50th Sydney Film Festival Reviews, 2003

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Saturday 7 June
See What Happens: The Story of DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus – Germany/Finland – dir: Gerold Hofmann – rated 2.5/5
This film’s title promised much.  We would get the story of DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus. But of course we didn’t.  We followed them around a bit and talked pleasantly with them, and saw lots of clips from their films (which of course only made us wish we were watching their films and not someone else’s.  It’s a tough ask to make a great film about great filmmakers, as Penne & Chris are.  This film didn’t quite make it.  We didn’t get their story; we just got filmmakers trying to get their story by filming and “seeing what happens”.
Nothing much actually did happen. Only one thing: they were both explaining how they make a great team, and how they argue about editing and how they often disagree and how Chris is often right and he disagrees but lets her have her way because it is a valid option.  Then later we see them have just such a disagreement and we see both as equally stubborn and we suspect that Penne won’t practise what he preaches and let Chris have her way. But we don’t see how it pans out.  That would have been worth seeing, and would have told something of their story.
Right at the end we heard how they had 8 children between them. Chris was dying to tell the story of that, but we didn’t get the follow up.  So we didn’t really get “the story” at all.
A Tale of a Naughty Girl – India – Buddhadeb Dasgupta – Rated 2.5/5
A charming story, well told, with plenty of fascinating detail and beautiful women to look at. Uplifting and optimistic with a climax co-inciding with the landing of the first men on the moon. That was a moving climax, and there was another gorgeously moving moment when a very old man began to sing a song to his ancient wife comparing her to the moon. Sweet.  With a horrid villain and an intrepid cat. Much of the detail was based on the director’s childhood memories.
Gate of Hell – Japan (1953) – dir: Teinosuke Kinugasa – Rated 4/5
Wow! Such colour, such costumes, such action, such heroic performances, such lovely skies (day and night), such scale, such staging of human movement! All this and a strong anti-revenge message from post-war Japan. A film that asks the question “what good does yet more violence do?”  A film for our times.
Sunday 8 June
Together – China/ South Korea – dir: Chen Kaige – Rated 4.5/5
Violin music and an abandoned baby: how could this lose? The music is handled intelligently and with subtlety. All the performances are excellent, and even the broad comedy of the peasant father comes round to a sensitive end. The script is clever: lots of communist slogans given a new twist in the brave new world of capitalism. The two aspiring musicians show that there are two ways to achieve success, and both might well work, but the kind of success that comes with love is the one worth having
Lola – France (1960) – dir: Jacques Demy – Rated 3.5/5
This film is a tribute to the films of Max Ophuls, and I guess you can see it in the swirling camera work, the mirrors, the circular romances, the beautiful heroine and the beautiful photography. For a romantic fantasy, it shows a pretty realistic grasp of the fleeting and elusive nature of love.
Monday 9 June
The Spirit of the Beehive – Spain (1974) – dir: Victor Erice – Rated 3.5/5
Mysterious and strange, beautiful and moody, I’m still working this one out. It’s set in Franco’s Spain, and it is a barren and deserted place. There’s no life anywhere, except in the bees, who work away in the hives, producing, but for what purpose?  And the children: they at least show promise. They have imaginations and they are learning. When Ana sees James Whale’s Frankenstein she imagines he is her friend. It is a fascinating look inside the mind of a child in a dangerous time.
Shiraz – India/ UK/ Germany (1928) – dir: Franz Osten – Rated 4/5
A beautiful print – though with some damage in places, of an amazingly opulent film, with a wonderful love story at its heart. The musical accompaniment on Indian instruments was truly magical
Marooned in Iraq – Iran – dir: Bahman Ghobadi – Rated 2.5/5
A strange film – at times funny and at times tragic, it shows people getting on with their lives u8nder the most difficult of circumstances. The 3 heroes were sometimes like the 3 Stooges. The mood of the film was uneven, but somehow I feel that’s my problem, not its. Like his previous film, A Time for Drunken Horses, some of the shooting must have been done under almost impossible circumstances.
