Monthly Archives: August 2013

Action, HK Style – All the trailers*

(*) All the trailers I could find in the original language where possible. In some cases there was a clip I liked better than the trailer.

While my personal preference is for the original Shaw Brothers trailers over than the new Celestial Pictures re-release ones, it is a different marketplace so they have a particular style of their own.

A Better Tomorrow

A Better Tomorrow 2

A Hero Never Dies

Aces Go Places

Ashes of Time Redux

Breaking News

Bullet in the Head

Challenge of the Masters

City on Fire

Cold War

Come Drink With Me

Dangerous Encounters – 1st Kind

Dirty Ho

Drunken Master

Drunken Master 2

Election

Election 2

Enter the Dragon

Fist of Fury

Full Alert

Full Contact

Whoops, I mean…

God of Gamblers

Golden Swallow

Hard Boiled

Infernal Affairs

Infernal Affairs 2

Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan

Ip Man

Ip Man 2

King Kong’s Adventures in the Heavenly Palace

Kung Fu Hustle

Last Hurrah for Chivalry

Legendary Weapons of China

Long Arm of the Law

Martial Club

My Young Auntie

Once Upon a Time in China

Once Upon a Time in China II

Once Upon a Time in China III

One Nite in Mongkok

One-Armed Swordsman

Pedicab Driver

Police Story

Police Story 3: Supercop

Portland Street Blues

Reign of Assassins

Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow

The 14 Amazons

The 36th Chamber of Shaolin

The Big Boss

The Blade

The Boxer from Shantung

The Chinese Boxer

The Five Venoms

The Killer

The Magic Blade

The Man from Hong Kong

The Mission

The Prodigal Son

The Sword

The Way of the Dragon

Throw Down

True Story of Wong Fei-hung, Part One

Vengeance!

Wong Fei-hung, King of Lion Dance

Wong Fei-Hung’s Battle with the Gorilla

Wu Xia

Young and Dangerous

Thanks to the following people for the the trailers
http://www.youtube.com/user/1980Alain
http://www.youtube.com/user/AussieRoadshow
http://www.youtube.com/user/BestMAFights
http://www.youtube.com/user/bobbybulletbobson
http://www.youtube.com/user/Chinesemovietrailer
http://www.youtube.com/user/chinesemovietrailers
http://www.youtube.com/user/ChopSockyCinema
http://www.youtube.com/user/EarlKlingi
http://www.youtube.com/user/econdor7
http://www.youtube.com/user/elguaxo
http://www.youtube.com/user/fortunestarmedia
http://www.youtube.com/user/FrankBolte
http://www.youtube.com/user/GoodKineStuff
http://www.youtube.com/user/Heroicbloodshedfan
http://www.youtube.com/user/indebioscoop
http://www.youtube.com/user/karlmaka1
http://www.youtube.com/user/kungfumovietrailers
http://www.youtube.com/user/KungFuTrailers
http://www.youtube.com/user/kungtriadsociety
http://www.youtube.com/user/MadmanOnline
http://www.youtube.com/user/metalduro88
http://www.youtube.com/user/MovieTrailerGrave
http://www.youtube.com/user/MrKungFuFlix
http://www.youtube.com/user/myasianheroes
http://www.youtube.com/user/n1mr0d85
http://www.youtube.com/user/ObscureTrailers
http://www.youtube.com/user/Ogizzie
http://www.youtube.com/user/ryy79
http://www.youtube.com/user/shiftinTV
http://www.youtube.com/user/spannick
http://www.youtube.com/user/VarianceFilms
http://www.youtube.com/user/VintageFilmTrailers
http://www.youtube.com/user/whanginsik
http://www.youtube.com/user/WorleyClarence
http://www.youtube.com/user/yabbbaaa
http://www.youtube.com/user/yusochau
http://www.youtube.com/user/zhukaiww

Hong Kong cinema season at Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) 2013

Action, Hong Kong Style
6 September – 8 November 2013
Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA)
http://www.qagoma.qld.gov.au/cinematheque/current/action_hong_kong_style

While the website does have all the films listed, they are not listed by date, which is important to those wanting to come up for a weekend and who need to pick between all the movies.

