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Mulholland Drive

Mulholland Drive Mulholland Drive
a smouldering david lynchian film-take on the starlet time|grind machine. the film presents the viewer with a dream|character-crossed plotline divided decisively according 2 a saccharine 50s vs a gritty late 90s version|comment on the hollywood circuit|circus, focusing on the twinned character incarnations of Australian actor Naomi Watts. Think: an amnesiac alice-in-wonderland plot constructed via de chirico detective-story-drenched cinematography.

Writer/director David Lynch, distributor Roadshow, screening nationally

The Circle

Kirsten Krauth
Circle Circle
A tightening loop of restrictions and oppression as we trek along Tehran’s streets with women shackled but strong, evading brothers and fathers and policemen and lovers and doctors, men who must sign to guarantee these women’s dreams. Signs of rebellion link them: letting their traditional headwear drop to reveal lively intelligent faces, smoking cigarettes desperately in the night. A woman abandons her child on a busy city street, crouching behind a car, desperate. We flow slowly, evenly, from one character to another, with Panahi’s elegant linking narrative device beautifully revealed at the film’s end.

Writer/director Jafar Panahi, distributor New Vision, currently at Dendy Cinemas, Sydney, other states to follow.

The Diaries of Vaslav Nijinsky

Jane Mills
Based on one of the best accounts of the experience of entering psychosis ever written by a major artist, this often glorious synaesthetic mix of poetry, dance, music and movement tiptoes round the edge of the romantic nonsense of the ‘mad genius.’ Like Cox’s film about Vincent van Gogh, this is neither documentary nor drama but a genre of its own and at times reaches extraordinary levels of beauty and compassion.

Writer/director Paul Cox, distributor Sharmill Films, April release.

Australian Rules

Mike Walsh
The controversies surrounding the production of this film find their parallel in its thematics: the triumph of the Sensitive White Guy is central, while black people suffer nobly around the margins. The recessive Aussie protagonist gets another workout, as does the country town as vision of hell. Mix two parts Black Rock with one part Wake in Fright.

Director Paul Goldman, writers Phillip Gwynne, Paul Goldman; Shedding Light, Adelaide Festival 2002, March, national release mid-year.

No Man’s Land

Mark Mordue
Set in a trench in ‘no man’s land’ during the Bosnian War, the film focuses on 2 soldiers—Ciki, a Bosnian and Nino, a Serb—playing cat and mouse with each other in between uneasy recognitions of a common humanity. Tanovic worked as a documentary maker for the Bosnian Army and much of his work was used internationally as news footage, so he knows how to capture the clumsy needs and dark banality of the war experience: a fog where no one can see, a kicked metal bucket, a cigarette without a lighter, a soldier who wears glasses, the sweaty frustration of what should be a serene summer’s day in the countryside. As Ciki and Nino, Branko Djuric and Rene Bitorajac argue their way towards nowhere much at all, a circus of media sensations and international politics dances around them. Tanovic’s perspective is bitter but darkly humorous (“Rwanda, what a mess,” observes one soldier reading a paper) and the acting in this mostly stunning two-hander is extremely tight and convincing; a fierce display of prejudices and cynicism triumphing against all common sense. The hopelessness is mitigated by Tanovic’s taste for laughter, often absurd, finally sour, and a deeper, restrained sadness that lingers in the film’s last hovering image. No winners here.

Writer/director/composer Danis Tanovic.

Walking on Water

Brendan Swift
Drawing on personal experience, Roger Monk’s confronting script tackles the big questions—grief, infidelity, jealousy, and betrayal—without being pretentious enough to answer them. Interspersed with touches of black humour, the film captures the struggle of Charlie (Vince Colosimo) and Anna (Maria Theodorakis) after they help a terminally ill friend die; a journey ably complemented by the naturalistic direction of Tony Ayres.

Writer Roger Monk, director Tony Ayres, distributor Globe Film;Shedding Light, Adelaide Festival 2000, March; national release mid-year.

The Tracker

Mike Walsh
Rolf de Heer’s The Tracker addresses itself to the contradiction between land and history in Australia. Natural beauty c alls forth cultural ugliness, and epic landscape produces a banality of cultural response on the part of European settlement. The film is unfailingly beautiful, but the insertion of paintings at moments of violence suggests that the aesthetic is what we invoke when we can’t bear to watch.

Writer/director Rolf de Heer, distributor Globe Film, Shedding Light, Adelaide Festival 2002, March; national release mid-2002.


David Varga
Promises Promises
Promises brings the opposing discursive histories of the warring sides of Palestine together, distilled through the experiences of children. While Hasidic Jewish boy Moishe quotes the Torah to legitimise Israeli occupation, Mahmoud the Hamas supporter offers title deeds. A documentary that subtly subverts humanistic optimism, revealing the intractable nature of the Palestinian conflict.

Directors Justine Shapiro, B. Z. Goldberg and Carlos Bolado, distributor Ronin Films.

RealTime issue #48 April-May 2002 pg. 20

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