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September 02, 2015, 01:27:42 AM
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Author Topic: Melbourne International Film Festival [Reviews of what I saw] 2015  (Read 192 times)
dean
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« on: August 04, 2015, 09:33:44 PM »

Victoria [2015]:

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Summary taken from the MIFF Website;

"A dazzling stylistic experiment … a kinetic, frenetic sense-swamping roller coaster ride." – Hollywood Reporter

When Victoria enters a Berlin nightclub, she's just looking to dance and let off steam. Soon, the Spanish waitress is flirting with the friendly Sonne, tagging along with his gang of unlikely bank robbers and getting enlisted as their getaway driver. Even given her fondness for frequent partying, this is no ordinary evening.


OK So this was a good one to start with. A one-shot, 140 minute real time drama with escalating stakes. As above, Victoria is a girl who seems to just want to find people to connect with. A recent immigrant who has been in town for a couple of months, she goes to a club and on leaving ends up hanging with four locals who are celebrating their friends birthday with drinks, but no real money so they're out on the streets.

The four are charismatic and Victoria ends up hanging with them whilst they wander around showing her 'the true Berlin' which ends up with escalating issues as the early morning wanderings turn into something more sinister which Victoria gets caught up in.

Other than the general technical achievement of a one shot 2 hour movie [man that camera person must have arms of steel] this was also a feat in character development as there were only 12 pages of script [short] and the improvised dialogue was not only funny but endearing as well. The four friends are clearly long term friends and their charm spreads to the equally charismatic Victoria who goes along with alot of their shenanigans whilst also verbally sparring back with them. The first part of the movie was just a great sequence of chats as they are convincing Victoria to stay out whilst also seeming pretty 'high on life'. But as per normal things take a turn and they are roped into doing some criminal business and things get more out of control from there.

I think whilst some of the plot points are somewhat implausible this one sold me on the great characters: The four guys have a great camaraderie and Victoria slots perfectly in with their attitudes. It's like she's always been a member of their crew. They also seem like genuinely nice guys [with some questionable morals] who get caught up in a pretty unlikely scenario.

An awesome feat of cinematography in the first instance. Well constructed characters on a paper thin script second. Overall I enjoyed it and it felt alot shorter than its over 2 hour running time. That being said some of the scenario is a bit unrealistic, which is particularly noticeable given how well they did the first half [it really felt like you were partying on the streets of Berlin].

3.5/5

 
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dean
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« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2015, 08:59:48 AM »

Goodnight Mommy

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This one has been doing the rounds on social media/news lately for 'the scariest trailer ever' which is a great feat of marketing.

"A cerebral nerve-strainer that builds from slow burn to unfathomable brutality, Goodnight Mommy starts with twin boys in an isolated house in the country waiting for their mother's return. When she finally comes back, her head wrapped in bandages after plastic surgery, nothing is as it was before. Stern and distant, she shuts the family off from the outside world, which starts the boys thinking this woman is not their mother after all."


So my summary: lower your expectations. This is a well shot film with a decent story but it projects its intentions right from the beginning and kind of plays out like they didn't realise you have a brain. Where it goes is nicely done enough, but other than being shot well the tension is built up through inattention to the audience: it just could have used more scares/creepy moments in the middle third.

After watching the trailer it is also a great feat in movie trailer editing since the movie actually leans much more on the psychological thriller front than in any way near the horror front.

So I give it a generous 3/5 though really should give it a 2.5/5, possibly a 2. [The cinematography was pretty nice so I'm willing to bump it up a bit due to that and a nice enough ending.
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dean
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« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2015, 09:05:59 AM »

The Invitation:

[no trailer for this one as far as I could find.]

"Will and Kira are on their way to the house of Will's ex, Eden, for a dinner party. It's the first time they've seen each other since the death of their young son tore their relationship apart. Will is on edge from the get-go, convinced that Eden and her strangely smiling friends are up to something sinister, but the line between paranoia and grief is a narrow one, and dangerous for those who walk it."


A well built up tense movie which is a good 'lock people in a room and let them talk about stuff' independent thriller? The end left me a bit wanting, but it weaves it's build up really well. It helped that I saw this at 11:30pm and just had a coffee so was pretty jumpy [the sound design guys did a great job]

The film makes you wonder whether or not Will, the ex husband is crazy and delusional or whether or not his ex wife and her new husband are up to something sinister. It actually had me wondering right up until near the end so kudos to this one.

