Saturday, December 29, 2012

The cart before the horse: Addenda to a contribution to Senses of Cinema's 2012 World Poll

Or, everything really is cinema, more or less: part one in an ongoing series

Cerise Howard and Otesánek
Your humble correspondent pausing
a moment to pose alongside a
prostrate Otesánek, who, doubtless a mite
peckish, is just biding his time...
Senses of Cinema's annual world poll supplement will be posted online early in the new year. Meanwhile, so itching have I been to ensure there's some new content gracing this seemingly moribund blog before year's end, and so eager to expand, especially illustratively, upon some of the arguably more fanciful aspects of what I've contributed to Senses of Cinema's latest poll, with particular respect to claims towards the everything-is-cinema-ness of all things, that, well... here we are!

Some of what follows – whether for better or for worse, I cannot say – will adopt certain of the characteristics of a travelogue. This is somewhat unavoidable as this post's central cases in point were the stuff of recent adventures abroad, for, not so terribly long ago, I was summoned to my beloved city of Prague to sit on a jury at Mezipatra, the Czech Republic's wonderful queer film festival, or at least for the Prague leg of it. Now, to either side of my gleefully adopted Mezipatra duties – not to mention right smack-bang in its midst as well, of course (samozřejmě!) – I had me some (extra-)cinematic adventures, as demonstrated below and which will link to my corresponding part in Senses' 2012 world poll, as and when it's live.

By the way, wrapped up in all the pictorial splendour and waffle below lies in wait an allusive announcement, whose time I can comfortably say has almost now come, with respect to a project of mine and certain esteemed others set to launch in mid-2012 and shake up stuffy old Melbourne town, where too many film festivals is never enough...

But let's deal with one horse before its cart at a time – on with the picture show – roll camera!

Backdrop to the 2012 Mezipatra closing ceremony
Here's the rather de Chirico-esque big-screen backdrop above the stage at Kino Lucerna ahead of this year's Mezipatra closing ceremony. Should I hasten to add that de Chirico was cinema? After all, I've just watched Alain Robbe-Grillet's Eden and After (1970) (thank you thank you thank you! the Slovak Film Institute, for releasing this on DVD!), and if those scenes in the Eden nightclub weren't de Chirico all over (if also a few parts Mondrian, after a '60s Godardian fashion), then my name isn't Cerise Howard, and nor has it always been.

(Mezipatra's website hosts a fab gallery covering its closing night, which was altogether rather busier and more glamorous than my photo above would suggest, and in which I make a few appearances.)
Now, I could scarcely have timed my journey to Prague any better. For unbeknownst to me at my journey's outset, what should happen to be on in the very centre of olde Prague but...

"Jan Švankmajer: Dimensions of Dialogue – Between Film and Fine Art"

in the House at the Stone Bell in Prague's Old Town Square
(26 Oct 2012 – 3 Feb 2013)

Per my world poll contribution, "Dimensions of Dialogue" is "room after Rudolphinian room a-glut with Švankmajeriana. Magical, obsessive, capital-S Surrealist objects abound, all riffing on relationships, direct or indirect, with Švankmajer's 48-year-long filmic output, with one film, whether long- or short-form, looping in its entirety in each room, and the exhibition's great plenty of uncanny objects organised correspondingly. Magnificent!"

Please find here following a corroborating, annotated gallery:

Conspirators of Pleasure room in the Jan Švankmajer exhibition
This is a room devoted to Conspirators of Pleasure (1996), which also featured a number of "tactile portraits", object-characters from the film and, centre-frame, its unforgettable masturbation machine, which had in fact been switched on for the exhibition. (On which note, Prague's Sex Machines Museum is just a hop, skip and a wank away from the House at the Stone Bell and the Old Town Square, but I don't recall it having anything half so elaborate, nor half so modern, let alone half so amusing, as the Conspirators of Pleasure machine amongst its offerings. If anything, as memory serves – I visited it several years ago – its exhibits are not terribly far removed from those in Prague's cheesy mediaeval torture museums...)
Historia Naturae, Suite room in the Jan Švankmajer exhibition
In the room devoted to Historia Naturae, Suite (1967) can be found collaged drawings and objects, imaginary creatures, and taxonomic descriptions thereof galore, in a fabulous demonstration of the full rein Švankmajer has always given himself towards the creation of alternative zoologies, ones to long outlive we sadly less fabulous critters to presently have the run of our grimly imperilled planet.
Historia Naturae, Suite room in the Jan Švankmajer exhibition
Natural enemies in the wild?
Historia Naturae, Suite room in the Jan Švankmajer exhibition
The scenes in this and the preceding image have more than just a little in common with Salvador Dalí's 1936 painting, "Autumn Cannibalism". See also the second section of one of my favourite Švankmajers, his final short film, Food (1993).
Tableau from Švankmajer's Alice
A tableau familiar from Alice (1988). This, like so much of JS' work, is equal parts Švankmajer and Švankmajerová.
Tableau from Švankmajer's Alice Characters and sets from Švankmajer's Alice
Characters and sets from Švankmajer's Alice.
Some of the cast from Švankmajer's Faust
Waiting in the wings with some of the cast from Švankmajer's Faust (1994)

