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La Mirada Film Festival Review: Phase 7 (Fase 7) (2010)

15 Apr

Phase 7 (Fase 7), 95 mins, Argentina, 2010, Spanish with English subtitles, Action / Comedy

This directorial debut from young writer/ filmmaker Nicolás Goldbart is an impressive yet subdued black comedy that explores the human’s ease to turn to paranoia when faced with a viral epidemic.

Spurred by the 2009 outbreak of Swine fly, and the consequent media frenzy and public fear , Goldbart situations us in a quarantined apartment building as the world enters a deadly phase of an undetermined virus. Young married couple, Coco and Pipi, find themselves pitted against their neighbours as the quarantine continues and the constricting apartment life, with dwindling supplies and unreliable information, slowly stars to get to them.

While it would seem this approach to a virus of apocalyptic proportions is the easier route to take, the other option being to show the chaos on the streets – enter expensive sets, make-up, special effects and so on, the choice to set this film in the apartment building means Goldbart must work harder to maintain his audience’s attention. At first the film borrows lightly from the comedy Shaun of the Dead, placing unenthused Gen Xers in a pandemic situation while they casually go about their grocery shopping and bickering. Soon, however the film begins to stand on its own legs as a piece of intriguing, modern Argentinian cinema with a black comedic heart.

With a middling pace Phase 7 ultimately aims to parody the absurdness of the majority of zombie and post apocalyptic films with its casual tone, and it pays off in a dry, offbeat way. A fun, ingenious film to close the La Mirada Film Festival and one which promises great things to come from its director.

Phase 7 plays the closing night of the festival – April 25, 2011. Please see the La Mirada Film Festival website for details.

Audi German Film Festival: The Day of the Cat (2010)

12 Apr

(Wolfgang Panzer, 2010, Germany, in German, Drama, 89 minutes)

The Day of the Cat is an at times amusing political drama that more often than not fails to rise to the occasion. Bruno Ganz (Wings of Desire, Downfall) plays the Swiss President, nicknamed The Great Cat, who puts his nine lives to the test both professionally and personally when a crisis in his cabinet and an impending visit from the Spanish royalty meet head on with his ongoing struggle to deal with his son’s terminal condition. Continue reading

Picture Me: A Model’s Diary

11 Mar

By Jess Lomas

In a society where fashion reins supreme, where models earn the big bucks for wearing the small sizes, and where negative body image is an issue that will seemingly never be resolved, the prospect of an insiders look at the world of modelling is enticing.

Former teen model Sarah Ziff sets out with her boyfriend, a documentary film maker, to take us into the unseen world of modelling; the gruelling schedules, sexual advances, bitchiness, constant pressure on body size and clear skin. What her boyfriend doesn’t film Sarah herself captures on a pint-sized camera that she takes with her on the road and backstage at some of the biggest fashion shows on the global tour.

Using a combination of diary style entries, as well as interviews with other models – Sarah’s friends, and catwalk footage – Picture Me at first appears to be an engaging expose of the truth behind the glamour. Where the documentary falters, and begins to lose its audience, is when it fails to deliver its promise – we don’t see a side of modelling we haven’t seen before, and this “inner world of modelling” the film promotes isn’t anything you can’t see in many films that have come before it.

If the fashion world intrigues you, Picture Me is worth your time. The backstage footage alone will make many an enthusiast long for the opportunity to rub shoulders with such illustrious designers and such stunning beauties. If, however, you’re wanting to see an in-depth exploration of the lifestyle and moral and emotional costs of being a high fashion model, avoid disappointment and avoid this film.

The issue of the age a female model should begin is handled quite masterfully as the “older” models (being in their early twenties) discuss the impact on their careers as twelve-year-old girls snap at their heels.

While sexual advances and favours are discussed in the film, and one model even manages to muster a few tears, the intimate filmmaking style doesn’t allow for such a serious, and interesting, topic to be further investigated. So too is the case for the overall affect modelling has on these women, we are instead given a message that the money is great but the work is hard and ultimately once you hit a certain age you’re yesterday’s news.

Picture Me: A Model’s Diary is playing at The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (acmi) on Sunday 13 March 5.30pm and Tuesday 15 March 2.30pm.