The Day of the Crows (2012) MIFF Film Review


Belgium/Canada/France 94 mins

A child is raised in the forest by his father and told that if he ventures outside of the forest, he will disappear. But after an accident, the boy’s spirit guides direct him to take his father from the forest to the nearby town for treatment. The boy is scared, but there he finds a girl who he can trust and learns about his past.

The Day of the Crows is such a beautiful film, with such heart. It is a film not just about isolation, but about fear of the other and mob violence. It’s also really nice to have an old-school animation rather than all the 3D CG Pixar-type animation. Don’t get me wrong – I love Toy Story. But this is far more beautiful.

The Day of the Crows  screens at ACMI on Tuesday, August 6 at 1:30pm and Thursday, August 8 at 1:30pm. To book tickets, visit

Twisted Trunk, Big Fat Body (2012) MIFF Film Review


India, 89 mins

Mumbai. A man takes a soft-toy representation of the god Ganesh, to a temple and attempts to leave it. But a charming street kid takes it and the pursuit is on. For in the soft toy is a bomb which the man is attempting to use to blow up the temple. The soft toy passes from hand to hand, eventually taking part in its own religious ceremony.

I found this to be a totally delightful film. I was on edge the whole way, every time the toy was dropped or thrown, I was expecting the worst. But the characters are delightful, the cinematography is beautiful and the whole film is filled with comic moments. It is a film that pokes fun at the Mumbai society, but in a very gentle fashion.

Twisted Trunk, Big Fat Body screens at ACMI on Sunday, July 28 at 4pm and on Saturday, August 3 at 11am. To book tickets, visit

Patty’s Catchup (2012) MIFF Film Review


Germany 86 mins

Patty (Luise Riche)is desperate to chuck in school and take an apprenticeship as a chef. Her mother, Friede (Anneke Kim Sarnau) has been running the French food caravan her father set up years previously, but it is not going well. Between a small customer base and falling apart equipment, Friede cannot cope and ends up having a breakdown. Patty has agreed to look after her two younger sisters, but when she pursues an apprenticeship, the girls are left to take care of themselves.

This is a delightful film for a younger audience. My favourite character was Lilo, the youngest sister, portrayed beautifully by Tabea Willemsen. I think the English translation of the title is supposed to be a gag on Patty’s Ketchup, but it only really works phonetically, but I like it. It makes sense, given that the film’s climax focuses on the family recipe of a spicy sauce. Fun, with some tugs on the emotional heartstrings. Definitely worth a watch.

Patty’s Catchup screens at the Forum Theatre on Thursday, July 25 at 1:30pm and at Greater Union on Saturday, July 28 at 11am.

To book tickets, visit

Child’s Pose (2013) MIFF Film Review


Romania 112 mins

Cornelia (Luminita Gheorghiu) is a very wealthy woman, mother of a grown son, Barbu (Bogdan Dumitrache) who is making choices with his life and love that she does not respect, and she does not keep quiet about this. However, when he hits a child with his car on the freeway, she goes all out to stop his from going to jail; using her contacts, power and money.

I did not like the style of the film – the hand-held camera work was extremely jerky and I could not see any particular reason that the film needed this style. Also, many of the scenes were far longer than I felt was necessary, although this did provoke a feel of discomfort in me which I expect was the intention of the filmmaker. I guess this is not a film that is made for people to enjoy, as such; more, to make you think about actions and consequences.  It is certainly deserving of the awards it has been receiving. Watching the film also allows me to go on one of my rants. Why will no-one take responsibility for their own actions? But I won’t get started now. I may never end.

Child’s Pose screens at the Forum Theatre on Friday, July 26 at 9:15pm and at Greater Union on Monday, August 5 at 6:30pm.

To book tickets, visit

Marvin, Seth and Stanley (2012) MIFF Film Review


USA 72mins

A grumpy father takes his grown sons on a fishing trip. That’s pretty much it. He’s grumpy, one of his sons is hot-headed and tends to drink too much, the other is an aspiring actor.

The characters were believable if a little stereotyped, but I just found that there was not enough story, personality or conflict to engage me in this film. It felt as though perhaps something would happen around the corner, but then it didn’t.

