Wednesday 13th June marked my half way point in my film binge. It was the day of films six to ten. Lucky it was in the middle of a film festival or I might have felt lazy. As it is it was the day where my nerve failed me and I almost couldn’t go on. It was certainly the moment when I reached my lowest point. The point which every adventurous, but poorly planned explorer faces, when the weather turns, the food has run out and you have to decide between eating the horses and snuggling with your fellow explorer for warmth or the other way around. But I should not get ahead of myself…
Film 6: Dreams of a Life
The day began when I met Ngaire and Jemma for film one of the day. It’s a documentary about a woman in her late thirties in her lonely bedsit in 2003 and wasn’t discovered for three years, badly decomposed on her couch with the TV still on. She was a popular, well liked woman, but no-one noticed she’d disappeared. The film sets out to piece together her life and figure out how this could happen to someone.
The film is very well made, but it’s not really cheery. The whole thing paints a very sad picture. People regularly talk about how bubbly and beautiful she was and then reflect on what a waste it was, kinda like her attractiveness made her death all the more tragic. The people who knew her seem to express a large amount of guilt that she could just be forgotten like that. One man, however, amongst his guilt says that the majority of the blame should fall on her for isolating herself. This did ring true. There were many people in her life who would have gone to extraordinary lengths to help her, but she ends up pushing them all away, till she dies alone in her sad home.
The film is haunting, yet beautiful in its gentle dealing with the life of Joyce. It may not have cheered me up but it did inspire me to not let my friends disappear.
We hung around in the cinema because our next film started pretty quickly afterwards. Because we weren’t subscribers we were meant to leave, but we just made ourselves look like subscribers, and they left us alone.
Film 7: Alps
Alps is a Greek film. I’ve never seen a Greek film. Even one of the Wog Boy films, so I’m not sure if Alps is typical of Greek cinema. If it is then the Greeks are messed up. Happily this film is less of a mess than their economy, but that’s not hard.
The film is about people who pretend to be recently dead people to friends and family of the deceased to help them grieve. It helps people say the things they didn’t get to say. This means that the characters find themselves in some odd situations. One woman pretends to be a 16 year-old daughter and snuggles with him on the couch after a tennis match, another man pretends to be a woman’s dead husband who she catches having an affair.
It’s a pretty strange movie. Interesting enough, quite sad but with moments which are very funny. However certainly nothing spectactular. I think we all came away feeling a little bit depressed and perplexed.
Then, last Sunday the film won the entire Sydney Film Festival. That was quite a shock, seeing as the film didn’t seem to be that good. Suddenly I got more upset because while the film wasn’t bad, it certainly didn’t seem festival winning good. However I only saw one other film that was in the official competition, and it was better than that, so perhaps the competition wasn’t that strong? Who knows?
Film 8: Policeman
Ngaire left Jem and I at this point so armed with some hastily bought sushi, we entered our third film for the day. A film about Israeli policemen. We were hoping for something a little bit cheery, but I don’t think you can put Israel and Police in the same synopsis and come up with a happy film. And sure enough what we watched was a character study of a rather unpleasant Israeli counter-terrorism cop, a Jewish Marxist terrorist group and their assorted colleagues and comrades. It was a strangely structured film, focusing entirely on one character in the first half, entirely on the other group in the other half, till the two stories met in the end. It was kinda like two separate movies that happened to inhabit the same universe.
As it turned out the film felt similar to Alps. Not in content, just in it’s depressive atmosphere, and unconventional story structure. Again it was quite a well made film, but I have no desire to watch it again.
On the plus side the film did have more guns, which the previous two films were seriously lacking, so this got the film at least one extra star from me, just for the guns.
Film 9: The King of Pigs
I didn’t actually watch this movie. This is where my nerve gave out. I got to the end of the last one and just felt drained. I couldn’t face another few hours in a dark cinema watching depressing things happen. So Jem and I went and drank beer and talked about how depressing the films were and then I hung out in a book shop. It was much happier and mentally healthy I think.
Still let me review the film for you, even though I’ve never seen it.
This Korean animated film is a about a teenage boy who grows up to become the head an anti-corruption Police unit fighting against the Korean mafia. Terribly corrupt himself, the film tells it’s story by intercutting the main character’s reign of terror with his violent upbringing at the hands of an abusive father and an oppressive school life. Excellently made but ultimately nihilistic, this film should only be watched when you’re in a really good mood.
As you can see from my false-review, I made the right choice not see the film, even though it was probably very good.
Film 10: Harold’s Going Stiff
The last film of the day. Jemma had gone and Johnny had arrived. I was refreshed after my film watching break and a bowl of Ichi-ban Boshi noodles. I was ready for some good quality zombie fun.
And that is what I got. Harold’s Going Stiff is an English mockumentary about a disease which is spreading across the country where men are getting very stiff limbs, losing the ability to think properly, and then finally go about violently attacking people. The film centres around Harold, who has the disease, and his relationship with his nurse. While they work with scientists to find a cure for the disease, they must avoid the mobs of vigilantes who are roaming the country in search of zombies to kill.
Now that doesn’t sound that funny, but don’t let a synopsis fool you. The film was very cheeky, and cheerful in a way that all the other films of the day had not managed. And while managing to achieving an uplifting, funny, Zombie-mockumentary, it also had plenty to say about how we treat the old and lonely. This film had everything, why wasn’t it in the Official Competition? It would have beaten Alps senseless. Oh well. At least the film ended on a good note, plus the film screened with a pretty awesome Aussie Zombie-Short. It was all win for Wednesday night.