Films I saw at MIFF 2012

by luke-eberhardt | created - 19 Aug 2012 | updated - 20 Aug 2012 | Public

A list of films I saw at the Melbourne International Film Festival 2012. I also ranked how I favourite them.

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1. Sightseers (2012)

Not Rated | 88 min | Adventure, Comedy, Crime

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
69 Metascore

Chris wants to show girlfriend Tina his world, but events soon conspire against the couple and their dream caravan holiday takes a very wrong turn.

Director: Ben Wheatley | Stars: Alice Lowe, Kenneth Hadley, Steve Oram, Eileen Davies

Votes: 23,185 | Gross: $0.04M

I was glad that booking this halarious black comedy at the Melbourne International Film Festival was so worth it. The story is centered around an odd couple; Chris (Steve Oram); who takes his girlfriend Tina (Alice Lowe) around the british towns of rural England for inspiration for a book he's writing, However their circumstances take unusual turns until things go horribly wrong. I may of heard about director Ben Weatley's earlier films' but haven't caught up yet. This film however show he's a skilled filmaker able to bring a promising film like this to viewers of adult comedy. Sightseers is woefully original, full of witty dialouge, charming characters and some of the best British Black Humour I have seen in a long time if not ever. Theres so many Laugh Out Loud moments I just really feel that this film should be given a limited release in Australia. Its was such a great surprise, and I do highly recomend this little recent british cinema.


2. The First Fagin (2012)

87 min | Documentary

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When Charles Dickens created the character of Fagin in Oliver Twist, he gave birth to one of the most infamous personas in English literature. Few people know that Dickens' portrait of ... See full summary »

Directors: Helen Gaynor, Alan Rosenthal | Stars: Alison Alexander, Brian Andrews, John Andrews, Anthony Archer

Votes: 11

"The First Fagin" is about the incredible story of Ikey Solomon whose been said to have inspired Charles Dickens' character Fagin in Oliver Twist. This Doco-drama is a fascinating look at this convict's life in crime, punishment and journey across the seas between England and the colony of Van Dieman's Land/Tasmania. Confidently retold using mainly drama to authentically reconstruct the period of the early 19th century. Accompanied by Miriam Margolyes voice over, this film is a fascinating look at an unknown historical tale thats sure to impress anyone.


3. Ai to makoto (2012)

133 min | Musical, Romance

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Troubled high school student Makoto arrives in Tokyo to exact revenge from a past incident. He then falls in love at first sight with Ai, a daughter raised in a wholesome family. Around ... See full summary »

Director: Takashi Miike | Stars: Satoshi Tsumabuki, Emi Takei, Takumi Saitoh, Ito Ohno

Votes: 618

"For Love's Sake" is a film with the true Miike style that I like to see in any of his films. The Story is centered around a devil may care boy; Makoto who has a stern attitude and agressive behaviour, and a wealthy, pretty, naive girl; Ai whose in love with Makoto and will do anything to see him live a plesent and happy life. Lots of other characters play their roles in the story, conflicting with a very comical and halarious situations/plots, but its also dark and unerving at times. Miike is best known for semiotic extreme violence, sexaul perversions, black humour, etc. It may seem outragious but it incredibly entertaining, and Miike makes it work. "For Love's Sake" mainly feels like a comedy romance, but also includes musical numbers, sentimental drama and Miike's semiotic violent codes. Its much more recomended to if you've never seen any of his films, while fellow fans will definately not be dissapointed. Final thoughts: For Love's Sake is funny, heart warming, thrilling and a great piece of entertainment from such a prolific Japanese film-maker.


4. Chasing Ice (2012)

PG-13 | 75 min | Documentary, Biography

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
75 Metascore

Follow National Geographic photographer James Balog across the Arctic as he deploys time-lapse cameras designed for one purpose: to capture a multi-year record of the world's changing glaciers.

