Matt's Blog

An Excitingly Broad Program On Offer At BIFF 2010

 

I can’t help myself.  I always get overexcited when the program is released each year for the St George Brisbane International Film Festival.  As a look through the list of the film, there are always so many that I want to see.  The tricky part is narrowing the list down to something that is manageable.

 

For those that haven’t been to a BIFF before, now’s your chance.  This is how I usually sell it to people…

 

Roughly 4 new releases come out in Brisbane cinemas every Thursday.  During BIFF, you have the chance to see more than 100 different films over an 11 day period.  As they say, variety is the spice of life.

 

I reflected back on some of my favourite BIFF memories in a piece I wrote on the Regent Cinema not too long ago.  You can check it out here.

 

The easiest way to book tickets is through the BIFF website – http://www.stgeorgebiff.com.au/ - or through the brand new iPhone application.  I’ve locked in most of my tickets already this year and it was incredibly easy.  I really like the iPhone app too – you can see the whole catalogue as well as just the films you’ve booked tickets for.

 

Ticket prices for most films are $15.  It’s a little more expensive for some of the bigger screenings (e.g. opening night, closing night).  Concession rates are available and there are also discounts if you buy multiple tickets.

 

Everyone will be looking for something different but I’ve gone with a similar strategy to previous years when picking my films.  I’ve chosen a few of the bigger films which will get a nationwide cinema release down the track (so I can get a heads up on my review).  I’ve also gone with a few smaller films based solely on the blurb in the program.  Sometimes the best way to see a movie is to know as little about it as possible.

 

I’ve tried to spread the screenings around the three venues (Palace Centro, Palace Barracks and Tribal) as well as juggling my time.  I’ve stacked the weekends with many films (looks like I won’t be playing golf for a few weeks) while squeezing in a few during the week after work.

 

I think it’s one of the best programs assembled in a long time.  BIFF has a new Festival Director this year (Richard Moore) who has gone with a broad program.  If you can’t find something worth seeing, then you’re too hard to please!

 

I’m trying to line up a few interviews with directors / actors this year and if I do, you’ll be sure to read about them on my website.

 

As a quick head’s up - without the big Regent Cinema this year, I’m expecting tickets for many films to sell out.  Once you’ve got a list together, I’d strongly recommend you book.

 

Ultimately, BIFF is a lot of fun.  You’ll often find yourself sitting in a packed theatre with some knowledgeable filmgoers watching something that you’ll never have the chance to see again.  It’s provided me many memories over the past 15 years and I’ll have a lot more in a few weeks’ time.

 

Hopefully I’ll get to catch up with many friends, Facebook followers and Twitter followers during the festival.  Below is a list of the films I’m booked in to see (with a quick plot overview from the BIFF website).  Any of them sound good?  If so, I’ll see you there!

 

Jucy

Friday, 5 November at 7:00pm (Palace Barracks)

 

A 'womantic' Brisbane-based comedy about the bond between best friends.

 

Jackie (Francesca Gasteen) and Lucy (Cindy Nelson) together are 'Jucy', two 20-something Brisbane slackers who spend their days together working in a dead-end job, smoking pot and playing video games. Things aren't too bad – except that everyone keeps telling them it's time to get serious about their lives.

 

An empathetic, funny chick-buddy flick about the perils of 'growing up', Jucy proves that writer–director team Stephen Vagg and Louise Alston (All My Friends Are Leaving Brisbane) are no flash in the pan.

 

The American

Friday, 5 November at 9:15pm (Palace Centro)

 

A hitman falls in love while working one last job.

 

But will he live to see his life transformed? The sensationally likeable George Clooney plays against type as the Ugly American in this slow-burn thriller set in the hill towns of Italy. On the run from vengeful Swedish mercenaries, 'Mr Butterfly' – as he is known professionally – is a master assassin whose life has gone horribly wrong.

 

A twist on the hitman-thriller genre from photographer-turned-filmmaker Anton Corbijn (Control), The American is a simmering portrait of a man struggling to put down his gun and walk away for good.

 

Megamind

Saturday, 6 November at 2:00pm (Palace Barracks)

 

Evil: It's just cooler.

 

Being a super-villain isn't easy. It's tough coming up with new plans for world domination, especially when that pesky arch-nemesis always seems to turn up to foil them. But when one of Megamind's evil schemes to defeat superhero Metroman actually works, he finds himself pondering bigger questions, such as "what now?"

 

From a distant planet destroyed by a black hole comes two superbeings locked in a life-long battle for supremacy – so what happens when the bad guy wins?

 

Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill and Brad Pitt lend their hilarious voicing talents to Megamind. He's big, he's blue and he's about to take over the world.

 

Kaboom

Saturday, 6 November at 7:00pm (Tribal)

 

A mega-mix of Twin Peaks, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Donnie Darko, fuelled by hallucinogenic cookies.

 

This wild, sex-drenched, indie horror-comedy from director Gregg Araki (The Doom Generation, Mysterious Skin) debuted at Cannes earlier this year, garnering the festival's first ever 'Queer Palm' award.

