Why is it? You enjoyed all your festival picks, but those gems that everyone else saw and are raving about weren’t on your radar? “There was just too much good stuff”. “My brain fogged up so I went with anything starting with the letter ‘K'”. What you need this year is a little inside info.
Life During Wartime – Okay, so you could never accuse Todd Solondz (Welcome to the Dollhouse, Happiness, Storytelling, Palindromes) of making what you might call a feel good film, but he never takes the cheat’s way out either. Unsparing in his approach to exploring human drives and behaviour, give me Solondz over schmaltz any day.
Air Doll – Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Koreeda directed the sublime contemporary dramas Nobody Knows (2004) and Still Walking (2008)…that’s all I need to know.
Beeswax – Andrew Bujalski was making Mumblecore indie features before the term was coined. Looking forward to seeing what he’s been up to since directing Funny Ha Ha (ACMI, 2005) and Mutual Appreciation (MIFF, 2006)
Nenette – Documentarian Nicolas Philibert’s To Be and To Have (Etre et avoir) made a lasting impression. I may need to sneak some tissues into this screening, given the impact ‘Jenny’ the Orangutan made on me in Jon Amiel’s Creation.
Videocracy – Silvio Berlusconi (or Berluskaiser, as he is known among certain media commentators prepared to criticise him) has replaced Blackshirts with gyrating semi-naked dancers on the multiple Italian TV networks he owns and runs but the effect is the same: an anaesthetised populace too complacent to react to its own cultural impoverishment and political subjugation. Mussolini would have been proud.
Mammuth – Yolande Moreau (Seraphine, Micmacs) re-teams with Gustave de Kervern and Benoit Delephine, the directors of the wonderfully absurdist, politically mordant Louise-Michel (MIFF, 2009) and this time they’ve got Gerard Depardieu in tow…I’m there!
Around a Small Mountain – French iconoclast Jacques Rivette re-teams with Italy’s wonderful Sergio Castellito (Va Savoir, Don’t Move, My Mother’s Smile).
Like a Dream – Will Clara Law’s 2009 film, shot in locations including New York City and Shanghai, play as a sequel of sorts to Law’s touchingly resonant Autumn Moon, from 1992? Looking forward to finding out.
Enter the Void – His films can be a tad on the disturbing side (and the director is disturbed himself!) but the film experience is always exhilarating. Very exciting filmmaker who needs to be seen on the big screen. Heard that this one out-trips 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Survival of the Dead – Romero, Zombies. It’s a no brainer….brains.
The Killer Inside Me – Winterbottom doing Noir. Doesn’t this man ever go on holidays! Although I’ve heard this is excruciatingly violent, can’t resist the combo of this filmmaking chameleon doing a Jim Thompson novel.
Leap Year – Don’t know too much about this, except it got a lot of buzz in Cannes and that the director is an Australian filmmaker working in Mexico! Go figure. Always exciting to discover a new talent.
The Silent House – Apparently filmed in a single take on a digital camera, the word on the street is that this film from Uruguay will leave you shit scared. I’m there!
Below are some of the best films I’ve seen in the last 12 months (hence all the exclamation marks). So what you waiting for? Say goodbye to the daylight and get booking people!
Mark – A new documentary by one of Canada’s finest filmmakers, Mike Hoolboom. A wonderful, moving portrait of an inspirational character, life affirming in every way.
Chicks (Life at the Ranch) – One of the most exciting filmic discoveries of the year, hands down.
Au Revoir Taipei – If Woody Allen was Taiwanese instead of American I imagine this is the kind of film he would make. Pure cinematic joy, yum!
Mammuth – From the filmmakers that brought you AALTRA (ACMI 2005) and Louise-Michel (MIFF 2009), Benoit Delepine and Gustave de Kevern return with another black as night comedy that is sure to delight.
Lourdes – Featuring another brilliant performance by the ever luminous Sylvie Testud, Austrian filmmaker, Jessica Hausner (Lovely Rita, Hotel) proves again why classy European cinema is such a pleasure to watch.
Nenette – French documentarian Nicholas Philibert best known for his charming film To Be and To Have presents one of the most provoking and stylistically thoughtful films of 2010.
The Oath – Not since Capturing the Friedmans have I been so torn watching a film. Don’t dismiss this one as another ‘Iraq’ film, this one will keep you guessing from start to finish. A superb example of quality documentary filmmaking.
Life During Wartime – What can I say, I heart Todd Solondz!!
Some other equally brilliant flicks not to miss:
To Die Like a Man, Women Without Men, Let Each One Go Where He May, Trash Humpers (read nothing; just go and enjoy…er…the tap-dancing), Lebanon, Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child, Alamar (a tropical island getaway in the middle of a Melbourne winter, what more could you ask for?), Le Donk & Scor-Zay-Zee (Paddy Considine/Shane Meadows…long live this filmmaking combo), Honey (the final of Semih Kaplanoglu’s trilogy – Egg, Milk – stunning and cinematic in every way).
Some great shorts to whet your feature film appetite:
Muscles, The Kiss, Patti Smith: Long for the City, Deeper Than Yesterday, Bad Language.
Some films that I can’t wait to see:
La Danse: The Paris Opera Ballet, The Portuguese Nun, City of Life and Death, Carlos Parts 1,2,3.
Peepli Live – It sounds like it might be one of those more ‘serious’ Bollywood films (which is great) but I do like my song and dance numbers. No matter, the drawcard here is producer Aamir Khan. Any Bollywood fan will be out in force to see him, in the flesh. One of the few mavericks of the contemporary Bollywood world, Khan limits himself to one film a year, but always what a film! Just don’t expect to find a taxi.
The Tree – Gainsbourg, Charlotte. Need I say anything more?!
Around a Small Mountain – It is always great to see a large number of contemporary French films in the space of a couple of weeks and this year’s MIFF is no exception. Jacques Rivette is still going strong and this is his latest. AND it stars Charlotte Gainsbourg’s mum, which is very nice.
Bill Cunningham New York – This was one of the hottest tickets at this year’s Sydney Film Festival, selling out within hours of tickets going on sale. Forget The Sartorialist! This is the real meal deal.
Eleanor’s Secret – France continues to produce incredible and intelligent animated films and this is no exception. If you can’t make it to MIFF, (blatant plug alert) Eleanor’s Secret screens at ACMI in September as part of Kids’ Flicks.
Congratulations to Richard Moore and the MIFF team on what promises to be another exciting and inspiring festival. Let the projectors roll…