Tuesday 10 June
Stevie – USA – dir: Steve James – Rated 3.5/5 (but very hard to rate)
A very disturbing film on many levels: the self-indulgence of the film makers – for starters, using a person’s desperately dreadful life to make a film (a) for commercial release to advance one’s career, and (b) to assuage one’s guilt for not having helped that person more.  Just the lives of these people are worrying enough, and the generations of abuse and retribution. Then there are the failures of people to make a difference – the tendency to dip in and out of Stevie’s life, promising help but not carrying through. Then there’s the whole question of Stevie’s guilt or innocence of a heinous crime, and the reliability of the evidence, his “confession’ and the failure to “Mirandize” him. I’m not convinced of his guilt, and yet everyone assumed it (worst of all, the filmmaker’s social worker wife. The only person who made sense on this was one of Stevie’s “good ole boy” friends – Tim Wicks – who said “There’s only two people in this world that know what happened, and I’m not one of them”.  Then there’s the amazing Tonya and her handicapped friend. Between them they have more sense than all the others put together. The filmmaker becomes irresponsible in the extreme taking Stevie to a nightclub and letting him drink.  And finally, most disturbing of all, I worry that because Stevie began to see himself as the start of his own bio-pic, he may have disregarded his lawyer’s instructions to make a plea in mitigation, and this cost him an extra 4 years in prison.  This film floored me for quite a while.
Blind Shaft – Hong Kong - dir: Li Yang – Rated 4/5
This is a very well made thriller, with wonderful performances from the mostly amateur cast, especially the young boy who is duped by the two miners. The director, who attended the festival, explained how arduous the shoot was – everything had to be hand carried down the mines because of the danger of using transportation (explosive gases), and they could only use miners’ lighting.  The result is a fascinating film, with a great use of close-ups, well directed, with well-sustained suspense and a sense of black comedy worthy of Hitchcock.
Angel on the Right – Tajikistan/Italy/France dir: Jamshed Usmonov– Rated 3/5
Fascinating to see Tajikistan and what the influence of Russia (and the West) have done. I loved the 2nd half of the double doors which was never installed, the fact that “those who made doors like that are all dead”, that the museum wanted to buy them, but they had not been sold, were still on-site and could be installed that afternoon.
It’s awful to think that these men don’t talk to their women – if they did communicate a bit more they may not get into such trouble.  He’s an awful guy and he looks like dragging his child into this world, but at least he is a projectionist so he can’t be all bad.
The early scene with the two brothers leaving their good jobs to risk heroin smuggling and losing their houses tells a tragic tale.
Wednesday 11 June
Amandla – USA – Dir: Lee Hirsch – Rated 3/5
This was a terrific documentary from start (almost) to finish. It was best at doing what it set out to do: to show the way music was integral to the revolution in South Africa. At politics it was a little less successful. On the other hand, by showing how the sings (and notably the dance) got more and more aggressive, it made a strong [political point. Some of the songs are very violent, with lyrics like 'The dogs must die” and 'The black man is coming to get you'. The interviews were excellent. There’s a mix of the radical and the musical, and all points in between.
The film begins and ends with the death of the great composer Vuyusile Mini. It begins with his exhumation & ends with his reburial. He and his comrades literally went to the gallows singing. The music builds & changes naturally throughout the film, until oddly low-key end-credits music. I had been expecting an explosion of joy, and instead we get soft flute music, neither plaintive not sweet.  I wonder why?
A few of the things that particularly struck a chord with me:
•          at one point the subtitles said “When you really wanted to make the white man mad” – but in fact the interviewee said “Boers”.
•          the great intelligence and articulation of  musician (pianist) Abdullah Ibrahim. He told the story of the black mother who had to explain to her child why she had to let an empty bus go by without getting on. Then he said: “They created the [Apartheid] laws, but we had to execute them”. Ibrahim also said that the hardest thing about exile was dreaming: you'd dream you were at home, but when you woke up you knew you couldn’t go home.
•          the guard Steinberg’s incredible honesty about liking his job and getting addicted to the power.
The Original Mermaid – Australia – dir: Michael Cordell – Rated 2/5
A great and intriguing subject for a documentary: Annette Kellerman’s life.  But it’s a strange script. Why 1st person commentary? I immediately wanted to know the source, and that isn’t made clear in the credits. It purports to say what Annette is feeling. In the Q & A afterwards, the director admitted that perhaps he should have made that clear in the credits. He guessed it was 80% Annette’s words, based on her 2 books and some other writings.  But I found it a very odd approach.
Another thing I disliked was the corny French music. But they had good clips of her silent films and of the Esther Williams bio-pic, and good interview clips with Williams herself (still looking great).  They managed to trot out a “Swimming Historian”, a “Vaudeville Historian”, and both the King and Queen of the English Channel, all of which added to the story.  But I’m still puzzled about Annette’s comment that she conceded that Esther Williams had a prettier face than Annette, “I concede nothing from the waist down”!
