Wednesday, 2 December 2020

December 3rd

Babyteeth
Mystery of DB Cooper
A Christmas Gift from Bob
Trouble with Being Born
Lassie Come Home
Japanese Film Festival - Dec 4-13


Cinema going seems to be getting back in full swing, and there are more films out there than I can keep up with. So today we have four new releases, one that has been out a while and just cleaned up at the AACTA awards, and another FREE online festival. 

Babyteeth
Dir: Shannon Murphy 
Length: 118 mins
Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=M6E8gPmz7n4

© Universal - sensitive, authentic story-telling
Milla (Eliza Scanlen) is seriously ill and undergoing chemotherapy. When she brings drug addict Moses (Toby Wallace) home to meet her parents, they are horrified. Psychiatrist father Henry (Ben Mendelsohn) and neurotic mother Anna (Essie Davis) gradually soften, as they see the positive effect Moses has on Milla. This beautifully crafted, bittersweet coming of age film is a tragi-comedy with a difference. It has just swept the pool at the AACTA awards and I can see why. What could be a familiar story of a sick teen and first love has been scripted with originality and a totally credible sensibility. Every performance is spot on. Davis and Mendelsohn haven't been this good in years, and the performances of the two teens are a revelation.
4.5 - wholeheartedly recommended

The Mystery of D.B. Cooper
Dir: John Dower
Length: 85 mins
Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZD1wCfQoLQI

© Vendetta - America's only unsolved hijacking
In 1971 a passenger plane was hijacked after leaving Portland airport. The mysterious man demanded money and a parachute, and actually leapt from the plane at 10,000 feet, never to be seen again. In this intriguing doco, several people are interviewed, all claiming emphatically that they know who the perpetrator was (their uncle, husband, even a trans-gender woman), but to this day nothing has ever been proven. Using interviews, reenactments, and archival footage, this case, almost now the stuff of mythology, is carefully examined, leaving the audience entertained, puzzled, but none the wiser.
3.5 - well recommended

A Christmas Gift from Bob
Dir: Charles Martin Smith
Length: 92 mins
Trailer: https://vimeo.com/470448694

© Rialto - schmaltzy, but sweet and true
After the success of A Street Cat Named Bob comes this follow-up, based on the true story of busker James Bowen (Luke Treadaway). Living in supported housing and on a methadone program, James rescued a stray cat Bob (played by his furry self) and both became street celebrities. In this sequel, James' life is turned upside down when animal welfare threaten to remove Bob from his care. Despite a level of sentimentality, this is apt Christmas fare, teaching the lessons of compassion and kindness, and shedding a light upon the truly challenging conditions in which homeless and/or underemployed people must live. Cat lovers will adore Bob, and I challenge even the hardest hearts not to be touched by this sweet, if at times overly schmaltzy, story.
3 - recommended

The Trouble with Being Born
Dir: Sandra Wollner
Length: 94 mins
Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykWO1FhqTfo&t=45s

© Potential - challenging and thought-provoking
Elli (Lena Watson) is an android girl built by a father (Dominik Warta) possibly as a replica of his daughter, long missing. Together they reminisce on happy days in the past, and of "mama". One day Elli goes wandering and is picked up by a new owner who has the android reprogrammed to resemble someone missing in her life, this time a male. This controversial Austrian film caused a major stir and was dropped by the Melbourne International Film Festival due to overtones of pedophilia in the relationship between Elli and her "papa". The decision enraged many notable film critics, as festivals are assumed to carry no censorship requirements. Leaving possible moral debates aside, this is an impressive and challenging film, raising many issues of identity and gender, and the most disturbing one of humans using AI and creating near human replicas 
for their own questionable purposes.
3.5 - well recommended

Lassie Come Home
Dir: Hanno Olderdissen
Length: 96 mins
Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jReKCnVyTBM

