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THE HUNTER (2011)

20 Sep

IN CINEMAS OCTOBER 6

I have always found that there is a rough honesty behind Williem Dafoe, that can transcend almost any character.  The type which may call for an isolated soul, a marginal outsider to come into the community to see their flaws, and be brave enough not only to demand chance, but to brace it upon themselves.

The kind of character that can change the world, knowing beneath that they will lose everything of themselves in the battle.  That kind of character is Martin, a mercenary scientist (Hunter) sent in search of the extinct Tasmanian Tiger.  A man alone, with nothing but simple possessions and the temptation of money to guide him, Martin accepts the challenge with the condition that he be left alone.  There is a feeling though, that the powerful company that has assigned him this project has too much at stake to leave it to a single individual who has little to lose.

However, there is much more to the isolated township than the possibility of finding hidden treasures. The townsfolk are lost in anger, and frustration which creates further marginatisation for outsiders.  They know the agenda, and seem ready to defend what may well be rightfully theirs.

Yet, aside from the handful of assaults perpetrated against Martin to scare him away, and his lone journeys into the Tasmanian wilderness to find his prey.  Martin’s story is a journey of discovery.  Of one man’s understanding of what is really important in life, and the sacrifices we must often make in order to find ourselves on the right path.

Ergo, Dafoe’s ability to morphe from a solitary man, to the only man that can bring justice to the world. 

Directed by Daniel Nettheim and based on the novel ‘The Hunter’ by Julia Leigh.  It also stars Sam Neill and Frances O’Connor.

4/5 Highly Recommended.

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MIFF: The Fourth Portrait (2010)

5 Aug

As the title suggests, this will be a fragmented story, perhaps one of identity and isolation.  And so it begins delving head first into the confused and lonely world of a child.  Xiang (Bi Xiao Hai) sits alone waiting for his father to take his last breath, the subtle image if his placing a paper napkin over the man’s face, as if not to visualize his passing, makes one cringe with sadness.  I felt the urge to run to the screen to hold him, but obviously unless this was a Woody Allen film, such a thing would not be permissible.  It does not improve, the beginning that is, as director Mong-Hong Chung, makes us watch this lonely child walk home to wash his father’s only appropriate funeral attire by a rush of water on the street.

Do not be fooled, although his first portrait is littered with solitude and uncertainty, this little boy is nothing less than a fueled character.  His story takes us through uncertainty first, as he struggles to find food, yet leads us to a friendship with a school janitor that provides him with guidance and love.  A grandfather figure that takes him, to his long ago exited mother,but keeps him close, shadowed with wisdom and support.  It is almost a pity that there is no portrait of this man, for it is he who truly shapes Xiang’s choices.

He finds instead a sort of camaraderie with a middle-aged petty criminal, who takes him on raids and tells him about dreams of escape.  This is perhaps one of the first times this child has known happiness, so we forgive him lapping it all up.  And it does, in retrospect, offer him the opportunity to get away from his mother’s tormented house.  This man, or part of him, gains the second portrait.  Leaving us with certain questions as to Xiang’s ideas of idenity.

The third portrait is of his dead brother’s ghost, tormented , walking his path alone.  This creates a form of mission for Xiang, as he becomes almost detective like trying to understand the true fate of his older brother, and in turn the isolation and underlying hatred brewing within his mother’s house.

Xiang’s journey is slightly frisky as he moves through the paces of sorting out his place in life.  However, it is the mind of a child, what in each moment matters most, and what provides him with gratification and shelter.

Score: 7/10

 

MIFF – The Solitude of Prime Numbers

5 Aug

The beauty of character defined stories, lie usually within the portrayal of one personal journey.  As viewers or readers we find identification to their uncertainties, fears, melancholies and achievements, playing their choices against ours and perceiving, perhaps, chances lost or possibilities gained.  ‘The Solitude of Prime Numbers’ (directed by Saverio Costanzo) gives us more, let’s us look at the other side, the unknown perception of the person other, both sides of love and loss, both sides of opportunity and chance.  Layered through delightful imagery so cleverly appropriate to the time and feeling of the place the character is currently journeying through.

This is the story of Alice (Alba Rohrwacher) and Mattia (Luca Marinelli), two lost souls that should have been destined to reign their lives alone.  But who meet by chance when young, and through her persistence remain seemingly distant friends.  Both suffer disillusionment from their families, through guilt and neglect, presenting scars that haunt them throughout their lives.  Mattia (young: Vittorio Lomartire) presents himself an isolated being, filled with guilt for the loss of his sister, he scars his body in punishment; perhaps for the lack of association from his over protective, yet distant parents.  Alice (young: Arianna Nastro) suffers a similar fate, a lone child, her father pushes her to grow to fast, using her as trophy display for his uninterested friends.  While his wife fills her body with alcohol and silence, leaving Alice with no true affection or guidance.  Alice is scared also, physically by an accident caused through neglect, and in her heart by a lack of acknowledgement and affection.  She craves these, and seeks out Mattia, almost through an instant identification of their pains.

It is through their friendship and quiet understanding that they begin to accept that forgiveness is possible.  That there is a chance of belonging and happiness, no matter how distant it may seem, as long as you allow another into your past.

‘Prime Numbers can Only be Divided by Themselves and One’

Based on a book by Paolo Giordano

Score:  9/10

Film Review (2nd take): HERE I AM (2011)

31 May

By Ines Pereyra

‘Here I Am’ seems a story like many others, of a woman (Karen) returning from the brink, with scores to settle and lives to mend.   However, this is not a film about vengeance, it is more so about growth, understanding of one’s own mistakes, and the prices paid.

This is a story that could be told anywhere, and belong to anyone, but the fact that director Beck Cole chose such strong female Aboriginal characters, and the background of a city that holds their stories, gives us a sense of an open window into a culture that surrounds us, but we may know so little about.  For me, this became most obvious sitting in the audience, listening to the cheers and cues from a proud Indigenous following that brought insight to ideals, creative meaning and feelings of belonging.


Cole’s husband (Warwick Thornton) threads together images of the city, and what feel like notebook pictures of Karen’s journey, with songs of country that speak the words of her emotional ride.  ‘Here I Am’ speaks loudly about women’s needs and challenges, but with a voice that lets these shine.

The title speaks of an outside plead to her inner self. Where the initial scenes where Karen walks the streets alone, to the sounds of solitude, fear and isolation open the door to her world.  She knows she wants her child back, her mother’s approval and the warmth of a home, but is initially to afraid to claim these, or perhaps she feels still undeserving.  Jail was a whiteman’s penalty, forgiveness need come from within.  The ‘prostituting’ scene seems more a punishment than a survival strategy – the type that can be given and received only by one’s self, before feeling ready to change one’s world.

The beauty of this film, though, is the way that women rule their world.  Strong, tough women, so different, yet filled with equal journeys.  Women that stand together to change within, to support and to encourage acceptance outside.

As the title implies, this story is about being seen, and being heard again.  An idea most strongly developed in the sounds of Karen’s solitude as she lays alone in her bed asking God (perhaps), to help her care for her family, her friends and loved ones.

A journey about knowing where to be, but learning to get there…an inner scream.

Here I Am is released in cinemas on June 2nd. Read our first take by Mia Robinson here