link to festival siteCompiled by Bill Mousoulis

Reports posted between Thursday July 20 and Saturday July 29

Posted Saturday July 29 (Of Women and Magic, Branded to Kill, Sensitive New Age Killer)

Posted Friday July 28 (Adrian Martin’s “MIFF Cigarettes”, Nothing, Bad Company, Hotel Splendide, Witchcraft, Funny Felix)

Posted Thursday July 27 (Ring, The Girl Next Door, Nowhere to Hide, Spring Forward)

Posted Wednesday July 26 (Ring & Ring 2, New Waterford Girl, Chocolat, I Prefer the Sound of the Sea)

Posted Tuesday July 25 (Ratcatcher, Gemini, Beau Travail, Everything’s Fine)

Posted Monday July 24 (Claire Denis films, The Virgin Suicides, The Limey, What is Life?, Seventeen Years)

Posted Sunday July 23 (Claire Denis films, The Colour of Paradise, Angst, Jesus’ Son)

Posted Saturday July 22 (Postcard, Return to Me, Wonder Boys, Shower, Angst)

Posted Friday July 21 (Dora-Heita, New Waterford Girl, two Seijun Suzuki films)

Posted Thursday July 20 (opening night)

Back to Daily Reports July 30 onwards

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MIFF Daily Report – Posted Saturday July 29

Reviews by Bill Mousoulis:

Of Women and Magic (Claude Miller, 1999, France)     Miller’s The Class Trip from last year was a cool, restrained, measured film, quite unlike this newer one, which adopts a more direct and pacier approach. But both films have a sense of terror underlying their proceedings. Not much is made of the whole magic/witchcraft thing here, but just enough to make this film quite amusing. Dogme-like, the film is shot on video, and the results look quite good.      (5)

Branded to Kill (Seijun Suzuki, 1967, Japan)        Jo Shisido as the hitman – and what a wonderful presence he is. This is a very stylish B&W ‘Scope gangster pic, with some highly erotic sex scenes, and with much sly, dry humour to boot. I like the editing especially – it is sharp and surprising, creating an overall structure that is angular and very unconventional. This film is quite unlike the two other Suzukis I’ve seen so far in this festival – it is stylised, assured, entertaining.        (6)

Sensitive New Age Killer (Mark Savage, 2000, Australia)       This hitman story seems to start off in Ghost Dog mode, with a primal (childhood) scene that creates a certain type of killer: a “sensitive” one, who protects the abused, killing off only those “who deserve it”. But this idea is abandoned almost immediately – so much for that (and the whole title, of course). But it doesn’t matter – this is a pure action film, not a philosophical or evocative one. And I was pleasantly surprised by it – the director has some great skills, in the way he stages and cuts everything. The film is still typically Australian in that the script is overly self-conscious and verbal, but also un-Australian in the sense that the director seems to have a will (i.e. some confidence/assurance, unlike most Australian directors).        (6)

My ratings …….. People who are following my reviews, and the scores out of 10 I’m giving films, must be wondering why everything seems to get a 5 or a 6. Simple answer: a film has to be unusually good to get something like an 8 (a 9 would be even rarer), or unusually bad to dip down to 3 or 2.

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MIFF Daily Report – Posted Friday July 28

Session News: Today’s 3pm session of Water Drops on Burning Rocks – film hasn’t arrived yet, Chuck and Buck will be playing in its place. SOLD OUT SESSIONS:  V48 (tonight’s High Fidelity), T55 (Profits of Punishment and Hurt), T73 (Wadd), Closing Night at Village (Mallboy). SELLING FAST: F49 (Time Regained), T49 (Chip Screening), V53 (Hotel Splendide), T56 (Peep Show), V56 (The Virgin Suicides), T61 (Chip Screening), V82 (High Fidelity), V83 (The Ninth Gate), V87 (The Million Dollar Hotel), V95 (Better than Sex), Closing Night Capitol (Mallboy).

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MIFF Cigarettes by Adrian Martin:

Films We Are Not Seeing at MIFF The usual disclaimers: not all films sought by a Festival are available. Some films have already been bought for later commercial release. Every event is finite. Choices must be made. Directions must be imposed. Etc etc, blah blah. All the same, here is a random list of some of the films we are not seeing this year, or in the last decade, at MIFF.

No Manoel de Oliveira (not even his 1998 masterpiece, Inquietude). No Béla Tarr (like his latest, The Werckmeister Harmonies). No Garrel, ever, not even when Catherine Deneuve is in it (Le vent de la nuit, 1999). Not Garrel’s collaborator, Noemie Lvovsky, whose third film Life Doesn’t Scare Me sounds like an ultimate teen movie. None of Assayas’ three films since Irma Vep (HHH: A Portrait of Hou Hsiao-hsien, Late August Early September, Sentimental Destinies). Not much from Cannes 2000, like Akerman’s The Captive or Wong Kar-Wai’s In the Mood for Love or Edward Yang’s Yi Yi: A One and a Two or Saint Cyr from Patricia Mazuy, who made the extraordinary Travolta and Me (1994). One catch-up from Cannes 1999 (Ruiz’s Proust), but what about the Dardennes’ Palme d’or winner, Rosetta (which Nicole Brenez describes as “our Mouchette“), or Youssef Chahine’s The Other, or Carax’s Pola X (nobody much likes it, but I want to see it)? Chris Marker’s new film, an intimate portrait of Tarkovksy called One Day in the Life of Andrei Arsenevitch – surely all the Marker and Tarkovsky fans in Melbourne would, together, pack out any hall?

Some of the more experimental Asian films of the moment, like Suwa Nobuhiro’s M/Other and Hong Sang-soo’s Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, make it to BIFF (Brisbane International Film Festival) but not MIFF – as does the ‘editor’s cut’ of Donald Cammell’s Wildside (1995/9). That’s an old MIFF pattern, meted out to Straub & Huillet, for example: we get the doco on the filmmaker, but not his or her actual films. And speaking of whom: there hasn’t been a Straub & Huillet in this country since an AFI screening of Class Relations (1984) – not the opera films, not the Cezanne film, not their latest, Sicilia!, which is loved by many abroad. What of Bigas Luna, whose prolific career since Jamón Jamón (1992) can (raggedly) be followed on World Movies channel, and his Volavérunt (1999)? Jon Jost’s equally prolific work on digital video?