© Moving Story Entertainment - don't try to part
a boy from his beloved dog!
Who doesn't love a dog story, especially when it's a modern remake of something as perennial as Lassie. This German film (dubbed for Australian audiences) is more sentimental and formulaic than the German remake of Heidi, but the requisite elements are there - determined kids, a loving grandpa, a travelling circus, and of course, a super-smart dog. Famed German actor Matthias Habich shines as Count von Sprengel, whose glassblowing factory is going under, and Bella Bading as his granddaughter Priscilla is a standout. The sentiment is a bit thick when it comes to the way young Florian relates to his beloved pet, but again, like our feline friend Bob, it manages to tug the heartstrings.
3 - recommended

Japanese Film Festival 4-13 Dec
https://japanesefilmfestival.net/
The 2020 Festival, presented by The Japan Foundation Sydney, will screen over 25 films including features, documentaries, as well as stop motion and animated shorts for audiences across Australia and New Zealand to enjoy onlineEach film will be available to stream for free for 24 hours. 
Check out the full streaming schedule at: 

Tsukiji Wonderland: a fish fanatic's fantasy, this terrific doco looks at the world's largest seafood market, its workings, its people, the traditions and the absolute dedication to the product they handle. Although a long film, it has a compelling fascination, and is such an insight into the way Japanese relate to seafood in their lives. Wonderful sequences featuring the meticulous preparation of various delectable dishes will have you salivating. 

One Night: A strong and at times disturbing family drama tells of a fateful night 15 years prior, when a family was shattered by the actions of their mother, who returns all these years later. Very modern in its style, well acted and tense. 

The "Norman" animations:
Takeshi Yashiro is an award-winning stop motion animator. Here's a great opportunity to take time with the kids and watch three of his films featuring Norman the Snowman. Sweet, beautiful, and very innovatively animated. 

What's not to love about this festival?!



Wednesday, 25 November 2020

 November 26th 

American Utopia
CHIFF: Childrens' International Film Festival - Nov 27-Dec 13
Italian FF finally in Melbourne - 25 Nov - 9 Dec


Luckily I got to view some excellent cinema before I immersed into the world of jury duties, being one of three international jurors judging the 33rd Panorama of European Cinema, being hosted (online) in Athens. A shame you can't watch it from Oz, a bigger shame I'm not over in Greece as I would have been in a non-Covid world. Regardless, there's great cinema happening here in Melbourne. 

American Utopia
Dir: Spike Lee
Length: 105 mins
Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lg4hcgtjDPc

© Universal  - stunning and transcendent
American band Talking Heads was around from 1975 until 1991. Lead singer David Byrne went on to recently write the Broadway hit musical American Utopia, featuring songs from the band and from his solo career. Now this fabulously popular musical is brought to the big screen under the guiding hand of eminent director Spike Lee, who makes a concert into something more amazing than you could ever imagine. How can I describe the feeling of uplift and  joyousness that this transcendent film brings? The film opens on an almost bare stage, which gradually fills with musicians. Byrne explains that it's all about the music, so no fancy sets or special effects - the musos are even all bare-footed. The overall effect is simply mesmerising. Extraordinary choreography enhances and complements every song. Percussion is a strong feature, vocal harmonies are superb, and this is an experience no music lover will want to miss (or anyone, for that matter). 
5 - unmissable

CHIFF: Childrens' International Film Festival
Nov 27 - Dec 13
Classic Cinemas, Elsternwick; Lido Cinemas, Hawthorn; Cameo Cinemas, Belgrave and Ritz Cinemas; Randwick Sydney
www.chiff.com.au

Words from the publicist: Now in its third year, CHIFF celebrates filmmaking from around the world for kids, families and the young at heart.  With a fabulous fun program featuring 20 of the best and latest films for children from the past year – all Australian premieres – this year CHIFF invites audiences to see familiar favourites on the big screen and discover bold new re-imaginings of classic characters, and also to ponder the world and our place in it, especially our relationship to nature and our fellow inhabitants, be they human, animal or mythical. 