Marvin, Seth and Stanley screens at ACMI on Saturday, July 27 and at Greater Union on Saturday, August 3 at 6:30pm. To book tickets, visit


Blackbird (2012) MIFF Film Review


Canada 107 mins

Sean (Connor Jessup) has moved from the city to live with his father in small town. Despite his father’s attempts to connect on hunting trips, Sean feels like a loner, and this is not helped by the fact that he dresses differently to everyone else and is bullied by the school hockey team. Plus, he is in love with Deanna (Alexia Fast) who is the girlfriend of the captain. Luckily for him, this is not unrequited, however it adds to his frustration with life when she does not stand up for him. In a series of ill-considered internet postings, Sean is arrested for planning  a school massacre and has to negotiate his way through the juvenile facility he is placed in.

Every school student should watch this film. There is no doubt that Sean does a series of stupid things, but he is not a bad or dangerous person, and yet ends up dealing with the consequences beyond his control. Having worked with teenagers for years and aware that society as a whole has little idea of the impact that social media is having in the adult world, much less the insane world of teenagers, this is a film that could really bring home the idea that a stupid idea can be magnified when put online. Connor Jessup is fabulous as the disillusioned teenager struggling to fit in.

Blackbird screens at ACMI on Wednesday July 31 at 11am and Tuesday August 6 at 11am. To book tickets, visit



Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (2013) MIFF Film Review

AintthembodiessaintsfeatureUSA 97 mins

Ruth (Rooney Mara) and Bob (Casey Affleck) are young, in love and have just found out that they are going to have a child. But when one of their crimes goes wrong leaving a friend dead and a policeman shot, Bob ends up in jail. Four years later, he escapes and tries to reunite the family. He is up against the police who are trying to recapture him, Skerritt (Keith Carradine) who he used to run crime for, Patrick Wheeler (Ben Foster) the policeman who is at the centre of his conviction and a few very bad men who have swung into town to seek revenge.

Set in the early 70s, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints tells the story of young criminals in love in a gentle, slow manner. It was a very beautiful film with a feel reminiscent of Badlands or even Lawless. I really enjoyed it, although I can see that others may not have been quite so engaged. In fact, a fellow cinema attendee loudly exclaimed on the way out “boring and pretentious”. Different strokes, I guess.

Ain’t Them Bodies Saints screens at Greater Union on Friday, July 26 at 9:15pm and at the Forum Theatre on Monday, August 5 at 9pm. To book tickets, visit


Somebody Up There Likes Me (2012) MIFF Film Review


USA 76 mins

What story there is in this film is told like a jigsaw in five-year bites, with each leap taking the main characters to a new place in their lives. Max (Keith Poulson) is married, then not, then in love, then in business and all the time, he is accompanied by his friend Sal (Nick Offerman).

This feels like an anti-dote to the manic pixie dream girl films that I have started to hate. There is an element of this genre, but the protagonist, Max Youngman, is so hilariously unlikable that it’s turned about a fair bit. I loved it, even the ever-present annoying soundtrack and the quirkiness of the plot. I get the feeling that I will be keeping my eyes open for films by director Bob Byington for years to come.

Somebody Up There Loves Me screens at Greater Union on Tuesday, July 30 at 9pm and at the Forum Theatre on Monday, August 5 at 4pm To book tickets, visit

Death For Sale (2011) MIFF Film Review


Belgium/France/Morocco 117 mins

Three young men have grown up in Morocco living off their wits with petty crime, laughing and drinking a lot. But life cannot remain carefree.

This is an ambitious film, covering issues as widespread as honour killings, revenge, betrayal and religious zealotry. I think it is a good film, but I didn’t really connect with it, finding it difficult to follow the paths the film took. It’s a tricky one – I liked the characters, yet didn’t connect strongly with their journeys. It is certainly very, very dark and not for the faint hearted.

Death for Sale screens at ACMI on Thursday, July 30 at 1:30pm and at Kino Cinema on Tuesday, August 6 at 6:45pm. To book tickets, visit


Les Apaches (2013) MIFF Film Review


France 82 mins

I’ve really got to stop reading the blurbs about films, because my expectations keep getting messed about. For example, the blurb on Les Apaches makes it sound like a comedy, possibly with some drama, about a crazy party that goes wrong. It’s not. The party isn’t even a real party but a group of friends hanging out in an empty house after a night on the town. The film is actually a lot more interesting than the blurb, looking at the issues of a poor underclass made up of Arab and Moroccan workers on the island of Corsica where rich French tourists come to holiday.

The film is dark and dim, with a lot of misunderstandings and confusion. But the story didn’t quite work for me. The major event of the movie seemed to be unnecessary, especially with the events afterwards. And then it ended.

Les Apaches screens at Kino Cinema on Wednesday, July 31 at 9pm and at Greater Union on Saturday, August 10 at 4pm. To book tickets, visit