Monthly Archives: July 2013

MIFF 2013 – The Broken Circle Breakdown (2012)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2024519/

Director: Felix Van Groeningen
Starring: Veerle Baetens, Johan Heldenbergh, Nell Cattrysse, Geert Van Rampelberg, Nils De Caster, Robbie Cleiren, Bert Huysentruyt, Jan Bijvoet, Blanka Heirman

I was looking forward to this one as it was one of the only trailers I managed to watch before the festival and I know a lot of musicians who play locally including several Bluegrass bands.

The main story follows Didier (Johan Heldenbergh) and the love of his life Elise (Veerle Baetens) and their little daughter Maybelle (Nell Cattrysse), but it is not a straight forward story. It does jump around in time a lot and only tells you it is doing so the first couple of times, then you have to work it out for yourself by paying attention to the character’s hair or clothes so it really makes you take notice of the story.

What I most liked about the movie is that I recognised not only many of the same situations and things that friends would do in the situation, I also started to think my friends were in it, which is impossible given it was set seven years ago and fictional.

It is not for me to judge the character’s actions in the situations they are presented with, but when someone says something is “too hard” they really mean they don’t want to do it for whatever reason. Didier gets into trouble for being entirely too rational in every situation when other people want to believe something different.

I cannot fault the actors and Veerle Baetens as Elise (later Alabama) reminds me of several people I know, right down to the legally changing her name as she felt the new one suited her better.

The other thing that I loved about the film was the music, all Bluegrass standards played by the actual actors in the movie who have gained enough fame as the “Broken Circle Breakdown Band” that they are doing a tour playing the same songs as in the movie over the next year or so (http://www.thebrokencirclebreakdown.be/en/music/concert)

I will try to get the soundtrack when it comes out on CD and would recommend that you go to see this movie when it comes out in your area, even if you do not really go to see dramas that often.

MIFF 2013 – The Act of Killing (2012)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2375605/

Directors: Joshua Oppenheimer, Christine Cynn, Anonymous
Executive Producers: Werner Herzog, Errol Morris
Featuring: Haji Anif, Syamsul Arifin, Sakhyan Asmara, Anwars Congo, Jusuf Kalla, Herman Koto, Haji Marzuki, Safit Pardede, Ibrahim Sinik, Soaduon Siregar, Yapto Soerjosoemarno, Adi Zulkadry

While Indonesia is Australia’s closest neighbour, it may as well be the moon considering how much people know about it. The only things that seem to make the news are cow slaughter, Muslims, drug trafficking and natural disasters.

I am not going to pass up a chance to learn something about the country, even if as one of the main protagonists says finding out the truth doesn’t always mean it will be good.

While the events described in the documentary are horrible, considering how many conflicts Australia has been involved in fighting Communism, including a military engagement within Indonesia at the same time (http://www.awm.gov.au/atwar/confrontation.asp) as the events in the documentary, you can’t cast stones.

The main commentators in this story are two members of a local death squad in Northern Sumatra, Anwars Congo and Herman Koto who are offered the chance to re-enact their killings during the anti-communism campaigns during the military coup in 1965-66 in the style of their favourite movies. They have more than one attempt at filming from the not so serious, to a grim retelling where Anwars is dry-retching at the thought of what he did.

Having the people who did the killings tell the story rather than a voice-over track adds a new dimension to the story. What they did is not regarded with any shame by the government or public in general and a lot of people involved originally have gone onto positions of power and don’t even attempt to hide what they did.

I learnt quite a lot about Indonesia from this documentary, including about the Pancasila Youth who are a major paramilitary organization in the country and don’t even try to hide that they were involved in illegal activities at the time.

There is quite a strange interlude where Herman Koto tries to run for parliament on behalf of the Worker’s Party. Anwars doesn’t really agree with it as he thinks politicians are just “robbers with ties”. The main reason Herman did not get elected was explained that he did not have the money to bribe people to vote for him, which is at least being honest about the political process and not hiding behind political donations or getting the media to try and change government on the behalf of billionaires.

Some of recreations are pretty strange, with Herman cross dressing in a lot of the scenes and at one point monkeys eating the fake guts in the jungle while Anwars’ head sits on a pile of dirt. There is also a musical interlude near a waterfall with dancing girls. It just makes me want to watch the films they made by themselves without the documentary around them.

