MIFF2013: The Rumsfeld Preview

 
It's that time of year again!
 
The city of Melbourne becomes an elaborate playing field for the game of MIFF. Activities include: eavesdropping on old members in line complaining about the festival, eating too much fast food, developing alcoholism, cultivating an addiction to cold and flu tablets, fighting with people who use mobile phones in cinemas and you know, watching heaps of films. As in previous years, I'm splitting my preview up into three segments thanks to the genius of Donald Rumsfeld, a master of semantic divisions.
 
Let's jump in shall we...
 
KNOWN KNOWNS
(These are films I have personally seen and can vouch for)
 
THE ACT OF KILLING
 
I could just grab a thesaurus and list a dozen different adjectives for amazing. THE ACT OF KILLING is the best thing I have seen so far in 2013 and vital viewing for all human beings. That's all I can say right now.
 
 
CHEAP THRILLS
 
This clever, low-budget effort begins with a simple premise – what would you do for money? - and takes it to an extreme, albeit logical, conclusion. A snappy ending and revelatory performance from the usually comedic David Koechner makes this a highlight for genre fans.
 
THE DANCE OF REALITY
 
Alenjandro Jodorowsky's first feature film in 23 years. Do I need to say more? This is an amazingly personal film for Jodorowsky. Possibly more SANTE SANGRE than HOLY MOUNTAIN but you still get limbless hobos and angry dwarves.
 
MAGIC MAGIC
 
One of two films Chilean filmmaker Sebastian Silva made back to back with Michael Cera, this one is firmly in Polanski territory as Juno Temple plays a girl who slowly loses her grip in on reality at a holiday house with friends. Cera excitingly plays against type as a creepy, effeminate guy paving the way for a big future in sexual molester roles.
 
LESSON OF THE EVIL
 
It's been a very long time since Miike Takashi made a truly transgressive film. His VISITOR Q days are long gone but LESSON OF THE EVIL is easily the most outright offensive work from him in almost a decade. It's similar in tone to Sion Sono's COLD FISH (seen at MIFF two years ago) and follows the story of a serial killer who is also a high school teacher. You know this isn't gonna end well right?
 
 
 
JOHN DIES AT THE END
 
This is fun, wacky entertainment. Probably the best thing director Don Coscorelli has ever done. Obviously not as amusingly insane as the book but probably one of the stranger films at MIFF this year. A goog late-night film.
 
GIALLO – DEEP RED OR TENABRAE?
 
If you have never seen a giallo then this is a great place to start. Hit up one of the two Argento films as a decent entry point. Intermediate giallo afficionados should look to the Fulci or Avati films while Petri is for experienced viewers and THE PYJAMA GIRL CASE is not really for anyone.
 
 
 
UNKNOWN KNOWNS
(These are films I haven't seen but come with a strong pedigree or word of mouth)
 
A FIELD IN ENGLAND
 
I'm a big Ben Wheatley fan. His last three films have all presented at MIFF and have shown to be works of a superior filmmaker (KILL LIST in particular). From all accounts this film is psychedelic, strange and experimental. I'm in!
 
LEVIATHAN
 
I love immersive cinema and ever since LEVIATHAN's premiere at Toronto last year, it's been making headlines. Essentially it's an experimental documentary that puts you aboard a commercial fishing vessel. I hated the prior film from these same film-makers (SWEETGRASS) but I'm excited to give this unique brand of experiential ethnography another go.
 
 
PARADISE TRILOGY
 
The first film in Ulrich Seidl's PARADISE trilogy played at MIFF last year (and it was a wonderfully confronting experience), now we get the entire trilogy playing out over three nights. All films can be viewed in isolation also so don't feel compelled to watch all three. I recommend FAITH and LOVE.
 
A TOUCH OF SIN
 
This bloody and violent attack on modern China made waves at Cannes a couple of months ago and ultimately won Best Screenplay. The usually restrained Jia Zhang-ke is also visiting MIFF so this is a double shot of exciting programming.
 
THE PERVERTS GUIDE TO IDEOLOGY
 
If you're familiar with Zizek's previous effort THE PERVERTS GUIDE TO CINEMA then you'll know if you want more of the same. I certainly do. I love Zizek, especially when he is on the topic of cinema.
 
 
UNKNOWN UNKNOWNS
(These are the dark horses. They could go either way.
It's not a film festival without a few stabs in the dark)
 
BLUE RUIN
 
Only distantly on my radar I'm trying to stay as cold on this as possible. It seems to be really clever and fresh take on the revenge sub-genre. Madman snapped it up in Cannes amongst strong word so I've got high hopes.
 
FINAL CUT – LADIES AND GENTLEMEN
 
Mash-up, remixed and appropriated cinema is a personal interest of mine so when I discovered that Gregory Palfi, the director of TAXIDERMIA, spent three years making a film entirely constructed from pre-existing elements, I was immediately excited. This film will most likely never be released due to licensing issues so take a chance now.
 
STRANGER BY THE LAKE
 
Best described as a queer take on an Agatha Christie mystery with very graphic sex. Not sure how much trouble this film will have in the future with our classification board so it could be the only chance to see it uncut. Strong Cannes word makes it a must-see.
 
 
 
Also there are plenty of other films worth keeping on your radar. Here are 10 more that I can easily recommend with no hesitation:
THE PAST
EXPOSED
NARCO CULTURA
OH BOY
THE ROCKET
STORIES WE TELL
BASTARDS
I DECLARE WAR
VALENTINE ROAD
CUTIE AND THE BOXER
 
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