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Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Best of the Fest

Hi everyone. I'm still at the festival in Melbourne, the town that was founded by Batman.
Here are some things I've been seeing:

Ploy - A new Thai film from auteur Pen-Ek Ratanaruang about a couple returning from the US to Bangkok for a funeral. Having been in the states for a decade, they no longer have a home in Thailand and check into a five-star hotel. There, the husband meets Ploy, a 19-year old waiting for her mother to arrive from Stockholm. He invites her to nap in his room, which upsets the wife and exposes a gap in their 7-year marriage. The talky scenes are a bit mundane, with the couple's complaints of married life sounding a bit too familiar from similar films. The quieter moments, though, are remarkable; this is the most jet-lagged film I've ever seen. There's even the occasional suggestion that the characters are dreaming each other along the narrative, and you're never quite sure what's really happening or who's awake.

The Australian Centre for the Moving Image is hosting some of the festival's screenings, and it's the kind of place that I wish was in every city. Among other things, there are a set of individual screens that offer hundreds of short films...for free! So I can watch animated shorts all day long, which is just about my favourite thing to do.

Animation (with dogs) - Of course, this is still a festival and there are still the expensive ways to do things. This was a set of short animated films, all linked by including a dog in there somewhere. Some were European and weird, some were Australian and normal, some were Australian and weird, some were European and normal. My favourite was 'KJFG No.5', which I can't find on the internet but I recommend. It proves that the less dialogue more funny animal noises you have the better the film.

Blip Festival: Reformat the Planet - When Nintendo released its home and hand-held consoles, such as the GameBoy, it was a revolutionary technology that changed video games forever. Now, the kids who played them obsessively have grown up...and they've learned a few things. 'Chiptunes' is the name given to music created using video game consoles, and it's the subject of this excellent concert documentary. The genre is compared to hip-hop for its hacking of corporate technology, and to punk for its attempt to strip an elaborate music form back to its bare bones. However, it belongs entirely to the geeks, and differs to these genres in its complete lack of anger or outward rebellion. These musicians are taking their most beloved childhood memories and pushing them further, using them to create; making them do more than they were meant to do, celebrating but transcending nostalgia. The live performances at New York's 'Blip Festival' are energetic and lively, backed by jaw-dropping live visuals. As someone who has placed so much in technological pop culture, it's inspiring to see a generation use their favourite hobbies to create something wonderful and new. A great film, and a great way to learn about this exciting, generous, global, honest, independent and totally unique scene.

The Night James Brown Saved Boston - Another (very different) concert documentary, looking at James Brown's performance at the Boston Garden on the 5th of April, 1968 - one night after Martin Luther King's assassination. Illuminating interviews are interspersed with remarkable live footage of Brown, which exists because of the controversial last-minute decision to televise the concert, over fears of riots in the city centre. As the night went on, trouble and violence hit the streets of Chicago, New York, Baltimore and Detroit - but Boston remained peaceful. The film then explores (too briefly) how this momentous performance turned Brown into black America's new spokesperson and leader, who as an entertainer rather than a politician or religious figure could reach younger generations with a powerful, immediate effect. Brown took on this role, and helped to stop the riots not because he disagreed with them but because it was detrimental to the memory of what King lived and died for.
Also, there's a great short film with James Brown here. Watch it.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

this blog surely deserves a comment, not least of all to say, just as tom could be, with a little work a great foodie critic, you could be, if you so wished, a wonderful film critic, what a way to earn a living, doing what you love.
i want to see the james brown one the most, the first sounds like i might sleep, and i know there's a dog theme going on here, but i can't quite get to grips with the dog theme in films.
was there any films with dogs and zombies add temples and big trees?