Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Moveable Fest, Week 2: In the Loop, The Seventh Seal, Targets

The Seventh Tim
Week 2: Tim's Choice

In the Loop 

Tim: "See! You can watch comedies!" I don't watch very many, it's true, it goes against my love of UNRELENTING CRUSHING DESPAIR. I do, however, love swearing a lot, and shouty angry people, and James Gandolfini being threatening with his nose-breath. So this was always going to be a winner. Now I am allowed to graduate to comedy tv series. Fuckity bye!

The Seventh Seal

I vaguely assumed this was going to be a Very Worthy Film Requiring Effort, but there turned out to be a much less meditating on grand scenery and lengthy silences than expected. Instead, there was lots of laughing and plague! Conversation between me and Tim prior to watching:
Me: "I'm imagining The Seventh Seal is a charming film about a boy and his series of semi-aquatic marine mammal pets."
Tim: "Sammy the Seventh Seal."
Me: "And Alex."
Tim: "He's the sixth seal."
Me: "And the fifth seal is the guy who sang Kiss from a Rose."
        "The fourth is Roof Seal. Roof Roof!"
        "This is getting sealier and sealier!"
        "The third seal is a Window Seal. (I'm getting desperate)"
Tim: "The first and second are stray otters with identity issues."
Me: "Pull the otter one!"
        "I'll stop now."
Tim has to put up with a lot.


I'd never heard of this film, but I like a good bit of shooting from the rooftops. As Tim found out, this film was bizarrely conceived based on Roger Corman's prerequisites of: "You've got 2 days of Boris Karloff, and you have to use 20 minutes of my old film somewhere in there." Oddly enough, it works, and a massacre with no real motive behind it (apart from a bit of "I'm having strange thoughts") is much better than knowing too much about the murderer's mummy issues. I also learned that if there's a sniper at the drive-in, DON'T OPEN THE CAR DOOR BECAUSE IT TURNS ON THE LIGHT.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Moveable Fest, Week 1: The Gleaners & I, The Grapes of Wrath, News From the Good Lord

Tim and I saw many films at the Melbourne Film Festival this year, and as you probably know it's unwise to just stop that shit cold turkey, or you'll start having creepy narrative dreams about women who get emailed photographs of increasing numbers of anonymous kidnap victims every day and then THE DOOR OPENS BEHIND HER. Or maybe that's just me.

Because we wanted to keep watching MOAR FILMS, Tim had the idea that we take it in turns programming ourselves a mini-festival of 3 movies each week. (For us to watch at home. We're not made of money and babysitters, you know.)

While Tim is doing a much better job of blogging about the films we watch over at shootthedvdplayer.tumblr.com, I just want to keep a record of what we see (with an additional highly flippant sentence or two).

Week 1 (my choice)

The Gleaners & I

I'm fascinated by the lengths that people go to to live 'more cheaply', whether it be for financial or ethical reasons. Also Agnes Varda is such a self-involved film-maker, which makes this doco So French It Can't Breathe. Not sure about the guy who dumpster dives for raw fish. But heart-shaped spuds are nice.

The Grapes of Wrath

Poverty (especially in the US) is high on my list of "things I'm a bit more interested in than I should be". You thought the grinding poverty of Oklahoma was hard? Come to the grinding poverty of California! We hope you like no potatoes. I've been meaning to read the book for ages, and am re-enthused to get onto that now. This film features some excellent chin-gurning and cardboard backdrops.

The News from the Good Lord

This is an old favourite of mine that I taped off SBS in the 90s and kept because I enjoyed all the absurd existential humour, and the idea that it's "authors all the way down". Unfortunately it's not available on dvd to buy from anywhere, and the subtitles on the copy Tim found had apparently been run through a paper shredder and re-assembled at random, which rather detracted from the original dialogue that I loved. It did make for some neat phrases though: "I'm a specialist in God but I don't know about fucking and stuff."

Monday, August 12, 2013

Four-Sentence MIFF Reviews #12-14: The Final Cut, Capturing Dad, The Selfish Giant

The Final Cut: Ladies and Gentlemen (Gyorgy Palfi)

 Restricted by the financial crisis in the film industry in Hungary, Palfi spend 3 years labouriously cutting together more than 450 films (from Star Wars to Run Lola Run) into a familiar cinematic love story.
Initially jarred (and trying to identify every film), my brain sortof relaxed and followed the narrative.
A funny and clever demonstration of the tropes of film narrative, their familiarity, and the universal pleasure that "classic" stories provide.
But I still haven't forgiven him for Hukkle.

