So, the Melbourne International Film Festival started last night with the world premiere of Aussie documentary Not Quite Hollywood (read more about it here), and Paul over at the wonderful Melbourne Film Blog was there last night if you care to read about it.
Yesterday, however, I finally got around to getting my tickets for the festival. Last year I saw 12 films, but unfortunately my current work schedule didn't allow me to pick and choose what days I could go to the festival. As it stands I am seeing eight movies, all of which I am very excited about. I've chosen a few Australian ones, a couple of more horror-leaning titles (after the success I had with last year's French thriller Ils) plus some of the more austere type of films that are the bread and butter of film festivals. Let's take a look, shall we?
Gardens of the Night (dir. Damian Harris, USA)
This sounds absolutely brutal, a drama in every sense of the word dealing with what becomes of child abduction victims. It has names like John Malkovich, Tom Arnold, Harold Perrineau, Jeremy Sisto and Kevin Zegers in the cast.
Useless (dir. Zhang Ke Jia, China/Hong Kong)
After seeing Jia's amazing Still Life at the festival last year I was adamant about seeing another one of his film's this year. He had this documentary about a Chinese fashion house as well as his Palme d'Or nominated title 24 City. Unfortunately 24 City's two sessions were at times I wasn't able to attend so I went instead for Useless. Much like Still Life, which still hasn't received a theatrical or DVD release here, Useless won a film at the Venice Film Festival. It's one of only two documentaries that I am seeing at the festival.
Acolytes (dir. Jon Hewitt, Australia)
An Aussie horror/thriller starring Joel Edgerton (popping up a lot lately, isn't he?) about three teenage boys being bullied at school who somehow come face to face with a serial killer and ask him to exact revenge for them. Alas, things don't quite go according to plan. I'm wondering if the title is an illusion to some sort of religious side-story that they're just not mentioning in any of the press. Could be very interesting either way.
Night Train (dir. Yinan Diao, China)
Upon discovering Night Train in the MIFF guide I thought it sounded incredibly interesting. Makes me sad that so many films from China (and indeed the rest of Asia) go unreleased yet large numbers of dodgy kung fu movies. I'm usually not particularly taken with films that have that obvious episodic feel to them (Into the Wild, Tom White etc) because I find their faults much more glaringly obvious, but I'm willing to give Diao's film a try because I'm becoming much more interesting in cinema from that region.
Let the Right One In (dir. Tomas Alfredson, Sweden)
A Swedish vampire movie. If the terrain of Sweden can't produce a good vampire flick then they're doing something wrong. John Ajvide Lindqvist adapted his own book for the screenplay here and, much like Acolytes up above, this is a horror film based around school bullies, which should make for an odd but hopefully compelling double bill of sorts. The film won the Best Narrative Feature award at Tribeca earlier this year.
The Horseman (dir. Steven Kastrissios, Australia)
Another Aussie genre flick, this time it sounds awfully familiar to the AFI Award-winning Kiss or Kill from 1997. The Horseman is the producing, directing, writing and editing debut of Steven Kastrissios and is about a road trip between a grieving father and a hitchhiker and the body count that starts to rise. It screens as part of the festival's "Night Shift" program, which I take to mean it's more interested in being about blood and gore than it is about representing some so-called Australian ideals. Before the feature the audience is treated to two shorts, The Un-Australian (16min) and Heartbreak Hotel (6min).
Not Quite Hollywood (dir. Mark Hartley, Australia)
You already know about this title. A documentary, partially funded by MIFF coincidentally), about the Ozploitation genre flicks of the '70s and '80s. Features interviews with Quentin Tarantino, Jamie Lee Curtis, Dennis Hopper and Richard Franklin amongst many many others.
My Winnipeg (dir. Guy Maddin, Canada)
You know, I was all set to not go see this movie and wait for the theatrical release, but then I realised that I couldn't recall a Guy Maddin movie ever actually getting a theatrical release and I just felt like I wanted to see this one on the big screen. I'm a big fan of Maddin's Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary so if it's anything like that then I'll be mighty pleased.
And that's it. Sure, I would have loved to see plenty more, but I've just sorta started a new job and I can't take time off already to go to a film festival. Nevertheless, I'm happy with my eight selections and I'll be certain to let you all know what I think of the films once I see them.