SFF 2010, Day 3: Ups, Downs and Walkouts.

 
What a day! Running around from venue to venue in the pouring rain. Significant disappointments resulting in one of my friends leaving 2 separate films before they finished! Definitely a classic day of film festival viewing for sure. This one is gonna be interesting, lets get down to brass tacks shall we...
 
 
THE RAINBOW WARRIORS OF WAIHEKE ISLAND
 
Due to a mess up in our own personal scheduling I had to leave this one halfway through so I don't feel qualified to say that much. What I saw wasn't too impressive but I'm not the biggest fan of green activist methods so I'm biased from the start. I'll move on I think.
 
SYMBOL
 
Ingawa dhana ya ajabu '' ni pervasive katika yote ya maandiko ya Albert Camus, hadithi ya Sisyphus ni wake wakuu kazi somo. Kwa hiyo, Camus anser absurdity kama mapambano, na upinzani, na migogoro au talaka "" kati ya maadili mbili. Hasa, yeye amefafanua hali ya binadamu kama ajabu, kama ya mapambano kati ya tamaa kwa maana ya mtu, maana na ufafanuzi kwa upande mmoja - na kimya, baridi ulimwengu kwa upande mwingine. Anaendelea kuwa kuna uzoefu maalum binadamu evoking notions ya absurdity. Vile utambuzi au kukutana na majani ya ajabu ya mtu binafsi na uchaguzi ni: kujiua, a leap ya imani au kutambuliwa. Yeye slutsatsen kutambua ni chaguo defensible tu.
 
Kwa Camus, kujiua ni kukiri "" kuwa maisha si thamani ya maisha, ni uchaguzi implicitly kutangaza kuwa maisha ni "sana". Kujiua inatoa msingi "njia" ya absurdity: ya ukomeshaji haraka wa vifaa na nafasi yake katika ulimwengu.
 
Kukutana ajabu pia kumfanya a leap "imani", muda inayotokana na mmoja wa pseudonyms Kierkegaard ya kwanza, Johannes de Silentio (ingawa muda si kutumiwa na Kierkegaard mwenyewe, ambapo mmoja anaamini kwamba kuna zaidi kuliko mantiki maisha (aesthetic au kimaadili). Kuchukua leap "imani", mtu lazima kitendo kwa nguvu "ya ajabu" (kama Johannes de Silentio kuweka), ambapo kusimamishwa ya kimaadili inaweza haja ya kuwepo. imani hii ina matarajio yoyote, bali ni nguvu flexibla ulioanzishwa na kutambua ya ajabu. Hata hivyo, Camus inasema kwamba kwa sababu ya imani leap rationality atakaye epuka na defers kwa abstraction juu ya uzoefu binafsi, ya leap wa imani si ajabu. Camus anser leap ya imani kama kujiua "falsafa", wakiyakataa wote huu na kujiua kimwili.
 
Does that make any sense to you? Are you a little confused about what I am doing? If so then I have accurately conveyed my reaction to Symbol. There is no real way to approach this film. I dont even know what I personally felt about it to be honest. One of my friends walked out in frustration halfway though but I soldiered on. Good or bad are not words that can be used to discuss this film. Do I recommend it? Lets just say, labda.
 
LIFE DURING WARTIME
 
This is painful to say coming from a giant Solondz fan such as myself but this was seriously disappointing. Life During Wartime was a major fail for me. It's a quasi-sequel to Happiness but Solondz has recast all the roles from the first film with different actors. He has played this game before with Palindromes resulting in much greater success. Here the recasting actually detracts from the film's impact. It confuses needlessly and adds no greater resonance to the film whatsoever.
 
For the first half of Life During Wartime I was really, really trying to enjoy it but I kept thinking, “This is like Solondz doing a greatest hits film”. It's almost as if he sat down at his computer and wrote a list of all the elements that made Happiness a success then simply did it again. He is repeating himself here and its often painful to watch. He even replicates some of his greatest scenes from Happiness and rather than coming across as some meta in-joke it feels like he is desperately scraping the bottom of his inspiration barrel.
 
Promotional material for this film stresses that Life During Wartime functions as a “successful standalone” but I completely disagree. It is so completely connected to Happiness that it almost wilfully requires a recent viewing of the previous film. The first half of Life During Wartime consists solely of discussions between characters who are obliquely referring to events from the first film. They rarely make anything clear to the new viewer (I can confirm this as a member in my party had not seen Happiness and he had no idea what people were talking about while watching this film). Because of the constant 'nudge wink' nature of the first half of the film most of my brain power was spent trying to make connections to Happiness so I could understand what was going on. This wasn't helped by Solondz' casting gimmick which only made it more difficult to make these connections.
 
