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Current Music: none
Current Location:Royal Melbourne Hospital
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Subject:MIFF Days Fifteen through Seventeen.
Time:12:18 pm
Current Mood: pleased
Films seen:
Otto; or, Up with Dead People, 94 min., Capitol Theatre.
Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer, 90 min., Greater Union Cinemas.
Persepolis, 95 min., Greater Union Cinemas.
Gomorrah, 135 min., Greater Union Cinemas.
[REC], 79 min,. Greater Union Cinemas.

I'm feeling rather lazy today. The festival is over and, whilst it's been really great seeing so many films that I might not have seen otherwise, it's been rather exhausting living on four hours sleep a night and not eating well or enough. Considering this, my impressions of the films are going to be even briefer than usual.

Otto I loved, maybe a little too much considering the content and style of film. It was almost like glorified student film at times, however, the film never really took itself seriously and therefore I can forgive it its many shortcomings. C'mon, in how many films can you see someone having intercourse with an open wound? Exactly. If you're after a gay zombie student protest porno, this is definitely the film for you. If you can't stomach fake guts and good/bad cinema, leave now.

Jack Brooks held such promise for me when it started. It was a funny, clever send-up of the usual monster film with quite good special effects. It also had Robert Englund! I know, can you believe it? It just missed something in the middle somewhere, though. It didn't quite follow through with the promises it made to me, and now I feel like a jilted lover.

Perspolis: excellent animated film for adults about war, cultural identity, racism, and coming of age. Quite funny and poignant.

Gomorrah is a film that I know I should have liked but didn't because it was really long and I was feeling sick. I should watch it again before I make a final impression. Everyone else loved the film and most people that saw it hate men now.

[REC] is the first truly great horror film I've seen in a long, long time. My only complaint is its brevity. It had no score or instrumental soundtrack, and relied solely on suspense and visuals to scare the audience and it did so exceptionally well. Imagine an horror film in a cinema: the audience would be your stock-standard horror audience who would probably not be too scared or jump or scream too much. Being the closing film, this was an entirely varied audience who screamed and shouted and reacted perfectly - I want to see every horror film like this from now on.

So now I've got an extra six to eight hours every day. I'll probably channel it into video games.
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Current Music: the gentle whir of PACS equipment
Current Location:Royal Melbourne Hospital
Security:
Subject:MIFF Day Fourteen.
Time:01:04 pm
Current Mood: glad
Films seen:
Evangelion 1.0 - You Are Not Alone, 98 min., Greater Union Cinemas.
Funny Games, 111 min., Capitol Theatre.
Nightwatching, 134 min., Kino Cinemas.

Most people will know how much of a Neon Genesis otaku I am, but for those who don't: I'm a big one. Considering this, it's obvious that I would love the new Evangelion film. It's basically like seeing an alternative version or a director's cut of the tv series. Some scenes are shared, others are brand new (and look amazing,) and the rest have been dropped somewhere between the original series and now. It's quite interesting to see the conspiracies in the film uncovered rather early and plainly, and also for things to be more straight forward. One difference that is still bugging me, though, is that the angels have all progressed one from the series' numbering system; what was the third angel (the first to appear in the series and the movie) is now the fourth angel, and I don't know why. I'm sure I'll find out. Also, the ending is a small but worthwhile surprise. Go and see it and love it, unless you're Nina in which case skip the last paragraph.

Funny Games, like Brooke wrote in one of her comics, isn't really that funny. It is, however, pretty damn excellent. A family are on vacation at their summer house when they are approached by two psycho/sociopathic young men, with sexy results! That last bit isn't actually true. The film is pretty much unhappy, over-tense, and hopeless throughout. It made me very uncomfortable - I can't remember having been that uncomfortable about anything in the recent past. While it's not a "fun" film to watch, considering my response I must call it a damned excellent film.

