Movie festivals and theaters

When we first arrived, it seemed the movie scene was on the decline in Brissy. That might be the case, but since then we’ve found our way to a few awesome cinemas and have become regulars at some festivals. Things ain’t that bad after all.

Recently, we’ve visited the Queensland Film Festival at New Farm Cinemas (13-23 July) and the BIFF, or Brisbane International Film Festival (17 Aug – 3 Sept), where we saw a couple of flics, each well worth your time. Thanks to the curators of both festivals and the careful further selection by Grismar.

  • Antiporno, about…, ehrm, let me get back to you on that one
  • The Endless, about cult life and brotherhood
  • Goodtime, about anything but a good time after a bank robbery
  • Nocturama, about the fine (or not so fine line) between activism and terrorism
  • The Lure, a modern fairy tale of two mermaid sisters
  • Loving Vincent, an animated movie made with more than 65,000 oil paintings
  • The Square, where high culture and animal instinct come together
  • Dave made a maze, about Dave, who made a labyrinth. (how about instead of trying to diminish it, you guys help me finish it?)
  • Manifesto, in which Cate Blanchett writes a manifest

The movie theaters we visit, somewhat in order of frequency:

  • Palace Barracks, walking distance and room for more art housey movies
  • GOMA Cinémathèque, walking distance and excellent programming, varying from the artiest of house to the complete Marvel collection. Only downside is movies show often only once and their website is hard to navigate so we miss a lot.
  • Cineplex South Banks, closest and cheapest, perfect place to see a block buster
  • New Farm Cinemas, a short bus ride away, great selection and atmosphere
  • Palace Centro, a bit further out (bus ride and short walk), but has a nice burger joint next door for dinner afterwards, and they often host festivals

Cinematic futurism in games in retrospect – Syria drone footage

The horror of this video is self-evident and though it’s impossible to ignore, it’s not what I wanted to share.

What’s interesting to me is that this montage of drone footage offers a view of an environment that’s reminiscent of video games. Not just because many video games will offer views of devastation and war unlike most of us ever seen in real life. But also because of the camera positions and mobility a drone affords.

In recent years, I sometimes got annoyed at the artificial feel of cinematic sequences in games, because they allowed the camera freedoms that were simply not achievable in reality, not without CGI. They break the suspense of disbelief and certainly don’t work for anything that’s intended to evoke a sense of realism. However, now that sentiment is flipping – some of those cinematic sequences appear simply ‘ahead of their time’, foreshadowing the cinematic acrobatics of drone-borne cameras.

Watching the (very interesting) movie “The Double” (2013) by Richard Ayoade, I got a similar sensation – many camera standpoints and the visual storytelling seem to break away from traditional cinematographic conventions and instead speak the language of the cinematic cut scene in computer games.

Have a watch and let me know what you think, anywhere.

La Horde

La Horde (2009) – [rate 3]

In recent years, some excellent horror has come out of France (Inside and Martyrs were shown at previous AFFF editions) and I suppose it was only a matter of time before a typical zombiemovie was added to the list.

La Horde is likely to feel as a fresh take on the genre by those who don’t play a lot of computer games. It pits a number of highly unlikely heroes in an urban environment against an unstoppable horde of zombies. It offers no explanation for the source of the sudden breakout, nor does it offer any particular background as to why and when this is happening – to its credit in my opinion.

But considering the typical demographic this type of movie will reach, assuming they don’t play a lot of videogames is a bit of a stretch. And those that do won’t be able to watch La Horde without Left 4 Dead popping into their minds every couple of minutes. It’s definitely an original story that has little to do with that game, but the styling, the setting and the flow of the movie all reminded me of L4D.

And although the movie has great sound design, is properly scored, looks good in every way and has all the right actors in all the right places, it’s not really about anything. Sure, the cops have to work with the robbers and that yields some results, but nothing much beyond the predictable. Most zombie movies have an agenda, but in La Horde, it’s either absent or too subtle for yours truly.

Still a good watch if you really like zombie flicks in general.

The Seventh Circle

A Hetedik Kör (The Seventh Circle) (2009) – [rate 3.5]

On my festival voting ticket, I scored this movie a whole point below it’s value, at least as I perceived it. The main reason being that this isn’t really a fantastical movie at all, unless you feel that any movie involving religious influence deserves that label. I’m not quite that cynical yet. Nor do I think that anything fictional deserves the label ‘fantastical’.

It’s a tale of a group of early teen friends in a small Hungarian village. All is well for these kids doing typical kid stuff, until a red haired, limping boy arrives on the scene, apparently out of nowhere. His influence on the children slowly turns the story to an inevitable conclusion and you’ll have a hard time hoping for the best, especially if you know that the seventh circle of hell is reserved for the violent against others, self, God and nature.

So, even though I felt it was a bit of out place at this particular festival, I would still recommend you go and see it if you like intense psychological drama without gore against a backdrop of catholicism.

