Sunday, July 27, 2008

MIFF Sold Out/Selling Fast Sessions

Bookmark this page. This is MIFF's information that is buried deep in their website, and available here in the one compact list. These are the film titles listed by MIFF as sold out or selling fast. Updated when I can, at least twice a day. Last updated 9/8/08 11:50pm.

The data is set out with session date and time, venue, session ID and title:

  • Sun 10-Aug 11:00 AM - GU 4 - 4091 - The Pleasure of Being Robbed
  • Sun 10-Aug 1:00 PM - GU 6 - 2092 - Ashes of Time Redux
  • Sun 10-Aug 1:00 PM - GU 5 - 3092 - The Sweet Lady with the Nasty Voice
  • Sun 10-Aug 1:00 PM - GU 4 - 4092 - Waltz with Bashir
  • Sun 10-Aug 1:00 PM - Capitol - 6092 - Asterix at the Olympic Games
  • Sun 10-Aug 3:15 PM - ACMI - 5093 - Roadgames
  • Sun 10-Aug 5:15 PM - GU 5 - 3094 - Wild Combination - a Portrait of Arthur Russell
  • Sun 10-Aug 5:15 PM - GU 4 - 4094 - Wendy and Lucy
  • Sun 10-Aug 8:00 PM - GU 5 - 3095 - REC
  • Sun 10-Aug 1:00 PM - Forum - 1092 - Three Monkeys
  • Sun 10-Aug 3:15 PM - Forum - 1093 - Johnny Mad Dog
  • Sun 10-Aug 5:15 PM - Forum - 1094 - Lorna's Silence
  • Sun 10-Aug 8:00 PM - GU 6 - 2095 - REC

Friday, July 25, 2008

MIFF 2008 Day 1: Opening Night (Not Quite Hollywood)

Just got home from Opening Night. I've gotta say, I don't enjoy this event as much as the rest of the festival. It's a different crowd (it's more of a social event than a film event), it's is a very big crowd (and I'm not fond of big crowds). Traffic was terrible getting in with football events at both ends of the city. It would have been quicker to walk the last two kilometres. Memo to self: never, ever, ever use Flinders St. as access to the city on a Friday evening. Hamer Hall at the Arts Centre is a nice enough venue for a live audience, but it doesn't come close to the Regent for a film screening. Unfortunately that venue is not available due to Wicked's current season run.

Not Quite Hollywood
I enjoyed the Mark Hartley's new documentary and expect it will be well-received. It's certainly fun and entertaining, grabbing all the best bits of Ozploitation cinema from the 70's and early 80's. The interview with Quentin Tarantino is a real coup and adds much colour and perspective to this period of Australian cinema. Many of the players were interviewed and turned up on stage along with the director and crew after the screening - I counted at least 26 of them. The film is a warm homage to a little appreciated era of Australian cinema. I'd only seen two of the films it featured: Alvin Rides Again and Stone. The former I saw as a teenager in the mid-70s. I distinctly remember it was rated M, which meant I could see it, whereas the original Alvin Purple was rated R and I couldn't. It was very, very raunchy and would probably get an R-rating today, such is the conservative contemporary climate. The latter I saw at ACMI in January.

Personally, I found the film a little on the long side. I found myself looking at my watch a couple of times. About 15 minutes could have been shaved off without too much impact on content. I'd have liked more in-depth and incisive interviews, rather than the 5 to 20 second grabs that were frenetically cut and edited. I realise the point was to replicate the mad energy of the original films, but I'm not a big fan of this style. The film does assist

Tarantino reveals that an early scene in Kill Bill 1 is a direct homage to Richard Franklin's Patrick, when the main character wakes from a coma-like condition and spits (in Kill Bill, this was performed by Uma Thurman).

All-in-all, I had a good time and gained some appreciation for the Ozploitation genre. I'm also planning to see Richard Franklin's Road Games and possibly Colin Eggleston's The Long Weekend.

Not Quite Hollywood screens again at MIFF on Mon 28 July 9.15pm and is being released on 28 August.

