Tag Archives: recommendations

SFF 2011: HOW TO START YOUR OWN COUNTRY: The Hutt River Royals Hit The Dendy CQ

10 Jun


By Lukey Folkard, Sydney Film Festival Correpondent

His Dubious Royal Highness, Prince Leonard of Hutt River Province, graced the Sydney Film Festival red carpet on Thursday with Princess Shirley in tow for the opening of How To Start Your Own Country.

Australia’s only royal family and once controversial seceders have gotten quite a lot older since founding the Hutt River Province and now they’re subjects of one of the first films about micronations.

This Canadian documentary by Green Porn director Jody Shapiro, takes the viewer to five of the world’s more famous micronations. Inspired by Erwin Strauss’ 1985 book of the same name, what starts as a quirky narrative on eccentric, island owners soon develops into a meditation on the legitimacy of nationhood and/or the illusion of it.

From silly Seeland and Molossia Republic to the bigger, serious, questions of Palestine and the UN,
if you haven’t heard of micronations before this will be a good starting point. Unfortunately the whole piece felt a bit ‘lite’ for me, having already an interest in the subject. It’s well edited and features great music and cinematography, but lacks the humour and originality of Danny Wallace’s 2005 BBC doco series of, again, the same name. Hmmm… Jody Shapiro had originally approached BBC to produce.

Either way, Prince Lenny went home to his kingdom happy. A short, enjoyable, bit of edutainment at only 72 minutes.



SFF 2011: HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN: Delivering justice one shell at a time.

9 Jun

By Luke Folkard

Jason Eisener’s semi-comedic, Technicolor exploitation flick, Hobo With a Shotgun, is the second fake trailer made real from Tarantino and Rodriguez’s 2007 Grindhouse double . If you enjoyed the first, Machete, you should be pleased with this retro VHS gore fest that harkens back to the seedy cinemas of the 70’s and the dusty video shelves of the 80’s.

For fans of John Carpenter, Dario Argento, and the tradition of the old slasher era, this is a must see, with an authentic and excellent soundtrack to boot.  Made in Canada, on the cheap, I must also hint that fans of Trailer Park Boys should be taking a look.


Bladerunner villain, and veteran Dutch actor, Rutger Hauer delivers convincingly bad one-liners and yet somehow also brings dignity to the eyes of Hobo (while continuously eviscerating with the shotgun).

A HUGE warning to the weak of stomach and sensitive of temperament: simply avoid this movie! You will be confronted every few minutes with scenes so borderline taboo even the hardest horror fans will double take. Fortunately, this movie is almost never serious, leaving you laughing though every dismemberment and worse.

Definitely the sleaziest, wrongest film of the SFF this year or maybe ever.


Hobo with a Shotgun is showing again at Sydney Film Festival on Monday, 13 June

MIFF 2010: Osadne

24 Jul


The fascinating world of rural Slovakian politics laid bare. Ahem. Runs at a mercifully short time of just over an hour. Puts the viewer in an awkward position of laughing at the quaint views and behaviour of the subject. Comic relief adds colour to the dull topic and always grey streets of Osadne. Doesn’t go as far as Baron-Cohen’s Borat in its mocking, but there is an undercurrent and I’m sure that’s most of the audience came for. Not without its charms but its three central protagonists (A priest, a mayor, an advocate of the Rusyn ethnicity) don’t give the director much to work with. **1/2

MIFF recommendations #2: Neighbourhood Watch

9 Jun

I wanted to write a brilliant summary of the varied films that come out of Asia, but tried for 10 minutes and then gave up.

Basically I want to say, Asian cinema = good. Asian cinema = surprising.

From the announced films in MIFF’s Asia-land section, I am DEFINITELY seeing Love in a Puff. Might take a recently quit smoker with me to torture them.

Speaking of torture, City of life and death looks amazingly well-shot, and certainly one to see in the cinema. However, it looks quite traumatic, so you might need to do some mental preparation first.