Some of the cast from Švankmajer's Faust
Some of the cast atop and within a set from Faust.
Cerise Howard and some of the cast in a set from Švankmajer's Faust
Several of the oversize puppets from Faust, and one oversize human from Wellington, by way of Melbourne.
Scary set from Švankmajer's The Pit, the Pendulum and Hope
Scary prop from Švankmajer's The Pit, the Pendulum and Hope (1984), as designed by the late, great Eva Švankmajerová. Fortunately, perhaps as much an OH&S consideration as anything else, it was rather more still in the exhibition than in Švankmajer's brilliant film. I don't think Poe has ever been as frightening on screen as in The Pit, the Pendulum and Hope.
Otesáneks, and parts thereof, galore.
Otesáneks, and parts thereof, galore. As seen in Little Otik (Otesánek) (2000).
Oh, and did I mention that I actually had a chance early morning encounter at a Prague tram stop with Švankmajer himself? Were that I could have captured the look in my eyes in that moment they locked fleetingly with his! Were too that I wasn't so dumbstruck by the occasion that I so easily let him slip by my clutches before I could surprise him with some strongly Australasian-inflected Czech, conveying some sort of gormless, grating, ingratiating précis of my adoration of his work ever since I first encountered it in the '90s. Actually, perhaps it's for the best I did keep my mouth shut after all. Next time, though, Švankmajer, next time... I'll be prepared!

"Slovanská epopej" ("The Slav Epic", Alfons Mucha, 1912-1928)

Now hanging permanently, if not without controversy, at Veletržní Palace, a campus of the National Gallery in Prague

Now, I may have made some slightly contentious claims in my poll contribution, if, I would argue, not really either as specious nor as spurious as all that, for Czech Art Nouveau godfather Alfons Mucha's 20-colossal-canvas-strong magnum opus "The Slav Epic" as cinema...

Here follow only a meagre few photos – my photography simply hasn't done these magnificent pictures justice – in under-substantiated support of certain aspects of my flimsy hypothesis. Happily, much better quality reproductions of Mucha's magnificent masterwork can be found all over the Web, and they do my lunatic theorising far prouder than my own underwhelming photography here can hope to.

2nd canvas of The Slav Epic
This is the 2nd canvas in "The Slav Epic" – now, I ask you, is that a big screen, or wot? (Refer relative size of awestruck, darkened space-inhabiting gallery patron to artwork.) This is "The Celebration of Svantovit in Rügen" (1912).
Detail of the 2nd canvas of The Slav Epic
This is a detail – almost a close-up, even – of that same canvas, from centre bottom. To stand but a foot away from the painting is for mother and child to fill "the frame". This woman's eyes have haunted me ever since I laid mine upon them.
Detail of the 1st canvas of The Slav Epic
Eyes no less haunting – a detail from the 1st canvas of the Slovanská epopej, "The Slavs in Their Original Homeland" (1912).
Detail of the 5th canvas of The Slav Epic
An awful purdy doodad which wouldn't be at all out of place in Argento's Suspiria (1977) but which is in fact merely a detail of the 5th canvas in "The Slav Epic", "King Otakar II of Bohemia" (1924).

Further postcards from Europe to prop up one's claim that everything is cinema

And now for a little more photographic everything-is-cinema-ness, surplus to requirement as addenda for my contribution to the 2012 Senses of Cinema world poll, as I in no way alluded to the following in my poll text, nor need have. But I no got worry.

I'll let the photographs, if necessarily aided to some extent in each instance by their captions, speak for themselves...

Jiří Trnka installation in Veletržní Palace, Prague
Elsewhere in Veletržní Palace, this permanent installation pays tribute to the great puppet animator, Jiří Trnka. (He was pretty handy in a few other fields, too.) There'll be more from me about Trnka hereabouts, and in the pages of Senses of Cinema, soon – that's a promise! (For many happy reasons which will become apparent in due course.) It's a shame about the shadow of a certain gormless pillock in this one. Reflective surfaces: the scourge of amateur photographers everywhere!
Vintage film posters in Veletržní Palace, Prague
In the same room as the Trnka installation can be found these gorgeous vintage film posters. The two leftmost are for Gustav Machatý's 1931 film, From Saturday to Sunday. "Jsem děvče s čertem v těle" translates as "I'm a girl with the devil in (her) flesh"; it's credited to director Karl Anton and is instantly as tantalising a film to hunt down as any I've heard tell of any time lately.
Vintage film posters in Veletržní Palace, Prague
Also from that same room. I haven't figured out which films these gorgeous images pertain to – something by Martin Frič, perhaps? Anyone, any leads?
Oh lookee here – seems we've taken a wrong turn mid-exposition, as can happen, and have wound up in Vienna.

The Wiener Riesenrad in Vienna's Prater amusement park The Wiener Riesenrad in Vienna's Prater amusement park
The Wiener Riesenrad – which is to say, this is the Ferris wheel seen in The Third Man (d. Carol Reed, 1949) in Vienna's nowadays impossibly kitsch Prater amusement park.
Magic Dreamland in Vienna's Prater amusement park
Kitsch? The Prater? With this photo, I rest my case.

