Another MIFF done, and I didn’t quite meet my previous best, still seeing and reviewing an impressive 51 films. I am totally exhausted and looking forward to spending some time reading and outside… Here’s a brief summary.
Favourite films –
Capturing Dad, Blackbird, Somebody Up There Likes Me, Twisted Trunk, Big Fat Body, Foxfire, Blue Ruin, A Hijacking
Most Traumatic Films –
The Act of Killing, Blackfish
Least favourite films –
Marvin, Seth and Stanley, Behind the Camera, Outrage Beyond, Mystery Road,
List of all films watched and reviewed:
99% The Occupy Wall St Collaborative Film
A World Not Ours
Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
Behind the Camera
Comrade Kim Goes Flying
Death for Sale
Free Angela And All Political Prisoners
Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia
Hong Kil Dong
I am Divine
I Declare War
I Used To Be Darker
It Felt Like Love
Marvin, Seth and Stanley
Somebody Up There Loves Me
The Act of Killing
The Day of the Crows
The Flower Girl
Tiger Tail in Blue
Twisted Trunk, Big Fat Body
A Werewolf Boy
What Richard Did
Will you Still Love Me Tomorrow?
USA 90 mins
Dwight (Macon Blair) lives a mysterious existence moving between in empty holiday houses and his seemingly abandoned car. After being informed that a certain person has been released from prison, he seeks revenge. His actions result in his sister and her family being threatened, and so he goes to all lengths to protect them.
This film is absolutely made by the performance of Macon Blair. It is often understated, but when there is pain or fear, it is extremely intense. There have been many Hollywood films about revenge which tend to be big and violent and often quite ridiculous, however Blue Ruin felt real.
Blue Ruin screens at ACMI on Friday, August 9 at 6:30pm and at Greater Union on Sunday, August 11 at 4pm. To book tickets, visit http://miff.com.au/
USA 90 mins
It’s the early 1980s. Alvin(Paul Rudd) and his girlfriend’s brother, Lance (Emile Hirsch) are working in the Texas Forest in the aftermath of major bushfires. They are painting lines on the road, affixing cat’s eyes and hammering in sign posts. Then Alvin’s girlfriend dumps him and things go a bit haywire.
Here’s another film where almost nothing happens, a bit like Marvin, Seth and Stanley or Tiger Tail in Blue. Yet I really enjoyed this. I suppose it is that the characters are kooky in a kind-of Anchorman type way, only less over-the-top. The conversations were ridiculous and hilarious and it’s a really fun watch.
Prince Avalanche screens at Greater Union on Thursday, August 1 at 6:30pm and at Greater Union on Sunday, August 11 at 1:30pm. To book tickets, visit http://miff.com.au/
North Korea 81 mins
Comrade Kim Goes Flying follows a young, female coal miner who has always wanted to fly. Moving to the big city for a year working construction, Kim auditions for the circus, but her fear of heights and lack of training let her down. A few short words from one of the performers sets them at odds, both as individuals and as whole classes of people (elite performers vs the working class). A chain reaction is set where Kim must prevail for herself and the working class.
It feels like a pretty stock standard propaganda film, but apparently it is somewhat different to others in that it is about a woman with a dream. However, her individual dream is not as important as that of the people. I found this to be a really fun film with such a compelling main character – Han Jong-sim has a smile that totally lights up the world, even when undertaking hard labour.
Comrade Kim Goes Flying screens at ACMI on Thursday, August 8 at 9pm and at Greater Union on Friday, August 9 at 6:30pm. To book tickets, visit http://miff.com.au/
North Korea 108 mins
The illegitimate son of a lord born to a woman too poor to be considered worthy of him, a young Hong Kil Dong leaps at the opportunity to train beneath a man who uses magic and skill to defeat bandits. Years later, Hong Kil Dong uses his skills to correct the injustices in Korean society, with his flute playing the only warning to the corrupt and cruel. After righting society, Korea is invaded by Ninjas who kidnap all the girls and take all the riches of the country. Hong Kil Dong raises the people to fight against them for their own freedom. However, even after all of this, he and his mother are treated poorly due to their low birth, so they get on a boat, leaving the country to search for a better world.
This image in the current political climate with the two major parties fighting over who can be more hardline on the boats arriving in Australia was not lost on the audience at ACMI. Overall, it was an awesome, fun film, especially the dodgy effects and fabulous fighting. Apart from the final image, my favourite part of the film was the ninjas racing through the quiet towns in fast motion like the Goodies episode with the boy scouts. Hilarious.
