Tag Archives: melbourne international film festival

Hell Is For Hyphenates – September 2018

Greg McLean joins us to talk the films of Ridley Scott!

It’s episode 100 of Hell Is For Hyphenates! After an introduction from former hosts Paul Anthony Nelson and So Mayer, Rochelle and Lee are joined by filmmaker Greg McLean (Wolf Creek, Jungle, The Belko Experiment) in front of a live audience at this year’s Melbourne Melbourne International Film Festival.

They look at the films of Greg’s filmmaker of the month, the legendary Ridley Scott. From Scott’s debut The Duellists to game-changing science fiction films Alien and Blade Runner, his films have left an indelible mark on pop culture. Thelma and Louise, Gladiator and The Martian have also been seared onto the public consciousness, and the masterful way in which he skirted the near-fatal controversies of All the Money in the World proves that after more than four decades of directing, Ridley Scott is still a force to be reckoned with.

100th Episode Live!

Have you been keeping a close eye on the file names of the podcast episodes? If so, you're a deeply strange person. But you'll also have noticed that we're climbing into the high 90s, and we're only a few shows away from the magic 100. And who can resist the lure of a big round number?

We certainly can't, so we've decided to scratch the itch by putting on a big live show!

In association with the Melbourne International Film Festival, we'll be performing a live recording of our 100th episode at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne's Federation Square. We could have just said ACMI, but we wanted it to sound momentous.

We'll be joined by special guest Greg McLean, the groundbreaking director behind Wolf Creek, Rogue, The Belko Experiment, Jungle and more. We'll be chatting with Greg about the films of Sir Ridley Scott, also no stranger to the breaking of ground. We won't bother listing Sir Ridley's films; if you know who he is, you need to see our show. And if you don't know who he is, you also need to see our show.

11 August 2018, The Cube @ ACMI

Tickets are free, but you'll need to book via the MIFF website.

And if you can't make it, stress less: the show will be released into your podcast feed on September 30.

Swanberg on Mazursky

Joe Swanberg (left), and the director of his favourite film, Paul Mazursky (right)
Joe Swanberg (left), and the director of his favourite film, Paul Mazursky (right)

Funny story: we had some informal talks with the Melbourne International Film Festival earlier this year about possibly doing a show in conjunction with them, much like our live Sydney Film Festival show in June. For various reasons, we were unable to make it work, and so we set about pursuing some of the other names on our overly-long wishlist of guests.

Joe Swanberg, director of last year's outstanding Drinking Buddies, immediately agreed to be on the show. We were pretty excited about this, and started organising a time to record the US-based filmmaker via Skype.

“I will be in Melbourne in August for the film festival,” he replied. “Can we do it then?”

So, entirely by accident, we ended up doing a show with MIFF. The festival was excellent about our accidental booking of their guest, and slotted us in to Joe's press schedule. He was out here to introduce and promote his latest film, Happy Christmas, starring Anna Kendrick, Melanie Lynskey, Lena Dunham and himself.

At first, we thought his choice of Paul Mazursky might have been a sentimental one given Mazursky had passed away only a month earlier, but interviews such as this one from January of this year proved that Joe has been extolling the virtues of Mazursky's films all along.

For us, Mazursky’s filmography hit at just the right time. After several months of being neck-deep in Robert Altman films, we were feeling massive Altman withdrawal symptoms at Hi4H HQ. So it was fitting to find Mazursky's films - particularly his early ones - had a real Altmanesque feel to them: long, observational takes and a strong focus on performance, not to mention a roster of Atlman actors including Elliott Gould, Donald Sutherland, George Segal and Michael Murphy. That’s not to suggest Mazursky was just Altman Lite; he definitely had a style all his own. The work he did throughout the 1970s feels so groundbreaking and original and exciting, it’s difficult to understand why so many of his films have slipped out of the conversation.

Joe had a chance to talk with Mazursky on stage and the insight he brings to a filmmaker whose name should be as fondly remembered as all the greats of the 1970s is incredible.

If you haven't seen any Paul Mazursky films, check out our cheat sheet here, then listen to the latest episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates.

Thanks to the Melbourne International Film Festival for their wonderful assistance, and to Joe Swanberg for his generosity.