Then there’s Pascal Bonitzer’s first two films as director as well as writer, Encore (1996) and Rien sur Robert (1999). The various films by an ex-MIFF staple, now a forgotten man, Miklos Jancso, made during the ’90s. The much praised work of Kira Muratova, like the 1997 Three Stories (a full retrospective is in order). The last Skolimowski, starring Crispin Glover. The last Angelopoulos, Eternity and a Day, which even his detractors admire. The longer, re-edited version of Kusturica’s Underground (there could never be enough of it). Any shorts from within the past fifteen to twenty years by Stan Brakhage or Luc Moullet. The last few films by Valeria Sarmiento, including Elle, her gender-switched remake of Bunuel’s El. The amazing New Rose Hotel (1998) by Abel Ferrara (ditto on the retrospective). The complete film works of photographers Robert Frank and Raymond Depardon. Caesar’s Park, a new doco by American Movie’s co-maker, Sarah Price. And Ring 0, third film in the already popular Ring cycle, which happens to be screening (in case you’re travelling) August 15, 11pm, at the Edinburgh Film Festival.

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Reviews by Bill Mousoulis:

Nothing (Dorota Kedzierzawska, 1998, Poland)          Seemingly engulfed in the film’s golden brown patina, the beleagured mother/wife has nowhere to run to, no-one to turn to … she has nothing. This is a claustrophobic, unappealing story. But the director has a trick up her sleeve: the form. As the film progresses, with its myriad shots through wire, curtains, leaves, etc., and its almost hallucinatory time and space shiftings, it becomes clear what the form is doing: it is matching our poor woman’s emotional state, one of hazy depression.       (5)

Bad Company (Jean-Pierre Ameris, 1999, France)       When we see a person (on the street, or on the news) found in a debased state, we may wonder about how they got there. This film charts such a journey, of a seemingly “nice” 14-year-old girl, and how she ends up a certain way. The French have a monopoly on the “teenage psychological drama” genre, and this is a fine addition (to films such as Travolta and Me, Wild Reeds, Set Me Free, etc.)       (6)

Soft focus – No, this isn’t the title of a film, but it very well could be considering the display shown by certain projectionists at MIFF this year. But I want to make this criticism of mine “soft”, because at least this year I haven’t experienced any blatantly out-of-focus projections (unlike last year). Still, about 6 or so of the 17 sessions I’ve attended have been marred by soft focus. It’s the kind of soft focus that’s barely noticeable, and that projectionists get away with because no-one complains, but it’s there, and it’s annoying. It’s been happening mainly at the Capitol, and for the 2nd half of films, on the reel changeover (it happended during Beau Travail last Saturday, and Bad Company last night, for example). There have been other projection gaffes of course, but they are so clunky that they are apparent to everyone and they get corrected. This soft focus problem is subtle and pervasive. And it will get worse as the festival progresses, I’m sure of it.

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Review by Mark Freeman:

Hotel Splendide (Terence Gross, 1999, UK)           Hotel Splendide is a hotel, whose foundations are essentially shit. Methane produced by those staying there fires the heating system, toilet lids chatter like novelty teeth, and sewage pumps out of these repositories like a fountain at various points in the narrative. Couple this with various gags on snot, eels and sexual perversion and you’ve pretty much got the gist of this lame comedy starring Toni Colette. The one primary function of a comedy is to be funny, and this one is not. Nor are the dramatic elements of Hotel Splendide particularly effective, in fact, like waiting for Jason Robards to die in Magnolia, you spend too much of this film waiting for the inevitable explosion to signal the end of this tedious effort.

Modelled on the films of Caro and Jeunet, Hotel Splendide is effective in creating a post-apocalyptic, City of Lost Children-like scenario, filled with dark, dank corridors and exploding lights. But the script (also by director Gross) is unfunny in the extreme, the narrative predictable and uninvolving, and the performances veer from slipshod (Colette) to completely absurd (BallyK’s Stephen Tompkinson). Only Daniel Craig (from Love Is The Devil) manages to emerge with his dignity intact. So whilst the hotel at the centre of this film revolves around an infantile obsession with shit, Hotel Splendide the film merely succeeds in echoing its themes: its shit as well. This is not Hotel Splendide – it’s really Hotel Merde. Don’t bother.

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Reviews by Fiona A. Villella:

Witchcraft (Hrafn Gunnlaugsson, 1999, Iceland)         This was the only film playing in MIFF from Iceland. Having little knowledge of Iceland cinema and knowing that such films would rarely get a screening on normal occasions, I not only felt obliged to see Witchcraft but I was curious as well. And what an experience it was!

There I was, expecting tortuous high-art, when I was immediately sucked into this totally story-driven, classically structured tale set in a hut-peasant village in the 17th century – a time where attitudes toward religion could not be more further removed from contemporary ones (making it curious what this film was trying to say, anyhow). Told in flashback, Witchcraft really gets going when the main character, Reverend Jon Magnusson, enters the peasant village to begin his work as a preacher of God. But it becomes increasingly evident over the course of the film that this man is a totally mad, perverse and acutely paranoid “servant of God” who has no murmur of tenderness or forgiveness in his heart and brutally sends people to the stake. The highest point of hypocrisy in the character comes when he casts the local peasant woman Thundra – who makes him “hard as stone” – as a servant of Satan and must be burnt to death at the stake because she won’t succumb to his lust for her!! The worst thing about this film is that it is told in flashback and voice-over from Reverend Jon, so the audience is stuck in this mad man’s perspective!

I wonder what is the point of this film if not for its voyeuristic mechanisms: the viewer is thrown back to a time when sex is something dirty and dark and the work of Satan. But why does this film perform its own perversity by privileging the perspective of the Reverend – a character who is not redeemed at all in the film and continues to believe he is the saviour of God up until his death as an old man? Truly bizarre. The greatest moment of Witchcraft – when all its claims to serious drama or insight on society and religion are swiftly undermined – is when Thundra (in the process of healing the Reverend who was accidentally shot by his son while the Reverend was actually raping Thundra) is removing a bullet from his groin and, in one clean slash, slices the Reverends’ genitals off and throws his testicles to the dogs (all in full view)! That was the moment when this film became high-comedy. But what was MIFF doing when it took Witchcraft as its “tokenistic” Iceland film?? Is this a dominant direction in Iceland cinema, or an instant crowd pleaser – though utterly bizarre? I don’t know, but what a ride…

