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AICN-Downunder: LATAURO @ MIFF 08 #5: THE ROAD WARRIOR RETURNS


Click here to read my review of opening night film NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD
Click here to read LATAURO @ MIFF #1: THE SAGA BEGINS...
Click here to read LATAURO @ MIFF #2: IT AIN'T ALL WINE AND ROSES
Click here to read LATAURO @ MIFF #3: EVERYONE'S A CRITIC? REALLY?
Click here to read LATAURO @ MIFF #4: THE LESSER UNION

LATAURO @ MIFF 08 #5: THE ROAD WARRIOR RETURNS

The guide for the Melbourne International Film Festival was released on July 11 as part of The Age newspaper. It is, of course, free to pick up at all the festival venues, cafes, etc around the place, but if you're going to be at all sentimental about the MIFF experience -- as I clearly am -- you will eschew these free replacements. There's something loyal about my MIFF guide, the one I got way back in mid-July. Sure, it's tattered from constant flicking as I go from the calendar pages to the index page to the description page, but it's my tattered MIFF guide. It may be fraying around the edges and the staples may be only just holding on for dear life, but the damn thing's gonna last me until festival's end this coming Sunday. It's all part of the experience.< /H2>

MAD MAX 2

I can't believe I'm about to admit this, but here goes: I'd never seen MAD MAX 2. I know, right? It's insane. The reason I'd never gone out and corrected this egregious error was that, well, I always just assumed I had. It's a weird thing to try to explain, but MAD MAX 2 is such a huge part of our cultural heritage, I'd been walking around with the assumption that I'd seen it a long time ago and it just hadn't made an impact on me. A few days ago, looking at the upcoming screening in my diary got me thinking, and I realised I'd never actually seen the film. And I'm glad I hadn't. I'm glad my first experience with the film was in a packed theatre and with a 35mm print. A lot of people talk about how great this film is, but with all these things, you usually have to adjust those statements for (a) "It was good for its time", (b) "It was good given the materials they had to work with", and (c) "Nostalgia tints those glasses a pretty rosary". Well, I watched the film without any of those things potentially clouding my judgment, and you know what? It really is brilliant. I mean astonishingly brilliant. And I know all of you know this, because you've all seen the film already, but I'm saying it holds up on first viewing even today, and I have zero regrets about waiting to see it in this context. I'm so glad I did. Incidentally, the film was programmed and introduced by new MIFF ambassador Eric Bana, whose intro revealed him to be a genuinely massive fan of the film. It was cool listening to him talk about the fifty-to-a-hundred times he'd watched this on video, and after the film he mentioned that seeing it in 35mm revealed a ton of details he'd never noticed before. Nic e bookend to it. But yes, here I am writing about Australian film on AICN for over five years, and I've only now seen MAD MAX 2. Call me born again.

SURVEILLANCE

I had to do the walk of shame out of the post-Bana Q&A during its last question. It was entertaining, but I was running late for SURVEILLANCE, and I hate missing the start of films. Wouldn't have been a problem, though, given the line stretched so far out of the Kino, I'm surprised I wasn't able to join it from my MM2 seat in the Forum. SURVEILLANCE is the work of Jennifer Lynch, daughter of David, director of BOXING HELENA (which I've not seen). It's basically about two FBI agents (Bill Pullman and Julia Ormond) who are investigating the latest work of serial killers in small town America. I won't spoil the twist ending for you, because I think Lynch does a pretty good job of that herself. The surprise is telegraphed way too early, and most of the film is just a plodding attempt to get there. There are some good moments, but by and large, the film just isn't that good. We spend a lot of time with two corrupt cops (Kent Harper and French Stewart), who I think are supposed to be comic relief, but they're so horrible, you really just feel disgusted watching them. The film is based around a series of flashbacks that aren't really worth telling in the end, although it is cool to see Pullman and Ormond on screen, and the young girl (Ryan Simpkins, from

GARDENS OF NIGHT) is really good. It's not really a bad movie, just more of... well, no, it actually is a bad movie. I wouldn't bother.&l t;/H2>

