Wednesday, 14 March 2018

March 15
Human Flow
That's Not My Dog! (Limited season Mar 15-18)
Melbourne Queer Film Festival (15-26 March)
The Mercy

Wow - what a week of watching! New releases come thick and fast, I've caught up with one of last week's releases, and I've watched plenty for the fabulous Melbourne Queer Film Festival, which opens tonight. 
Director: Kate McIntyre Clere & Mick McIntyre
Length: 99 min
© IndieVillage -  warm and fuzzy, to protect at all
costs, or a pest to cull?
Many people would say they love our national animal, the kangaroo. Yet how many are aware of the brutality involved in the so-called kangaroo "cull" and its associated kanga meat industry? Be warned - this is a confronting film, which pulls no punches in depicting the cruel slaughter of these creatures. From carcasses gathering bacteria on the back of utes, to dismembered kangas, to orphaned joeys - it's all there. The film attempts some debate as to whether the creatures are actually a pest on farmland, or whether there are enough of them for a sustainable meat industry. However, the directors' hearts are firmly on their sleeves in maintaining the meat industry should be totally shut down. There is some fabulous drone-shot footage of the world's largest marsupial traversing the outback, and the revelations here should give much food for thought and public debate.
3.5 - well recommended!

Human Flow
Director: Ai WeiWei
Length: 140 min
© Roadshow - the face of human misery. Ai's film
explores the biggest refugee crisis since WW2
How lucky we are to live in Australia. How desperately unfortunate are the refugee communities explored in this important and sweeping documentary. Artist/activist/ filmmaker Ai WeiWei makes an epic journey to many of  the world's refugee communities, from Africa to Greece, Jordan to Germany - anywhere the 65 million currently displaced people are or have come from. (This is the greatest movement of displaced humanity since World War 2.) Ai moves from a broader overview, including shocking facts and figures, to the intensely personal, choosing to often focus upon the sad faces of his subjects. Ai uses a realistic style of shooting, often including himself in the scene. He talks to people of their experiences, bringing an intimacy and humanity to the overwhelming subject matter. Amidst the despair he finds laughing children, resilience and hope. The film is perhaps a touch long but the content is so confronting and sobering, that it becomes important viewing to bring some insight, compassion and rationality into one of today's most pressing and controversial situations.
4 - highly recommended!

That's Not My Dog!
Director: Dean Murphy
Length: 88 min
© Transmission - Shane, his Dad and top comics
schmooze the night away in a film starring . . . jokes!
I've got a soft spot for Shane "Kenny" Jacobson. He seems like an all-round amiable nice guy. He's just thrown a party, and asked people not to bring anything, except their favourite jokes. And that's the questionable premise of his latest film: 1.5 hours of joke telling and music. Shane and some of his close comedian buddies (Paul Hogan, Jimeoin, Fiona McLaughlin and plenty more) gather to drink, listen to music and tell jokes, ranging from clean to majorly ribald. Some top musos (The Black Sorrows, Russell Morris, Adam Brand, Dan Kelly and The Meltdown) entertain in the background, and occasionally the director cuts to feature them. The film feels like a homage to Shane's Dad, Ron, who is credited with having made Shane laugh all his life. Shane returns the favour, by bringing a laugh to Dad and audiences. You'd better not be a prude, because a lot of the jokes are majorly politically incorrect with sexism and dubious humour! The movie is well shot, but there's absolutely no plot, just  laughs (which isn't all bad).
2.5 - maybe!

Melbourne Queer Film Festival (MQFF)
15-26 March 2018
Cinemas: ACMI, Nova and Kino
For synopses and timetables and ticketing, go to:

Lucky me - I again get to preview a whole assortment of the fab films that are part of this always splendid festival. There are so many stories to which everyone can relate, and some truly top-shelf film-making. No scoring, I've just ranked them in my order of enjoyment. 

Close Knit: Fresh from the Japanese Film Festival, this sublime film tells of 11-year-old Tomo who, after ongoing neglect by her mother, goes to live with her uncle, Makio. Makio lives with his transgender partner Rinko, and the three set up an unconventional family. The delicacy and warmth of the story-telling makes for a sure-fire winner, which is both poignant and heart-warming.

