Ha! I saw the exact same amount of films in August as I did July... weird... Anywho:
International Shorts 3 - some great short films, some bad ones, some average ones.
Accelerator 2 - some great short films (The Kiss was stunning), some bad ones, some average ones.
Animation Shorts 2 - mostly crap animated shorts.
Splice - I had high expectations for this science gone too far film from the director of Cube, that may have been an issue as this was total shite. Performances were just dull, the script was laughably stupid (I mean I was literally laughing with derision at some points) the effects started off well and then just dive bombed. Avoid this at all costs as it's quite possible Sarah Polley, Adrien Brody and Vincent Natali's worst film ever. 0.5/5
She, A Chinese - This is the story of Mei, a young woman on a trip from East to West after her escape from her provincial Chinese village. Beginning in Chongqing and a disastrous factory job, Mei soon heads out for London and a marriage to an older man where her entrapment begins anew. It doesn't sound like much but I really quite liked this film, Huang Lu gave Mei a strong and quiet dignity as she struggles to find her place in a world that just doesn't want her. Abused physically and emotionally the story of her struggle to find a life of meaning is wonderfully shot and acted and accentuated by a thumpingly cool soundtrack. 3.5/5
The Robber - Tells the true story of Johannes Rettenberger, a marathon athlete who developed robbing banks as a hobby. Well shot and acted this is certainly a film that I liked but it'd not one I'd go out of my way to recommend. It has it's moments and the constrained acting of the main character, not to mention all the running he does, works quite well but there's nothing that really makes this film stand out. 2.5/5
Wild Target - bloody funny UK remake of a French comedy where a consummately professional hitman's life is turned upside down when he can't finish a job to kill a wild and beautiful woman, his life is even more complicated when a young man gets involved. Good acting, pretty good script, implausibly funny. 3/5
Rabbit a la Berlin & Nenette - two of the worst "docos" about animals (or even anything) I have ever seen. Neither have anything remotely good about them. 0.1/5 & 0.05/5
The Killer Inside Me - absolutely brutal film about a psychopath Sheriff's Deputy bashing several women to death and murdering some men as well. Still not sure if I liked this film or not, the scenes of abuse are really very full on. 2.5/5
The Strange Case of Angelica - left after 30 minutes, it was just dumb and going nowhere. 1/5
Taqwacore - pretty cool doco about the Islamic Punk movement in America, some interesting characters in a fairly well made doco shell, the scenes in Pakistan were particularly eye opening. 3/5
Brotherhood - well made, acted and scripted story of two Danish neo-Nazi guys falling in love with each other and how their feelings clash with their beliefs. Didn't end on a massive downer like I thought it would, I really quite liked this film, it had a lot to say and said it well and without being too "in your face" about it. 4/5
The Wedding Party - your rather standard Aussie ensemble rom com with plenty of drama added in. Good for a laugh but not all that memorable and an ending that leaves a lot of loose ends. 2.5/5
1981 - rather amusing tale of a French Canadian kid of Italian background who learns that his lying ways may be causing a lot more harm to his family and friends than he thinks. 3/5
Kosmos - I gave up halfway through, it was just going nowhere and making no sense at all. 1/5
World On A Wire - was falling asleep and so left after an hour into this German sci-fi TV classic. 0.5/5
Dancing Dreams - nice little doco about a bunch of school kids discovering the power of dance. 3/5
La Pivellina - pretty sure it had a rather fluid script but I quite liked this tale of an older circus couple who find an abandoned little girl and how she affects their lives. 3.5/5
Russian Lessons - harrowing doco detailing the hypocrisy and lies of the Russian invasion of Ossetia and how they manipulated the media in astounding ways. Contains some seriously disturbing footage. 4/5
Life During Wartime - yet another weird Todd Solondz film, not as good as Happiness but still has its moments. Was not expecting to see Allison Janney's tits. 3/5
Mammuth - bloody funny French film with Gerard Depardieu at his comedic best, has some bizarre moments, the car scene with Yolande Moreau was priceless, as was the mutual masturbation scene. From the directors of one of my faves from last year "Lousie-Michel" I highly recommend checking this - and Lousie-Michel - out. 3.5/5
I Love You Phillip Morris - bloody funny comedy with Jim Carrey at his over the top best as a gay conman and Ewan McGregor is pitch perfect in the titular role. I wonder how much of it is true, I really hope the final "con" is, bloody brilliant. 3.5/5
Lola - lovely little film where two Grandmothers bear the consequences of a crime involving their respective grandsons. Wonderful acting, a powerful and sad story, loved it. 3.5/5
Strange Birds in Paradise: A West Papuan Story - brilliant doco about the little known fight for independence in this, one of our closest neighbours. I honestly had no idea about any of this and I think this should be a doco shown in schools around Australia - basically they've been as screwed over by Indonesia as Timor Leste ever was, powerful stuff all with a musical undertone/base that works well to carry the narrative forward. 4.5/5
Lebanon - set in 1982 and the first Lebanon war, this technically masterful film is shot - apart from some bookending single shots - entirely inside and from the perspective of a tank that is ordered into Lebanon. You wouldn't think that it works but it does, and it works wonderfully. Great acting, a tight and taught story with some very good effect work, it's a claustrophobic and sometimes gut wrenching ride through the streets of Lebanon. 4/5
Gremlins - was great to see this classic in a cinema with a cheering and yelling appreciative audience. I forgot just how damn funny this movie is. 4.5/5
Catfish -not brilliantly made but fascinating all the same, this doco explores just how well you can know someone you meet across the internet. The end was actually, although expected, still quite sad and at times rather disturbing. 3.5/5
The Hunter - understated film about a man taking the law into his own hands when his wife and daughter are killed during a shootout between militants and police in Iran. Don't read the IMDB summary as it gives too much away for no reason. Not sure why but I really liked this film about a man pushed to the edge by circumstance and his own sense of powerlessness. 4/5
When You're Strange - brilliant doco detailing the history of The Doors with, of course, a real focus on Jim Morrison. Wonderfully narrated by Johnny Depp and, thankfully, featuring not a single modern interview, this is all about the archival footage from the time and telling their story as it happened, warts and all. 3.5/5
The Actresses - at MIFF, I'll see a film in the guide that sounds vaguely OK, maybe it won an award here or there or was even only nominated, apart from that I'll know nothing about it and only pick it 'cause there was nothing else on at the time that was more interesting. That's what happened with last year's "Still Walking", a Japanese film of the day in the life of a family, where it sounds kinda dull but turns out to be my favourite film of the festival (and quite possibly of all time). This year I had to wait until the second last day of the festival to get my "Quintessential MIFF" moment.
