Revelation Film Festival -Get Your Shorts On!

Revelation Film Festival crowd-pleaser Get Your Shorts On! came to town last week. Here’s the lowdown on the best of the best in short filmmaking in WA right now.

Josip Knezevic

Get Your Shorts On! encompasses the very best of what Perth has to offer in short films, and this year eight spectacular productions screened at Luna Leederville to showcase the creativity and skill of our local filmmakers. Of these, there were three standouts that I’d like to single out for Perth’s most promising talent.

3. Normal People
Producer:
Jenna Dimitrijevic
Director:
James Pontifex

Contrary to its title, this RAW Nerve funded short is anything but normal. An unfortunate party goer misreads an invitation and rocks up dressed as a panda only to discovers she is the only one in a costume. That is until she meets a man in a penguin suit…

Normal People is certainly an original piece of filmmaking, with some nice moments of quirky humour. My only disappointment is that it only runs for 7 minutes. Given more time on screen, I think these two loveable characters could have been fleshed out even more. Additionally, the concept is loaded with comedic opportunity that could have been further explored in a longer version… So the only question is, when do we get to see the feature film, guys?

2. Outline
Producer: Jess Parker
Director: Cody Cameron-Brown

Successfully funded by Pozible, Outline tells the story of a grieving young artist who seeks redemption in an unlikely place. She uses her craft to recreate her fallen friend in remembrance of her spirit and by the end of the film, you truly get the sense that this was an incredibly personal film for its creators. A simple idea that works marvelously on screen, I thoroughly enjoyed this 6-minute short with its beautiful artistry and emotional touches. Clearly others are being won over as well; the short was selected to appear in the Short Film Corner at Cannes Film Festival earlier this year.

1. The Shapes: Cool Rock Video and I’m A Genius
Producer: Lauren Elliott
Director: Matt Lovkis & Henry Inglis

Hot damn, this was awesome! The Shapes: Cool Rock Video and I’m A Genius is my favourite from this year’s Get Your Shorts On! selection. Yes, on a technical level, this 3-minute animation is fantastically well crafted, but what puts this project in first place is it’s success as a musical. Its catchy beats are filled with ridiculously self-aware, funny lyrics; on my way out of the screening I could still hear the addictive songs in my head. With a joyous colour palette and eye-catching transitions, this short and sweet animation is a must watch!

 

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Quick Pick – An

From the scent of freshly cooked pancakes, to a gentle breeze rustling through vivid pink cherry blossom, Naomi Kawase’s latest Cannes offering An is a sentimental and saccharine affair.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ½
Rhys Graeme-Drury

An focuses on timid old lay, Tokue (Kirin Kiki), who arrives on the doorstep of Sentaro’s (Masatoshi Nagase) quaint dorayaki (Japanese crepes filled with sweet red bean paste called an) shop looking for work. Sentaro is a melancholy soul who dislikes his job, so when Tokue offers up her knowledge for cooking delicious an, an odd partnership begins to blossom. Joining their cooking revolution is Wakana (Kyara Uchida), a kind but shy teenager who befriends both of the mismatched pancake chefs.

The story doesn’t really go anywhere that you wouldn’t expect as the three generations all impart wisdom and teachings on one another; Tokue is given a new lease of life in the arduous kitchen work, while Sentaro soon warms to the frail old woman, and his solitary existence behind the counter is just that little bit brighter as a result. But in opening up themselves to one another, the duo reveal old wounds that threaten to tear their newly forged friendship apart.

The pacing throughout the first half is frustratingly slow, but Kawase uses this quiet, meditative section of the film to effectively illustrate the isolation that her characters feel. The film might appear simple on the surface, but much like the delicious doriyaki that Sentaro serves up, there is a sugary and comforting core inside waiting to ooze out. The third act is guaranteed to give those tear ducts a workout.

Kiki establishes herself as the emotional anchor and standout performance fairly early in the film; she brings a mixture of humble wisdom and subtle mischief to proceedings, like a frail Japanese Master Yoda. Sweet and sugary almost to a fault, An exudes warm comfort and gooeyness, but its after taste is fleeting.

