Monday, July 19, 2010

17 Days, 21 Films: MIFF2010 Itinerary

"Melbourne in winter is something that you can’t truly imagine until you have experienced it for yourself. It’s a time when the sun sets early and people battle the elements with their runaway scarves and umbrellas turning themselves inside out. A Melbourne winter also means it’s time for the Melbourne International Film Festival when the cinephiles come out in rain, hail or even occasionally shine and wait in a line that runs around the block for the latest films from world-renowned cinematic auteurs like Francis Ford Coppola (Tetro), Todd Solondz (Life During Wartime) and Lisa Cholodenko (The Kids Are All Right) right on through to 3D animation blockbusters (Despicable Me) and even films about senior citizens with a fondness for garbage (Trash Humpers)."

And so begins my MIFF preview at Trespass Mag. Click on through if wish. Each subsequent year that I have attended MIFF I have seen more films than the one before and this year is no different with 21 movies with tickets purchased. I have no idea how I'm going to cope with all of these, writing this blog, work and various other social normalities to attend to, but there are some people seeing over 70 titles so at least I'm not them.

Below is my itinerary for MIFF and I encourage any Melbourne readers out there to seek out the festival. It's surely the only way you'll ever be able to see several of the titles on offer. There were many that I so wanted to see, but due to various circumstances (having to work, not having several clones, the usual stuff) I cannot. I missed Lee-Chang Dong's Secret Sunshine in 2008 and didn't want to piss Poetry this year, but I must. I was totally psyched about Joe Dante's rare one-print-only The Movie Orgy, but that's another I had to cross off, just like Waking Sleeping Beauty, Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho with live orchestra, Gareth Edwards' Monsters, a big screen presentation of For Y'ur Height Only starring the immortal (well...) Weng Weng, Harmony Korine's Trash Humpers, Shane Meadow's Le Donk & Scor-zay-zee, Oren Moverman's The Messenger (a 2-time Oscar nominee that's still without an Australian release) and - worst of all - the French horror comedy Rubber from director Quentin Dupieux about a murderous car tyre with psychic powers. I'm so disappointed I will be missing that one, but I have tickets to Florence and the Machine that night so I think I'll manage. There's dozens I'd love to see, but do not have the time or the funds to get to, so the following this is what I had to scrounge out of a longlist of about 60 titles.

I will be doing several small review packages for Trespass over the 17 days of the festival, but I aim to write up full length reviews of as many films as possible.

Monday 23
19.00 Dreamland (ACMI)
21.15 Red Hill (Forum)

Ivan Sen hasn't been heard of much since Beneath Clouds in 2002 so the chance to see his new experimental black and white sci-fi film is not to be missed, same goes for Red Hill, which has been garnering big buzz ever since the teaser got released and everyone got all hot and bothered about how incredible it could be.

Saturday 24
12.15 Myth of the American Sleepover (Forum)
19.00 Machete Maidens Unleashed! (ACMI)

I have never heard of David Robert Mitchell's film before flipping through the MIFF guide, but it's title and description sound exciting so we'll see how it goes. Machete Maidens, on the other hand, is the latest documentary by Mark Hartley who made Not Quite Hollywood and this time has taken his focus to Filipino action movies of the 1970s and '80s. Weng Weng features prominently, I'm sure.

Sunday 25
No movies today, but this is true - in my MIFF schedule planner I actually made sure I didn't schedule any movies because tonight is the finale episode of MasterChef Australia and Twitter followers will be aware that I cannot possible miss that!

Tuesday 27
12.30 1981 (ACMI)
21.15 Beeswax (Forum)

1981, a Canadian "coming of age" film, sounds like it should be right up my alley. As for Beeswax? Well, certainly people are demanding I see it, so I shall.

Wednesday 28
No MIFF movies today, but I do get to see The Loved Ones today, which is just as exciting as Weng Weng.

Thursday 29
21.30 The City of Life and Death (Forum)

This is one of the real big titles of the festival for me. China has provided me with the best film I've ever seen at MIFF - that would be Zhang ke-jia's Still Life - and I'm hoping they strike again with this black and white film that has everybody raving.

