Friday, March 25, 2011

Film Society 2010

As I get ready to begin Film Society 2011, I thought I would do some brief reviews on last years program. I did not attend all of the films.

The Great Dictator - I was on hols, so missed seeing this Chaplin classic on the big screen, very upset about this, however I have seen it many times - Chaplin at his best!
There will be blood - I had already seen this, it is a long movie with some very fine acting from Daniel Day Lewis, but one viewing was enough for me, so no repeat performances.
Heartland Reggae - Cult film about rastafarians and based around some live performances in Jamaica in the late 70s starring Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. It was fabulous, the music energetic, and seeing Bob at his peak was something to behold. The documentary itself was very raw and would have been edited far more slickly today, but it was the late 70s and that made it all the more an experience...also a LOT of large spliffs :)
The Combination - a Lebanese/Australian film, set in Western Sydney, about a young lebanese boy who falls in love with a white girl. Shocking in it's violence, yet touching in it's heart.
Gomorrah - I am still yet to see this Italian film which won the Grand Prix prize at Cannes.
Adventureland- laconic American indie set in an amusement park, starring Jesse Eisenberg.
Black Ice - I had already seen this the previous year at the travelling Film festival - an excellent thriller from Finland - set against the snow and ice (so very white) and amongst some amazing architecture, the male lead is an architect. The older female realises her husband is having an affair with a younger women and go to great lengths for revenge!
Quiet Chaos - missed this Italian film also.
The Class - also this French one.
$9.99 - this was an amazing animated Australian film that dealt with the meaning of life and why we are here. Dave, who lives with his dad, purchases a booklet proclaiming to answer those very questions for $9.99, spiritualism and humour ensue.
Air Guitar Nation - I have my own copy of this and still have not seen it, I imagine hilarious!
Noodle - missed this Israeli one
The September Issue - Stunning behind the scenes look at creating the September issue of Vogue. Anna Wintour is sharp and icy - everything shown by the Devil wears Prada and more! My favourite scenes were with Grace Coddington, a former model, the fashion editor and probably the only person who stands up to Anna. Formidable!
Katyn - missed this Polish film.
Tank Girl - saw this sci fi years ago, was ok, did not feel like a repeat viewing
The Leopard - OMG, this was overblown, long, and melodramatic, a 'classic' film based on a classic book, set in the 1860s and 3 hours long. It was set to the backdrop of a Sicilian War, I fell asleep in the middle ...oops!
I missed a huge chunk of films during August and much of September due to holidays and other commitments.
Moon - this was just stunning, the debut film from Duncan Jones - son of David Bowie. Sam (Sam Rockwell) is on the moon accompanied by a robot (voiced by Kevin Spacey), but after an incident begins to see differing versions of himself - what is happening? Simply, but beautifully shot, some great sci-fi twists. I love this film!!!
My year without sex - outstanding Australian film starring Sasha Horler (always brilliant) and Matt Day as her long suffering husband, highly recommend.
Wake in Fright - I had never seen this and was really disturbed by this. It is billed as a horror film, but not really in the true sense of horror. It really is hard to describe and if you have seen it you will know what I mean. A city man, who had been teaching in a small outback town, gets stranded in a larger - yet still small - outback town on his way back home to Sydney for his holidays. Gambling, drinking, gross behaviour including rape and kangaroo shooting amongst much more happen during his time stuck there. I felt physically sick during a lot of this film.
The Passenger - Stunning film from Antonioni starring Jack Nicholson in a mistaken identity, slow thriller. Slow in that the shots take their time and the pace is slowish despite Nicholson being on the run. Also starring Steven Berkoff and Maria Schneider (Last tango in Paris) as Nicholson's love interest. It does drag a little in parts, but is really worth it - Jack in the mid 70s was on a roll - amazing!
The book of revelation- missed this Australian thriller.
Calamity Jane- what a thrill to end the year, cheesy - sure, dated - you betcha, a little bit gay - yeah, but there's nothing wrong with that. Doris Day at her very best, cheerful, ballsy and boy, she just does not stop. Howard Keel - pretty damn good looking and a great voice of course - years before wooing Miss Ellie on Dallas! I just had a smile on my face the entire time and kind of bounced out the theatre afterwards, as I looked around everyone was much the same. They sure don't make 'em like that anymore.

And so, I look forward to my first film tomorrow evening in what looks like to be an outstanding program. And yes, the first film is by my second favourite director - Woody Allen - an absolute classic - Zelig!!!!!!!!


Rabbit was our first Inspirations event for 2011, on Saturday 12 March at The Playhouse. I loved Rabbit, it featured a group of 5 twenty somethings at a club celebrating one of their birthdays. The lead female, whose birthday it was, had her quiet doctor girlfriend, and her loud brassy girlfriend, and 2 ex-boyfriends, and their conversation over many wines dealt with the battle of the sexes, careers, love, life and death. In a set of fantastic asides, the lead female also talks with her father who is ill in hospital.

It was very funny, very modern, and very confronting in its subject matter. I thought the male actors, particularly Barry Shepherd as the Dad, were excellent and the lead female also great. Another great production from Stooged Theatre, it had us talking about all sorts of things afterwards, always a mark of a wonderful story.

Annie Leibovitz

I had the great pleasure of viewing Annie Leibovitz: a photographer's life 1990-2005 at the MCA in Sydney on Thursday 17 February.

I have previously seen an exhibit of her earlier, Rolling Stone, work at Newcastle Gallery many years ago and being a long time Vanity Fair reader, was very familiar with her Hollywood photos. There is something very immediate, yet long lasting about photography and her eye draws you in. She experiments with quirky and unusual - Whoopi in a milk bath, Demi pregnant, Lemmon and Curtis in drag.

A lot of the Vanity Fair shots were exhibited, side by side with her other work. These were more personal, mostly black and white shots. They were infinitely more interesting also. They were smaller sized than the larger than life Hollywood shots, it drew you in closer to these intimate images. The following is a joyous shot of her parents.

There were also very confronting subject matter - Sarajevo and the death of Susan Sontag, her partner. These were quite beautiful, haunting and very sad. There were some images I just could not bear to look at for too long, they made me very teary, in particular the photograph of Sontag in her was too much. Accompanying this was some words from Leibovitz, which added to the impact. I much preferred the stunning shot of Sontag at Petra - now that is an eye for detail.

I also was surprised to see a huge section of very large (wall sized) landscapes of areas in America, like the Grand Canyon, and Venice - these were minimalist and at times so grainy, you had to step right back to adjust to what you were seeing. These were a surprise, as I had no knowledge of this part of her work - it was nice to see something new.

Finally, here are some other images I loved - the contrast of what she can do, the glaring black, white and red of The White Stripes to the country black and white of the Cash family. There is no doubt Leibovitz is a star. I think the exhibit has been extended until April - so if you get a chance so and see. It is a huge exhibit with many, many shots, I highly recommend.