Nightwatching was a whole different fishy-kettley-thingie. It's a period drama (kind of) about Rembrandt and his painting of The Night Watch. The whole film has a very theatrical feel to it, with the on-screen focus always being the characters and foreground rather than the backdrops, which are often just backlit scrims. Rembrandt is such an easy character to like, so regardless of how much you know about the history or how interested you would normally be, it's quite a compelling piece to watch. I'd happily watch it again soon and think that when I do I'll enjoy it even more the second time.
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Current Music: none.
Current Location:Royal Melbourne Hospital
Security:
Subject:MIFF Day Thirteen.
Time:12:58 pm
Current Mood: droopy-of-eye
Films seen:
Sukiyaki Western Django, 121 min., Greater Union Cinemas.
Mosaic Mecanique, 10 min., Greater Union Cinema.
Revue, 82 min., Greater Union Cinemas.

Imagine Japanese people dressed in Western cowboy gear, speaking in english that's been redubbed but is still not that understandable, acting like samurai, traipsing around the deserts of the United States that have been transplanted to the foot of Mt Fuji, and blowing each other away in the most spectacular fashion and you'll be partway towards Sukiyaki Western Django. Plot is relatively inconsequential in this film - it's all about the style. Hilarious, ridiculous, over-the-top style. It's about twelve colours of wonderful.

Mosaic Mecanique showed as the short film before Revue. The description on the MIFF website reads: "Graze and roam through each shot from the Charlie Chaplin short A Film Johnny (1914) or watch them all at once." And that pretty much sums it up. If you can imagine two hundred screens tessellating and showing different sections of the Charlie Chaplin film all at the same time and accompanied by jangling piano keys, you were probably in the cinema with me. Overwhelming.

Revue pieces together snippets of 50s and 60s Russian propaganda films. I might be low on attention span, but I really like to be floored by things I watch and, unfortunately, think that a lot of the segments in Revue didn't quite cut it. The remains parts, however, really demonstrated the power of propaganda and served as a chilling reminder to not believe everything we see. Quite a lot of it is very reminiscent of what's shown on television now, and that scared me quite a bit. Quite a lot of people walked out during the screening, and I put this down to them having shorter attention spans than I.
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Current Music: nil.
Current Location:Royal Melbourne Hospital
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Subject:MIFF Day Twelve.
Time:12:41 pm
Current Mood: gargantuan
Films seen:
The Drummer, 115 min., Kino Theatre.
Surveillance, 98 min., Kino Theatre.

Set in Hong Kong and Taiwan and starring Jaycee Chan, son of Jackie Chan, The Drummer combines gangster thriller with zen drumming achieving one of the most exciting, beautiful films I've seen at the festival. A young drummer engages in an affair with a young woman who happens to be the girlfriend of a Hong Kong mob boss. He escapes to Taiwan to hide himself, where he finds a group of zen drummers. Determined to join their group, he exhibits impatience and temper and eschews Zen ideals. Quit your job and take up zen drumming with me. I dare you.

Surveillance is the second film by Jennifer Lynch, daughter of David Lynch. Her film is produced by David Lynch, and features music by David Lynch. It also shares some of the same themes that are strewn through a David Lynch film: dialogue via non-sequiturs and incompetent law enforcement to name two. Far more straight-forward than most David Lynch films, I would have enjoyed it to be a longer film than it was, and thus a deeper foray into what I enjoyed most about the film - its reliance on unreliable narrators.
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Current Music: nil
Current Location:Royal Melbourne Hospital
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Subject:MIFF Day Eleven.
Time:12:58 pm
Current Mood: temporary
Films seen:
West 32nd, 86 min., Kino Theatre.
Young@Heart, 107 min., Greater Union Cinemas.
Dawn of the Dead, 125 min., ACMI.

Kino was showing West 32nd in both of their theatres at the same time, so I got to choose to which one I went. Who'd've thunk it? I chose cinema one; I'll choose two today when I head back there.

West 32nd, although filled with plenty of deliciously attractive Asians wasn't a great film. That's not to say I didn't enjoy it - I really did - but it basically played out like an episode of The Practice with a Korean cast and no fat, over-pierced lesbian. Basically - Korean middle-level gangster gets shot in his car and fourteen-year-old Korean boy is arrested for the crime. Born in America, non-Korean speaking Korean lawyer is employed (free of charge) as legal defense, and he tries his best to exonerate the boy (read: make partner at the legal firm.) Lawyer interviews members of the Korean street gangs for information and you can guess where it's going from there. Thematically covering issues ranging from the corrupting nature of ambition, loyalty, and cultural identity, and having such a damned good-looking cast, it should have been a better film than it was. Unfortunately, it came off as poorly-orchestrated and half-arsed. Sorry Brooke and Lauren.