I have done my best to sort through the movies and list them by date, best to check with the official site before making any plans based on these dates.

Friday 6th September 2013
Once Upon a Time in China
Once Upon a Time in China 2

Saturday 7th September 2013 (election night!)
True Story of Wong Fei-hung, Part One
Wong Fei-hung, King of Lion Dance
Drunken Master
Drunken Master 2

Sunday 8th September 2013
Challenge of the Masters
Martial Club

Wednesday 11th September 2013
Once Upon a Time in China III

Friday 13th September 2013
Come Drink With Me
Golden Swallow

Saturday 14th September 2013
One-Armed Swordsman
Vengeance!
The Boxer from Shantung
The Five Venoms

Wednesday 18th September 2013
The 14 Amazons

Friday 20th September 2013
The Big Boss
Fist of Fury

Saturday 21st September 2013
Once Upon a Time in China
Once Upon a Time in China 2
The Way of the Dragon
Enter the Dragon

Sunday 22nd September 2013
One-Armed Swordsman
Legendary Weapons of China

Friday 27th September 2013
The Five Venoms
The 36th Chamber of Shaolin

Saturday 28th September 2013 (AFL Grand Final Day)
The Chinese Boxer
The Man from Hong Kong (screening during the AFL Grand Final, might be a bit empty)
Last Hurrah for Chivalry
Ashes of Time Redux

Sunday 29th September 2013
The Blade
The Sword

Wednesday 2nd October 2013
Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan
The Magic Blade

Friday 4th October 2013
A Better Tomorrow
A Better Tomorrow 2

Saturday 5th October 2013
The Big Boss
Fist of Fury
Bullet in the Head
Hard Boiled

Sunday 6th October 2013 (NRL Grand Final Day)
Vengeance!
The Killer

Wednesday 9th October 2013
A Better Tomorrow
The Killer

Friday 11th October 2013
A Hero Never Dies
The Mission

Saturday 12th October 2013
Bullet in the Head
Hard Boiled
Election
Election 2

Sunday 13th October 2013
Throw Down
Breaking News

Wednesday 16th October 2013
The Way of the Dragon
Enter the Dragon

Friday 18th October 2013
Drunken Master
Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow

Saturday 19th October 2013
Aces Go Places
Pedicab Driver
God of Gamblers
Kung Fu Hustle

Sunday 20th October 2013
Dirty Ho
My Young Auntie

Wednesday 23rd October 2013
Election
Election 2

Friday 25th October 2013
City on Fire
Full Contact

Saturday 26th October 2013
Police Story
Police Story 3: Supercop
Dangerous Encounters – 1st Kind
Long Arm of the Law

Sunday 27th October 2013
Full Alert
Cold War

Wednesday 30th October
Young and Dangerous
Portland Street Blues

Friday 1st November 2013
Infernal Affairs
Infernal Affairs 2

Saturday 2nd November 2013
The Prodigal Son
One Nite in Mongkok
Ip Man
Ip Man 2

Sunday 3rd November 2013
King Kong’s Adventures in the Heavenly Palace
Wong Fei-Hung’s Battle with the Gorilla

Wednesday 6th November 2013
Infernal Affairs
One Nite in Mongkok

Friday 8th November 2013
Reign of Assassins
Wu Xia

What does this mean to me? September already a wash-out unless I go up for the weekend of the Federal Election.

October a better option with the weekend of the 4 – 6th, 18 – 20th and 25th – 27th available. I already have a ticket to the Handsome Family on the 12th in Melbourne. Watching the four movies listed on 12th October is highly recommended. Be aware that if you recently have had an ear infection, Election 2 can cause physical pain to your body.

November looks good for the Melbourne Cup Weekend, but a lot of people are already going away that weekend.

I am well aware of how much it will cost to fly up to Brisbane for the weekend, but these movies are not going to screen again in this format in Australia.

MIFF 2013 – Foxfire (2012)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1772270/

Director: Laurent Cantet
Starring: Raven Adamson, Katie Coseni, Madeleine Bisson, Claire Mazerolle, Paige Moyles, Rachael Nyhuus, Lindsay Rolland-Mills, Alexandria Ferguson

In 1950s small town USA a group of young girls led by Legs (Raven Adamson) and her friend Maddy (Katie Coseni) decide to team up and form the girl gang Foxfire so they can stick up for each other and exact vengeance upon the men who rule their lives. It’s all fun and games until Legs ends up pulling a knife on a sleaze ball at school to defend one of their gang and a quick joyride later ends getting all the girls into trouble with her being sent off to reform school, the judge is not interested in her legal arguments.

