Tag Archives: Cinema

MIAF 2014 DAY 10: 3 Days In Paris – Historical, Best Of The Fest

30 Jun

3 Days In Paris – Historical

clinic

As the last Paris experience didn’t go as well as expected, I thought I would give the French another chance. As I explained in my last Paris post, French animation is generally very well done. France is a nation that is not only passionate about the art form, but they have a widespread understanding of its purpose and relevance, which is why we are going to continue being blessed with its presence. So imagine my disappointment from once again being let down by sub-par French animation. I probably shouldn’t have got my hopes up about this session being “historic” seeing as the earliest film was from 1990, but in the past the historic session have been among my favourites and since this year’s festival didn’t have much in the way of history I was hoping that this session would fill the void. It did not. It’s bewildering, really. I don’t know whether it was a poor selection of films, or maybe the top studios in Paris were missed, or maybe Paris isn’t where France’s decent animation comes from (it is a very big country after all), but these films were soulless and lacked substance. The animation itself wasn’t bad, but it was pretty standard when compared to the rest of France and the rest of the festival. My biggest issue was that most of these films seemed utterly pointless. Too often when a film ended I asked the question “why would you bother going to all that effort for this?” I’m hoping there is something cultural that I am missing; that maybe you have to be from Paris to understand these films because right now I am lost. There were only two films from this session that even remotely tickled my fancy and they happened to be the two oldest films (now I really need my history fix). They were:

Le Balayeur

Clinic – Alexander Bubnov. Totally psychotic animation about medical fears. There’s the GP whose immunisation needle snaps off in the posterior of a patient, an optometrist who plucks eyes out patients and pins new ones in, and a whole lot of medical horror we can only wish will never happen to anyone. The animation is cartoony while being darkly humorous.

Le Balayeur – Serge Elissalde. Well drawn pencil animation about one freaky ape-looking street sweeper who attacks everything that comes near his sweeping area. He smashes things with his broom then shoves them down the drain. A young girl’s ball goes down the drain and the freaky man tries to fish it out, taking out everything he had shoved down there in the first place. He then goes to jail. The morel of the story is: assault and vandalism with a broom is not the best way to avoid prison.

 

Best Of The Fest

elephnats garden

All good things must come to an end. Best of the Fest is a joyous time where the greatest films of the festival are honoured. It is also a sad time because as the final credits of the final film reach the bottom, the festival disappears like a mirage. Attempts to organise an official after party ceased years ago, presumably because it took energy away from the more important event – the festival. Anyway, the festival is what we came for and the festival is what we get. This year’s MIAF brought some intense mixed feelings. Where there is normally a lot of variety within the session creating an overall feeling of “very good” or “not so good,” this year’s festival had more of an extreme feel to it where some sessions were “amazing” while others “sucked.” Those Paris showcases were nowhere near as good as anticipated and were the major disappointments of the festival. Late Night Macabre and Quickdraw’s 30th Anniversary (even with its positive back story and purpose) suffered from too many sub-par films. But on the other hand, the quality of the South American showcases was a very pleasant surprise. This year also had the best Australian Showcase, Kids Program, and Late Night Bizarre that I have witnessed in my 5 years of attending the festival. And let’s not forget the International Competition Programs that were packed with fantastic films, and International Program #2 being arguably the best single session of anything I have seen during my time at MIAF.

I am very proud (and a little bit smug) to announce that this year the judges got nearly everything right, many of the honoured films being those that I either predicted or mentioned as standout films. I don’t mean to toot my own horn or anything, but come on; you got to admit it’s a whole lotta fun predicting the winners at award ceremonies. Pity no one was taking bets here.

The Best of the Fest session begins with festival director, Malcolm Turner, announcing the best films and honourable mentions of each competition category, and then an assortment of the films are screened. After we view a handful of the top films there is a break where the judges announce the best Australian student film, the best Australian film, the best international student film, and then the grand prize of “Best of the Festival.” As I mentioned above, every film that won I have already written on, so feel free to Ctrl+F the film’s title to see my earlier review of them. The list of the festival winners can be found at the MIAF website.

It made me exceptionally happy to see the films To This Day, Land, and Ex Animo win their international programs as they truly were in the top tier of films for the whole festival. I was incredibly excited about The Elephant’s Garden being hailed as the best Australian film as part of me didn’t think it would win. That film winning best Australian film is like a David Lynch film winning the Academy Award for best feature – it’s that strange and different film that has a strong cult following, but deep down you know the award is going to go to the obvious biopic or drama that wins every year. Well done The Elephant’s Garden!

