Archive for June, 2018

Beautiful enough for me

June 18, 2018

It’s June so it’s time for the film festival.

I bought a 10-ticket flexipass and then for one reason or another let the long weekend pass without selecting any films.  D wasn’t especially in the mood and, maybe it’s my age, but rather a lot of the films which take my fancy seem to be scheduled earlier than our weekend (or weekday, for that matter) lie-ins allow.

I especially like to get to the State Theatre.  On Wednesday night we managed it, seeing The Kindergarten Teacher.  The titular teacher becomes fixated on one of her charges whose poetical utterances, passed off as hers at the poetry class she attends, are more warmly received than her own efforts.  Think Ern Malley meets Wordsworth:  clouds of glory  coming up against shades of the prison house.  You keep wondering about her obsession – how can this end?  surely not well.  You are spared the worst with a poignant final line that still resonates.

This is a New York remake of an Israeli film. I was surprised, when I saw some trailers for the Israeli original, how faithful the remake was.  I enjoyed it and (spoiler alert) it turned out to be D’s favourite.

On Thursday D caught a documentary about a Chinese woman venturing into Parisian haute couture and on Friday night we saw a Turkish film Butterflies.  These were both at the multiplex Event cinemas on George St.  It is not a particularly empathetic venue for a film festival.

Back on Saturday night to the State for The Wild Pear Tree, directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan and set in Çanakkale – when one character refers to “our heroes” he means the soldiers  who beat the ANZACs and the rest of the British expeditionary force at Gallipoli.  At about 3 hours this was far too loooooooong for D.  I, too, found the lengthy discussions in a foreign language a bit taxing – it’s a wordy film.  Still, it was beautiful and the elements rather than just the wordiness came together at the end in the way that happens in long works, in part I suspect because by then you have so much invested in them.

People linger in the State Theatre.  It’s partly the festival atmosphere but more it’s the decor.  On both nights we were there for the last film of the day, and the staff had to push people out the door at the end.  “Good night, sir” said a more senior usher as I dawdled up an aisle, which was a polite way of going about it.

I still had 3 tickets to use so despite the beautiful sunny Sunday took the train and bus to Cremorne at 1pm to see a Polish film, Cold War at the Hayden Orpheum.  This was definitely arty – in black and white and in an old-fashioned film size. It’s about 2 lovers who first meet when the man (a pianist) recruits the woman (a singer and dancer) for a state-sponsored folk ensemble brought into being as part of the new people’s democracy after the war.

D refused to come because he suspected it would be anti-Communist.  He’s very loyal to Chairman Mao.

Cold War  had some terrific music – especially, for my money, the recreated folk-song collection sequences at the start and the (in the film rather derided) performances by the folkloric ensemble.  Taking soup in a nearby cafe afterwards I overheard an older group (this is Cremorne on Sunday afternoon) discussing the film.  As ever, it seems practitioners are impatient of cinematic recreations of the artistic process.  One half of what I took to be a gay couple was particularly critical, though surely he spoke with authority as he prefaced an opinion with: “When I was performing in the Netherlands…”

D drove over later for a 4pm session of 3 Faces, an Iranian film directed by Jafar Panahi who also plays himself, as does the lead actress, Behnaz Jafari. Obviously that’s not quite right since she plays herself.

The Orpheum cannot match the State but it still manages a pretty good heritage effect with what it’s got. Both cinemas make a commendable effort with retro staff uniforms.

The title to this post comes from one of the kindergarten child’s poems.  The first two lines are:

Anna is beautiful,
Beautiful enough for me.