Opening this weekend in Melbourne is the Sexy International Film Festival. Put together by my friend Jason Turley it is a collection of films about relationships, love and sexuality. The program looks cool (see here) and will be touring Oz and even Overseas(!), so keep a good eye open for it.

Jason Turley directed the excellent MUFF discovered flick Welcome Stranger, from a few years back, that we love and is released on Accent Underground, too. So get out there and rent or buy it on DVD. He is also the shorts programmer at MUFF the past couple of years, and this year and has helped turn our shorts section into one of the best this country has to offer .

When I first heard of the festival Jason was doing, I was a little concerned to see if it was a rip off of our MUFF section – Sexy MUFF. But after seeing the program and some interviews with Jason, I see he is not focussing on the salacious, controversial and porn side of Sex that we love to revel in and focus on at MUFF. Rather he is doing his own thing.

Which is great.

But hopefully his experiences at MUFF have inspired him in some way to get out there and do it himself in the screen culture arena. Now two festivals have spun off from or been inspired by MUFF (Sydney Underground Film Festival is the other), which goes to prove we are doing something right here at MUFF and in the local film scene.

Also, Jason is playing Tony Comstock’s Ashley and Kisha (one of the banned films from last years MUFF). So hopefully he gets away with it! Lets wait and see what happens…

Idea Fix readers out there should try and make Jason’s Opening Event Sunday Night. I’ll be there to support him, plus I’ll go and see a few screenings, time permitting, as its mad MUFF season, doing our program, etc. So stand by to get Sexy.

Kath and Kim the US version is here. They say it previewed badly in the States, but remember The Office didn’t work well straight away, and has now out shined the UK version. So, who knows?. Standby for the American version of Kath and Kim, soon.

I think it looks fucking funny. I have a soft spot for the local show, it being so wonderfully cringe worthy, they might just pull off this US revamp. Maybe, the yanks won’t like being sent up every week though, but then again?

Trailer below.

MUFF 9’s teaser ad

August 26, 2008

Here’s a new teaser ad for MUFF 9. The theme at MUFF 9 is Revolution, cinematic… and other kinds. What do you think, Idea Fix crew?

We have an amazing festival lined for October 9 to 19, a thing of truly dark beauty.

The main MUFF poster, which will be different to this, is finished next week. Yes, people. MUFF- its happening again! Stand by for trouble…

Its funny really, have you noticed that there is no one more intolerant than people who hate intolerance.

Kristen and I were laughing at the new Lily Allen single. It is about a homophobe who gets up myspace wunder-trollop Allen’s nose, that she calls ‘racism’ (?) and precedes to deliver an intolerant rant of her own, all set to music that sounds like its written on a five year old’s music box. I like the song, especially its fuck you chorus, etc, but it reminded me that counter intuitively the most hateful people are those that supposedly hate hate.

I’ve always understood a little intolerance to be a noble virtue, surely? Like Goethe said, “That which disturbs your soul, you must not suffer” quoted by Boyd Rice in his aptly titled song Mr. Intolerance. But gee, I know when to give it a rest, have a laugh and say fuck it and not fuck off.

Over the years I’ve always been amused at anti-skins who bash up skinheads, and the like. Jim Goad has had similar experiences, even being assaulted for wearing an iron cross medallion in Seattle, which he talks about on his web site. I mean you have to laugh, and cry really.

Allen’s song is not so bad. Its just funny, as it displays in a pop forum, the phenomenon of the intolerance of the intolerant.

Here’s a link to Allen’s lyrics here.

The Dark Knight I have been meaning to write about since I saw it at Imax on its Opening Day. It is the most impressive and amazing Hollywood blockbuster in ten or so years. The last decade has seen 15 to 20 yearly stupid big budget, no idea, special FX driven, dreck storms hit our screens ad nauseum. I mean The Spiderman films, Harry Potter, Narnia, The new Superman, X-men, etc, etc. All piles of various types of shit. Some not so bad as others admittedly. Never has there been such a drought in Blockbuster quality. Lucas and Spielberg aren’t hitting them like they used to. James Cameron vanished… but is back soon. If your a fan of the Blockbuster, you have to see rubbish like two bad Hulk movies in a row, the one supposed to reboot the other, that is just as bad.

The major problem has been over use of CGI. If its done well like early films like Terminator 2 and Starship Troopers its great. If its used to devise a new aesthetic like Sin City, its great too. But its over use has literally polluted big budget film making for years. When Tarantino bagged the Matrix sequels saying no one cares to see someone fight a million digital Agent Smiths, he was spot on. Real people doing real stunts, that actually impress, this is what works in cinema and in action flicks. Kill Bill 1 and Death Proof prove Tarantino’s conjecture, blowing the above films out of the water action wise. Its a question of action film integrity.