Funny Felix (Olivier Ducastel, 1999, France)        Peppermint soda for the middle-class, please. Like the other pale French film A Pornographic Affair that is part of “Towering over the eiffel” – set to show us contemporary directions in French cinema – Funny Felix was nothing but a futile and superficial and pretentious film that believed that by being PC it had a claim on “innovative” cinema. The central character is a gay, Arabic-originated French man who suddenly loses his job (but doesn’t care) and announces to his boyfriend his burning desire to visit the Father he never knew (whose address he suddenly came across). The plot doesn’t even gel from the beginning. Along the way to Marseilles (where his father lives), Felix encounters one-by-one a motley assortment of characters who he becomes close to and who the film label (with text on the screen) as his family members: the little brother; the grandmother; the sister; the cousin; and, finally, the father. Yet these encounters are so predictable and unbelievable – every one of them is a beautiful experience of sharing and revelation between two people!! Finally, he doesn’t even meet his father – but the whole point of the film is “the journey” and not the ultimate goal (which contradicts with his burning desire to see his father at the beginning). There are occasional moments of humour but overall the film is so mechanical and predictable. Worst of all, there is no real drama in this film – anywhere. The one major attempt, with a police-murder sub-plot (itself utterly predictable), is completely ineffectual and only reaffirms gay stereotypes rather then countering them. That MIFF even paid to bring the directors over from France is another spurious detail. I don’t know what note MIFF were attempting to strike with this film but I suspect its aim was firmly in the ground of the protected, yuppified middle-class. The real spurious detail is how this film could genuinely be placed under the banner of “innovative, daring” French cinema?

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Review by Dmetri Kakmi:

Witchcraft (Hrafn Gunnlaugsson, 1999, Iceland)        This 17th century saga is a hamfisted examination of denying the pleasures of the flesh, and the consequences of knocking back your local pastor’s advances. It’s The Long Swift Sword of Siegfried with a dash of The Crucible transposed to the stunningly beautiful Icelandic wastes.

A young priest gets the hots for a golden-haired beauty. She turns down the opportunity to be speared on his holy rod, so he gets it into his head that she is consorting with Satan and begins persecuting her family for witchcraft. The characterisation is stompingly obvious, and the message layed on with a trowel. The acting belongs in a suburban revue: zealot priest rolls his eyes in his sockets like a mad horse, golden-haired angel is followed around by invisible choir singing hosannas, and the rest of the cast just look like they just stepped out of a Monty Python and the Holy Grail, or a home for spastics.

Gunnlaughsson obviously has a talent for comedy, and little else. Most of the audience I sat with joined me in clapping and laughing when, at the climax, the golden-haired angel turned surgeon castrates the nutter priest and throws his testicles to the family dog (didn’t we see a similar scene in John Waters’s Desperate Living?). And to add insult to injury God, in his wisdom, smites the loon with a lightening bolt while he’s crucified on a clifftop! Real Icelandic subtlety. I wonder what the filmmaker could be trying to say?

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MIFF Daily Report – Posted Thursday July 27

Reviews by Rose Capp:

Ring (Nakata Hideo, 1998, Japan)          Be afraid, be very afraid! While the program notes contextualised the Japanese Ring series in relation to the Scream trilogy, its antecedents and influences are more diverse and arguably considerably more sophisticated. Drawing on very limited special effects, the first installment of this soon to be trilogy harnesses a knowing mix of generic elements to a supernaturally-inclined family revenge saga. The technophobic premise-video technology as villain-recalls Cronenberg’s Videodrome but Ring ultimately generates a suspenseful style all of its own. There are genuninely scary moments mixed with at times absurdist elements and pure family (psycho) melodrama. Performances are good, and interesting use is made of rural locations less typical of contemporary Japanese films. Looking forward to Ring 2.

The Girl Next Door (Christine Fugate, 1999, USA)          Word around the festival in the first few days was that ‘all the sexy documentaries were booked out’. As evidenced by the MIFF programming of a number of documentaries dealing with various aspects of the sex industry over the last few years, it seems there is a strong demand for this style of explicit ‘sexpose’. The Girl Next Door takes up where Annabel Chong left off last year, and in both cases I would question the contribution of either film to debates on issues of sexual identity, pornography or exploitation. In both cases, the subjects were intelligent young women, who had some insight into the choices they had made, but both were also unable to extricate themselves from what was obviously an exploitative and destructive situation. Documenting the at times profound misery and disillusionment of these women seems to me to add yet another layer to this exploitative dynamic. If there is merit in The Girl Next Door, it is perhaps that one also feels ultimately implicated in that process of exploitation as a viewer and consumer of the film.

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Reviews by Bill Mousoulis:

Nowhere to Hide (Lee Myung-se, 1999, Korea)         A beautiful B & W pre-credit sequence gives way to lashings of stylish, colorful cinematic tricks. The film runs like Wong Kar-wai without the melancholy. Which is roughly what fails it in the end: it’s a visually exciting cops-and-robbers thriller-cum-comedy but without much of a story to grab onto or feel anything for.         (6)

Spring Forward (Tom Gilroy, 1999, USA)        This like a mild version of Jon Jost’s studies of mid-American men. It’s composed of a number of lengthy scenes – this is either a theatrical-like flaw or a brave stretching of cinematic time. I would lean slightly to the former, but there’s definitely something splendid in the way this film proceeds moment to moment. And, unlike Jost, the view Gilroy has of his men is positive and optimistic.        (6)

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MIFF Daily Report – Posted Wednesday July 26

Reviews by Dmetri Kakmi:

Ring & Ring 2 (Nakata Hideo, 1998 and 1999 respectively, Japan)         A bizarre urban legend that initially gives the impression of being artless and lacking in atmosphere but very quickly sucks you in with a gripping, fast-paced storyline that charges along like a hell-hound.

The plot is warped and insane. Suffice to say it’s a tale of revenge from beyond the grave – well, the well, actually. It involves a cursed videotape and a frightful phantom that emerges out of the television to wreak revenge on anyone who watches the tape. But it’s subtly infused with a sense of apocalyptic dread that hints at worlds beyond worlds and other realities brimming just beneath the surface of this one. Lovers of the horror movie will appreciate its sense of wonder, slowly creeping sense of menace, moments of lyricism, and its innate understanding of the power of suggestion. It’s brimming with brilliantly executed disturbing sequences and haunting images that linger into night.

If the squeals and gasps coming from the audience I sat with last night are any indication, fans of the classic Japanese ghost story, Kwaidan, will be in seventh heaven with this one. As urban legends go, it pisses on Urban Legend. A superior horror movie at last!

