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MIFF 2011 Diary: Days 10-12

MIFF 2011 Diary: Days 10-12

Sex slaves, shameless promos and gun-wielding hobos.
Aug 1, 2011

Exhausting. That’s the word I’d use to describe my weekend. At this point I’m roughly half-way through my Melbourne International Film Festival experience, with the six festival films I saw over the past two days (five of them in the span of less than twelve hours!) bringing my grand total to an even sixteen overall. So without further adieu, let’s dive in to what I’ve been up to.

When you last heard from me, it was in the extremely early hours of Saturday, and I had just gotten back from a late night screening of James Gunn’s Super. Collapsing into bed for what was meant to be just a few hours of precious sleep, I awoke at 10am and realised I was in serious danger of missing my first screening of the day – an 11am session of Errol Morris’ Tabloid. Bolting down some breakfast and forgoing my usual morning shower (apologies to anyone seated near me during the day), I threw myself onto a tram — nearly breaking my arm in a closing door — and headed into the city. Even with me cracking the whip over my tram-drivers head, I still arrived at the Greater Union cinema a good twenty minutes late, and had to quietly make my way in to the already darkened cinema.

tabloid1 e1312182624864 600x333 MIFF 2011 Diary: Days 10 12Errol Morris’ Tabloid

Coming into the movie while it was already well and truly underway was at first a little confusing, but I soon enough got a grip as to what was going on. The film documents the coverage of a high-profile tabloid story in England in the 1970s that of former beauty queen Joyce McKinney, who allegedly kidnapped, seduced and raped Kirk Anderson, a Utah man who just so happened to be a Mormon missionary. Unsurprisingly, the press had a field day, and through interviews with the now middle-aged but still gregarious McKinney – who still maintains that her “victim” left with her willingly – as well as journalists of the time, Morris demonstrates the enormous and amoral lengths tabloid reporters will go to get a story. Watching this at times outrageous and frequently bizarre story unfold, one couldn’t help but think of the recent ‘News of the World’ scandal that has just rocked the UK government, an it’s somewhat chilling to consider how much more insidious tabloid journalism has become since the case of Joyce McKinney.

Trading one lot of upsettingly cup holder-less Greater Union seats for another, I settled in to the theatre for my next screening – a Norwegian film entitled The Liverpool Goalie which I know almost nothing about. Turns out it was a charming little coming-of-age comedy about a thirteen year old boy named Jo who spends most of his time avoiding the attention of the school bully, attempting to woo a pretty new female student, and trying desperately to track down the elusive football card from which the film gets its name.

keeper n til liverpool original1 e1312182727293 600x261 MIFF 2011 Diary: Days 10 12
Arild Andresen’s The Liverpool Goalie

Strolling down to ACMI (The Australian Centre for the Moving Image) in Federation Square, I had time to grab a quick coffee and have a brief chat with a fellow MIFFer in Darcy McCallum before adjoining to the theatre for my first Australian film of the festival so far: Ivan Sen’s Toomelah, a tale of a young boy living in an impoverished Aboriginal community. Despite its positive reception at Cannes, the depressing subject matter meant that I was not particularly looking forward to this film, and my expectations were pretty much lived up to. It’s not that the movie was bad – the acting is all excellent, the dialect (a broken form of English subtitled for the entirety of the film) is fascinating, and the lose narrative provided quite a few moments of tension and drama. But there are better films that deal with similar themes in more interesting ways, and ultimately I didn’t think Toomelah was compelling enough to recommend sitting through its uncompromising bleakness.

No time to wallow in misery however, because as soon as the lights came up I was off again, back to Greater Union for She Monkeys (pictured atop of this post), a Swedish film from first time director Lisa Aschan. A creepy mood-piece about female sexuality, it follows fifteen year old Emma, a nearly emotionless, possibly sociopathic girl who begins a sexually charged friendship with a rival girl from her horse riding club. The movie had a couple of pretty effective moments of atmosphere, but the rest of the time I found it to be muddled, unclear and at a certain point pretty uninteresting.

With Toomelah and She Monkeys dealing back to back blows to my normally cheerful outlook towards life, I was really hoping my final screening in this very long day would be a good one. Thankfully, although Morgan Spurlock’s POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is far from the most impressive or important documentary at the festival, it’s irreverent and knowingly gimmicky approach to examining product placement in movies was exactly what I needed to reinvigorate myself. Just as entertaining as the film itself was the post-film Q&A with the director himself, who emerged wearing a suit covered in the films sponsors, and participated in the interview while drinking from a bottle of POM. Charismatic and very funny, he took questions from the audience and repeatedly made joking (or maybe they weren’t) plugs for the brands that appeared in the film.

the greatest movie ever sold1 MIFF 2011 Diary: Days 10 12Morgan Spurlock’s POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.

Upon getting home I promptly melted into my bed, where I remained sleeping until the early hours of Sunday afternoon. I had only one MIFF film planned for that day, but it was never the less one of my most hotly anticipated movies of the fest: Jason Eisener’s Grindhouse spin-off Hobo With A Shotgun. By that standard, I think it was probably the biggest disappointment I’ve had at the festival so far. The film is a series of horrific, over the top and often hilariously violent money shots and filthy one-liners that would have been far more entertaining had they been woven together in a montage rather than spread throughout an otherwise boring and pretty tedious story.

The coming week will be a little quieter, what with me having to fit work and study in between screenings. Some of the more interesting upcoming titles for my next few days include Being Elmo, Life in a Day and the film that after the disappointment of Hobo has become my new hope for a wild and whacky cult film extravaganza: Zebraman 2: Attack on Zebra City. After that I’ll be gearing up for another huge weekend, in which I’ll be squeezing in nine more films before the festival comes to a close.

As I said, exhausting.

Tom Clift is a web-based film journalist from Melbourne, Australia. Visit his website here: http://reviewsbytom.blogspot.com.

You can read all of Tom Clift’s coverage of MIFF 2011 here.

miff 20111 MIFF 2011 Diary: Days 10 12

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