Still: what is this post if not a paean to the "Magic Dreamland" that is the cinema, anyway? And is that really any less naff a term than "Dream Factory", that popular epithet for Hollywood?
Well, that'll do for now. I've more piccies from other far-afield adventures in cinema recently had, but it'd be remiss not to save some for another day, which would greater risk this blog's going another few months without an update...

But wait – a pledge! Yes, I hereby pledge, contrary to all recent indications, that this blog will actually regularly feature new content in 2013. Truly!

Let's see then if I'm not yet as good as my word. (And here I'll confess to knowing something you don't, at least, not for very much longer – my year in film in 2013 will be a very busy one, and it'll sure need some documenting and ballyhooing here. Stay tuned!)

Toodles for now then,

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Of content elsewhere, new and old, and more on MIFF releases

Firstly, a stocktake

With but five further days to go of the 61st Melbourne International Film Festival, folks who missed it going live to air might like to do some catch-up listening to last Thursday's hour long "Max Headroom" MIFF special on Melbourne radio station 3RRR, in which I and estimable fellow critics Tara Judah and Josh Nelson set the 61st MIFF to rights, alternately waxing laudatory and scornful about umpteen of the festival's big screen offerings and various peripheral matters.

(A bonus? - seldom can Kylie's "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" previously have been heard to emanate forth along the airwaves from Melbourne's legendary independent community radio station nonpareil, but it did, and, what's more, in context. Who'd ever hitherto a-thunk it?)

Kylie Minogue in Holy Motors
Our Kylie, all growed up, in Leos Carax' sublime Holy Motors
Speaking of 3RRR and Max Headroom specials, and with ACMI's thorough Guy Maddin season not long come to a pre-MIFF close, here's reminding y'all of the hour long "Max Headroom" Guy Maddin special I, fab fellow critic (and, latterly, MIFF's Next Gen & Shorts Coordinator) Thomas Caldwell and ACMI programmer and season co-curator Kristy Matheson perpetrated back in late June, replete with many minutes of interview gold contributed by Maddin himself. It's still available "on demand", courtesy of 3RRR, for another few months.

laying with Memories: Essays on Guy Maddin, edited by David Church
(Here's reminding you too of the double Guy Maddin book review of mine in the Senses of Cinema before last, the better that you, whether an old or a new convert to Maddin's singular cinema, might want to deeper immerse yourself in (critical writing on) critical writing on Winnipeg's finest and most delirious filmmaker.)

Speaking of Senses of Cinema, issue #63 finally emerged at the very end of July and with it, my festival report "The South’s Not Long for This World: The 26th Fribourg International Film Festival", accounting for my 3rd trip to this terrific Swiss film festival in beautiful, principally francophone Fribourg and my first experience as a member of a FIPRESCI jury, something I'm still savouring. Maybe everyone who lands one of these gigs is as lucky as I was (though I doubt it), finding themselves working entirely with altogether lovely, super smart and highly collegiate fellow critics; mad props and shout-outs go out to fab fellow jurors Sheila Johnston (President, Great Britain), Hauvick Habechian (Lebanon), Katja Čičigoj (Slovenia) and Nina Scheu (Switzerland) - wotta team! May that we all be reunited somewhere, sometime, and were that such a thing were possible here in Australia, where such juries, with all their exciting, horizons-expanding internationalism, are nowadays almost unheard of. (Grrr, argh.)

Hell Is For Hyphenates: Jan Švankmajer edition
Image: Caroline Alexandra McCurdy
Moving on, in my last post (lawks, has it really already been a month?), I neglected to plug something I put out into the world, which, I'll concede, is unlike me. I refer to my guesting on the May 2012 edition of Hell Is For Hyphenates, in which I join HIFH hotshots Paul Anthony Nelson and Lee Zachariah in poring over the ever astonishing film work of my pick of a filmmaker to focus upon, Czech Surrealist Jan Švankmajer, after a precursory gloss over a few recent releases and a consideration of the sometimes vexing matter of film remakes.

Oh, and while we're on matters Czech, it was only last week that I was party to the incorporation of CaSFFA, or the Czech and Slovak Film Festival of Australasia. Just call me Paní prezidentka! Let's see if we can't just pull off a memorable inaugural festival in mid-2013. Much more news about this will emerge in due course.

Secondly, a MIFF release dates update

Before getting to the nitty-gritty, I feel I should mention another couple of avenues through which you might legitimately encounter films screening at this year's MIFF outside of this year's festival, perhaps then sparing yourself from needlessly making haste to see them at MIFF rather than catching something altogether scarcer, something which you really might not have the opportunity to ever catch on a big screen, or even on 35mm, ever again, or from the worry that to have missed them at this year's festival might be to have missed them altogether.

Firstly, any number of this year's MIFF titles will doubtless re-emerge at other film festivals staged hereabouts in the year ahead, whether, for example, at the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, which often re-runs a handful or so of queer themed MIFF titles in the March of the following year, or at any of the multitude of festivals celebrating (typically only the recent) cinema output of a given nation.

