Saturday, July 14, 2007

Just letting anyone who actually reads this know that my MIFF 2007 Blog is now live.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Well, that ends another year at the Melbourne International Film Festival, and it was an excellent one. I can't wait to see what happens next year with a new executive director at the helm. Let's hope that they can organise a festival lounge where the beer company sponsoring it doesn't charge more for a bottle of beer that you'd pay at fancy city restaurants.

Anyway, overall, the film were fantastic. Here's my favourites of the ones I saw. If you have the opportunity, check them out on the big screen!


English Language;
- NO. 2

- C.R.A.Z.Y.

Seeya next year at MIFF 2007! :-) If you'd like to get in touch, drop me a line.

Great film set in a Brazlian fishing village. It's about a guy who's got an itch for a girl in town, and how he goes about trying to win her attention. Aside from her not taking a big interest in him for himself, he also has to compete with a friend who's got a job driving beach buggies for tourists and is also taking an interest in her. This was a slow film in a good way. It was one to savour and wasn't boring. Great shots underwater and really dragged you in. See it if you can.

Good documentary about the MPAA (who decides how to rate films in the US). Pretty well laid out, explaining the history of the MPAA, the meanings of the ratings that exist there, and the problems that exist with the way the ratings system works in the USA. Highlight of the film was the part when he has to submit the documentary about the MPAA to the MPAA for ratings... It was entertaining and enjoyable, but it did tend to feel a tad one-sided, in the same way that Super Size Me and Michael Moore docos are - i.e., they're probably fighting for the 'right' side, but aren't necessarily presenting an unbiased opinion. Hopefully SBS will show this one on TV, as it's worth checking out, but I'm unsure if I'd spend the money to see it at the cinema.

Better late than never...

NO. 2
Loved this film. It's about a Fijiian grandmother who calls upon her family (particularly her grandchildren) to gather at the family home and have a feast. The film is about the different family members, how they relate and the love they have for each other despite their differences. Several amusing moments in this comedy/drama and I highly recommend it. Possibly deserving higher than 8/10...

This film was watchable, but I really have to wonder why it got made and how it managed to make it to actually being filmed. It's a feel-bad mockumentary about two brothers, conjoined twins (i.e., siamese twins) who are taken from a remote house in the middle of nowhere where they live with their father and sister to be groomed into 70s glam-rock stars. The technical achievements are worth mentioning - it's very well filmed with plenty of different feels used, depending on whether we're watching 'found footage' from the 70s made by a 'documentarian', or the snippets of the unfinished 'film' that was based on their story. Remember though, this isn't a documentary. So, you have scenes of a documentary and a film based on the 'reality' of that 'documentary' all within this film. Ultimately I felt little sympathy for the characters, some of the slightly interested subplots were left unfinished, and it just wasn't that interesting. Avoid it, and watch Spinal Tap or Hedwig and the Angry Inch if you want a rock mockumentary.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A little disappointing for me. The writeup was promising and the fact both sessions (including today's at 3pm on a weekday) sold out made me expect more. It was a somehwat entertaining look at the 2005 Tour De France, as viewed by 2.5 australian journalists (the .5 for the guy who was there for the fun of it rather than as a professional journalist). I didn't like that I walked out without having a better understanding of how the Tour actually works. And even more, the bogan/ocka/lout behaviour of the drunkard 'journo' left me cringing at what the international community must think Australians are like...

Somewhat entertaining film about the twists and turns of the relationships between a bunch of people in various stages of divorce. It wasn't bad, and some of the several 'interruptions' for a mock commercial were great. Others we less so and interrupted the story. Towards the end, the film lost steam and direction and turned into a bit of a mess in my opinion.

Pretty good documentary about what happened leading up to the Jonestown Massacre. While I had certainly heard of it, I realised that I wasn't aware of several of the facts and events surrounding the massacre/mass suicide of nearly 1,000 people. Very interesting to see the interviews with survivors, and there was a reasonable amount of original footage that helped give a visual/audio key to the events. But, certainly not a feel-good film...