Friday 30
12.15 Piggies (Forum)
19.00 I Love You, Phillip Morris

Robert Glinski's Piggies sounds so confronting - child prostitution and all that that entails - that I'm kinda glad I'm seeing I Love You, Phillip Morris later on in the day. We've been looking forward to that "Ace Ventura goes Gay" movie for a while now and this may be the only chance to ever see it on the big screen unless Village Roadshow decide there's an audience for this. Considering they planned for The Hurt Locker, which I thankfully say at last year's MIFF some 7 months early, to go direct-to-DVD, I can't see that happening any time soon.

Saturday 31
12.15 The Illusionist (Forum)
14.30 Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radian Child (GU6)
19.00 Blank City (GU3)
21.15 The Silent House (GU3)

I start today's epic four-day MIFF experience with Sylvain Chomet's latest animated delight from a screenplay by Jacques Tati and end it with a Uruguayan real time horror movie. Lovely. In between those two I have two documentaries that take a look at New York City subcultures, which is something I can rarely ever resist. Last year's Little Joe was far better than A Walk Into the Sea: Danny Williams and the Warhol Factory the year for that so, just maybe, these two will be even better!

I'm not looking forward to spending three movies in Greater Union, however, which is a horrible cinema by even the flimsiest of standards.

Sunday 1
18.45 Like a Dream (ACMI)

A really fascinating-sounding film from Australian/Hong Kong director Clara Law (The Goddess of 1967).

Monday 2
12.15 She, A Chinese (Forum)

Xiaolu Guo's film is another that appealed to the same part of me as Still Life and Up the Yangtze. If it's even half as good as either of those films then it will be a worthwhile ticket purchase!

Tuesday 3
16.45 Brotherhood (Forum)

This is a Danish film about two neo-Nazis who fall in love. This is pure, unadulterated film festival goodness. I'm not sure if this played at the recent Melbourne Queer Film Festival, but I imagine they were too busy screening Another Gay Movie 7: Butt's Fight Back to consider it.

Wednesday 4
21.15 Certified Copy (Forum)

Juliette Binoche won her Cannes Best Actress prize for this film earlier in the year and I am so excited to see it. Not only for Binoche, but - ta da - this will be my very first Abbas Kiarostami movie. I wonder what I'm getting myself in for.

Thursday 5
16.45 Life During Wartime (ACMI)

Todd Solondz. That's pretty much all you need to know behind my reasoning for wanting to see this. Really. This is probably my most anticipated of the festival. "Can I give you some advice?" "Yes please" "...No, actually, I have no advice for you." Gah! Solondz! You mad fucker!

Friday 6
19.00 Women Without Men (GU3)

I don't know much about this from from Middle Eastern artist Shirin Neshat, but I've heard great things about it so why not, yeah?

Saturday 7
13.00 Cane Toads: The Conquest (Hoyts)
19.00 The Actresses (Forum)

My last day of the festival starts with a 3D doco-drama about cane toads in Australia's northern states. Yes, this is actually a movie. Cane toads jumping out in 3D sure sounds like an enjoyable way to spend a Saturday afternoon, don't you think? An even better way to spend a Saturday night? In the company of The Actresses from Je-yong Lee, a mockumentary that charts a Vogue Korea fashion shoot featuring six satirically D-I-V-A celebrities (all playing themselves, including Ok-bin Kim from Thirst). It sounds like a highly enjoyable film and a wonderful way to end the festival.

I had expected MIFF to program Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Cannes Palme d'Or-winning Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, but didn't see it in the guide. It was, however, just announced as one of the closing night films. I might have given it a change, despite not caring for the only other Weerasethakul film I have seen (that'd be Syndromes and a Century), but I work all day on Sunday and his films are sleep-inducing at the best of times, so I have decided to skip it. Being a Palme d'Or winner I am sure it will become available in some format at some stage over the next couple of years (it took Michael Haneke's The White Ribbon a year to reach Australian shores outside of film festivals, which says a lot I think.)