PLANET B-BOY

I had this thing on Wednesday that was supposed to take all day, but finished at 1pm. Stranded in the city with nothing until my screening at 7pm, I decided to do that glorious MIFF thing of walking in to a session of something without knowing anything about it. PLANET B-BOY turned out to be a documentary about breakdancing, how the artform began, how it evolved, and how people all over the planet compete in a yearly competition in Germany. What a find. This is an utterly brilliant doco, truly amazing. Director Benson Lee has such a masterful control over style and form and pacing, that the film is never less than entertaining. We begin with the originators of breakdancing. The best part about this is how these guys with their gold chain t-shirts and backwards baseball caps eschew all stereotypes and turn out to be incredibly articulate. They succinctly describe the history of breakdancing, and talk about the styles of the dancers from different countries. Koreans are apparently the most inventive, the Japanese are the most technically flawless, the French have the most beautifully musical movements, etc. It's a great way of setting up the personalities of the countries, and soon we're following the groups as they train for the final in Germany. The dancing looks superb (and is shot as grandly as it deserves), the personalities of all the subjects are fascinating, and the whole thing hangs together brilliantly. A terrific film that's worth seeking out, even if -- like me -- you had zero knowledge or interest about breakdancing beforehand. This will naturally change when you see the film; five minutes in, I felt I was a big fan of an artform that the world just did n't understand. Another must-see.

IN SEARCH OF A MIDNIGHT KISS

If you're a film fan and all of your friends are film fans and you never get to see them, just buy a festival passport. Eventually, you'll see most of them at a screening. Such was the case when I walked into my second random film of the day and heard my name called out. We sat and chatted and talked about the film we were about to see: IN SEARCH OF A MIDNIGHT KISS, a film I'd studiously avoided because of its description. "A streetwise black and white film pitched somewhere between MANHATTAN and CLERKS..." Sorry, but namechecking my favourite films feels far too cynical. Like how I nearly avoided both MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE and SCRUBS because local networks described them as "Live action Simpsons!". I know comparing a new thing to a successful thing seems like a good idea at the outset, but if the new thing is just going to be a shadow of perfect things that I loved, then why would I bother? I decided to go anyway, given the Woody/Kevin comparison might be unfair on the filmmakers, and they may have something new to give. I gotta say, I think "A streetwise film pitched somewhere between MANHATTAN and CLERKS" is what writer/director Alex Holdridge had pinned above his desk as he wrote this. This feels a lot like a cynical attempt to be the next big indie film, aping a lot of what's come before. That's not to say it's a bad film; in fact, parts of it are touching, and there are a few good jokes here and there, but mostly I just found it ineffectual. It's okay. It's there. It's trying a bit too hard, and it does the indie film thing I really hate: the whole thing feels like a relationship commercial for its director. May be I'm taking the cynicism a bit too far. Look, it's a decent film, but it's not CLERKS and it's not MANHATTAN.

SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO

And here we are! Possibly my most anticipated film of the festival (after that brilliant trailer they played at the MIFF media launch). I'm a big fan of Takeshi Miike, and a highly-stylised Western just sounded brilliant. On the other hand, I thought KUNG FU HUSTLE and SHAOLIN SOCCER sounded brilliant, too. I know Stephen Chow has a lot of fans, and I do kind-of like him, but HUSTLE in particular looked great and left me cold. There was no soul to that film, and nothing really made sense. It was just a couple of cool moments in a film that's way too long. DJANGO does the same thing. I think it probably makes a bit more sense, but here's the thing: the film was played on a DVD player. If the cinematography was great, I'd have no way of knowing, as the resolution was stretched to capacity. I could barely make out half the dialogue, mumbled as most of it was, so the plot was near-impossible to follow. Oh, and I had a woman sitting behind me who had the loudest, most irritating laugh I've ever heard in my life. Constant and in my ear, like a knife. I could have been watching TOUCH OF EVIL and that laugh would have taken me out of it. So, I'm willing to concede that the combination of her laugh, the crappiness of the projecting, and the old people beside us letting off all sorts of undiscovered gasses throughout the course of the film, all these things may have impacted my enjoyment of a film I might otherwise have enjoyed. Maybe I'll give it another go in the future and try to re-assess it, but for now I'm going to have to go with: empty , but with moments of fun.