Pretty good documentary on why we should all be buying fair trade coffee. And, giving yet another reason why we shouldn't drink Starbucks (other than the fact that their coffee sucks and they put good independent cafes out of business). From now on, whenever I order coffee, I'm going to ask if they have fair trade and choose it if they do. If enough people just ask for it, perhaps the cafes that don't use fair trade coffee will consider offering it.

This was an enjoyable film by Robert Altman. Its about a radio show that ran for around 30 years, featuring the host doing monologues interspersed with live musical performances. Spent a lot of the film trying to work out where I'd seen the woman in the white coat before (and at the very end realised it was the love interest of Miles in Electric Dreams). Highlight of the film for me was Dusty and Lefty's song of bad jokes.

Crap. Sorry, I don't care if he's America's Indie Darling or whatever - you'd think that all the crappiness of his first film (see comments on 'Funny Ha Ha' below) would be cleaned up and improved for his second. But no, it's got all that made Funny Ha Ha bad, but is even less interesting. Audible groans were heard amongst the audience as this film progressed. Avoid.

Shorts. Some were good (Bawke, Roswell Enterprises, The Last Farm, It's My Turn Now) and some were okay. None awful.

Monday, August 07, 2006

I'm a bit tired so these one'll be short (yes, even shorter than usual).

Great flick, following the life of a guy who's a member of a typical family with their quirks and oddities. See it. ASAP.

Interesting documentary about an Indian man who moved to the UK in the 1960s and communicated with home through film and audio tape. The recordings are used to show life in the UK for an Indian family as well as life in India.

Possibly the best band documentary I've seen. How badly do I want to listen to Pixies again right now? Very. This was produced by Kelley Deal and I suspect that meant that the filmmaker was able to get some great candid snapshots of life on the road with the Pixies during their 2004 reunion tour. If you're a fan of the band, you must try and see this film.

This was an okay film about a woman who leaves her doctor boyfriend after deciding her life with him was boring. She moves into a new apartment building above a cross-dresser who is awaiting his confirmation that he can have a sex change operation. Well shot, but lordy lordy lordy that main character shat me up the wall. Very hard to like her given her constant indecisiveness and the way it affected the people around her.

One of the biggest problems with sub-titled films is that if you are getting a little tired and rest your eyes for a minute, you end up missing important lines of script that are displayed on the screen. I did this a few times in this film, and therefore the score may be lower than it deserves to be. This was a story about the last days of Romania under communist dictatorship in 1989 particularly focussing on a rebellious school girl who is trying her best to survice in a regime that doesn't suit. Didn't do a lot for me, but if it's your kind of thing and you can stay awake, it might be worth it.

Yep, another great aussie film! How unreal is that? This one stars Vince Colosimo, Jaqueline McKenzie and a couple of great little kids. It's about a family who lives in Coober Peey, the Opal Capital Of The World. Vince plays a miner/prospector who runs into some trouble while playing along with his daughter's emotional outcry after losing her imaginary friends Pobby and Dingan. It's a feel-good type flick that was financed by the UK Film Council - hopefully more films like this won't need overseas funding in future.

Acting was either very understated, or extremely poor. This low budget film was directed by Steven Soderbergh who has done some films that I've quite liked; Insomnia, The Daytrippers, Solaris (2002). He's also done some I'm not as big a fan of; Traffic, Out of Sight, Ocean's Twelve. Anyway, this story revolves around the relationship (as friends) between two factory workers living in a somewhat depressing American town who make dolls, and how things change when a new girl starts at the factory. It was certainly watchable, and interesting enough too, but the acting just seemed so wooden to me that it distracted me a little. A quirky little film that will be worth your effort when cheap enough on DVD rental.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Really enjoyable film about three 12 year old friends and how they cope with the problems in their lives, particularly after a tragic accident befalls the brother of one of them. This film had a similar kind of feel to it that The Ice Storm did, though with a different story. Yet another high score for a film at MIFF this year.

