Tonight was not only the last night of the Melbourne International Film Festival for me, but also the final night of the festival as a whole. It closed with the closing night film, This Is England, as well as the special screenings, which were announced just the other day as a tribute to Bergman and Antonioini.
Unfortunately for myself (and for a few others I imagine) the festival ended on a bad note with the last screening in the Come to Cannes showcase. Bela Tarr's The Man From London was a dreadful and painfully long 132 minutes of people staring off into space or walking somewhere or looking at a wall as the case was for nearly five minutes towards the end. The Forum (where it was screened) had a sell out crowd for the screening and probably around 100 people walked out. Some as early as 20 minutes in (as the first scene was still going!) and some as late as a mere ten minutes from the finish line. I can't blame them, really. It was terribly dreary and I could tell that most of the cinema was restless by the half way point. Lots of fidgeting and stretching (some lucky buggars got to really stretch out because everyone around them deserted the theatre, I wasn't so lucky).
For me though there were two really bad films, one moderately bad film, three really great films and six others that were in the B range, which all had their strengths and their weaknesses.
2. Still Life
5. The Boss of It All
7. Savage Grace
8. The Witnesses
9. A Walk Into the Sea: Danny Williams and the Warhol Factory
10. Syndromes and a Century
11. The Man From London
12. The Untouchable
You can read my initial comments on all over at the MIFF roundup I've been using. Overall I enjoyed the festival and was glad I did it. It was exhausting sometimes, and I can't even imagine implementing the pass that allows you unlimited sessions. That'd be crazy. But it was worth it just to be able to see some of those really good movies and, hell, even the bad ones because now I can use these overly pretentious wastes of time as punching bags instead of the usual Adam Sandler dreck.
Biggest disappointment would have to be A Walk Into the Sea, which could have been amazing if the director (Esther Robinson) had used her cinematographer and actually focused and kept the camera still and delved a little deeper into the Warhol sensation.
Biggest surprise was Still Life, which I really liked. It used that medetative Asian style in a much more interesting and fascinating fashion than Syndromes and a Century, which I thought was a bit of a wasted opportunity.
Best performance of the films I saw was most definitely Laura Dern's in Inland Empire, but that was a given. I was also very fond of Samantha Morton and Toby Kebbell in Control, Julianne Moore in Savage Grace and the women from Lars Von Trier's The Boss of It All.
Worst performance was Isild Le Besco from The Untouchable, which would take the cake as worst film and worst director too. Yawn!
Best theatre was, for me, the RMIT Capitol (where I saw The Untouchable, Ils and A Walk into the Sea), followed by ACMI (Inland Empire), The Regent (The Boss of It All, The Witnesses and Syndromes of a Century) and lastly The Forum (everything else). The Forum had shocking seating - very uncomfortable, while The Regent doesn't have stadium style seating so during The Boss of It All I had to constantly manoeuvre my head to see the subtitles behind the man with the big head in front of me. I never got to see a film at the fifth place though (Greater Union), which was odd.
All in all though it was a great experience and depending on how I'm going next year (living closer to Melbourne, working more, less $, etc) I'd definitely try and do it again.