Upon her release from incarnation, Legs decides to take all the girls and move into a farm house where they can live their own lives. It is almost a student share house/commune/feminist retreat decades before these things even existed. Money is tight for them, so they decide to play the oldest trick in the book and entrap men with the old honey pot trick. Maddy gets increasingly isolated from the group and Legs is plotting something big, leading to friction in the group. It does end with a bang, but not how you would expect.

This was a fun movie, even with the more serious and hard to watch parts where the girls get in real danger. It is based on the Joyce Carol Oates novel Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang. There was a version made in 1996 where Angelina Jolie played the character of Legs, but I have not seen that version.

I enjoyed the setting including the girls costumes and hair, they reminded me of some women I know who also like to dress in the 50s style. Also having the story play around with various political ideologies during the Cold War makes more sense as the old man who they talk to in the park gives some background to the beliefs of Legs.

I have recommended this movie to a lot of my friends and it was also one of the films screened in the school sessions at MIFF, hopefully a lot of people get to see it including a younger audience. However, adult supervision is probably required as some of the scenes are very intense and would be too frightening for younger viewers to watch by themselves without someone to talk to about them later.

My favourite character in the movie was Rita (Madeleine Bisson) as at the start of the movie she is helpless to what other people want her to do and by the end she decides to go her own way and knows what she wants. She also does this without becoming hardened to the world like some of the other girls.

Some of the relationships between the girls are not really explained, especially between Legs and Maddy. I thought it was going to go down the “Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit” path and show them in a relationship. It is hinted at where Legs kisses the rich girl but apart from some of the girls teasing each other about “not being attractive to men”, they do not go into it.

I am glad to have watched the movie and enjoyed the story even if the resolution wasn’t what I expected.

MIFF 2013 – Talking Pictures – Caught in the Act: Indonesia and The Act of Killing

as part of the 2013 Melbourne International Film Festival
The Wheeler Centre, Saturday 10th August 2013
with Joshua Oppenheimer, Tito Ambyo (Presenter, ABC Radio Australia Indonesian Service), Jess Melvin (PhD candidate, Melbourne University) and Tom Zubrycki (The Sunnyboy, MIFF 2013).

http://theactofkilling.com/
http://www.indonesiaforum.unimelb.edu.au/
http://wheelercentre.com/

NB – This is more of a brain dump than the full record of events, I did take notes but was not able to get an exact transcript of what the participants were saying. Hopefully the event will be available as a podcast by the Wheeler Centre in the future.

Tito Ambyo: What was the toughest moment out of the seven years it took to film the documentary?

Joshua Oppenheimer: There were many toughest moments.

The very toughest moment was the scene with Anwar at the end of the documentary. Filming on the rooftop was both the first scene and last scene he film with him.

He learnt all the stories from Anwar over five years of filming with him.

For the first time telling a story, you are not as coherent.

They were not allowed to film on the rooftop for five years as the owner of the handbag shop where it was based had a superstition against photography would not let them. They only got up there the first time as the owner was away and an assistant let them up.

The final shoot was six months after the scene where Anwar watches the scene of himself being killed in the film noir sequence at home.

The footage with the politicians and high ranking officials were filmed last in case there was a backlash and he was forced to leave the country. The rest of the documentary was shot in sequence.

They were passing the store around the same time and saw a new store was opening. Josh thought it would be the same as filming the first time.

Anwar’s hair changing colour was due to the long time between filming and it grew out and he redyed it for filming the scenes.

The ‘horrifying moment’ on the rooftop was due to the journey Anwar had been on in the course of filming the documentary and that he wanted a resolution.

Joshua Oppenheimer described what happened to Anwar as “his body physically rejecting his words”.

Anwar was filmed for five years previously, every filming was a big event.

The director did want to comfort him, but it was not OK what he did in the past.

Tito Ambyo: (question to panellists) What were your reactions to the film?