Titicut Follies – USA – dir: Frederick Wiseman (1967) – rated 4.5/5
The opening of this legendary film is powerful: a group of prison inmates perform “Strike Up the Band” at a concert.  They look terrified and they only smile when it’s over. The film was banned in Massachusetts for many years, ostensibly on the grounds that the State considered it invaded the privacy of both the prisoners and the staff. Director Wiseman reckoned that he had everyone’s consent, but that is hard to imagine, especially given the mental retardation  and demented or drugged state of many of the inmates.
There is considerable invasion of privacy – first of all by the State of course: why are the prisoners kept naked so often? It is utterly humiliating. But then how can Wiseman compound the injury? Of course, the faces are the powerful thing: making them into real people again is part of what Wiseman in doing. And then the film may have led to improvements in the prison system – although Wiseman is not claiming credit for this. But in the end it is a very humane film. The death of one of the prisoners is shocking in its matter-0f-course treatment by the staff, but the staff are not treated entirely as villains (except when they hoist themselves by their own petards). The film ends as powerfully as it begins when you realise that the “Strike Up the Band” singers are also the dead man’s pallbearers.
Thursday June 12
Bus 174 – Brazil – dir: José Padilha – Rated 5/5
This is the best documentary of the 2003 festival to date. The opening helicopter shot is fantastic – it subverts the usual view of Rio over the green hills to Sugarloaf and the Christ statue. Instead we fly over the green hills to the city and then to the slums. We hear the voices of the people who live on the streets. We hear that the only thing  The only thing Mancha says he learned was how to survive. Then at last we come to Sugarloaf.
The helicopter also prefigures the news reports to come.
This is a film that does respect its subjects’ privacy (unlike Titicut Follies & Stevie). When showing a little street boy they blur his face. Some Police, and other, faces are also blurred. Others are not, and  we have confidence that that it because they have given permission. This is a meticulously made film. The care shows in every frame.
Interestingly, it also raises another issue that worried me in Stevie: that the filming may have influenced the actions of the protagonist. But in this case it is the news cameras, not the documentary-maker’s camera, because the footage of the incident was all news footage – not Padilha’s. One of the interviewees says: “He was acting violently because of the cameras. He was aware that he was on TV - that the cameras protected him. This made him somebody in that sense that TV was important to him.” Later the sociologist says: “He was the main character in the narrative.”
The film’s style is gracious, too. There’s a clever use of negative footage to disguise the prison inmates. There’s footage of a nude line-up in prison,  but the faces are obscured. When showing how Sandro’s case was processed through the social-help system, we see that seeing his family again has had a positive effect. This is really well-done by having the camera pan over the psychiatric report. We see how the system is sound but the execution is terrible – Sandro is beaten & mistreated by staff at the institute: “We never learned anything there – they just wanted to beat us - to break us” says Sandro’s friend.
The film is also a text-book case on how not to handle a siege. It could well be a police instructional video. One of the police who is hooded in interview so he can’t be identified because he has been forbidden from talking about the incident says: “In that situation a sniper should be perfect. But it was being broadcast on TV - nobody should see that”. Again the influence of the cameras on the actions of the people involved.
The filmmakers also show us that some of the hostages were also putting on a performance for the cameras - in reality. This is almost incredible: we see the scene & the meta-scene. The hostage Janina confronts Sandro with this fact, and we actually watch as he takes this in: the realisation dawns on him with it & he realised what was happening. I have never seen anything like this before.
The ending is a mix of utter tragedy and police incompetence. But it was inevitable. As one of the interviewees says: “At the end of the show the bad guy has to die. People expect it.”
Devastating and brilliant!
Kamchatka – Argentina/Spain – dir: Marcelo Piñeyro – Rated 4/5
This film had a great sense of place and a wonderful performance by Cecilia Roth as the mother. I loved the false identities they take up, because I used to watch The Invaders, and so it was fun for me to see the Father become David Vincent, architect. I also loved Houdini as a kid, and the boy becomes known as “Harry”. The little boy becomes Simon Templar because he loved The Saint (El Santo). They do finger symbols to Lucas.
There are many poignant moments in this film, but none are too maudlin.  For example, the photograph Harry takes just as his father leaves the frame. He just gets the lake. All too soon his father really will have gone.