Director: Jeff Orlowski | Stars: James Balog, Svavar Jónatansson, Louie Psihoyos, Kitty Boone

Votes: 7,116 | Gross: $1.33M

We are all concerned about the earth's poles in this day and era. "Chasing Ice" Documents James Balog an acclaimed Natianal Geographic photographer's journey to find some physical evidence about Climate Change. Setiing up mutiple cameras in a single area in Iceland, Greenland, Montanna and Alaska. The results are pretty shocking, after three years of observing the photos we find a big difference in the stucture of some of the biggest glaciers in the world. I've never seen so many massive calvings of ice that it almost looks like a whole city area is going up in an earthquake. Viewers really do feel the emotion and determination for Balog who has a knee problem, but that dosen't stop him from explroring the dangerous impact the ice world has suffered to climate change. Conventionally shot in a very informative manner, "Chasing Ice" is essential for all enviromentalists and common viewers.


5. Sound of My Voice (2011)

R | 85 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi

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67 Metascore

Two documentary filmmakers attempt to penetrate a cult who worships a woman who claims to be from the future.

Director: Zal Batmanglij | Stars: Christopher Denham, Nicole Vicius, Brit Marling, Davenia McFadden

Votes: 18,144 | Gross: $0.41M

I enjoyed the american indie "Another Earth" and was keen to see what else writer and star; Brit Marling had for this other sci-fi mystery/drama with director; Zal Batmanglij. It follows a couple who are making a documentary on cults and come across this secrect underground sect whose leader (Marling) is said to be from the future. The biggest question to the mystery is she really from the future? or is she just a con artist? Much like "Another Earth" its a well thought out and constucted piece with some intriguing questions. Both sides of the mystery seem to be both convincing to the plot's progression, the rest cast are also very good along the line. I do however recomend this film for essential viewing.


6. Dead Europe (2012)

84 min | Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.4/10 X  

In Greece to scatter his father's ashes, Isaac hears of a curse that hangs over the head of his family. Dismissing the idea, his trip begins to unveil dark truths that forced his father to flee years ago.

Director: Tony Krawitz | Stars: William Zappa, Ewen Leslie, Eugenia Fragos, Elena Carapetis

Votes: 557

My last film for MIFF was definitly one of the more interesting ones. Adapted from Christos Tsiolkas's novel, It follows Issac (Ewan Leslie) an Australian son of Greek Parents, works as a skilled photographer and has his own gallery. While he's planning to visit Greece himself this conflicts with his family's dark past. what follows is Issac's journey to discovery what they've been hiding and the meaning of a mysterious curse thats been linked to the death of his late father. I do have some problems when it comes to undertanding the themes of Tsiolkas' fictional story, thus in the film's plot I failed to emotionally connect yet sympathise with many of the film's major characters. I have no criticisms however to Tony Krawitz's Direction and the cinematography of the film; making a very pretty cultural portrait of Greece and other countries. I also have no criticisms to the acting, it was well casted and supurbly acted. Kodi Smit-McPhee's character was probably the only one who you could sympathise with because of how well his character was written and acted. overall I thought Dead Europe was very good, but I can't say I really liked it.


7. Killer Joe (2011)

R | 102 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
62 Metascore

When a debt puts a young man's life in danger, he turns to putting a hit out on his evil mother in order to collect the insurance.

Director: William Friedkin | Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, Juno Temple, Thomas Haden Church

Votes: 64,156 | Gross: $1.99M

Killer Joe is a very darkly comical film with a strong cast and direction from William Friedkin (The French Connection, The Exorcist), whose shown he hasn't lost his touch. I enjoyed McConaughey's role as a corupt cop/hired killer along with Juno Temple and Emile Hirsch, They all play ugly characters with with amoral attitudes, and have snappy dialogue moments, it was entertaining for me to see how their situations would tun out for the worst. I have some mixed feelings about other aspects of the film's plot and story elements; very obnixious and unsettling. However I found this halarious an wouldn't recomened it to the faint of heart but for something unique and darkly comical or unsettling this could be cup tea.


8. Ichimei (2011)

Not Rated | 128 min | Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
76 Metascore

An tale of revenge, honor and disgrace, centering on a poverty-stricken samurai who discovers the fate of his ronin son-in-law, setting in motion a tense showdown of vengeance against the house of a feudal lord.