I'd give this a 3/5. Some of the acting and dialogue could have had some polish and the ending was a bit on the meh side but the rest was pretty great.
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dean
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« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2015, 09:13:21 AM »

Turbo Kid:

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"The world's first BMX post-apocalyptic, coming-of-age splatter actioner (with a dash of romance), Turbo Kid takes us to the ‘future' of 1997. Here, The Kid (Degrassi: The Next Generation star Munro Chambers) wanders the Wasteland in search of comic books and 80s paraphernalia, which he trades for fresh water."

Ok so here was a pretty fun one.

I wonder in the future, people will make films about 2015 which is going to just be movies referencing the 80s...

In any case, low budget cult film! Allegedly used over 340 litres of fake blood! So yeah, it gets crazy violent in a lot of places, but in that nicely cartoon blood spray every where kind of way. One thing that sets this one apart from some of the other nod nod wink wink 80s referencing movies is that it actually has character and charm rather than throwing references at you left right and centre. The girl who plays Apple, the overly enthusiastic love interest totally captures the screen every time she's on it and I'd say her and Michael Ironside's hammy villain are definitely standouts.

3.5/5.
A solid 4 if you aren't sick to death yet of 80s/90s gaming aesthetic films.



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dean
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« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2015, 09:17:54 AM »

Two Shots Fired:

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"New Argentine pioneer Martín Rejtman returns with a frequently droll feature that mines absurdist humour from random incident.

Teenage Mariano survives an impulse suicide attempt, only to discover the bullet in his chest sets off metal detectors – and complicates his ability to play medieval flute. Meanwhile, his brother is romancing a local weirdo, mum is on a bizarre seaside trip with the music teacher, and everyone seems more concerned about the missing family dog."


I don't know: is it possible to make a ridiculous, absurd, neo-realist film? This one made me think of real life alot as the characters all seemed quite real, despite nobody really smiling and everyone doing odd behaviour and a lot of absurd things happen. In any case it's a plot largely about nothing. Kind of doesn't go anywhere but it has a strangely compelling tone and some interesting characters. The best way I could describe it is that this is a film I would probably make if I was an Alien and wanted to describe what real life in Suburban Argentina is like...

Ultimately though I think I was just happy when it ended.

2.5/5
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dean
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« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2015, 09:23:28 AM »

Body:

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"A darkly comic rumination on what it means to be alive … an almost cubist fruitcake comedy." – Variety

"A widowed coroner is so desensitised to death that he's barely able to tell who's alive and who's dead these days. His dangerously bulimic daughter isn't even trying to hide her illness anymore. And her physical therapist is grappling with the newly discovered and unwelcome knowledge that she can communicate with the dead."


Note: the trailer does not help at all in trying to figure out what this movie was about. A recently widowed man is having issue with his daughter and strange things seem to keep happening. Is it his dead wife trying to communicate or are his problems his drinking or general depression about losing his wife? I don't think this was a bad movie but it didn't really captivate me. The characters are good, nicely fleshed out but overall its more of a drama than anything else with some slight absurdist undertones.

2/5



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dean
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« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2015, 09:26:57 AM »

Sherpa:

"In April 2014, 16 Sherpas died in an avalanche while escorting a group of mountaineers up Everest. It was merely the latest in a series of escalating incidents – from financial disputes to brawls at 7000m and out-and-out assaults – that have cast a light on the sometimes uneasy alliance between the wealthy foreigners who choose to climb Everest and the Sherpas who are the only way they'll ever get there."

Documentary that follows some of the more political aspects of the Mountaineer industry at Everest. Fascinating documentary that came out just before Nepal was hit by the tragic Earthquake earlier this year. It seems so bonkers that people would try and climb up Everest the route that they do...

3.5/5.
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dean
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« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2015, 09:34:21 AM »

The Duke of Burgundy:

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"Peter Strickland's wryly subversive S&M fantasy is everything that Fifty Shades of Grey isn't … a wondrously bizarre affair, beautiful and baffling by turns." – The Independent

Originating as a tribute to 1970s Spanish sexploitation filmmaker Jesús Franco, the third film from wonderfully unique British director Peter Strickland (Berberian Sound Studio, MIFF 2012; Katalin Varga, MIFF 2009) ends up somewhere else entirely: an ethereal, fairytale world of women only, butterflies and human toilets!"