To cite just one example, it has been announced that the Taviani brothers' highly regarded Caesar Must Die will screen at the forthcoming Italian Film Festival, running from 19 September through to 9 October in Melbourne, and at different times in other capital cities.

Credentialled industry bods could also look to the Festival Scope platform to access 10 out of 12 of the features in the TeleScope program and as many of the Accelerator offerings as well, presuming they're willing to pony up/have already ponied up for an initial subscription charge to stream them (and much, much more) on demand.

(To quote the latest Festival Scope newsletter: "Time to swan dive into Port Philip's Bay!")

Now, there hasn't been a terrific flurry of new release date announcements made or press releases issued by distributors and exhibitors over the few weeks since my previous post. There have nonetheless been a few of significance, with the most notable regarding Tony Krawitz's adaptation of my favourite Christos Tsiolkas novel, Dead Europe, which wasn't even in the MIFF program when I previously posted. That, and my need to remedy an error I made last time, have led me to update the table, below.

Dead Europe
Dead Europe
Re that error, my apologies go out to Hi Gloss Entertainment. I had had DVD releases for the three titles of theirs listed below down for October but my original source was evidently not really in the know; no DVD release date has, in fact, been scheduled yet for any of Italy: Love It or Leave It, Journal de France or The Minister. Two of these three titles (with one of them being The Minister) are presently, furthermore, under discussion for theatrical release.

All the usual caveats then about the following table, and more, apply. None of the following can be taken as gospel, not least for the fact that human error, my own most certainly included, can be a factor in information provided below not ultimately standing the test of time. Let the browser beware!

(where known)
¡Vivan Las Antipodas! Madman Documentaries
[REC] Genesis Vendetta Films Night Shift
100 Bloody Acres Hopscotch Night Shift
11 Flowers Palace Next Gen
A Monster in Paris Madman Next Gen
A Simple Life Dream Movie Accent on Asia
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry Madman Documentaries
Alois Nebel Madman Animation
Amour Transmission Int. Panorama
Back to Stay Transmission Through the Labyrinth
Barbara Madman Int. Panorama
Beasts of the Southern Wild Icon 13 September Int. Panorama
Being Venice Curious Film Aust. Showcase
Berberian Sound Studio Madman Int. Panorama
Beyond Rialto Facing North
Beyond the Hills Madman Int. Panorama
Bully Roadshow 23 August Next Gen
Caesar Must Die Palace Int. Panorama
Chasing Ice Madman Documentaries
Croker Island Exodus ABC TV Aust. Showcase
Damsels in Distress Sony 6 September Int. Panorama
Dark Horse Roadshow Int. Panorama
Dead Europe Transmission 1 November Aust. Showcase
Easy Money Madman Facing North
Ernest & Celestine Rialto Animation
Errors of the Human Body Curious Film Aust. Showcase
Farewell, My Queen Transmission Int. Panorama
First Position Hopscotch 27 September Next Gen
Girl Model Aztec Documentaries
God Bless America Potential Films 15 November Night Shift
Hail Madman Aust. Showcase
Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai Icon 18 October Accent on Asia
Headshot Madman Accent on Asia
Holy Motors Icon 23 August Leos Carax
I Wish Rialto 4 October Accent on Asia
In the Fog Sharmill Int. Panorama
Italy: Love It or Leave It Hi Gloss Entertainment Documentaries
Jack Irish: Bad Debts ABC TV Aust. Showcase
Jayne Mansfield's Car Eagle DVD, early 2013 Int. Panorama
Journal de France Hi Gloss Entertainment Documentaries
Killer Joe Roadshow Night Shift
Last Dance Becker Film Group Aust. Showcase
Le Grand Soir Vendetta Films Int. Panorama
Liberal Arts Icon 2013 Int. Panorama
Make Hummus Not War Antidote Films Aust. Showcase
Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present Madman Documentaries
Mental Universal 4 October Closing Night
Metropia SBS n/a (has previously aired on SBS) Facing North
Miss Bala Transmission 22 November Through the Labyrinth
Monsieur Lazhar Palace 6 September Int. Panorama
Moonrise Kingdom Universal 30 August Int. Panorama
No Rialto Through the Labyrinth
On the Road Icon 27 September Int. Panorama
ParaNorman Universal 20 September Next Gen
Paul Kelly: Stories of Me Madman 18 October Backbeat
Policeman Curious Film Int. Panorama
Rampart Madman Int. Panorama
Robot and Frank Sony 15 November Int. Panorama
Ruby Sparks Fox 20 September Int. Panorama
Safety Not Guaranteed Rialto 18 October Int. Panorama
Save Your Legs! Madman 24 January, 2013 Aust. Showcase
Searching for Sugar Man Madman 4 October Facing North
Seeking A Friend for the End of the World Roadshow 23 August Int. Panorama
Shadow Dancer Potential Films 11 October Int. Panorama
Shut up and Play the Hits Vendetta Films Backbeat
Sightseers Rialto 26 December Night Shift
Sister Palace Int. Panorama
Sleepless Night Vendetta Films Int. Panorama
Sound of My Voice Fox Night Shift
Tabu Palace Int. Panorama
Teddy Bear Vendetta Films Int. Panorama
The Angels’ Share Vendetta Films Int. Panorama
The First Fagin Ronin Films Aust. Showcase
The Hunt Madman Int. Panorama
The Imposter Madman Documentaries
The Intouchables Roadshow 25 October Int. Panorama
The King of Pigs Madman Animation
The Loneliest Planet Palace Int. Panorama
The Minister Hi Gloss Entertainment Int. Panorama
The Sapphires Hopscotch 9 August Opening Night
The Sessions Fox 8 November Int. Panorama
The Taste of Money Madman Accent on Asia
This Ain’t California Management of Doubt Documentaries
Undefeated Madman Documentaries
V/H/S Roadshow Night Shift
Violeta Went to Heaven Madman Through the Labyrinth
Vulgaria China Lion 23 August Accent on Asia
War Witch Curious Film Int. Panorama
Warriors of the Rainbow – Seediq Bale: Part 1 Monster Pictures 13 September * Accent on Asia
Warriors of the Rainbow – Seediq Bale: Part 2 Monster Pictures 13 September * Accent on Asia
Wunderkinder Umbrella 6 September Next Gen
Wuthering Heights Transmission 11 October Int. Panorama
Your Sister's Sister Madman 6 September Int. Panorama