Capturing Dad (Ryoto Nakano)

Sisters Hazuki and Koharu are sent by their bitter mother to visit their dying father and take a photo of his expression so she can "laugh in his face".
But dad dies while the girls are en route, and instead they front up to an awkward funeral and family they never knew.
At times poignant and touching, this film also has a very odd sense of humour that didn't quite fit, turning it into a bit of a farce.
Unless your idea of a good family joke is daughters grabbing at their mother's boobs in order to quell her grief.

The Selfish Giant (Clio Barnard)

Arbor is a Very Bad Influence on his best friend Swifty.
When the two boys are expelled from school, they start scrapping for a metal dealer around their bleak Bradford housing estate, attempting more and more dangerous thefts to make some cash.
Reminds me of a Ken Loach film, starting off with already downtrodden people and then stamping on them further.
A heartbreaking look at two boys with no chance and no place in the world.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Four-Sentence MIFF Reviews #9-11: Oh Boy, A Werewolf Boy, Bekas

Oh Boy (Jan-Ole Gerster)

Law-school dropout Niko wanders around black-and-white Berlin, having brief encounters with strangers that range from humorous to violent.
Very much smacks of a 90s student film trying to be Woody Allen, with occasional interruptions from Judd Apatow and Kevin Smith.
Not much character development, not much plot, not much of interest.
Presumably named because when it ends you say "Oh boy, I'm glad that's over."

A Werewolf Boy (Jo Sung-Hee)

When teenage Suni and her family move to an isolated country house, they discover an adolescent boy living wild nearby, take him in and care for him.
But when the local sleazeball threatens Suni, the boy's protective instincts towards her manifest as a supernatural transformation.
A South Korean teenage werewolf romance that produced suitably adolescent reactions in me (especially to the bad guy: "Oh I hate him!!")
A bit long, but nicely non-Twilighty.

Bekas (Karzan Kader)

Two Kurdish orphans decide to travel to America and fly back with Superman so they can bring their parents back to life - they have a world map, and decide that America should only be a day or two's walk from Iraq.
A truly delightful and colourful film that highlights the boys' continued resilience and imagination in the face of overwhelming obstacles.
I was so attached to these boys that when the film suddenly descended into an incredibly tense life-or-death situation, I nearly took Tim's arm off (sorry Tim).
Also featured: a donkey named Michael Jackson with a BMW insignia on his bridle.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Four-Sentence MIFF Reviews #7-8: Le Jolie Mai, Mistaken For Strangers

Le Jolie Mai (Chris Marker)

In 1962 Chris Marker interviewed ordinary Parisians on how they felt about their lives, politics, happiness, and the answer to "What are you going to do with that tube?"
A fascinating and often very funny insight into a huge variety of lives (and the wry, pointed attitude of the director himself) that sustains interest for all of its nearly-2.5-hours.
Marred by a curiously jarring, artsy fartsy English voiceover that could well double as pseudo-philosophical satire.
Possibly the best film you will ever see involving a Parisian cat modelling a series of handmade hats.

Mistaken For Strangers (Tom Berninger)

The National go on tour and take frontman Matt's doofus brother Tom along with them to help out as a roadie.
As Tom films his experiences with the band, it becomes obvious that this is really a film about the relationship between the two brothers: their frustrations, competition, and genuinely touching love for each other.
Tom is as close as I've seen to a real life Jack Black, by turns hilariously incompetent, eccentric, and exuberant.
As an interviewer his skills remain suspect: "When you guys go on stage, do you like, take your wallets with you?....That's really weird."

Four-Sentence MIFF Reviews #5-6: Ginger & Rosa, Alone

Ginger & Rosa (Sally Potter)

Born in adjacent beds, raised in adjacent houses, teenagers Ginger and Rosa have always done everything together.
But when Rosa falls for someone very close to Ginger, the girls' friendship is on rocky (and melodramatic) ground.
A decent first half with some excellently accurate characterisation of adolescent passion/angst/bad rhyming poetry.
Second half descends into hysteria and predictability, saved only by Ginger's lovely bumbly gay godfathers and their smart-mouthed friend Bella.

Alone (Wang Bing)

Three sisters aged 4, 6 and 10 live alone in a remote Chinese country village, with occasional food from their aunt next door and their father who visits from the city every few months.
A fascinating, if context-free, look at a lifestyle where basic day-to-day survival is hard, dirty, and relentlessly exhausting, and the brunt of it is borne by a 10 year old girl.
The documentary-makers follow the girls and their family in almost complete silence, only rarely conversing with their subjects:
"Where is your mother?"
"She left."
"Where did she go?"
"We don't know."*

*Yes, I'm counting a quoted conversation as one sentence here. No rules, man.