Thursday, 16 January 2020

Movie review: Flickerfest 2020: ‘Best of Australian 7’

For this viewing yesterday I stuck around only for films screening before intermission. The seats at Bondi Pavilion are uncomfortable (I didn’t feel like sitting in a beanbag in the front section), the woman next to me was aloof and moved around a lot (you are always being touched by the person next to you because the seats are so close together), and the film I wanted to see was absolute last on the list. In front of it was a long (29-minute) film and its screening, I suspected, would be delayed since, during the break, people got up to get drinks at the bar.

The following photo shows the red sun at dusk above Bondi Beach, seen from the north side. I was walking down the hill and looking south to take this shot.

The start of proceedings was marked by 30 minutes of talking by the festival director, directors, producers, and actors, so I had to wait until the first film screened while all these people said nothing interesting. No, that’s a lie. One young man, Jacob Malamed, who directed ‘Invisible’ (2018) said of his film that it was “complex” even before anyone had seen it (it turned out to be the weakest of the five films I watched). In contrast, a young woman director said that she doesn’t like to talk about her films before they have screened. Small mercies!

I almost didn’t get there. I drove to Bondi in the car. It was a big outing for me and the evening represented a change from recent months when I had been largely housebound, especially in August, September and October. I only started going out in November a bit in the car because I wanted to buy some appliances.

To get a parking spot in Bondi is a struggle and I drove through the Cross-city Tunnel, up Bayswater Road, along Edgecliff Road, down Old South Head Road, and into O’Brien Street. Then I turned north on Glenayre Avenue and east into Blair Street, coming out at the top of the rise at Military Road, where I found a park in front of a motor scooter. Out of the car, I walked to the beach and bought a bottle of soft drink so that I could sit down in a café’s forecourt.

The first item on the schedule was ‘For the Girl in the Coffee Shop’, directed and written by Rebekah Jackson. The setting for this nine-minute film is a café, and a young man named Will (played by Rory O’Keefe) comes in and sits down with a coffee and his laptop. He’s in the habit of doing this and he’s also in the habit of writing about the girl at the next table (Mia, played by Tequila Rathbone). But the dynamic is a bit more complex than it seems at first glance.

It’s remarkable how much you can fit into nine minutes. This short film contains a whole world of emotions and desires. Even the barista (Jacki Mison) does a good job of portraying her role. I was impressed by this and thought it adequately developed.

‘Backpedal’ (2019) written and directed by Dani Pearce, was more experimental and had the feel of poetry. The story (what there is of it) is hard to follow but a kind of narrative forms that involves a death. The narrator is a young woman played by Brenna Harding, and she is recalling events from earlier in her life. The gloss on the IMDB website fills in more than, perhaps, every viewer will take away from the film. I thought that the theme of youth was interestingly handled, and Pearce uses special props to good effect, particularly a full fish tank in which a male actor lies to play his part.

Next was the standout, in my mind: ‘We Need to Talk’ (2019) written and directed by Brendan Galinie stars two actors, Katarina Scholler as Sunday and Nicholas Jaquinot as Charlie. The two friends are sitting outside their share house in the evening talking about things. The conversation turns to fraught territory when Sunday mentions a night in the recent past.

Scholler does a very good job of playing a Millennial and the issue of violence against women is competently investigated in this film.

The final film before the break was ‘Trapped’, a 1994 film that had its world premiere on this night. It is by Tony Bosch and deals with profound themes. Overall it is competent although one of the leads – an Australian actor playing a WWII soldier in Papua New Guinea (I couldn’t find any details about this film online) – isn’t entirely convincing with heavy makeup in the final scenes. But this was a good film that topically looks at Japanese spiritualism; topical because of the ‘Japan Supernatural’ exhibition on at the moment at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. I had shivers down my neck at the end of this film.

The ones I missed were ‘The Widow’ (2018), ‘Darker, Darkest’ (2019), and ‘Utopia’ (2019) and I regret my early departure because the final film was the one I had bought a ticket (on 20 December) to see. The walk back to the car was uneventful, as was the drive home along Bondi Road, Syd Einfeld Drive, Ocean Street, and through the Cross-city Tunnel. In the car I listened for a while to 2Day FM but it had two people talking like drunks so I switched to 2MMM.

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