Tom Zubrycki: Shocked by the capacity for evil and the swagger of the people who did it.

There was a decent in grotesquery. It made sense to have all the different film genres.

Jess Melvin: Strange. Relief. Finally shows the perpetrators admitting to their crimes and implicating themselves and the system.

She hopes that it is the start of a new movement.

Tito Ambyo: What has the film opened up?

Joshua Oppenheimer: The idea of the system being linked to the killings

Tito Ambyo: How did the re-enactments come about?

Joshua Oppenheimer: The re-enactments were a reaction and attempt to work with the openness of the perpetrators.

When he originally tried to film with the victims, the military intervened.

Did not know whether to proceed, but was encouraged by the survivors as it was important to tell the story.

The re-enactments were allegorical especially the scene with the waterfall.

The survivors are the ones that suggested to film the perpetrators who were very boastful, showed where they killed and how they did so.

Tito Ambyo: Why were they so open? What were the consequences?

Joshua Oppenheimer: Did not create the talk show, but the scene fits with the rest of the film.

The documentary explores the nature and the consequences of the boasting.

He was open to the people when filming of what the footage was going to be used for.

Anwar was the 41st person to be filmed who was a perpetrator of the violence.

Tito Ambyo: What of the collaboration between subjects and the film maker?

Tom Zubrycki: Admired how Josh worked with the subjects and filmed the documentary. The most endearing subjects are sometimes that hardest to deal with like Jose Ramos Horta during the filming of the documentary the Diplomat.

It was a fantastic decision to go with the stories of the killers. Form is not determined by the content.

Tito Ambyo: Did you need to intervene at any stage of the filming?

Joshua Oppenheimer: Collaboration is an interesting word. It was not used enough to describe the film.

It is a myth that documentary film makers are a “fly on the wall” you change things just by being there.

Every scene is an occasion and it is not really reality.

The director did have to intervene with Anwar to stop him from saying “I am tired can we stop filming” as they only had a short time to do some scenes.

However, he is not a “story at all costs” director and did try and people stop getting into trouble.

The scene with the survivor telling the story of his ethnic Chinese stepfather was not meant to be in the documentary, but it happened.

The director was in a different studio at the time of filming and the cinematographer captured it, but did not speak Indonesian so he did not know what was happening.

At the time they were shooting 25 hours of footage a day at the TV studios and in 3 days they shot 75 hours of footage. It was a long time before he found the scene.

If he was there he never would have allowed it to happen and would have told the man to not return the next day.

It was naive to go into that situation and still think he could remain in control of everything.

The protagonists themselves were challenging and questioning also. Such as the time when the journalist said he did not recall the events and the other men knew it was a lie.

Tito Ambyo: What of Werner Herzog saying “surrealism does not work” in documentaries?

Tom Zubrycki: Surrealism does work. It finds the deeper truth of a subject. Like a spiral that keeps getting more grotesque. Especially in the waterfall and the noir scenes.

You end up feeling empathy for a mass killer, even though it is an uncomfortable feeling to do so.

Tito Ambyo: There is a strong tradition of surrealism in Indonesian storytelling. Jess Melvin I believe you interviewed a ghost?

Jess Melvin: Yes, while travelling through North Aceh trying to find survivors. A man referred her to a ghost. The ghost told the story of the killings.

The stories are told as ghost stories as real history has been repressed.

Tito Ambyo: On using surrealism?

Joshua Oppenheimer: Prefers to think of it as ‘ecstatic truth’, he showed the same clip of the waterfall through to the film noir scene to Werner Herzog in the hotel lobby when he first asked for his help on the documentary.

It allowed the deeper truths to surface.

The perpetrators are human and what is the consequences of empathising with them?

It is a question of allegory ‘ecstatic truth’ related to the entire regime.

It is no longer safe for the director to return to Indonesia.

During a screening to the survivors of the genocide overseas, there was crying and laughter during the waterfall scene and a sense of relief.

You could create a similar scene in the same context for any number of countries and societies.

Why surrealism was chosen?

The idea came from the protagonists, it was there experiences they were trying to show and their way for dealing with what they had done.

Anwar’s nightmare scene bookends with the scenes of the politicians.

