Today was the last day, and I’m sad that it’s already over. It was a great excuse, and it felt normal, to see so many films condensed over 12 days, and I felt like I was part of some sort of cult having to celebrate this religion everyday with a ritual of a film. Then you leave the place of worship feeling an array of emotions, depending on what the sermon was. Let me tell you, there were a couple of extremes here and there.
Great Pixar film, and the best thing I loved about it was the fact that the female protagonist didn’t have to find love or have some sort of masculine support to fulfil her mission/agenda. YAY WOMEN’S INDEPENDENCE!!! Heart-warming story, funny little moments, however didn’t have quite the emotional sting that Toy Story 3 or Up had. I thoroughly enjoyed it, though, and I think it’s worth seeing it on the big screen. And the sceneries are well constructed and stylised, and the red hair is just mesmerising.
So… This left me angry, slightly conflicted, however somewhat resolved. Content wise it was excellent - covering the different victims and their stories of being bullied, and their parents either helpless because the school authorities would not doing anything about it, or mourning because it was too late, and the bullying got the better of them. This was a great doco to produce and spread the word that bullying is definitely not okay. It was hard not to empathise and feel sorry for them, and get upset on their behalf. With some of the school authorities, it was amazing that the director didn’t yell “cut” and punched them in the face for some of the misdirected/misguided things they would say to the bullied victims and their parents.
The one thing that did deter me from this doco was its camera technique and cinematography. Usually the director and DP are separate, but not in this case. This was interesting to me because I’m trying to decide whether I wanna stick to directing, or explore cinematography a little more. The constant wavering in and out of focus, the instability of the camera - it was all a little too much. There were a couple of really nice scenic shots to set the scene, and some of the intense, confrontational moments were great. But to have the constant visual push and pull in scenes where it appeared either calm or reflective was a little unnecessary in my opinion, and that distracted me a little from the story.
Other than that - this documentary should be shown everywhere in schools, and I’m glad this film has made it to some sort of distribution around the globe.
The Loneliest Planet
The premise was promising - two Americans hike and camp around Georgia with a personal tour guide. Everything seems to be going smoothly until an event changes their dynamic for the rest of the film.
I love travel, and I like films about relationships. You’d think this would be my cup of tea. Well… It would’ve been better as a short film, in my opinion. It had one gimmick and it was overused, the takes were lengthy but felt a little aimless, and the pacing was slow. I don’t mind films that aren’t dialogue heavy, however I guess being used to all the high action flicks, I expect a sort of narrative being told through the imagery if words are not provided.
It was visually stunning, and the lead characters were interesting to observe. The country, initially breathtaking, got a little bit the same after a while. It was the only movie where I contemplated on leaving early, but decided to stick with it to say that I did. I’m generally a patient person, and don’t mind a slow paced movie. But this was a little too slow. It had such potential, but didn’t quite hit the spot for me.
I really enjoyed this film, because after seeing quite a lot of films that were visually stunning but lacking a little bit of dialogue to move it along (Lore, Tabu, Loneliest Planet), this was definitely intellectual and character driven. Josh Radnor (of How I Met Your Mother fame) wrote, directed and starred it.
This is a typical hipster film. Beards, eclectic clothing, literature, music, art, philosophy. It also reminded me of Woody Allen. Even though I’m not terribly well versed in Woody Allen, I know that back in the day he would write, direct and star in his own films, and it would include intellectual banter that would leave you thinking similarly about your own existence and purpose in life. It could be that Josh Radnor was heavily influenced by Woody Allen - Josh may be the contemporary version of Woody.
Liberal Arts was a nicely nuanced romantic comedy, and it was a relief watching this after a couple of serious movies that left me a little less than happy. Highly recommend everyone seeing it once it is released.
Side by Side
Earlier in the week I went to a panel discussion held by the Australian Cinematographers Society over at the Sydney Film Festival Hub, and basically it was the same debate that was discussed in this documentary feature: film versus digital. Side by Side, however, goes in fair detail into the evolution of film, and the emergence of digital and how the technology has developed so quickly in the last 2-3 years.
