Super 2012 Film Festival Review-A-Rama
So after being asked several times about the lack of a MIFF2012 wrap up on the website I thought I'd just put together a bumper post chock full of links to all the reviews published from both Sydney and Melbourne Film Festivals as well as a few little one-word comments on other stuff not fully reviewed.
Let's get straight into this. It's gonna be big. We'll do this, the good, the bad and the indifferent style. All review quotes should hyperlink to the original and complete piece. Enjoy.
"While it may superficially appear to be his most gentle, straightforward film to date, don’t be fooled; this is as clinically precise as any Haneke film to date. Amour may be elegant and austere but it is also powerfully cold. This is not exactly the humanistic Haneke film we had been led to believe."
"The Comedy is a fantastic achievement that I very hesitantly recommend. Some will walk out, many will hate it, most will find it vacuous, yet I could say in the spirit of hipsterism: that’s the correct response. As a portrait of a generation that’s not only emotionally stunted but almost collectively sociopathic, this is frightening. For the right audience it’s also damn funny. If I wasn’t so emotionally stunted and able to enjoy things unironically I would say I loved it."
"Holy Motors is a bewildering, indescribably wonderful film that reminded me why I fell in love with cinema. Leos Carax’s fifth feature – his first in 13 years – is insane in the best possible way; rich yet ethereal, simple yet complex."
"Call it what you will – fiction, document, journalism, practical joke, or even simply a how-to guide for acquiring blood diamonds – The Ambassador is a grand achievement. Brugger fills his film with so many fascinatingly absurd and evocative moments (from a cleverly constructed, tense visit to an illegal diamond mind to the strikingly surreal scene where he plays whale sounds for his Pygmy assistants) that the entire experience is magnetically captivating. Sure to be divisive, The Ambassador is one of the most fascinating films of the year."
BEYOND THE HILLS
"Beyond The Hills is a frighteningly precise, gut-wrenching piece of cinema that shows a degree of formal assuredness that left me genuinely awestruck."
THE WARPED FOREST
"The Warped Forest opens in black and white with a droll conversation between three Japanese men sitting around drinking sake. Very swiftly the film shifts into colour, and also what appears to be an alternate dimension. In this bizarro reality, money (which appear as chestnuts) is stored in one’s belly button; small, Lilliputian-type characters interact casually with regular sized people; guns that resemble aspects of the male anatomy are bought by young girls; trees in the shape of women bear a sweet, alcoholic fruit that appear as a cross between an apple and a vagina; and all the while, a giant upturned pyramid hovers over the village like some supernatural observer."
GANGS OF WASSEYPUR
UNREVIEWED BUT ALL SENSATIONAL
LOVERS ON THE BRIDGE: One of the most joyous films ever made. Period.
SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN: A fantastically well told story. Keep an eye out for this one.
MODERN ROMANCE: This film single-handedly made me like Albert Brooks. Stunning neurotic cinema.
SIGHTSEERS: Ben Wheatley's latest (after KILL LIST) is a black comedy that is a little broad at times.
MISS BALA: Steadicam porn. An amazing formal exercise in sustained tension.
"V/H/S is a dumb horror movie made by a group of men who cannot tell the difference between digital and analogue artefacts (do not even ask the question of why a Skype conversation is on a VHS tape) and who seem to feel that women are crazy psychos."
THE LEGEND OF KASPAR HAUSER
"The film is devoid of any affect. There isn’t any cumulative hypnotic sensation or even an impression of rhythm in the structure of the film as a whole. It’s really just a lazily constructed series of empty signifiers all pointing to nothingness."
SOMETHING FROM NOTHING: THE ART OF RAP
"Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap opens with a large ‘Directed By Ice-T’ title card which is quickly followed by Ice-T explaining in voice-over that this is his first film. We then get a collection of slow-motion shots of Ice-T walking through the steamy streets of New York with a look on his face that alternates between ‘I’m a tough gangster’ and ‘What’s that horrible smell?’ Have no doubt that this is certainly an Ice-T film."
"James Marsh is undeniably a skilled filmmaker. Shadow Dancer shows him to have a marvellous ability for creating tense, textured set-pieces but narratively the film ends up a badly paced jumble of government conspiracies and IRA family dynamics. Only recommended to those with an obsessive interest in the political period."
"The Sessions resembles a eulogy where no one dares say a bad word about the deceased. This results in a frustratingly vanilla portrait of O’Brien as an affable, wise-cracking cripple that everyone ends up falling in love with. Even his solitary moments are simply a guy in an iron lung making jokes with his cat."
GOD BLESS AMERICA
"A frustrating superficiality and distinct lack of critical distance renders God Bless America nothing more than a troubling wet-dream and despite the fact that Goldthwait can write hilariously prescient monologues that cynically highlight the vacuous nature of western popular culture he still celebrates violence in such a troubling way that the film ends up being profoundly hypocritical."
UNREVIEWED BUT BAD BAD BAD
DAMSELS IN DISTRESS: Whit Stillman's sickening hipster ode is almost unwatchable.
100 BLOODY ACRES: Begins well but apart from a handful of moments it's ultimately boring.
RAMPART: Bad Woody. Bad film.
MENTAL: Utter shit. Please don't see this.
SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED: Enjoyment isn't guaranteed either.
THE SAPPHIRES: We sing. We're sad. We're black. We fall in love. We sing. That's it.
MINE GAMES: Let's just move on. Nothing to see here.
"Ruby Sparks is an honest, entertaining, and insightful picture that, despite a very ‘filmy’ happy ending, offers up an amusingly frank deconstruction of the ‘dream girl’ idea that pervades much modern fiction."
"Liberal Arts is pleasant, amiable, and a little more thoughtful than your average rom-com but still a resolutely vanilla-flavored concoction."
"Excision isn’t perfect – even with a brief 80 minute running time the film frequently feels repetitive, the climax is a satisfying tonal shift but way too succinct, and I’m not a fan of the head-on, character-stares-into-the-camera, shooting style adopted by the director – but overall it’s a blast of nasty fun for audiences that are happy to tune into its deranged mood."
IN THE FOG
"Sergei Loznitsa has great things ahead of him, and while In the Fog is neither a vital nor wholly successful work, for many it will be a satisfying entry in the early canon of a great developing filmmaker."
"A little like a mix between Dario Argento and Guillermo del Toro by way of Grimm’s fairytales, Livid boldly ends on an optimistically abstract note that is obtuse yet brave."
"Thai auteur Pen-Ek Ratanaruang’s latest genre deconstruction, Headshot, has been self-described as ‘Buddhist noir’, but I would be more inclined to label it a pulpy crime film on ketamine."
THE KING OF PIGS
"The King Of Pigs is a brutal and uncompromising drama from South Korea that is quite unlike any animated film I have ever seen. Yuen Sang-ho’s debut feature takes a familiar bullying story and shoots it in the arm with a heavy dose of nihilism."
STEP UP TO THE PLATE
"Step Up to the Plate, while slightly underwhelming, is still a valuable and interesting addition to the recent batch of food documentaries hitting our screens"
UNREVIEWED BUT WORTHWHILE
OSLO 31 AUGUST
SHOCK HEAD SOUL
SIDE BY SIDE
BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO
ON THE ROAD
BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD
HARI KIRI: DEATH OF A SAMURAI