I keep talking about the first half of the film and that's because I actually felt the film hit its stride in the second half. There are a couple of really solid scenes that begin to make this film feel like its own entity.  He brings up some interesting ideas surrounding forgiveness. Then it ends. Just like that. Out of the nowhere the credits roll. Just as the film began to cement its own tone it was over. Sorry Todd but this one felt like a first draft screenplay rushed into production. An incomplete film that in the end only served to act as some odd epilogue to Happiness. I have loved everything Solondz has done up until now. This is bad, undercooked, derivative and redundant. It made me sad.
 
RED HILL
 
I had an ball with Red Hill. This is the type of pulpy genre film I want to see Australia make more of. Ryan Kwanten stars as Shane Cooper, a new constable arriving in the small town of Red Hill for his first day at work. Chaos ensues after news reports hit of a dangerous prisoner having escaped from prison. Steve Bisley plays the staunch head of police and plays off Kwanten fantastically.
 
Director Patrick Hughes smartly translates classic western and horror troupes into an Australian milieu. When the cops start locking down the town and arming themselves in preparation of the escaped convict coming to town we feel like we could be watching a classic John Wayne western. This really is a classic genre film from the sheriff asleep in the station to our hero mounting a horse and riding off to save the day, it's fun stuff.
 
Some have criticised this film for its overtly commercial appeal and I don't deny that these aspects are present. It's frequently cheesy but it's a genre film and these moments don't bother me in the slightest. Sure the film could've been something very different but it isn't. Hughes chose to take the film in a certain direction and I won't question that. At its core it's a very fun film. The type Hollywood makes bucket-loads of, and why can't we? Why should we look down on a film that has clear commercial appeal? This film deserves to do well at the box office.
 
I briefly want to talk about an extra subtext that is slipped into the film which I found truly fascinating. Our big bad escaped convict is of Aboriginal descent and as he lays his vengeance on these white policemen he pauses for a moment and stares at a display of Aboriginal history in a shop front. There is a mannequin of an Aboriginal warrior that looks very much like Windradyne. Windradyne was a notorious resistance leader who violently fought against the colonial invasion in the early part of the 19th century. This allusion to our big bad in Red Hill being some supernatural revenge fantasy on white colonialism is thankfully only subtly alluded to but it is enough to add an extra very interesting dimension to the film.
 
Red Hill is not a masterpiece but it certainly is a fun, pulpy action film that is made with great style and kineticism. If you can suspend your disbelief and don't mind a bit of genre cheese you will have a great time with this film.
 
TIDBITS
 
 
 
  • The festival is in full force and we are getting very festivaly audiences. A few walkouts occured in Red Hill and I love a good festival walk out.
  • To the guy who was laughing loudly at the opening scene of Life During Wartime I say, "Yes, we get it. You are so cool for recognising all the in-jokes in the scene. Some of us also noticed it was a perfect mirror of the opening scene from Happiness but didn't feel the need to make it known to everyone."
  • Running in the rain is tough.
  • Love the State theatre, especially allocated seating for main sessions! Saves the true festival goers who are running from other sessions and dont have time to line up for half an hour. MIFF do this more please.

Comments

RED HILL IS SHIT....

But seriously what a waste of time, fuck you Patrick Hughes, your putting another of the many giant nails in the coffin of the australian film industry.
As trendy as it would be for me to articulately elaborate on this for a few hundred words more, its just not worth the effort....

hehehehe fair enough. love your work ian :P

I felt the same about Life during wartime. I came out bewildered, disappointed, and unable to pinpoint why. It wasn't the uncomfortable subject matter (hey, used to that!) but it was the script. It was up and down, it felt together then it fell apart. Much like Joy really. The casting was brilliant though. Without the casting I feel it would have been a complete loss.

I couldn't stay for the Q&A as I had 5 minutes to get to Event9 (taxi -woot made it *just* before the lights went down) but to be honest I was not done processing it to ask anything worthwhile.

We had a few of 'those guys' in our audience too laughing at the opening scenes - maybe these are the people who feel they need to let people know they've seen Happiness or another Solondz film.

the casting was one of the more interesting aspects for sure! I did a runner before the Q&A too but it wasn't to make another film it was just to get out of there and console myself over what I just saw...