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Reviews by Bill Mousoulis:

New Waterford Girl (Allan Moyle, 1999, Canada)        Generic chick teen flick, complete with the requisite inward small town, disruptive outsider, awkward heroine. A similar film to the director’s previous Pump Up the Volume, but lacking the verve and existential urgency of that earlier film. But there are incidental pleasures: the locations, the clothes (alternative and casual ’70s), some of the songs, and the lead actress’ presence.       (5)

Chocolat (Claire Denis, 1988, France)         Hard not to view this one retrospectively, through the experience of Denis’ latter films. Formally, and in its energy, this debut of hers is totally different. The pace is slow, the narrative construction straightforward. Maybe it’s the Cameroon heat, and the banal life the colonialist inhabitants have to live there. But the film springs to life in touches here and there, and there is an undeniable honesty and warmth to the director’s overall touch.         (6)

I Prefer the Sound of the Sea (Mimmo Calopresti, 2000, Italy)        The crisp, contrasty cinematography here perfectly suits this film’s feel. This is an example of cool, dispassionate Italian cinema á la Amelio and Martone. This is an engaging portrait of modern Italian life, with the North and South poles of it clashing. The characters are inscrutable at times, but they clearly have their own truths, and Calopresti expresses them with ease and sympathy.     (6)

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MIFF Daily Report – Posted Tuesday July 25

Review by Rhys Graham:

Ratcatcher (Lynne Ramsay, 1999, UK)            Every festival there is a film that, once seen, causes me to heave a sigh of relief with the knowledge that I can stop searching anxiously for that one work to set the heart racing, and get down to enjoying the festival. This anticipated debut from Lynne Ramsay is an extraordinary work and is ‘the one’ that I have been waiting for. Combining images of intense beauty with faultless understated performances (the young accidental lovers shine), Ratcatcher has a sense of stylistic and narrative confidence that is impressive. Set during the ’70s in the Glasgow housing tenements, a world of dire poverty is plunged further still into desperation during a strike of rubbish workers. The premise – young James (William Eadie) accidentally kills his closest friend – is tragic but Ramsay injects a lightness of touch and a poetic sensibility that makes this anything but bleak realist drama. There is more than a suggestion of Loach’s Kes in the boy’s determined struggle, his isolation, and his discovery of warmth in unexpected places. The images of the drowned boy’s face and hands, of James running through a golden field, and staring into the window of the house of his dreams, are of the kind that you know will accompany you for a long time to come.

Ramsay’s background as a stills photographer is evident in the stunning visual style. She assembles the film in a sequence of fragmented and distilled moments that are the perfect expression of a character living in the ruptured aftermath of tragedy. Her acknowledged influence are the brilliant films of Bill Douglas, and his poetic handling of the extremes of poverty are present throughout. Like Douglas in his autobiographical trilogy, Ramsay allows hope and humour, as well as pure fantasy, to play along equally with the weightiest of drama. This is beautiful stuff. Images that could stand alone, but which, woven together, are almost overwhelming. Deeply felt performances that never tread the easy path through tragedy. Ratcatcher is a most assured cinema constituted, with flair, by the sensations and impressions of lives and emotions that are the most difficult to convey.

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Review by Fiona A. Villella:

Gemini (Shinya Tsukamoto, 1999, Japan)           Although I haven’t seen Tsukamoto’s acclaimed Tetsuo or Tetsuo II yet I plan to hunt them down since my first introduction to Tsukamoto confirms that he is a highly talented and unique director. Like a perfectly constructed and pristine crystal, Gemini is violent in its overal formal extactitude and intensity. A famous Japanese doctor and his recent bride – who claims to suffer amnesia and therefore knows nothing of her past – live with his parents. Their home, however, is gradually taken over by a mysterious evil and violent force, which, like in a classic stalker film, is responsible for the sequential murder of the doctor’s parents. Gemini recalls Lynch’s Lost Highway in the very intense formal way it evokes an unknowable and profoundly irrational psychic force that fills the physical space of the home – the empty hallways; the perfect stillness and order; the sudden eruptions of noise and shadow that fill this space. In its formal restraint and exactitute – from the very slight yet highly composed physical movement of the family members to framing in general and even the careful delivery of narrative information – Gemini works according to an elemental economy: good vs evil; pure suspense. Its brilliance lies in the film’s perfect relation between form and story, its achievement of a formal totality in which style intermeshes indistinguishably with story. The story, here, centres on the exact and total separation of twins into good and bad and the ultimate reversal of the two. An important dimension to this opposition of good and bad is their definition in class terms: the wealthy, refined upper class vs the ravaged, slum. But the story provides an edifying, moral journey where the doctor learns the very fine line between good and bad, and with this knowledge he is now open and ready to help the people of the slum, those he previously felt should be violently destroyed en masse. Gemini is a totally chilling and searing cinematic experience. A Festival Highlight.

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Review by Dmetri Kakmi:

Beau Travail (Claire Denis, 1999, France)           This strange and poetic film is a fusion of high art European cinema with homoerotic imagery straight out of a Cadinot porn film, and creates a series of potent images of the inner landscape of its isolated characters. In its calmness it reflects the rhythms of the alluring yet deadly landscape that comes to shape the French Legionnaires who attempt to impose a regimented, unnatural order upon nature’s own harmony. In its close-contact drills, shirtless legionnaires, thigh-hugging fatigues and fetishisation of the men’s undergarments, it’s also a hymn to the male physique.

Though visually ravishing, the film is more than the total sum of its surfaces. It’s what sneaks in beneath the radar that means most here, and you have to stay alert to appreciate Denis’s subtle artistry. With blessedly very little dialogue, this is a perfect example of ‘pure cinema’, an elliptical, formalist masterpiece that harkens back to the days of Antonioni. I doubt very much that we will see as haunting a psychological portrait again at this year’s MIFF.

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Reviews by Mark Freeman:

Everything’s Fine (We’re Leaving) (Claude Mouriéras, 2000, France)         Everything’s Fine (We’re Leaving) is a sort of distorted, altered version of King Lear, as the absent father Louis returns after 15 years to reacquaint himself with his three daughters. The youngest daughter Claire is the most receptive, but for the others it provokes memories too painful to be confronted. His return becomes further complicated when it slowly becomes apparent that Louis is going senile, losing his memories even as he tries to create new ones. These familial ties are a strong theme in this film, as well as issues of home – neither Bea nor Claire really seem to have forged a home for themselves, they both rely on eldest sister Laure for the comfort and support her roof offers. There are some great moments in this film, and the performances are exceptional (especially Miou-Miou as the eldest daughter, Laure) but the conclusion is too pat, too easy and it ends so flatly that it almost erases the good time you had earlier. An interesting film, but certainly nothing exceptional.