The other poignant moment is when Harry writes his name in the Houdini book. And so we se his nae below that of its previous owner: Pedro '75. Harry '76.
Harry comes to understand what his parents had to do.  He loved to play a board game (TEG) with his father. Kamchatka, his father shows him, is the place to be when you want to resist. The film is remarkable for the sense of danger it is able to convey by inference. There is no violence, only the threat of it. The telephone becomes a powerful symbol of that threat.
Sex is Comedy – France – dir: Catherine Breillat – rated 3/5
Clearly Breillat admires technical people. In her film, they can do anything. They are instantly adaptable – the professionals in the process of filmmaking.
The central performance is brilliant - and honestly written, if slightly glamorised. The “Actor” is mercilessly portrayed (& written) and the “Actress” is protected. She's a cipher until the last scene when she pulls off a fabulous performance - but Breillat is clearly claiming it as her own work (cf Hitchcock). The film is self-deprecating & self-justifying at the same time - & why not?
I’m afraid I haven’t seen A Ma Soeur/ Fat Girl, so this film’s integral relationship to that film is lost on me. But this film still stands on its own as a witty and entertaining comment on filmmaking in general and on filming sex scenes in particular.
Preservation – Australia – dir: Sofya Gollan – Rated 1/5
The main character must be the world's clumsiest taxidermist: she has 2 accidents in 1st 5 mins! It’s a totally implausible set-up. Thank goodness for Jacquie McKenzie. Only she could make this jumble seem at least half-0way worth watching!
The picture looks murky and fuzzy. Although the program notes say it was 35mm, the cinematographer said that it was shot on 16mm, which goes some way to explaining its fuzziness.
The script is laboured. There are too many things happening here, and not much is worth knowing. Sometimes the script is anachronistic in style, and at other times it is just irritating. For example the leading man (a dreadful performance) says: “There’s nothing you can tell me about dying that I don’t already know”.  And was the word “paranormal” used in 1890? Possibly.
I got annoyed when Daphne’s character thinks it is an injustice when people accuse her father of being a fraud (he was!). And then you can’t even really see the items he was accused of faking (stuffed rats with wings). And it just doesn’t ring true that the leading man would get all huffy when he seed them.  They just look stupid (in the brief glimpses you get of them).
Another dreadful performance (or was it just the character) was the foreign woman. The idea seem to have been modelled on something out of The Portrait of a Lady, but the foreign accent is pure comedy. I didn’t like this film at all. It gets one point purely for the effort put into it.
Broken Wings – Israel – dir: Nir Bergman – rated 3/5
A well-executed naturalistic family drama, not unlike what Ken Loach or Mike Leigh or Robert Guidigian might make - if a bit subtler on the proletariat side (though there is some social comment in the classroom on the new economic plan for the country). Nice performances all round and a great sense of place.
Friday June 13 - (“Catholic Day”)
Marion Bridge – Canada – dir: Wiebke von Carolsfeld – Rated 4/5
This film is set in Sydney, Nova Scotia. The first thing I noticed was that there was something arresting about the music. It seemed fresh and interesting.
The few 1st scenes are brilliantly written to establish character. The 1st scene tells you most of what you need to know about Agnes to begin with. The 2nd scene tells you most of what you need to know about her relationship with her sisters. Bo
Normally I detest films about 3 sisters (or 3 brothers) coming home to deal with the death of a parent. In this film it is nice to have the mother still alive for most of the film – that was a fresh element. Another fresh element was in the way that there was no climactic “shouting match: scene, and no symbolic purging (as in Radiance – SFF 2000?), for example. Here everything is underplayed.
Two lovely scenes in particular I’d mention. The first is the  delivery of the lines in “bites” by Rebecca Jenkins as oldest sister Theresa, when she explains her reasoning for finally breaking it off with her long-time lover. Her logic is revealed in steps - 'and then I thought' - 'and then I thought'. A great piece of writing, beautifully delivered. The second is the close-up look between Agnes and her elderly demented father. Heartbreakingly eloquent without saying a word. The best of this genre I’ve seen, I think.
Raising Victor Vargas – USA – dir: Peter Sollett – Rated 4.5/5
At first it was hard to hear the actors. Partly this was because for us it is hard to follow the Latino-American accents. But also these are non - professional actors not enunciating properly. But after a while it became easier to follow.