It was cool to hear all the industry greats and their opinions, and it definitely was not a propaganda tool to promote digital over film or vice versa. It had a balanced representation of those who preferred film over digital and digital over film, and gave pros and cons in using both mediums to tell a story.
This was definitely a great insight, and I learnt quite a bit through this film despite the possible opinion or information overload - it was a packed 2 hours. There is a sense of magic about cinematography and film, and a definite art to it, and this doco just made me want to explore it even more.
French for “Love”, this was definitely about love, and much more. I left the cinema feeling a lot more depressed than joyous, and to double it up I had to walk in the cold on my own and it made me feel even more isolated.
We watch a couple in their old age Anne and Georges, previously piano teachers/music devotees, and how their relationship evolves after Anne suffers from a stroke. Georges is devoted in taking care of his wife, and how it affects him seeing his wife slowly deteriorate before his eyes. The couple also faces denial whenever they have visitors come by, where they unwillingly talk about Anne’s health.
It hones in on the inevitable - that we’re all going to die. The acting was so superb, and even though I did not cry as much as I thought I would, my mouth was gaped open half the time just in shock as to what was unveiling before my eyes. It was a very moving film, and it affected me so greatly I desperately wanted to curl up into my bed and just not deal with the world for a while. However, I had to go to an engagement party, so after a fairly long walk in the cold and time to recompose, I was fine to socialise again.
This film was well crafted, however far from the family friendly Hollywood shmultz that people would probably be used to. Don’t expect jazz fingers and flowers and such. Expect reality punching you hard in the face, though.
Dendy Short Films
The program was of high calibre - the short film industry definitely has some high standards. Julian was a great fun piece, and the animation The Makers was so adorable I wish it was made into a feature. My favourite out of all of them was Yardbird - was a cool sci fi short that was greatly balanced with exploring human nature. I was also thoroughly impressed by The Wilding, a great script with strong performers. I also attended the panel afterwards with all the film-makers discussing how their ideas came about and how it was achieved, and it was a great insight to short-film making. It was also inspiring to see that it was an almost equal amount of male and female film directors, which is great to see seeing as previously directing has been a predominantly male industry.
Step Up to the Plate
I loved this documentary as it not only explores the science and creativity behind fine food crafting, but also the high expectations involved in taking over a family business with such a renowned reputation. I have a reignited respect for fine food chefs, and watching Sebastien being scrutinised by his father Michel was quite amusing despite being slightly nerve-racking when Michel was being hyper-critical.
This was one documentary that I liked the cinematography of - it made you feel like you were either there with the two chefs, or you’re a special guest in the kitchen seeing the secret to Sebastien’s recipes.
I just wish I could afford to have fine dining every single day of my life.
Safety Not Guaranteed
Highly enjoyable film - very modest in delivery, script and performance. Well cast, and a very quirky film that talks about time travel without having the actual time travel in it. All I’m going to say about this film is you have to see it when it’s in the cinema. I’m kinda getting tired, however I can say that it was a great film to finish the Sydney Film Festival with, as I left the State Theatre with a smile on my face.
I can’t believe I never really participated in the Sydney Film Festival before. Every single year I tried to get to at least one film, but nothing really took my fancy until this year. Apparently sales have gone up by 10% this year, which took me by surprise because I thought the Sydney Film Festival was a very popular event.
My highlight for the festival was Mabo - such a moving film that was well written and crafted, plus being in the same theatre as Bonita Mabo was something in itself.
The Hub was also an awesome concept, and I really enjoyed visiting it and attending the panel discussions. I hope it comes back next year, I’ll hang out there more often!
I feel privileged to have been able to see all those movies, and I definitely know that I’m coming back next year. Can’t believe I waited until now to fully experience the Sydney Film Festival at its best.