MarilynMyller

Marilyn Myller winning the Best of the Festival gave me some initial mixed thoughts. “Best of the Festival” means that this one film was of a higher quality than any other competition film. I have a history of allowing the Best of the Festival to go straight over my head; as in, I remember being in the session while the film played but the film did not leave an instant impression on me. This does not mean that I feel the top pick was inferior, just that many of these animated films don’t instantly slap you in the face with their awesomeness; they take a bit more understanding.

Thankfully MIAF does something that every award ceremony should do – explain why the winning film deserved to win. The judging for MIAF comprises of real industry professionals who are not part of a secret organisation and who are not afraid to reveal their identity. These are people are animators themselves who live animation. They travel around the world visiting many animation festivals and hence are given the opportunity to witness a lot of the competition films on multiple occasions. It also gives them the chance to dig deeper with certain standout films. To simply sum up the case of Marilyn Myller, the film was basically technical mastery on a level that is difficult to comprehend. Firstly, director Mikey Please used a type of foam as his animation medium; something that is insanely complex as it involves carving new sculptures for pretty much every movement. But the interesting lighting that I mentioned in my review of the film is ever more complex. Please’s lightning setup to create his amazing shadows and scattered patterns over a completely white landscape was so advanced that pretty much every frame has its own unique setup.

This explanation would divide the audience right down the middle for two reasons. Reason 1) The bonus knowledge of this film may give it an unfair advantage and for a film to be truly deserving of winning then it should have widespread appeal and not need to rely on all the behind-the-scenes extras that only then make you understand its worthiness. Reason 2) Here is an animation festival created by and attended by true animation enthusiasts and therefore the most unique and complex animation (with the explanation to help those less familiar to understand) should be more than deserving of the top prize. Admittedly I was initially in the first category. I felt that it was an interesting film but not my favourite of the festival. I have since come to change my mind on the matter; not that I now believe it is the best film of the festival (I still stand by my To This Day pick) but I respect the decision to name Marilyn Myller the best of the festival because if festivals like MIAF don’t publicly honour the tireless efforts and technical genius that some true artists of capable of, then who will?

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MIFF 2013: 3 x 3D

30 Jul

Peter Greenaway, Jean-Luc Godard, Edgar Pera (Portugal)

Image

By Ryan Heath

Two cinema heavy weights (Peter Greenaway and Jean-Luc Godard) join up with prolific but lesser known Portugal Auteur Edgar Pera, to shed an intelligent, thought provoking and at times damn right terrifying meditation on Cinemas medium of the moment, 3D.

The movie is split into three segments, starting with Greenaway’s visually stunning, brief history of Guimaraes (the film was financed by the Portuguese city), whilst Godard, in true Godard style, leaves the audience squirming, as his montages cinema old and new, asking questions and pointing fingers at…well, this requires multiple viewings.

Pera’s finishes off the triptych with a Lynchian-esque nightmare, where the focus seems to be squaring on us, the spectator. What all three do accomplish is way to use the aesthetic to truly benefit an idea, or a story, though also how to truly confront an audience that may be all too well desensitised. What is accomplished is a refreshing take on the third dimension that may restore interest in a medium that has left a lot of people jaded.

 Ryan Heath is a handsome man who works at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne and is also an actor. 

Heaven’s Gate Minute by Minute: 209 of 209

10 Jun

209 of 209

I’m yet to see the names of the million plus extras. I suppose there’s not enough material in the universe to make the film stock required to screen all those names.

What on Earth is ‘Atmosphere Casting’? Did this Tony Gaznick character cast smoke, haze, mist and shards of light? Or was he responsible for the nitrogen, oxygen and argon on set?

“Hey, Ms. Casting Agent Person,”
“Hi Tony, what can I do for you?”
“We’ve got a role for some air. It’ll be playing the town photographer, have you got a canister you can send over?”
“Tony, you know the air on my books won’t play 19th century photographers. They keep geting burned up in the magnesium flashes.”

Before CGI, actors were forced to play layers of gas in motion pictures. In addition to John Proctor, Daniel Day Lewis also played the exosphere in The Crucible. He’s so versatile.

Oh, the key grips were Richard Deats and Tony Cridlin. That’s good to know, I was thinking throughout the whole film that the movie is well gripped. I must send them a congratulatory e-card.