Images: Dead End Drive-In; MIFF artistic director, Richard Moore (with flowers), Not Quite Hollywood director Mark Hartley, and crew.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

MIFF 2008 Films With a Release

[Update 24/7/08: I've noticed that Waltz With Bashir is on Cinema Nova's Coming Soon schedule, so have amended list below accordingly. BTW, this is a title that looks very interesting and I had made a point to see it at the festival. My current list is running at 53 titles, and I'm trying to get it down to 40, so this is one title I've dropped from my list. I'll see it at the Nova in September... unless it screens from digiBeta or DVD... I better check].

[Update 30/7/08: As informed by Syms, Men's Group is getting a release. Cinema Nova have confirmed that Waltz With Bashir will screen from a 35mm print].

[Update 11/8/08]: Aztec have confirmed that O' Horten will get a release, probably early 2009, so that they can capitalise on the press coverage from the film's release in the US. This is a great little film, by the director of Factotum, and I highly recommend it.

[Update 11/8/08]: Kino Cinema has confirmed that Sukiyaki Western Django will screen there from 4/9/08, ahead of its DVD release on 16/10/08 (thanks John for the tip).

As promised, I've compiled a list of films screening at MIFF that are expected to get a local release. These can be divided into several categories:
  • Films with a confirmed theatrical release date
  • Films with a confirmed DVD-only release date
  • Films attached to a distributor, but it's unclear what release, if any, will be given
Anything with a confirmed release date you can be reasonably sure will be released, even though sometimes dates change. Sometimes a film slated for release is inexplicably withdrawn. Anyway, the point of the list is not to be prescriptive but to arm you with a little knowledge to assist in the decision-making process. For me, if there's two conflicting films and one is likely to get a release, I'd rather see the one that won't be seen beyond the festival.

If anyone has any further info on any of these releases, please post or otherwise let me know and I'll update the details.