New subscriber to this ideology is Christopher Nolan. He reduces the CGI to be an unnoticed extra in The Dark Knight unheard of for a modern blockbuster. Not only that, he sets a new aesthetic tone, much the way Tim Burton did with his first Batman. Burton is partly responsible, due to his misappropriation by imitators for some of the crap that followed, I’d say. I wasn’t that big a fan of Nolan’s Batman Returns, it still had some of the trappings and ear marks of the crap blockbuster, like that those training scenes with Liam ‘Qi Gong’ Neeson, but I dug what Nolan tried to do making Batman more real and the film more gritty. It boded well for the future. Here, in The Dark Knight Nolan succeeds completely.

He delivers a tight, black Michael Mann style super hero. Tough, real, gritty, dark. Not only that the film, a major Hollywood blockbuster, actually has ideas in it! Shock, horror. Like the dark 70’s blockbusters, I grew up on! Joy, joy.

For this Nolan deserves a dark knighthood. Apart from the film being 2 and half hours of brilliant action packed well written entertainment and containing an amazing swan song performance from Heath Ledger as The Joker. This film actually makes you think.

About what? Well, here is my take.

Superhero films are about one thing. The longing for a fascist style sovereign justice. Yes, thats right people. The longing for vigilante, no trial, no jury, no recourse to appeal, style justice. Immediate and irreversible justice. Divine justice. Most of us live such pathetic lives filled with no spiritual, ontological or political freedom that the thought of there being actual real justice, just for one night on the big screen, draws us back again and again to see these superhero flicks. Sometimes the justice is comical, sometimes nonsensical… or sometimes its real, like a hunger or a thirst. As it is in The Dark Knight.

Nolan not only mines the fascist sovereign dimension of Batman, his decisive, individualistic personal executive justice, he is also clever enough to present two other forms of justice, with which we must debate, through the narrative of the picture. The other two notions of justice are the Jokers brilliant anarchist justice and Harvey Dent Capitalist justice of chance. The real villian here is Harvey Dent, Capitalism’s Golden boy turned Jekyl and Hyde monster, who operates on the pure chance of the market (a literal flip of the coin) to determine how people live and die. Just like in todays political reality. Pure blind, pointless, directionless chance. The emptiness of this form of justice is portrayed appropriately by Dent’s half ugly burnt face, that resembles interestingly the pedophile revenge freak Mason Verger from Hannibal. The Jokers justice is more playful and philosophically interesting. He mocks any plans of man and beast and happily, joyfully goes about bringing destruction to Gotham. He wreaks havoc on authority and the underworld alike, no one is safe from his purifying anarchic fire. The Jokers justice is a legitimate option as we all face planetary doom of one sort or another. Fidel (yes, Castro) while Rome burns, Heilogabulus in Gotham central.

But, I conjecture the film and the filmmakers, I believe favour the fascist justice option of Batman. It is a new fascist justice, not old and stale, its built for the new millennium. A decision of right and wrong based on traditional and changing standards, and applied as rigidly and immediately as possible. The films popularity, I believe, is based on a longing for such justice today. Do we not see all around us, so many injustices and unfair practices, so much stupidity, so many swine and swindlers, both here and overseas. Don’t we all want a benevolent Batman to come along and sort the wheat from the chaff, once and for all. To do so ruthlessly and immediately. Christopher Nolan has realised this and has given us the first thinking transcendental fascist block buster of the 21st century. The play of the Joker and Batman is left open at the end of The Dark Night of our soul…do we choose to mock our doom with The Joker or try and fight to avoid it? I, for one, am for the later… and so too, I believe, is Batman.

Why so serious, indeed…

Before Acolytes

August 21, 2008

Jon Hewitt has cut together a selection of his early work from Redball, darklovestory and Bloodlust, the later of which Jon and I wrote and directed together back in the early 90’s. Check out the two minute compilation, its a hoot!

Bastardy, directed by Amiel Courtin Wilson is a bastardly good new film. Its a documentary about Jack Charles, an aboriginal actor, with a fascinating life story. Jack Charles has won the minority sweepstakes, he’s a gay Aboriginal junkie… and sometime cat burgler! But rather than being some lame PC film about such a subject, Courtin Wilson goes tough into the world of Jack Charles. For about 5 years we view Mad Jack and Courtin Wilson films amazing footage of the life on the street of a junky, and the demons that haunt him. The most profound film I’ve seen about someone from the stolen generation, Jack Charles has an amazing English sounding voice and screen presence. He has appeared in dozens of films like The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith (a personal fav), Alkinos Tsilimidos’ Tom White and a lot of TV and plays, also. Charles helped found an Aboriginal theatre in Australia back in the 70’s and is now an impressive elder statesman, having kicked the smack and cleaned up his life.

