Friday, 2 August 2013

MIFF Week 1

End of week 1 already, eep! I had huge plans for MIFF this year; something like 50 films highlighted in my guide and a plan to watch something every night that I wasn’t working. Unfortunately (of course) that was a bit of a pipe dream, but I still made it to 3 films in this opening week of the festival.

Drinking Buddies
My first film of the festival, a return to the glory of MIFF! A quirky pleasing romantic comedy from the mumblecore tradition that seems to dominating the festival circuit at the moment. The perfect thing to get me back in the festival mindset. Rom coms are usually just about my least favourite genre of cinema, but this one does alright. Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson play best friends working together in a microbrewery who clearly have a lot of chemistry but are both dating other people. I’ve read a few reviews of this one that seem to centre on the “terrible ending” but for me it totally worked. I’m trying for minimal spoilers here, so all I’ll say is that one of the things that puts me off most romantic comedies is an delirious, overly syrupy ending designed to encourage the masses to marry and reproduce. This such ending Drinking Buddies mercifully shies away from, providing instead an ending that is both realistic and complicated. My only real criticism is that I couldn’t really see what either of the leads saw in their respective partners to begin with, it was too obvious that the leads were much better suited to each other

The first thing that needs to be said about this film is that it is directed by Alex Winter, aka the-guy-who’s-not-Keanu-Reeves-in-Bill-and-Ted’s-Excellent-Adventure. I liked the film anyway, but liked it so much more once I discovered that fun fact. This solid documentary traces the rise and fall of Napster and its creators. As someone who has only really known a world where music is shared online, it was fascinating to explore the revolutionary thinking surrounded this program’s conception. My only real gripe is that I wish they spent a little less time looking at how everyone involved in Napster came to be so, and instead looking at the influence of Napster on social media communities like Friendster, Myspace and Facebook, as well as the influence on music distribution models like iTunes and Spotify. Those for me were two of the most interesting points raised in the film, and yet they were only really mentioned in passing.

The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology
Arts degrees are really good at providing one with theorist’s names to drop when we want to sound smarter. Slavoj Zizek is near the top of my personal list for this purpose, so how could I resist a film where he talks about what films say about us. Zizek here inserts himself into the very sets of our favourite films to tear apart their ideology one at a time. This documentary is thought-provoking and unexpectedly funny, but most definitely also long and intense. He moves really quickly through the material, so while I found everything he had to say interesting and entertaining, I was struggling to see what the overall point of the film was. Zizek also drops the theories of Jacques Lacan and Immanuel Kant into his musings with little to no introduction to the material, leaving me to wonder if anyone who hadn’t completed a liberal arts degree would be able to follow (my friend and I who both had were still struggling at points). In any case, hearing Zizek talk about the ideological implications of a Kinder Surprise makes for at least a good movie.

Bring on the second half of MIFF!

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