Phew. Okay, that's round five done. I'm gonna see if I can make a dent in the next AICN-D, and then head off for another few films tonight... it's a tough life.

Peace out,

Latauro
AICNDownunder@hotmail.com



Readers Talkback
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  • Aug. 7, 2008, 10:47 a.m. CST

    Bana for Mad Max 4!

    by Stuntcock Mike

    Of course

  • Aug. 7, 2008, 10:51 a.m. CST

    A pretty rosary?

    by Abominable Snowcone

    What the hell? You mean, "really rose-colored" glasses? Just bustin' your chops.<p> Road Warrior rocks. I wish I could dress like Max or even Humongous in my office. Lotta homosexual overtones in those biker costumes. Guys in leather on leashes and what-not. I always felt badly for Max, especially given what happened to his family in the first movie, and then the dog in this one. Seems like at the end of this film he has nothing to show for his efforts. He takes a risk to be rewarded with fuel for his car, and what happens? The rig was filled with SAND--he was just a diversion--and his car gets totalled. What a bummer. No walking off into the sunset for him.

  • Aug. 7, 2008, 10:51 a.m. CST

    a pretty rosary

    by ArcadianDS

    another religious talkback ?

  • Aug. 7, 2008, 10:52 a.m. CST

    Saw this in the theater 10 times

    by vic twenty

    back when it came out. Loved it then, love it now. It holds up very well.

  • Aug. 7, 2008, 11:03 a.m. CST

    Latauro, you should be ashamed

    by Lance Rocke

    Never saw Mad Max 2? What about AC/DC, you heard of them?

  • Aug. 7, 2008, 11:19 a.m. CST

    Rosaries

    by Latauro

    Yeah, I thought that sounded wrong when I typed it, but I couldn't figure out why...

  • Aug. 7, 2008, 11:27 a.m. CST

    Mel "Sugartits" Gibson is the only Road Warrior

    by Dick Bahls

  • Aug. 7, 2008, 11:43 a.m. CST

    road warrior IS great

    by zom-bot.com

    (mad max 2, to you aussies)<P>one on my five favorite films. mythic. and for years i had only seen the tv screen version and though 'what a gay bunch of bad guys, until i accidentally put the dvd in upside down, discovered the widescreen version, ans saw how many punk biker women were actually in humunguss's crew! they are all placed on the outskirts, and get completely cut out in standard format.

  • Aug. 7, 2008, 11:45 a.m. CST

    could never tell..

    by zom-bot.com

    did max KNOW he's truck was filled with sand, or was he duped? was his smile at the end because he had actually helped, or because you have to laugh when you- a self serving type- gets served? <P>bruce spence should get more work.<P>that dog, untrained and saved from a kennel- was such a better actor than most professional animals.

  • Aug. 7, 2008, 12:05 p.m. CST

    I HATED Miller for killing the dog!

    by half vader

    It's such an obvious and super-low blow, and the dog was just fucking awesome. Even as a kid when Mum & Dad took me to see it, I knew it was coming, and was the first time I felt like it went beyond just manipulating the audience to something that was just all wrong. Feral boy's steel boomerang was cool, but the dog was even better. Somehow it makes that iconic shot of Max even moreso. <p> The Aussie cattle Dog is the coolest dog ever. I had a few of them. Some before MM2, some after. Never put a cool bandana on 'em though. <p> Zom-bot, I think that if you're an Aussie, you'd instantly think the smile was his respect for them pulling a fast one on him- he couldn't begrudge them that. Maybe that's just me though.

  • Aug. 7, 2008, 12:11 p.m. CST

    Bruce Spence

    by half vader

    You'd think he'd have a limited avenue of roles open to him, being such a unique 'character actor' (should be a redundant term) and having already had his heyday in the 70s. But I think it's pretty cool that he's been in the 3 biggest trilogies/series ever. Star Wars, Matrix and LOTR. <p> P.S. Great in Dark City too!