Paul (left), Joe (middle) and Lee (right) recording the episode of 7 August 2014 in Melbourne

Thoroughly MIFFed – 2014 edition

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It is with a heavy heart and exhausted body that I wish my yearly time of worship - known to most as the Melbourne International Film Festival, and more often abbreviated as MIFF - farewell for another year. 2014's crop of films proved a customarily diverse, intriguing lot, although lacking in big name titles - Boyhood, What We Do In The Shadows, The Grandmaster, Nick Cave: 20,000 Years on Earth and Two Days, One Night were the biggest lightning rods… all of which had screened at the Sydney Film Festival two months earlier. Thankfully, all of these titles seemed to deliver on the hype (I only saw Grandmaster - and, well, I nearly saw Boyhood, but more on that later), wowing Melbourne audiences as powerfully as they had up north. However, the cruise missiles this year were delivered, for this viewer anyway, by a 37 year old remastered masterpiece and the world's most ferociously precocious auteur…

All 43 feature films I saw at MIFF 2014, ranked from my personal best to worst:

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1. SORCERER: Peerless thriller of men trapped by greed, against backdrop of Third World exploitation, is optimum 1970s studio filmmaking.

2. MOMMY: Brilliant, shattering drama filled with Dolan’s complex, lived-in characters, bold cinematic style and stunning performances.

3. THE GRANDMASTER: Cinema’s prime sensualist delivers a thrilling, sumptuous elegy, emotionally valid digressions and godlike battles.

4. JODOROWSKY’S DUNE: Detailing a true auteur’s failed project shouldn’t be this delightful, funny or inspirational, but that’s Jodo.

(Allow me to stop here for a second: these four films were, far and away, my favourite of the fest – Friedkin's merciless tension underscored by anger at the US' political exploitation of the third world, Dolan's seemingly boundless talent continuing to tell shattering stories of people you wouldn't expect him to have insight into, Wong Kar Wai's powerfully luscious visuals and epic focus on moments and gestures, teamed with Yuen Wu Ping's phenomenal fight choreography, and the hilariously effervescent Alejandro Jodorowsky, to whom I could listen discussing his incredible cinematic vision for DUNE all day and night - all delivered the kind of moving, thrilling experiences I seek from a film festival. Now, on with the show…)

5. THE OVERNIGHTERS: Interrogation of a church’s societal role turns into damning document of a US crumbling under capitalism and fear.

Image 26. BLIND: Excellent character study deftly, playfully weaves fantasy and reality, wielding a stunning knack for surgical observation.

7. LIFE ITSELF: Extraordinarily moving tribute to Ebert, unafraid to show his sharper edges whilst celebrating his indomitable voice.

8. LOCKE: Terrific examination of a man taken apart by a single mistake; rich with detail, slick lensing and Hardy’s great performance.

9. STARRED UP: Riveting father-son melodrama dressed up as bracing, sobering social realist prison drama, with cracking performances.

10. BABYLON: Cracking TV pilot channels Iannucci-like personal scorn as it hilariously critiques the faulty lines of our connected world.
Image 311. AN HONEST LIAR: Straight-up profile of James Randi transforms into fascinating tale of professional/personal truth-seeking and deception.

12. WHY DON’T YOU PLAY IN HELL?: The most anarchic, funny and bloody valentine to filmmaking yet seen; Sono goes damn near full cartoon.

13. A HARD DAY: A shaky start and uneven pacing aside, this gleefully silly action-comedy is a relentless blast, with virtuoso comic timing.

14. CUT SNAKE: Different spin on usual crime drama, and better for it; strong relationship focus, mixing menace and pathos with aplomb.

15. HOUSEBOUND: Gets a bit tangled in wayward narrative gymnastics, but otherwise a fresh angle on some very Kiwi horror-comedy fun.

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16. ELECTRIC BOOGALOO: THE WILD, UNTOLD STORY OF CANNON FILMS: Hartley fetes schlockmeisters in fittingly hilarious, exuberant style. Great fun, bursting with insane footage and killer anecdotes.

17. IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE: Quirky, bloody Nordic noir feels oddly slight, given its wonderful character moments, but still fun.

18. TITLI: Engrossing, grimy tale of young man’s desperation to escape legacy of crime solidly critiques patriarchal, classist India.