Young@Heart documents the seven weeks of practising a group of aged singers puts in before a big concert. Said group of singers cover songs from the likes of Radiohead, Sonic Youth, David Bowie, and James Brown. Hilarious and receiving of applause throughout as well as poignant and sad, it was an excellent and enjoyable film. Call me Mr. Succinct, everyone else does.

Dawn of the Dead is probably equal favourite movie of the Dead Cycle, tying with Night of the Living Dead, though for different reasons. Less suspenseful and scary than the first, it's funnier and more thematic. Putting zombies in a shopping mall as a critique on consumerism was obviously a good idea, but it's the humans/survivors who are most corrupted, culminating in a moment of self-reflection wherein the female lead says, "What have we done to ourselves?" Also, I was sitting next to this great guy who warned me before it started that he screamed a lot in scary films; he wasn't lying. At every possible startling moment he jumped and yelped. At every racial slur he shouted at the character on the screen and gave him the finger. Whenever someone did something ill-advised, he'd scream "STUPID!" at them. It made the movie pretty damn awesome.
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Current Music:instant coffee (not mine) being "brewed"
Current Location:Royal Melbourne Hospital
Security:
Subject:MIFF Day Ten.
Time:01:01 pm
Current Mood: sleepy
Films seen:
Night Train, 91 min., Greater Union Cinemas.
Momma's Man, 94 min., Greater Union Cinemas.
Son of Rambow, 95 min., Forum Theatre.
3 Days to Forever, 113 min., Greater Union Cinemas.
The Un-Australian, 15 min., Greater Union Cinemas.
Heartbreak Motel, 7 min., Greater Union Cinemas.
The Horseman, 94 min., greater Union Cinemas.

Halfway through the first preview the projector died, so we (the audience) had to make snap decisions about what film/s we'd see instead. I say film/s because it was apparently irreparable until Monday and everything in cinema four was cancelled (lies.) I'm glad, though, because this "unhappy" turn of events enabled me to see Son of Rambow.

Son of Rambow is about two boys who decide to film their own sequel to Rambo: First Blood, called Son of Rambow (sic.) They become fast friends until a wedge, in the form of Didier, a French exchange student who is so mod it hurts and who tries to make the film a vehicle for his latent stardom, is driven between them. This is easily the funniest film I've seen this year and pretty much perfect in every way. Bearing in mind that this is, technically, a kids' film, it tackles some heavy issues (religion and indoctrination, absent parents) and doesn't pull any punches. I cannot recommend Son of Rambow enough - it's pretty much perfect.

3 Days to Forever, an Indonesian film, focuses on two cousins, one male and one female, both of whom are so good-looking it hurt my eyes, as they travel across the island of Java to a sister's wedding ceremony. Rather than make the trip in one day as they'd first intended, they let a series of events distract them and smoke a lot of marijuana along the way. It is equal parts road movie and coming of age film. While beautifully shot and very well-acted, I found that 3 Days to Forever didn't quite know what it was trying to say. It felt a little unfocused which turned a potentially great film into a merely okay film that looked rather good.

The Un-Australian was a short film that showed before the beginning of The Horseman, along with Heartbreak Motel. Briefly, it was about four Aussie blokes *cough* who drink, watch footy, and take part in low-level hazing of each other. Unfortunately, the acting was a touch on the poor side. It also seemed like the director didn't know which way the film should end, so two possible endings were shown that didn't quite work together. Heartbreak Motel was just strange enough to overshadow its weak points. Quite fun and funny, it involves a male prostitute dressed as Little Lord Faulteroy, bird-eating spiders masturbating clients with all of their legs, and death.

