Tomorrow marks the opening night of the 60th annual Melbourne International Film Festival, and to me that sounds like the perfect time to start a film blog. So it is with no fanfare at all that I welcome you to Cinema Quest, a place where I can air my von Trier-related grievances, viciously defend the honour of Mark Wahlberg and, maybe, write seriously about one of my biggest loves: movies. MIFF is one of those local events that I’ve always wanted to go to, but due to all manner of mundane reasons I’ve not managed to make it until this year. But now that I’ve decided I will go to MIFF 2011, I figure, why not run myself into the ground while I’m there and blog about it? So, inspired by the MIFF Blogathon (and a few of my favourite local filmy types, such as Glenn Dunks and Luke Buckmaster), I’ve decided to dive in head-first and pop my MIFF cherry with a festival pass, allowing me to see dozens of films over the festival’s three-week run. I plan to fight fatigue, crowds and that infamous Melbourne weather to view and review as many of the 45 films I’ve shortlisted as I possibly can. And it’ll all happen right here on Cinema Quest.
I’ve spent the past couple of weekends doing a bit of pre-festival warm-up exercises, viewing some films from the last few MIFFs, checking out the previous work of some of the directors featured in 2011, and most importantly, furiously researching the 150+ films on offer over the three weeks, and I’ve come up with a list of the ten movies I’m most looking forward to in 2011:
9. The Yellow Sea (Na Hong-jin, South Korea)
I had this in my shortlist just on the synopsis alone, but after watching Na’s earlier film The Chaser (on the recommendation of Simon from the Last Picture Show podcast), The Yellow Sea bolted straight into my most anticipated list. The Chaser is a brilliantly compelling thriller; I hope The Yellow Sea is a worthy follow-up.
8. Magic Trip: Ken Kesey’s Search for a Kool Place (Alex Gibney, Alison Ellwood, United States)
While on their LSD-fuelled trip from San Francisco to New York, Ken Kesey and his “Merry Pranksters” shot 16mm footage of their escapades which now forms the basis of this Stanley Tucci-narrated documentary.
7. Surviving Life (Jan Švankmajer, Czech Republic)
Jan Švankmajer’s Meat Love was one of the first films I ever watched on MUBI, and I spent the rest of that night seeking out and watching as many of his surrealist short films as I could. The scrap-book technique is a departure from his stop-motion clay/meat models, but it looks like a very interesting way to tell a story.
6. The Triangle Wars (Rosie Jones, Australia)
The only Australian film in my shortlist is a documentary about a land development issue that I myself got involved with (in the form of protesting). From its description it doesn’t sound like it’ll be excessively even-handed, to say the least, but it will be interesting to relive the St Kilda Triangle furor once again.
5. Good Bye (Mohamad Rasoulof, Iran)
Just read the synopsis:
“Arrested just before completion and finished in clandestine circumstances, Good Bye is Mohammad Rasoulof’s searing indictment of the plight of women in contemporary Iran.”
4. Outrage (Takeshi Kitano, Japan)
From the reviews I’ve read this is a violent Yakuza kill-fest with no punches pulled. I know nothing of Kitano’s previous work but that sounds like my kind of film.
3. Cave of Forgotten Dreams (Werner Herzog, Canada/USA/France/Germany/UK)
I’ve only seen one of Herzog’s documentaries (Grizzly Man), so I’m not overly familiar with his non-narrative work, but I think even if I filmed a documentary about Chauvet Cave it would be amazing.
2. Tabloid (Errol Morris, United States)
Errol Morris changed the way documentaries are constructed with Gates of Heaven, saved a man from Death Row with The Thin Blue Line, and released one of the most powerful and sobering anti-war films in history with The Fog of War. And unlike Herzog, he keeps himself out of his films. Tabloid is a must-see on reputation alone.
1. The King of Comedy (Martin Scorsese, United States)
I’m just going to admit it: I’ve never seen The King of Comedy. And I can’t wait to finally catch it.
So those are the 10 films I’m anticipating most out of my 45-film schedule. If you want to tell me I’m wrong or flag a potential winner that I may have missed, hit me on Twitter at @cinema_quest.
I hope to blog at least once a day for the next three weekends, so see you at the show!