July 30, 2008
Monday night at MIFF saw the new George Romero doco by Rusty Nails. It was great exploration of the Zombie masters work. Nails asked for a few critical comments after the screening, as it was a rough cut. So, I will add a few later.
Before the doco’s screening we got to see Tina Romero’s short Rainbowarrior (Tina is George’s daughter and MIFF guest with her father). Based on the cool song by Coco Rosie the films is about a Totalitarian strict girls school and the plight of a student/s to break free. Tina it seems has inherited here father’s visual flair, as she delivers an accomplished short. While I would have liked a bit of spanking in this imaginary school, the short portrays an atmosphere of repression and uses sound and image in a poetic manner, that more than makes up for this lack. We’d love to play it at MUFF this year!
Rusty Nails doco Dead On is a great journey through the dynamic career of this masterful horror director. I was always fond of the non zombie Romero films Jacks Wife, Martin, Knightriders, Creepshow and The Dark Half and its good to see these films getting equal attention in Dead On.The zombie films are well covered and the Dawn section I enjoyed tremendously. Interviews from Ed Harris, Ken Foree, Stephen King, Tom Savini, Michael Rooker, Dennis Hopper and other collaborators are all revealing and if there is more here we could see it. Romero’ libertarian 60’s outlook is focussed on. He seems like a really cool and misunderstood guy. Against this flower child back ground, is his pessimism and misanthropy about the human condition, exemplified best recently by the final segments of Diary of the Dead. I would like to have heard more about the nihilistic excess in Romero’s cannon and what it portends politically for the 21st century. I find Romero’s films politically prescient and caught between the two poles of extreme libertarianism, and the flip side of a nihilistic desire for a cleansing apocalypse
Rusty asked for some critical comments. I couldn’t stay for the Q&A, so here they are. The segment that deals with Romero’s interest in dancing could be cut. And the Latent Image information cut a little. Some of the comments by Romero’s early collaborators are not as lucid or impressive as those of his later collaborators. The film could be shortened by ten minutes or so. Thats all really.
Good close to my favorite section of MIFF this year. The Romero focus was a surprise and a treat, worthy of praise from our festival – MUFF.
July 27, 2008
Here it is, crew! The poop on the MIFF Opening weekend…
First things first, Not Quite Hollywood is excellent. Mark Hartley has put one right through the goal posts and delivered a high octane rip snorting ode to the classic days of Oz genre film making. He has done it with knowledge, passion and a true love of the Ozploitation movement, that dates back to his early admiration and friendship with Richard Franklin. Its one from the heart for all lovers of Australian genre film making! It had me longing for that rebel spirit, creative freedom and iconoclastic nature of that great era in Australian film making. This is the real Australian cinema, that of the 70’s and early 80’s, a golden time, that of my youth. Here is the Aussie spirit raw and untamed. Tarantino’s comments were great and the film is a must see, that you should not miss. Its playing Toronto and other fests after that. It makes you want to start exploring (again sometimes) the rare Oz cinematic treats it contains. Fun, non PC, violent and sexual like the films it homages, Not Quite Hollywood is one of the best Australian documentaries of the decade. It also provides a clear political message about making more genre films in this country. From the 70’s Ozploitation workshop came all the major Oz filmmakers of the last 30 years Miller, Weir, Noyce, Beresford, Franklin, Burstall… and on and on.
Everyone partied on afterwards. I got to meet Brian Trenchard Smith, the legendary director of Turkey Shoot. Jon Hewitt was in good form, and delighted his film Acolytes has been selected for the prestigious Toronto Film Festival. We partied on to the small hours at Hamer Hall, and then at the cool Madman NQH soiree at Toff in Town.
At the MIFF Opening MUFF volunteers handed out our critique of this years festival, to all comers (see text below) to a great reaction. The critique went down a treat. Its always difficult to strike a balance of fair critique, and have a bit of terroristic fun at the same time… The main point, that MIFF should play more genre films if it champions Ozploitation, was universally praised as something that needed to be said, so thats all cool.