* You might like to note that Warriors of the Rainbow – Seediq Bale is being theatrically released as one film, not two.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Of MIFF, Maddin and Max Headroom

2012 Melbourne International Film Festival poster
For Melbourne's cinéphiles and their fellow travellers, the greatest show in town is shortly to commence. Of course, I speak of the Melbourne International Film Festival and its second edition under the stewardship of über-cinéphile and former Senses of Cinema colleague* of mine, the wonderful Michelle Carey.

* Michelle is still a pillar of the Senses of Cinema team, serving as its Festival Reports Editor. It is I who have left, though I continue to contribute articles. For example, the next issue (due out... surely any day now?) will feature my report on the 26th Fribourg International Film Festival, while the miraculously still current issue features a lengthy screed in which I review two fantastic recent books on Guy Maddin: Into the Past: The Cinema of Guy Maddin by William Beard and Playing with Memories: Essays on Guy Maddin, edited by David Church.

Speaking of Guy Maddin

MIFF aside, far and away the greatest film cultural event to hit Melbourne town in 2012 (notwithstanding the formal inauguration of yet another fine local film journal, Screen Machine) is still underway at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image. I speak of “Nocturnal Transmissions: The Cinema of Guy Maddin”, a really rather thorough* retrospective of Winnipeg's finest, most delirious and most exclamatory filmmaker, that great poet of Vaseline-smeared, amnesiac melodrama and recent Order of Canada awardee (!), Guy Maddin, running through to 27 July.

* But not completely thorough, even with as many as three weeks of screenings. Just below, for example, is a terrific Maddin short not screening as part of ACMI's season but which makes for an excellent companion piece to his brilliant The Heart of the World (2000) (one of my all-time favourite short films and more than just a little tinged with genius and reverence for the cinematic medium (just as, one might say, Maddin is himself tinged with irreverence for the 'medium' of the ghosts of cinema and Winnipeg's pasts, real and fabricated, that he himself bodily represents.))

The Heart of the World presents an altogether new Creation myth of the moving pictures, and so too does his under-seen 2009 short, Night Mayor. Courtesy of the National Film Board of Canada, enjoy!

Maddin devotees and novitiates alike should be flocking in droves to ACMI to get a fix of that inimitable imitator's truly astonishing body of work. Equally, both camps could do a lot worse than to tune in, using Melbourne radio stations Triple R's recently launched “Radio on Demand” facility, to a “Max Headroom” special from Thursday, 28 June, where I was joined by tremendous fellow Triple R critic, Thomas Caldwell, super-dooper ACMI programmer Kristy Matheson, co-curator (with Maddin) of ACMI's extensive Maddin season, and a pre-recorded Guy Maddin himself, from whom I had gleaned an exclusive interview and no few pearls of wisdom.

For example, the answer to the question on every cinéaste's lips: will not real Vaseline forever trump digital? Tune in and find out!

A Max Headroom Maddin-MIFF segue

You can get it live, or you'll be able to get it “on demand” all the way up to six months later – your choice. Either way, be sure to catch the Thursday, 9 August edition of “Max Headroom” on Triple R when I join Tara Judah and Josh Nelson from the fabulous Triple R film criticism podcast, Plato's Cave, as we throw an hour's worth of musings at this year's MIFF from a fine vantage point, one full week into the festival, from where we'll cast an eye over what we'll have seen and what we'll anticipate we'll still yet see at Melbourne's film festival of film festivals. All the critical scuttlebutt from the 61st MIFF – and more!, more or less.

A time-honoured tradition: MIFF 2012 release dates

Here follows a cannibalisation of last year's edition of much this same blog post. The devil is in the details.