Beau Travail (Claire Denis, 1999, France)         Beau Travail is an interpretation of Herman Melville’s Billy Budd seen through the eyes of the persecutor rather than the victim, and takes place in Africa within the ranks of the French Foreign Legion. Denis is a master with a camera – she creates a striking visual language with this film, exploring isolation and masculinity through the power of her camera work. But after an hour of watching a tribe of buff men crawl around on the ground and climb over walls, do their ironing, shave their heads or ritually embrace each other, Beau Travail becomes more like watching a music clip from the Village People without the music (a comparison that comes bizarrely true at the film’s compelling, awesome conclusion). Despite its beauty and the power of the image, Beau Travail is a cold, joyless film – after awhile you may as well be watching ants carrying food home to their nest – it’s an impressive feat, but a dispassionate experience, and one that can only hold you for so long. A fascinating, beautiful, infuriating, tedious film. I admired it, but I can’t say I necessarily enjoyed it.

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MIFF Daily Report – Posted Monday July 24

Reviews by Bill Mousoulis:

I Can’t Sleep (Claire Denis, 1993, France)           I dream of films like this: no drama, no centrality, subtlety everywhere, a modest humanity (even humanism). This seems to me a finer achievement than Beau Travail, which has a grandiose aspect to it which mars it. I’d love to teach a scriptwriting class with a film such as I Can’t Sleep, so I can point out its myriad incidental details (which seem like tangents, but are really indices). The abrupt cutting and the decentralisation of the narrative are reminiscent of Godard, but Denis doesn’t “philosophise”: she simply (but with dexterity and beauty) shows this little thing, followed by that, followed by that, etc. In the process painting a broad landscape of dislocation, terror, survival.          (8)

No Fear, No Die (Claire Denis, 1990, France)          An earlier film of Denis’, with her form still shaping apparently: structurally, this is quite conventional compared to the later films. This story of cockfighters is still engrossing, however. Denis obviously has no fear when composing her studies of male pride (and its offshoot: destruction). Beau Travail is like a hymn compared to this film – the men in this film quickly spiral out of control, and there is little sense of redemption. Moreover, if cockfighting is the metaphor here, with the real subject being the men, then – who has set these men fighting with each other? God? Denis?          (7)

What is Life? (François Dupeyron, 1999, France)           Cinemascope pic of French country life, with hard times come upon a farming family. Somewhat laboured, and clearly composed of two separate stories, but with some nice sequences towards the end which ultimately make it a reasonable experience.         (5)

The Virgin Suicides (Sophia Coppola, 1999, USA)              Not sure about this one. It’s like an offspring of Carrie and Picnic at Hanging Rock, but without the power of the former or the lyricism of the latter. It seems to run along, we don’t really feel anything for any of the characters, and then it ends. Then again, it’s not offensive in any way.        (5)

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Reviews by Fiona A. Villella:

Beau Travail (Claire Denis, 1999, France)        A profound and intense meditation on masculinity in the French legionnaires, a highly ritualised and perversely regimented world. Told in flashback with the voice-over of Sergeant Galoup (played by Denis Lavant, in a superb and shocking performance), the film progress according to the highly abstract and associative qualities of the act of remembering. Above all, this is a film where every moment, every shot, every physical movement, every piece of music and sound, is filled with the intense poetry of feeling and emotion. A searing experience and a remarkable accomplishment for the very fine Claire Denis. A must see.

Seventeen Years (Zhang Yuan, 1999, China)           A tale of tragedy in a Chinese family. Although a simple premise and conventional narrative structure, this is an extremely well-crafted film where all elements are delicately handled so that the universal themes of loss and grieving appear in all their truth.

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Review by Rhys Graham:

No Fear, No Die (Claire Denis, 1990, France)        Sadly, this is yet another of the remarkable Claire Denis films that will be screening only once during the festival. Denis is a director whose films are frequently praised, and often discussed in print, but which, until this fleeting retrospective, have been very difficult to see. For this reason, it is unfortunate that those who have missed the festival screenings will be unable to make amends.

Denis’ third feature S’en Fou la Mort (No Fear, No Die) is an extraordinary work set in the rigorous and ritualised world of Parisian cock-fighters. Dah (Isaach De Bankolé – most recently seen in Jarmusch’s Ghost Dog – Way of the Samurai) from West Africa, and Jocelyn (Alex Descas) from the West Indies, are two young men whose unspoken fraternal relationship conceals a dependence that is both emotional and economic. While Dah handles the business, Jocelyn is a stoic figure with an inherited and seemingly intuitive knowledge of fighting cocks. With quiet dignity, they train and handle fighting cocks for the greedy and manipulative Ardennes (Jean-Claude Brialy) who stages the fights in the back of his restaurant.

Much of Denis’ work dwells on the margins between desire and violence and this film proves no exception. The disciplined rituals which Jocelyn undertakes in his preparation of the fighting cocks can be seen as an extension of the restraints that must be placed on human expressions of desire and the fighting spirit. For, it is clear, that on the one hand Jocelyn must maintain his own dignity in the face of the debasing influence of Ardennes’ exploitation, and on the other, he strives to conceal and control his desire for Ardennes’ wife, Toni (Solveig Dommartin). Tragedy strikes when he is no longer able to contain the emotional forces that act on him from within.

The detached and emotionally fragmentary world of S’en Fou la Mort is reminiscent of Tsai Ming-Liang, another oft-praised and little seen director. Denis cultivates an emotional impression of a world that, although foreign and unique in its milieu, is ruled by familiar emotions and strategies. The characters in her films are more likely to be surviving rather than succeeding, and usually tread lightly on the borders of life. These two men are ruled by an unspoken code of conduct that sets them apart from the deceit and manipulation that surrounds them. And yet, they are equally vulnerable to the forces of desire and love. Dah and Jocelyn dwell in darkness and behind closed doors. They sleep and eat their meals alongside the roosters and seem uncomfortable in the company of others. The tragedy of the film is that this confinement of their body and spirit ultimately serves to force them apart. Their unspoken affection falters and turns to indifference.