The Horseman joins the ranks of video nasty films I've seen in the past week-and-a-half. I'm running out of break time, so let me drop connectors, flourishes, and grammatical integrity for a moment. Man's daughter overdoses on heroine and dies after filming pr0n. Man seeks revenge and kills people involved in gruesome ways. Doesn't show all violence but relies on audience imagination. Imagine: football pump in penile urethra. Sledgehammer. Too much fun and pretty great ifyoulikethatsortofthing.
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Current Music:Patrick Wolf - Wind in the Wires/The Magic Position
Current Location:Brunswick East
Security:
Subject:MIFF Day Nine.
Time:11:46 am
Current Mood: croaky
Films seen:
Directions, 14 min., Greater Union Cinemas.
Four, 18 min., Greater Union Cinemas.
The Funk, 7 min., Greater Union Cinemas.
Netherland Dwarf, 15 min., Greater Union Cinemas.
Nice Shootin' Cowboy, 15 min., Greater Union Cinemas.
The Ground Beneath, 20 min., Greater Union Cinemas.
Hold Me Tight, Let Me Go, 100 min., Greater Union Cinemas.
Waltz with Bashir, 87 min., Forum Theatre.
Inside, 75 min., Capitol Theatre.

To kick the day off yesterday I saw a bunch of short films, all of which I greatly enjoyed.
Directions - A man and his shopping trolley have an adventure.
Four - Two couples have dinner with sexy results!
The Funk - A man wakes up with major haze.
Netherland Dwarf - A deaf boy wants a bunny, but not just any bunny. (Please do a google image search for the world's largest rabbit. Trust me.)
Nice Shootin' Cowboy - Some people try to sell a baby to some other people.
The Ground Beneath - A boy threatens to kill another boy's family and piss on their bodies.

Hold Me Tight, Let Me Go is a British documentary about kids at the Mulberry Bush School, a boarding school for children who've suffered emotional trauma. It focuses on several of the children across the span of just less than a year. While it keeps your attention through both humour and drama, I couldn't help but think that the film could have done more, either through more focus on the staff or parents or something else entirely. Still, enjoyable.

Waltz with Bashir was a different kettle of fish - an animated documentary about the Lebanon war and a study in memory and the past. This was compelling, exquisite in visual detail, it had an excellent soundtrack, and it was just horrifying enough to remind us of our humanity. I can't recommend it enough.

Inside is the film that Hitchcock would make today - filled with subtlety and nervous tension, it was more about what's not being shown. All this while a psychopath tries to forcibly remove a pregnant woman's unborn child with a pair of scissors. It is not at all a great film, but definitely one of my favourites so far.
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Current Music:Patrick Wolf - Lycanthropy
Current Location:Brunswick East
Security:
Subject:MIFF Day Eight.
Time:10:20 am
Current Mood: disillusioned
Films seen:
Lorna's Silence, 105 min., Greater Union Cinemas.
Global Metal, 93 min., Greater Union Cinemas.
Land of the Dead, 94 min., Forum Theatre.

Lorna's Silence, a film about an unbalanced woman's plot to make a small sum of money by marrying an ostensibly rich Russian into Belgian citizenship, held such promise for me at its beginning, but unfortunately didn't really carry that through. Unfortunately, I lost interest in Lorna as a character, and being such a character-centric film my interest in it suffered, too. My interest was renewed towards the end of the film when she showed exactly how unstable she was. Maybe I'm just a sadist, but I like to see my main characters in torture and torment, if possible.

Two weeks ago I received a book in the mail. It's bound in black cloth and filigreed, the pages are black, and it lists every single metal band on the face of the planet. I've developed a fun game to play with it. You have to make up the name of an unlikely metal band and check whether it's in the book. Trust me, it's hilarious. The book has also proved to be a good companion piece to a film I saw on Friday called Global Metal. It documented the influence of metal music on culture in different countries worldwide, and also the influence of those cultures on the metal music in those countries. To put this into perspective, I'm generally a sucker for metal music of all types, so I was predisposed to like this film from the start. Still, I think it was an excellent, fun documentary that anyone would enjoy regardless of one's stance on the genre of the beast. It made me really want to go to Japan and hang out with the metal fans there. Global Metal was an absolute delight.

Land of the Dead is the fourth film in Romero's Dead Cycle. It's full of the high camp and splatter you should have come to expect of his films by this point. And it's got a message, kind of. To put that statement into perspective, Dennis Hopper's character, clearly based on George Bush, is heard to remark at one point "We don't bargain with terrorists." 'Nuff said. I'm sure I don't need to say that I enjoyed this film, because I obviously like zombie films and gore films in inordinate amounts. What I do need to say is that there was another clown zombie in Land of the Dead! This makes three that I've spotted so far - did I miss one in Night of the Living Dead? I don't think I did, but I'd like for that to be a common thread.
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Current Music: nil.
Current Location:Brunswick East
Security:
Subject:MIFF Day Seven.
Time:10:59 am
Current Mood: ardslignish
Films seen:
The Silence Before Bach, 102 min., Greater Union Cinemas.
Donkey Punch, 90 min., Greater Union Cinemas.