What is remarkable about Bastardy is the way Courtin Wilson takes us into the scumbag Housing commissions with Jack to score heroin, the way he documents tours of past creepy crawls of thievin’ Jack in Kew. Courtin Wilson balances this portrait of the life of a talented outsider actor, with the sadness, depression and, yet somehow, a freedom of a being a homeless Aboriginal junkie. Indeed, Wilson takes a racial stereotype of the “Thieving Abo Smackhead” and turns it on its ear, to reveal the reality, pain and truth behind it. At the Premiere, a half brother of Jack came down to front of stage during a Q&A and revealed his blood connection which he had just discovered, an amazingly poignant moment for all in the cinema.

Bastardy, too, is not afraid to tell it like it is. When a mutual pal of Courtin Wilson and Charles has her computer and a ring stolen and Jack’s sunglasses are found at the scene, the boys in blue are called. The handling of this scene is very well done. Jack ends up in the hands of the jacks, who send him up the river for a year or so. He comes out clean and a new man.

The style of the film is raw and darkly poetic. Coco Rosie is used well on the soundtrack. Clever editing with the help of Richard Lowenstein helps create a dark view of Melbourne and its under denizens. Courtin Wilson obviously has an affinity with this world. He is one of the most talented young filmmakers I’ve seen at MIFF or MUFF, and after having spoken to him a few times, his new projects sound amazing. As usual the funding bodies are nervous due to content. Will things ever change?!

Bastardy is a fucking great film. Jack Charles is a legend. If the subject matter turns you off, don’t let it. Bastardy touches you and leaves you with a new perspective on our Colonial rape of this Earth and its consequences for the real Australians who are connected to the Soil through their Blood.

Jon Hewitt’s Acolytes

August 16, 2008

I saw what I believe to be the best Australian film of the year so far, Jon Hewitt’s Acolytes. Jon and I go back to our maverick co-directing feature debut Bloodlust from 1990. I was fortunate enough to see Acolytes go from script to rough cut to polished film. And what a great result we have!

Acolytes is a stylish kick ass thriller with a killer premise. Get this…two bullied and molested teens discover a local serial killer in their suburb AND then set about blackmailing him to kill the bully who molested them. Hewitt has picked a top notch cast including excellent new comers Sebastian Gregory, Josua Payne and Hanna Mangan Lawrence to play the teens. Add to that three, yes, thats right three great psycho’s! Lead by Joel Edgerton in an outstanding performance of serial killer du jour, Belinda McClory his deranged spouse and Michael Dorman as the teen raping bully, with swastika tattoos. Once you add these teens and these menacing adults, all hell breaks loose…

Hewitt has crafted a balls to the wall serial thriller thats damn original and accomplished. You can see the influence of Larry Clark and David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, but Hewitt makes it all his own, in a Qld suburban back water, always ringing with the drones of emptiness. The script by Shayne Armstong and Shane Krouse is tight, and Hewitt did a great rewrite making it edgier ad sharper.

If marketed correctly this film could be a break out hit with teens. The next Wolf Creek? It could well be. It makes all the right moves. The teens are real ala Larry Clark. They don’t suck and have an attached PC agenda, they are non communicative, good looking and hip. The killers are dark with real menace. Joel Edgerton steals his scenes as the mild mannered local Ted Bundy, who sports a butterfly on his 4WD spare ala John Fowles The Collector. Dorman’s petrol head rapist pours on the menace that tops Suburban Mayhem and provides a creepy thug who you can’t wait to see buy the farm.

The film is fast paced, tough and brutal. Not only that, it displays a confidence and directorial mastery from Hewitt that is surely to win him an IF or AFI nomination, if not award! Its nuanced and poetic mise en scene, brilliant sound design, excellent cinematography and tight structure mark it clearly the best directed Oz feature I have seen so far this year. Well, its that or The Square for my money…

The film leaves you shaken, thinking and unsettled. Its a truly great edition to the return to genre going on in Australian cinema at present. It will surely garner the interest of Hollywood. Oh, and did I mention it got into Toronto? What other Oz feature films can say that much? From zero to hero baby. The world should get ready for a new auteur, Jon Hewitt.

Be on the look out for Acolytes when it hits cinemas!

The Olympics suck

August 14, 2008

Don’t they?

I mean what a pile of crap. China is a joke. It’s a games celebrating human togetherness, inside a human rights prison. Russia has declared war on Georgia to celebrate the games. Chinese judges are clearly biased and corrupt and how can you trust Chinese officials on drug testing of their own athlete’s? Oh and public protests are allowed if you apply for a permit to protest, that is never granted, and applicants arrested and sent for re-eduction out of town. The odd impromptu protest are crushed like a bug under a tank wheel. The internet is censored and so to the media. The military is every where, even goose stepping at the Opening ceremony. China is not even Communist anymore, they abuse workers and forbid unions. Mao’s legacy is kind of mindless Totalitarian Authoritarian Capitalism. The only locals allowed in to the see the games are the nomenklatura of the party, soldiers and police who get tickets to the events.

