MIFF 2010 in Review

 This article was published on the original Sorry I’m Late.com on 11/08/10.

Luke Miksa's: The Negative Space Bar

What an amazing, hectic and crazy few weeks it has been attending this year’s Melbourne International Film Festival. I’ll admit that I played it relatively safe in my choices; I mainly chose sessions consisting of classics or upcoming theatrical releases, but it was still an exhausting and time consuming undertaking – Now my house looks the Sedgwick Hotel after a visit from the Ghostbusters.

MIFF brings a veritable bounty of films from all regions of the globe, causing mass headaches for the film fan in terms of picking films whilst under budget and time-related constraints – such is why the few movies I chose to attend are all in English and of the fairly well-known variety.

Here is a wrap-up of my MIFF adventures, brought to you in the form of Review-Mini:

With the power of Guillermo Del Toro producing, Vincenzo Natali (Cube) directing and an idea which promised something between The Fly and Species; on paper Splice is an absolute winner. Too bad that the execution for the most part is fairly uninspired and an initially encouraging – if lacklustre – first half is blown into ridiculousness come the third act.

Seriously, the film is destroyed by the ludicrous decisions and hilarious dialogue from its main characters (Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley), and the story turns to a place that it never recovers from. Or maybe I’m not quite ready for adulterous, bestiality incest.

You read that right.

At least Brody didn’t whip out the Christian Bale Batman voice ala Predators5/10

This year’s MIFF hosted a retrospective of one of Hollywood’s finest, Joe Dante – who actually appeared in Melbourne for the festival, appearing all of his screening’s – except for the two I was attending, it seems. This was a collection of some of Dante’s short films: Homecoming from Masters of HorrorIt’s A Good Life from The Twilight Zone Movie, and Lightning from the short lived series Picture Windows.

I can’t tell you what urged me to attend this session, but it was pretty neat seeing It’s A Good Life on the big screen, even though I would have preferred to see the entire Twilight Zone Movie up there in full. I remember liking Homecoming when Masters of Horror was initially screened on TV a few years ago, but it’s politically charged message is now kind of lost in this current post-Bush era. I didn’t stay to watch Lightning because my company was not really in to westerns so we cheesed it after the first two.

This set was also scheduled for a second screening a few days later, this time with Dante present: Lame! 6/10

Michael Winterbottom’s film noir-esque adaptation of the novel of the same name had me genuinely torn. On one hand it was beautifully shot, wonderfully acted and the story is truly interesting. On the other, Winterbottom’s apparent misogyny for his female characters is apparent; and the brutal, realistic violence – even for my standards – is actually distracting. I did notice that all female deaths were severe and drawn out, while male character’s had fairly quick deaths, even having the dignity of dying off-screen in one case.

Another gripe on a similar theme was that the female character’s actually seemed to enjoy any mistreatment they received, culminating in the absurd ending in which – and this is Spoilertown – Jessica Alba, beaten viciously to a pulp at the beginning, comes back (ZOMBIE!) with a mere few scratches and professes her love to the man that beat her in the first place. Then they embrace as the house they are in explodes: Stupid. 4/10

The biggest treat for me was heading down to Melbourne’s wonderful regent Theatre to attend Hitchcock’s influential classic Psycho, with Bernard Herrmann’s classic score played live by the ‘Bates Motel Orchestra’.

Although I found myself torn at times whether I should be looking at the orchestra or watching the action fold out on screen, I found the integration of both film and live music blended together perfectly and created a truly unique experience. 10/10


Get this: A tyre comes to life, falls in love with a girl, discovers telekinetic powers and goes on a murderous rampage. The tyre’s name is Robert.

Sound nuts? It continues…

There is an audience in the movie watching all the action taking place and they give their opinions on the proceedings, much like the actual audience is. The main character, the sheriff, knows he is an actor in a movie but has to continue with the farce until all the audience members are dead. So not only does this movie break the fourth wall, it somehow creates a fifth – possibly even a sixth – wall and smashes that down as well. It has absolutely no right to work but it does spectacularly thanks to great direction and a tight, inventive script.

Why was this one of my favourites? No reason. 8/10

I don’t really need to outline the plot for Joe Dante’s seminal 1984 creature feature, although perhaps judging by certain reactions of the audience I should. I came in assuming that mostly everyone in the theatre had seen Gremlins before – it is a really popular movie after all – and got tickets for the session to enjoy it on the big screen, much like myself. But the collective gasp uttered once everyone realised that this movie had Corey Feldman in it makes me think otherwise; what a bunch of clowns.

A non-appearance by Dante in arguably his most recognisable piece of work makes me a sad panda, but I certainly cheered up when it was time for one of my favourite movie-moments of all time:

I always lose my shit when I see this monologue – it’s just so ridiculously melodramatic and out of place. I think I was the only one in the theatre that liked it though, most were amused simply by Gremlins eating cookies; what a bunch of clowns. 9/10

Fun Fact: Howie Mandel is the voice of Gizmo.

By the final night of MIFF, my excitement for the Australian premiere of Edgar Wright’s adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s digest-sized comic series had grown to a relative fever pitch. Not often do I get myself worked up so much over a movie, as I almost always set myself up for certain disappointment, but in this instance the source material and the talents of Wright were too enticing to resist.

So what was the verdict? Even with my EPIC expectations, Scott Pilgrim exceed everything I had imagined and had me mesmerised from the rad-tacular 8-bit Universal logo opening (which led to a musical cue taken directly from A Link to the Past from SNES!) to the grandiose final battle. The movie moves at a breakneck pace which is filled with tons of hipster comedy, pop culture references and videogame action; but still manages an adequate amount of story to keep it grounded.

Definitely my favourite movie of the year so far, and could possibly be a contender for favourite movie of all time – No bullshit! 10/10

All of that, as well as a trip to Her Majesty’s Theatre to catch Mary Poppins as well as catching standard theatrical releases such as Inception (Rad!), the last few weeks have been hectic for this lad, indeed. This year’s MIFF, personally, was a rousing success and I look forward to next year’s smorgasbord of film fare.

…oh yeah, FYI, I chose Popcorn over Choc-top.

MIFF Pet Peeve: Crowds who think that every second of film shown is hilarious. Example: One of the police officers in Psycho said the word transvestite = HUGE LOL’s!!

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