Tag Archives: miff

MIFF 2016: The Lure (2015)

Director: Agnieszka Smoczynska
Starring: Marta Mazurek, Michalina Olszanska, Kinga Preis, Andrzej Konopka, Jakub Gierszal, Zygmunt Malanowicz

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufjCgXPxKuc

Two mermaids named Silver and Golden are found by a group of musicians having a drink by the river and recruited to work in a nightclub as part of their act. Although Silver (Marta Mazurek) is happy to go along with working in the club, Golden (Michalina Olszanska) still lusts after the hearts of humans as that what they live on usually. This causes a lot of trouble with their working conditions and one of the mermaids falls for the bass player. They can also communicate with each other telepathically and have the power of sirens.

While this is a retelling of the little mermaid story, it is more of the Old Testament version with moments of extreme gore. While not a full on horror movie there are times when the mermaids grow sharp teeth and attack people and one of them is fully sawed in half at one point.

This movie is a musical and does have dance numbers. There used to be a whole genre of Eastern European Communist musicals back during the Cold War that are available online if you look for them.

While the film does have elements of camp and comedy it is not really a funny more or a fun gory romp. It is more of a serious story in the mode of an allegory on love and what people are willing to give up to find love.

The story is set in the 1980s and does manage to keep with this area rather well with no real clangers I can see with the costumes or hair.

The two actresses playing the mermaids walk around nude for a lot of the film but for some reason they do not have functional genitalia while in human form “like a Barbie doll” it is described and when they have tails there is just a slit in the tail (I will refrain from jokes about fish fingers).

The sexuality of the mermaids has a question mark over it as one of them does have sex with a female police officer and they kiss each other with tongues whilst on stage. They are not really fully regarded as “human” by either themselves or the other characters. Even their merman friend said they are “only on holiday” in the human world.

There is a lot of music in the movie and dance numbers. A lot of the plot development happens during the songs also. The soundtrack can be found on iTunes and Spotify.

I would recommend this movie if you liked the Little Mermaid story but want to see a different darker version of the story and also enjoy movies with musical numbers.

MIFF 2016: Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World (2016)

Director: Werner Herzog
Featuring: Kevin Mitnick, Elon Musk, Lawrence Krauss, Lucianne Walkowicz


“Helloooo, my name is Werner Herzog”

An interesting, but scattershot documentary that is frustrating in that it covers a lot of ground across topics that are very deep like skipping a stone across the surface of a lake and barely covers any of them.

Topics such as artificial intelligence, game theory, interplanetary travel and others get the same time covered as quackery such as people being “allergic” to Wi-Fi.

It almost becomes a parody of a Werner Herzog as they have at least one quip from the director in each segment that the audience laughed at due to the director’s Teutonic dryness. Even Kevin Mitnick got a laugh after the director described him as a “Demigod of hacking” and then he appeared as a normal man.

The story of the family who were a victim of trolls was strange with the baked goods on the table and the woman claiming that an abstract concept was the manifestation of evil. People can do evil things a concept is not evil unless you apply it to do bad things.

The online gaming segment could have been a documentary of its own, I did like Tom running across the rope bridge and the director saying “no need for a further introduction, that was perfect” also Werner wanting to talk to Chloe about her online characters to which she went “MAH TRIGGERS!” and refused. He did seem genuinely disappointed of not getting to discuss dark elves.

I am not really the audience for this as I know a lot about the internet having been on it for 20 years and have studied aspects of it in detail. As a popular surface-level documentary on the internet this show do fine. It does ignore that the main purpose of the internet was to connect people and technology was only part of this.

MIFF 2016: Kedi (2016)

Director: Ceyda Torun

Despite trying to be good and rescheduling a session from the previous night I still did not get to bed until quite late the previous night so I kept nodding off during this documentary but hopefully managed to see most of it.

The story covers the cats of Istanbul that do not have owners in the traditional sense more that they are the responsibility of the community and the cats themselves decide who they are going to adopt and they tend to have right of way to come and go as they please.