There’s a totally charming performance by Victor Rasuk and Victor Vargas – he’s nervously confident. There’s also great “eye-acting” by both girls - Judy (Judy Marte) & the young sister, Vicki (Krystal Rodriguez). Both have amazingly expressive eyes.
The director does wonderful close-ups, getting gorgeous intimacy with all the ensemble. The film is funny and sweet, and close to a perfect little gem. The only 2 real criticisms I have are these: the 2 girl friends give up their “pact” far too easily – although they do retain their standards to a degree. And the director/screenwriter falls for a bit of a cliché in that he teams the couples this way: good-looking with good-looking, fat with fat & glasses with glasses. A pat solution to an otherwise true-ringing film
Gerry – USA – dir: Gus van Sant – Not rated (not seen to end)
This looked to me like a very promising film, but I only saw about 25 minutes of it and I had to leave for an appointment. So I can’t rate it. But it is clear that the film is beautifully shot, with some magnificent images of Death Valley, California.
The opening shot shows two guys in an old Mercedes driving along desert roads. The shot went long enough to get me daydreaming, but not long enough both to get me back from the daydream and then back deep into the film (like Bela Tarr does).
One of the few things they said to each other was some stuff about seeing “The Thing”, such as “Fuck the thing”. Surely this device is borrowed from Aaron Sorkin (ex-writer for The West Wing.  His characters always refer to “The Thing”.  And then, could “The Thing” also be like Bela Tarr’s “The Prince” from The Werckmeister Harmonies (2000)?
The scenery is stunning. The small figures in the landscape made me think of the photographs of Andreas Gursky. This is a film I must catch up with later.
The Sweatbox – USA – dir: John Paul Davidson & Trudie Styler – Rated 4/5
This is a very good documentary, and it may well have been its last showing. Disney don’t want it shown - they think it shows that they don’t know what they're doing (they're right), but the co-director said at the Q & A that he told them they looked heroic - brave enough to trash a partially-made movie if it is not good enough.
I could see trouble brewing from the start in the Kingdom of the Sun film. The director and other filmmakers had such a superficial view of Inca culture. That, together with no script, made it a disaster from the start.
And all the executives seem to be just playing – and getting paid for it.
The filmmakers had great access, allowed by Disney, who didn’t seem to realise that things could go wrong.
The only negatives were that some of the facts were unclear: I had to ask how many songs of Sting’s made it to the final film (one).  That and what I think is a dishonest ending: the co-director admitted in Q & A that Sting had said that the process was positive – but he’d said it about 2 years earlier!
Saturday June 14 (“Communist Day”)
Mondays in the Sun – Spain/France/Italy – Fernando Leon de Aranoa – Rated 4/5
Is the initial documentary footage of the labour dispute real? If not, it’s impressive. This film explores the very sad situation when unemployment makes men are afraid of their bosses and allows their bosses to take advantage.
It’s star, Javier Bardem, is a very showy actor. But he really inhabits this role. The script is very witty and clever. When the men baby-sit at a rich guy’s place, one says: “The guys got taste”. Bardem’s character says:
“We all got that. He’s got money”.
When one of the guys goes to a bank for a loan with his wife, the baker says: “Sign here. No - the active person” (meaning the employed wife). Later when Amador falls of his stool, drunk, he says “I didn't fall - I threw myself down.” These Spanish men & their pride. This will later resonate when he is found dead. He also tells the story of one Siamese twin pushing other one over. He doesn’t explain, but the meaning is clear: united we stand, divided we fall.
It’s very sad when Bardem’s character goes to Amador’s home, and it’s clear there’s no wife in Amador's apartment - the signs of wife are also the signs of life. And I loved his habit of turning out the lights. This results in a great payoff towards the end.
The music was really good until the guitar theme began to get a bit maudlin and repetitive - but the harmonica, accordion & clarinet.
was very good. The sad theme with mouth organ was played just once too much. But overall a lovely and important film. The explanation of the film’s economic theory was so lucid: of the closing of the shipyard and the work going to Korea, and then the Koreans coming back and living in luxury apartments built on the waterfront land that was once the shipyards, and laughing at them. And the giving away of their children’s jobs too. Very sad.
Shivers – Poland – Dir: Wojciech Marczewski – rated 3.5/5
A wonderful, if bleak film about the things we lose under a totalitarian regime. A group of children are forced to attend a Polish Youth Union summer camp, which is really a school for Communist propaganda.