Films with a confirmed theatrical release date: (title, director, distributor, classification if known and expected release date).
  • The Bank Job (Roger Donaldson, Paramount, 31/7/08)
  • The Visitor (Thomas McCarthy, Rialto, 14/8/08)
  • Where in the World is Osama bin Laden? (Morgan Spurlock, Icon, 14/8/08)
  • Persepolis (Marjane Satrapi, Vincent Paronnaud, Roadshow, 21/8/08)
  • Son of a Lion (Benjamin Gilmour, Gil Saine, PG, 21/8/08)
  • Not Quite Hollywood (Mark Hartley, Madman, 28/8/08)
  • In Bruges (Martin McDonagh, Icon, 4/9/08)
  • Son of Rambow (Garth Jennings, Paramount, 4/9/08)
  • Welcome to the Sticks (Dany Boon, Hopscotch, 4/9/08)
  • Sukiyaki Western Django (Takashi Miike, Hopscotch, 4/9/08 at Kino, DVD on 16/10/08)
  • Empties (Jan Sverák, Icon, M, 6/9/08)
  • Funny Games (Michael Haneke, Madman, 11/9/08)
  • Waltz with Bashir (Ari Folman, Sharmill, MA, 11/9/08)
  • Caramel (Nadine Labaki, Hopscotch, M, 18/9/08)
  • Hunger (Steve McQueen, Icon, 18/9/08)
  • Men's Group (Michael Joy, Titan View, 18/9/08)
  • Fighter (Natasha Arthy, Hopscotch, 9/10/08)
  • Lemon Tree (Eran Riklis, Potential, 9/10/08)
  • Man on Wire (James Marsh, Madman, 16/10/08)
  • Young@Heart (Stephen Walker, Rialto, 16/10/08)
  • Strangers (Guy Nattiv, Madman, 13/11/08)
  • Evangelion - 1.0 You Are Not Alone (Masayuki Kazuya Tsurumaki, Rialto, 11/12/08)
  • Celebrity: Dominick Dunne (Kirsty de Garis, Kojo, 30/6/05)
  • Donkey Punch (Olly Blackburn, Madman, early 2009)
  • O' Horten (Bent Hamer, Aztec, early 2009)
  • A Complete History of My Sexual Failures (Chris Waitt, Madman, Feb/Mar 2009)
Films with a confirmed DVD-only release date:
  • The Wackness (Jonathan Levine, Madman, Undated 2008)
  • Salt of This Sea (Eran Riklis, Potential, DVD (if at all))
  • Sukiyaki Western Django (Takashi Miike, Hopscotch, DVD, 16/10/08)
  • Global Metal (Sam Dunn, Hopscotch, DVD, 4/9/08)
Films attached to a distributor. They may get a theatrical or DVD release or neither.
  • Bob Marley: Freedom Road (Sonia Anderson, Rialto)
  • Boy A (John Crowley, Roadshow)
  • Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame (Hana Makhmalbaf, Hopscotch)
  • CSNY Déjà Vu (Bernard Shakey, Madman)
  • DaiNipponjin (Hitoshi Matsumoto, ?)
  • Derek (Isaac Julien, Madman)
  • Diary of the Dead (George A. Romero, Madman)
  • The Drummer (Kenneth Bi, Rialto)
  • The English Surgeon (Geoffrey Smith, Madman)
  • Frozen River (Courtney Hunt, Sony)
  • Gardens of the Night (Damian Harris, Kojo)
  • Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson (Alex Gibney, Madman)
  • The Guitar (Amy Redford, Kojo)
  • Inside (Julien Maury, Alexandre Bustillo, Roadshow)
  • It's a Free World (Ken Loach, Roadshow)
  • Jar City (Baltasa Kormákur, Madman)
  • Kate Bush: Under Review (?, Umbrella)
  • Let the Right One In (Tomas Alfredson, Rialto)
  • Lionel (Edward Martin, Siren)
  • Lorna's Silence (Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne, Madman)
  • Lou Reed's Berlin (Julian Schnabel, Madman)
  • My Winnipeg (Guy Maddin, Madman)
  • Otto; Or, Up with Dead People (Bruce La Bruce, Kojo)
  • Pete Seeger: The Power of Song (Jim Brown, Roadshow)
  • Planet B-Boy (Benson Lee, Madman)
  • Rain of the Children (Vincent Ward, Rialto)
  • Redacted (Brian De Palma, Madman)
  • Rock n Roll Nerd (Rhian Skirving, Madman)
  • Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired (Marina Zenovich, Roadshow)
  • Salvation (Paul Cox, Hopscotch)
  • Silent Light (Carlos Reygadas, Kojo)
  • Somers Town (Shane Meadows, Madman)
  • The Story of Richard O (Damien Odoul, Kojo)
  • Terror's Advocate (Barbet Schroeder, Hopscotch)
  • Three Monkeys (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Accent)
  • Trumbo (Peter Askin, ?)
  • The Wave (Dennis Gansel, Madman)
  • Wendy and Lucy (Kelly Reichardt, Potential)
  • Wonderful Town (Aditya Assarat, Aztec)
  • [REC.] (Jaume Balaguero, Rialto)
How this list was compiled: first, several titles have already been slated for release by local distributors and the dates have been published. Next, a scan of each film's info provided by MIFF reveals the respective distributor. I have contacted each distributor for confirmation of release details. So far I have received responses from Potential, Accent, Sony, Paramount, Hopscotch, Icon, Kojo and Rialto. I am still awaiting responses from Gil Saine, Madman, Palace, Roadshow and Sharmill.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Dark Knight

OK, it's Wednesday, my Melbourne Cinémathèque night. Feeling run-down, I decided to give tonight's program a miss (I normally get home close to midnight) and took the missus and kid to an opening day screening of the latest big blockbuster, The Dark Knight. Straight after work was a good strategy as I aimed to beat the masses that are going to pour into the cinemas come Friday night. In fact, there was a huge crowd lined up to go in at 8pm at the Sun Theatre, while we only had about 20 in our audience. I just got back and decided to brain dump the following words without too much review.

By the way, I've been flat out getting organised for MIFF. I've nearly finished my first compilation of what I plan to see, but I need to rework and refine it. I probably have about 50 films circled, and I just don't think I can absorb that much cinema over 17 days. I've already dropped about 20-30 titles that I'd like to see but won't. I probably have to cull another 10 or more.

I've also collated a list of the films that are getting a local release. I know this list was very popular last year, and some readers may be keenly awaiting it. I'll get it up in the next day or so. Now, to Batman.