Even though everything is out in the open about the events, quite a lot of the credits on the movie are still “anonymous” for good reason as the families of the people who were killed during the purge are still discriminated against to this day.

Werner Herzog and Errol Morris were involved as executive producers on the movie, but from what I hear Mr Herzog was not involved in later in the process. Errol Morris’ influence can be seen as the documentary reminded me quite a bit of the Fog of War even down to the main protagonist breaking down at one point.

As the director said himself in a message given before the movie, while you may not enjoy watching the film, you will get something out of it even if it only knowledge.

MIFF 2013 – Final Cut: Ladies and Gentlemen (2012)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2243299/

Director: György Pálfi
Starring: A cast of thousands, you better believe it!
Directors of the clips: Hundreds of them

After the very weird Taxidermy, György Pálfi returns to show how much of a fan of the art of cinema he is by cutting together hundreds of movies in clips running only for a couple of seconds into a coherent narrative covering all aspects of life, love and death.

I was surprised at the number and range of films involved and also the soundtrack choices as they always seemed to suit what was on screen.

This film reminds me of Joe Dante’s The Movie Orgy, although quite a lot shorter than that movie. From what I have heard it is also similar to the 24 hour movie “the clock” that uses short sequences of film showing a specific time to go through an entire day.

There seemed to be polite applause and laughter throughout the film whenever certain scenes came up that seemed to fit better than others of were something that people were not expecting.

Due to the mind-bending rights issues involved, I am not sure this film is going to screen outside a festival environment. At least in the USA films like this cannot be exhibited for profit.

I would not hesitate to recommend this movie to anyone with even a passing interest in cinema and even someone who has only seen mainstream releases will get something out of it as there are a lot of them in it.

MIFF 2013 – A Field in England (2013)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2375574/

Director: Ben Wheatley
Starring: Michael Smiley, Reece Shearsmith, Julian Barratt, Peter Ferdinando, Richard Glover, Ryan Pope, Sara Dee

Staggering out of a battle in the English Civil War, nervous English Royalist Whitehead (Reece Shearsmith) meets up with two soldiers who are off to find the nearest alehouse. Unfortunately they also meet up with Cutler (Ryan Pope) and his master O’Neil (Michael Smiley) who presses them into service to find a treasure in a remote field.

It turns out that Whitehead and O’Neil have some connection having worked for the same master, and Whitehead was charged with finding an arresting O’Neil due to a theft of valuable papers. As Whitehead is mainly an expert on books and lacework, you can probably guess how well that turns out. The tent scene is horrific even though you do not see anything.

This movie is interesting rather than a stand-out in any area, it definitely suffered as I had just seen a film called the Congress just before it. There is a lot of dialogue in this movie and it could work as a stage play with a few minor adjustments.

I cannot fault the performances, having a small cast means you get to know a lot more about each of the characters. The movie manages to stand on its own with just the strength of the performances and creates a real sense of menace from the situation they find themselves in.

The mushrooms do come into effect near the end of the film, but I won’t spoil what happens. It is a strange sequence and makes good use of the scenes that came before it in a recap of the story.

I am not sure why the movie was shot in black and white apart from making it look like an old teleplay. Removing colour from the things you have to worry about also makes you focus in on the characters, but it is a lot harder to make things look the right way when you do not have colour to work with.

This film has screened on TV in the UK already and that does seem like a media it is suited for as well as online and home screening. I am not sure if it will get a wide release in cinemas, but that matters less these days.

You have to be in the right mood to watch this and there is some brutal parts to the movie, the person I watched it with was not too impressed, but I thought it went well.

MIFF 2013 – The Congress (2013)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1821641/

Director: Ari Folman
Starring: Robin Wright, Harvey Keitel, Jon Hamm, Paul Giamatti, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Danny Huston, Sami Gayle, Michael Stahl-David

Robin Wright (playing herself) gets a harsh dressing down from her agent (Harvey Keitel) about all the bad choices she has made in her life. Her studio is offering her one more contract, but it is different from a normal movie contract, they want to scan her into the computer and use the digital persona to make movies without her input.

While she is hesitant at first, her agent manages to convince her and also helps her by telling a story during the scanning process. Cut to 20 years later and Robin arrives at the Futurist Congress which is in a “restricted animated zone” and a whole lot of stuff happens.