  • Aug. 7, 2008, 12:13 p.m. CST

    Oh and Heath Ledger

    by half vader

    really wanted to be Max.

  • Aug. 7, 2008, 12:50 p.m. CST

    Latauro responds!

    by thebearovingian

    ...in just a few short minutes.

  • Aug. 7, 2008, 2:26 p.m. CST

    zom-bot.com

    by Rameses

    I've always thought Max was duped.The way he puts his hand to the sand/dirt as it leaks , suggests it was news to him.Plus he was lucky really, that tanker crash with hundreds of gallons of petrol , would have ended a lot worse!

  • Aug. 7, 2008, 3:11 p.m. CST

    Road Warrior rocks

    by TheWaqman

  • Aug. 7, 2008, 3:32 p.m. CST

    ramses - true true

    by zom-bot.com

    also- remeber the one biker guy that sees the sand coming out of the tanker- tries to put his hand in it to check- and gets pulled under? surehe didn't get to tell the gang- but at that point, wasn't it kind of spoiled to the viewer

  • Aug. 7, 2008, 3:32 p.m. CST

    they should call it Mad Max 3: Fury Road

    by Prossor

    Lets forget thunderdome ever happened, it's the worst disgrace to be apart of any movie trilogy ever.

  • Aug. 7, 2008, 4:34 p.m. CST

    road warrior 'look'

    by zom-bot.com

    it's crazy how many bleak future movies have outright stolen the look of the road warrior: the outfits, the scavenging, the makeshift weapons/vehicles/shelter. i want to forget thunderdome at times. if there was a re-edit where they literally cut everything after max is expelled via 'gulag' from thunderdome, it would be a good movie. but even the chase scenes afterwards were just a rip off of the highlights of road warrior. a director ripping himself off? how odd, but true. <P>i'd say reboot or sequel with bana- he would be a good, strong silent choice...but nothing will be a fresh as road warrior was, all the costuming and sets will just seem like deja-vu. a bigger budget will not help a new movie. the brilliance and believability about an apocalypse movie is tiny budget. using real junk and real locations. all practical stunts and effects.. no cg.

  • Aug. 7, 2008, 4:43 p.m. CST

    I just saw Mad Max 2 again

    by Garbageman33

    Except, for some reason, it was called Doomsday. And it royally sucked.

  • Aug. 7, 2008, 5 p.m. CST

    zom-bot.com

    by Rameses

    In the scene where the tanker turns and starts to go back towards the chasing bikers, you can actually see sand pouring away from the vehicle , like smoke .Director G.Miller must have wanted to give the game away a bit...but at the time on a first viewing ,I wasn't really sure what I was seeing ..so It doesn't really spoil it.

  • Aug. 7, 2008, 5:17 p.m. CST

    Thunderdome...

    by Rameses

    If Road warrior didn't exist , then Thunderdome wouldn't seem so bad.Barter town looks interesting{mel kind of revisited it for Apocalypto} and the scenes with the kids and the downed plane , have a trippy feel.But Miller really sold out and went all Lucas and Spielberg on us.All the brutallity and balls of R W was gone , instead we got a whacky slapstick version of the tanker chase, loads of P. Pans lost Boys inspired, bad child actors and bandy legged tina turner arguing with midgets.

  • Aug. 7, 2008, 7:11 p.m. CST

    First no Rambos...

    by holden_oz

    ...now Mad max 2! Latauro, this is getting embarrassing. <br> You like the Hulk Poodle but you hadn't seen this icon of Aussie Cinema? (We don't have many.) (I don't know what the hulk poodle has to do with Mad Max 2, but I'm searching for the little nuances that I know about your film watching habits.) <BR> Have you seen Mad max 1? Please, for the love of all that is holy, tell me that you've at least seen part one!<BR> Part threes absence is permitable.

  • Aug. 7, 2008, 7:20 p.m. CST

    Ok...

    by holden_oz

    Now... I completely understand this has opened me up to a barrage of "What do you mean you've not seen BLANK? Are you retarded?" <P> Glad you saw/liked Mad Max 2. Awesome film. And not shown in Greater Union? Bonus.

