Monday, June 26, 2006

Film: The rest of the film festival

I saw a total of eight films at the 2006 Sydney Film Festival. Not as good as the old days, when I had fewer time and money pressures.

In order of merit:
An Inconvenient Truth (USA, 2006)
Memory for Max, Ida, Clair and Company (Canada, 2005)
Secuestro Express (Venezuela, 2005)
Feast of the Goat (Spain, 2005)
Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey (USA, 2005)
A Pervert’s Guide to the Cinema (UK, 2006)
United 93 (USA, 2006)

- This list is actually ordered by what I feel affected me the most. I’ve already made notes on An Inconvenient Truth (a significant film); Memory For Max… (moving), and Feast Of The Goat (powerful). I’ll make a few notes on the rest here.

Secuestro Express is also a powerful film. Brutal, too. It depicts the volatile mixture of human experience that is Venezuela’s capital, Caracas. A large city where poverty and obscene wealth rub shoulders, fuelled by an abundance of guns, drugs and corruption. The medium is the kidnapping of a spoilt rich boy and a woman who volunteers in a health clinic. One aspect of the moralism is rather hollywood – the rich boy gets his, the woman emerges alive and unraped. On the other hand, the players are brutalised – terrified – by hyper-drug-crazed thugs with guns. But the hollywood pretence remains, to some extent: that if you’re alive and unscathed, everything’s all right. Yet the scars will remain.
I certainly didn’t feel unscathed when I came out of this film. It was quite nasty at times. But as the film directly points out, half the world is starving while the other half is dying of obesity; few of us are unscathed in the end. I recommend you read the review on IMDB.

Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey is a documentary about heavy metal, from the personal perspective of a (relatively young) fan. It’s quite well-done, although it helps to have at least a passing interest in the genre. It gives a good rundown on its evolution, and all the various sub-genres. I guess I lose out, because the genre is illustrated as starting with Black Sabbath, which is already somewhat askant from my musical tastes. I can tolerate only a little of them, or Motorhead or Deep Purple derivatives (Dio, etc). Some I like that might get honorary mention were not included, so what do I know? I never could stand the posturing of bands from Twisted Sister at one extreme to the death metal at the other (now Lemmy from Motorhead, there’s a good example of metal with no posturing).
I didn’t find the filmmaker entirely successful in addressing the several controversies surrounding heavy metal, such as satanism and violence. Still, it was worth it to see some of the ‘satanist’ bands back away from that stance at the rate of knots when properly questioned.

A Pervert’s Guide to the Cinema was promising, but didn’t deliver. Touted as a Freudian look at film, it was more than enough to put me off Freudian analysis for life. Far too long and ponderous for theatrical release, it should go back to the tv screens where it was obviously aimed. A parade of Hitchcock and Lynch films didn’t redeem the rambling so-called “philosopher and psycho-analyst” with the thick european accent.

United 93 portrayed the 911 plane that crashed into the field when the hijackers were overpowered. I read the festival notes as presenting a documentary, but it was a dramatisation. Starting out with a “we’re all going to die” music soundtrack, didn’t encourage me to continue. I would actually have got more out of a documentary. Still, I can’t blame Americans too much for making a film like this. As George Bush said recently "In Europe [and elsewhere] September 11 was a moment; for us, it was a change of thinking.”

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