There's a lot to like about the latest Batman instalment and, no doubt, we’ll be hearing a whole lot of glorification about the best Batman film yet and other superlatives. I liked it a lot also, with some really extraordinary elements, but despite the hype, it’s by no means flawless. Nor will it be universally lauded.

Is Heath Ledger the best comic super-villain of all time? I think so. If there’s someone that’s done a better screen villain rendition, I don’t remember it. His character is perhaps the best thing about the film and Nolan must take at least half of the credit for that. This is a really dark and warped re-imagination of the Joker that leaves all other Jokers way behind. Ledger deserves all the applause he gets. Even though we can see it’s his face and (especially) his hair, his inhabiting of the character, his voice transformation and his mannerisms are really inspirational.

I think Ledger's performance is for The Dark Knight what Javier Bardem's was for No Country For Old Men. But while I found No Country a flawless film, I can't say the same about this one. I'd compare it to say, There Will Be Blood, which divided audiences: some called it the best film ever, others hated it. I was somewhere in between with both that and The Dark Knight.

I loved the cinematography. There’s a really nice blend of warm colours, darkness and light. The editing is good, but inconsistent. Some cutting is designed to instil a sense of chaos, but it also seems a bit lazy.

I found the film too long. In fact, I looked at my watch just after the one hour mark (itself not a good sign) and found it a bit daunting that we had another hour and a half to go. Nolan simply tries to fit too much into one film.

The casting is good. I generally don’t like either Heath Ledger or Aaron Eckhardt, but found them both perfect for their respective roles. Bale is always good value, but I don’t think his part was not as well-written as it could have been. The pained and reluctant hero feels a bit laboured, and perhaps borrows too much from the Spider Man franchise. And talking about borrowing, there’s a scene that’s pure James Bond. The film seems to borrow from a number of other franchises, giving it an inconsistent feel, especially over such a long run time.

While this is a comic book rendition, Nolan has, starting with the previous instalment, done a good job of injecting a more three-dimensional psychology and believability than previous directors. It’s smart, but sometimes too smart. It is very busy at times, demanding too much attention of the target audience. I like intelligent cinema, but I found the story-line not always as coherent as it could or should be.

As for the action, there’s some really great looking stunts, and some great twists, while others are fairly standard for this kind of film. They’re mostly good fun and spectacular to watch, and fortunately they don’t dominate the film (it’d get to boring if they did). Batman seems omnipotent at times, more powerful than I remember him from the comics, while at others he seemed unnecessarily powerless (I was frustrated at times thinking why doesn’t he just shoot one of his bloody bat-thingys????).

His outfit is stunning. I love the way his eyes were blackened and his lower face was disguised by the mask. That, and his gravelly voice counters the old complaint people had with Bruce Wayne and Batman being so recognisable, one as the other. And while I didn't completely like the gravelly voice, I like that it just was, without it having to be explained as a disguising device. We, the audience, are smart enough to work that out for ourselves. Thanks, Nolan for that kind of respect.

The cape is fantastic. I love the look of it when he jumps off a building and when he's on his motor-sickle. The humour is very good too. Really restrained, not campy at all as is usual with the genre. There is some difficulty in following all the dialogue which may enrich people's DVD experience. You'll need to watch this 2, 3, 4, maybe more times to grasp everything. That can be both a good or a bad thing, depending on your taste and perspective.

Overall, this is an event film worth seeing (which is a rarity). No film can live up to the kind of hype this one is receiving, so don’t go in with your expectations too high and you should have a good time. I don’t know if I’d say it was the best comic book film made, but it is certainly one of the better ones.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

MIFF 2008 Program is out

Well, I picked up my advance copy of the MIFF program today. You can get yours in The Age tomorrow (Friday). Checking my records, I got a non-final list (soft copy) late June last year, but no such luck this year. Needless to say, I'm poring over the list and trying to work out how to extract 30-40 films to see from a list of nearly 300. I'll post later which ones I'm going to focus on. It's always a job and a half trying to see everything one wants to (which is impossible - I'd like to see nearly all of them), so it gets down to what's on when, what doesn't conflict.

Like last year, I'll also post a list of which films will get a local release. There's about a dozen or so that I know of, but if anyone has the full list, please post it here or send it to me and I'll post it. Also, any tips of films to see, let me know.