Sunday, November 23, 2008

Three Weeks in Review - 23/11/08

So much has happened, so little time to write about it. I've been sick, I've been busy, I've been watching films as usual. Today I saw Francis Ford Coppola's Youth Without Youth, and I say fuck the luke-warm reviews and just go see it. We need more films like this, films outside the square, films that challenge conventional narrative, films that challenge an audience. This is screening exclusively at the Kino and may not last long. Race out and see it while you can.

Another cinema release that really stands out is Hunger. Again, just go see it. Don't think about it, don't go on what you think it's about. It's a remarkable film that, regardless of what you perceive of its subject matter, it demands attention.

I watched a couple of films for the Human Rights Art and Film Festival, but was very sick at the time and regret that I didn't get the opportunity to post reviews of the films (Chicago 10 and The Nothing Men). I'd have liked to have seen a number of films at this festival, and also attend a number of the forums, but time just didn't allow.

While I was sick, my son had his 8th birthday. I took him and a car full of his friends to Luna Park and a Johnnie To film at ACMI. It was a really educational experience, seeing how the different boys related to a G-rated film with sub-titles. Because of my illness, I was unable to write about this subject, but it's on my to-do list. I even interviewed my son on video; if I get the chance, I'll edit that and post it with an article.

The program for the Festival of Jewish Cinema also looked great. I managed just the one, My Father, My Lord, another extraordinary film. It has little dialogue, filmed beautifully with a really moving story about love and loss, parents and children. Top stuff.

A top film of the last three weeks is Gonzo: the Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, which has a separate post and is still screening at the Nova. Again, catch it while you can. We seem to be having a wave of unusually good films on theatrical release. With the so-called festive season coming up, there'll be a vacuum of good films real soon.

  • Gonzo: the Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson (Alex Gibney, USA, 2008)
  • Comment je me suis disputé… (ma vie sexuelle) (My Sex Life… or How I Got into an Argument, Arnaud Desplechin, France, 1996)
  • Bi shui han shan duo ming jin (The Enigmatic Case, Johnnie To, Hong Kong, 1980)
  • Gat sing gung jiu (The Fun, the Luck and the Tycoon, Johnnie To, Hong Kong, 1989)
  • O sangue (The Blood, Pedro Costa, Portugal, 1989)
  • Juventude em marcha (Colossal Youth, Pedro Costa, Portugal/France/Switzerland, 2006)
  • Hunger (Steve McQueen, Ireland/UK, 2008)
  • Hofshat Kaits (My Father, My Lord, David Volach, Israel, 2007)
  • Casa de lava (Pedro Costa, Portugal/France/Germany, 1995)
  • Où gît votre sourire enfoui ? (Where Does Your Hidden Smile Lie?, Pedro Costa, France/Portugal, 2001)
  • Australia (Baz Luhrmann, Australia/USA, 2008)
  • Youth Without Youth (Francis Ford Coppola, USA/Germany/Italy/France/Romania, 2007)
  • Chicago 10 (Brett Morgen, USA, 2007)
  • The Nothing Men (Mark Fitzpatrick, Australia, 2008)


chris said...

Hey Paul, have not caught up in ages,

liked Hunger.


Paul Martin said...

Hey Chris, where ya been? I'm glad you liked Hunger. Just liked?

poignantPoint said...

I went on a mission to find a cinema that is screening 'Youth Without Youth'. It's enjoyable. I was hoping for something perhaps a little more profound, but it's still an above average, intelligent adventure movie. To me, these type of movies and made or broken with the choice of ending, and unfortunately i felt Coppola took a pretty soft, sentimental route out..

Paul Martin said...

It was sentimental, but I didn't have a problem with it.

poignantPoint said...

No, either did i really.. it struck a great balance actually. In fact, it was worth seeking out just to sit in my seat and admire some of the magic brushstrokes from Coppola: there were many moments of real filmic aesthetic beauty.

As my favourite film critic Evan Williams said; "it's not the career-defining masterpiece that Coppola seems to be chasing" But as you mentioned, films that don't adhere to conventional storyboarding are something of a cherished item these days, particularly with grand, American productions. I mean, imagine Spielberg made this as Indy 4, it would be the buzz movie of the year!

Paul Martin said...

PP, I didn't get around to writing more about Youth Without Youth, but here's some passing thoughts.

While watching it, I couldn't help but be reminded of three other films:
Aronofsky's Pi and The Fountain, and Lynch's Lost Highway. It has the pursuit of ultimate knowledge and the consequent conspiracies of Pi with the time travel, reincarnation and eternal love of The Fountain and fractured identity issues of Lost Highway.

Another audience member I spoke to mentioned the significance of a film-maker in the twilight of his career making a film about an old man who regains his youth. This is a theme that he compared to other film-makers, but I don't recall his examples (Greg, are you reading this?).

I've read only a little of Williams as I don't usually read The Australian. I don't think our mainstream media have a strong culture of film criticism - in fact I've been appalled by the quality of writing about both Youth Without Youth and Australia, films at opposite ends of the spectrum. My favourite newspaper critic is Jake Wilson of The Age. I find him insightful and concise. He often puts to words clearly things that I intuit but am unable to express.

Maybe Coppola was attempting a masterpiece, maybe not. Maybe it is one. I think it's a film that requires a couple of viewings at least.

poignantPoint said...

Mm you may be right there..

Haven't seen Pi (it's gone into my basket though), thought 'The Fountain' started well but lost interest when it became a bit over the top towards the end, and i think Lynch is in a category all to himself in a way.

I guess maybe one film in this style i've seen recently that i felt delivered a holistically satisfying package would be 'Cherry Blossoms', which screened at the German Film Festival earlier this year. I didn't get a sense of any compromise with that one, so it had this feeling of real purity to it.

I'll start picking up 'The Age', i'm fairly sure they stock it in Sydney. I think Janet Hawley writes for them, i love her style so that's 2 reasons to get it now!

Paul Martin said...

I loved The Fountain. It was marketed poorly and hardly anyone saw it. I didn't try to intellectualise it or even analyse it much as I felt it was meant to be understood intuitively. I have a sense of what the truth of the film is, and I'm happy to not explore the meaning further until I see it again. I feel similarly about Youth Without Youth.

Lynch certainly is in a category of his own. He and Krzysztof Kieslowski are my favourite directors. Kieslowski, curiously, is another director who has worked with similar issues of identity, chance and destiny.

I've not seen Cherry Blossoms.

You don't need to pick up The Age; I just read it online. New reviews come out on Thursdays.