. . . and now from me: I've been lucky to preview a few, and I mean fortunate, as these films are beautifully pitched to please both adults and youngsters. And after the many, many very serious films I've been indulging in this year, it's a great delight to wallow in something a little lighter, but with hidden depths. Those I review here are for slightly older kids, maybe 8 years and up, and with the ability to read sub-titles, all being European offerings. But for the littlies there are also plenty of terrific films like Moominvalley, Coconut the Little Dragon, Raggie and many more. The festival opens with a new version of the evergreen fave, Lassie Come Home, which I will review when it gets a mainstream release in a week or so.  

Fritzi: A Revolutionary Tale: This delightful animation tells a serious story of Fritzi, a young girl living in East Germany in 1989. Minding her friend's dog, she soon discovers the "holidaying" family has done a runner across the Berlin Wall to the West. Gradually Fritzi discovers her child's life in repressive communist Germany is worse than she thought, and she is drawn into being a part of history in the making. This is a smart and engaging way to get youngsters to understand a really seminal part of European history. Characters are highly engaging (and the dog is soooo cute!)

The Prince's Voyage: The Monkey Prince, proud and elegant, washes up in an unfamiliar land where only young Tom is able to understand him. Tom's parents are scientists, outcast for their beliefs that other monkey civilisations exist. Very much a parable, this is an exquisitely painted animation that carries great messages about tolerance and open-mindedness. The painterly style really reminds me of the Japanese Studio Ghibli work, of which I'm a huge fan.   

Phantom Owl Forest: 10-year-old Eia is sent for the holidays to a remote farm in Estonia, to be cared for by an old man, the identity of whom she only discovers as the tale progresses. He lives in a forest that is threatened by loggers, and together with new friends she takes up the environmental cause, and along the way discovers a large number of family secrets. This is a  delightfully warm-hearted story telling with a strong message.

Too Far Away: Ben's village is taken over by miners and he must move to a new home and school. A keen soccer player, Ben is both relegated in the team, and bullied, but when he befriends Tariq, a Syrian refugee, things look up. This film has many important social messages, not only to do with refugees, but also the power of friendship to heal and overcome prejudice. 

and finally it's here in Melbourne . . .
ST. ALi Italian Film Festival
The 21st ST. ALi Italian Film Festival presented by Palace will screen in Melbourne from 25 November until 9 December at the following locations: Palace Cinema Como, Palace Westgarth, Palace Balwyn, Palace Brighton Bay and Kino Cinemas.
For all the info and program details go to www.italianfilmfestival.com.au

Centrepiece film is  The Traitor, which scooped the pool at Italy's Donatello awards. It is the story of a Sicilian Mafia boss and features the marvellous Pierfrancesco Favino. For those disappointed the new live-action version of the classic Pinocchio starring Roberto Benigni won't be part of the festival, it is currently having a theatrical release in cinemas (and according to my fellow reviewer Melinda O'Connor, it's a winner!)
In case you missed this review a couple of months ago:

The Goddess of Fortune
© Italian FF - love, kids,
friendships - all in
turmoil 
A top pick and my strong recommendation for the festival is this wonderful award-winning film from director Ferzan Ozpetek (I adored his 2003 film Facing Windows). Boasting a stellar cast of Italy's top actors, it is the story of long-term partners Arturo (Stefano Accorsi) and Alessandro (Eduardo Leo), whose lives are disrupted when old friend Annamaria (Jasmine Trinca) reappears in their lives. Jealousies, disruptions, parental longings, and family secrets abound in this warm, witty delightful film that features terrific perfs from all, including the kids. 
4 - highly recommended







Wednesday, 18 November 2020

 November 19th 

The Burnt Orange Heresy
Fatman
MQFF Interrupted
IMAX reopens - review of Great Bear Rainforest

It's a huge time for film in Melbourne, with cinemas screening so many new films and those whose season was interrupted or never got off the ground. The choice is enormous. Catching up on them all is near to impossible. Not to mention a couple more film festivals coming online in the next few weeks: the Children's International Film Festival and the Japanese Film Festival. Stay tuned. 


