Thursday, August 8, 2013

2013 Film Festival review

All done. Another year at film fest under my belt... (This is my 14th year of 'full attendance')

All told, I viewed 26 movies in total at this years festival! Not even close to my personal best from about 3 years ago (50 movies - in the two week time frame), but still, a fairly 'respectable' number to have seen this time around. Didn't feel rushed or worn out with a full-on schedule like I did with that 50 film extravaganza did at times. Worst was part of that not insignificant effort was 11 movies in two days! Yikes -what was I thinking beforehand? Ahem, clearly 'thinking' did not come into the equation when I was ordering tickets so, lesson learnt from then, when it came to making that all crucial decision about the maximum total of films to watch in this years festival, I cast my memory back, and realised that a more measured approach would be a hell of a lot more beneficial (in every sense), and a damn sight cheaper to boot! At ,on average, about $15.00 each, these tickets add up. Factor in the obligatory additional costs such as: buses, car parking, cold drinks, lunches, dinners, takeaways - and not forgetting the odd trip squeezed into a record shop (or two? Probably way more! Don't tell the other half - She will kill me if she knew exactly how much I spent on CD/DVD/BLU discs in those two weeks!), and, all of a sudden, a truckload of money has been siphoned out of your account faster than some lowlife sucking petrol out of your car!

The best part of the fest? Only 1 dud! (Terence Malick's critic dividing "To the Wonder" - which I have reviewed in full on this site below) Its not bad I guess, that only 1 out of 26 that didn't provide some form of pleasure. Pretty good ratio if you ask me...

What follows is a brief rundown on all of the movies I attended. I will spare you all the eye-glazing wall of lengthy spiels about how wonderful they all were - and keep it short and sweet. Promise I will self-censor myself if I start to get way too verbose!

In order of films viewed, here we go then...

1) GOBLIN PLAY "SUSPIRIA" (LIVE IN CONCERT: The original band (1970's Italian prog-rockers GOBLIN) provided the live soundtrack to this mid 70's horror from Dario Argento. Film has clearly dated in terms of the acting style, but the stunning visuals were dramatically reinforced by the demonically appropriate music. An event that was worth the price of admission. Glad I went!

2) VILLAGE AT THE END OF THE WORLD: Just how tough life really is in a very small village in the Northwest coast of Greenland in 2012. An insightful look at how a community can be brought together even closer when faced with the ever creeping threat of employment in the only place (A neglected fishing factory) becoming non-existent in Niaqornot due to the current unpredictable economic climate. Market forces are a powerful entity to try to overcome, but the Inuit people are conditioned to survive in a very harsh environment, so they do the only thing they can. Run the factory as a co-operative. A very inspiring story with a few colourful local identities making themselves heard through this film.

3) MY SWEET PEPPER LAND: When retired Kurdish resistance fighter Baran takes on a police posting in a remote village in northern Kurdistan, little does he realise the impact his presence will have on the villagers lives. He immediately incurs the wrath of the hometown local warlord whose twitchy lieutenants who are eager to show this infidel who is in charge. Complicating matters further, Govend, a pretty female teacher rides into town, on the run from over eager family who are keen to escort her back to be married off - much to her disgust. A very blackly comical look at the harshness of life in a region that probably hasn't seen much in the way of peace for many long periods. Factor in the imposing physical landscape that only reinforces the bleak situation the protagonists find themselves in, and you've got a very watchable movie indeed.

4) PERSISTENCE OF VISION: Put yourself in the mind of Richard Williams, a master animator who had a significant career in animation, winning awards by the truckloads over the decades. Which all meant nothing compared to his dream he dared to entertain. The dream to create an animated film that would be nothing short of revolutionary, dazzling, life changing, influential. It had the potential to be a landmark in this industry. An iconic work that would transcend time. Next, entertain this ominous thought. What if, say, you've toiled away for the best part of four decades - and the work still is nowhere near finished? Now, due to various legal contracts you've signed, you no longer have any rights to that work. Forever! How the hell would you feel then? Unsurprisingly, Williams declined to appear on film, but many of his colleagues, associates, friends did, recounting his tragic, possibly self inflicted tale of woe. A tale of dogged determination against pretty much anything and everything! Art above commerce indeed...

5) PARADISE: LOVE: This sordid little tale of how we act so differently when away on holiday ("What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" type of attitudes typical of many a tourist) is bleakly displayed by a lonely middle-aged, flabby solo mum looking for love in all the wrong places. Moral is, yup, money doesn't not buy you happiness. It only reinforces how pathetic you can be when you put your vulnerability on the line - and the vultures start heading in for the kill. A scarily believable fable in this day and age.

6) LESSON OF THE EVIL: Nobody does psycho like Japan's enfant terrible - Takashi Miike does, and in this gleefully violent film, he presents the latest exhibit to remind us of his supreme ability to create enduring nutters who revel in their handiwork with aplomb. School teacher Mr Hasumi is popular with all the students, his natural empathy creating a special bond with his students. But, as always the case, another teacher is distrusting, and starts digging into his seemingly fact-free prior employments. Cue to Hasumi finding out about this investigation which, naturally does not make him happy. Far from it in fact. Once we've got halfway through the film, Hasumi starts to display those qualities that aren't so endearing, unleashing slowly, but surely, his true intentions. Being a latent psycho, later rather than sooner, all around him start to see a different side to his character they've not seen before... Then, all bloody hell breaks loose. With absolute sadistic pleasure, he methodically teaches the students and staff who he really is. A very evil lesson indeed... albeit, with several lashings of perverse humour!

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