Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Sydney Film Festival report - week 2

Better late than never, having returned from a month overseas, it’s about time I wrapped up the second week of the Sydney Film Festival.

C.R.A.Z.Y, a French Canadian production, follows the life of a young boy, obsessed with David Bowie and confused about his sexuality, the film perfectly portrays the inner turmoil’s raging through the body and mind of a teenager in the Seventies. Directed with panache by Jean-Marc Vallée and perfectly played by Marc André and Michael Cóté as the boys Patsy Cline loving father; C.R.A.Z.Y is highly recommended for film and rock music fans alike.

Edmond, starring William. H. Macy and directed by Stuart Gordon, the man who gave us The Re-Animator took David Mamet’s source play and gave us an unsettling account of a man unhinged by the tortures of modern day life. Using the streets of New York to claustrophobic affect, Macy’s central performance is an excellent portrayal of frustration and desperation but the rest of the talented cast is underused. A good effort but the film lacks the ferocity and unease of watching the story unfold on stage.

Much has been said about Rian Johnson’s Brick, a film noir detective story set in an American High School and for the most part the exultations bestowed upon the film are spot on. Beautifully shot and brimming with visual flourishes Brick maintains its dark foreboding mood whilst never releasing the tension as it unwinds its complex plot. Joseph Gordon Levitt shows that the promise he showed in Greg Araki’s Mysterious Skin was no fluke.

Andrew Denton’s God On My Side was an interesting, if flawed, look at religion in the United States. Often going for the easy laugh, Denton made for an affable host but the film showed none of the rapier wit and fascinating mind that he displayed at the Q&A that followed the screening. A valiant attempt that belied its television origins.

My favourite films of the festival, however were Nicolas Winding Refn’s extraordinary Pusher trilogy. Exciting, shocking and hilarious; all three films show a director completely at home in the genre displaying a virtuosity and style completely at odds with the films low budget. Pusher followed the lives of Frank and Tonny, two low life dealers, played by Kim Bodnia and Mads Mikkelsen, as they try and make good a drug deal that has gone disastrously wrong. The sequels With Blood on my Hands: Pusher II and I’m The Angel of Death: Pusher III tell the stories of Tonny and drug overlord Milo respectively. Milo, played by Zlatko Buril is a work of comedic genius, his vain attempts to separate his daughters birthday party and a particularly gory and harrowing drug deal are the work of genius and its no surprise that Mikkelsen has taken the role bad guy in the next Bond film. I cannot recommend these films more.

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