Untouchable (2019)-MIFF Review

This documentary interviews several of the high-profile accusers of Harvey Weinstein as they tell their stories, and looks at the world he created that gave him the power to do really whatever he wanted. Allegedly.

It was never going to be an easy watch, and while I found at times, it was a little slow, that slowness gave respect to the victims and their stories. At the time of writing Weinstein is, only just being tried in New York and has had charges laid in LA. I can only hope that our culture is changing so that predators with this kind of power are not only stopped, but also brought to justice.

The Dead Don’t Die (2019) – MIFF Review

Jim Jarmusch is back. Either I haven’t been paying attention (entirely plausible), or it’s been a while for a Jarmusch film. And he’s done a zombie film, how wonderful. A small town is being hit by zombies and it takes a while for them all to figure it out. And then… what to do?

I loved it. The cast is amazing, from the somewhat innocent police department (Bill Murray, Chloe Sevigny and Adam Driver) to the mysterious hermit (Tom Waits) to the creepy new funeral director (Tilda Swinton). It’s dumb and funny and crazy and weird and I just dug it a lot.

The Day Shall Come (2019) MIFF Review

Moses (Marchant Davis) has a tiny religious commune in Miami who preaches about a black uprising, but has no power and no real hope of wielding any. However, when the FBI have a case go disastrously badly, they need a win, and when chatter shows that Moses could be a threat, they go after the win no matter what.

This is an extremely hilarious film until it isn’t, and then it really isn’t. It makes such a comment on the way things can go hugely badly when politics and law enforcement influence each other. I loved it, but geez, it was hard. It was funny and wonderful and fantastic.

Mr Jimmy (2019) MIFF Review

Akio Sakurai is a Jimmy Page impersonator, but he is obsessed and a real perfectionist. He has costumes made to exact measurements, guitars and amps tweaked and tampered with to try to get the real original sound, he watches the videos and listens to the recordings to hit every single note right. This documentary follows all of the details of his life, through his performing in Tokyo, then moving to the US and working his new band to the bone. Films about obsession can be hilarious, but also a bit difficult to watch, and this is no exception. Akio Sakurai is a fascinating character pursuing his love, but it must be very difficult to be anyone sharing his life.

United Skates (2018) MIFF Review

So, I know about Roller Derby. That part of skate culture has been on the rise in recent times, and it’s for strong, tough women, and it’s stylish and cool and there are great outfits and names and… but this isn’t about that. In the US, skate rinks are closing and this doco presents two key reasons. Firstly, that developers and the like are offering the owners of the land massive amounts of money to rezone for profit. The second is racism – large groups of African-American people getting together for what is known as ‘Adult Nights’ – all night skate parties that look like an insane amount of fun. That’s probably simplifying it, but it is the way it comes across. Filmmakers Tina Brown and Dyana Winkler follow the story of some of the people for whom skating is a way of life – a way to be with friends, to relieve the tension of everyday life and to have a good time.

There’s a lot in this 89-minute documentary, but I wanted more, especially more of the skating. What I’d love is if the film makers were able to release either an extended cut or perhaps just a whole heap of the footage. It’s amazing that each city has their own style and to see these styles coming together. The history of the rinks is also fascinating. It really made me want to strap on some wheels – though probs best not.

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.