Thursday, July 28, 2011

MIFF Blogathon: Day 8 (Top Floor Brother on the Sly)

This blogathon is an initiative of MIFF for their 60th anniversary year. I am one of six bloggers given the mission of seeing 60 films in 17 days and writing, reporting, reviewing and wrangling my way through the tiredness and hunger to bring the festival experience to your computer.

On the Sly
Dir. Olivier Ringer
Running Time: 77mins

"Cute, but slight" is a frequent criticism of films that play festivals. It could easily be said for Olivier Ringer's On the Sly [A pas de loup], a nicely made French drama about a girl who suspects she is invisible to her busy Parisian parents so, on a weekend trip to the country, she decides to become just that and vanishes before their very eyes. She then spends several days living in the forest behind the country home, fending for herself (she finds a berry - just one - and then eats worms), amasses several pets and takes care of a cluster of plant seeds.

Starring Wynona Ringer - I'm assuming the director's own daughter? - the film only ever shows the faces of those who can "see" her; a kindly old gent who offers her some seeds to plant and, later on, her father. The scenes set in her makeshift hut of sticks and fern leaves are quaint, but enjoyable, and the film certainly doesn't outstay its welcome, however, just like The Ugly Duckling yesterday, it feels quite long despite being less than 80 minutes. There's nothing overtly wrong with On the Sly, but it could have probably used a bit of fleshing out or a director with a few more tricks up their sleeve. B-

Top Floor Left Wing
Dir. Angelo Cianci
Running Time:

I feel like I would have enjoyed Angelo Cianci's debut feature Top Floor Left Wing [Dernier etage gauche gauche] if I had more rest behind me. From what I could gather from the film, however, it's a funny - if not as funny hah hah as the rest of the crowd seems to find it - film that is directed with vigour, features an energetic soundtrack and is acted with some real zest. Judging by the reaction it received post credits, and considering the similar storylines involving chaotic villains, Top Floor Left Wing is this year's Four Lions; last year's hilarious terrorist comedy from Chris Morris. B-

Experimental Shorts Program 1
Dir. Various
Running Time: 81mins

I attempted to make my way through the first program of experimental shorts, but - as I inevitably do with short films - I ended up frustrated, annoyed and left. I could handle the first of the four shorts, Nathaniel Dorsky's Pastourelle, even if it did kinda just remind me of 17 minutes of outtakes from ABC1's Gardening Australia, what with its out of focus close-ups of flowers and streams of sunlight. And with no soundtrack, either!

I decided to leave after the second short, Ben Russell's 10-minute Tryppes #7 (Badlands), which was, for the majority of its length, just a single shot of a woman as a bell rings every 60 seconds. These sort of films frequently lead me to query where they are going, but the answer is inevitably "nowhere" and I'm glad I left before the commencement of the 40-minute Slow Action, which was apparently dire and the title alone gave me the shivers!

Brother Number One
Dir. Annie Goldson
Running Time: 97mins

This New Zealand documentary follows famous sportsman Rob Hamill as he travels to Cambodia - with detours to Australia and his native New Zealand - to give a victim statement at a trial for an evil Khmer Rouge leader responsible for the death of his bother, Kerry. As any documentary about the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge would be - you'll know of what I speak if you've seen Oscar-winning The Killing Fields from 1984 - Brother Number One (and not Number One Brother as I've been erroneously calling it all day!) is affecting and will wring tears from many.

It's such a shame then that director Annie Goldson's film isn't more a visually dynamic film. It's a very straightforward film, with little done to take it to the next level whether that be visually, structurally or within the material. While, thankfully, the story at its core is important enough to not necessarily need it, it just makes it hard to really say the film itself deserves the score I give it as opposed to the potency of its subject. B

The Black Power Mix-Tape 1967-1975
Dir. Göran Olsson
Running Time: 100mins

It's funny the things that can swing one's opinion of a film. Goran Olsson's The Black Power Mix-Tape 1967-1975 is a fascinating, and frequently enraging exploration of the black civil rights movement through the eyes of previously unseen Swedish news footage from the era. The film is definitely put together well and the interviews - both on screen from the 1960s and '70s to the audio interviews with the likes of ?uestlove, Erykah Badu, Talib Kweli and so forth - are interesting and full of wonderful details that, for someone like me, are quite illuminating.

Unfortunately, for a film with the word "Mix-Tape" in the title, there is a distinct lack of music. In fact, apart from one Michael Jackson song at the very beginning and a recurring use of one track by The Roots that I can't recall the title of (it was a great song) there is no music whatsoever. Perhaps it was naive to think a movie with this title explored the rights movement through music? Perhaps. B

You know what I've discovered is a really good way to stop oneself from falling asleep during a movie? Sit at the back of the cinema and as you drift off your head will topple backwards and hit the wall! I did this tonight at the ever fancy Greater Union 5 and my head hit the wall with an almighty smack. The lady next to me even jumped. I had to apologise: "Sorry, I fell asleep and my head hit the wall." Only during MIFF could I say that and not be embarrassed. The amount of times I've dozed off during films so far this festival is embarrassing in itself! Tomorrow I have Ruhr, so I'm sure it'll be happening again.

Along with the sleepiness, I think I'm getting deep vein thrombosis in my legs and to top off that marvellous feeling my coughing fits are remaining hoarse and sore. Plus I feel like I've been wearing the same clothes over and over again (I have, at least, with my jeans, which are the most comfortable ones to wear whilst in public that still look like I'm not wearing "comfy jeans"). I think I'm gonna have to swing into Little Cupcakes tomorrow and cheer myself up! It's not like my resident cupcake cooking friend Suze is helping!

*waits for a basket of cupcakes all his own!*

No? Oh...

1 comment:

Suze said...

I'll be awake as I'm heading to work straight after, plus there's a coconut cupcake in it to help keep you awake!