Beasts of the Southern Wild poster
Benh Zeitlin's Beasts of the Southern Wild:
a fabulous film indeed!
But can you not hold out until
it goes on general release (13 September)?
Please be advised that none of the following can be taken as gospel, for the distribution game is the stuff of whims, vicissitudes and, some have alleged, sorcery. Furthermore, some films may not be destined for theatrical release at all but rather may go straight to TV, DVD or Blu-Ray, online streaming or download, or even to YouTube, Vimeo and their like (to speak only of outlets a film might find itself distributed to legitimately). This means that MIFF might represent your only chance to see many of these titles on a big screen in Melbourne.

Last year I observed that I had never known there to be so many films screening at MIFF to have distribution lined up at a comparably early stage in proceedings. There were, however, a mere 81 such titles this time last year, whereas this year, I make it 92 (not including retrospective titles long ago to have been released to theatres and home viewing, like Hal Ashby's legendary morose laugh riot Harold and Maude from 1971.)

Madman Entertainment, while still having secured distribution to as many as 23 of the following titles, have nowhere near so large a representation in the following table as they did in last year's; Madman titles accounted for a whopping 37% (30 out of 81) of films to have distribution lined up ahead of the 2011 festival. This has dropped in 2012 to 25% (23 out of 92).

This might help placate certain conspiracy theorists to have surmised on this blog last year that Madman's huge representation amongst last year's MIFF offerings carried with it a whiff of impropriety...

Now, while some of the films listed below may well be released very soon after MIFF, there can be incentives beyond bragging rights to attending their screenings at the festival, as, for example, when guests will be in attendance to conduct introductions, Q&As, flesh-pressings and so forth.

In the particular case of many of the Australian titles, there can be the added buzz of attending what will be hometown world premieres, which can generate a peculiarly electric atmosphere which no other viewing scenario can ever hope to match. Being at such a screening when it goes well is a particularly salutary experience. (Also, there may be a party afterwards.)

However, the converse also applies. Attending a local premiere when a film tanks, with cast and crew present, can be awkward and dispiriting, as with MIFF's 2010 curtain raiser, the yet-to-be-seen-again, may-in-fact-never-be The Wedding Party (d. Amanda Jane).

It is also true that some of these films may not be released for quite some time. Referring to last year's list, one of the 2011 MIFF's most outstanding offerings was undoubtedly Nuri Bilge Ceylan's mesmerising Once upon a Time in Anatolia, which was only granted a theatrical release within the last month or two. The wait then can be long.

Okey doke. Thems are caveats enough. On with the main attraction!

* 13.8.12 My apologies to the folks at Hi Gloss Entertainment; information published here previously pertaining to release dates for their titles was erroneous. I had DVD releases for the three titles of theirs listed here down for October but my original sources were evidently not really in the know; no DVD release date has, in fact, been scheduled yet for any of Italy: Love It or Leave It, Journal de France or The Minister. Two of these three titles (I'm not sure which two) are, furthermore, presently under discussion for theatrical release.

The table below has been adjusted to reflect this.

There are a few further updates which could yet be made to this table to reflect announcements made, and press releases issued, by various distributors and exhibitors over the last couple of weeks; time permitting, I'll get around to updating this table within the next day or two accordingly.