I have heard of some cats adopting people other than their owners in Australia and people paying the vet bills and looking after other people’s pets but not on this scale where it seems to be part of what is expected to be part of the community.

If you like cats at all I would recommend this documentary as the cats have different personalities such as the “neighbourhood psychopath” who would not let her “husband” have even a tiny grain of cat food. The “milk thief” who turned up to as a tiny kitten on the roof and now rules the roost and a cat that swatted at a customer trying to sit on a chair and now sits by her window with his paw raised until she lets him in.

There are several examples of people feeding carts en masse such as cooking 20kg of chicken per day for a bunch of cats and one man who used feeding stray cats as a method of treatment for his mental illness and now it is his life to look after the cats.

There is also some coverage of why cats are so important in Turkish society including the sewers being built that attracted rats and every house had to get a cat. Also Istanbul being a world shipping hub meant that a lot of cats jumped ship from all over the world and ended up living in the city.

This documentary sold out both its screenings at MIFF and got an encore screening that will probably sell out. Hopefully it will get a local screening in the future or DVD release as it should be very popular.

MIFF 2016: Talking Pictures – Jerry Lewis: The King of Comedy

Federation Hall, Saturday 6th August
Featuring Alan Finney, Shaun Micallef, Santo Cilauro, Chris Fujiwara, Frank Woodley and Lawrence Mooney

This session was recorded so I will just go over the highlights as I remember them.

There was an interesting mix of speakers including Chris Fujiwara who has written about Jerry Lewis and the Australian comedians who were a mix of working comedians and more senior ones with an interest in Jerry Lewis. Shaun Micallef in particular came across as quite the scholar of comedy and admitted to taping the soundtrack of Jerry Lewis movies from TV so he could practise lines from them.

Frank Woodley hit Lawrence Mooney over the head with an empty water bottle to demonstrate physical comedy is still funny. He also admitted to stealing a couple of jokes from Jerry Lewis for his TV show including one that took 6 months to practice and was only in the show for less than half a minute (the juggling of an funeral urn containing ashes).

Santo Cilauro said that growing up in a non-English speaking household the main things they watched were wrestling and Jerry Lewis movies as they did not require an understanding of the language to follow the story.

Most of the comedians on the panel admitted to being strongly influenced by Jerry Lewis to get into comedy and Shaun Micallef mainly did impersonations of his act during his university revue days.

There was some discussion of Jerry Lewis’ days working with Dean Martin but most of the time was taken up with his movies and that it would have not been the same if he had came along earlier as his comedy relied on people seeing him to work. Also that he plays the loser who wins on his own terms in his movies which is not as popular these days.

Even in his more serious movies such as Scorsese’s the King of Comedy he runs like he is in character and they did have nods to his character work such as the white socks and the scene with him holding the door shut to make it look like the other person was having trouble opening the lock.

There was some discussion on the Nutty Professor that Buddy Love was closer to Jerry Lewis’ real life persona but he still hams it up by having fey punches dubbed in with Hollywood punch sounds.

The movie the Patsy was also discussed with the big finale being a reshoot based on one of Jerry’s routines made to look like it was improvised but it could not have been as there was so much involved.

It was an interesting discussion and I would like to see more Jerry Lewis movies in the future now knowing a bit more about him and his movies.

MIFF 2016: Meal Tickets (2016)

Director: Mat de Koning

Featuring: The Screwtop Detonators, Dave Kavanagh, Nici Ward, Will Stoker, Matt Doust

While I had seen and photographed the Screwtop Detonators a couple of times (1) (2) but I never really followed them closely as there were a lot of bands that I was seeing at the time and still do as it can be years in between seeing some bands for me. The Bittersweet Kicks were active around the same time in Melbourne and I ended up seeing them more as they played at my local a lot more (until they got banned for good with the help of Spencer P Jones, but that is another story).