Herman becomes the “Goddess of revenge” getting retribution from the victims.

Anwar is directing the scene as a severed head.

Anwar and Herman became bigger than themselves and there are scenes that go out the explain the broader story and then go back to them. Their stories helped edit the film.

The waterfall scene is used as a bookend with the rest of the scenes. There are two versions of the documentary and it is used in both.

Tito Ambyo: Why did you choose the clip of the talk show?

Jess Melvin: It is footage of a major Indonesian politician admitting to ordering the killings, something that was never personally attributed to anyone. There were rumours of the death squads, but naming the organization responsible for the killings is a big revelation.

Tito Ambyo: How many hours of footage were shot?

Joshua Oppenheimer: There were 1,200 hours of footage shot over the five years with Anwar and 300 hours with the first 40 perpetrators.

He did not know the film was going to be so controversial outside of Indonesia.

The footage will be made available for historians wishing to study it.

It is only controversial for people with an interest Indonesia outside of the country and not in the country itself.

Audience question: Have people at the Hague seen the film? How was the film shaped and when were the re-enactments used? Is there a musical version?

Joshua Oppenheimer: It already is a musical.

Every step of filmmaking is part of the story. Editing is part of the exploration as you cannot really explore things while shooting you just have to get on with it.

The method of re-enactments were negotiated with Anwar.

He did originally displace his personal responsibility onto other things like drinking, drugs, his clothes and hair.

They would not plan more than one re-enactment at a time. There was some surrealism also while the people were viewing the footage.

The journey of Anwar is shown on screen. He decides to play the victim out of despair.

He wanted to play the victim in the first scene, if you watch carefully he is doing the Cha-cha-cha with the wire around his neck. The final emotional truth was revealed in the ending.

The film was shown in the Hague at the human rights film festival there.

The International Criminal Court does not have jurisdiction over events that occurred before its founding.

One of the perpetrators who boasted about wanting to go to the Hague to become famous said he would not be tried as it was not in their interest to do so.

People ask him what can the West do?

The west was what caused this to happen, there is nothing that can be done.

Audience question: There are many documentaries and stories from the victims, there is a tendency to think that the victims exaggerate their stories. This exonerates the victims.

On the regime is it the same as 1965?

One major Indonesian politician on rejecting the Asian Human Rights Commission’s report into human rights said “the killings were justified as they gave use the Indonesia we have now.”

Report from here
http://www.humanrights.asia/resources/hrreport/2012/ahrc-spr-006-2012.pdf

(degenerates into anti-Indonesian rant)

Joshua Oppenheimer: That was important and well put.

Audience question: With the amount of sexism and misogyny on display was it difficult to listen to? Is there any indication that there will be an uprising of survivors?

Joshua Oppenheimer: The film has been screened 500 times in Indonesia in 95 different cities.

It will be available online for free for all Indonesians in the country.

Survivors have not only seen the film but are promoting it.

There is a community of survivors in Holland they the director screened the film for in Stockholm.

There are no calls for revenge, but it has encouraged discussion.

Misogyny transforms people into objects and also propaganda has been used to justify the killings.

Audience question: On the collaborative process. How is the relationship with the people he collaborated with on the documentary now?

Joshua Oppenheimer: There are different types of collaborating. The documentary has been accepted as an Indonesian production.

It is an important film. Unfortunately he cannot put the names of the “anonymous” contributors to project on the film until real political change takes place in the country. He did want to have the anonymous director involved in the discussion but it could not happen.

Anwar likes the film and says “this film shows what it is like to be me”. The director does still talk to Anwar every few weeks.

The daughter of the first victim of the genocide who was exiled to Paris also was concerned about Anwar and wanted to pass on a message. She also asks about him regularly.

Bonus discussion from the audience as I was leaving: The documentary was shown in a multiplex screening commercial releases, but was not announced. There was a mailing list promoting the film and word of mouth about it.

MIFF 2013 – John Dies at the End (2012)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1783732/

Director: Don Coscarelli
Starring: Bark Lee, Chase Williamson, Rob Mayes, Paul Giamatti, Clancy Brown, Glynn Turman, Doug Jones, Daniel Roebuck, Jonny Weston, Jimmy Wong, Tai Bennett

I had been looking forward to this as I had heard a lot about it from the Cracked website that David Wong writes for.