The Burnt Orange Heresy
Dir: Giuseppe Capotondi
Length: 99 mins
Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PMAlfrdQNI
Showing at various Melbourne locations - Google it!

© Sony - terrific cast in this taut thriller set
in the art world (shady part thereof)

Art dealer James Figueras (Claes Bang) visits the home of wealthy collector Joseph Cassidy (Mick Jagger) in Lake Como. His assignment is to acquire (think steal) a painting from reclusive artist Jerome Debney 
(Donald Sutherland). Taking his recent new squeeze Berenice (Elizabeth Debicki), James embarks upon a major deception. With a wonderful cast and terrific settings this is an entertaining thriller, which also has a bit to say about the less than legal side of the art world. Fans of Mick Jagger should relish his weird performance.  
3.5 - well recommended

Fatman
Dir: Eshon Nelms, Ian Nelms
Length: 100 mins
Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z64XvPERZ50

© Icon - gun-toting Santa - what do you
expect from Mel?
A nasty spoiled brat Billy (Chance Hurstfield) is so disgruntled with his Christmas present he hires a hitman (Walter Goggins) to kill Santa (Mel Gibson). That's the plot in a nutshell, with a few extra twists added in: Santa is known only to locals in his North Pole town as Chris (think Kringle) and his wife is a gentle-natured, cookie-baking person of color (Marianne Jean Baptiste). As the hitman wends his way north, the US army co-opts Chris and his hardworking elves to do some (unspecified) secret job, with a lucrative contract promised. It's all rather nonsensical, but those who need a hit of Gibson as a gun toting, surly, unjovial man without a red suit, and not especially fat, may get something out of this.   
2.5 - maybe

MQFF Interrupted 
November 19th-30th online (mostly)

17 feature films, 6 short film packages and a special event at the Coburg drive-in. All that and more is on offer as the Melbourne Queer Film Festival returns online, after it was rudely curtailed back in March. Check out the website for packages, films, and the entire program. The great thing this year is, you don't have to be in Melbourne to enjoy this fabulous festival, with the absolute best of queer film. 

IMAX reopens 
https://imaxmelbourne.com.au/
It's back - the world's largest and most immersive screen experience. IMAX is showing Oceans 3D: Blue Planet and Great Bear Rainforest. Coming very soon - Christopher Nolan's new film Tenet. 

Great Bear Rainforest
Dir: Ian Mcalister
Length: 41 mins

©  IMAX - don't try this at home! Getting up
close and personal with a white spirit bear
The Great Bear Rainforest on Canada's Pacific coast is one of the wildest places on earth, and the last intact temperate rain forest. Grizzlies, wolves and otters are there in abundance, as well as a bear sacred to the indigenous people of the area - known as the spirit bear (a sub-species of the American Black Bear). Local native Americans, appearing on film for the first time ever, protect the animals. As with most IMAX films this is all too short - I want to see much more of this inspiring area and its fascinating inhabitants, human and animal, but it's over almost as soon as it starts. Still, it's a great treat for nature lovers, especially bear buffs, though we don't see as much of the furry fellows as I'd have wished for.
3 - recommended

Thursday, 12 November 2020

 November 13th

Ip Man: Kung Fu Master
British FF is here!
Melbourne cinemas reopen - a refresh on a few beauties hitting our big screens

It's a week of much rejoicing for lovers of film. Movie houses reopen (albeit with strictly limited capacity), but all you need to do is go online and you'll see how many zillions of films can now be caught up with on the big screen. I've refreshed your mind with a few I've already reviewed during lockdown and it remains to be seen how many I can now catch up with!