Steve Coogan and Paul Rudd in a quirky comedy
Ideal Home: You gotta love Paul Rudd and Steve Coogan playing long-term live-in lovers, who hold wonderful parties and bicker constantly. Paul (Rudd) is a TV director and Erasmus (Coogan) a flamboyant chef who hosts cooking shows. When Erasmus's hitherto unknown grandson, Bill, turns up on the doorstep, a new take on the idea of family is born. This is Coogan at his best, with Rudd a perfect foil as the long-suffering partner. The script is witty, touching and heaps of fun.  

Alaska is a Drag: Leo, who works at a fish cannery in Alaska, is the only gay for miles. His beloved sister has cancer, and he is picked on at work. When handsome Declan turns up, both men go into boxing coaching, while Leo also decides to enter the Miss Drag America contest. This is a heart-warming cute story, with much affection for its main characters, who manage to enjoy their lives despite everything. 

Queerama: A treat for all film lovers, this doco examines changing LGBTI life through the medium of British film over the past century. Opening with a voice-over expressing archaic attitudes, along with clips from old films, it moves through the changes in society, and filmic representation of those changes, featuring iconic moments from many seminal films dealing with queer life.  

The Cakemaker: Thomas is a top pastry cook in Berlin. Once a month he meets with his lover Oran, who works for an Israeli/German company. When Oran is killed in an accident Thomas goes to Jerusalem, and works in the cafe run by Oran's widow, who is unaware of Thomas's connection to her deceased husband. This is a gentle and moving film, beautifully shot, suffused with emotions of love and loss.

Paths: Paths tells a story to which so many can relate - the arc of a long-term relationship, from falling in love, bringing up a child together, then drifting apart, without really knowing why. The lead performances of Mike Hoffman as Andreas and Mathis Reinhardt as Martin are sensitive and utterly believable. A tender, sad story. 

Signature Move: Being lesbian, a Pakistani Muslim and living with your mother in Chicago ain't easy. Mother wants to marry off Zaynab but she has other ideas. Zaynab takes up wrestling and meets Alma, a gorgeous Spaniard. This is classic rom-com stuff - hearfelt, plenty of laughs, and culture-clash themes coming thick and fast. 

Mr Gay Syria: Shot in Turkey, this doco look at the lives of two Syrian gay refugees involved in the Mr Gay Syria pageant. One is leading a double life with wife and child in Istanbul. The "double-trouble" issues facing people who are not only fleeing warfare, but also sexual persecution, are highlighted. 

Rift: Touted as Scandi-noir, Rift feels more like a semi-horror film. Gunnar responds to a phone call from his ex boyfriend Einar, who is living in a remote summer house in Iceland. As the two attempt to reconcile their relationship, there seems to be a strange presence in the isolated house. Creepy at times, but not really memorable.

Mansfield 66/67: A look at the final years of Hollywood bombshell Jayne Mansfield. Framed within a theatrical presentation I could have done without, the film nevertheless sheds a fascinating light on Mansfield's bizarre and melodramatic life, culminating in her relationship with Satan worshippers, and her untimely death. 

The Melbourne Queer Film Festival  is wholeheartedly recommended!

The Mercy
Director: James Marsh
Length: 102 min
© StudioCanal - a man not coping at sea - how much
 more stressful can things get!?
In the mid 60s, amateur sailor Donald Crowhurst (Colin Firth) decided to enter a round-the-world race to bolster his failing business. He heads out ill prepared, leaving wife (Rachel Weisz) and three loving kiddies behind. When trouble looms, rather than admit defeat, he goes into a major deception as to his whereabouts. Based upon a true story, this film depicts a man going slowly bonkers from the long months at sea, and the dilemma of being unable to go on, but unable to turn back. Firth does it very well, and the director eschews blockbuster style effects for a more measured and believable glimpse of what true fear (of failure and of the sea) means. This film sure stressed me out, as did my infuriation at Donald's rank stupidity to even think of attempting such a stunt. This is good, solid Brit film-making.
3.5 - well recommended!

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