The story follows David Wong (Chase Williamson) and John (Rob Mayes) who happen upon a Jamaican at a party (Tai Bennett) who introduces them to a strange drug known as “soy sauce” that is meant to open the portal across dimensions. David does not take it and goes home early, only to be awakened by a call from John starting the whole adventure.

Bark Lee ends up joining them on the quest after ending up in David’s car and the story is told in a non-linear fashion with David recounting the events to journalist Arnie Blondestone (Paul Giamatti) several years later.

I enjoyed this movie but it does feel like there should have been more to the story, they even set it up with a scene during the credits that the two only save worlds if the people are not boring or if they feel like it. I do want to read the book and see how different it was the to the movie also.

Great special effects and settings make this more of a fantasy movie than a straight horror movie which I thought it would be. The creature design was quite interesting including the meat monster at the start and vast vat of thinking meat that was one of the major adversaries.

Bark Lee the dog was my favourite character, especially the part where he drives the car through the wall. Give that dog an Oscar! Even an Oscar Meier wiener would be great as he wouldn’t know the difference as he is a dog.

Hopefully this movie does well on general release and DVD sales as I do want to see more of the story with the same characters.

MIFF 2013 – Hong Kil Dong (1986)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0254387/

Director: Kil-in Kim
Starring: Chang Son Hui, Gwon Ri, Riyonun Ri, Yong Ho Ri, Kenpachiro Satsuma

NINJAS IMMEDIATELY!

What a cock-tease, ninjas and then no ninjas until right near the end. Hong Kil Dong is the illegitimate son of a minister who the stupid old bag who he lives with mistreats with and even pays some bandits to kill them when they go off to the frontier.

They are rescued by a strange old man who gets called “fucking buffer!” by the bandits and they also warn each other to “watch out bro!” when he hits their pressure points and freezes them. Hong Kil Dong asks to train with the old man and goes to live with him on the mountain.

Cue the cute training scenes and jumping a sapling with leg weights. Several years later and Hong Kil Dong (Yong Ho Ri) jumps the now grown tree easily. Finally taking the leg weights off, he can fly.

One day at the local inn he rescues a girl that sets in chain the events that lead to him becoming the hero of the people with a fetching purple headscarf. He does cry at lot at the injustice of everything and people kept laughing during the screening at his girlfriend for some reason.

The movie would have finished early if they had just cut the head off the stupid battleaxe at the start and fed it to the dogs. I wanted to throw my shoe at the screen every time scragglepuss appeared.

Hong Kil Dong does come across some bandits who tell their victims to “put down your stuff and piss off!” including the brother of the man he killed earlier. He decides to spare his life saying he “killed” the bad version of him and he becomes a follower.

Not sure where the ninjas came from in the story, they just turned up at a convenient time once the local threats had been dealt with. I enjoyed the scenes where the local army was dealing with the ninjas as while they may have had the numbers, the ninjas were still a threat due to their tactics.

While the movie is very hokey and looks 20 years older than it actually is, I found it quite enjoyable. One audience member travelled interstate to see it and hopefully they enjoyed the experience. The screening was quite enjoyable with people laughing mostly. Was good to contrast this film with Aim High in Creation and Comrade Kim Goes Flying.

MIFF 2013 – Lovelace (2013)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1426329/

http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/tv-movies/amanda-seyfried-lovelace-clip-released-article-1.1244074

Directors: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard, Sharon Stone, Robert Patrick, Hank Azaria, Chloë Sevigny, James Franco

Telling the story about the world’s most famous porn star, Amanda Seyfried stars as Linda Lovelace with Peter Sarsgaard playing the infamous Chuck Traynor. I did not know some of the story with Linda having a gun put to her head to do the movie, but did not know some of the other details.

I don’t really go to see many dramatic movies and this was one of the best ones I have seen for a while, the characters really do disappear into their characters. I did not even know Sharon Stone was in the movie playing Linda’s mother until I found out later.

Amanda Seyfried in this movie reminds me so much of someone I know, so it was hard to watch the film after it does the Jekyll and Hyde switch about half way through showing the real story behind the glamorised version that made up the first part.

