MIFF is now underway I’ve seen a Danish film about gay Neo-Nazis, a Japanese film about an inflatable sex doll that comes to life and two Australian genre films: a sex-comedy where you get to see Steve Bisley’s naked ass in the opening minute, and an action/Western where you get to see Steve Bisley being a badass with the only banging coming from his gun.
Before the festival started I was sent some DVD screeners and Brotherhood was the only one I had time to watch. It’s sort of a forbidden love story where the lovers are men who are active members of a Neo Nazi club. It is let down by some slightly unconvincing character development including one of the men very quickly adopting the violent ethos of the gang despite previously being against it and with the lovers very rapidly surrendering themselves to their passions despite it being so substantially contradictory to their bigoted attitude. However, performances are very strong and the homoerotic nature of male bonding is explored in some interesting ways. The sex scenes also have an energy to them that is both tender, raw and not often depicted in such an honest way. However, this is no Brokeback Mountain and it is certainly no Romper Stomper, American History X or This Is England either.
The Wedding Party
A multi narrative Australian film with interconnecting stories about love and sex, The Wedding Party is like a Melbournian Love Actually. This is not a good thing. It is overlong, too tame and not really that funny, sexy or romantic. The acting is very good with Nadine Garner and Adam Zwar in particular turning in really strong performances but overall I had trouble enjoying The Wedding Party despite really wanting to. Maybe it is simply not my sort of film but from what I’ve heard from most other people that I’ve spoken to I don’t think I am alone in feeling so disappointed about this year’s opening night film.
On the other hand, seeing the Australian Red Hill was a lot more enjoyable but this time I think I am somewhat in the minority for simply liking it rather than absolutely loving it. However, I mostly did enjoy this small town revenge story and the heavy use of Western iconography in the film’s visual style, music and narrative worked really well. There were just one or two elements that pulled me out of the film’s gritty tone but Red Hill is still a strong film and I can’t wait to see what writer/director Patrick Hughes does next.
[EDIT 5/12/2010: Read a full review of Red Hill]
I was looking forward to seeing Air Doll, a drama about an inflatable sex doll that “finds a heart” and comes to life. The film is mainly observational with the doll being a deliberately obvious metaphor for having an empty life, allowing your life to be defined by others and the ways people find substitutes for real intimacy. Air Doll is not whimsical or light hearted, and one macabre scene towards the end of the film almost ruined it for me, but it overall possesses a very tranquil sweetness. By the time the film reached the very end I was surprised by just how moved I was by its gentleness and sadness.