Jun 10

10 June – Visiting dad, more Sydney Film Festival

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10 June

Went to visit dad today, he made a quick lunch of instant noodles with fresh chinese cabbage and some Wagyu steaks from Glenmore Meats. How’s that for a budget gourmet lunch?

Tonight’s Film Festival pick Crazy Horse was a bit of a dud.

Crazy Horse
The self-tagged ‘best nude dancing show in the world’, legendary nightclub Le Crazy Horse de Paris comes under the sharp eye of ‘one of today’s greatest living documentary filmmakers’, Frederick Wiseman. In his first digitally shot film, the cinéma vérité pioneer follows two obsessive perfectionists, choreographer Philippe Decouflé and artistic director Ali Mahdavi, as they create a new erotic revue entitled Désirs. The performance, complete with eye-catching projections and exquisite less-is-more costumes, showcases the outrageously beautiful nudes in an abstract manner reminiscent of Helmut Newton or pop artist Allen Jones. As in many of his films (he’s made roughly one a year since 1967, including La Danse: The Paris Opera Ballet and Ballet), Wiseman, unintrusively records the routines and rhythms of performance, the backstage chat, the clash between creativity and practicality, beauty and vulgarity – and the complex mesh of modern-day institutions.
Screens with the short Rauch und Spiegel

I just found it so boring and slow. Sure there was some nice T&A and the girls were were very flexible and talented dancers but it just wasn’t compelling. The performances were nicely shot and the lighting effects were pretty amazing for the dance productions but it just went on so long, about an hour too long! This documentary didn’t really seem to have a narrative. I wanted to know more about the venue, the characters, the two guys tap dancing, did they actually end up closing the Crazy Horse to spend time to improve the show? Was the footage we saw the old show or the new improved show? (OK, in hindsight, it appears that it was the new show). There were many unanswered questions… and yes, I definitely nodded off in this one, even though I tried not to because closing my eyes would mean not being able to understand the dialogue. Have to admit that I didn’t watch the trailer before choosing buying the tickets. oh well.

2 more films to go!

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Jun 16

SFF2010: I am love

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I forgot to review the drama, “I am love” which we saw in the opulent State Theatre with Dave’s cuz and his gf. Before the film we had a tasty Uighur dinner on Dixon St.
I quite enjoyed I am love. It was introduced by the Italian director Luca Guadagnino. I especially liked the music, art direction, the beautiful food shots, architecture and fashion. There’s also a fair bit of shagging in the countryside! Tilda Swinton is an awesome actress who plays a Russian who marries into a wealthy Milanese family, I’ve always like her work (except The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe).

Director Luca Guadagnino and actress Tilda Swinton rush headlong into the crumbling empire that is classical melodrama, flaunt their shared awareness of Luchino Visconti’s visual splendour and Douglas Sirk’s bristling plotlines and create this magnificent contemporary ode to impossible love.

The Recchis are Milanese royalty. Wealthy and cultivated, their successful furniture business supports a luxurious lifestyle that is both rarified and uncontested. However cracks begin to appear in the walls of the magnificent family edifice at the birthday party of the grand-patriarch, a catalyst event for an unfolding series of startling transgressions.

Swinton is magnificent in the central role as the wife, mother and outsider (in this cloistered world her Russian heritage prevents her from truly belonging) whose carefully maintained order is undone by the unexpected wakening of desire.

The Sydney Film Festival is over for another year. Now I can finally go and see my long awaited Sex and the City 2. Yes, yes the reviews say it’s shit, but as a huge SATC fan I’m sure I’ll like it anyways.

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Jun 14

SFF2010: Teenage Paparazzo

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Teenage Paparazzo was my final Sydney Film Festival pick for 2010.
I chose this one because I like celebrities and photography, so thought it might be interesting. It was really well done, the precocious teenager Austin and Adrian Grenier become accomplices and antagonists in the hunt for celebrity. I didn’t get into Entourage (even though lots of people say it’s awesome), so I didn’t know much about Adrian other than he was Anne Hathaway’s boyfriend in The Devil Wears Prada (another great fashion/celebrity film). I enjoyed seeing a celebrity turn paprazzo and Austin’s “grown up” redemption a the end.
Here’s the blurb:

Director Adrian Grenier is best known as Vincent Chase from the TV series Entourage. In this fascinating documentary he describes what it’s like to be the focus of the paparazzo’s lens and then turns the camera on the photographers themselves – in particular thirteen-year-old snapper Austin. The teenager spends his nights chasing photo-ops and getting tips from his paparazzo mates on who’s hot and who’s where. Austin’s colleagues are at first suspicious, but his palpable interest in their work and precocious talent serve to ultimately win them over.

Grenier sets up his own paparazzo moment with Paris Hilton as well as interviews with colleagues Matt Damon, Alec Baldwin and Eva Longoria Parker. Grenier’s second feature as director is a well-crafted, entertaining production that investigates the phenomenon of celebrity obsession with considerable intelligence and humour.

Australian Premiere

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Jun 08

SFF2010 New Beijing: Reinventing a City

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I love it when I bump into old friends at the festival (hello Jodeska, thanks for saving the seat for us).

Another nice thing about attending the film festival is that often the directors or producers introduce their films and participate in Q & A sessions.

This session turned out to be 3 for the price of one, as some of them were entries in a competition.

First up was Suburbia

Based on true events, an unsettling tale from the urban sprawl starring Don Hany as a man trying to make sense of what he’s heard and seen.

Let’s just say, this was not what I was expecting, this short film made me really tense and disturbed by the end of it. It took a while for people to respond with clapping at the end, not sure if it was because the audience didn’t like it or they were all too freaked out.