The MIFF reaction is not clear. Richard Moore has not responded to it officially. I saw him Thursday night at 37 South Opening drinks and apologised in advance, saying its not personal, etc. He seemed cool. On Opening Night he was fine giving me a friendly shove. But after three days of the MIFF critique being out, I might have paid a price for my vocal antics. I attended the George Romero talk Sunday and got to hear an hour of the horror master sharing his wisdom. During question time some royal tits asked some very silly questions of the zombie king. While I was looking for a machete, Mark Hartley and few others saved the day by at least asking things that he might be able to intelligently respond to. I put my hand up to ask him a few in depth questions about his own work. But the MIFF mic Nazi’s wouldn’t hand the conch to little ol’ me… knowing who I was, I suspect. I should say I would not have said anything about the MUFF/MIFF issue of course, only asked an idol a few intelligent questions on his oeuvre. Dawn of the Dead changed my life and is one of my favourite all time horror films. Moore spotted me and I could see him consider passing the mic, then suddenly he turned his back. I may publish a critique, but I would never grandstand at a MIFF guests spot. I have more manners than that, I can assure you…
Richard Moore should be applauded for bringing out George Romero to MIFF in 2008. Its a real coup and a dark treat. It was a great forum despite the odd silly question and the excellent Romero retrospective on 35mm is tres bon. I plan to attend some of the classic early films.
The films I saw over the last few days.
Devils Advocate a fascinating film about Jacques Verges, an outspoken legal defender of anti colonialist terrorists (Pol Pot, Carlos, Algerian and Palestinian nationals). The film also implies Verges was a secret supporter of them too, i.e. bagman, collaborator with Carlos the Jackal, etc. The movie, while having a fascinating subject, gets too caught up in the ‘facts’ and affairs of Verges. It doesn’t confront some of the real issues like his extreme right wing connections (he defended Klaus Barbie and took money from Swiss Nazi’s to fund Palestinian causes, etc.) and other issues that come from that. The political complexity of the man is not captured here. The doco “Polanski: Wanted and Desired” was great and all about the corruption of the grand standing judge Rittenscumbag from Polanski’s late 70’s rape/sex case. It is a highly recommended doco and features a fair portrait of the alleged crime, and the tough life Roman has lived.
It all culminated Sunday night at Accelarator drinks, with a lecture from a MIFF marketing department head about my naughty MIFF critiquing ways. I just said “Everyone’s a critic” and politely defended my right to free speech and actually speaking up a bit in his hermetically sealed film industry of ours. It seems the MUFF incendiary culture bomb is having an effect within MIFF after all. The natives are getting restless…
Copy of text being distributed at MIFF 2008. Enjoy!
Welcome to the Melbourne Underground Film Festival (MUFF) critique of the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF). This year MIFF is a massive cinematic behemoth filled with some films you don’t want to see, some you do and indeed should see, and a pile of other so-so material to look politically correct and culturally diverse. We at MUFF have been somewhat quiet about MIFF and its new director Richard Moore, allowing him 18 months to settle in (…to be fair). And with the theme at MIFF being “Everyone’s a critic”, we couldn’t resist actually taking MIFF’s theme seriously and providing our wee critique of their 2008 festival. Tally Ho!
Everyone’s a Hypocrite
Richard Moore, the new MIFF director has been changing his festival, as you can see from this year’s catalogue and last year’s. He has been moving it more in the direction of MUFF and transgressive cinema, and good on him for that we say.
But, due to the choice of the Opening Night film, Not Quite Hollywood, and some issues it raises Vis a Vis genre filmmaking in this country, we can’t help but point out a huge hypocrisy at MIFF in 2008.
Not Quite Hollywood is made by local filmmaker Mark Hartley, who has a video clip and film background. He also put together many of the DVD extras for Jeff Harrison’s Umbrella Entertainment. Mark Hartley and I go way back, as he was a Production Manager on my first feature, Bloodlust. Hartley, like myself, and many other Australian filmmakers under 50, has been a big fan of the golden years of Australian genre filmmaking.
A little back-story… At MUFF we can take a little credit for fostering an interest in Ozploitation cinema, I believe. At MUFF in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2005, we have curated retrospectives (Turkey Shoot, Alvin Purple, Patrick, Thirst, Pure Shit etc.) which focussed on playing many of these classic Australian genre films featured in Not Quite Hollywood and the Ozploitation retrospective at the MIFF in 2008. I have been a huge fan of this Australian genre cinema, and as soon as I started MUFF in 2000, I made it a yearly agenda for us to focus on it. At MUFF 2000, Jeff Harrison and I had lunch to talk about good films that could come out through Umbrella Entertainment. I suggested a few different areas of interest, particularly the need to get the aforementioned classic OZ films out on DVD. This happened after the MUFF in 2001 as well.
Jeff Harrison went on to successful release these classic Oz genre films on DVD (and many others we never played at MUFF) in Australia, and Mark Hartley started amassing interviews from the classic filmmakers, crew and their stars creating the DVD extras for Umbrella. From this resource, the project Not Quite Hollywood was born. We fully applaud and support the documentary Not Quite Hollywood for turning this fascinating era into what sounds like a fascinating feature film.