An is available in Australian cinemas from April 28

Image courtesy of Curious Films 

 

Best of Australian Film – 2014

By Zane Alexander

In my opinion, 2014 saw the best in Australian film releases since 1994’s Muriel’s Wedding, Priscilla, Bad Boy Bubby, and The Sum of Us. While Russell Crowe’s lukewarm The Water Diviner became our top grossing Australian film for the year (with $5.65 million in less than a week), other exceptional films were left in the dust.

The following list of Aussie films were all well received overseas, and some were screened at major film festivals such as Venice and Cannes to standing ovations. Nominated for a slew of international film awards; they accrued 36 wins in total. Unfortunately, not many Australians saw them, putting our already declining industry into panic. Like a prophet who is not received in his own town, our films seem to be more loved internationally than they are here.

 

 

Special Mention: PREDESTINATION
Whilst this science fiction thriller by the Australian Spierig Brothers is an excellent film, it does raise debate as to what constitutes an Australian production. For this reason, it has not been included in the top 8 below, but it is still definitely worth a watch.

 

 

#8 THE LITTLE DEATH: Funny Foreplay Fuels Comedy Climax
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
The title, which refers to an orgasm, is quite fitting for this riotous sex comedy that explores five couples’ weird sex fetishes. Similar to 2009 Aussie film My Year Without Sex, it lends itself more to being a TV sitcom, due to its episodic structure and characters you want to see more of. The witty script by debut writer/director Josh Lawson is cringe-inducing in the best possible way, and he builds the humour towards a hilariously awkward climax.

AACTA Nominations (2015): Best Lead Actor (Damon Herriman), Best Lead Actress (Kate Box), Best Supporting Actor (Patrick Brammall), Best Supporting Actor (TJ Power), Best Supporting Actress (Erin James) & Best Supporting Actress (Kate Mulvany).

 

 

#7 WOLF CREEK 2: Stylish Subversive Slasher Sequel
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Messing with the horror convention in a similar way to Hostel 2, this film cleverly places serial killer and Aussie legend Mick Taylor (John Jarratt) in the sympathetic main role, so the audience now colludes in the murder and mayhem. While further exploring our cultural xenophobia, excellently constructed truck and car chases reminiscent of Terminator 2 give way to a “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” style quiz. If you want to live, you’d better know your Aussie history and pop culture!

 

 

#6 THE TURNING: Winton Weaves Melancholic Tapestry of Australiana
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Similar in tone to Lantana, this collection of 17 short films is based on Tim Winton’s novel of the same name. Each vignette is helmed by a different director, including Justin Kurzel (Snowtown) and Warwick Thornton (Samson and Delilah) and it features many of our most loved stars in front of, and behind the camera. Though overlong at three hours, and occasionally disjointed due to its nature, it’s nevertheless an ambitious and rewarding portrait of regret, guilt and renewal.

AACTA Awards (2014): Best Lead Actress (Rose Byrne)
AACTA Nominations (2014): Best Picture, Best Direction, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Editing, Best Lead Actor (Hugo Weaving) & Best Supporting Actress (Mirrah Foulkes)

 

 

#5 THE BABADOOK: Slick Spooky Psychological Thriller
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ½
An ominous children’s pop-up book, and the love/hate relationship between parent and child form what is essentially a two-hander involving a sleep-deprived, grief-repressed mother, and her antagonising, kooky kid. Essie Davis and Noah Wiseman turn in remarkable performances under the tight and masterful direction of debut writer/director Jennifer Kent. With notable sound design and editing, the film creates a memorable fable exploring our fears, anguish, and the monster of unresolved emotion

AACTA Nominations (2015): Best Picture, Best Direction, Best Original Screenplay, Best Editing, Best Original Music Score, Best Production Design & Best Lead Actress (Essie Davis)

 

 

#4 THESE FINAL HOURS: Apocalyptic Thriller Burns Bright
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ½
This apocalyptic road trip thriller by debut director Zak Hilditch is a no-holds-barred, end-of-the-world, anarchic free-for-all. Unlike 2011’s slow-burning doomsday drama Melancholia, it opens at 9 out of 10 on the intensity scale and holds us there until its satisfying climax. Along the way we are witness to the extremes of humanity; depravity, despair, hedonism, hope, and integrity. With standout cinematography, lighting, sound design and special effects, it stands up to anything similar Hollywood can deliver.

