By popular demand (okay no one demanded this) I present a short selection of (mostly) unedited, parenthesis ridden, barely coherent thoughts about most of the films I’ve seen so far at this years’ Melbourne International Film Festival. Oh and they're adapted from Twitter. Happy reading.
(I ran out of steam before writing
about Happy Hour which – for the record – is an immaculately blocked
take on female friendship that is soured slightly by a late, almost
inconsequential development. ...I just wrote about it, didn't I?)
The Eyes of My Mother: This movie toys with the audience’s empathy like
a puppet-master and juxtaposes beauty with horror as though digital
black and white was worth a damn (maybe it is?) but its overly familiar
take on childhood trauma and murderous psychopaths hamstrings it.
Paths of the Soul: Any given frame of this would serve as a Windows
wallpaper which is either high praise or devastating criticism depending
on your aesthetic bent. (I’m somewhere in the middle. It’s a little
uncomfortable here.) That said no Windows wallpaper has ever contained
this much arduous religious devotion and the combination of staggering
human effort and beautiful scenery is almost as unnerving as the similar
contrast in The Eyes of My Mother.
That said it’s all presented
in such a way as to make it completely murky as to whether it’s a
documentary project or a fiction film. If it’s more the former then
these people are near superhuman; if it's more the latter then this film
has made ordinary people into myths.
Blood of My Blood: A
Dreyer-esque moment of Grace makes this ungainly but beguiling mash-up
of witchcraft trial and gentle vampire movie worth more than the sum of
its Frankensteined (that's word now) parts.
A New Leaf: So
blackly hilarious that its grudging charm almost goes unnoticed. (By me
anyway – I wouldn’t presume to speak for you. Even though I just did.
Pretend it didn’t happen.)
No Home Movie: If you’ve lost a
relative recently this film will make you relive that experience. That
said it has its own particulars: In this case the dying relative is a
holocaust survivor and as one scene makes painfully clear her loss is
also the loss of a living history.
However the film is
uncomfortable for less positive reasons: there were times when the
filming felt like an non-consensual violation of privacy. The rough and
yes, home movie-like aesthetics didn’t make this sit any easier.
Uncomfortable intimacy is the watch-phrase.
Toni Erdmann: No
hyperbole is too much; no bold text can be sufficiently bold. This may
be the single greatest film I have ever seen. (And I’ve seen Beau
Travail.) Somehow it manages to take on corporate culture, globalisation
and the personal, lonely grind of being human without seeming as direct
or as grandiose as that might imply. It does so with a mood that swings
between hilarity and misery and sometimes includes both. I was crying
and laughing at the same time during a scene in this move and the next
scene went and topped it.
Three: I imagine the process of making this went something like this:
"It’s going to be set in a hospital."
"But it's going to be a really artificial set."
"Eh... Hospitals are already kind of artificial?"
"It's going to be the most artificial hospital ever."
"Also this is going to be a ethical drama about professionals."
"But any semblance of ethical, professional behaviour will vanish 10 seconds in."
"Also get me a thimble for a pot."
“This is going to boil over.”