Melbourne International Film Festival

Animation: I´m A Star

Once again the Melbourne International Film Festival is screening a very nice and special programme of films you can´t see at the big screen usually. I went to a few of those during this 52nd festival.

The "animation shorts programme #1" showed films like the British Aardman "Presentators" (three really great characters) and "Angry Kid" (not the most secret tip), "Atama Yama" by Koji Yamamura (the story is about a man who drowns in a pond located on his own head - weird and in a very nice style) or "Penguin Parade" (too slow, too long and too predictable for me - which is too bad for all the hard work for this stop motion animation). "I´m A star" (see image above) is a rather weird Austrian animation/collage about a macholike guy who had seen better days. "Flat" is a stop motion animation about the happenings in an appartment building - I really like the style. "Mother Tongue" is a piece about a Korean girl and her lost mother tongue (nice style, but I doubt that the audience really cares about the character). "Pan With Us" is a nice experimental work based on a poem by Robert Frost in a style I have not seen before throughout a whole piece. The real environment becomes part of the aninmation, or precisely it´s the other way around: the animation becomes part of the real environment. The Russian animation "Hash" tells the story of the three little pigs including some unexpected happenings. "The Pirate" is a very nice Czech animation about a pirate whose centre of interest is the bottle (of rum) and who has to get over some adverse conditions to keep his lifestyle. Here and there a bit too long, but alltogether very nice. The animations shorts programme finished with "Mood Motions", a great piece about how hard life can be when you are an abstract. Simple, funny, good.

Dr No: Title Screen

Another screening was "For Openers: The Art Of Film Titles": a nice mix of famous film titles like Hitchkocks "Vertigo" or "Psycho", Kubricks "Dr. Strangelove", diverse Bond titles like "Dr. No", then "Pink Panther", "Barbarella" (Jane Fonda strips in zero gravity in this 1968 movie - but what makes this special talking about film titles?), up to more recent titles like "Seven". I was a bit disappointed because I expected a documentary style - however it was just one title after the next without any explanation of a changing style etc.

Kaidohmaru: Screenshot

"Kaidohmaru" by Kanji Wakabayashi ("Ghost in the Shell") is about a girl who - disguised as a male - is a warrior. There happens a lot with the evil princess Ouni-Hime and general Raikoh. To be honest: this film and all the characters and relations between them and all the happenings which are either shown or just mentioned confused me too much. Maybe it´s based on a Japanese legend and I am just not Japanese enough to understand... I also had problems with the style: alltogether it is very bright and hardly has contrast (see picture above; probably this is to emphasize battles - the colour of blood is always very well saturated). Also the 2d drawn and the 3d rendered scenes just too obviously don´t fit together.

Interstella 5555: Screenshot

"Interstella 5555" is a great phantastic colourful from cool to kitschy one hour firework full of ideas to the music of French Daft Punk by Japanese animator Liji Matsumoto (Albator). The story in brief: A couple of extraterrestrial musicians are kidnapped by an evil manager to give him success on earth while they are exploited. Highly recommended.

Neo Noir: Screenshot

"Neo Noir": A short film about a Russian-roulette-suicide-or-not case.

Fear X: Screenshot

"Fear X" is a Danish thriller with John Turturro about a man whose wife was killed in the mall where he works as a security and who wants to find out the 'who' and 'why' about this case by watching the surveillance camera footage. If you don´t like David Lynch films (and I´m talking rather about "Mulholland Drive" and "Lost Highway" than about "A Straight Story") then you probably won´t like this one. To everyone else (like me) this film is really recommended.

Paskutinis Vagonas (The Last Car): Screenshot

"Paskutinis Vagonas" (The Last Car) is a short film about a boy and his father who are strolling around in trains as musicians and whose life makes an unexpected twist.

Jukeodo Joh! (Too Young to Die): screenshot"Jukeodo Joha!" (Too Young To Die) is a South Korean film by Park Jin-pyo. It is the documentary portrait of a couple who met at the late age of 72 and 73, a real story performed by the real people. As charming as it is on the one hand on the other hand it touches a level of the couple´s privacy no audience is entitled to see, independent of their age. The sex scenes (one of them is 7 minutes without a cut) and one arguing scene go very far so the audience feels uncomfortable in their seats, watching what is going on. However, without this kind of provocation the film probably wouldn´t make it to a film festival, would it?

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