John’s MIFF blog – George A. Romero LIVE! (of the dead)

July 28, 2008

If you’re me – and I am – one of the most exciting things in this year’s Melbourne International Film Festival is the mini-retrospective of horror legend George A Romero. The icing on the cake? Last night’s live interview with Romero himself, which took place at the MIFF Festival Club.

For those who haven’t been to The Forum, it’s like the last-days-of-the-Roman-Empire meets Studio 54 in a crazed fever dream of Zazoom, the donkey from Hanna Barbera’s Arabian Knights series. “Size of a late-1920s picture palace!”. It was too weird even for the Christian Revivalists, who owned it for a decade until 1995. It’s been part of the Marriner Theatre group for the last few years, as well as the central base of the film festival.

The Forum was long ago subdivided from it’s original three thousand seat configuration – the old dress circle is now a cosy 500 seat cinema, and the remodelled stalls section is mostly used for concerts. During MIFF this section becomes the Festival Club.

I had expected more of a beardy horror audience, so was both surprised and pleased to see such a mixed crowd. You could have been expecting an appearance from Krzysztof Kieslowski, rather than a man who has made four films with “of the dead” in the title (and one “of the living dead”).

When Romero discretely appeared at the side of the auditorium, awaiting his cue, the audience started applauding, loudly and warmly. By the time he actually reached the stage, it was clear that introductions were completely superfluous.

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John’s MIFF blog – the introduction

July 19, 2008

This was the very first article for The Outland Institute. Recently it’s been attracting a large number of hits due to it’s high Jason Statham content, but I can’t help thinking the writing’s perhaps not as strong as some of the later pieces. Mind you, you’re probably not here for the words, are you? However, since you ARE here, why not leave a comment at the end of the piece? It’s only polite to say hello… And you can buy The Bank Job on PAL/Region 2 here – The Bank Job [DVD] [2008] or NTSC/Region 1 here – The Bank Job (Two-Disc Special Edition + Digital Copy).

Another year, another Melbourne International Film Festival. I’m going to run a blog here about the event as a whole, not necessarily as a review of individual films. Because I believe you have a right to my opinion. No, don’t thank me.

This is the third time I’ve worked in the box office for MIFF, and the customers are the nicest of any of Melbourne’s arts events. They have a genuine excitement for both the festival and film as an artform, with none of that “the world owes me everything” attitude you get from – say – the MTCaudience (a lot fewer red blazers, too. What is it with the MTC and red blazers?). It’s the most egalitarian of the festivals, which may well be a matter of ticket price – film is an art everyone can afford. Also good value for money – after all, some-one may have spent fifty million dollars for something I can see for fifteen. Could you make The Bank Job at home for fifteen dollars? No, you couldn’t. You probably couldn’t even get Saffron Burrows to pop around for a cup of tea for fifteen dollars. She’d cost more than that. And that’s even with you providing the tea. And biscuits.

Speaking of The Bank Job, the evil Dr Chris and I attended a MIFF pre-screening because we’re both huge fans of Jason Statham. He’s a fine, fine actor. Just look:

A FINE, FINE actor. Especially when he’s topless. And wet. Which happens fairly regularly in his films, in all honesty, so everyone wins. As the Onion AV Club’s Nathan Rabin once said about Matthew McConaughey, Statham is fighting a “one-man war on the tyranny of shirts”. The reason for attending this screening was because Mr Statham was there in person to introduce it. And he is, after all, a fine fine actor.

Oh yes.

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