This was a fairly last minute whim, so I was unsure what to expect. The first line of the film (after several minutes of watching a woman's face as she watches her husband take photos of some ruins was "Am I boring you?". I never use the word languid in everyday life, but I can't think of a better way to describe this film, where not very much happens, and ultimately for me, it wasn't in an entirely good way. There's nothing wrong with this type of film - I loved '3 Iron' last year, but in this case, I just didn't really get into what little story there was on offer.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Wonderful Australian comedy, and truly Australian. This film follows a magazine journalist who is assigned to cover a 'where are they now' story about an Australian actor who had been growing in popularity in the 90s, but then disappeared out of the industry altogether. This leads the journo to a small country town where the ex-actor is a bit of a lost soul, and seems to be pursuing several (sometimes conflicting) paths. The film dragged a bit in some points, and some more closure on a few of the sub-plots might have been nice, but overall this was champagne comedy. One thing I liked too was the naming of some of the characters based on who they were (which I assume wasn't accidental). For example, the prosititute in the film's name is Cin (i.e., 'Sin' short for Cindy). One of the characters that the actor played in his 90s heyday was a priest who was intimate with a young girl and his name was 'Father Roger'. Then the most obvious one is Teddy, who... well, you can find out why his name is Teddy if you watch the film. The humour is somewhat Late Show/The Castle-like, but with a darker edge. Be sure to check out this great local flick.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

A set of shorts, so hard to review as a whole. As can be expected, some were good, some weren't. Highlights were 'Transformers: The Art of Circuit Bending' and 'Spitfire 944' about an American pilot who crash landed a spitfire during WW2. Lowlight was 'Sleep City' which was several 5-10 shots of empty streets in a town somewhere in Spain (I think - there was no narrative/interview/vocal/textual element to this 'documentary' by which to tell).

Cute Japanese film about some girls in high school who suddenly need to find a new singer for the band before their big premiere show at a school fair. The film is named after song they sing, and let me tell you, the chorus is still stuck in my head nearly 24 hours later.

I had my doubt about this, but after having short naps in the previous two sessions followed by dinner and a coffee, I decided at the last minute to get one more film in. It was actually pretty good! The film consists of an 'alien' (who looks like one of us, and is played by the same actor who plays the doctor in the c*cks*ckingly great tv show Deadwood interspersed with stock footage. The alien guy would describe the state of the story for us, and then portions of stock footage with music would demonstrate the story (sometimes well, sometimes requiring a bit of imagination). Makes for a cheap sci fi flick, eh? It was mostly pretty interesting though and had a good few humourous moments. It dragged a bit towards the end, at which point I was getting a bit tired and hoping that the underwater (err, I mean liquid helium atmosphere) shots would move along a bit.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Every year the festival seems to have a documentary that features some freaks of nature who are passionate about something unusual. In previous years we've had the opportunity to laugh at people who enter eating competitions or build stock cars for racing on weekends. This year the eye is turned on some residents of Maryland who every second weekend gather in fields or forests to do live representations of role playing games. Predictably enough, the participants are those that seem socially awkward in real life, who were probably loners at school. The interesting thing is how much they get out of their shells when they're playing this game. Ultimately the message here is that in their real lives they're not getting what they crave (power, confidence, adventure), so they use this fantasy world as a substitute. Hopefully they will begin to learn that they can function in the real world more if they give it a try - especially as the game increasingly simulates the real world as some characters strive for acceptance or power. The documentary wasn't bad and was entertaining enough - however, it would have been nice if the filmmakers had spent a bit more time on the background and history of how this thing started.

This is a Bosnian film about a single mother's trials and tribulations trying to collect 200 euros in order to send her daughter on a school trip. I almost didn't catch this as I've seen a couple of Bosnian films at previous festivals which I didn't like, but this one was highly regarded by a friend. And it will possibly will be my surprise hit for the festival. While it's a drama there are many touching moments and a degree of humour which is used to show that even in dark times, there's humanity that continues to shine through. This was the last session of this film for the festival, but I recommend trying to see if it you get the chance.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