Dark and Stormy Night

Dark and Stormy Night (2009) – [rate 3.5]

A black and white, cliche-filled, overacted, lousy effect-filled murder story in a supposedly haunted house – riddled with revue-type jokes. Why exactly give it 3.5/5 then? Well, because this is a tribute to exactly those movies that made them cliche and it gets it exactly right.

Dark and Stormy Night succeeds in remaining funny and heartfelt all the way through to the end. And there are many small tributes in there that aren’t overly exposed, but sufficiently visible for those who already have a warm place in their heart for this type of B-movie. For those that don’t, this movie could change it and if it doesn’t you’ll be sure to laugh at it, inspite of yourself.

European Shorts #2

More shorts and, in my opinion, the better block of the two. Though I agree with most that Logoland from block #1 is the best overall short in the festival, this one has better looking, smarter, funnier and more though-provoking shorts. I particularly liked Fard and Lebensader and the Little Dragon looks amazing.

If you can find these shorts anywhere on the web, they’re all well worth a few minutes of your time.

Fard on indieClickTV


Adás (Transmission) (2009) – [rate 3]

Every festival seems to have at least one: a feature film that would have been better as a lengthy short. Transmission does need some time to get atmosphere across, but in the end I felt that too little had happened and too many scenes in the movie serve no real purpose or show something that was expressed in some other scene.

I did like the way the movie is set up: ‘something’ has happened, some change that apparently resulted in all screens (computers, TV’s, what have you) no longer working. Instead of showing how that happened or giving some elaborate explanation as to the why, it only shows us what it means to normal people and how they deal with it.

If you can take one message home from Transmission, it’s that TV is a very, very bad thing for society. Apparently, the idiot box has us enslaved and has stripped us of our ability to live together normally and without TV (or the net for that matter). At other times, the movie seems to hint that the TV’s not working may well be a metaphor for many other things not working, parts of human social life included.

Transmission is bleak and only humorous if you can dive down into the dark outlook this movie offers on today’s society. It’s worth seeing, but a bit long and talking about the movie during the movie to pass time isn’t really an option either, because it’s the silence and the oppressive feeling of waiting that lend the movie it’s eerie sense of importance.

Monkey Boy

Monkey Boy (2009) – [rate 4]

Monkey Boy surprised me with its left uppercut, just when I was getting tired of the weak bitch slaps it was throwing from the right. I completely missed the point as the movie was starting to remind me of such duds as Castle Freak, when I suddenly realized what was going on.

Monkey Boy is a deeply layered and interconnected story with only a few characters, reflected and shattered like simple colors in a caleidoscope into a picture worth seeing. From about a quarter into the movie, I had to work hard to remember what I’d seen before to be able to put the puzzle together. And even though the movie leaves you with the feeling that there’s some loose ends that may well be impossible to tie to anything, I think it’s a true original.

Still, I feel it’s no to its credit that it managed to repulse me at first. And some of the acting is a bit off. It’s a low budget production, so there’s no point in going into the special effects, which are pretty good all things considered. But a masterpiece it is not. So, with a 4/5, this is one for the horror-fairy tale fan.

The House of the Devil

The House of the Devil (2009) – [rate 3]

If you’ve survived the 80’s, like myself, and watched any of the horror movies created in that era – I watched a serious number of them – you’ll be amazed at how well this movie gets it right. That is, looking like one of those. I actually caught myself wondering “haven’t I seen this movie at some point in high school?” but that’s absolutely impossible, since it was released last year.

Though the makers deserve credit for getting that down to the smallest details, it doesn’t make it a good movie per se. Luckily, they managed to get most of that right too. The introduction of the main character is simple but enjoyable and not overly long, but long enough to start to care. The typical suspense arc starts well and builds up with excellent sustain, although you’ll be hard pressed to detect originality (girl babysits in remote mansion, with the movie being prefixed with a fact about satanic sects).

What prevents this movie from being a modern retro-classic is the ending. It’s a rushed jumble which merely serves to shatter the suspense. And even if that is a quote as well, it’s a quote of the movies that I didn’t like in the 80’s vs. the great many that I did like (and had better endings). House of the Devil is comparable to better movies like The Sect and even though it does almost everything else better (sound, music, camera, acting, props), it fails in the one that matters the most – to me anyway -: story.

Malice in Wonderland

Malice in Wonderland (2009) – [rate 3.5]

Having recently seen the new Alice in Wonderland, it was interesting to watch this adaptation of the classic to fit the current day London underworld. Amusing translations, like the Mad Hatter getting angry at Alice for eating all his cakes – in Malice, the Mad Hairdresser (who happens to be a madam as well) gets angry at Alice for “losing her tarts”, because she drive a truck full of prostitutes down the road without closing the doors and some inevitably fall off.

It’s that kind of gags that make Malice enjoyable, as well as the inventive adaptation of the story to the plight of a 21th century well-to-do teenager. The acting is a bit flaky and the production isn’t top-notch either, but it doesn’t get in the way of the movie and overall it’s worth seeing.