August 12, 2007

MIFF is Over

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).

This is from Control

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.

1. Inland Empire
2. Still Life
3. Bella
4. Control
5. The Boss of It All
6. Ils
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.


Paul Martin said...

Glenn, I counted about 60 walkouts at The Man From London, and most of those were at the 60 minute mark. I loved it, and count it as one of the better films. The camera work, cinematography and music were all great. It was clearly a tribute to film noir and I thought it did it with tremendous style and mystery.

The other Cannes film I saw today was Mister Lonely, which I think will make it into my top 10 films of the year, though it has also suffered indifference or dislike from some audiences.

Still Life, Inland Empire and Mister Lonely were my roughly equal favourites.

Other highlights (in no particular order):
Shotgun Stories
Dry Season
Vengeance is Mine
The Ballad of Narayama
A Man Vanishes
Half Moon
Snow Angels

And most of the others I liked, except for I Am the Other Woman.

I saw 40 films out of a possible 107 (the theoretical maximum). I took time off work, and I don't think I'd want to see more than that in the future.

Paxton Hernandez said...

Glad you enjoyed it. Festivals do tend to be exhausting but there's a reward to it.

I'v read your The Man from London comments and the Mexico City film festival had movies like that, 2 actually: and argentinian called Fantasma and the paraguayan that was also showed in Cannes 2006 Hamaca paraguay.

I think Fantasma was the more extreme film, curiously similar to your description of Bela Tarr's film but I had one major advantage: I lasted only for 65 minutes. I felt it was great.

Kamikaze Camel said...

60/100 it's all the same! It was a lot. Definitely the most of the movies I saw.

I've heard good things about Vengeance is Mine actually. I would've tried to see it if I'd done some investigation first :)

Scott said...

Hey Glenn! I saw 22 movies at MIFF and it's amazing to me that not one of them appears in your list of viewings! Strange but true. For me there were 5 absolute highlights:

Lost In Beijing
Away From Her
4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days
This Is England

For what it's worth, This Is England is the best film I've seen since the great 2004 one-two punch of Eternal Sunshine and Before Sunset. Amazing.

The closing party was a fizzer though (like any party with free grog held on a Sunday night, I suppose -->constant queuing at the bar + soggy half-frozen "shepherd's pies" = NOT FUN).

j said...

ha ha ha... well, the man from london sounds like EVERY OTHER Bela Tarr film... I love his work though. And as for walkouts- well, I've seen people walk out of Wim Wenders and David Lynch films too... oh well, there's no accounting for taste (though Tarr is difficult for the majority of people so I can't say i blame you). Just waiting for Inland Empire to arrive on dvd- it's shipped from Amazon so wooo hooo!)

Joel said...

I counted 93 people walkout of Man From London...
The Signal was probably my favourite from what I saw cos I expected nothing from it and was blown away.