The Teacher (2016) MIFF Review

It’s Bratslava, Slovakia in the early 80s. The country is under Communist reign, and Maria Drazdechova is not just a teacher but the chairman of the local communist group. When it comes out that the students who get the best grades have parents who are helping provide Maria with goods and services, it is very hard for the head teacher to take action. But a meeting is called with the patents and all kinds of truths are revealed.

This seems to be a great comment on communism along the lines of Animal Farm – we see the corruption which is inevitable when humans are involved. I thought it was great – funny, interesting but ultimately concerning.

The Party (2017) MIFF Review

Janet (Kristin Scott Thomas) has just become the leader of the opposition in British politics, and is throwing a dinner party to celebrate. There’s her husband, Bill (Timothy Spall), her close friend April (Patricia Clarkson) and her German hippy boyfriend Gottfried (Bruno Ganz), Bill’s old friend Martha (Cherry Jones) and her partner, Jinny (Emily Mortimer) and Tom (Cillian Murphy) who has arrived ahead of his wife. And oh, the secrets and lies coming out!

This is such a funny film, and I saw it with the best possible audience – at times, the laughter was so loud that lines were missed. In all honesty, I don’t think there was a single character that was worth liking, but they were all fabulous, especially April. So wonderful. Find it, watch it.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017) MIFF Review

Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell) is a heart surgeon who has a mysterious relationship with a teenage boy, Martin (Barry Keoghan). Martin meets Steven’s family, wife Anna (Nicole Kidman), daughter Kim (Raffey Cassidy) and son Bob (Sunny Suljic). And there’s Martin’s mother, played by Alicia Silverstone. And that’s all I’m going to say about the plot, because any further information will totally ruined the viewing.

What I will say is that it is totally in line with other films by director Yorgos Lanthimos – I loved Alps, which was screened at MIFF a few years ago, and The Lobster was amazing. This has that disturbing and unpleasant feel, along with a lot of humour, but very dark humour. Very, very dark and very, very odd and very, very wonderful.

That’s Not Me (2017) MIFF Review

Imagine if you were an aspiring actress with some integrity but one of your major competitors was your own identical twin – and she hits the big time. How would that leave you?

I love this concept hugely, and I think it’s a really fun film. Alice Foulcher is great as Polly, with all the self-confidence and yet apathy of youth (or perhaps just of my youth…). I felt that the end snuck up a bit and would have liked greater resolution, but the journey was so enjoyable – even the cringe worthy parts. I look forward to more work from this team.

Pop Aye (2017) Film Review

Thaneth Warakulnukroh and Bong appear in Pop Aye by Kirsten Tan, an official selection of the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Chananun Chotrungroj.

Thana (Thaneth Warakulnukroh) is an architect who is having to comes to terms with competing against the younger generation whilst realising that his home life is not so great. Then he comes across his childhood pet, Popeye (Bong the elephant) and he decides to take a journey to the village of his youth to return the elephant to a better place.

It’s delightful film in many ways, with a beautiful animal amongst quite beautiful scenery. It’s one of those films where kind of nothing happens whilst actually, a fair bit happens, and I really enjoyed just going along with Thana on his adventure. And this is why I love MIFF – I cannot imagine this film would get any kind of release in Australia outside of a film festival, so it’s great to have the opportunity to see it.

Pecking Order (2017) MIFF Review

Two years away from their 150 year anniversary, the Christchurch Poultry, Bantam and Pigeon Club are facing challenges – how do you appeal to the local youth, to stay (or become?) relevant in these modern days? And what if you have differing opinions within the club about who is the best person to take you through these changes?

I can’t tell what I enjoyed the most about this film – the politics of these folks, watching them get their chickens ready for the competitions, or those beautiful slow motion shots of chickens doing chicken things. It’s a great film – a real laugh, but director Slavko Martinov has created a narrative that made me fall absolutely in love with each and every character. It was just so disappointing to learnt that the 150 year celebration was held at the end of June this year. I would have loved to have been there – but you can see photos at

Orlando (1992) MIFF Review

Orlando (Tilda Swinton) is a young nobleman in the time of Queen Elizabeth the First. She commands him to stay young forever, and it seems to come true. We see Orlando getting his heart broken, loving poetry, discovering sex, living in the far East, and so much more.

It’s a stunning film, and Tilda Swinton is amazing in it. What I found a bit odd about watching it as part of MIFF was that the people next to me and I seemed to be the only ones who found the humour of the film – I think it is hilarious as well as stunning. Orlando is currently on SBS On Demand, so go and check it out. Let me know if you find it funny!

Orlando was nominated for Oscars for Best Costume Design and Best Art Direction – Set Direction.

I am not your Negro (2016) Film Review

This documentary tells about James Baldwin, using his unfinished novel Remember This House. James Baldwin was an activist for civil rights around the time of Martin Luther King Jnr and Malcolm X. He was an intellect and absolutely amazing, and I don’t know how it is possible that I have never heard of him. His words are beautiful and moving, narrated by Samuel L Jackson for the film. There is plenty of footage of Baldwin as well as of other events of this time. It’s worth a watch, but I’d recommend not watching it the day after a guy drives into a crowd protesting against a white supremacy march. It’s depressing to see how little attitudes have changed.

Ginger and Rosa (2012) MIFF Review

Ginger (Elle Fanning) and Rosa (Alice Englert) are teenagers who grew up together in London in the sixties under the looming fear of total nuclear annihilation. Rosa struggles with her single mother, whist Ginger is dealing with her father’s affairs and the fighting of her parents.

There is so much to love about this film – the style of the times, the way the story unfolds, the way a friendship can seem like everything. It’s a beautiful film and worth tracking down.

Death in a Terminal (2016) MIFF Review

In 2015, in a bus terminal in Southern Israel, a horrible event happened. I don’t want to say more, because the film allows the story to unfold in a very unusual way. The filmmaker has interviewed people who were at the scene and then, using footage from the CCTV cameras on site, shows them during the event.

It’s fascinating and clever and horrifying. Just don’t read the blurb from MIFF, because it gives more information that necessary – had I read it before watching, it would have ruined the film for me.