(where known)
¡Vivan Las Antipodas!MadmanDocumentaries
[REC] GenesisVendetta FilmsNight Shift
100 Bloody AcresHopscotchNight Shift
11 FlowersPalaceNext Gen
A Monster in ParisMadmanNext Gen
A Simple LifeDream MovieAccent on Asia
Ai Weiwei: Never SorryMadmanDocumentaries
Alois NebelMadmanAnimation
AmourTransmissionInt. Panorama
Back to StayTransmissionThrough the Labyrinth
BarbaraMadmanInt. Panorama
Beasts of the Southern WildIcon13 SeptemberInt. Panorama
Being VeniceCurious FilmAust. Showcase
Berberian Sound StudioMadmanInt. Panorama
BeyondRialtoNovemberFacing North
Beyond the HillsMadmanInt. Panorama
BullyRoadshow23 AugustNext Gen
Caesar Must DiePalaceInt. Panorama
Chasing IceMadmanDocumentaries
Croker Island ExodusABCTVAust. Showcase
Damsels in DistressSony6 SeptemberInt. Panorama
Dark HorseRoadshowInt. Panorama
Easy MoneyMadmanFacing North
Ernest & CelestineRialtoAnimation
Errors of the Human BodyCurious FilmAust. Showcase
Farewell, My QueenTransmissionInt. Panorama
First PositionHopscotch27 SeptemberNext Gen
Girl ModelAztecDocumentaries
God Bless AmericaPotential FilmsNight Shift
HailMadmanAust. Showcase
Hara-Kiri: Death of a SamuraiIcon18 OctoberAccent on Asia
HeadshotMadmanAccent on Asia
Holy MotorsIcon23 AugustLeos Carax
I WishRialtoAccent on Asia
In the FogSharmillInt. Panorama
Italy: Love It or Leave ItHi Gloss EntertainmentDocumentaries
Jack Irish: Bad DebtsABCTVAust. Showcase
Jayne Mansfield's CarEagleDVD, early 2013Int. Panorama
Journal de FranceHi Gloss EntertainmentDocumentaries
Killer JoeRoadshowNight Shift
Last DanceBecker Film GroupAust. Showcase
Le Grand SoirVendetta FilmsInt. Panorama
Liberal ArtsIcon11 OctoberInt. Panorama
Make Hummus Not WarAntidote FilmsAust. Showcase
Marina Abramović: The Artist is PresentMadmanDocumentaries
MentalIcon4 OctoberClosing Night
MetropiaSBSn/a (has previously aired on SBS)Facing North
Miss BalaTransmissionDVD, 5 SeptemberThrough the Labyrinth
Monsieur LazharPalace6 SeptemberInt. Panorama
Moonrise KingdomUniversal30 AugustInt. Panorama
NoRialtoThrough the Labyrinth
On the RoadIcon27 SeptemberInt. Panorama
ParaNormanUniversal20 SeptemberNext Gen
Paul Kelly: Stories of MeMadman18 OctoberBackbeat
PolicemanCurious FilmInt. Panorama
RampartMadmanInt. Panorama
Robot and FrankSony15 NovemberInt. Panorama
Ruby SparksFox20 SeptemberInt. Panorama
Safety Not GuaranteedRialto20 September/18 OctoberInt. Panorama
Save Your Legs!MadmanAust. Showcase
Searching for Sugar ManMadmanFacing North
Seeking A Friend for the End of the WorldRoadshow23 AugustInt. Panorama
Shadow DancerPotential Films4 OctoberInt. Panorama
Shut up and Play the HitsVendetta FilmsBackbeat
SightseersRialtoNight Shift
SisterPalaceInt. Panorama
Sleepless NightVendetta FilmsInt. Panorama
Sound of My VoiceFoxNight Shift
TabuPalaceInt. Panorama
Teddy BearVendetta FilmsInt. Panorama
The Angels’ ShareVendetta FilmsInt. Panorama
The First FaginRonin FilmsAust. Showcase
The HuntMadmanInt. Panorama
The ImposterMadmanDocumentaries
The IntouchablesRoadshow25 OctoberInt. Panorama
The King of PigsMadmanAnimation
The Loneliest PlanetPalaceInt. Panorama
The MinisterHi Gloss EntertainmentInt. Panorama
The SapphiresHopscotch9 AugustOpening Night
The SessionsFox8 NovemberInt. Panorama
The Taste of MoneyMadmanAccent on Asia
This Ain’t CaliforniaManagement of DoubtDocumentaries
V/H/SRoadshowNight Shift
Violeta Went to HeavenMadmanThrough the Labyrinth
VulgariaChina Lion23 AugustAccent on Asia
War WitchCurious FilmInt. Panorama
Warriors of the Rainbow – Seediq Bale: Part 1Monster Pictures6 SeptemberAccent on Asia
Warriors of the Rainbow – Seediq Bale: Part 2Monster Pictures6 SeptemberAccent on Asia
WunderkinderUmbrella6 SeptemberNext Gen
Wuthering HeightsTransmission11 OctoberInt. Panorama
Your Sister's SisterMadman6 SeptemberInt. Panorama

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Master of My Domain

Czech poster for Steve McQueen's Shame
Inadvertently humourous Czech poster for
Steve McQueen's Shame
Hi all.

After a little lie down that would do Sleeping Beauty proud, my hand has been forced into posting something here anew.

Some sort of catastrophic server trouble recently left stricken the good ship Senses of Cinema and had, in the process, left me incommunicado via email for two long weeks and unable to access any of my email from a further three or so weeks prior.

It wasn't until only just a little earlier today that Senses got up and running once again after a full fortnight's lay-off. Mind you, the spell on the sidelines has done it some appreciable good; in resurrecting the site, aspects of its design have been markedly improved, even if some elements of its facelift still need quite some fine tuning (as has been acknowledged).

All this being so, you'll now be able to access two articles I've written for Senses since last I posted here: "A Twilight Portrait: A Report on the 21st Film Festival Cottbus" in Issue 61 and "Into the Past: The Cinema of Guy Maddin by William Beard; and Playing with Memories: Essays on Guy Maddin edited by David Church" - a whopping double book review - in the current issue, # 62. Additionally, I contributed to Senses' 2011 world poll, published between these two issues.

Book cover for Into the Past: The Cinema of Guy Maddin by William Beard
But I have digressed.

My old address had been my principal email address for over ten years. Seeing as a) I have not, strictly speaking, been in the employ of Senses of Cinema for some time and b) I have just now been made all too aware how compromising it can be sticking for so long with an email address which is administrated by folks who are effectively a third party, I have just seen fit to mint myself a brand new, personal domain, the better to gain complete control over my email and never again fall foul of such communications strife beyond my means to remedy personally.

Hence, has been born. On the web, a visit presently does nothing more than simply and peremptorily re-direct the curious visitor right here, to A Little Lie Down.

Well, it had to do something.

Owning an eponymous domain, I now feel the pressure to use that domain for some good beyond merely using it as an expedient for reliably sending and receiving email, so will likely, if not necessarily immediately, yet be stocked with content pertaining to my various activities across film, music, writing and so on. There are many projects afoot in these various fields and many worthy projects in them to have come and gone before, so it might indeed be nice to have them all documented, contained even, in a central repository.