I am not sure about Love Doll – while quirky Japanese comedies are my thing, this just looks a bit gross. It’s about a love doll that comes to life and has an enchanting magical adventure in real life, including striking up some sort of r/ship with her owner. But has she effectively been getting raped by this sad fellow? Not quite sure how they are going to deal with that one.

I’m looking forward to the complete program. So much.

Does anyone have any thoughts?

Open ended question, I know.

MIFF 2010 recommendation #1: Documentary

8 Jun

Hello dear friend,

The greatest time of the year for local cinephiles is approaching: The Melbourne International Film Festival. For about 18 days, across 4 sites and about 8 cinemas the MIFF manages to pack a lot films in; most of which never receive a general or arthouse cinematic release (despite deserving to).

The elves over at the MIFF workshop announced the ‘first bite’ of films last week; you download the brochure here. What do you think looks great? For me, the documentary program always stands out.

Videocracy: Seems to explore the Eurotrash side to Italy, and also the immense power TV wields over there (as evinced in the long running success of that most vile and disappointing of humans, prime minister Berlusconi).

I’ve often been fascinated by, and felt deeply sorry for, the people who live amongst garbage villages. A new documentary, Wasteland , winner of the doco audience award at Sundance, explores this phenonomen of extreme adaptation: but it does so with a very artistic and self-aware twist. Looks like it’ll make me cry. I like weeping in the cinema, but I try to finish it before the lights come up, which is not always easy.

That’s it for now, do let me know if there is anything you think is a must see. I’ll be taking submissions during this period as well; if any one feels moved (positively or negatively) to get something across to the AFR’s 3 readers send it my way!

MIFF review: Unmade Beds; The Loved Ones; Hansel and Gretel

2 Aug

Unmade Beds **

Dir: Alexis Dos Santos (seemed like a lovely chap).

Shit. Shallow as fuck and too cool for school. Filled with dull self indulgent alcoholic mopers, and a love story that could make you want to punch things. I think it was supposed to be fun, cute and beguiling, but I found it irritating and contrived. I left this film with no idea of what the point was.  I honestly tried to like this film, and though there are one or two funny moments, after the first 20 minutes I just gave up and waited for it to end. The atmosphere is the only convincing part of this film so it may be interesting in 20 years or so as a document of a time and place, but I sincerely doubt the film will last in people minds long enough for that to happen.

The Loved Ones (2009) ***

After a weak and melodramatic beginning, it’s the second half where this film really takes off. First time feature director Sean Byrne shows a real talent for timing managing to combine comedy and horror in the same moment. Though this work has many faults, it is clear that Byrne is one to watch closely as a possible future Australian cult film identity. Despite not being a fan of horror movies, I was happlily taken on the ride with this one (though peeking through my fingers for many parts), and so was the audience who were simultaniously laughing, gasping, and slipping out the occasional profanity. I think this film could be particularly succesful with a teen audience.

Hansel and Gretel (2007) *****

hansel and gretel

Fairy tales more than many other forms of story telling have always illuminated the darkest abysses of our moral subconscious. Hansel and Gretel plumbs those depths.

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A young man Eun-Soo is in a car accident. He is found by a young girl and taken to her house in the clearing of a dark forest “The house of happy children.” In the house he finds a family, the picture of a kind of childhood utopia; it seams to be Christmas all the time and the house is filled with saccharin nostalgia, toys and cakes. His attempts to leave the house through the thick and winding forest seem to always lead him back to the house. The story line takes the kind of dark twisted and unexpected turns as the forest itself.

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This film is richly layered in European folk law, but with a distinctly south Korean creepiness. We follow Eun-Soo closly as he unravels the dark secrets behind the lives of the house and its inhabitants, feeling his confusion, fear and distrust he becomes the trully endearing hero of the story. This film taps into the psychology of the Grimm fairy tale demonstrating that this story is as affecting and frightening as it was as a child. Incredible production design and a sound track reminiscent of Danny Elfmans early work this film is an astoundingly imaginative and impressive achievement from young film maker Yim Phil-Sung. Truly unforgettable.

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