Words by: Matthew Stephenson
Photography sourced from Google
Melbourne cinephiles rejoice. It’s that time of year again – when, not only is it possible, but it’s socially acceptable, to watch 50+ films in the span of two weeks. It’s Melbourne International Film Festival Time. But understandably not everyone has time to trawl through the enormous list of films playing in order to pick some to see.
So without further ado, here are my “must see” films from this year’s line-up:
It doesn’t get much more ambitious than this. Filmed over 12 years, director Richard Linklater tells a story of a boy growing up, filmed as he literally grows up. Beginning as a 6 year old kid and ending as an 18 year old college student. Believe the buzz, Boyhood more than lives up to the ambitious making-of story. It will be sitting at the top of many “best of” lists at the end of the year, mark my words.
A small but powerful little film that follows two high school students that plan to make a movie about a high school shooting, only one of the friends likes the idea a little too much. Filmed in a believable documentary style, The Dirties is both hilarious and searingly frightening. Also comes highly recommended by director Kevin Smith himself.
Imagine if David Lynch had a baby with Luis Buñuel then that baby was sent to Russia to be raised by Andrei Tarkovsky. That baby would be The Distance. A sometimes funny, sometimes disturbing film about telepathic little people that are hired by a man – who’s face is eternally covered in mud – to break into an abandoned factory in rural Russia. Oh, and there is a talking bucket of smoke that speaks only in Japanese and is in love with a chimney. I’m not making this up. It’s weird…
HARD TO BE A GOD
The last film by director Alexei Guerman before his death, Hard to be a God is an epic black and white sci-fi fable about a group of scientists sent to a planet which is currently in Medieval times. Tough, long and mud soaked, this is not for the faint of heart. But if you’re up for the journey this is a rare chance to see some Russian cinema of true class on a big screen.
THE INFINITE MAN
This little Aussie film is a testament to what you can achieve with a great script. Playing like a funny, slightly easier to follow Primer, The Infinite Man follows an awkward, love-struck hero as he loops back in time to try to rekindle his relationship with his distant girlfriend. Smart, funny, mind-melting time travel cinema. Great stuff.
TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT
Marion Cotillard stars in the latest film by the always reliable Dardenne brothers. Winner of the prestigious Palme d’Or at Cannes, this deceptively simple film, about a woman who has to convince her work colleagues give up their annual bonuses, is one of the festival’s best. Don’t miss it.
The new film from director Kelly Reichardt, Night Moves stars Jesse Eisenberg and plays like a taut 70s thriller focused in on the world of eco-activism. Reichardt continues her winning streak here following Wendy and Lucy and Meek’s Cutoff. If you’re a fan of her work, you won’t be disappointed.
This is a rare horror film that received rave reviews upon its release in the USA. Directed by a relative unknown, the less you know about this one before going in the better. If you like being scared, give it a shot.
KUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER
A sweet little film about Kumiko, a young woman living in Tokyo who, after watching a VHS copy of Fargo, is convinced that the suitcase of money exists and sets off on an adventure to find it. This is both a warming character study and a celebration of the power of cinema.
For all the documentary lovers out there this is one of the best playing at MIFF this year. It chronicles the astonishing story the most complete T-Rex skeleton ever found and the subsequent (and ludicrous) legal battle that ensued. Not only a cracking doco but will tap directly into the Jurassic Park fan within all of us.
MIFF runs from 31St July to 17th August at various cinemas in Melbourne. For more info and tickets, head here.
Matthew is a well-traveled movie addict and occasional blogger. He studied film at the University of Melbourne and currently works as part of the DVD team at Madman Entertainment.