There’s no Roy and HG who at least turned the Olympics into a good laugh. No Ass clowns, no spinning dates.

The Athletes look like Genetically modified or machine like robots.

But hey the female Volleyball, hockey and other such tight shorted sports teams are a good perv, I’ll grant that. A small daisy amongst the dung.

Welcome to the future!

ADDED NOTE: Roy and HG have a show on Triple J called The Gold Ring. Very fucking funny. From Roy speculating that Chinese athletes have their parents shot if they loose, to the hilarious racist mock Chinese proverbs, ads and Voice Overs. Its all laughs. Its a must listen at 4.30 pm on Triple J. They pod cast it to here.

Sorry I’m late with this. Busy as fuck with my own festival. Its pedal to the metal time at MUFF… anyway, the MIFF last weekend read on…

Well WR: Mysteries of the Organism is great but I won a cool Criterion DVD so no point seeing that bitch at MIFF. Same too Funny Games, the excellent Haneke remake that a pal downloaded off the net eons ago and that I now own US DVD.

On my way into Larry Flint: The Right to be Left Alone, bumped into MIFF director Richard Moore, who I imagine was having similar thoughts whrn he bumped into me. I asked him if he’d come to the debate I challenged him to and he said “I don’t think I’m going to play that game” or “your game”. Its not a game… its just someone who wants open discussion about a few important issues. But in keeping with MIFF’s wall of non discussion, that’s all she wrote. It won’t be all she wrote, though here. More on this later, plus the fun we’ll have at the Debate… if, of course, I can’t still convince Richard Moore to grow a set and attend.

Larry Flint doco was brilliant. It made me watery eyed at this man’s defence of freedom of speech and expression. I felt a kinship with his ‘fuck you’ spirit and agreed at the lambasting of the stupid feminist critiques of Flint. Some call him a sexual fascist. But that sounds OK to me. Hustler in the late 70’s and early 80’s was very cutting edge in written content and his recent expose on Politician’s sex scandals and attacks on the Bush regime showed there is/was life in the ol’ wheel chair bound smut peddler yet. A Hustler staffer suggested getting back to the good old days of Hustler’s hipster written content and I couldn’t agree more. A nice addition to MIFF and another good doco.

Otto: Or Up with Dead People is the latest Bruce LaBruce masterpiece. He takes a look at the world of zombies through a Bent lens, and gives us a tale of a lad who may or may not be undead. LaBruce magickly weaves a mix of politics, gay issues, gross out violence and lots of mano on mano kissing to make one of the strangest and coolest zombie flicks out there. The male lead gave us an Emo style zombie going from stray fuck to film set with Marilyn Manson eyes and a jittering walk. The Lesbian couple are lots of fun and the clever B&W color juxtapositioning very funny. See it, to get it. LaBruce cleverly mixes in AIDS, disease and addiction metaphors without being heavy handed, constantly having fun with the film and using cool music and mise en scene to jack boot. Otto is a first in zombie films, featuring sexual zombies, a long overdue addition, with other firsts like wound sex scenes and bizarre gay zombie orgies. The zombies talk, walk and fuck all in uber sexy Berlin with characters with names like Adolf. Whats not to like? An outsider tale of what it means to be gay in the 21st century, LaBruce a previous MUFF guest and great guy, scores with this new flick.

Who’s Afraid of Kathy Acker was another great doco. Not knowing the full Acker story, I found this fascinating. I’d swear I met her at Hellfire in the 90’s. She visited here back then. Her connection to Burroughs and her radical pro porn post feminist views were fully explored. It had me looking for her books after the screening. Sad she passed away in the 90’s. We lost another free thinker there.

Gomorrah the Cannes hit about scumbag Mafia clans in Italia gives us a searing portrait of Berlusconi’s Italy. Doomed with a capital D. Corrupt as fuck. While a good film, I thought it overrated and over long. The two main protagonists are young and so fucking dumb you know they are going to get killed within 5 minutes of meeting them. Two hours later they do. Other equally scuzzy assholes inhabit Gomorrah’s world. A world that the likes of a Benito Mussolini would cleanse away in five seconds flat, if his spirit could only be reawakened in 21st century Italy. What has become of poor Benito’s once great Nation? Vincere indeed…

Closing Night I always stay away from at MIFF, as I critic them and don’t want to give them a break from my smirking mug. I know how hard it is doing a fest and how closing night you say, “Fuck it all” and relax. I might be confrontational, but I’m not a cunt, as some would have you believe.

A sum up and review of MIFF and its practices coming next week to Idea Fix.