Admirably, Denis casts a sympathetic eye over the lives of Dah and Jocelyn and no detail of their daily struggle is trivialised. There is a sense that the audience is sharing a place in this world without the distance of judgement. This is reinforced by Denis’ own statement that, in cinema, she wishes to “share things that are fleeting” and that this is done primarily through dwelling in the physical and sensual realm. She says, “real cinema is a way of transforming the technical and the industrial material and making the sublime coincide with it. And I think sensuality is the key. Cinema cannot exist except through eroticism. The position of the spectator is like a kind of amorous passivity and hence is highly erotic.” (Darke, Chris – ‘Desire is Violence’ in Sight and Sound, July 2000) To this end, S’en Fou la Mort dwells in a highly charged realm where men are equated with fighting cocks, where they need to be trained and disciplined to confront other men, and where they must not engage with women who cause them to fall into disarray. Desire is fragility. And we watch as the characters circle each other, occasionally become entangled, and, when their spurs are sharpened, wound and bleed. This tense and charged world of implicit violence and desire is exceptional and, on frequent occasions, staggeringly beautiful. The films of Denis are, most certainly, an early highlight of the festival.

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Reviews by Mark Freeman:

The Virgin Suicides (Sofia Coppola, 1999, USA)       Sofia Coppola’s debut feature is an assured, engaging beginning to what is certain to be a brilliant career. Following the myth of the Lisbon girls and the suicides which impact deeply on a suburban Michigan community, it is a sweet, elegiac film that engages from the adolescent inspired opening titles to the sobering, more painfully mature final sequence. The Virgin Suicides adopts an effective Wonder Years-esque tone, and brings the mid seventies to life in all its garish glory. True, some of the jokes are cheap and easy – the velvet suits, the kitschy music, and some of it is completely overdone – like the billowing smoke from the destruction of the records – but generally the comedy is deftly handled and the performances are excellent. Coppola (Sofia, not dad Francis) has made an impressive fist of her first directorial effort, although there is an element of cramming every trick in the book into the one film. We get time lapse, we get split screen, we get Picnic at Hanging Rock-ish slow mo; Coppola exhausts them all, and it does make the film seem a bit haphazard. But the cinematography is excellent, Kirsten Dunst is captivating as the promiscuous, tragic Lux, and for once, the narration works perfectly (unlike the same strategy employed in Hanson’s Wonder Boys), reinforcing the legend of the narrative and the documentary approach Coppola adopts. And there’s a nice little homage to De Palma (himself the king of homage…or plagiarism, take your pick) that lifts the Prom scenes from his 1976 film Carrie. But you can’t help suspect this film is more of a trial run, she’s testing her legs with this one. Coppola’s next film should be more consistent, more focused – an event definitely worth look forward to.

The Limey (Steven Soderbergh, 1999, USA)          The Limey is the film by Steven Soderbergh wedged between Out of Sight (still, for my money, one of the top films of the ’90s) and the recent Erin Brockovich. Yet why this film has failed to gain a cinematic release here is beyond me. It follows Terence Stamp as the limey of the title searching for the killer of his daughter. Although the plot itself is nothing exceptional, Soderbergh’s direction develops such a brilliant rhythm, the editing is so well orchestrated, that the film becomes something quite extraordinary. Time is fractured, it spins forward and backward, and we even see imagined scenes that play before the eyes of the vengeful Wilson (a good companion to the Michael Caine character in the recent re-release of Get Carter). It does play too heavily on the quaintness of his speech, the rhyming slang, the colloquialisms, and this taints the film a bit with that appalling American myopia which renders anything un-American as somehow exotic or worthy of a cheap laugh (see TV’s Survivor, or John Polson’s character in MI2, or worse…Delvene Delaney on the Love Boat in Australia). But this really is a quite beautiful film; it plays a bit like music, seems to have a tempo of its own. The inclusion of flashbacks featuring Stamp thirty years earlier in Ken Loach’s Poor Cow capture perfectly the sense of lost youth, the possibilities the mature Wilson has squandered. Highly recommended.

On other matters… Tickets are clearly selling out fast (Wadd, for example, is a sellout) and this is creating a few problems at the Village Centre. Because of the huge crowds, sessions are often running 15-20 minutes late, simply because it is taking longer than anticipated to get the audience seated prior to the film, and out of the cinema at the end of the screening. A tip – get there half an hour earlier if you want a decent seat. If you’re going back to back at a screening, you don’t have to leave your seat and rejoin the line outside. Stay where you are and an usher will check your ticket inside the cinema – saves a lot of time.

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MIFF Daily Report – Posted Sunday July 23

Reviews by Bill Mousoulis:

The Colour of Paradise (Majid Majidi, 1999, Iran)          I love Iranian cinema, but not the work of Majid Majidi. His The Children of Heaven is an absolute stinker, manipulative and sentimental. This one is much better, and it even includes some subtle touches, but Majidi’s clunky hand as director is still evident. His sense of mise en scène is incredibly crude, and the same goes for his lighting (no, it’s not the DOP’s fault – the director dictates). There is a total lack of artistry here – Majidi frames his subjects dead centrally, and lights them with the worst flat and full lighting that you can imagine. This man just doesn’t believe in shadows! I’m harping on about this because I really think it needs to be said. Especially considering that his films are popular, even with festival audiences. He is just simply a really bad director.         (3)

Beau Travail (Claire Denis, 1999, France)

Like an exotic sweet, this is a rich and unusual film. As a treatise on masculinity, it could be ground-breaking. In this, it remarkably goes two ways: on the one hand, there’s its aestheticisation of the male physical form; on the other, its probing into the murky, bristly depths of male-to-male psychological combat. Surely only a woman could have made this film. The first half hour, before the (let’s face it, rather conventional) drama kicks in, is a dream – langorous fragments roll by, sensual yet also strangely realistic (the camera is even hand-held at times). The film drifts a little towards the end, but concludes with a great symbolic scene, a frightening and transcendent Dance of Death (to match the beautiful Dance of Life at the start of the film). A film which seems to be missing a few things, but a fascinating piece of cinema nonetheless.        (8)

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Reviews by Fiona A. Villella:

US Go Home (Claire Denis, 1994, France)            Late 1960s France. Teenagers – on the cusp of their lives – curious, wanting, desiring, hungry for “life” to happen. US Go Home is Bressonian in its simultaneous simplicity and emotional depth. Denis fills the frame with the experience of life or life as it is experienced – in knowing glances, defiant gestures. The precise physical disposition of bodies and faces and their emotional expressiveness and resonance is remarkable in this film. In US Go Home Martine and her best friend Marlene seek and experience the world of the night – boys, sex, music, parties. And they make it to the other side, confronting their own desires and realities. The final image of the two teenagers and Martine’s brother sitting and waiting in a state of immobility counterpoints its very simplicity with the complexity of emotions and experience that fill these lives. Finally, the film is superbly ironic: though the characters’ lives are saturated with American pop and all its values and idiosyncrasies, the main title and one of the main characters despises the one American character, Vincent Gallo. Unfortunately this film is not screening again at the festival.