Director: Takashi Miike | Stars: Kôji Yakusho, Munetaka Aoki, Naoto Takenaka, Hikari Mitsushima

Votes: 6,077 | Gross: $0.06M

Last year I saw 13 Assassins in which controversial Japanese Director Takashi Miike was able to make the best jidaigeki/chanbara film in years. He's now taking on another Samurai classic, one I was very skeptical of since I've seen the original its based on, but had to judge it myself. Then again someone like me would question; What's the purpose of remaking a timeless masterpiece of Japanese cinema? Hara-kiri: Death of Samurai isn't all bad, however it was shot in 3D which was appealing. The film has a lot in common with the original however its more convential and relies on direct dramatic sequences. The fashbacks are a bit dull and it drags a bit. I like the cinematography, and the actors show some worthy talent, but its just not Mesmerising or compelling as Masaki Kobayashi's original masterpiece. Some of you who haven't seen the original may enjoy this a little more, its watchable on a level with the adaptation of a screenplay from a masterpiece retold. But on Miike terms its a let down compared to his better films.


9. The Loneliest Planet (2011)

Not Rated | 113 min | Thriller

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  
76 Metascore

An engaged couple's backpacking trip in the Caucasus Mountains is derailed by a single misstep that threatens to undo everything the pair believed about each other and about themselves.

Director: Julia Loktev | Stars: Gael García Bernal, Hani Furstenberg, Bidzina Gujabidze, Tali Pitakhelauri

Votes: 3,404 | Gross: $0.13M

"The Loneliest Planet" is about an american couple on holiday in Eastern Europe, Georgia accompanied by a guide they befriend. It started out promsing and intriguing, some parts were very intertesting to the flm's setting and the character's experience in travelling across a vast and unknown terrain. The acting is very Mediocre, the woman looks a lot like Jessica Chastain but less talented. Its very artistic and visually stunning in cinematography, camerawork and editing that really captures the beauty and resonance. The script however is very shallow and has minimal dialogue thats very incoherrent, the character development isn't too good either, a lot more could have been done on most story elements which lets the film down a lot. I found it dragging halfway through and became dissapointed about the film's conclusion. I found it quite saifying but a bit of a let down, this is also the first film I've seen at the festival that no one clapped at the end.


10. Alois Nebel (2011)

Not Rated | 84 min | Animation, Drama

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A train dispatcher encounters a mute stranger who appears out of nowhere, and finds himself mysteriously involved with a murder in Poland.

Director: Tomás Lunák | Stars: Miroslav Krobot, Marie Ludvíková, Karel Roden, Leos Noha

Votes: 1,223

This Czech film has an intriguing premise along with outstanding visuals and animation. It Follows a train dispacher and his affairs with the world and people he meets and deals with during and after WWII; as you can see it follows a noir tradition we could crave. It could of had the potential to be great, but it falls short with its storytelling with very dreary pacing, and incoherrent plotting. Perhaps I wasn't too open while watching this, actually feeling I've lost sense of the plot. I may of misjudged it, but didn't enjoy it as much as I wanted to.


11. Dark Horse (2011)

Not Rated | 86 min | Comedy, Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
66 Metascore

Romance blooms between two thirty-somethings in arrested development: an avid toy collector who is the dark horse of his family and a depressed woman on the rebound.

Director: Todd Solondz | Stars: Jordan Gelber, Selma Blair, Christopher Walken, Mia Farrow

Votes: 4,911 | Gross: $0.94M

Decent but not so much of a satisfying film. Its a pretty dark/serious indie drama/comedy about a young man falling for an emo woman and coming to terms with his life and relationships. What stood out for me the most was the original humor that Dodd Solondz likes to put in, there were some funny and charming moments there. But the film's story lacked resolution amog its conflict and moral standards, I guess I was dissapointed because of how depressingly resolved it was. However Its a skilled film with potential for a good audience, but its just wasn't for me.