As I’ve mentioned previously I was on the jury this year for the Melbourne International Film Festival Shorts Awards with fellow jury members Alan Finney and Wendy Haslem. During a fun ceremony on Sunday night, hosted by Colin Lane, the following winning films were announced:
Jury Special Mention: Out Of Love
Melbourne Airport Award for Emerging Australian Filmmaker: The Kiss
MIFF Award for Best Experimental Short Film: Long Live The New Flesh
MIFF Award for Best Documentary Short Film: The Mystery Of Flying Kicks
MIFF Award for Best Animation Short Film: Angry Man
Cinema Nova Award for Best Fiction Short Film: Autumn Man
Film Victoria Erwin Rado Award for Best Australian Short Film: Franswa Sharl
City of Melbourne Grand Prix for Best MIFF Short Film: The Lost Thing
With the exception of Out Of Love all the above films will screen at the Best MIFF Shorts Screening this Sunday and I can’t recommend that session enough.
Yesterday I got back into seeing feature films, starting with two OK films and ending on a very strong one.
Based on a true story, The Robber is about an Austrian man obsessed with two things – running and robbing banks. There is something slightly cold and detached about this film and the rather subdued acting keeps you at an arms length for the entire film. There are some exhilarating bursts of action and in particular some of the on foot chase sequences echo the effective use of first person cinematography that Kathryn Bigelow is so skilled at delivering. However, overall The Robber never fully connects in the way that you feel it should.
While watching the hitman farce Wild Target I was surprised at how much I remembered from the original 1993 French film Cible émouvante. In this new English remake Bill Nighy plays the lead role of the professional hitman that Jean Rochefort played originally and he is an excellent choice with his wonderful comedic timing. The rest of the cast aren’t as well suited but they are likeable enough to make this remake work reasonable well. Weirdly, the fact that the very black humour – where somebody getting murdered is often the punchline – seems so suited to the English sensibility, makes it actually less funny than it was when done by the French where it felt so outrageous by comparison.
I went to see the South Korean film Poetry at the last minute mainly because I’d heard it compared to last year’s Mother. Stylistically far more naturalistic that Mother it does contain some thematic similarities. Discovering that she is displaying the earlier signs of Alzheimer’s and finding out that her grandson, whom she cares for, was involved in a horrible crime, a woman in her 60s turns to poetry to find some kind of beauty in life. Apparently inspired by a real event, Poetry reminded me of River’s Edge and the Australian play Blackrock with its social critique. The gently paced film is a blend of poetic observations about the natural world and very sad observations about social culpability. The central performance by Yoon Jeong-hee, a star of 1960s and 1970s Korean cinema, is what grounds this film and gives it such a moving emotional core.