WOW! It’s hard to put into words how amazing this movie becomes once they cross over into animation. Even the live action sections, such as Harvey Keitel’s speech during the scanning process would be a stand out in any movie, but having the animated section takes it to another level.

It all seems to be hand-drawn animation also and is very creative. I liked the line “we apologise for the lack of symmetry in the rainbows” and all the things you see when the characters walk around with people who become whatever they desire.

There is also some satire relating to the current state of the movie industry with “the whole system changing” and sticking the boot into Australia for some reason. It also shows what happens when people alter their brain chemistry to get whatever they want, the entire world economy became redundant and people just shuffle around in the ruins dressed in rags living inside their own minds.

The clips from the fake movies where interesting with “Rad Rebel Robots” and the reworking on the riding the bomb scene from Dr Strangelove.

I had not heard of the story by Stanislaw Lem that the film was based on, but it looks interesting. The production was a multi-nation project due to the number of animators involved and you can see the work that has gone into it up on screen.

Not sure how well this movie will go in general release, but it should be a big hit amongst fans of animation and science fiction stories.

MIFF 2013 – I Am Divine (2013)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1356790/

Director: Jeffrey Schwarz
Featuring: John Waters, Divine, Tab Hunter, Rikki Lake, Bruce Vilanch, David DeCoteau, Mink Stole, Edith Massey and others

While I knew of Divine and have seen a couple of the movies she stars in, I did not know the whole story. I seem to remember John Waters speaking in another documentary about Divine being his star and he manages to say something different here.

Divine may not seem totally outrageous today, but you have to remember being a trail blazer means ending up on fire yourself. It was a very conservative environment and it was a crime to be gay in those days in the USA (John Waters says it was more fun that way though.)

There are a lot of talking heads in this documentary with some clips of the movies that made Divine famous, if you wanted to see more of them you can go watch the films themselves I suppose.

I did learn a lot about the actor and also did not even know Divine was lined up to have a role on Married With Children not in drag just before he died.

I was happy to see this at the festival, sitting in the same row as I did for “The Movie Orgy” a few years back with almost the same people in the same chairs. Hopefully the documentary gets a wider release on DVD and TV in the future.

MIFF 2013 – Cosmic Psychos: Blokes You Can Trust (2013)

http://www.cosmicpsychos.com.au/

Director: Matt Weston
Featuring: Ross Knight, Dean Muller, John McKeering, Bill Walsh, Matt Lukin, Eddie Vedder, Buzz Osborne, Butch Vig, Dan Peters, Steve Turner, Mark Arm, Ray Ahn, Fudge and others

Can’t really be objective on this one, I put in money for the Pozible campaign and my name is on screen on the credits at the end. I have to say I am happy with the result and it is one of the best music docos I have seen. They also recorded the three gigs at the Tote in late 2012 and those will hopefully be on the DVD release.

It also shows that you think you have something figured out like the Cosmic Psychos and then it turns out you hardly know anything at all about it. One of the biggest fans of the band and also their friend told me there was stuff in here that he did not know about.

I saw the Cosmic Psychos at the Big Day Out in 1997 in the cattle pavilion at the Melbourne showgrounds and had heard about them before that, but didn’t really take photos of them until 2005 around the time of their Off Ya Cruet release. I even made a music video for one of the songs off the album, which I put on VCD as Ross doesn’t have a computer

There is a lot of talking heads in the movie, but it is broken up by performance footage and photos. Also having the demonstration of the drinking game with the 50c coin is something you would not see in a lot of docos.

It was interesting to see how they dealt with the split with Bill Walsh in the band. The last time I saw them in the same building both the bands they were in were playing at the same time and Bill and Ross did not cross paths. They were honest about it and have admitted they have moved on with their lives.

We all still miss Robbie Rocket, I’m not going to go into it. 2006 was a shit year with Robbie, Billy Thorpe, Ian Rilen and Lobby Loyde passing on. There was the tribute gig at the Corner Hotel that was a good send off.

Fred Negro's tribute to Robbie Rocket

There was a Q&A after the screening, but the band themselves seemed a bit reserved. It was interesting to hear Matt Weston hearing how he came onto the idea of funding the documentary through crowd funding and that he was not really that into the band before he started the project. Cheers to Paul Elliot who had a go of the 50c game and won himself a free ticket to the Psychos gig at the Hifi Bar.