Screwtop Detonators 2008
Screwtop Detonators 2008

I am not close friends with the band members, but some of them are on my friends list on Facebook whatever that concept means these days. I will try not to let that influence my judgement on the documentary too much but having someone I know in it is different than just someone I know making the documentary.

The director was originally friends with the band and just started hanging out and filming them as something he did. Must have had a good video recorder as I did not have any decent video recording capability until I got an SLR with it inbuilt until 2011 and I had just been taking photos for around the same amount of time.

As happens in a lot of times with new bands you get someone wanting to act as their manager in this case Dave Kavanagh who thought he could use his connections and talent to make them into a big name. You cannot doubt that he was sincere about it but a lot of time when someone offers to help it is more for something they will get out of it than you will.

The band does get one US tour out of it with a lot of dates and a good experience. I would not have liked to be the members of the band watching themselves at the screening seeing the stuff they did and said 12 years ago as it would have been extremely embarrassing.

What also happened on their first tour is their roadie decided to leave the tour as it wasn’t working out for him as he was a shit roadie. He turns up later in his own band Will Stoker and the embers and even the promo photo for this doco is of his band.

As happens with a lot of bands they decided to move to Melbourne to make a go of it on their own, which meant dumping Dave as their manager. While Melbourne is good for the gig opportunities, it also means you have a lot of competition. I was well aware of them during that time but only saw them a couple of times while they were active in Melbourne.

Nici Ward, the partner of Ben from the band is also a musician but that was not shown in this documentary. They did manage to find the exact clip that demonstrated how level headed and sensible she is. It could have made an interesting counterpoint including her musical endeavours as the women in music I know do not tell do fall into the bullshit of having to live the rock and roll lifestyle to prove themselves and then end up dying of cancer in their 50s or drinking beer through a hole in their neck.

Nici Blue Eyes 2008
Nici Blue Eyes the day after my birthday 2008

Most of the bands I know have to have another job to support their musical career as Australia is just too small. Bob Log III may live in Melbourne but has to tour most of the year overseas. Don Walker struggles to sell tickets in regional RSLs while the Cold Chisel cover band down the road sells out.

I do know that Nici worked hard in the crepe stall including on Black Saturday when she was outside. Ben and the other band members would have worked just as hard in other jobs and also trying to make a go of it with the band. So I understand their decision to break up the band and for Ben and Nici to move back to Perth.

There is a resolution with Ben Ward now being in a band called Leeches, some of the other members moving onto other projects and the one member who stayed in Melbourne playing in a few bands. Will Stoker is still performing but has not played a gig for a while.

The Q&A after the screening had the director and some of the members of the band including some who had not seen each other for 11 years.

Editing the film was a massive undertaking due to having 700 hours of footage and when the director finally decided to knuckle down until it was finished took another four years.

I can’t remember many of the other questions but Will Stoker said he did not regret anything that he did that was shown in the documentary.

It does make me think more about doing something myself in terms of a documentary. I have enough photos of bands after 12 years of taking photos of Melbourne. I will be contributing to the Fred Negro documentary coming up. I don’t really have the finances to start anything at the moment or a subject.

I would recommend this documentary to all new bands starting out to see what you will go through if you want to stick it out in a band for a significant part of your life.

Q&A at Kino Cinema at MIFF 2016 5/8/16
Q&A at Kino Cinema at MIFF 2016 5/8/16

MIFF 2016: Animation shorts

POP (2016)
Director: Henry Bulleen

In this very stylish looking short a woman on a motorbike is searching for the spirits of the deceased for some unknown reason. When a person with a metal detector kills themselves things don’t go according to plan as one of the souls ends up in a fly and giant tetrahedrons appear.

The animation style reminded me a lot of Aeon Flux as seen on the Liquid Television show on MTV in the 90s. I would like to see more stories in the same style.

There is no dialogue but the story is easy to follow and it is best not to know everything is going on sometimes so you can make your own conclusions.