Ip Man: Kung Fu Master
Dir: Liming Li
Length: 84 mins
Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f40JahDi1Uc
Showing at Lido Hawthorn in Melbourne (and everywhere else around the country!)

© Rialto - martial arts fans should get a buzz 
from the final of the franchise
When a popular franchise ends it's always a sad time for fans. The first Ip Man film of four debuted in 2008. Yu-Hang To has played the eponymous character (based on a real person) in most of them. This finale (which is actually a prequel) heads back to Ip's early days before he famously became Bruce Lee's martial arts teacher and was a policeman before the Japanese invaded China. The plot is perhaps secondary to the impressive look of the film, with its tight editing and frankly, quite stunning, cinematography. Fans of the genre won't be disappointed by the set fight pieces, with all the requisite moves (albeit totally unbelievable) and frenetic excitement. And there's even a touching subplot involving Ip's wife and baby son. I enjoyed it far more than I'd expected to.  

British Film Festival
10th-29th November

Presented by Palace, the festival opens with a reimagining of the delightful Noel Coward film Blythe Spirit with the always fabulous Judi Dench. The festival will feature 22 films, many with a female emphasis both in front of and behind the camera. This year's restored classics include The Elephant Man, Flash Gordon and The Ladykillers. 
I caught up with a cool doco for music fans, Rockfield: The Studio on the Farm, about a Welsh recording studio playing host to live-in legendary British bands. But more impressive is . . . 

The Racer
: Tour de France fans will love this film, a fiction based upon the famous race, and an actual doping scandal that happened in 1998 when the first leg of the Tour was relocated to Ireland. The film captures all the thrills, spills and excitement of the race, as well as the absolutely driven commitment the cyclists have to win at any cost, legal or otherwise. Well acted, wonderfully shot with some heart-stopping tension, again I was surprised to be so engaged, given I have zero interest in cycle racing.   
For all the films, times and sessions in your state, (all at reduced capacity seating) check out the website. 

Cinema Nova reopens - check these out!

What a joyous time for cinephiles. Nova is reopening, with strict Covid measures in place, and an absolute cornucopia of films to delight. Obviously, go to their website for the full run down and session times, but let me remind you of a few I've reviewed previously, and which I highly recommend  (especially if you gave up on reading about films during lockdown.)
Swallows of Kabul: Exquisite animation on two couples' lives under the Taliban
Le Miserables: Awards-winning tense tale of relationships between multi-racial groups and the police in Paris
La Belle Epoque: Whimsical comedy about a man who gets the chance to recreate a special era from his past. 
House of Cardin: Fascinating look at the life of fashion icon Pierre Cardin
Adam: Gentle story of female empowerment and friendship between a bakery owner and a homeless pregnant woman, set in Casablanca.

Melbourne cinemas reopen
...and of course all your other fave Melbourne movie palaces are also now open. My best suggestion is to check on their individual websites to discover what's showing, at what times.

Wednesday, 4 November 2020

 November 4th

Koko: A Red Dog Story
Alone
The Bay of Silence

This week's films are a varied collection. A heart-warming dog doco, a terrifying thriller, and a not-so-thrilling thriller. 

Koko: A Red Dog Story
Dir:  Aaron McCannDominic Pearce
Length: 78 mins
Available from Umbrella home entertainment 

© Umbrella -  never work with dogs or children,
unless the dog is Koko. 
Australia and the world loved the 2011 film Red Dog. This delightful follow up is part mockumentary, part real doco, with a sprinkle of animation thrown in. The doco traces the making of Red Dog, with particular focus upon its canine star, Koko. We see reenactments of how kelpie breeder Carol Hobday (Sarah Woods) came to lend her favorite dog Koko to the filmmakers. We follow the funny, touching story of what it was like to train Koko for his role, and how the dog inexplicably became attached to producer Nelson Woss, (Felix Williamson) who was finally given Koko by Carol. Red Dog director Kriv Stenders is entertainingly played by Toby Truslove, and we also hear from the actual people involved in the hit film as they reminisce upon the entire challenging, but magical experience. With some fun background upon kelpies as a breed, and a look at the world of dog showing, there is plenty to enjoy in this movie that will delight dog lovers and movie lovers of all ages. 