Any local readers out there want to say what they're seeing? Did you take a punt on something obscure and little known, or did you go with the likes of The Kids are All Right or Enter the Void?


rich said...

Interesting list man!

I gotta say though, I saw city of life and death up in sydney earlier in the year and absolutely hated it. I even walked out with half an hour to go (in all fairness I did have a plane to catch but probably had time to stay if the film was worthwhile). I'll be keen to hear what you think of it.

Also saw Life During Wartime up there and found it a major disappointment especially since I am a huge Solondz fan.

How much am i pissing on your parade?!?! sorry :P hehe...

Enter the void is my major highlight and then carlos, rubber and a few others that are slipping my mind at the moment.

morningside omnivore said...

I saw Beeswax last year and really enjoyed it. I don't want you to come into it expecting to be blown away--it is so small and modest that it makes You Can Count On Me seem epic--but it's a pretty potent statement about how little is actually required to make a compelling, memorable film.

Drew said...

I cannot wait for Wednesday 28th, for you to experience the sheer joy that comes with watching The Loved Ones.

par3182 said...

you are impressively organised; i haven't even opened my guide yet. i may see you at the new york docos...

i can't believe they're wasting a festival spot on a film as awful as i love you, phillip morris; even direct to dvd is too kind a fate for it

two things -
1) i didn't realise the greater union cinemas were still in business
2) i've only ever watched five minutes of masterchef and i was so grossed out by watching a judge eat i could never go back

Guy Lodge said...

You've got some treats lined up there. (I can't recommend "Women Without Men" or "She, A Chinese," though.)

But I really, really, really, really, REALLY encourage you to make time for "Monsters." Cracking little genre-hybrid film, and I have a feeling it could be right up your alley. The kind of thing that could end up being a bit of a cult item, and with those, it's always nice to say you were there first.

Glenn Dunks said...

Guy, trust me - I would've seen it in a heartbeat, but it's two screenings are on Saturday after Midnight and Sunday afternoon, neither of which I can attend. I can't afford to just take weeks off work, unfortunately.

Guy Lodge said...

Understood. Oh, the agony of festival scheduling!

x said...

I thought you might want to know that MIFF are replacing the Saturday 7/8 session of the now banned L.A. Zombie with another screening of Rubber.

I have zero interest in seeing City of Life and Death. It looks like it'll be completely relentless in its misery and reading up on the war atrocities committed in Nanjing on wikipedia is horrible enough for me. Knowing that my grandmother's family died during that occupation just makes it that much worse. That said, I did really like the director's previous movie KeKeXiLi Mountain Patrol and thought it dealt with its emotional scenes in a subtle and restrained way, so maybe this film won't be as full on as I anticipate? Like Rich, I'll be interested in seeing what you think of it.

I'm seeing She, A Chinese, Brotherhood and Certified Copy as well and they were all immediate 'must-sees' on my list (sad to see that Guy Lodge doesn't rate She, a Chinese though. Maybe I'll dampen my excitement for that one a tad)

Love that you're seeing The Actresses. I had that one pencilled in until a last minute family obligation reared its head. It must be especially great for people who know the Korean film industry though. I'd love to watch it knowing the personae these stars have and observe all the inside jokes the movie takes in playing around with them.

Oh, and I'm really looking forward to The Mouth of the Wolf. I've seen a few reviews comparing it favourably to Of Time and the City, which I unfortunately missed when it showed at MIFF 2? years ago, and if it's half as good as that, then I'll be extremely satisfied. Also looking forward to Cell 211 and Nostalgia for the Light (and um...more shamefully, Au Revoir, Taipei)

Anonymous said...

where is The Loved Ones screening on July 28th? I wanna see it..

Glenn Dunks said...

Anon, it is a media screening unfortunately. To build buzz and all that jazz.

X, always good to see people getting enthused! I know next to nothing about the story behind The City of Life and Death so that may go a long ways to determining whether I like it or not.