Next up was The Adjustable Cosmos

A fantastical adventure played out in a jewelled cosmos housed inside a great crystal sphere.

This was an animation, it was quite cute and whimsical with a little bit of unpolitically correct humour and major religious overtones (please remember, I am not a professional film reviewer, I just make this stuff up)

Finally, New Beijing: Reinventing a City

‘Better take a photo now as it will be no more!’ comments a local man, as activist Zhang Jinqi snaps his traditional home in one of Beijing’s narrow lane-ways (hutongs). Zhang Jinqi’s photography project Memories of China documents the remaining heritage districts of the old city, which are soon to be demolished. Swinging from old to new, the documentary switches to a panoramic view of the biggest construction boom in history and charts the modern face of Beijing and its newly iconic buildings such as Watercube, Birds Nest Stadium and the National Theatre. Wallace-Crabbe’s film is a fascinating record of a period of extraordinary change in one of the oldest cities on earth.

I appreciated the need to document old Beijing before the almost complete modernisation of this city. I felt that this doco was a bit disjointed and not explained well enough, it really “swung” a bit much. They kept talking about he hutongs being destroyed but never really explained what a hutong was in the documentary. I still think it was an important piece of work, but felt that if they had a chance to start filming a few years earlier, it would have helped.

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Jun 07

SFF2010 Eye (and Mind)

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Eye

Award-winning indigenous photographer, Bindi Cole, travels from her Melbourne home to the far north of Australia. She’s been invited by drag performer Foxxy Empire, the alter ego of Tiwi Islander Jason De Santis to document the transgender Sistergirls of his community. She plans to create 12 photographic portraits – positive, celebratory images – and soon realises she must also enlist the help of ‘the mother of all Sistergirls’ Crystal Love.

As Bindi struggles with the logistics of the shoot and being an outsider in a remote community, she listens to stories of the girls’ lives, of family acceptance and rejection, of loneliness and the bond of sisterhood.

World Premiere

I don’t think this is one of the better docos from this year’s festival. Dave thought that it was a mockumentary, and not as serious it was intended to be. It was also unnerving because a guy behind me kept laughing at what I considered inappropriate moments. Was he laughing at the indigenous drag queen or was he laughing at what she was saying?? I found the stories of some of the Sistergirls very moving and I really appreciate what they have suffered through and fought against, as well as the struggles they will continue to have. I’d say this doco was allright. (Though I think I’ve been generous and voted/very good or excellent on all my film festival voting slips)

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Mind

An exploration of the nature of identity: from an early age, award-winning writer Tom Cho thought he was different and knew he didn’t match his mother’s expectations of a good daughter.

I read the book Look Who’s Morphing, I borrowed it from the library, I didn’t pay for it. I didn’t really like the book or the doco. Sure I could relate in some ways, being an asian teenager in Australia in the 80s (but not the part about wanting to be a boy) and questions about identity. Unfortunately I didn’t really feel it. Mind gave me some insight into Tom Cho’s background, but I still didn’t enjoy the “fantasy” stories.

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Jun 03

I was really looking forward to seeing Exit Through the Gift Shop by the world renowned street artist Banksy. Apparently this session presented by Two Thousand was sold out so it had a certain amount of hype & hipsters attending. As you may have read, we had already been to see a film before this session, so we had a box of takeaway Viet food to scoff between films. Unfortunately, some chick decided to be a “rude biatch” and poke Dave while he was eating in the cinema and say “You better not eat that during the movie, it stinks, you should go outside”. OK… I find people eating Hungry Jacks on a train at 8am offensive, but I don’t poke them and tell them off. This person made us feel very uncomfortable, all I wanted to do was have something to eat before the movie started and I ended up not having anything to eat in case I get abused. And really, it didn’t smell that bad, it was beef and tomato rice goddammit!

Anyway, back to the film… I won’t say too much as I’m sure you will go and see it too. It was really amazing, funny and unbelievable (like that film King of Kong) A kind of too good to be true story that perhaps was a Bansky style hoax on the audience. I loved the fact that Thierry filmed everything, even the toilet flushing, a man after my own heart! It was cool to see Shepard Fairey, as I didn’t even know what he looked like but was very familiar with his work. As for Banksy, it was pretty amazing to see footage of him doing his street art, inside his studio and setting up his notorious exhibition in LA. No-one knows who Banksy is except for a few close friends… from what I can gather he has old hands and is married. I really enjoyed Exit Through the Gift Shop and give it 5 stars (with a rumbling stomach)!

Here’s the blurb:

Reality-shifter and anti-establishment prankster Banksy turns the camera on French second-hand clothes dealer Thiery Guetta, an oddball filmmaker who spent more than eight years obsessively documenting street artists (including Shepard Fairey, Space Invader, Buff Monster and Neck Face) whose work with stencils, posters, stickers and sculpture took graffiti to new heights. When Thierry finally connects with the elusive Banksy, the British artist lays down a challenge that flips subject and maker 360 degrees, ultim

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Jun 03

My 2009 Sydney Film Festival picks

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The Agony and Ecstasy of Phil Spector
The Sky Crawlers
We Live in Public
The September Issue
Red Cliff
24 City
No Impact Man & La Mangue
Valentino: The Last Emperor

I’m sharing a Flexi Pass with Toddles (no link, he has no web presence – he needs a blog). NB The SFF ticketing and general website is still crap. It does improve each year but they still haven’t got it right. eg Why do you have to click through several pages to see all the films offered on a particular day. Anyway, I’m still looking forward to checking out all these flicks in the next 2 weeks.

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