Yikes. A girl looks away from Blogger for one second (ahem...year) and it goes and changes its interface. Let's see how this works...
For the first time, I have partially fulfilled a dream of unemployment coinciding with an international film festival. Unfortunately, I only caught the first week of MIFF (Melbourne International Film Festival) as I am now en route to A Holiday in Cambodia.
But what a line-up.*
The highlight for me was Robot and Frank (dir. Jake Shreier). This film was a joy. Set in the near future, it is about the friendship that develops between an elderly man, Frank, who is suffering dementia and his robot assistant, "Robot". Can't say anymore without spoilers but it was so funny and moving, with quite a few unexpected turns. I was going to post a link to the trailer but it gives the entire film away while also making it look dull, which it isn't.
Other highlights included pretty much any indie American flick starring, produced or directed by Mark Duplass. I have the love hearts for this guy. If you can get to a screening of Safety Not Guaranteed you will not regret it. Trailer here:
He also stars in Your Sister's Sister with the infallible Emily Blunt, which was also delightful if a little too montage-heavy towards the end. (If I wanted a montage set to a pop song I'd watch the end of every episode of Sorkin's "The Newsroom". I like my montages accompanied by preposterous characters, plots and polemic. No, really, I think I do because I cannot stop watching this ridiculous show).
As with all festivals, when you're watching up to 6 hours of cinema a day, there are going to be some low-lights. Is there anything worse that sitting through a mediocre film and then having the dork sitting behind you say "wow that was great!" when it ends? This happened a lot. I wonder if it was the same guy.
I didn't have a lot of luck with the docos I chose. A Siberian film about the modelling industry, "Girl Model" wasn't as well executed as it could have been. Surprisingly, though, the honour of worst film experience this year at MIFF goes to Werner Herzog for Into the Abyss. At best, pointless, at worst, a contemptible piece of filmmaking whose only purpose was to give convicted psychopaths on death row a 50 minute platform to talk (remorselessly) about their life and crimes. This is the first time I have watched something that inadvertently made me think that capital punishment might not be so bad after all. To be fair, I think there was a screw-up at MIFF. They screened two episodes of a Herzog-directed series (allegedly) about the US prison system. In fact, they were meant to screen a feature-length movie he directed, comprising material from this series. I wonder if the feature version edited out his constant interrupting of the interview subjects and heavy-handed steering of them with his fruitless questions eg. "Do you ever see trees?" Yes, serial killer dude who is trying to manipulate Herzog into teasing out the details of your other gruesome crimes, what DO you think of trees?
Rant finished. In defence of Herzog, his film Grizzly Man made me want to reconsider the way I watch film rushes as an editor. I saw that film for free so we'll just call it even.
* Speaking of line-ups, have you checked out this year's ATP? Wowee. The Melbourne one, curated by the Drones and featuring ear-bleeders, Godspeed You Black Emperor (add ! as desired), sounds impressively angsty but take a jealous-making look at the UK ATP, 2012...