  • Aug. 7, 2008, 11:25 p.m. CST

    Thunderdome is more disgrace than ROTJ or Godfather 3

    by Prossor

    are to their respective trilogies. with thoshe at least there's a similar theme going and style, minor critiques aside you get your space opera fantasy, you get your epic mafioso intrigues... with Thunderdome, gone are the high-octane car-culture mayhem of the first two, replaced by a fucking disney/kids/crack-in-the-earth revolting developements. FUCKING DISGRACE OF THE LOWEST ORDER. It wasn't even George Miller's idea, he was what made MM1 and 2 great, the producer (who died in a helicopter crash serves him right for this mess!) was the one who wanted ot kiddy this shit up. Even when the opening credits happen you know you're fucked when you hear Tina Turner instead of the subtle trumpets and cool monologues of the first two.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 8:03 a.m. CST

    doomsday: count the ripoffs

    by zom-bot.com

    i counted at least two major rip-offs-not homages to mad max 2 in doomsday. as she sneaks up to the guy messing with her stolen watch and then whacks him in the face (unseen)- it's just like when max goes to get the survivor from the biker gang rapist dude, who was sitting and fastening his gauntlet when max whacks him with the bolt cutters.that one is more subtle for sure, more excusable than the car chase where she hits the brakes and the biker's crossbow shoots into the tattoo chick's decapitated head.<P>i may have to watch it again to make note of others, but i don't really WANT to watch again.<P>more stupid plothoes include:<P>why where the urban punks cannibals when there is a massive, overpopulated field of cows on the outskirts of town?<P>why were the punks so angry that the heros escaped on a fucking TRAIN when we see later they have more than enough ability to leave town in fast cars?<P>if she looks at her watch camera with her robotic eye does she get massive feedback? does her head explode like everything else exploded into raspberry jam in that movie?

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 8:57 a.m. CST

    Plante B-boy

    by MrMonkey

    I have to agree that planet was pretty pretty good... oh and how amazing was the Japanese teams routine, that turntable choreography was genius!... Well worth seeing, even though I thought there were 9 elements of hip hop (according to krs-one) not four elements. That's the only bit that annoyed me... more good than bad, worth leaving the house for.

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 10:45 a.m. CST

    next piece of Homework Latauro.....

    by secret goldfish

    ... finish watching Bad Boy Bubby! This time hang in there past the first half hour (I know it isn't easy) and you will be rewarded. Glad you liked Max 2 though, I was going to head to this screening too but couldn't make it. Did you spot Beau from the Beaurepaires ads (Max Fairchild) tied to the front of the Humungous's car? used to make me laugh every time I saw a Beaurepaires ad on tv

  • Aug. 8, 2008, 3:23 p.m. CST

    max fairchild

    by zom-bot.com

    also played the 'simple' big guy in the original mad max. the only person beside mel gibson to appear in both movies, though he wasn't playing the same part.

  • Aug. 9, 2008, 4:09 a.m. CST

    max fairchild....

    by secret goldfish

    ...also the werewolf in Howling 3: The marsupials. Pretty funny. When I was a kid he was a family friend and as kids we thought it was pretty great that we knew the guy from Mad Max 1,2 and The Howling films. Infact we would've been pretty excited just to know an extra involved with the Max films. I had a friend come over from the States a few years back who was a big 'Road Warrior', Mad Max fan, took him on a road trip through outer Melbourne showing him where the original was filmed. He was pretty stoked and it was much more fun than taking English backpacker friends out to see where the soapy Neighbors was filmed.

  • Aug. 9, 2008, 6:45 p.m. CST

    zom-bot.com

    by Munro Kelly

    I agree, a lot of films have stolen the look. In the 80's, a lot of low budget filmmakers ripped off Mad Max and Escape from New York. There were also a few Blade Runner clones.

  • Aug. 9, 2008, 6:55 p.m. CST

    half vader

    by Munro Kelly

    Can you imagine, if Heath lived, him being in Fury Road, with the heat he has from The Dark Knight?

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