 

 

#3 CHARLIE’S COUNTRY: Gulpilil’s Travels
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ½
Highlighting our modern and ancient culture clash, Rolf de Heer directs seminal Australian Aboriginal actor David Gulpilil to 2014 Cannes’ Best Actor glory, in one man’s frustratingly sad, yet often comically absurd battle to live under occupied rule. Its funnier moments are reminiscent of The Gods Must Be Crazy, however when art imitates life (it’s based on Gulpilil’s experiences) the dramatic material is elevated to sublime meta brilliance, creating an affecting film that both challenges and inspires us.

AACTA Nominations (2015): Best Picture, Best Direction, Best Original Screenplay, Best Sound & Best Lead Actor (David Gulpilil)

 

#2 THE INFINITE MAN: Eternal Sunshine and a Not-So-Spotless Mind
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ½
Set in a remote desert hotel under the blistering South Australian sun, Dean (Josh McConville) repeatedly and obsessively re-creates the perfect anniversary for his girlfriend, in an attempt to thwart her ex-boyfriend’s advances, and his own self-sabotaging behaviour. This surreal, hilarious and loopy rom-com (by writer/director Hugh Sullivan) is inventively original with one of the most convincing time travel scripts that rewards on repeated viewings.

 

 

#1 TRACKS: A Mesmerising Memoir and Outback Odyssey
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ½
In this true story of Robyn Davidson, a young woman who trekked solo across 2000 miles of outback desert in 1977, Mia Wasikowska embodies the spirit of our explorers, giving an emotionally and physically raw performance, as she faces the harsh landscape both externally and within. Stylistically belonging in our golden era of film-making (the 1970s), it was shot on film (not digitally) allowing cinematographer Mandy Walker (Lantana) to drench the shimmering vistas in warmer, richer tones.

AACTA Nominations (2015) : Best Picture, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design & Best Lead Actress (Mia Wasikowska)

FULL LIST OF AACTA 2015 NOMINEES (Feature Film Categories)
Best Picture
The Babadook
Charlie’s Country
Predestination
The Railway Man
Tracks
The Water Diviner

Best Direction
The Babadook
Charlie’s Country
Predestination
The Rover

Best Original Screenplay
52 Tuesdays
The Babadook
Charlie’s Country
The Water Diviner

Best Adapted Screenplay
Predestination
The Railway Man

Best Cinematography
Fell
Predestination
The Railway Man
Tracks

Best Editing
52 Tuesdays
The Babadook
Predestination
The Water Diviner

Best Sound
Charlie’s Country
Felony
The Railway Man
The Rover

Best Original Music Score
Healing
Predestination
The Railway Man
The Rover

Best Production Design
The Babadook
Predestination
The Rover
The Water Diviner

Best Costume Design
Predestination
The Railway Man
Tracks
The Water Diviner

Best Lead Actor
David Gulpilil – Charlie’s Country
Damon Herriman – The Little Death
Guy Pearce – The Rover
Russell Crowe – The Water Diviner

Best Lead Actress
Essie Davis – The Babadook
Kate Box – The Little Death
Sarah Snook – Predestination
Mia Wasikowska – Tracks

Best Supporting Actor
Patrick Brammall – The Little Death
TJ Power – The Little Death
Robert Pattinson – The Rover
Yilmaz Erdogan – The Water Diviner

Best Supporting Actress
Erin James – The Little Death
Kate Mulvany – The Little Death
Susan Prior – The Rover
Jacqueline McKenzie – The Water Diviner

Best Visual Effects or Animation
The LEGO movie
Walking With Dinosaurs 3D
The Water Diviner
X-Men: Days of Future Past

Movie Review – Grace of Monaco

Director Olivier Dahan and producer Harvey Weinstein have wasted so much time and energy bickering over the final cut of Grace of Monaco, but honestly, no amount of editing could ever improve this farce of a biopic.