Alone
Dir: John Hyams
Length: 98 mins
Available to rent NOW via Foxtel and Fetch

© Rialto - alone on a country road at night . . . 
harmless fellow traveller or ...?
Jessica (Jules Wilcox) is grieving. Her husband has suicided and she is relocating her life to a remote area in the northwest of the country. En route, towing her life in a U-Haul van, she becomes aware of someone following her. What seems like a benign encounter with a nameless man (Marc Menchaca) at a service station, soon turns into something way more threatening, and Jessica will ultimately find herself running for her life. If you want a total diversion that will grip you from go to whoa, this could be it. Utilising evocative camera work to create threat and suspense, the director really knows how to keep an audience on the edge of their seat. Shots of towering forest canopies, dense woods, and headlights in the rear vision all help build the suspense. There is no heavy-handed horrific stuff; just a scenario that feels ultra real, and therefore all the more frightening. (Well, a few later scenes perhaps stretch credulity, but I'm cutting it some slack here.) Menchaca is perfect as Mr Unhinged, Wilcox plays fear mixed with resourcefulness, while a small cameo from Anthony Heald as a bloke in the wrong place at the wrong time, lends a much-needed pause for breath in what is a relentlessly nail-baiting story of the hunter and the hunted. 

The Bay of Silence
Dir: Paula van der Oest
Length: 93 mins
Available on DVD and various VOD platforms

© secrets from a woman's past are unearthed
after tragedy strikes
Will (Claes Bang of Netflix Dracula fame) gets the shock of his life when his wife Ros (Olga Kurylenko) seems to suddenly go mad, and runs away to France, taking her twin daughters and their baby son. Cue the delivery of a mysterious suitcase full of sleazy photos of Ros in her teen years, a dead baby, a false imprisonment for rape, and more other plot points than you can shake a stick at, and you have what could have been a tense psycho/sexual/drama thriller. Unfortunately it ends up more a muddled incomprehensible mess. Not even the brilliant Brian Cox (Succession) as Ros's creepy dad can lift the film. I love it when the critics go 50-50 on a film, and there are certainly a number on the Tomato-meter who praise it. To its credit the film looks terrific with impressive settings and cinematography. But for me the actors don't have the requisite emotion for the dramatic situations; perhaps the fatal flaw begins in the scripting. Disappointing, as it had potential. 


Wednesday, 28 October 2020

 October 29th

Korean Film Festival - FREE online
Indian Film Festival - more reviews - plus closing night
BREAKING NEWS; First Stage cinema re-openings at outdoor venues


It's all about online festivals again this week. A last chance to catch some fine docos from the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne, plus the closing night film from 6pm tomorrow. And to add to our enjoyment, we now have the Korean Film Festival, also free online, but with strict scheduling/viewing times, so check it out, and don't miss out. 

Korean Film Festival of Melbourne
29th- October - 5th November
Streaming FREE online

Not only have we had the joy of watching the Indian Film Festival FREE online, now the 11th Korean Film Festival arrives. With all the success of films such as Parasite, Burning and Shoplifters, you probably are already familiar with the high quality of Korean filmmaking, so organise yourself for the forthcoming week. One thing to note is that there is a schedule, with films only playing once. So read up  and prepare what you want to catch, make yourself a calendar, and start watching WITHIN 30 MINUTES OF FILM'S START.
As always I've been lucky to catch a few and highly recommend all that I've seen. 

Forbidden Dream
: This historical drama set in the 1400s, is the true story of a friendship between a Korean prince, and a humble servant. Both share a love of astronomy, and spend time inventing and building clever instruments to measure star patterns, time, and even to create a new alphabet. Because Korea was under the rule of the Chinese empire, most of these things were forbidden, but the broad-thinking prince wanted a better life for his people and so pursued his vision at great cost. The film is beautifully shot, and there is an unexpected depth of emotion to this fascinating story.