Bird Flu (2016)
Director: Priit Tender, Hefang Wei

A bird house with a man’s head overlooks an apple tree with a flock of bird and a drunk penguin at the base. The spirit of sickness in the form a snake lady kills all the birds and the worms eat the tree, she takes the birdhouse with her to repeat the cycle.

A sweet animated short with simple character designs with the main characters consisting of solid blocks of colour and lines over a dirty background of scribbles that makes the setting interesting looking and not too bland.

Even though I could pretty much tell what was going to happen as soon as the snake lady turns up, it was still and interesting story to watch and some things like the drunk penguin were never explained.


LOVE (2016)
Director: Réka Bucsi

A system of happy planets orbit a much smaller planet in the centre. It soon receives a visitor in the form of what looks like a comet, but is actually a box full of plants that soon seed the planet and transform all the creatures on it in different ways.

Some excellent character designs and imaginative setting and plot make this one stand out. There are all sorts of different creatures that look like animals from earth but could not possibly be those exact things.

I did like the idea of the comet “seeding” the planet and then the planet exploding with life which then went off to go to other worlds and repeat the cycle.


In the Distance (2015)
Director: Florian Grolig

A man and a chicken live at the top of all tall tower above the clouds with seemingly no way down. In the distance the sound of war encroaches until it finally hits the tower and the man fends off attackers and rescuers alike. Things take a turn for the worse in the war and the man has to decide whether to stay or leave.

This is a simple concept with just the one location, but it covers a big subject of war and sanctuary and when is the best time to move on. It also proves you can show just a small part of a wider story and the audience can fill in the blanks.

There is no dialog and only a few characters but you do get a sense that they all have their own stories that continue even after their parts in this particular story finish.


Mrs. Metro (2016)
Director: Aggelos Papantoniou

A very strange art style with interesting filled shapes and character design. This short tells the story of a weird man leaving a bag on the train which turns out to be a naked crying baby. The muscle bound man leaves it with the female passenger with the largest breasts who ignores it. The crying then attracts the attention of Mrs. Metro who emerges from the train’s roof speaker to pin the baby for a submission to stop it crying.

I enjoyed the setting for this short especially since they recorded the audio on the train line I use every day.

I would not say that I see these exact characters on the train all the time but I have used public transport a great deal in the 16 years I have lived in Melbourne and a lot of different people use it.


Spring Jam (2016)
Director: Ned Wenlock

In a short that could almost be a tourism advertisement, a deer with short antlers tries to find a way to make music when he doesn’t have lots of birds to roost on them. Through a series of mishaps the deer eventually finds a way to make music and even the kiwi gets to have a part in it despite being tone deaf.

A very attractively animated short with a lot of flat colour blocks making up the characters in a story that seems to be in 2D until parts of it wrap around on a 3D plane also for extra depth. It does work very well and makes it have a unique style.


Sea Child (2015)
Director: Minha Kim

A young girl lives on docks with her grandma helping her cut up eels to feed to customers. Some creepy men try to make her eat an eel but her grandma rescues her. After having a nightmare about the eels the girl goes looking for her mother and finds out the truth, returning to her home to live with the eels.

Very bleak story with the wash of dark watercolour having a lot of texture that you would not expect from a usually flat medium. Also the use of colour ends up being lurid and threatening and is perfect for the situation.


Wall Dust (2016)
Director: Haiyang Wang

Pastel drawings come to life and blend into each other into a series of surrealistic scenes culminating in the artist becoming involved in real life wearing the mask of the man he drew over and over standing in the midst of his creations.

This was my favourite of the animation shorts program due to the creativity of the imagery involved and the number of different colourful drawings involved.

The “fuck head” scene had me recommend it to a cartoonist friend I know and someone who collects drawings of cock and balls as a hobby.

With a lot of surrealistic painting the subjects are not that detailed, but in this case each frame is a fully detailed drawing, which would have taken a lot of time for each one.

There is not really a story but there is a sequence of drawings including a disembodied bum laying eggs onto a conveyor belt, a real syringe withdrawing the blood for a drawn pig, which turns into a skeleton, a man coming out of a pig’s bum, a pig’s anus turning into a pomegranate and many other things.


