MIFF 2009 reviews – Bronson (2009), The 10 Conditions of Love (2009), Krabat (2008)

Reviews of film screening during the 2009 Melbourne International Film Festival.

Bronson (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2009) ✭✭✭✭
The 10 Conditions of Love (Jeff Daniels, 2009) ✭✭✭✭
Krabat (Marco Kreuzpaintner, 2008) ✭✭✭✩


Charles Bronson (Tom Hardy)

The British press once described Charles “Charlie” Bronson as the “most violent prisoner in Britain.” He has spent most of his life in prison and for most of that time he has been in solitary confinement. Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn likes grim subject matter but audiences expecting the gritty social realism of his Pusher trilogy are going to be very surprised by Bronson, which is a macabre blend of horror and comedy, biographical information and complete fabrication, realism and Brechtian techniques. Bronson is presented as a showman whose acts of violence are his greatest source of self-expression and throughout the film Bronson appears on a stage addressing an unseen audience as if he is taking part in a bizarre one person pantomime. Bronson’s criminality and delusions of grandeur make Bronson comparable to Chopper but the satirical avant garde nature of Bronson also makes it very close in tone to A Clockwork Orange. Considering that Bronson’s sole response to everything he encounters is to simply commit violence, Refn and actor Tom Hardy, who plays Bronson, have done a remarkable job of making such a compelling, entertaining and disturbing film.

The 10 Conditions of Love

Rebiya Kadeer is a successful businesswoman, political activist and human rights advocate. She campaigns for the rights of the Uyghur people who live in Xinjiang, a supposedly autonomous region of the People’s Republic of China. Known as East Turkistan by the Uyghur people, Xinjiang was annexed by China in 1949, similarly to how China later also annexed Tibet. As a Uyghur person herself, Kadeer has long campaigned about the ethnic, political, religious and economic persecution that her people have suffered. The documentary The 10 Conditions of Love tells Rebiya’s story and she is an extraordinary woman who has made some incredible personal sacrifices to bring the plight of the Uyghur people to the attention of the rest of the world. The 10 Conditions of Love is an eye-opening and moving tribute to her work, which is far from over. It’s a film that needs to be seen and if the recent demands by the Chinese government for it not to be shown at the Melbourne International Film Festival have generated more publicity for the film than it would have attracted otherwise, then this is a good thing.

Interview with The 10 Conditions of Love director Jeff Daniels from The Casting Couch 18 July 2009


The German fantasy Krabat is an 18th century tale of magic and morality in the vein of classic Brothers Grimm stories. Based on the 1971 German novel The Satanic Mill, which was based on tales dating back to the 17th century, Krabat is about a 14-year-old boy who joins a secret brotherhood of apprentices training in Black Magic. The boy, Krabat (played by David Kross from The Reader), is initially pleased to have apparently found his place in the world but soon discovers that his training comes with a terrible price. Krabat is a refreshingly highbrow fantasy film that doesn’t contain any extraneous exposition and explanation, uses its special effect sequences sparingly and is incredibly serious. The protagonists of the film may be predominantly teenage boys and young men but this is a film aimed at an adult audience. Nevertheless, there is something a little overtly cold and detached about Krabat that prevents you from becoming fully immersed in its dark and mysterious story.

© Thomas Caldwell, 2009

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  1. Watched Bronson this week and was totally disappointed. I think I failed to grasp what the film maker was trying to do.

    I look forward to seeing The 10 Conditions of Love. Sounds like an eye opener.

  2. wow…….I’m, well I must say all the UYGHURS (0r UIGHUR) who are living in other countries (wanting to get their country back from the chinese) were so happy that this documantry was made…..the Chinese tried so hard to withdraw this film from the festival. POOR THING, they couldn’t…on the contrary they made this film more popular by withdrawing 3 of their films not the TEN CONDITIONS OF LOVE…(I GUESS WE SHOULD THANK THEM FOR DOING THAT) but from that you can see the REAL side of the Chinese…they NEVER want the public or the world to know about the UYGHURS….I’m glad just from this film many Australians learnt something about the Uyghurs.

  3. MIFF’s sister festival TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival)did what amounts to an about face to MIFF’s stand. During a year that started out with the massacre of some 1,400 Gazan Palestinians, TIFF saw fit to highlight the city of Tel Aviv in its inaugural “City to City” showcase. Abetted by the year old “Brand Israel” campaign orchestrated by the Israeli consulate (with the financial assistance of prominent Canadian zionists), TIFF swept aside criticisms as anti-semitic. Personally, I’m a bit MIFFED at TIFF and support MIFFs stand in their TIFF with China.

  4. Film festivals should be able to program whatever films they like without political interference. There are a lot of interesting films coming out of Tel Aviv so it seems completely reasonable to highlight them. I don’t think a Canadian film festival should be accountable for the military actions of a country that it is screening films from.

  5. don’t people just realize that documentaries, especially political ones are always going to be biased? people should be more aware of the influence and the controversy behind media before letting it affect them. watching 10 conditions of love ( regardless of its importance) and then without hesitation supporting the uyghurs and condemning china is as immature as watching chinese news and siding with china.

    all in all my comment is just a warning that people should watch as much as they can but critically think about it before making such comments.

    i personally thought it was a pretty shit movie with an interesting topic that could have been better developed by someone who would have has more access to either side than Daniels did.

  6. Hi Zi

    I think people are very aware that documentaries are biased and that’s one thing that distinguishes them from news stories (which are supposedly not biased but of course often are). So yes, this is a biased film because it wants to bring to our attention the plight of Rebiya Kadeer and the Uyghur people. Besides the filmmaker, Jeff Daniels, repeatedly tried to get the Chinese government’s perspective for his film but they constantly refused him. I agree with you that opinions about important issues shouldn’t be formed over a single film but I still maintain that this is a good film and it is important for this underrepresented and often suppressed perspective to be given a voice.


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