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AFR Radio: Episode One

26 Sep

So we recorded a film radio show on the new Melbourne internet radio station Radio Valerie last Saturday. This will be a fortnightly thing.

Listen to episode 1. 

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Film Review (1st take): ORANGES AND SUNSHINE (2011)

3 Jun

By Chris Harrigan from ChirspandAllen

I’m not sure who thought up the scheme at the centre of Oranges & Sunshine but they must have been one of those rare Cruella de Vil-esque evil geniuses.

Britain’s welfare system was busting at the seams; meanwhile its colony on the other side of the world was desperate for white immigrants. A lesser villain wouldn’t have a drawn a link between the two problems, but the British Empire was no lesser villain. In a two-for-one special they decided to shift tens of thousands of kids under the care of the state off to Australia, where they enjoyed all the fruits of a regular childhood such as building churches, working farms, and fending off sexual assault. As an added corker, many of them were told (falsely) that their parents were dead. (You just got punk’d, kids!).

It is this miscarriage of justice – made all the worse by the denial by both British and Australian governments that it ever occurred – that Oranges & Sunshine sets out to tell. Or at least purports to. In actuality the film centres foremost on Margaret Humphreys (Emily Watson), the social worker whose tireless efforts to uncover the truth reunited thousands of ‘lost children’ with their parents and siblings back in Britain, and brought about an official apology in 2009.

But while Orange’s intentions are good, in focusing so exclusively on Humphreys something of the enormity of the story seems lost. Hugo Weaving is terrific as a recovering lost child searching for his family, and this is where the heart of film should lie. But it’s Humphreys who gets the spotlight, and to the film’s detriment. Her story almost feels like the sub-plot to another film whose main arc has been accidently left on the cutting room floor.

Oranges scatters moments of catharsis amongst the otherwise banal scenes of Humphreys’ bureaucratic work, but the effect is uneven, and many character’s epiphanies are too easily drawn, too lacking in context and delivery; their stories almost told in shorthand. And it’s a shame, because it’s their stories that are not only so compelling, but which need to be told.

Thanks to Nic Scott and the rest of Chirsp’s friends for their eagle eyed editing of this piece. You know who you are.

Sydney Film Festival 2011: AFR Suggestions

31 May

1. Michael de Martino

SURVIVING LIFE

SURVIVING LIFE: I am a Švankmajer nut. He is my third favourite director ever. I own all the films it is possible to own from him. I have also written on him and have mentioned him in numerous writings. I knew this film was on the brink of a release but as of yet I haven’t been able to get my hands on it so naturally, this is my top selection of the films at the festival. I should stop here because I can get very carried away with Švankmajer. The guy is a genius, no doubt about it.

THE TROLL HUNTER: I was quite a fan of The Blair Witch Project, so to hear of a satirical Nordic film about trolls made in the same style made my jaw drop. I haven’t seen too many Nordic films which is something I hope to rectify asap, and what better way to do this than by seeing a totally unique film like this one? Genre films like this don’t come around as often as they should, so you have to enjoy them whenever you can.

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Ski Jumping Pairs DVD Giveaway!

7 Jul

Stay one step ahead of the meme race this winter! To celebrate what passes for a ski season round these parts and Ronan’s inevitable demise as AFR despot, we have 2 Ski Jumping Pairs DVDs to give away.

To win all you need to do is send us your favorite you-tube clip of something Japanese.  Remember, we don’t concentrate anymore so anything short that perpetrates stereotypical representations of Japan would be great.

To Enter just cut/copy/paste those links and send them to ausfilmreview@gmail.com.

Entries close next Wednesday the 14th of March.

Good Luck!

DVD review: Of Time and the City (2008)

7 Jul

“It’s grim up north” could so easily have been the tagline for acclaimed British director Terence Davies’ documentary ode to Liverpool, the city of his birth. His multi award-winning film, now available on DVD, is a return to his roots, and the superb archive footage of a post WW2 city, ravaged by bombs, grime and poverty shows us the conditions, influences and lifestyles which shaped a generation.

This highly personal trip was a cathartic experience for the director of DISTANT VOICES, STILL LIVES and THE HOUSE OF MIRTH, and we get to know Davies, and the city, through some amazing footage of backstreet slums, alongside the opulence of the Catholic churches which were a strong feature of his youth. His droll, and sometimes very waspish, commentary charts both the city’s rebirth and regeneration in those baby boomer years of the fifties and sixties, as he discovers classical music, and grapples with his sexuality.

If I’ve got a (minor) gripe over this very thought-provoking film, it’s Davies’ blithe dismissal of the effect his hometown contemporaries The Beatles had on the people of Liverpool, and that city’s image in the eyes of the whole world in the decade now known as the Swinging Sixties.

Quibbles aside, this is a very rewarding film, and the DVD also contains a revealing interview with Davies by David Stratton, and an extremely informative 14 page essay and illustrated booklet written by Brian McFarlane, an Adjunct Associate Professor at Monash University.

Mike Childs

–> NY Times review

–> Available through Madman

DVD Review: Mesrine (2009)

28 Jun

Ben Buckingham is hanging out with ultra-violent crooks again. Perhaps I should vary the movies I send him… Want to do Garfield 2: A Tail of Two kitties next time Ben?