The Actresses doesn't sound like much, here's the MIFF write-up:
There are three kinds of people in the world – men, women and actresses.
Six ravishingly beautiful Korean movie stars make light of their professional personae in this witty, tongue-in-cheek mockumentary.
Coming together for a Vogue Magazine photo shoot, each actress – Youn Yuh-jung (Hahaha, also showing in this year’s program), Lee Mi-sook (An Affair), Choi Ji-woo (Now and Forever), Ko Hyun-jung (Woman on the Beach), Kim Min-hee (Hellcats) and Kim Ok-vin (Thirst) – must try sharing a spotlight ordinarily reserved for themselves alone.
Despite being fully scripted, The Actresses exudes an ad-libbed aesthetic; director E J-yong (Untold Scandal) filmed many of the scenes using six hidden HD cameras simultaneously, and instructing his leading ladies to act as if they were in a theatre play.
For some reason it instantly clicked with me and I was in total heaven from start to finish. One small scene maybe went a little longer than it really had to, but it actually didn't matter at all. Loved it, loved it, loved it. Two friends who were in the same session both didn't like it at all but I guess that's the great thing about film, it is just so bloody subjective. 5/5
Dream Home - a woman goes psycho and murders a bunch of people as she is obsessed with buying her dream apartment. Has some great little twists and turns in the plot, especially revelations about why she's doing what she's doing, and has some very funny gore moments. 3/5
Monsters - I applaud the fact this really nice looking film was made on a shoestring budget, but when the title of the film is "Monsters" and write-ups and trailers give you the impressions you're gonna get some giant aliens stomping all over Mexico wreaking havoc and instead you get a 97 minute film where 91 minutes do not feature the titular "Monsters" then I'm sorry, but you just plain suck. 1.5/5
Teenage Paparazzo - interesting but far too self-indulgent doco by Adrian Grenier, exploring the life of celebrity through the lens of a young boy obsessed with getting the next shot. Was actually quite disturbing. 2/5
Scott Pilgrim Vs The World - coolest geek film ever, definitely not for everyone but it was a laugh a minute for me, with young Culkin almost stealing the movie from the main stars. Features a great cameo from Thomas Jane as a member of the Vegan Police. 5/5
END OF MIFF 2010
Lucky Number Slevin (aka The Wrong Man) - a pretty stellar cast helps this whodunnit action thriller gangster type film but doesn't save it completely. The story was nice and convoluted, the acting all quite good, but the "twist" was obvious from the start (though I did think Lucy Liu's character had more to her than was shown, so I was wrong there) and making it obvious from the start kinda dulled the film a bit. Still, it was a fun romp. 3/5
The Wolfman - dumb boring gory idiocy. 1/5
Collapse - he's a total nut-job, but damn what the man has to say about the collapse of oil-based Western society is really starting to hit home. See this in conjunction with The Oil Crash and you'll feel like running for the hills. 4/5
Paradise Lost - The Child Murders At Robin Hood Hills - a very poorly made doco but oh so damn scary, not just because three apparently innocent boys are accused of the murders of 3 definitely innocent young children, but most because of the absolute conviction and scarily uneducated and rampant fundamentalist Christan beliefs that could exist in modern America, yeah even in the bible belt - I had no idea that people could just be so... I dunno, scarily swayed by their beliefs even if I do see it on the news every day. 3/5 *Warning, you see the murdered boys' bodies at the beginning of the movie, definitely not for the faint of heart
Inception - yeah ok, it was well made, well acted (for the most part) and I love the score. I just think the story was too linear and had plot holes and gaps where they didn't need to be. Supporters can say "well that's 'cause it was a dream and there are leaps in logic in dreams" but I don't care, I think it was lazy script writing. 2.5/5
Dear Zachary - A Letter To A Son About His Father - has some very annoying ways of going about telling this true tale of murder but damn, this has got to be one of the saddest stories I have ever heard. Don't read anything about it, just watch it. The only premise I would give you is that a young man is murdered and he has such loving family and friends they make this film to show his son just how wonderful a person he is. 3.5/5
Salt - good, dumb fun. Was easy to see who that bad guy was but that didn't matter. 3/5
Piranha 3D - awesome gory fun, see it drunk and it's even funnier. 3.5/5