The Empty (2016)
Director: Dahee Jeong

A room grieves for its former occupant through the things left behind (mostly dust) at one stage it starts to knits things out of dust and arranges books to have conversations with each other. A photo falls out of one of the books and the memory of the former owner is finally forgotten.

An interesting story with inanimate objects having their own story relating to the person living there. When people pass on there is really not that much left that is unique to them.

I know that in Japanese culture objects are considered to have a soul but was not sure if it was similar or different in Korea where this film was made. There does seem to be some similarity.


Mamie (2016)
Director: Janice Nadeau

A woman tells the story of her childhood visiting her grandma Mamie and wondering why she didn’t really have that much love for her grandchildren. Her grandmother lives by the sea but is afraid of the water and loves her grandfather. When he dies and there is a train line built through her house she is never the same.

A simply flat animated style of animation but it suits the story and the characters are well defined.

There is some magic realism with Mamie and her partner floating when they dance and the child being a giant looking through the window at a tiny Mamie in her house.

Was an interesting story and was not very long but still told the full story in enough time.


The Crossing (2016)
Director: Marieka Walsh

The director of this film was at the screening and introduced it talking a bit more about its development. Animating the film took over a year using sand and salt on top of a light box while the director looked after her new born child.

The story is about an old sea captain who is not really appreciated by his crew, but when things get tough he is seemingly the only one that survives because of his experience. He comes to resent having survived and wants to re-join his crew under the waves.

The animation style is unique using sand and salt and various objects to push the grains around but it does look 3D at times even though it could not possibly be as it is on a flat plane.

Colin Friels is the voice of the old sea captain and is appropriately gruff and tender at various times.
A well made short with an interesting story.


Of Shadows and Wings… (2015)
Director Elice Meng, Eleonora Marinoni

A colony of birds have stopped flying and now live underground under the dictatorship of iron armed birds who do not even have wings. One bird stands up to them with the help of the only birds who can fly, but have been forced to carry rocks to keep them weighed down.

An interesting short with a strange concept of birds not flying. It is never explained why they are not flying and the birds are full of ennui.

As you would expect all the birds begin to lose their colours and feathers from living underground for so long.
I did like the animation style with basic flat animation for most of the film, with the bloom of watercolour at the end when the escape occurs.

MIFF 2016: Monsieur Mayonnaise (2016)

Director: Trevor Graham
Featuring: Mirka Mora, Phillipe Mora, Georges Mora, Marcel Marceau (archival footage), Hitler (archival footage)

https://www.facebook.com/monsieurmayonnaise/

In this documentary we follow Phillipe Mora as he retraces the history of his family through World War II and before while painting the scenes for a graphic novel about his families’ experiences and finding out things he never knew before.
During the Q&A after the film the director said he did know some of the things that Phillipe was going to find out beforehand, but he wanted his genuine reactions on film when he found out things so he did not tell him exactly what to expect.

Mirka Mora is also interviewed throughout the film and reveals some surprising things about why she paints a lot of ducks and birds (phallic symbols) and the significance of fences in her works that they represent the people left behind in the camps after she was rescued.

Phillipe Mora’s film career is covered including his debut at Cannes that caused a commotion for “humanising” Hitler with colour close up footage of him sourced from the CIA archives. I knew that he had directed the Howling III and Mad Dog Morgan with Dennis Hopper but not the other movies.

There are some very touching scenes with Phillipe meeting one of the children rescued by his father and the daughter of the family who sheltered his mother’s family during WWII. As he said he had to make the film as the original witnesses were starting to get thin on the ground.

When the story gets into Phillipe’s fathers work with the French Resistance it is also very interesting as it turned out Georges Mora worked with Marcel Marceau on some operations involving rescuing children from the Nazis. While they may have had differences in their mayonnaise recipes, their work with the children was never in doubt.

