John’s MIFF blog: There’s No Place Like Home

August 11, 2008

And so another year’s Melbourne International Film Festival draws to a close. The rubbish is strewn across the turf, the drunken young women have collapsed on the trams, and the vomit is being hosed down from the VIP tent – no, wait. That’s the Melbourne Cup. Let’s start again.

Ah, MIFF. You come, toy with our affections, then leave in the night. Yet every year we come back. You mock us, yet we want you so. You temptress. You seductress. Both dominatrix and mother to us all.

Like all art, film is subjective. Our response to film is not only based our our preferences and tastes but can be altered by our surroundings – would I have enjoyed Let The Right One In more if the gentleman next to me hadn’t spent the whole film munching through a box of popcorn larger than his head? Probably. Would I have enjoyed My Winnipeg less if I hadn’t been so exhausted from chasing horses all day that I was more than willing to fall under it’s hypnotic spell, like the sleep-walking residents Guy Madden describes? Maybe. Am I now aware that even the most deserved criticism of the festival is likely to bring on the fury of The League Of Festival Directors, like a Marketing Team descending in the night? Oh yeah.

So here is my completely subjective take on the 2008 Melbourne International Film Festival (after all, if you didn’t want my opinion you wouldn’t be here, would you?)

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The George A. Romero Title Game… Of The Dead

July 29, 2008

As part of our ongoing tribute to horrormeister George A. Romero, here’s a game for you to play at home.

Choose any film title and try adding “Of The Dead” to see if you can turn it into an appealing zombie flick. Not every combination works, but some are box office gold.

I tried going through the top 50 of IMDB’s Top 250 and was taken with these, any of which I would happily fork over my money for:

The Godfather Of The Dead
12 Angry Men Of The Dead
Rear Window Of The Dead
Memento Of The Dead
Taxi Driver Of The Dead
To Kill A Mockingbird Of The Dead
It’s A Wonderful Life Of The Dead

That last one’s my favourite – it sounds heart-warming. “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his face chewed off by re-animated corpses.” Stars Jimmy Stewart.

Feel free to leave more titles in the comments below.

Finally, the statisticians at WordPress show me the Institute’s attendances went through the roof yesterday, so hello to all our new visitors! Tracey in the Outland Institute Gift Shop was totally exhausted by the end of the day, and needed a nice Kingston and a sit-down. (Also, we’re totally out of Wong Kar-Wai slippers, so please don’t ask.)


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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