Forty minutes in and already there has been two beat downs, a knee-capping, an (off-screen) mutilation, and a murder. The first part of Mesrine, entitled L`instinct de Mort (The Killer Instinct), is living up to its name.

Mesrine: Public Enemy Number One (as it is titled in Australia) is a four hour crime thriller detailing the more lurid aspects of the real-life French criminal Jacques Mesrine. Throughout the ’60s and ’70s he committed numerous bank heists, kidnappings and murders, quickly making himself the number one public enemy in France. Continue reading

Tim Burton: The Exhibition (Australian Centre for the Moving Image)

23 Jun

Man et Art

Today saw the unveiling of the latest in the Melbourne Winter Masterpiece series: TIM BURTON THE EXHIBITION at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image and I was lucky enough to be there. The exhibit is made up of over 700 pieces from throughout Burton’s lengthy career, sourced from various private galleries, studio archives and even Burton’s own home. It truly is an intimate look into the mind of a man with a very specific and recognisable artistic vision.

The Batmobile sits in the acmi foyer, guarding the entrance to Gallery 1 (where the exhibit is displayed). It’s appearance is shiny, sleek and polished; three words I wouldn’t use to describe any of the works of art deep within the gallery itself. After walking through the entrance, (a large ghoulish mouth,) a bright red glow lights the stairwell and gives the impression we’re descending into the depths of something sinister. At the bottom, a podium had been erected, presumably for the purposes of the unveiling. It was surrounded by items from one of Burton’s most popular films, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, including the character’s Gothic outfit, a topiary stag, and one of the actual ‘scissorhands’. It was here that the likes of ACMI Director Tony Sweeney and Museum of Modern Art’s Ron Magliozzi introduced the exhibit and highlighted some of the statistics behind both Burton’s films (ALICE IN WONDERLAND is now the fifth highest grossing film of all time!) and the exhibit’s original run at MoMA in New York (it’s the third most attended retrospective behind only Picasso and Matisse!).

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DVD Review: In the Electric Mist (2009)

18 Jun

Tommy Lee Jones is Louisiana detective Dave Robicheaux, a former-alcoholic searching for a killer wanted for the grisly murders of a couple of young women in Bertrand Tavernier’s atmospheric thriller IN THE ELETRIC MIST. He’s haunted by some things he’s seen, some things he’s done, and the rather talkative ghost of a Confederate General.

The film features a terrific supporting cast with John Goodman as the lead suspect, a local crime boss by the name of Babyfeet Balboni. Peter Sarsgaard plays a heavy-drinking Hollywood star who’s shooting a film in the area (that happens to be bankrolled by Balboni) and Kelly McDonald plays his actress girlfriend. The musician Levon Helm (former drummer of The Band) plays the ghost of John Bell Hood, the real-life Civil War General who’s aggression and recklessness has plenty in common with the man he’s haunting/helping.

Robicheaux certainly is reckless: slashing tyres, beating information out of suspects and getting answers from the other end of a shotgun, Jones plays him as a man who’s a little fed up with the state of his county post-hurricane, and I don’t just mean it’s appearance.

Smooth jazz, beautiful shots of the swamp area and plenty of violence mixed with dodgy police work. A superb thriller that gets nearly everything right.

GJB

DVD Extras: Trailers.

Links->

GJB’s most illuminating and lovely blog, Sounds Like Cinema

A review of In The Electric Mist in French

ITEM is distributed locally through Madmen

DVD review: Bronson (2009)

17 Jun

Cinecultania’s Ben Buckingham goes into lockdown with Britain’s most notoriously violent criminal Mr Charlie Bronson


“They don’t give you a star on the walk of fame for ‘not bad’ do they?”, so states Charlie Bronson rhetorically, setting forth  the agenda for his life: being bad, and being very good at it. Here we have a bio-pic of a different sort: the real life shenanigans of Britain’s most notorious and violent criminal.

Since his initial imprisonment, a 7 year term for armed robbery in which he made off with almost nothing, he has spent little more than 4 months outside of prison walls as a result of hyper-aggressive behaviour. Hostage situations, endless fights with prisoners and guards, and generally psychopathic behaviour have been the cause of this endless incarceration.

Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn’s Bronson doesn’t try to explain this strange creature; there are no quick answers in his upbringing and it does not glorify violence nor the criminal world. Bronson is unlike all the film criminals we have seen before, and Refn’s unusual film reflects this, preferring to ask questions of happiness and how do we live our lives than become an action piece or social commentary. Bronson is a deeply philosophical film. It is less about the individual, less about the specific events of Charles Bronson’s life, a man of masks, than it is about the niches we carve out for ourselves in order to survive. Refn has skillfully created a film which speaks beautifully of the failure of acceptable norms of existence. For this reason, the reactions to this film will always be complex and difficult.

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Campaign: Stephen Fry *Updated* *Success!*

12 Jun

Hi,

Sitting is just one of the things Stephen Fry does well.

WELL! well well well well. We did it! Mr S Fry has plans to join us in fair (well not at this time of year, but shhh don’t tell him) city of Melbourne.

Here is the holy tweet of confirmation. http://twitter.com/stephenfry/status/16133969459

Stephen, if Melbourne didn’t adore you already, they sure do now!

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