 

Replete with Araki's staple pithy one-liners and white-hot sex scenes, Kaboom follows the adventures of a bisexual college freshman who goes tripping on hallucinogenic cookies and imagines (or does he?) that he's witnessed a gruesome murder.

 

Beautiful people, stylish sex and a mind-blowing murderous cult make this film a striking addition to Araki's artistic and philosophical manifesto.

 

Wasted On The Young

Saturday, 6 November at 9:30pm (Palace Centro)

 

When a high school party goes dangerously off the rails, revenge is just a computer click away.

 

Ben C. Lucas's look at the dark side of high school will have most parents worried, but anyone under 30 will respond well to this sex-obsessed, drink-and-drugs-fuelled story of school and internet bullying told with pace and panache.

 

Adults don't register here – it's just the kids and their laws. A strict social hierarchy is enforced, and the consequences of bucking its authority can be very, very high.

 

When two half-brothers set their sights on the same girl, the repercussions will implode the carefully maintained power structures and bring dire consequences for everyone involved.

 

Rubber

Saturday, 6 November at 11:00pm (Tribal)

 

A film about a tyre. With psychic powers. On a murderous rampage.

 

Would we lie to you? This movie is every bit as weird as you'd expect, but it won independent filmmaker Quentin Dupieux (aka electronic music producer Mr Oizo) a 2010 Critics' Week screening at Cannes this year, and achieved instant cult status.

 

After having his affections for a beautiful woman rebuffed, the all-weather protagonist takes out his anger management issues on everyone he encounters using his deadly telekinetic powers.

 

An absurdist road movie, Rubber goes where others fear to tread.

 

Freakonomics

Sunday, 7 November at 12:00pm (Tribal)

 

Five documentary filmmakers take an unconventional look at the hidden side of everything.

 

Proving that truth is often freakier than fiction, Freakonomics is an adaptation of Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner's best-selling book that applied statistical and economic theory to various phenomena, finding disturbing explanations and insights.

 

A who's-who of documentary directors – including Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me), Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side) and Eugene Jarecki (Why We Fight) – offer their individual and often startling takes on topics as diverse as baby-naming, corruption in sumo wrestling, Roe v. Wade and successfully bribing students to improve their grades.

 

Enter The Void

Sunday, 7 November at 4:30pm (Palace Barracks)

 

A hallucinatory roller coaster ride from the master of transgressive cinema, Gasper Noé (Irreversible).

 

When an American drug dealer is killed plying his trade in neon-lit Tokyo, his spirit refuses to leave this world, instead remaining to watch over his sister from the void.

 

Gasper Noé dazzling visual opus Enter the Void has been hailed as a ambitious landmark of cinematography, a delirious and kinetic assault on the senses. Scenes of graphic violence and explicit sex will keep sensitive viewers away, but more adventurous cinema-goers are in for a mind-bending thrill ride.

 

Lebanon

Sunday, 7 November at 7:00pm (Palace Barracks)

 

War from the inside.

 

Trapped inside a tank behind enemy lines during the first Israeli-Lebanon war of 1982, a naïve young Israeli crew grapple with confusion, heat and equipment failure, to ultimately question the idea of the war itself. Lebanon provides a unique perspective on the horror of war; one experienced solely from within the belly of a tank.

 

A fictionalised account of director Samuel Maoz's own war experiences, this claustrophobic (anti-)war film won the Golden Lion Award at last year's Venice film festival.

 

I Killed My Mother

Tuesday, 9 November at 6:30pm (Palace Centro)

 

At the age of just 20, Xavier Dolan wrote, directed and starred in this masterful film about the fraught relationship between a mother and son.

 

Dripping with equal measures of fury and affection, this coming of age comedy from rising star Xavier Dolan received a nine minute standing ovation when it premiered at Cannes.

 

The mother–son relationship is placed on a skewer and roasted as Hubert, a disaffected gay teen, and his mother Chantale take up the proverbial hammer and tongs. It's verbal warfare at close quarters as Dolan probes deeper and deeper into the complexities of the mother and son dynamic.

 

Dolan's second feature, Heartbeats, is also screening at this year's festival.

 

Dog Pound

Tuesday, 9 November at 9:00pm (Palace Barracks)

 

Fighting back is the only way out.

 

When three young delinquents – Butch, David and Angel – find themselves thrown into juvenile detention in Enola Vale, Montana, they're told to keep their heads down.

 

The three quickly find themselves immersed in a culture of violence and torment. If you thought the TV series Oz was tough, think again.

 

Director Kim Chapiron (Sheitan) has populated his prison cast with actual ex-cons, lending a chilling authenticity to this depiction of a juvenile detention system that serves as a brutal training ground for aggression and violence.

 

Inside Job

Thursday, 11 November at 6:00pm (Palace Barracks)

 

Two years ago, a global financial crisis erupted – and apparently no one saw it coming. Just how could this happen?

 

The massive financial meltdown, which cost over $20 trillion, resulted in millions of people losing their homes and jobs. Narrated by Matt Damon, this film pulls no punches as it talks to key financial insiders, politicians and journalists to help dissect the corrupted rogue system that gave rise to the crisis.