The credits move seamlessly into the thank yous. A courteous man, Michael Cimino has been generous in extending his gratitude. He thanks the USA, then the Governor of Montana, Glacier National Parks and several other forest/park departments who I presume are all part of the USA. If you lead by thanking the entire country, is there a need to get into specifics? You just say, “Thanks America,” and everyone is covered. Thank Earth just to be on the safe side if you’re frightened of missing someone, like Penny. Everyone always forgets poor ol’ Penny. If you’re asking yourself, “Who the hell is Penny?” Exactly. Case in point.

The music and the increasing sparcity of the names leads me to believe the film is at last ending. As the final credits role, it might be a good moment to reflect. Cue reflection music, something with a harp and a basset horn, but no keytars.

After four years and having finally seen all of it, what do I think of Heaven’s Gate; the tale of love amidst the Johnson County cattle wars of Wyoming during the late 1800s? My final analysis is the film is much like this review – long, pointless and centred on something completely obscure.

Written in Panavision.

Colour by the distribution of light power versus wavelength interacting with the eye.

The soundtrack for this review can be purchased through Sony Records, or stolen from John Hurt’s garage.

Thank you for reading, thank you Penny and thank you Earth.

The end.

© MMXIIVCDIIVIVQXVIVIIX

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Heaven’s Gate Minute by Minute: 208 of 209

8 Jun

208 of 209

The credits keep on a-rollin’. They’re moving at a good speed, I’d say. Not too fast, not too slow – they’re in something scientists like to call the ‘end credits Goldilocks zone’. Whether credits do or don’t fall into this category is adjudicated by Goldie Hawn. She takes the role very seriously, so don’t ever scroll text passed her too quickly. A waiter once waved a dinner menu speedily in front of her and she drowned him in a vat of minestrone. The thing is, the restaurant wasn’t even serving soup, she bought it in herself just in case.

There were three assistant camera men, apparently. Ken, Eric and Michael. I think that’s a good number and what a likely lot they would have been on set, hey? Kensy Ez & Mick! Oh, the hijinks and tomfoolery they would’ve gotten up too. On a serious note, practical jokes cause deaths in the workplace. Pull your juvenile heads in, Ken, Mick and Eric!

Heaven’s Gate was stunt coordinated by Buddy Van Horn. It’s nice to see some adult entertainer/anti-Western cross over.

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Heaven’s Gate Minute by Minute: 207 of 209

7 Jun

207 of 209

Cut to an exterior shot of the boat, which is a metaphor for slightly smaller boats. Look at that boat chimney smoke, it’s like a big, fluffy, sooty, suffocating pillow. Smoke inhalation was never so comfortable.

Fade to black and… the credits roll. What?! Are you serious? I’ve got to review three minutes of credits? You mother… Alright fine.

Font is perfect and the exact same font I would have chosen. Predictably, we start with the acting credits. It’s quite handy to read actually, we finally get to know some character names.

Kris Kristofferson played Averill? I didn’t hear anyone call him that. He was referred to as James, or Jim, or Helena during the underwater dream dance sequence. Isn’t Averill a cheap brand of ibuprofen? Or is that Advil? Either way, I prefer fast acting pain relief. It’s possible James’ last name is product placement and the film was sponsored by big pharma. Ah yes, that confirms it – Christopher Walken as Xanax and Jeff Bridges as Lipitor.

‘Moustached Mercenary’. That’s an amazing character name. Any actor would grow a moustache and kill to have that on their CV.

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Heaven’s Gate Minute by Minute: 206 of 209

7 Jun

206 of 209

Who is this mystery woman? A-hah! I remember. I think she’s the girlfriend we saw waltzing with James in the prologue at Harvard University. I was partially right to check my dance cards. I couldn’t check James’, he’s never allowed his dance cards to enter the public domain. I launched many FOI requests, but was unsuccessful.

Did James lose Ella, then take out his address book and look up an old girlfriend? Lame, man. Though, it was a lot harder to do in those days, he couldn’t just Facebook search her. Looking up an old girlfriend in the late 19th century involved public registries, censuses, pigeons, private investigators and letters passed on by a portly intermediary named Susan.

James look very solemn. As he gazes over his ol’ dance partner, you can see the remorse and regret. He is still haunted by the past; by Ella, by the Sovereign of the Stock Growers Association, by John Hurt and the wily cows, by vellum rain, by rollerskating cowboys, by antelope trains, by the number 86, by the family in the stationmaster’s pipe, by hover bikes, by keytars, by cockfights, by whiskey rivers, by the Bureau of Meteorology, by death lists, by George Negus, by fly racing, by patents pending, by giant bees, by burning hedges, by fluffy hats, by extras, by Kooyong, by tobacco, by $50 a day plus expenses, by Nate and his acting hat, by Iron Man, by cabin tanks, by spooky butlers and by bloody wagons!

