Friday, July 04, 2008

Sydney Film Festival round up Part 2

As the dust settles in the State Theatre and the last ticket has been scanned here are my final thoughts on the Sydney Film Festival in my second round up. The final weekend of the festival brought some of my favourite film’s of the event.

Michael Haneke’s shot for shot remake of his own Funny Games was a brilliant piece of audience manipulation that frequently broke the fourth wall, often cruelly taking away the viewers few moments of joy. Naomi Watt’s gave an amazing performance as the beleaguered victim of a very strange home invasion. Tim Roth also made a welcome return to the big screen as her husband but unfortunately spent most of the film with a broken leg. The brilliance of the film was that no explanation is given for the horrendous events that occur; much like real life people’s lives are shattered and destroyed, often at the whim of someone they don’t know. The film divided the audience and created the most verbose response of the festival.

Somers Town; Shane Meadow’s low key follow up to his fantastic This is England was a hugely enjoyable glimpse into the friendship of a young midlands lad and a Polish immigrant. Shot in black and white, once again This is England star Thomas Turgoose enters Meadow’s world as the loner hitting the streets of London and the director brings his customary gritty realism to a surprisingly good natured and entertaining diversion.

American Teen took the template of John Hughes The Breakfast Club and recreated a heart warming and life affirming documentary about the trials and tribulations of being a teen in America. They were all there; the jock, the prom queen, the geek, the rebel and the basket case. The really interesting thing about the documentary is the footage they managed to get, often catching the teens at their most vulnerable. Hilarious, uplifting and moving, one of the feel good hits of the festival.

Brian DePalma’s Redacted has come in for a lot of criticism since it began the festival trail. Returning to the themes visited in the director’s previous excursion into the darker side of war Casualties of War; Redacted takes a very modern approach to tell its story using footage from video cameras, news reels, even Arabic You Tube. Based on true stories, he film is just as much a condemnation of the media as a look at the horrific depths that the armies of young men will go in the face of war. It’s unfortunate that DePalma’s vision is hindered by the often amateur performances but even these do add a certain resonance to some scenes, recommended with reservations. In a similar vein was the new Errol Morris documentary Standard Operating Procedure which looked at the stories behind the infamous photographs taken by American troops at Saddam Hussein’s notorious Abu Ghraib prison.

A definite surprise highlight was the Icelandic murder mystery Jar City directed by Baltasar Korm├íku. Never taking the easy path, the beautifully shot film is a gripping examination of how a murder touches everyone, no matter how slight the persons connection to the departed. Excellent performances from the entire cast firmly ground this gritty thriller that is as shocking for the Icelandic diet as it is for its twist plot. The closing film was the Oscar nominated animated feature Persepolis which was a beautifully crafted adaptation of Iranian born Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel featuring the voices of Catherine Deneuve and Iggy Pop.

Well that about wraps it up for Sydney, all roads now lead to the Melbourne International Film Festival at the end of July. Tune in soon for more news on the festival line up and some legendary interviews I’ll be conducting.

1 comment:

Film Fan said...

Cheers for the roundup, it will be good to hear the going's on at the Melbourne International Film Festival !