The support cast is outstanding with Hank Azaria playing the director of Deep Throat in a bad wig and he is very passionate about his work. The scene where Linda does her first shoot and is too good at her job “did I do something wrong?” “NO!” everyone replies, is funny.

I cannot fault the production in 70s art direction and costumes and there a lot of uncredited cameos from contemporary media at the time from talk shows and comedy routines that attempt to explain how big a splash the movie made in popular culture.

The ending did feel a bit trite, but on the whole the movie was very good and manages to be erotic without actually showing anything. Reportedly Amanda Seyfried had a good time shooting the nude scenes and she does look lovely in it.

I was surprised to see the amount of young women in the audience at the screening, particularly ones who came in a girl gang. Having watched a film about Betty Paige where some sicko knocked the top off in a screening it was a relief.

MIFF 2013 – Comrade Kim Goes Flying (2012)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2379424/

Directors: Nicholas Bonner, Anja Daelemans, Kim Gwang Hun
Starring: Han Jong-sim, Pak Chung-Guk, Ri Yong-Ho, Kim Son-Nam, An Chang-Sun, Ri Ik-Sung

Coal miner Comrade Kim Yong-Mi (Han Jong-sim) dreams of becoming an acrobat at the National Circus of North Korea while entertaining her work mates, her dad tells her to keep her feet on the ground, but agrees to let her travel to the capital for a year to work on the construction crew.

On the way she meets a man who turns out to be the head of the construction site, but is more interested in getting in to see the circus, while outsmarting the door man and causing embarrassment later when she finds out who the man was.

She does get the opportunity to try out for the circus, but decides to do the hardest thing as her trial, the trapeze, failing spectacularly, she is also insulted by Pak Jang-Phil (Pak Chung-Guk) who says only a certain few can by acrobats. Insulted, she returns to her construction work and even refuses his help when he boss asks him to instruct her to train the rest of the crew in acrobatics. Returning to her village to work in the mines, Jang-Phil goes to see her to beg her to try out again for the circus and even brings the big bosses. Training is hard, but she eventually reaches her goal and even represents the country.

While this was quite light and fluffy compared to some of the films I have seen lately, it is very sweet and was designed to be purely an entertainment piece, making it stand out from most North Korean cinema as there is no political message.

While the movie is a co-production between three countries, it was written by North Koreans hence the scenes such as the concrete mixing contest, which does work within the context of the movie. I thought the scene at the steel mill with the arm wrestling contest was quite sweet. The lead actress was cute as a button with that hat. While there were disagreements over the script, the director said they were resolved by going to have a drink.

The director Nicholas Bonner urged the audience to put themselves in the mindset of a North Korean audience who do not have all the modern films to compare it against. He is quite proud that the movie was a hit in North Korea and is screening on collective farms around the country.

Nicholas Bonner runs Koryo Tours that brings tour groups into North Korea and also manages people wanting to go in individually. The company has had problems with journalists doing exposés in the past and their tours have been shut down. He and Anna Broinowski had quite strong words to say about the director of the Red Chapel and Nicholas thought the documentary by Panorama in the UK last year with the journalist who snuck into North Korea by lying on his visa was ‘very thin’.

At the same time Nicholas is no fan of the political system, but says that a lot of people just get on with their lives as happens everywhere.

This movie was the first to be edited outside of North Korea and also it is shown as a digital print as movies in the country are still shot on film. While the director does seem some scope to making more movies in the country, foreign crew would be required as the skills are just not there in North Korea to be able to work up to a modern standard. There was an interesting story about a propaganda movie being shot on the same lot that fell apart and people kept coming over to join this movie. Everyone on the crew stayed at the same hotel and got up at 6am day to start work on the shoot, something you do not see much these days.

Not sure if this movie is going to get a cinema release in Australia or worldwide, but it would be a good one to get on DVD regardless.

MIFF 2013 – Aim High in Creation (2013)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2310800/

Director: Anna Broinowski
Starring: Jacqueline McKenzie, Peter O’Brien, Kathryn Beck, Susan Prior, Matt Zeremes

Anna was trying to make a documentary about coal seam gas due to a planned well near where she lives in central Sydney, but none of the gas companies wanted to talk to her, so she had the idea of fighting corporate enterprise with Communist propaganda and decided to go to North Korea to enlist their help to make the film. She also wanted to stick to Kim Jong Il’s seven directives for making a movie.