Marcel Marceau was Phillipe’s godfather and a frequent visitor of the family when they were in Australia. Phillipe thought he was a “weirdo” when he was younger due to him wanting to rub the left over olive oil all over himself whenever they had a salad. He did get to know him when he was older and they became good friends.

I don’t actually know when the graphic novel featured in the story is coming out as it is not mentioned in the documentary or during the Q&A afterwards. I am sure it will do very well when it is released.

There was a question of how Mirka Mora’s family was released from the camp when only 100 other people managed to be released. The answer was the French resistance was involved falsifying documents and also the Nazi officials where receptive to bribes.
This was a really enjoyable and interesting documentary about a family I had heard a lot about but didn’t really know their history. As Phillipe and the director said they had wanted to make a story together on the topic before, but didn’t want it to be so serious you would come out of the experience depressed.

The screening I saw it at was the world premiere with a lot of the family in attendance including Mirka Mora who got a lot of applause for yelling out and waving her bouquet around.

It was quite a shame that this documentary did not get a presale into television in Australia and had to be backed by a TV station in France, but they recognise the importance of their history.

MIFF 2016: The Love Witch (2016)

Director: Anner Biller
Starring: Samantha Robinson, Jeffrey Vincent Parise, Dani Lennon, Lily Holleman, Gian Keys, Laura Waddell

http://www.lifeofastar.com/

Elaine (Samantha Robinson) moves up into a mountain town looking to start a new life after her ex-husband dies in mysterious circumstances. She is a witch and uses love magic to get what she wants from men but it never turns out the way she expects. After picking up Wayne (Jeffrey Vincent Parise) from the park and going up to his cabin he also passes away, she does her best to bury him and look after evil spirits but things start to spiral out of control when she goes after another lover.

Just describing the plot makes this movie sound a lot more serious than it turns out to be on screen especially as it is difficult to describe the wonderful production design and costumes that were also produced by Anna Biller. A lot of the time it is a big warning if the director tries to do too much on the production, think Manos Hands of Fate but other times it can go all the way around to being awesome again. This is such a case and the paintings remind me of the lion wall hanging from Samurai Cop.

If a movie can make you sad that you can’t go to places in the movie and just hang out it is a good sign. One such place is the Victorian ladies tea room where it is women only with a harp playing and serving high tea all day. Elaine wears her wonderful pink dress and floppy hat there.

Her apartment is riot and filled with every clichéd thing you could think about witchcraft, but in bright colours and with very strong imagery. Elaine does wear a black dress at one point, but on the reverse it is rainbow.

There is a mention of black and white witches in the movie and it is not really made clear on which side Elaine belongs. She is just unlucky it seems and you do feel for her at times even if any normal person would not go so far.

The cast is all excellent and I would like to see another movie with some of the same people as they all worked well. Special props to the wizened old dude who “let it all hang out” in the group witch scene even though it must have been cold. Extra special huge love to Samantha Robinson for keeping it together for the pissing into the bottle scene.

Shooting this movie seems like it would have been bastard hard as you feel like people would have wanted to crack up laughing all the time and then all the makeup would have to be redone and there was quite a lot of it.

The movie runs off the track towards then end where it breaks the “show, don’t tell” rule to get everything wrapped up with the character. It just tries to do too much with the feminist message by dumping all the reasoning in the one scene. It was hinted at in the rest of the movie but if it was done properly there wouldn’t need to be a dump at the end.

If the director wanted to they could be an award winning production and costume designer on other movies, I am sure they have considered that but wanted to do their own movies. It is more a case of trying to do too much it does not always work out which is frustrating as the rest of the movie works so well.

I would still recommend this movie to a fan of retro horror films including Hammer Horror and older 60s style movies. Even though it is not explicitly set in the past people do not seem to be immersed in technology and actually talk to each other. There were a lot of the fashionable crowd at the screening and it has sold out at MIFF for both of the screenings.

Hopefully this movie does well on DVD/Blu ray and video on demand. Not sure what happened with all the associated artwork and costumes. I know some people who would quite like to buy them or at least get the designs to make them.