Bring Me Home:
This is the story of a mother's search for her missing son. After years, when she thinks all hope is lost, she hears of a boy matching the description working at a fishing village. The harrowing film has disturbing themes of child abuse, parental grief, and corrupt police, but it is wonderfully made, with top-shelf performances, especially from the actors playing the mother and the young boy. 

An Old Lady:
In the era of hyper awareness of abuse of elders and women, here's a double whammy, dealing with the rape of 69-year-old Hyo-Jeong by a much younger nursing aide. The cops refuse to believe such a thing could happen, and the nurse claims the sex was consensual. Only her friend Dong-In stands steadfastly by her side, demanding justice. Rejecting any sensationalism, the film quietly looks at issues of age-ism, and how to get a life back on track after experiencing such a horrific crime. Again wonderful performances in an important story. 
 
Indian Film Festival of Melbourne - more
On for another two nights
Streaming FREE online
https://www.iffm.com.au/films.php

Yes, I know I brought this festival to you last week, but you still have time to catch some of these fine documentaries that I've been bingeing on this week. PLUS, from 6pm to midnight, tomorrow 30th October you can stream the closing night film MOOTHON, India's entry for the 87th Academy Awards. (I'll be watching for sure - it sounds terrific!) It gives a 
complex, multi layered portrait of Mumbai through the eyes of a young boy who comes to the city to search for his missing elder brother.
Now a few more to catch if you can:
The Accused: Damned or Devoted: A look at the extremist religious right in Pakistan, and how their hatred leads them to persecute people under the Blasphemy Law. If ever there was a testament to the horrors of religious fanaticism, this is it.
Kingdom of Archers: Do you know anything of the mountain kingdom of Bhutan? I knew little, but after this fine doco, focusing upon the Bhutanese love of archery, I'm a bit more enlightened. Fascinating look at a way of life that is struggling to preserve itself.
Siang Voices: This intriguing doco also looks at preserving traditional lives, this time the indigenous Adi people of the far-eastern region of Assam. Under threat from nearby China wanting to build monstrous dams, plus the usual pressures of encroaching modernity, the people speak about their commitment to their traditions and language.
Dwelling in Travelling: Calcutta used to have a moderately sized community of Jews but now only 17 remain. The film carefully traces the past and people who lived there in their youth share nostalgic memories of what it was like to be a Jew in India. We also get to see the remaining synagogues and the Jewish school - now a Muslim girls school, where kids sing multi-faith songs, including traditional Hebrew ones. Who said there has to be constant enmity?

And now for an exciting announcement: 
This comes from a breaking email I've just received from the Cinema Pioneers:
The FIRST STAGE of reopening the Cinema Industry in Victoria - closed due to Covid-19 - happens tonight with the opening of OUTDOOR VENUES including Drive-Ins and Rooftop Cinemas.
For the hardtops throughout Victoria, the wait continues for several more weeks as Covid-19 numbers stabilise and the Government deems it safe for those venues to open.
Here in Victoria, there are only 3 Drive-In's left in operation with those being the Village 3 Drive-In in Coburg, The Lunar 4 Drive-In in Dandenong, and the Dromana 3 Drive-In in Dromana.
As well as these locations, there are also Rooftop Cinemas that are also allowed to open from tonight, including The Lido in Hawthorn, The Cameo in Belgrave and The Classic in Elsternwick.
It must be stated that each venue opening up from tonight has their own strict Covid Safe procedures in place for the health and safety of all customers as well as staff, and that these procedures must be followed at all times. 

Thursday, 22 October 2020

 October 23rd

Honest Thief
Indian Film Festival - https://www.iffm.com.au/films.php


Lovers of all things Indian, especially the films, have a huge treat in store in the forthcoming week. Here's my impressions of the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne, so far. Plus for fans of action man Liam Neeson, a new movie hits our screens. 