Hong Kil Dong screens at ACMI on Friday, August 9 at 9pm. To book tickets, visit http://miff.com.au/
USA 90 mins
Most people know of Linda Lovelace as a pornographic actress, the star of Deep Throat. Some know that, years after the film, she released a book, Ordeal, which outlined the abused she suffered at the hands of her husband, Chuck Traynor, including being forced into making the film. Lovelace shows the meeting of Linda (Amanda Seyfried) and Chuck (Peter Sarsgard) and shows the glamour of their life together, as if showing what many would have seen from the outside. Then, as she reveals the abuse, the early scenes are revisited and the darkness is revealed.
It’s a good film, although I didn’t feel that it delved as deeply as it could. There was a sense that the surface had only been skimmed relating to just how dark this world was for Linda. Perhaps this was not the best format for the topic, and a documentary would have been more hard-hitting. It’s difficult to know.
Lovelace screens at Greater Union on Friday, August 9 at 6:30pm and on Sunday, August 11 at 7pm. To book tickets, visit http://miff.com.au/
USA 100 mins
Christine (Rachel McCadams) is the boss of one branch of an international advertising agency, and she manipulates everyone around her to get her way. Isabelle (Noomi Rapace) is her assistant who is on the rise. When Isabelle seems to be reaching her peak, Christine will do anything to destroy her. But she has not counted on the human requirement for revenge.
Appalling. Absolutely appalling. There was almost no original idea in this film. Almost ever suspense film cliché was included, the characters were shallow and unbelievable, the plot was nonsensical, the use of musical stings to highlight the points of revelation were embarrassing and the noir lighting was overly obvious, even for someone who has never studied film. There were only two things that I genuinely enjoyed in the film. The first was the extremely creepy staring ballet sequences and the second was the scream that the woman behind me let out at one moment in the film.
It really was a fun cinema experience, only because the cinema was three-quarters full and it seems most people found the film as unintentionally comical as I did. Ah, dear.
Passion screens at the Forum Theatre on Friday, July 26 at 4pm and at the Kino Cinema on Monday, July 29 at 9pm and at Greater Union on Thursday, August 8 at 9pm. To book tickets, visit http://miff.com.au/
India 88 mins
There’s a new, young policeman, Adi. On the first day of his new job, he discovers how corrupt and violent his bosses are, and ends up reuniting with an old love. But in chasing a suspected assassin for the Slum King, he hesitates before shooting. Thereby follow three versions of the event – showing how each decision affects not only his life but also everyone around him.
I felt like I shouldn’t enjoy this film – there were so many clichés, and the concept wasn’t all that original. But I did. I liked the characters, especially the ridiculously naïve Adi and the evil axe-killer Shiva.
Monsoon Shootout screens at Greater Union on Saturday, July 27 at 9:15pm and at the Forum Theatre on Thursday, August 8 at 6:30pm. To book tickets, visit http://miff.com.au/
Australia/Burma 75 mins
This documentary follows an Australian in Burma gets involved with a company who is creating a girl band with the aim to make money. However, Miss Nikki (as she is known to the girls) sees more for this group. She sees the chance to change the role of women in Burma. The girls, five average girls from around the country, face a range of challenges, but their spirit and passion push them forward.
I don’t watch any of those dance or singing TV shows. I’m not into girl bands and pop music. I don’t know much about Burma except a passing knowledge of Aung San Suu Kyi. And despite all of this, I could not get enough of this film. Miss Nikki has her heart on her sleeve, the contradictory emotions about her position in the country and whether she is helping or hindering the girls she is working with openly discussed. But what I really loved about the film was the girls. Against the odds of the politics and the cultural norms, they want to change the world. I hope we see a lot more of them.
Miss Nikki and the Tiger Girls screens at Greater Union on Monday, August 5 at 6:30pm and at ACMI on Wednesday, August 7 at 9pm. To book tickets, visit http://miff.com.au/
USA 90 min
A young girl from Northern Ireland visits her cousin and her family in Baltimore, unaware that the parents are in the process of separating.
This is pretty much all that happens. It’s a glimpse into life, and I feel that there needs to be more to a film to hold my attention. As both the parents in the film are musicians, there was good music, but nothing really happened. There must be a lot of people out there who like these films where nothing happens, because there seems to be a lot of them at this festival.
I Used To Be Darker screens at ACMI on Friday, August 2 at 9:15pm and at Greater Union on Sunday, August 4 at 6:30pm. To book tickets, visit http://miff.com.au/