Sff 2011: Cool It & Corridor
The midpoint of a film festival is always a tricky moment. An odd type of film-lag sets in regardless of how well slept you are. Films begin to blur, sometimes even while you are watching them. I've forgotten what fruit looks like and the thought of more fast food makes me feel rather ill. 6 days in I had my first session at the Dendy and it annoyed me just as it did last year. A 30 minute walk or a $10 cab fare. You decide and if you're trying to get to or from there in peak hour then good luck. I understand the appeal of using a cinema at the opera house precinct but it is just annoying to have to travel so much between theatres. Another nit-picky thing while I'm at it. Has anyone been bothered by the odd lack of soundproofing in the large Event cinema 4. During two separate sessions there I was wholly distracted by the constant rumbling and crashing that could clearly be heard from the cinema next door. I could even pick the film for heaven's sake. It was Super 8 if you were wondering.
Ondi Timoner is a very good documentary maker. Her recent films Dig and We Live In Public were both some of my favorite films around those times. What is most surprising is that with COOL IT, Timoner has made a startlingly manipulative faux-documentary. Make no mistake, COOL IT is propaganda, it is an argumentative essay, it is a filmed lecture and finally it is simply a cinematic version of its central character's book.
Bjorn Lomborg is a professor of political science and a statistician. In the late 90s he published a book entitled 'The Skeptical Environmentalist' which made the claim that many current environmental scares are miscalculated and exaggerated. Lomborg is not a global warming skeptic though. He agrees that something is going on but he denies the catastrophic consequences that many in the movement preach. He also argues that our current methods of approaching this problem (specifically carbon trading and emissions reductions) are misguided, expensive and ultimately pointless.
As presented in the film, his ideas are convincing, undoubtedly fascinating and in general I think he is a valuable voice in the overall international debate. We do need to be investing more in researching alternative energies. We should be spending more money on increasing the overall quality of life in developing countries. Maybe carbon trading isn't a useful long term solution?
But the problem with COOL IT as a film is its uncomfortable pretense of separation from its central character. Unlike An Inconvenient Truth - which this film amusingly spends quite a bit of time debunking through Lomborg's own Gore-like lecture - that essentially was a filmed lecture, COOL IT presents itself as a portrait of a man, with associated talking heads giving supposed counter-opinions. It certainly 'looks' like a documentary. Sequences of the film run pretty much as follows: Lomborg takes care of his Alzheimer's ridden mother, making note that he calls her once a week and visits once a month; Lomborg is unfairly attacked by the green lobby as he is accused of scientific dishonesty, the film notes several times how threatened these bodies were by the power of Lomborg's truth; Cut to Kenya where Lomborg feeds starving black children. At this point I think I was giggling as the almost messianic overtones the film was taking.
It may sound as those I am really down on COOL IT but overall I wasn't to be honest. There are some valuable ideas in this film. It is a worthwhile watch, hopefully stimulating some valuable discussions but damn is it a one-sided, misleading piece of propaganda. See COOL IT but please spend some time online after you see it getting the other side of the story.
CORRIDOR is short, small, efficient and just clever enough for its own good but it isn't really much more than that. I have absolutely no doubt that seeing a film as small as CORRIDOR directly after I saw Malick's Tree Of Life negatively affected my perception of the film but them's the breaks of film festival runs.
Frank is a young, over-achieving medical student who lives an isolated life in his small apartment. He reluctantly befriends the new tenant upstairs, Lotte despite her mysterious and seemingly violent boyfriend. As Frank becomes more and more embroiled in their violent relationship his small apartment begins to grow increasingly unsafe.
First time filmmakers Johan Lundborg and Johan Stern have created a tight 80 minute thriller that is satisfyingly pared to the bone with very little extraneous material but their influences occasionally show a bit too clearly. While sure, there is a lot of Hitchcock, De Palma and Polanski in there, we also can see strong elements of Aronofsky (specifically PI) and Lynch (Lost Highway). Lundborg & Stern should be commended for turning such a melange of influences into a relatively coherent film tonally but overall the film feels purely mechanical in the end. It isn't really noteworthy and ultimately doesn't soar or surprise. It is merely good but I wanted it to be great.