Indian Film Festival of Melbourne
23-30th October
Streaming FREE online
https://www.iffm.com.au/films.php

Huge news: this year, due to all the COVID dramas, fans of Indian cinema will be able watch a smorgasbord of fabulous Indian film, streaming online for free for one week. Thee are 60 films, in 17 languages, and including 34 international premieres. Apart from the two opening night films which must be watched from 6.30 tonight, Friday 23rd October, the rest are available for the following week, on demand. There are five program streams:
Hurrah Bollywood - best mainstream Hindi cinema
Beyond Bollywood - arthouse cinema in regional Indian languages
Films from the Subcontinent - Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal
Film India World - films that cross international boundaries 
Documentary - 8 new documentaries

Opening night:
Two important films will address issues of gender equality and disability.
©  IFFM 
Natkhat: To change the behaviour of men we need to bring boys up differently. This short film looks at little Sonu, known as "the brat", who bullies girls at school and models himself upon gangs of macho boys who will grow up to be the sort of loathesome men who brutalise women. Sonu is initially treated like an overindulged little prince. One of India's most famed actresses Vidya Balan plays the mother, who tells her naughty child allegorical tales, combined with demonstrating to him how violence has hurt her, to turn his behaviour around. 

©  IFFM 
Habaddi:
This sweet film also addresses the issue of bullying, a worldwide problem for many kids, especially those with a disability. It is loosely based upon the director's experience of his adopted brother, who, despite his severe stammering, had a great knack for  mending things. The film looks beautiful and is a window into the lives of poorer village people. Add in a sporting theme (Kabaddi is an Asian sport deriving from an ancient Indian sport), and a sweet childhood love theme, plus plenty of humour and pathos, and you have a worthy opening night watch.   

©  IFFM 
Ladakh Chale Rickshawala: 
A fascinating doco, this follows the journey of a rickshaw driver from Calcutta who pursues his dream of travelling north to Ladakh. Over 65 days and 3000 kms he pedals, pushes and toils with his rickshaw to realise his dream. A great insight into parts of Indian not often seen in films. 

©  IFFM 
Lorni the Flaneur: 
A strong recommendation from what I've been able to preview so far, this is set in far north-east India, an area with hugely diverse sub-cultures and ethnic minorities. Shem is a self-styled detective (flaneur means a saunterer who observes society) who is asked to investigate the theft of a culturally valuable object. He meets a mysterious young woman and life becomes complicated. This is a truly original film, generating a sense of detective noir, created by the film's visually impressive style along with atmosphere of the city of Shillong. An unusual and rewarding film to see. 

YouTube masterclasses
Since June this year,  IFFM has also been running some excellent master classes with leading film makers over Zoom. YouTube recordings of these classes are available under the tab IFFM film clubs. For true aficionados of Indian film, and filmmaking in general, this is a major bonus to be enjoyed. 

Honest Thief
Dir: Mark Williams
Length: 99  mins
In conemas now (excluding Vic) 
Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jG1X67vnYM0

© Rialto  -  the by-now-famous
Neeson action stance
Known as "the in and out thief", notorious (but never violent) bank robber Tom (Liam Neeson) meets Annie (Kate Walsh), the gal of his dreams. He decides to clear the slate, confess to the cops, hand back the money, serve a short jail term and start afresh. But the cops don't really believe his confession and send two of their stooges to investigate. They are corrupt, do a lot of bad things, and inflame in Tom a need for retribution. If you leave aside that the plot is somewhat unbelievable, an
d if you are a serious Neeson fan, then this should totally satisfy your craving for one of his typical action films, tinged with a healthy dose of romanticism. Neeson always does what he does well, but I'd love to see him show his acting chops in another Schindler-esque film rather than always take the pay cheque for the quick and easy action flick.