Let's wait and see what develops there...

Meanwhile, if you're someone who's been trying to reach me via email these last few weeks and been foiled, please update your records so that you have my email address down as cerise [at] Thanks!


Now, seeing as we've finally found ourselves enjoying another Little Lie Down, I think something of an update with respect to my activities in film is in order.

Aside from those aforementioned articles in recent issues of Senses of Cinema, here are some other things to have been going on:

I'm not long back from serving on a FIPRESCI jury at the 26th Fribourg International Film Festival. It was a great pleasure to serve alongside my esteemed, and altogether charming, colleagues, namely Sheila Johnston (president of the jury); Hauvick Habechian; Nina Scheu, and Katja Čičigoj. (I'm kinda tickled that the page on the FIFF website listing our jury's members has me down as representing Preston specifically rather than Melbourne!)

Announcement of the winner of the FIPRESCI Jury award at the 2012 FIFF
And the winner of the FIPRESCI Jury award is... (cue drumroll)... Countdown!
My report on the FIPRESCI jury prize winner, Huh Jong-ho's cracking genre(s) film Countdown (2011), will appear soon on the FIPRESCI website alongside reportage covering several other aspects of the 26th FIFF from my fellow jurors.

Furthermore, I will yet have a full report of my experiences at this year's festival in Fribourg in the next issue of Senses of Cinema. (I've previously also covered the FIFF for Senses in 2010 and 2011.)

What else?

Some radio I've done in recent times can be accessed online.

The kind folks at 3RRR - I'll be back on the air in my usual spot on SmartArts opposite Richard Watts a week today (Thursday 26 April) - have made accessible online a spot I did back in February when I reviewed My Week with Marilyn (d. Simon Curtis, a film rather more interesting for its dramatisation - and perhaps meta-dramatisation - of a pitting of Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh)'s old school hammy thesping against Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams)' high-maintenance Stanislavskian new school method acting, than for its more conventional biopic aspects); Steve McQueen's grim, sexually frank depiction of dysfunctional, downward spiralling siblings adrift in the big smoke, Shame (rather humorously, this film is known in the Czech Republic, after a rather unfortunate translation, as Stud! - see the poster above), and the rather misleadingly titled Leonardo Live (d. Phil Grabsky), a behind-the-scenes look at the lead-up to the Opening Night of the blockblusteriest of all blockbuster exhibitions, the National Gallery in London's "Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan".

Poster for The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye
If that weren't enough, RRR's internet fairies have also put online in its raw, unedited entirety an interview I conducted with legendary avant-garde artist, progenitor of industrial music and "pandrogyne", Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, who came to Melbourne to partake in a fantastic, consciousness-raising Q&A after a screening of Marie Losier's beautiful experimental documentary, The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye, as well as, it transpired, to perform with Psychic TV at a memorable "secret show" at The Toff in Town the night following.

Lastly, back on December 8 - soooo last year, I know - I had a ball filling in for Josh Nelson on 3RRR's always splendid Plato's Cave film criticism podcast during a special live-to-air summer season. I saddled up my high horse to kickstart a discussion about the parochialist failings I (continue to) perceive in Australia's film festival culture, after having first mused with Thomas Caldwell and Tara Judah over the merits of Puss in Boots (d. Chris Miller); Gus van Sant's perhaps unfairly disdained Restless and the really very stabby The Yellow Sea (d. Na Hong-jin).

If you haven't yet, now's a very good time to subscribe to Plato's Cave.

On the matter of fabulous film crit podcasts, the lovely folks at Hell Is For Hyphenates - that's Paul Anthony Nelson and Lee Zachariah - have asked me to join them as a guest on their May edition. Asked to pick a filmmaker whose work we'll ultimately come to collectively dissect, after first setting any other number of film critical matters to rights, I settled on...well, perhaps I won't spoil the surprise just yet. But suffice it to say it's someone who some recent time spent in the Czech Republic only did more to further expand my already considerable appreciation of...

If you haven't yet, now's a very good time to subscribe to Hell Is For Hyphenates. (May I especially recommend you listen to the episode where Christos Tsiolkas guests and a fabulous conversation about Pier Paolo Pasolini ensues!)

Also looking ahead, I'm to introduce a 3RRR subscribers' screening on Friday 4 May of Jean-Luc Godard's Sympathy for the Devil (1968) at ACMI, a full eight days before its official ACMI season begins (you lucky 3RRR subscribers, you! Excepting, of course, any dyed-in-the-wool Rolling Stones fans, who invariably hate the film, finding it unbearably pretentious and stingy on the Stones footage...) Here's the trailer:

Lastly, I'm still working on my review of Alexandra Heller-Nicholas' alarmingly filmographically and theoretically comprehensive Rape-Revenge Films: A Critical Study for Bright Lights Film Journal. The number of films of that ilk I've watched, in a few frenzies of catch-up viewing staged necessarily a few weeks apart - well, it takes a toll, I tells ya!


I would like to finish this post by stating in pithy but no uncertain terms that if you live in Melbourne and don't get to the William Kentridge exhibition at ACMI before it closes in late May, then you'd have to have rocks in your head. That is all.