As I type these words it’s raining outside and the 63rd Melbourne International Film Festival is underway, featuring the world premiere of the new film from the Spierig Brothers (Undead, Daybreakers), Predestination starring Ethan Hawke and the wonderful Noah Taylor.
Winter in Melbourne can be both dreary and wonderful. But even when the temperature plummets and the winds howl, it’s always my favourite time of the year because at the end of July for just over two weeks I get to gorge on a banquet of cinematic delicacies in all shapes, sizes and flavours. The program this year is exceptionally delicious. I’m missing Opening Night this year due to other commitments but will start things off tomorrow night with two screenings – the one man tour-de-force that is Locke (dir. Steven Knight) starring the brilliantly charismatic Tom Hardy, and the low-budget meta-movie The Dirties (dir. Matthew Johnson). So I’ll be braving the elements and eating hot dogs on the run and enjoying every minute of it.
I’ll be watching these two films with an extra keen eye and heart tomorrow night because this year I’m not just a MIFF member but I’m also a critic. I’m lucky enough to be one of eight emerging film critics to have been chosen to participate in MIFF’s inaugural Critics Campus – a week long program that’s going to give us a chance to develop our skills in a live festival setting – being mentored by both Australian and international critics, participating in workshops and panels, masterclasses and parties, and writing to deadlines just like a bonafide film critic. It’s going to be a great experience – I feel very lucky and honoured to have this opportunity and I’m looking forward to the challenges and having a whole lot of fun too.
You can read more about the MIFF Critics Campus and my awesome co-critics in training here: http://miff.com.au/criticscampus
My reviews of Locke and The Dirties will appear on a micro-site being set up by The Age newspaper. In addition, I’ll be reviewing the new 3D experiment by Jean-Luc Godard, Goodbye to Language, the French documentary School of Babel (dir. Julie Bertuccelli) and the great Italian comedy from 1962, Divorce, Italian Style (dir. Pietro Germi) starring the one and only Marcello Mastroianni. I’ll be reviewing The 400 Blows (dir. François Truffaut) for the MIFF website, screening as part of the excellent program of films starring Jean-Pierre Léaud (http://miff.com.au/program/streams/jean-pierre-leaud) – the ‘child of the French New Wave’ and one of cinema’s most enduring figures. In addition, I’m writing a feature on the program of Commedia all’italiana (http://miff.com.au/program/streams/commedia-allitaliana) of which Divorce, Italian Style is just one gem, as well as a piece on Richard Linklater, time and Boyhood.
Once my official duties are done I’ll also be posting reviews here of the other 20 or so films I am scheduled to see. It all sounds ambitious, but I’m setting myself these goals, to write short 200 word reviews of everything I see. It’s the only way I’m going to get better at writing shorter pieces and really master the art of this form of criticism. Learn through watching, then learn by doing. Then sleep.
See you at the movies.