Nenette et Boni (Claire Denis, 1996, France)               A fractured narrative – where nothing is ever spelt out, only poetic associations made, of course, through the surface of things and physical action and reactions. Nenette et Boni bears one of the most tragic characters ever to fill the screen, Nenette (Alice Houri), who has nothing to give to or share with her own new-born child. A haunting and dark film that unlike the new A Pornographic Affair does not aspire to present a supposedly profound idea or experience of human relationships, desire and love mechanically performed through a trivial and predictable plot-story and highly uninteresting characters.

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Reviews by Mark Freeman:

Angst (Daniel Nettheim, 2000, Australia)         The main problems with this film lie in the overly polished, overly literate script, which forces absurdly inappropriate language into the mouths of this tribe of slackers. There seems to be no particular characterisation, either, they just all mouth same wordy Tarantino/Kevin Smith inspired dialogue, discussing popular culture and tedious ‘taboos’ like oral sex and fucking over and over. The direction is OK – Netheim knows where to put a camera without doing anything particularly innovative, and the performances veer between awful (Sam Lewis) to surprisingly assured (Luke Lennox). In fact Lennox’s Mole proves the best thing in Angst – a counterpoint to the whingers that populate the rest of the film. The sequences between Mole and Napier’s character Jade work best; it’s far more natural, but too often Angst is working too hard to be clever, dropping words like ‘ennui’ casually into sentences to ever sound like the true voice of inner suburban youth.

Jesus’ Son (Alison Maclean, 1999, New Zealand)         Jesus’ Son had the potential to be extraordinary, but doesn’t quite make it into the big room. It presents us with a deliberately obtuse structure, fractured episodes that barely seem connected, and it takes some time for the rhythms of the film to become apparent. Although you flail around lost for some time, the structure actually is its best feature, and reflects the inaccurate, scattered narration by FH (Billy Crudup). Performances are good, especially Crudup in the lead, and features cameos from Denis Leary, Dennis Hopper and Holly Hunter. As FH (which stands, by the way, for Fuck Head) and girlfriend Michelle (Samantha Morton) descend deeper into drug use and abuse, the film shifts into an interesting, altered reality, seen through the hazy vision of FH. Particularly effective is a sequence in a ‘graveyard’ which possesses an eerie, and ultimately amusing, shift in perception and reality. But the film seems uneven and flabby – whilst the latter stages of the film work beautifully, the earlier sequences seem superfluous, and tighter editing may well have shaped this film more cohesively. It hits peaks and valleys throughout – and the episodic nature of the film means that if a particular story doesn’t grab you, you’re left sitting there waiting for the next one to start, and that happens perhaps too often in this film. Jesus’ Son is certainly interesting and even entertaining, but you can’t help feeling there was a great opportunity missed, that with a little more care, it could have been a much better film than it is.

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MIFF Daily Report – Posted Saturday July 22

Review by Fiona A. Villella:

Postcard (Cheng Wen-Tang, 1999, Taiwan)          Debut film by Taiwanese director Cheng Wen-Tang Postcard is a remarkably simple and minimal film on all levels. It is just under an hour and its plot is bare and sparse. Yet it achieves great lyricism and depth in its minor portrayal of dislocation. Postcard follows a young man Ahmak from the countryside of Taiwan who moves to the city Taipei for work – a move his father and grandfather made before him. Yet he finds no solace in the city, a heartless and valueless place. He is referred to as a “foreigner” by his employer and eventually fired for defiantly questioning such attitudes. This young boy, though at times light and funny, is a sensitive and deep individual longing for his village and the values of the past. His deep respect for surfaces and objects and their spiritual dimension bestows upon the film a plaintive, and disarming, tone and rhythm.

The girl he meets by the sea one day, who he discovers is a prostitute, is distracted by her own longing and loss, and so their acquaintance becomes a meeting of two like-minded souls rather then a magical, chemical moment when all their problems are erased by the force of love. Both characters in the film yearn for something lost. For the girl it is her former lover, killed in an accident. For Ahmak it’s the humble, gentle village life. In the way they communicate, mediated by the sea, and their directness and openness toward each other, the film achieves its heightened lyricism. Through framing, having the characters directly address the camera and narrative ellipses, Postcard gently fuses an experimental style with overall classicism. But there seems to be little hope for the youth in this film. Ahmak returns to his deserted village remembering the past and lamenting the force of change which has split all that he holds dear. And we wonder what will happen to him. Postcard is a wonderful film and it’s a shame it was only designated one screening.

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Reviews by Mark Freeman:

Return to Me (Bonnie Hunt, 2000, USA)            The premise of this film is so flimsy and absurd it’s easy to go into Return to Me negatively. Essentially it goes like this: Man and wife drive home, wife is killed in accident, heart is donated to dying woman, man falls in love with woman (now recovered) and then discovers his wife’s heart is beating inside the chest of the woman he now loves. Sound corny, sound sentimental and ridiculous? I agree. So perhaps someone can explain to me why I enjoyed this film so much. It certainly breaks no new ground, there are no real surprises in the narrative, and there’s even the irrelevant inclusion of a trip to Italy, simply because, I guess, Hunt associates Italy with romance (and the influence of Only You is clear in this film). It’s like a film from the ’40s – everything should suggest a dated, wet, overly sentimental romance. Yet the performances are so restrained and careful, the direction generally so assured (some great crane work, by the way) and the script so witty and spontaneous that it’s hard not to be won over by Return to Me. It doesn’t do anything you weren’t expecting, but it does what it does with considerable skill and possesses an endearing freshness and spark that lifts it out of pure sentiment. A surprisingly enjoyable film.

Wonder Boys (Curtis Hanson, 2000, USA)        Hanson’s follow-up to LA Confidential sees a significant shift from his previous work. Wonder Boys is essentially a comedy, centring around a few days in the life of Grady Tripp (Michael Douglas). Hanson is an actors’ director, and it’s made clear in this film. Douglas is excellent, shedding the embarrassment of his public persona, and adopting the dishevelled skin of this aging university professor. Even better is Tobey Maguire as James Leer, the freak of the class with an incredible talent. When Maguire is on screen, the film lifts to another level; his performance, his character, is so fascinating you want more. But as the film progresses, Maguire disappears and the film wobbles to a fairly unsteady conclusion. In some ways reminiscent of Scorsese’s After Hours, it suffers from that film’s insistence on pushing the comedy too far, the situations to to great an extreme. Whilst the conclusion is intended to be quite uplifting and liberating, it seems curiously flat and emotionless. Certainly a film to see, but the lapses towards the conclusion spoil the film, and its length ensure the jokes become forced, rather than allowing the spontaneous, acerbic quips of the first half carry the film through to a more effective resolution.

