Melbourne International Film Festival

A big two weeks for me at the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF). I’ve got a mini pass for the festival which gets me into 13 films, plus I’m contemplating seeing another two on top of that. It’s a back-to-back schedule where I’m running around from one end of town the the other and trying to get other work done in between, but it has been fantastic so far.

For the most part, I planned my viewing choices around films that do not yet have a release date. Melbourne Gastronome was helpful, as they have a list of films that have already been picked up for distribution in Australia, which helped narrow my initial pool of around 50 films (from the 350-odd movies being screened at this year’s MIFF). I also decided to stick to overseas films hoping the Aussie films I’m interested in will be released soon.

First up tonight is Rec Genesis, which I enjoyed, though far less than its predecessors.

The brilliant horror film V/H/S made me nostalgic for anthologies Tales from the Crypt, Twilight Zone and the Outer Limits.

I loved the intelligent and ambiguous Sound of My Voice, about a charismatic cult leader who may or may not be a time traveller.

The beautiful Chilean film Bonsai, celebrates the pleasures and failures of writing and love.

Side by Side is a fun documentary produced and presented by actor Keanu Reeves. It is about the art of film making on velluloid film and the resistance or adoption of digital mediums by many great directors, including David Lynch.

I loathed Killer Joe. The final scenes of banal brutality and sexual degradation was mysogynistic and pointless. Mathew McConaughey’s performance was visceral, menacing without on screen violence, but this is ultimately a film that celebrates the hatred of women.

The Wild Ones is a searing Argentinean film about a small gropu of violent juvinile offenders who escape into the wilderness. It is brutal but visually beautiful. We learn little about the characters at the beginning, and only glimpse into their psche through brief intimate exchanges as they hunt for survival. The final scene will sear into your memory and linger forever.

The Imposter is an engrossing documentary about a 13 year old American boy who is found almost four years after he disappears from his family home. He is now in Spain in a boy’s home. His features have changed in curious ways, including his blue eyes, which are now dark. He says this is the result of the torture and abuse he suffering throughout his kidnapping. His family and the authorities don’t doubt his fantastical story. What depths of despair would drive deceptions otherwise? A mind-blowing stoory based on a true story, with all the real people weaving an intriguing tale.

This is the third film festival I’ve been to in the past month (I also attended the Arab and Spanish Film festivals). So many wonderful and inspiring treats for the imagination!