The Cosmic Psychos are doing a victory lap to promote the doco with a double live LP on “beer and piss coloured” vinyl. They will also be playing over in the US with a big festival date at the same time as the Grand Final, if the Tigers are in it Ross said Matt Weston can play the bass.

MIFF 2013 – Mood Indigo (2013)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2027140/

Director: Michael Gondry
Starring: Romain Duris, Audrey Tautou, Gad Elmaleh, Omar Sy, Aïssa Maïga, Charlotte Lebon

Colin (Romain Duris) lives a carefree life with his live-in lawyer Nicholas (Omar Sy) who cooks to amuse himself and sweeps off the table with a broom. When his friend Chick (Gad Elmaleh) comes over and says he has fallen for Alise (Aïssa Maïga), Colin says he wants to be in love too. Cue funny dance sequence with giant-bendy legs with Nicholas. Later at the party for the puppy he meets Chloé (Audrey Tautou) and they fall in love and eventually get married, but is not a “happily ever after” type story, but you will have to see how it turns out for yourself.

Once again I curse at my inability to describe something in words that really needs pictures and video to be shown fully. I would not want to spoil everything on display as that is the main joy of this film. Things like the live-in mouse who is a man in costume are never explained and also the giant room with all the people typing the dialogue for the movie on typewriters.

The “addicted to books” plot is very weird also, at one point Chick and Colin take a pill that lets them experience literature and Chick gets addicted and dissolves a book in solvent and then puts it into his eyes, leading to disaster.

You could compare this movie to Amélie, but that is selling it short as it has a lot more grit along with the creativity. I would have to say it was hipster pornography, there was polite laughter throughout the screening and I ended up giving one particular concept a single clap out loud before I could stop myself.

I enjoyed two of the supporting characters played by Omar Sy and Aïssa Maïga in particular, as Omar is cool and Aïssa is very beautiful, but in a different way to Andrey Tatou.

As I said I can’t really go into detail of all the concepts and just plain weird stuff in this movie without spoiling a lot of it, if you are a fan of the work of this director and also the actors I would recommend it.

MIFF 2013 sessions booked

I ended up getting two eMini passes and was persuaded to by a MIFF membership, but will have to see how that particular one pans out.

Mood Indigo
Cosmic Psychos: Blokes You Can Trust
I Am Divine
The Congress
A Field in England
Final Cut – Ladies and Gentlemen
The Act of Killing
Broken Circle Breakdown
Animation Shorts Program
WTF! Shorts
Exposed
I Delcare War
Lygon St – Si Parla Italiano
Rewind This!
Aim High in Creation!
Comrade Kim Goes Flying
Talking Pictures – Juche Showtime: Capturing the DPRK on Film
Lovelace
Hong Kil Dong
John Dies at the End
Foxfire

MIFF 2013 shortlist

First read-through of the 2013 Melbourne International Film Festival program.

Stoker
Good Vibrations
Mood Indigo
Closed Curtain
Lovelace
Shirley – Visions of Reality
The Broken Circle Breakdown
Final Cut – Ladies and Gentelmen
The Last Time I Saw Macao
Persons of Interest – Part 1 & 2
Fallout (documentary about On the Beach filming not the video game)
The Rocket
In Bob We Trust
Lygon St – Si Parla Italiano
Moon Man
Approved for Adpotion
Bekkas
I Declare War
Television
Behind the Camera
The Missing Picture
Twisted Trunk, Big Fat Body
Comrade Kim Goes Flying
Aim High in Creation!
Kong Kil Dong
Hertiage Fight
Pussy Riot – A Punk Prayer
The End of Time
Narco Cultura
Dirty Wars
Exposed
Lunarcy!
The Moo Man
The Act of Killing
Pearblossom Hwy
Computer Chess
Starlet
Rewind This!
Big Name No Blanket
A Band Called Death
Cosmic Psychos: Blokes You Can Trust
Miss Nikki and the Tiger Girls
The Sunnyboy
The Congress
The Pyjama Girl Case
A Field in England
I Am Divine
Patrick (2013 remake)
John Dies at the End
The Trials of Muhammad Ali
Weekend of a Champion
Dragon Girls
WTF Shorts
Animation Shorts
Foxfire