In Olivier Dahan‘s latest film, Grace of Monaco, we are given a look into the world of 1950s Hollywood starlet Grace Kelly (Nicole Kidman). The film focuses upon Grace’s marriage to Prince Rainer III of Monaco (Tim Roth) in the early 1960s in which Ms Kelly was forced to choose between her life as a royal figure and her career as an actress. Ms Kelly struggles to conform to the royal way of life in Monaco, and the tremendous pressure placed upon her gradually drains away her happiness. She finds a confidante in Father Francis Tucker (Frank Langella), and is able to express her true self when in his company. When political tensions rise between the Prince Rainier and French leader Charles De Gaulle, Grace’s failures as a princess are thrust into the public spotlight, and war looms between Monaco and France.

To start with; I fail to understand how a film based on true events and real people can open with an announcement that it is a “fictional” account simply “inspired” by the truth. That doesn’t even make sense. You can’t just rewrite history as you please. Plenty of movies are based upon historical moments, but choose to use fictionalised characters and storylines to express these true events. Take Titanic; real ship, real tragedy, but fake romance. Rose and Jack never existed so James Cameron could do whatever he wanted with these characters, but Grace Kelly is a real person. After watching the film I have no idea which parts actually happened, and which parts were just the imagination of writer Arshal Amel.

I don’t want to be another Australian ripping into Nicole Kidman and her abilities as an actress. I think the woman has copped more than enough criticism to last a lifetime, and I don’t want to pile on top. Having said that, she was COMPLETELY wrong for this role. Off the screen Nicole Kidman is an elegant and sophisticated woman, which is perhaps why the filmmakers thought to cast her as Grace, but on the screen I find Nicole is much more suited to less glamorous characters, such as in The Hours, Rabbit Hole and The Railway Man. I did not find her convincing as Grace Kelly for a second, nor did I connect with her performance. She overacts throughout the entire film, and I found myself cringing every time she opened her mouth.

Nicole is nearly 47 years old, and although she looks fantastic for her age, she is far too old for this role. Grace Kelly was in her 30s when she became the Princess of Monaco, and is remembered alongside that of Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe for her beauty. Both in terms of physical appearance and suitability to the character, I feel that Scarlett Johansson, January Jones or even Charlize Theron would have been much better choices. As I write this, I have just checked IMDb and apparently both January and Charlize were considered, as well as Amy Adams, Reese Witherspoon and Jessica Chastain, among others. I hate to say this, but any of these women would have been preferable to Nicole.

Tim Roth and Frank Langella are two of my favourite actors, and thankfully they offer a reprieve from Nicole’s flaky scenes. Both men deliver solid performances and ensure that the film is not completely unwatchable. Roger Ashton-Griffiths, however, is an example of another casting disaster. I loathed his brief appearances in the film as Alfred Hitchcock. He doesn’t even look or sound remotely like Hitchcock.

You would think that I would be able to say that at least the costume departments did a good job, or at least the cinematography was beautifully executed, but no. If you’re going to do a film about Grace Kelly then I want to be pretty blown away by her wardrobe. If you’re going to set a film in a gorgeous part of Europe then I want to see incredible shots of the location. I can only remember 1 or 2 shots that actually made me sit up and pay attention. It’s not that the design work or the photography was bad, it just wasn’t anything particularly special.

Olivier Dahan previously brought us La Vie En Rose; a stunning, heart-wrenching film that I count among the greatest films of all time. So how did everything go so terribly wrong in Grace of Monaco? Besides casting choices, I think the script is also to blame. It lacks substance. It lacks drama. There is not enough conflict to sustain an entire film. It certainly looks at an interesting time in history, but the film itself is lackluster and not at all engaging. I feel the film would have been much more effective if it had provided greater insight into Grace’s life as an actress as this would have allowed the audience to gain a better sense of just how difficult it would have been for her to assimilate into the royal lifestyle.

I didn’t want to be yet another critic spreading harsh words about Grace of Monaco, but if I am to give my honest opinion, there is very little that I enjoyed or even appreciated in this film.

Images courtesy of EntertainmentOne