

US, 89 min

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Jenn is a single woman, living in New York and working in a yoga studio, who decides that she wants to have a baby. Her best friend, Matt, is heartbroken from a recent breakup with his boyfriend, Tom, and has always wanted children.

This is a totally delightful film. Funny, cute and sweet. The characters and relationships are strong and believable, so much so that I was instantly drawn into this world, and found myself (yet again) wishing I were a cool hipster living in New York. Okay, so that last sentence will put some people off, and if you are a cynical, hipster-hating person, then this film may well not be for you. It’s worth getting past this to enjoy the tight relationships and delightful humour. Especially when Jenn is taking herbal supplements to assist the conception and takes the most amusing Yoga class ever.

Gayby opened MQFF on Thursday March 14 at 7:30pm

Beyond the Walls (Hors Les Murs)

Belgium/France/Canada 96 mins

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Paulo is kicked out by his girlfriend after cheating on her once too often with men. He appears at the door of Ilir, a bartender who he had a fling with, and they quickly fall in love. Then, Ilir goes away for a weekend and doesn’t return. Paulo traces him to prison, and the film follows their attempts to keep their love alive through this trauma.

It’s a good drama. The relationship between the two develops quickly yet naturally despite the forced beginning. The emotion that each feels appears deep and real. I felt that there were several scenes that were not needed, and brought little to the film; at the same time I felt that there was a very sudden change in how Paulo was living his life that was not explored; suddenly, he had made decisions and was living his life differently, but this was not seen.

Beyond the Walls screens in ACMI Cinema 2 on Thursday March 21 at 6:30pm

Struck by Lightning

USA 90 mins

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Carson Phillips is a high school student who has ambitions far beyond those of his contemporaries. He is an outcast from his all of his fellow students apart from Malerie Biggs, a fellow outsider (played by our own Rebel Wilson with a darn fine American accent). His teachers tolerate him, and his pill-popping, alcoholic mother (the always magnificent Allison Janney)rips him down at every opportunity. Then he is killed by lightning and realised that he had only lived his life by half as he was always living for the future.

The film starts with his death and is essentially one long flashback of his life. Often, this structure works really well. Think Sunset Boulevard or American Beauty. For this film, I didn’t think it was necessary. In fact, I don’t think the death was even needed. In fact, I don’t think the main character even had to be killed. There was so much happening in the body of the story that carried the film, and what’s more, I don’t feel that the lesson even quite worked. Yes, he had lived for the future, but Carson had done more with his present that many high school students.

The film was well written and, apart from the death, well structured. Clearly, there is more to writer and actor Chris Colfer that just the singing and dancing that brought him fame in Glee. Here’s a young man who, I hope, has a lot more to say.

Struck by Lightning screens in ACMI Cinema 2 on Sunday March 24 at 6:00pm