There are many wonderful images which stay in the mind long after the film ends, such as a portrait of  Karl Marx that appears to cry when the boy glazes it for his photography class.
“You’re silent – that’s good. That means we have a tacit understanding,” says the school inspector. Exactly! They have a library for books forbidden to be read. One boy is totally confused by the schooling he’s received at the summer camp. He’s totally screwed up, praying to God for the success for the party!
A Madagascan stamp features prominently. Is it a symbol of the boy’s individuality and freedom to think? And throughout the boy is afraid of the coming of “the deluge”. At the end it comes. Is the old regime out (as is the kind woman - the “Guider”)? After the deluge - like Noah’s flood – does the world begin again?
Comandante – USA/Spain – dir: Oliver Stone – Rated 2.5/5
Yesterday was Catholic Day, today is Communist Day!  Is it just me or does Oliver Stone look like Juan Batista?
Such questions! Stone’s first question to Castro was whether Castro had ever seen a psychiatrist! Doesn’t he realise he’s not in LA, he’s in Havana? Stone also asks Castro whether he’s ever thought of suicide & whether he believes in God! Clearly Stone is no political interviewer. He’s more interested in presenting Castro with a series of fictional scenarios. He’s firmly put in his place by Castro when he puts a couple of options about how Castro’s life will end to Castro and asks which one Castro would prefer. “Neither one,” says Castro, “I always try to be rational in my thoughts.” Unlike Stone, obviously! Castro tells Stone that he never thinks about glory. He quotes José Marti “All the glory in the world fits in a kernel of corn”.
The documentary is fascinating and informative, but nearly all of that is due to Castro – he’s charming, witty, intelligent, and clearly still in possession of all of his faculties. Stone is no match for him. But still, Stone got the interview…
Why on earth did the filmmakers feel they should play “Don’t cry for me Argentina” in the background - firstly when Castro is talking about Cuba’s admirable literacy levels, and many times after that. And speaking of literacy: the filmmakers could do with a spelling lesson: they spelled 'cessation' as 'secession' (in the context of the Cuban missile crisis demands – the cessation of blockade etc).
Some of the most fascinating revelations were also about the Cuban missile crisis:
•          Castro says he drafted the letter to Khrushchev, and because they had no Russian translator the Russian Ambassador translated the letter (badly - his Spanish was not good.
•          Castro says that he advocated the 1st nuclear strike on USA. But the thing they most feared was to be annihilated.
•          The only time that he gets quiet and has no real answer is when questioned about who would succeed him, Too bad Stone didn’t make the film a year later.
As we came out of the theatre I saw that lots of people were rating the film as a 5, but me. Fascinating, yes, but not a great documentary. Again, too centred around the filmmaker.
Auto Focus – USA – dir: Paul Schrader – Rated – 2.5/5
This film has a great pedigree. Directed by Paul Schrader, who wrote both Taxidriver and Raging Bull and who wrote and directed Mishima and Affliction. It stars Greg Kinnear (the best thing in As Good as it Gets), has music by Angelo (Twin Peaks) Badalamenti and is about Bob Crane from Hogan’s Heroes. Unfortunately it does not live up to its promise.
It starts off well – truly great titles (by Kenneth J Ferris ) in a kind of a 1960s homage. The film is unfussily directed, but soon I began to notice that it was being shot in a kind of sitcom-style. Then as things get shakier, the camera becomes shakily hand-held, which became uncomfortable. The music was interesting and appropriate, but the screenplay was just not interesting enough. This problem is not uncommon, and it is only that it was a “nice guy” that it happened to which made the story worth telling. But there was little more here than the story. Elements like the development of video technology added interest along the way, but I’m sorry to say that there was no pay-off – which is odd in a  film that begins and ends with a murder. In fact Schrader borrows Billy Wilder’s technique (Sunset Boulevard) of having the story narrated by a dead man.
Perhaps the problem is that Schrader didn’t write the screenplay.
Monday June 16
Oasis – South Korea – dir: Lee Chang-dong – Rated 4/5
A problematic film, which made me feel conflicted.
Molly and Mobarek – Australia – dir: Tom Zubrycki – Rated 4/5
A great story that needs to be told, and it is very effective that it concentrates on jusy one of the refugees: Mobarek.  But Zubrycki’s approach is problematic.
Pure – UK – dir: Gillies MacKinnon – Rated 4.5/5