My rating for this is possibly unfair/harsh. I'm not sure though. I had a hard time following the plot in this film and really, it wasn't till afterwards that I was able to piece together what had been going on. I suspect that I must have vagued out at a critical point near the beginning of the film and therefore was trying to play catch up for the rest of it. This is a very coen brothers like film (think fargo) which revolves around a nice enough woman who's unsavoury brother is trying to commit large scale insurance fraud. The initial scene is quite horrific and very well done though. One other point was that it was hard to understand some of the dialogue, especially from Forrest Whittaker who was playing his part with a strong (Minnesotan?) accent

This was a good film, great job done by the young actor who played the lead. The film is based on the life of a young guy (around 15) who's mum is a bit of a floozy, mooching off her boyfriend at the time and not really making a way for herself in the world. When a doctor kicks her (and her son out) they drop down a couple of notches in accommodation and suburb. The story shows how the boy makes his way in the new environment, initially being bullied until he starts associating with a local crime figure. This could easily have been a bad film, but it really was enjoyable, not pushing too far towards melodrama. I particularly liked an early scene when the boy arrives at his new school - the director really managed to transfer to the big screen the feelings of starting somewhere new where everyone is a stranger.

I mean, you know, it's not... Umm, you know, i mean... the acting and scripting and editing is... you know. I mean, it's not good. it's umm bad. you know? i mean, yeah... Imagine watching/listening to dialogue like that for a couple of hours with poor acting and you'll get the drift. Some people watch horror movies just to get scared. People who are enthralled by uncomfortable/awkward conversations will like it a little more. This is the first film by the director of Mutual Appreciation, which I'm also going to at MIFF - let's hope he's improved for that one.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Another documentary about the state of the world and how it's going to hell in a hand basket, this time in relation to global warming. You'd think that we've had enough of these over the past few years, but this one was freaking great. It had enough statistics and fact to ensure that you didn't necessarily become swayed by emotive outpourings. It was well made and cut together to provide a high level of interest and enterainment - Al Gore is a great speaker. And, it actually told us what we can do to make a difference - and it's not that hard. A must see - I'm calling my electricity company this week to convert to green energy. Check out the website at to see what you can do.

When this Danish film was released in the mid-90s it was very well received. It wasn't an awful film but given I never saw it till now, it just feels a bit run of the mill - think pulp fiction/lock stock/etc, except without the polish of those films. The main issue for me really was that I didn't feel sympathy for the (anti)hero in the film. I wasn't really rooting for him. Worth a look if you like drug/mob type flicks.

My first film at the Greater Union. I really dislike that cinema. Anyway, this was a watchable film, but was really directionless. It's about Al Franken the Saturday Night Live comedian and his political leanings/activity. I wasn't really sure what the point that was trying to be made was, and I suspect the filmmakers didn't know either. If you're a big fan of Al Franken, maybe it'd be more interesting, as it seems to be a mish-mash of things that he was involved with leading up to the last US election. You can see that he's passionate about the politics of the country and may be more closely involved in the political system in the future. I suppose another factor is that that the US elections that this film leads up to were nearly two years ago, so what it's meant to be doing for us in 2006 is another point to consider. Probably worth a look if it shows up on TV.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Well, this film wasn't that great for me, which is likely to mean that it's too arty for my little brain, or that's it's actually just not that great, or maybe it's a bit of both. Interspersed and somewhat (to me anyway) unrelated crossing sections of the film are done between the Rolling Stones recording Sympathy for the Devil, some Black Panthers hangin' out in a car junk yard reading out loud, playing with guns and feeling up white women, and a woman graffitiing slogans around London. Oh, and the occasional other scenario in a bookshop or an interview of a woman in a forest where every answer is 'yes' or 'no'. I would have dozed except for the fact it was my first film of the day and I'd just had a coffee. So, anyway, for me, not my bag. I reckon if they just showed all the Rolling Stones excerpts and made it about 30 mins long it would've been great. Some of the scenes with the stones were pretty magic.

This story was written by Philip K Dick who also wrote the short story that Blade Runner (one of my fave films) was based on. It was directed by Richard Linklater who's directed some of my favourite films (Dazed & Confused, Before Sunrise). So, what could go wrong? Luckily, nothing much. I had a good time watching this film - it was a little confusing at points but ultimately I understood enough by the end to feel that it paid off - certainly one I'll want to see again. A special mention should also be made of the incredible job done animating the entire film. It's a visual style slighly reminiscent of some of Waking Life, but nothing I've seen before is quite like this. So, a mixing the story and the great visuals, a must see. How's that - three films in three days all getting my two thumbs up - let's hope this level is maintained throughout the festival!