But I digress… The hypocrisy I speak of comes from MIFF suddenly implying that they are fans of Australian genre films. They lauder Not Quite Hollywood (deservedly) and programme some of the classic films it documents BUT, and it’s a big BUTT, they still reject new Australian genre films, year after year… and continue to do so this to this very day!
I mean, is Not Quite Hollywood, as MIFF understands it, a ‘wake’ for the good old days of Australian films, or a springboard for a new onslaught of exciting, new Australian genre films?
In the new Australian feature films section, there is ONE genre film. ONE, which is my friend Jon Hewitt’s excellent Acolytes, and we fully applaud its inclusion and recommend you all see just how excellent it is! But in the past eight years, many, many Ozploitation films of today have been rejected from MIFF – a figure close to 50 features at least! To name but a very few of the great OZ genre films rejected from MIFF: Razoreaters by Shannon Young, Stygian by James Wan and Shannon Young, The Magician by Scott Ryan (accepted in its redux government funded form a few years later), A Nocturne by Bill Mousoulis, Demonsamongus by Stuart Simpson, Narcosys by Mark Bakaitis, Black Water by Andrew Trauckl and David Nerlich, Reign in Darkness by Kel Dolen, Gabriel by Shane Abess, Defenceless by Mark Savage, The Money Shot by Anna Brownfield, The Garth Method by Gregory Pakis, Four Jacks by Mathew George… I can go on and on.
So, what I am trying to say is: “What is going on here?” MIFF wants to be a champion of Ozploitation (in the ‘safe’ past) but foil every attempt at its revival, by its non-inclusive and non-supportive programming?
MIFF can programme what it likes, but it is the opinion of many in the Australian film industry that we need to make more genre films in this country – which is what people want to see! And… with the industry in such a disastrous state, how can we ignore the need for innovation and change heralded in Robert Connolly’s excellent paper Embracing Innovation?
This year at MIFF, you have Richard Moore praising the classic days of genre filmmaking, but yet still not accepting the very filmmakers who would bring back these golden days of genre in a heartbeat! i.e. If anyone ever gave them the support they need, like festival screenings, decent budgets etc., If this occurred, who knows what could happen?
MIFF is Australia’s largest and most attended festival. Therefore I feel that it has a duty of care to Australian filmmakers, to support and promote their work, etc. (Hence our critique here!)
The classic selection of genre films from the likes of Brian Trenchard Smith and Richard Franklin is great. We have promoted Ozploitation at MUFF many times over the years, as previously mentioned. However, we have followed it up by playing every genre film from this country that we could get our hands on! Part of MUFF’s vision is to foster a return to genre filmmaking in this country, and we do everything we can on our non-Government funded budget to help support and promote this ethos. MIFF, on the other hand, fully flushed with funding, presents this safe historical look at the ‘good old days’, all the while stifling any attempt to bring back this vital and dynamic style of filmmaking to Australian screens.
I have contacted Richard Moore about some form of open dialogue on this issue, and so far we have not heard anything back. I challenge Mr. Moore to a debate, see end of this rant for details.
The point is that MIFF should not be allowed to get away with looking like they support genre in OZ cinema, when in practice they do not. This could change in the future, and we hope it does. Many of Moore’s improvements in programming like the George Romero retro / forum, transgressive sections like Forbidden Pleasures and Night Shift, have had journalists question me on how much MIFF is like MUFF this year. In response I say, “That’s cool – its only MIFF catching up with the zeitgeist”.
What we at MUFF are concerned with is, why does MIFF not support the burgeoning ‘horn o plenty’ of local low budget genre films and filmmakers? All these filmmakers need is a larger festival like MIFF to get behind them, and to help push this movement from the underground and onto the world festival stage and … ‘Voila’! Imagine a second Oz genre film renaissance. We should all remember a little New Zealand filmmaker from the late 80s and early 90s named Peter Jackson who made crazy little genre movies like Bad Taste. If MIFF could support and champion genre, thereby helping stem the disastrous tide of rubbish in the local film industry, it would really be serving its mandate. As opposed to merely presenting us with a safe historical retrospective of a time when we once had an exciting and vital film industry.
We could have that industry now if people like Moore and others at various state and federal levels just got behind genre films and filmmakers in this country. You would soon have enough material for Not Quite Hollywood 2 and a burgeoning 2nd Renaissance in Australian cinema after the 70s. A comeback that we have long pined for at MUFF since the publication of our manifesto in 2005 (see: http://www.muff.com.au/manifesto.htm).