19. HAPPY CHRISTMAS: Light and laconic but lovely take on responsibility; dug natural performances and 16mm grain. Joe’s kid is hilarious.

20. OBVIOUS CHILD: Despite its love for cheap bodily function gags, sharp rom-com reversal treats a tricky topic with gravity and charm.

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21. VELVET TERRORISTS: Disarmingly odd, amusingly domestic doc’s quaintly punk philosophy makes up for what it may lack in revelation.

22. IT FOLLOWS: Vaguely unsettling horror intrigues with intelligence and style, but its intention muddies the more one considers it.

23. APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOUR: Cute, light debut from a slightly different POV, with solid comic timing and a winning new screen presence.

24. CREEP: Narrative and found-footage conceit don’t entirely hold, but there’s enough mischievous spirit and Mark Duplass to make it work.

25. THE DIRTIES: There’s a terrific film in here – discomforting, awkward, painful – when not stumbling over its “found footage” form.

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26. WHITE GOD: Canine parable of hostility to Romanies is winningly bold, if broadly absurd; wish it had courage to play straighter.

27. AMONG THE LIVING: Plays like Horror’s Greatest Hits, so predictability ensues, but cuts down on gore and packs some serious jolts.

28. WELCOME TO NEW YORK: Ferrara’s take on DSK case finds diminishing drama in sex, process and arguments, but Depardieu is brilliant.

29. I ORIGINS: Sci-fi search for the soul is diverting enough, but too often slips on clunky writing and a big case of the Shyamalans.

30. KUMIKO THE TREASURE HUNTER: Interesting ideas here- on pop myths, mental illness & meta-culture- but fails to really explore them.
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31. LIFE AFTER BETH: Brisk zom-com of a relationship transcending its own death throes is fun enough, but refuses to go dark or deep.

32. TRESPASSING BERGMAN: Studded with star talking heads & nice moments, but bloated, with uncertain focus & a repetitious narrative.

33. A GIRL AT MY DOOR: Sensitive, classically crafted tale of bruised souls uniting, ’til it gets twisty, loses its brain & collapses.

34. THE HOPE FACTORY: Rambling portrait of girl seeking to leave desolate town feels overly familiar, with increasingly petulant lead.

35. PREDESTINATION: Excellent production values and astonishing lead performance from Snook masks a predictable, ultimately pointless story.

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36. THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ELEANOR RIGBY: HER: Some terrific ideas are raised here but not particularly well-explored, with distractingly florid dialogue. Chastain and McAvoy are terrific, though.

37. THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ELEANOR RIGBY: HIM: One good film stretched to two, doing little with second POV and insisting on having characters speak in screeds. Great leads are, again, its high point.

38. THE IMP: Silly, often slipshod horror/comedy inarticulately explores fear of fatherhood – but, wow, that final image is something.

39. CATCH ME DADDY: Incredibly tense but endlessly bleak dirge shows horror minus nuance or exploration. Subtitle glitch didn’t help.

40. RUIN: Unflinching tour of modern misery aims for higher truth, but needed fuller, more engaging characters to guide us through it.

41. THE DISTANCE: Gorgeous vistas aside, deadpan but empty art-sci-fi-heist-com exhausts most of its ideas in first 30 minutes, tumbling into tedium.

42. PHASE IV: A smattering of trippy visuals and microphotographic ant wrangling do not a great film make; moribund, talky and drama-free.

43. BLACK COAL, THIN ICE: Drearily dull noir throws some jabs at patriarchal Chinese society, but otherwise limps along sans interest.

My 44th and final film of the festival was shaping up to be Richard Linklater's Boyhood, a film I'd been anticipating for months and looked to be a perfect film to go out on. 24 minutes in, I was really enjoying it, getting into these lived-in characters Linklater and his cast had built, when… a young Hoyts employee stepped in front of the audience and told us all to evacuate. It seems a Melbourne Central fire alarm had gone off, and evacuation procedures were in place. After walking outside and being told to wait across the street for who knows how long, and knowing most of my friends were drinking happily in the warmth of the glorious Forum Theatre Mandala Festival Lounge, I decided to cut my losses, catch Boyhood when it hits theatres only a few weeks later and celebrate - despite its ignominious end - another terrific festival. Bring on MIFF 2015!