Fearless is a wushu film (that's martial arts) starring Jet Li. While I find most of Jet Li's american made films almost watchable, I've really enjoyed a lot of his Chinese made films. This one falls into the latter category and was excellently done. The story is based on Huo Yuan Jia who was the creator of a sports federation in China. The film was introduced by the director who claimed that this will be Jet's last wushu film (though not last action film). Highly recommended for fans of martial arts flicks.

I'm rating a film here, and this film was just plain shoddy. I feel for the victims of the sept 11 attacks on the US and by no means belittle the impact that it had on the world in general, but really don't feel that this film was worth the time. It's a film about the 4th plane that landed in a field on Sept 11 and is based on what events they know along with filler where they're unsure. So far so good, but the execution was terrible. The entire thing is filmed as if it's a live action filming as it happened and the constant shaky handheld camera was enough to make me close my eyes for brief periods to avoid nausea. The acting was terrible - I don't know where they found these people but the only performance worthy of mention was the leader of the military command at NORAD - the rest just seemed like amateurs. Additionally, progression of the story was at times slow and repetitive. Several times we'd be shown one Air Traffic Control room in one location where they find a plane isn't responding, and then would have to sit and watch as the same information is repeated time and time again through the other control towers, etc. We (the audience) know the planes gone, so why do we need to watch the other characters in the film discover the facts time and time again? Anyway, the film's impact is great at times, but really, that's based on the horror of the event rather than any noticeable achievement by these filmmakers.

Pretty much a live stand-up show by this American comedienne with a few interlaced dream sequence/musical numbers for variety. Fine enough time to be had with several funny moments. She really targets the taboo though - I don't think any minority or sensitive subject was left untouched in this 72 minute film. I am in two minds about comedy of this type - jokes about subjects like religion/race/genocide/mass-starvation/rape/terrorism can be humourous and I laughed, but at the same time, I kind of wonder how necessary it is... It's just a personal decision for everyone to make I guess. So, if you're into offensive humour, check it out. If you're strongly against politically incorrect comedians avoid at all costs!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Wow! What a great start to the film festival. Had a great time watching Thank You For Smoking which was a tongue in cheek comedy where the protaganist is the american cigarette industry's main lobbyist. His job is to defend cigarettes and does a great job doing so. It's a little weird taking the side of the guy who you know is fighting for the wrong side. Lots of familiar faces in this film too; Wiliam H. Macy, Rob Lowe, Robert Duvall, Katie Holmes, etc - will definitely need to be doing some IMDB checks to try and recall where I've seen some of them before. Highly recommended, hopefully I havent hit my highlight for the festival in the first film this year :-).

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Melbourne International Film Festival 2006 guide came out yesterday, and so went many hours as I read through, deciding on what to see. There is a fine art involved with much planning. Well, there is for me anyway - others I know just decide on the day and live dangerously. So, the list of films that I currently plan on seeing are on the left hand column now (or soon will be). These might change as I progress, but there looks to be some promising stuff at MIFF this year!

Thursday, June 01, 2006


Welcome to the 2nd annual miff blog!


Last year I decided to start a blog as a temporary effort during the Melbourne International Film Festival. I'm really glad I did it - though I suspect it's not a massive destination site, it's been a really handy way for me to see what I watched and remember the films I may have otherwise forgot. 2006 will mark the fifth year in a row that I've bought a passport ticket to see films. I'm unsure if I'll make it to as many films this year, but I hope to get through quite a few, and again, intend to do some quick write-ups describing what I did and didn't like.

I welcome any comments as time progresses. I'll post the list of films I intend to see as the end of July draws closer. In the meantime, feel free to visit last year's blog. And, if you plan to attend the festival, don't forget to their website to buy tickets. Finally, if you have a MIFF related blog of your own, please let me know and I'll add it to my links section!


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