Everyone’s a Copycat
So we mentioned MUFF’s retrospective of Australian Cult Cinema from MUFF 1, 2, 3 and 5. We also did a section called Free Radicals at MUFF 4. So, in 2008, MIFF proudly presents: Free Radicals! MUFF has always played transgressive cinema, erotica (even porn films) and midnight movies. Hey presto… Forbidden Pleasures at MIFF 2007/8, Romero as a guest and Night Shift midnight movies. There’s even a nod to right wing shenanigans that MUFF is known for, with the dicing of the PC Iranian and Middle East sections of MIFF in favour of our military and political ally Israel’s cinema.
Far from criticising this, we say excellent! A move in the right direction. We don’t claim credit for all this, of course, but hopefully we might have inspired some of it…
I met Richard Moore at the 2006 AFI’s. A nice guy, I thought. We were chatting amiably before we knew who the other was. Then some tit came up and said, “Hey MIFF and MUFF conversing, ha, ha” and we both went “Ohhh” realizing whom the other was. We laughed and I said, “Let’s be friends”, and Moore said, “Yes, lets”. As a good will gesture, I moved MUFF away from MIFF to September last year and October this year. This minimised the competition between the festivals and allowed us to co-exist more peacefully. Moore and I have exchanged friendly emails and had coffee together before his first MIFF in 2007.
At the AFI’s that night, I said to Richard Moore, “What are you going to do with MIFF?”, to which he quipped: “I’m going to make it more like MUFF”.
This whole critique comes from a love of MIFF and our local industry for which I’m happy to claim a certain patriotic fervour. It comes from the desire for debate, open exchange of ideas and a little good old-fashioned trouble making. This industry is in need of a shake up and at MUFF we have been trying to do our bit to make people question a failing system.
Everyone’s a critique
This year’s theme, Everyone’s a Critic, we like. But its not really true, is it? But it should be. People should be more independently critical. Too often, cinema lovers are spoon fed by publicists who manipulate big articles in the mainstream press. I couldn’t help but laugh at the Saturday Age’s three page story on Ozploitation. Where was that article the four years in a row MUFF championed Ozploitation? Its all publicists and media ‘focus generation’. We need to think cinema culture beyond this.
Criticism is needed in the local Australian Film Industry too, with everyone from Jim Schembri, Leigh Paatsch and many others bemoaning the problem. Film Victoria is holding forums like Mindshift on industry change, but we need to see more action taken, not just words. We all need to stand up and let our voices be heard, our opinions voiced about remedies and solutions for the local film industry doldrums. This critique and MUFF’s own agenda over the years has been to promote just such free speech and critique, by example.
We challenge Richard Moore to a debate about why his MIFF doesn’t support more low budget genre films at the Melbourne International Film Festival (and other related topics). This debate will be held at Glitch bar on Sunday he 24th of August at 7.00pm. It will be a FREE MUFF event and open to the public. Come along and share your opinions about MIFF. See if Mr. Moore turns up. If he doesn’t, I’ll play a film bound to please all comers!
Enjoy MIFF, come to MUFF, and don’t be afraid to be a critic at MIFF 2008.
Filmmaker, MUFF director and MIFF gadfly
July 25, 2008
The Dark Knight himself has taken his black rubber wearing alter ego a little too seriously perhaps and started bashing up his Mom and Sister. I’m a big Bale fan since Empire of the Sun, and then his adult break out American Psycho. He’s an edgy actor, who is a good Batman. Isn’t the The Dark Knight brilliant by the way? I’m going to blog a tasty review here soon.
But it appears Heath’s death and the pressure of getting what you want, i.e. to be a big fucking movie star, has unhinged our edgy actor a little. Charged with assault by UK police, an incident occurred with his sister and mother – who were probably just trying to scum some money or perks from him. Bale turned into Bashman and solved his family problem, the best way one can in family disputes under these circumstances, the old school way, through Violence.
July 22, 2008
They have finally caught up with Serbian guerilla Radovan Karadzic, one of the Serb architects of ethnic cleansing in the Bosnian conflict.
My interest in Karadzic stems from his status as a warrior/poet. Yes, he wrote poetry and has continued to do so from in hiding! There are a number of interesting articles online about the mythical warrior/poet aspect of the Karadzic phenomenon. Considered a National hero to many Serbian’s and with his pursuit dramatized by the Richard Gere movie The Hunting Party, this former psychiatrist turned genocide exponent, wrote some interesting poems. Two of which I reprint below.
