Archive by Author

MIFF 2011 Film Review: BUCK

26 Jul

By Julian Buckeridge

Buck Brannaman, the subject of Cindy Meehl’s documentary Buck, who inspired the novel and film versions of The Horse Whisperer, is a warm and impressive figure who possesses a certain magnetism. A quiet man who seeks to tame – rather than break – horses, the subtext of the film reveals much more.

Buck follows Brannaman on his nine-month road tour, where he teaches four-day seminars in “colt starting” – showing riders how to become one with their horse, rather than leaving it broken and afraid. Through his training, the viewer begins to see the correlation between horse and owner.

Brannaman’s abilities are hypnotic, providing a healthy contrast where the animals gracefully – and willingly – move to his gentle will. The method is so convincing that Robert Redford would hire Brannaman for The Horse Whisperer and he would become integral to the film’s process. The viewer learns, however, that his understanding comes from an abusive upbringing the left him scarred – so much so that he was sent to a foster home. Soon the audience understands why Brannaman was drawn to this empathetic methodology.

Cindy Meehl’s direction is strong, with some mesmerising and emotional moments, including an anecdote about a pair of buckskin gloves that truly impacts. Landscape shots are hurt by shooting in digital but the rest of the film is quite stunning to watch.

Many questions are left unanswered, like the fate of Brannaman’s brother, or other contemporary trainers who share similar philosophies. Nevertheless, this documentary is an effective and entertaining look at a communion between man and animal.

7/10

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Film Review: Heartbeats

4 Apr

By Julian Buckeridge

Xavier Dolan quickly became a worldwide name after his terrific debut film, I Killed My Mother, which won three awards at Cannes. His follow-up, Heartbeats, questions the theme of idealisation in a controlled but stylised manner. Continue reading

MQFF Film Review: Room in Rome

29 Mar

By Julian Buckeridge

Director Julio Medem is hardly the first to create a film focusing on the chance encounter of two strangers far from home. Indeed, Room in Rome is based on Matías Bize’s En le cama, which owes much to Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise. However, by turning the story on its head and focusing on the relationship of two women, Medem has created a fresh and poignant character study. Continue reading

MQFF Film Review: Paulista

29 Mar

By Julian Buckeridge

While the title Paulista refers to the main thoroughfare through São Paulo, Brazil, and its inhabitants, the original title – Quanto Dura o Amor? / How Long Does Love Last? – better captures the brief and fleeting relationships that are found in this frantically paced city. Continue reading

Film Review: Kaboom

24 Mar

By Julian Buckeridge

Kaboom is a devilishly funny, filthy, raunchy, absurd Greg Araki film that begins in chaos and never slows down. With the film, Araki humorously bites back against those who criticised his earlier works by emphasising every element they hated. Continue reading

Film Review: In a Better World

22 Mar

By Julian Buckeridge

Academy-Award winning In a Better World continues Susanne Bier’s trust in her actors’ talents to carry the audience through emotional and dialogue-heavy sequences. The director’s new film is rich in narrative with beautiful performances but is let down by its lack of impact.

In a Better World is the story of two families struggling with loss. Elias (Markus Rygaard) is the son of the separated Anton (Mikael Persbrandt) and Marianne (Trine Dyrholm), while Christian (William Jøhnk Nielsen) treats his father (Ulrich Thomsen) with contempt after his mother’s death.

Elias is unable to connect with either parent – his father spends most of his time at a refugee hospital in Africa – and suffers from bullying at school. When Christian interjects, the two boys begin an estranged friendship. Problems arise when Christan’s warped sense of justice focuses on Anton’s pacifism, where the boy’s actions put the lives of others in danger.

This uniformly strong cast play out a morality tale, where two interweaving families attempt to deal with grief. Thrust towards maturity, the two boys are particularly convincing in their distinctly different responses. Nielsen’s Christian focuses in on weakness and reacts violently. Yet he is just as scared as Rygaard’s Elias, who acts against his better judgement to be accepted by others.

The importance of parenting is always stressed and adults are criticised for their passive involvement in the lives of the children. The film deconstructs dilemmas and confronts the consequences of both action and inaction when both can be devastating.

It is disappointing then that In a Better World – at times – feels forced due to the lack of subtlety in its direction and screenplay. It never achieves an emotional impact and is a lesser film for it.

Nevertheless, this is a beautifully shot and stunningly performed foreign drama with rich philosophical questions.

In a Better World opens on Thursday 31st of March (Cinema Nova and others).

Film Review: Catwalk: Milan, Paris, New York

15 Mar

By Julian Buckeridge

There has got to be something more to the world of high fashion than what is presented in Robert Leacock’s superficial documentary Catwalk: Milan, Paris, New York or else everyone involved lead incredibly empty lives. Never exploring the myriad of issues that lurk beneath the surface of the industry, Leacock’s 1996 film is pointless and as vapid as its central subject.

Leacock follows Christy Turlington through the spring fashion shows in Milan, Paris and New York over a period of three weeks. Exploring the relationship between model and designer, the documentary looks at the shows of Versace, Armani, Galliano, Gaultier, Langerfield and Mizrahi and how models like Moss, Campbell and Bruni work under pressure.

If the director believed he chose an intelligent supermodel to be the focus of this documentary, then one must question his sanity. Christy Turlington is not a character capable of leading a film and her stunning beauty is quickly forgotten after a barrage of vacuous and yawn-inducing moments. It is distracting that everyone else featured is more interesting than the protagonist. The then up-and-coming Kate Moss or sardonic Carla Bruni would have been a much better subject – they both understand their place in the world.

Leacock’s uncertain camerawork and disjointed alternation between black and white and colour footage add to the frustration. His timid direction is minutely saved by his employment of Malcolm McLaren to score the soundtrack but this is momentary salvation from a 95-minute documentary that is half an hour too long.

It is ironic that designer Isaac Mizrahi is featured in Catwalk; he was the focus of Unzipped, a far superior documentary released a year before in 1995. Catwalk: Milan, Paris, New York is not the hard-hitting expose for fashion enthusiasts but proof that watching even the most beautiful women can become boring.

Catwalk: Milan, Paris, New York is playing at The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) on Thursday 17 March 2:30pm.