Australia's greatest -- and oldest -- film festival, the Melbourne International Film Festival, begins this week and pretty much everyone here (except perhaps the Principality of Hutt River
) is counting down the days to Thursday's opening night premiere of The Sapphires
While ScreenAnarchy's undisputed king of Melbourne film writing, Kwenton Bellette, will no doubt cover the festival with aplomb and gusto (here's his festival preview
) I thought it might be worthwhile to highlight a few titles that I'm personally looking forward to catching over the next couple weeks.
A quick note for film lovers: Don't worry, Wes Anderson isn't going to be on this list. Melbourne hipsters who loved his evisceration of Fantastic Mr Fox don't need any further encouragement to see Moonshine Kingdom. The ones that are on my list are:
100 Bloody Acres
I've been looking forward to the horror-comedy debut from the Cairnes brothers since it was first announced, and learning more about the plot -- two brothers making mulch from dead bodies -- has me amped for seeing what looks like a funny local movie, in the vein of Abe Forsythe's classic, Ned.
Beasts of the Southern Wild
I feel a bit late to the party on this one, especially as I missed it while I was up in Sydney, but I'm still unspoiled enough to be pretty upbeat about what looks like a magical realism tale of childlike wonder and imagination. Plus I've just started watching Treme so I'm up for anything set in this part of the world.
Coral: Rekindling Venus
A Baraka style meditation on the deep sea world projected onto the domed ceiling of Melbourne Planetarium? I'm in.
Early reports from Sydney Film Festival suggest this may be quite morose, however lead actor Ewen Leslie can do no wrong these days. While he's had supporting turns in Sleeping Beauty and Mabo, this film puts him front and centre where he belongs and it will be great to see him attack this role with relish.
God Bless America
Anyone who has seen Bobcat Goldthwait's World's Greatest Dad doesn't need any further reasons to see his follow-up. Those who haven't should go and watch it, and then book tickets to this. Bobcat will also be a guest of the festival, and will be doing talks and Q&As and stuff. Awesome, right?
Finally the dark drama that was shot in Melbourne gets a premiere here. I've often said that director Amiel Courtin-Wilson is Australia's answer to Werner Herzog, and I'm super looking forward to seeing this docu-drama based on the real life of criminal turned actor Daniel P. Jones.
Yet another one I've been hanging out to see. Set in the Bangkok criminal underworld this surreal story literally turns the world upside down when cop-turned-hitman is shot in the head and wakes from a coma to find his vision inverted.
Jack Irish: Bad Debts
Yeah, sure, this is a made for TV movie that will air shortly after the festival but this crime noir stars Guy Pearce and the director Jeffrey Walker is supposed to be pretty incredible, so I'm all for checking it out as part of the festival program. I love the inclusion of this sort of thing, as from past experience these sorts of screenings tend to be really laid back and enjoyable (and not as deadpan serious as some of the more artsy premieres tend to be).
"Man lives in his car. His existence consists of delivering honey - one jar at a time - to a narcoleptic man, and meeting up with his estranged wife and kids, who live in a different car." So reads the start of the synopsis for this crazy film. Count me in.
After making his feature debut with gentle romantic drama Summer Coda a few years back, hometown hero Richard Gray returns with this sure-to-be-awesome thriller.
Paul Kelly: Stories of Me
Australia's greatest singer-songwriter (sorry Nick Cave, Gotye) finally gets the big screen treatment he deserves. While these screenings are sold out, I'm putting it on this list anyways, as Paul Kelly is a genius and maybe some enterprising projectionist can sneak me into the booth so I can watch this.
A film I'm looking forward to based purely on hype from ScreenAnarchy. Which is a very good reason to watch anything, really. Director/madman Mads Brügger is also a guest of the festival.
The First Fagin
I read Oliver Twist last year and so am very much looking forward to this history lesson on the real life convict that apparently inspired one of Dickens' most famous characters.
I'm lucky enough to be going along to the premiere on Thursday so will finally see what Harvey Weinstein got so excited about at Cannes. I expect this will be a real crowd pleaser, and hopefully the best opening night experience I've had at any festival since Not Quite Hollywood blew the cobwebs off the industry at MIFF 2008.
There's also a bunch of short films I'll try to catch, including a couple I've already seen, and these are in no particular order... Lois, Men of the Earth, Perished, Spine, Stone, Switch, Tender, Yardbird, The Hunter, Dave's Dead, B I N O, Dumpy Goes to the Big Smoke and First Contact. Lots of exciting work here.
And in what is possibly the greatest combination of Melbourne talent at the festival, John Evagora returns to the festival with another short film, Joey. Evagora won MIFF Best Short Film in 2008 with his deceptively simple 296 Smith Street. He continues his study of Melbourne's fringe population, this time focusing on a professional shoplifter. Polly Staniford (Crossbow) produces and Steve Mouzakis (Cop Hard) stars.