Maybe, we can expect a new volume of poems from The Hague, before he suddenly has a ‘heart attack’ like his former chum Milosevic. But wasn’t the whole Bosnian thing just a warm up to the Democratic West’s own war on Muslims? I mean Karadzic has killed far less innocent citizens than Bush and Blair after all? When are they’re dates at the Hague? Karadzic was no fan of Muslims and if this race war of Bush’s is to continue, maybe the US and Israel can ask him to continue his poetry and other activities, in their own theatre of operations?
Regardless of his career, I find the idea of the warrior/poet fascinating. Byron, D’Annunzio, Mishima. Now Karadzic.
Enjoy his poetry…
Measure your steps, your hand’s twists
That spear you throw is mad
The landscapes awaiting it are full of no names and no reason.
Something like a chill is nesting within you
That spear, that stretched arm, glows in your head
You feel that mortal metal, its presence
You don’t think of it and it is still a metal.
You think of it and it leaves you as super metal
As metal which lives but is no metal
And the difference is reason enough to become a set of events.
It sets landscapes unseen to its serpent-like spine
It changes and glows while doing it
Does it only threaten or glisten for its beauty’s sake
Full of love for the blade which is itself?
Brought to madness thinking about its purpose
And becomes a hero
Before the gap, before the irreversible one that stays.
Twittering from time to time and also tired and vulnerable
It always returns to your abandoned self
Devastated by the new finding.
I hear the misfortune threads
Turned into a beetle as if an old singer
Is crushed by the silence and turned into a voice.
The town burns like a piece of incense
In the smoke rumbles our consciousness.
Empty suits slide down the town.
Red is the stone that dies, built into a house. The Plague!
Calm. The army of armed poplar tree
Marches up the hill, within itself.
The aggressor air storms our souls
and once you are human and then you are an air creature.
I know that all of these are the preparations of the scream:
What does the black metal in the garage have for us?
Look how fear turned into a spider
Looking for the answer at his computer.
July 20, 2008
Singapore is looking to give up to 20 strokes of the cane to ABC Foreign Correspondent Peter Lloyd for possessing and supplying one gram of Ice to someone. You would have to have fucking rocks in your head to go anywhere near so much as a joint in the enlighten-…fuck it, lets call a spade a spade… barbaric nation of Malaysia and its Capital Singapore. They executed Australian citizen Van Nguyen for a drugs offence not that long ago, savages. Bring back Colonialism, I say, and teach these ‘people’ all over again the finer points of how to run a society.
Oh, the burden of Western Civilisation.
That naughty Kurtz had a more radical idea, “Exterminate all the brutes”…
Anyway, as a fan of caning in general, Singapore caning leaves me cold. Its a question of severity. In Singapore its performed by an army martial arts expert, and laid on so it rips the skin right of your body. Its exceptionally brutal and medieval. I have studied these things and can guarantee you its inappropriate.
They can do what they like to each other perhaps, but Westerners, that’s where the line should be drawn. One has to maintain certain standards, doesn’t one? But that’s OK because everyone values Western standards of behaviour, right?
These images below illustrate what is to happen to Mr Lloyd, if he doesn’t get the fuck out of dodge…
Send in the Special Forces, I say and remove him as a Government journalist and tell the Singapore government to, “Go fuck themselves”. It will feel good to assert our natural superiority, once again. To flex the muscle of domination, over our more unruly neighbors. Pick up Schapelle Corby while your at it. She’s guilty we know, but she should be charged here under our law and not the joke of a what they call a legal system, that exists in some of these South East Asian countries.
Pictures to follow.
Oh, and here’s a photo of one of Singapore’s charming executioners.
July 19, 2008
July 17, 2008
Famous East Coast conservative magazine The New Yorker has published the following cover, that many pundits in the US think would be better suited to a Neo Nazi periodical. It shows Obama, in Muslim dress in the oval office fist pounding his Black Panther revolutionary wife, who has a AK47 over her shoulder. On the wall is a portrait of Osama Bin Laden and on the fire the American flag.
If you didn’t know this already, this US election is going to get dirty, baby.
July 17, 2008
July 16, 2008
In an opposite move to the Three Wise Monkeys, Shannon Young, Bill Mousoulis and I are interviewed about my favorite bugbear the State of the Australian Film Industry. See here for video Interviews.
The rest of the site contains an interesting paper exploring the current state of affairs in Oz Indy cinema. With Into The Shadows, Nothing But the Struth and now these guys, it seems everyone is making a doco about the Australian Film Industry Crisis. And good on them too! From discussion comes innovative change.