MIFF 2016: The Big Mouth (1967)

Director: Jerry Lewis
Starring: Jerry Lewis, Harold J. Stone, Susan Bay, Buddy Lester, Del Moore, Paul Lambert, Jeannine Riley

A comedy of errors with Jerry Lewis character going fishing and snagging a skin-diver who has been shot and gives him a map to diamonds, with the wacky coincidence being they are dead ringers for each other so everyone thinks he is the one they are after.

Just explaining the movie does not really do it justice and the movie is already seen as a classic so I do not really have that much to add. I did want to see at least one Jerry Lewis movie from the program of his movies on the big screen during the festival and chose this one as the time worked out for me.

This sort of film is not really made that much these days as it is difficult to pull off as there are so many things that need to go right. The comedy is very broad as you would expect with a more wacky edge from the actors being gun comedians especially the gangsters when they go mad.

I did like the fake FBI agent who seems like I have seen him in another movies playing the same role.

The part with the Chinese pearl dealer is embarrassing due to the white actor in yellow face but it is a product of the time. George Takei makes a cameo as the poor dude that gets dumped into molten plastic.

The caper and running around part reminded me a bit of it’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World and there is a big ensemble cast and a lot of people chasing Jerry Lewis’ character around towards the end.

I am not sure where you would be able to get this movie as it is not on DVD at the moment. Hopefully it will be out on video on demand soon. At least it is not locked in a vault.

MIFF 2016: The Lost Arcade (2015)

Directed by: Kurt Vincent

https://www.facebook.com/ArcadeMovie/

A mark of a good documentary is if it can draw you into the story and keep you engaged. This does that but also manages to do it while also turning out to be about something different than you would have thought. While it was promoted focussing on the video game aspect and used the media of that sector most effectively, it turns out to be about community and belonging and nostalgia hitting the hard wall of real life where it turns out you can’t just live on memories.

I really enjoyed the opening about one of the main protagonists saying how he dreamt he was going to the Chinatown Fair arcade in his dream and he swore that it was like doing it in real life.

While filming inside the arcade the director sees someone else taking photos for posterity and then the story expands to follow this person’s story.

The history of the arcade including the chickens is covered and some of the previous owners are talked to. The history of arcade games is well covered elsewhere so it was not really necessary to show it here mainly just to skip over it.

Some of the people involved in the arcade had difficult lives and nowhere else to go. The owner of the arcade ended up offering them jobs to work there as they were there every day, one of the sweetest lines of the documentary was “my best friend was a 65 year old Pakistani man” and it does show the relationship between the two. A lot of small businesses are run by people who do it for other reasons than money or they would not still be there.

When the arcade finally closes the people going there are upset about losing their community, but one person opens their own space and manages to bring back some of the people. They also find out for themselves how hard it is to run such a place and that nostalgia can’t pay the bills.

The arcade is bought by a new owner who makes it over, changing it as often happens and alienating a lot of the former players. This often happens but there are signs that it is building its own community and one of the customers says it is better than before. I do not know if it is still running though.

I really enjoyed this documentary as I remember going to the arcades myself in the late 80s and early 90s and even when two different places in my small town had arcade machines (one placed closed them down as they did not like teenagers hanging around and swearing, what!?) The one thing not in this film that I remember is one player saying “What am I….” *PERFECT* (machine response to no-damage round). The person in question also said their parents threatened to buy an arcade machine just so they would stay home.

I used to be in a bowling league and there were always heaps of arcade machines there also.

It does seem to be different in the documentary as the owners have to buy their machines rather than renting them. The Street Fighter IV machine was a custom build as it was not released in the arcades in the USA. One of the arcades featured in the documentary largely used consoles as it was cheaper. I remember a video store charging by the hour in the 90s. I spent a long time there.

I would recommend this documentary even if you are not that into games as the audience seemed quite mixed and the stories are interesting to enough that you would enjoy them.