 

Director Charles Ferguson makes sense of the obscure financial processes set up to throw off even the most nimble-minded financiers and criminal investigators. Piece by piece he builds a compelling case against the financial services industry, declaring them to be one enormous criminal enterprise.

 

The Red Chapel

Friday, 12 November at 2:00pm (Tribal)

 

Michael Moore meets Bruno, as an elaborate prank takes three Danes into the heart of North Korea.

 

Director Mads Brügger and a Danish-Korean comedy duo (one of whom is a self-proclaimed "spastic") spend two weeks in North Korea, ostensibly preparing a performance for the residents of Pyongyang. But Brügger's real aim is to make a guerrilla-style expose of the ruthless police state.

 

Always under the careful eye of their state-assigned hostess Ms Pak, each night they must submit their footage to 'video specialists' who will edit out any material that might impugn the Dear Leader, Kim Jong-Il.

 

Winner of the World Cinema Documentary grand jury prize at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

 

The Dark Crystal

Friday, 12 November at 6:30pm (Tribal)

 

Another world, another time, in the Age of Wonder.

 

With rumours of a studio remake in the offing, we bring you this much-loved 1982 classic. Jim Henson's first feature film outside of the Muppet franchise, it was a dark departure from the bright comic fun of Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy and Gonzo, and paved the way for Labyrinth and the TV show The Jim Henson Hour.

 

An age-old story of good versus evil gets the Henson treatment in this shadowy world of benevolent Mystics and the wicked Skeksis. With the Dark Crystal damaged, it is up to a young Gelfling to travel to the lair of the Skeksis and take back the missing shard, to save the world from being engulfed by evil.

 

Red Hill

Friday, 12 November at 6:30pm (Tribal)

 

Revenge just rode into town.

 

It's in the form of escaped Aboriginal convict Jimmy Conway (Tommy Lewis, The Chant Of Jimmy Blacksmith), but this neo-western isn't just about black-white race relations in the Australian bush. It centres on the blooding of a young policeman (Ryan Kwanten of HBO's True Blood), new to this small country town, who has to deal with Conway's bloody campaign of revenge against the local cops.

 

Director Patrick Hughes brings us a contemporary take on the western genre, creating a film that is often violent and blood-soaked, but never predictable.

 

Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll

Saturday, 13 November at 4:00pm (Tribal)

 

Hit me with your rhythm stick…

 

Andy Serkis plays British punk legend Ian Dury in a film that distils the surly musician's style – vaudevillian, camp and hilarious. This energetic biopic from director Mat Whitecross (Road to Guantanamo) charts the rise and fall of Dury and his band of music hall misfits, capturing the essence of a charismatic rocker who possessed charm and venom in equal quantities.

 

Serkis is the real hero here, giving a searing performance as the bulgy-eyed, self-obsessed, punk-rock poet with a chip on his shoulder the size of Essex. Like him or hate him, you gotta love him.

 

Howl

Saturday, 13 November at 6:30pm (Centro)

 

"Poetry makes nothing happen," said W.H. Auden. But he didn't live to see the impact that Alan Ginsberg's 1956 masterpiece 'Howl' had on conservative America post-WWII.

 

Directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman have created an experimental format to show the shockwaves produced by one single piece of writing. Their unorthodox approach includes a simulated interview with Ginsberg (played by James Franco), dramatisations of his life and the landmark obscenity trial his poem incited, and finally, the poem itself: imagined in surreal animation.

 

A deeply satisfying intellectual deconstruction and analysis of the poet as well as the poem, Howl brings Ginsberg's seminal work to yet another generation of young radicals.

 

Machete Maidens Unleashed

Sunday, 14 November at 2:00pm (Barracks)

 

No budget, no scruples, no boundaries and usually no clothes.

 

This Brisbane-based production lays bare the sordid world of genre film made in the Philippines during the 70s and 80s. These schlock-laden movies - think monsters, jungle prisons, blaxploitation and kung fu hybrids - were made by enterprising B-movie producers when Ferdinand Marcos's oppressive regime was at its most severe.

 

Featuring funny behind-the-scenes anecdotes from filmmakers, actors and producers - including the likes of Roger Corman, Joe Dante and John Landis - along with plenty of hilarious clips from the low-budget pics, Machete Maidens Unleashed! charts the wild frontier of an almost completely unregulated off-shore film industry.

 

Blue Valentine

Sunday, 14 November at 7:00pm (Barracks)

 

Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling star in a heartbreaking tale of love gone wrong.

 

Cindy, subtly played by Michelle Williams, is not your average suburban mum. She has – in old-fashioned parlance – married beneath her, and husband Dean (Ryan Gosling) can't get the tone of the marriage right.

 

Director Derek Cianfrance wields his cinematic scalpel with agonising precision as he cuts into the core of a diseased marriage, packing an emotional punch worthy of the late John Cassavetes.

 

Brooklyn indie-rock band Grizzly Bear provide a soulful score.