There is a dual story in the documentary with the short film being the main outcome and it also being a introduction to the cinema of the DPRK including meeting veterans of the film industry in the country who have worked on dozens of movies.

I always like to learn something new from documentaries and I did not know the story about the defectors from the USA during the Korean War. One of them went on to playing all the baddies on the US side in movies and his sons also play a similar role in films these days. They did not like Anna much she explained and she did not get to talk to them.

While the North Korean film directors may think Anna “acts like a stick”, I think she is a great narrator and has wonderful expressive eyes. My favourite scene is where she gets kicked off the production of the North Korean movie and looks like a guilty puppy walking away from the set. Also when she sits on the historical monument at the DMZ and gets told off.

The short comes out quite well, but the more effective scenes are when Anna is preparing one of her actors for the role and takes them to meet a farmer whose family has been effected by coal seam gas drilling and is now getting sick.

It was the world premiere when I saw it so it will be interesting to see how it goes with a wider audience. They did try and get the North Koreans out for the premiere, but it was blocked for the government. A full symphony orchestra helped score parts of the movie, but they left out the parts about “fertilising with manure in winter” for one song.

Anna was adamant during production that she did not want to do what the Red Chapel had done and twist things around to make a different documentary to what actually happened, but she did not tell the people the footage was going to be used for anything other than instructing the actors. The longer version of the short has been shown to the people she worked with in North Korea and they did like it, Anna wanted them to have a more harsh reaction but it is a good start.

There are actually fans of the Communist propaganda genre and there was a documentary on Eastern European Communist musicals in the late 90s that I have a copy of and have also managed to track down all of the movies so hopefully this film will have a similar effect on making the movies available.

It also helps with understanding the people in North Korea more than just the politics and hopefully relations can come out of that. There have been attempts are art exhibitions by artists from North Korea that have been blocked by the Australian government, which is sad but hopefully we will get to see the artworks one day.

Anna said she did want to include a section in the film about the director of Pulgasari and had an interview with his agent, but found out he is persona non-grata in North Korea so she could not mention his name. She also could not show the interviews with defectors even if they were anonymous.

There were some restrictions on filming in North Korea including not cropping the image of the Dear Leader, not filming soldiers (they got lucky at the memorial as there were too many of them to crop out) and also the officials did not like the microphone wire covering up the badge of the Dear Leader. Anna did manage to put extra things in though including some run-down buildings and showing an amorous couple on screen. After what happened with the Red Chapel, she did have to show the footage she had shot or they would not let her get a visa to leave the country.

I would say that it is a very interesting movie and I would like to visit North Korea one day before the system collapses as it will inevitably do and in a very short period of time, as happened in Eastern Europe. Hopefully things can be managed better this time around, but that is up in the air.

MIFF 2013 – Rewind This! (2013)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2395970/

Director: Josh Johnson
Featuring: Mamoru Oshii, Frank Henenlotter, Roy Frumkes, Shôko Nakahara, Charles Band, Cassandra Peterson

The golden age of VHS is revisited in this nostalgic journey through the medium exploring the origins of early VHS releases through to the explosion of VHS rentals and then the decline of the medium with new formats and digital options.

I find the title quite strange since when I was hiring VHS tapes from a film archive they had a specific notice not to rewind the tapes as the tension on the tape helps preserve it better.

While most of the documentary is made up by talking heads, there are some magical clips of some of the more interesting releases and even some of the more obscure “shot on video” movies that are not well known.

Video remixing was represented by Dimitri from Everything Is Terrible saying that he doesn’t hate the movies he remixes and the programmers from the Cinefamily said sometimes the only materials available for screening are the VHS copy.

I did buy a new VHS quite recently as what happens when a technology is near the end of its life the price goes up again. I still have a few films on VHS that will never be released in another media or they have sentimental value like the copy of Heroic Trio signed by Maggie Cheung.

Quite an enjoyable documentary and well worth watching for fans of 1980s genre cinema and the weird.