His lip trembles. Yeah, I suppose that’s a lot of shit to get over.

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Heaven’s Gate Minute by Minute: 205 of 209

5 Jun

205 of 209

It should be mentioned at the end of the previous minute another spooky butler appeared and the mysterious woman asked for a cigarette. But no one is going to mention it, so no point lamenting it now.

It’s unfortunate the butler didn’t sing The Ol’ Butler Shuffle. If he had, it could have been released as a single to help recoup some of the film’s losses. Novelty songs have always used in this way. Shaddap You Face was sung in a deleted scene of The Godfather III. In the end, the producers felt it was distasteful.

Jim obliges the woman’s request and hands her a cigarette. He reaches for a lighter, opens it… goodness, they’re moving so slowly. Get on with it. It’s as though they’re both in slow motion. Did someone accidentally change the frame rate?

Come on, if you’re producing a three hour film, you can’t dwell on every single bloody moment as though the simple act of lighting a cigarette has significance that should be drawn out with slow deliberate reverence. Light the fucking thing! Light it!

Thank you. It’s lit. Nicotine can now be inhaled. I’ve never seen anyone who asks for a cigarette take their time getting it to their mouth. I’m like that with milk. If I ask for a glass, you can bet the moment you give it to me I’m going to freeze dry it, chop it up and snort it. Presuming you also lend me the liquid nitrogen.

The mystery woman, who I assume is Jim’s partner or wife, looks familiar. Perhaps we met at a social, or ball? I’d better check my old dance cards and see if any names ring a bell.

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Heaven’s Gate Minute by Minute: 204 of 209

4 Jun

204 of 209

Below deck James enters his opulent bedroom. So much opulence! It’s dripping opulence. Jim is going to need an opulence rain coat, lest he be covered in wet opulence. Is anyone else turned on?

Jim is again silently pottering about. That would be my synopsis of Heaven’s Gate – Jim silently goes about his business, a bunch of stuff happens around him.

Oo-la-la, there is a strange woman in his boudoir. I hate it when that happens. So often I’ll come home to find a middle aged woman in my luxurious bedroom. “Away foul temptress!” I cry, only to realise it is not my house and I’m in fact yelling at an otterman with a snuggy draped over it.

The film is almost over. Who is this strange woman and what does she represent? The people of Kooyong? Is the local member for Kooyong asleep on Jim’s boat?!

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*Kooyong is an ancient underwater city and is owned by Russia

Heaven’s Gate Minute by Minute: 203 of 209

4 Jun

203 of 209

It’s future time! Cue lasers, robots and Google Cufflinks (patent pending).  A boat drifts behind a caption – “Newport, Rhode Island 1903”. I like Newport, it’s so much better than Oldport and far superior to Getting-On-A-Bit-Port.

James strolls the deck looking rather weathered and aged. Nothing like owning a boat to help forget your past. It’s a terrific way to overcome trauma. In fact, the Federal Government is introducing boat gifting as a key element of its mental heath policy. With a referral from your GP, each citizen is entitled to ten Medicare subsidised sessions with a psychologist per calendar year, plus a boat.

It’s working wonders apparently, except for people who are trying to overcome the trauma of a boating accident. Anecdotally, they seem to react less positively to the treatment.

The boat is certainly a step up from that stupid wagon Jim owned. It’s quite the status symbol. Owning a wagon back then was like owning an Audi, owning a boat was like owning Kooyong.

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*For international readers, an Audi is a pretend car and Kooyong is an affluent suburb of Melbourne that once hosted the Australian Tennis Open. Nowadays, Kooyong is an independent nation and has a freeway.

Heaven’s Gate Minute by Minute: 202 of 209

3 Jun

202 of 209

So sad. Jim weeps, cradling Ella in his arms. It was important for me to specify Ella is being cradled in arms because Jim carries a wooden cradle in his pocket. It’s a foldable one he bought from Wild West IKEA.

Wild West IKEA was great, but cowboys’ horses kept mysteriously disappearing from the horse parking lot during its heyday.

I feel sorry for Jeff Bridges. I also feel sorry for his character. No one is there to weep over his dead body. Surely Jim could sprinkle a few tear drops on Jeff? It might even bring him back to life, so long as the tears are mixed with unicorn semen.

James is quite upset and this is a very sad scene. It’s sadder than the time I went to Universal Studios and the Jaws shark wasn’t working. That was tough…

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