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Reviews by Bill Mousoulis:

Shower (Zhang Yang, 1999, China)           A mild, modest film about familial connection. It’s a pity the script gives us so little back-information on the central character – even a five-minute spurt would have been handy in locating us in his journey. As it stands, he is a cipher thrust into a particular situation. But, psychologically, his story is familiar to us, so it’s not too problematic. The bathhouse world he enters is lovingly captured by the director and cinematographer. Its “residents” create a nice back-drop to the story. The old bathhouse gets knocked down in the end, of course, but the connection between the characters gets built up.         (5)

Angst (Daniel Nettheim, 2000, Australia)           The Australian “20-nothings” (as I like to call it) genre seems to be thriving currently. Comparatively, this film isn’t as good as Fresh Air, but it’s far better than City Loop or Strange Fits of Passion. The design, locations and cast are right there, true and effective, but the script and direction are as shallow and callow as the main characters. It’s a light film, but you wouldn’t call it a “comedy” – it goes for pathos at times, but it can’t get out of its groove of hipness/irony/referentiality. Even the house cat is referenced (“Cronenberg”). And nothing is real. (But they’ll grow out of it …) Films like this make us realise how good the youth films of Pialat, Téchiné, Rohmer are. Love and other Catastrophes has a lot to answer for.       (4)

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MIFF Daily Report – Posted Friday July 21

Reviews by Mark Freeman:

Dora-Heita (Kon Ichikawa, 1999, Japan)               Kon Ichikawa’s new film Dora-Heita is an uneasy amalgam of comedy and drama, pursuing the efforts of the eponymous Dora-Heita’s efforts to eradicate the seedy tricksters and smugglers that dominate a remote Japanese fiefdom. A mixture of samurai morality, physical comedy, cheeky ribaldry and sobering drama, Dora-Heita doesn’t quite tie these disparate strands together into one cohesive package. The comedy in particular comes across as broad, goofy and bug-eyed, in no way aiming for subtlety or a deft touch. And this approach certainly has its charms, encouraging easy laughs from the bumbling, aging members of the clan, and contrasting with the cool assurance of Dora-Heita himself. Yet this reckless slapstick seems too often at odds with the formality of the camera, the static presentation of the narrative. Equally out of place is the score, which borders on the synthesizer laden dross of bad pornography – a curious choice for a film exploring the lives of the ancient samurai. Too long at 111 minutes, Dora-Heita is not a complete success – but it does manage to maintain an endearing, easy warmth that ensures the film is at least diverting, without ever truly becoming fully engaging.

New Waterford Girl (Allan Moyle, 1999, Canada)             Executive Director of MIFF, Sandra Sdraulig, stumbled upon Allan Moyle’s New Waterford Girl quite by accident at the Toronto Film Festival. Sitting in the wrong cinema, she suddenly found herself charmed by this ‘accident’, and it’s not hard to see why. Set in the miserable town of New Waterford, Nova Scotia, Mooney Pottie, the girl derided as a ‘freak’ for reading books, is desperately seeking liberation from the prison of her town. This is a place where the Virgin Mary is revered, and God is watching and judging your every action. Yet despite this the young people of New Waterford have little to do but drink and copulate, resulting in the inevitable cycle of pregnancy and adoption. Mooney truly is a misfit, but with the aid of Lou, the new girl in town, she hatches an ingenious plot to gain the freedom she desires. The script by Tricia Fish is sharp and quick, carrying weight with an assertive stamp of authenticity. Moyle, whose previous efforts have been the cult teen hits Pump Up The Volume and Empire Records again evokes a keen sense of the underdog, this time in the gangly frame of the dislocated Mooney. In some ways reminiscent of early Jane Campion (particularly An Angel At My Table), New Waterford Girl starts off a little awkwardly, but gains confidence and momentum as the tale unfolds. Performances (which include Andrew McCarthy and Cathy Moriarty) are tremendous and it’s neatly shot and edited. A real pleasure.

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Reviews by Bill Mousoulis:

Detective Bureau 2-3: Go to Hell, Bastards! (Seijun Suzuki, 1963, Japan)        My first taste of Suzuki. It starts in third gear with a wild yakuza shoot-out, and pretty much continues at that pace. And there’s undoubtedly a distinct style to this director – his cinemascope mise en scène is quite accomplished (and not that showy either). There’s an interesting hyper-reality to proceedings. But, for the main part, the film is all ride, plot, deflection – there’s nothing more substantial (emotionally, philosophically) to go with.      (6)   (Note: these are marks out of 10 for my reviews.)

Story of a Prostitute (Seijun Suzuki, 1965, Japan)         Another Suzuki, and quite different. Cinemascope again (and with some pretty amazing camera movements), but this time in B & W, and with a more sedate style. To the point where one could label this film “dreary”. Although Suzuki actually punctuates the plodding plot with moments of lyricism and experimentation. As Philip Brophy says in the MIFF catalogue, Suzuki’s films are “not unified in style, content or even tone”. Thus, the director has sympathy for the group of prostitutes in this film, but at the same time he reduces them to screaming messes (not helped by the bad acting), constantly mistreated by the men.       (6)

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MIFF Daily Report – Posted Thursday July 20

report from Bill Mousoulis:

The festival opened last night with Curtis Hanson’s new film Wonder Boys. I couldn’t attend the screening, but the word (courtesy of my Senses co-ed Fiona) at the party afterwards was mixed. The film is screening again on Fri 21st at 8:30 p.m. at the Forum.

Speaking of repeat screenings, cinephiles beware a certain kink in this year’s MIFF schedule. It’s wonderful to have a vast quantity of films and some great retros to see, but a number of the Suzuki, Buñuel, and Denis films are playing ONCE ONLY. So plan your viewing times carefully. For example, the Peepshow Program No.1 is on once only, and it actually clashes with one of the two screenings of Kiarostami’s The Wind Will Carry Us. (And the other screening of the Kiarostami is on the same day, at 11 a.m. – tough luck if you have to commit somewhere else for the entire day.) Note also that for tonight, the screening of Suzuki’s Story of a Prostitute is its only screening at the festival.

My hot tips for the fest: the Buñuel films, The Wind Will Carry Us, Blackboards, Songs from the Second Floor, Little Fellas, Beau Travail, Passionate Women. Smokeys: George Washington, Janice Beard, High Fidelity.

Back to Daily Reports July 30 onwards