The Silence Before Bach is not a documentary, per se, but more a study into Bach's music and its effect on the European people and other composers. It is equal parts art film, narrative, and historic recreation. The film opens with a panning camera settling on a piano that is being pushed (driven?) whilst automatically playing a piece by the composer. I'm sorry, I don't know which one. Lazy, ne? After this, it cuts to the setting of a blind man being led by his guide dog to a piano which he proceeds to tune. In truth, I would have been content had the rest of the film been solely comprised of this one scene for ninety minutes. It doesn't, though; in fact, each of the sections of the film is just right to hold your rapt attention without becoming tedious. The music and cinematography are both achingly beautiful; I'm going to buy a cello now after all.

Donkey Punch presented a stark contrast to the previous film. It centres around three female British back-packers in Greece who meet three British yachtsmen in a bar and decide to go back to their yacht with them. The first half hour of the film is full of last year's club hits, drugs (a crack pipe, no less!), sex, and nudity. Tragedy (gasp!) befalls them as one of the group is accidentally killed, and they turn on each other like rabid dogs. Things quickly spiral out of control as the instinct of self-preservation kicks in. Replete with some truly humourous death scenes, Donkey Punch toes the line but falls just short of being grouped with the nu video nasty crowd. I would say that this is, at worst, imperfect but very fun. I'll give it three stars, which makes it my least favourite film in the festival thus far, which I think reflects very well on both the quality of films in general and the quality of my taste.
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Current Music: nil.
Current Location:Royal Melbourne Hospital
Security:
Subject:MIFF Day Six.
Time:05:43 pm
Current Mood: patient
Films seen:
Triangle, 101 min., Greater Union Cinemas.
Secret Sunshine, 142 min., Greater Union Cinemas.
Ashes of Time Redux, 93 min., Forum Theatre.

Today Shannon bats for Team Yellow! As if that's some sort of surprise.

Triangle was an Hong Kong action/crime film with an interesting difference: three directors directed it taking ownership of a section each. The basic premise: Three men attempt a heist on a government building in Hong Kong with the aim being to remove a chest, contents unknown, and reap the profits. One of the three is involved with the "mob", though, and includes them in the plans. Another of the three may or may not be poisoning his wife slowly. The aforementioned wife is also having an affair with a police officer who is on their tail. My summation makes it sound slightly less complex than it is; each twist and turn in the plot brings delight, though, rather than the inward groan that you may expect. This film is trying to be clever, but it succeeds in a relatively effortless fashion.

The film is not separated into sections, so, without prior knowledge, one may not realise exactly when one director's work finishes and another begins. There comes a point during each of the three parts, however, where I thought that it was definitely the work of a separate director to that of the one preceding. Very funny in parts, enthralling, very well-timed, and just strange enough, this film is an absolute pleasure to watch.

Secret Sunshine comes from the Chinese translation of the Korean town where this film is set. Widow Shin-ae and her son, Jun, move to Miryang, the home town of Jun's father, after his death. She teaches piano and he is unbearably cute. They try, with mixed success, to fit in with the inhabitants of the town and make a new start for themselves. I can't say too much more without spoilers, so I won't. Terribly funny and sad, watching Secret Sunshine is like a punch to the solar plexus. It's also my first five star film of the festival.

Ashes of Time Redux is beautiful. Digitally restored from the 1994 print of the film, its colours are vivid and the cinematography is so damn pretty it hurt my eyes. The sound, also, was amazing - the music was poignant and wonderfully placed and the sound effects, especially in the scene with the Princess practising against her reflection at the lake, were bowel-shaking and brought forth a smile on my ugly mug. The story revolves around several characters, their interactions, and their battles; it's very folkloric. It's also got two Tony Leungs for the price of one! My only complaint would be that I wanted to watch more pretty facial close-ups and sand-filled battle scenes for another hour after it finished.
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