This has been my standout film so far. Produced by Ben Wheatley of  'A field in England, Kill List and Sightseers' fame and directed by Peter Strickland [Berberien Sound Studio, which was one of my favorites last year] this was a great film.

I never thought a film about S&M Lesbians in some weird 50s world with no men would feel so real to me.  Twirling

The characters are great. Its kind of like if Wes Anderson wanted to make an erotic, at times surreal, exploration on what it means to love somebody, and to try and cater to their tastes despite not really being as into it yourself. But really its a fantastic exploration about the relationship between two people and for that it explored BDSM dynamic in a really fantastic way. No crazy people who just want to hurt/be hurt or any of that stupid Fifty shades nonsense; just wonderful characters, lush cinematography and some bizarre psychedelic sequences. 

5/5
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dean
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« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2015, 12:52:08 AM »

Last couple of films...

Yakuza Apocalypse:

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"Kamiura, a hero-worshipped Yakuza boss, is seemingly un-killable. It turns out he's a vampire, and not immune to death if it's delivered via a corkscrew-style beheading. Before he dies, however, he bites his trusted underling Kageyama, who vows vengeance on his beloved boss' killer. From here, things get weird. Really weird!"

Takashi Miike makes probably about 100 films a year. Not all are winners but all are weird as hell and this one is no exception. Not his best and with a minimal plot. Things happen and I'm not sure why, but you run with it anyways...

Basic plot is there is a gang of Yakuza, they're not allowed to beat up civilians, and their boss is a vampire [they don't know this]

He is loved by all and eventually killed by a weird team of people who's origins are unknown. It's like they're a team of super powered people, including an odd martial arts Otaku [nerd], a Renaissance vampire hunter, a weird duck troll thing and a guy in a giant frog costume who is also a frog. Don't worry, it doesn't need to make sense.

The gang leader is killed and upon dying bites his protege, who becomes a vampire too. Basic rules of vampires apply here except sunlight  is ok and civilian blood is delicious [Yakuza blood is disgusting] and you become a specifically Yakuza vampire, which means you want to break the rules, gamble and drink and generally be a lout criminal, whilst still being a vampire...

The protege can't seem to stop eating people, and amasses an army of yakuza vampires and wants revenge for his boss's demise. That's basically about it.

3/5. I enjoyed it because it's crazy so bumped it up a point, but really a little plot or exposition wouldn't have hurt at all.
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« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2015, 03:37:27 PM »

Turbo Kid:

! No longer available

"The world's first BMX post-apocalyptic, coming-of-age splatter actioner (with a dash of romance), Turbo Kid takes us to the ‘future' of 1997. Here, The Kid (Degrassi: The Next Generation star Munro Chambers) wanders the Wasteland in search of comic books and 80s paraphernalia, which he trades for fresh water."

Ok so here was a pretty fun one.

I wonder in the future, people will make films about 2015 which is going to just be movies referencing the 80s...

In any case, low budget cult film! Allegedly used over 340 litres of fake blood! So yeah, it gets crazy violent in a lot of places, but in that nicely cartoon blood spray every where kind of way. One thing that sets this one apart from some of the other nod nod wink wink 80s referencing movies is that it actually has character and charm rather than throwing references at you left right and centre. The girl who plays Apple, the overly enthusiastic love interest totally captures the screen every time she's on it and I'd say her and Michael Ironside's hammy villain are definitely standouts.

3.5/5.
A solid 4 if you aren't sick to death yet of 80s/90s gaming aesthetic films.






This one is getting a limited release here in the U.S., but most of us will have to wait for Netflix/DVD. Rotten Tomatoes puts it at 93% positive, not bad!
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"The basic plot is that Donna Speir and Hope Marie Carlton, the two undercover DEA agent Playboy Playmates from the last movie, are still running around in jungle shorts, cowboy boots and spaghetti strap T-shirts, firing their machine guns at drug smugglers, Filipino communist guerrillas, and corrupt federal agents while their two friends, Lisa London and Miss May 1984 Patty Duffek, lounge around the pool a lot and talk on speaker phones that look like fax machines."-Joe Bob on SAVAGE BEACH
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