BRINGING BACK BIFF – BIFF 2005 PART III

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Here we are back again to look at the history of the Brisbane International Film Festival. By the way just look at that poster above, one of my favourite BIFF posters although as some of my fellow BIFF vollys pointed out what was happening in the picture? Was the poor girl drowning, was that the symbol of our film festival?! Never the less I think it’s gorgeous and a print of it appeared on all our Volly T-shirts of which I still have mine. The 17th BIFF, the third I attended and second I volunteered at had a strong line-up of road movies of which I took full advantage of and shifted a lot of screenings to South Bank Cinemas. At it I saw 18 films apparently, from India, Israel Austria, the U.S.A., Australia, and kicked off a deep affection for Canadian cinema with The Love Crimes of Gillian Guess and Phil The Alien.

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BACKROADS: Saturday the 6th of August I was back in Regent Cinema 1 to see the Australian classic Backroads in Regent Cinema 1 at 5:50pm. There was short film called Yella Fella which I saw at least bits of beforehand. It was about the life of mixed race actor Tommy Lewis (star of The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith) who grew up not feeling part of either community at times. Backroads itself only runs 60minutes and was shot in 16mm back in 1977 featuring the debut of director Phillip Noyce who had some great movies during his career effortlessly gliding between Hollywood blockbusters and films of substance. A first rate storyteller. Backroads starred the great Bill Hunter and Gary Foley who drive around NSW on a bit of a crime spree. These men are not friends, they’re brought together by circumstances, by today’s standards Bill Hunter’s Jack is racist and even by the standards is openly confrontational with Gary Foley’s Gary. Yet through these lack of political correctness and open disrespect comes direct dialogue where opinions are put forward and explained why by the character’s own experiences. Both men begin to view the other in a different light and Jack’s confused feelings about race and beliefs begin to be challenged. I found the film excellent and revealed Noyce’s talent at making exciting action but thoughtful ideas existed right from the beginning of his career.

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HOTEL: I can’t tell if I saw Backroads as Volly or a paying customer but I assure you I saw Hotel a horror film from Austria/Germany in Regent Cinema 1 at 9:40pm with the privileges of being a Volly. A slow burn of horror film, there’s no gore and no threat really every sighted. We’re left to wonder what happens, directed by Jessica Hausner, this is all about mood and atmosphere. I really enjoyed it but barely remember much all this time later including whether I snoozed a little near the end.

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UP AND DOWN: There was a screening of this film (a co-production of the Czech Republic and Australia), at 03AUG2005 at 7:25pm in Regent Cinema 3 but I believe I saw it Sunday the 7th of August, 2005 at 2pm in South Bank Cinema 4. Wow time really does fade the memory, I barely remember much about Up and Down except that it was a really good movie. Reading through my BIFF booklet somethings come back, a couple who adopt a child sold to them by people traffickers, a son returning to Europe from his utopian Australia. The last bit was particularly ironic. You see the child is ‘brown’ and the husband does not want to keep it as a result but his wife who can’t have children feels very differently. There’s various races represented by the characters and the racial tensions that were already smouldering in Europe at the time. Of course while the film doesn’t present this, these are similar issues facing Australia as well. The film caps off a trilogy started with Divided We Fall and Pupendo from writer/director Jan Hrebejk and co-writer Petr Jarchovsky. Of course I don’t have answers for these complex questions. Up and Down doesn’t really either but its a timely reminder that we’re all human, we’re all looking for a better life for our families and there will be predators exploiting that need. Since Up and Down the growing threat of domestic terrorism has only expanded. If we close our borders and our hearts the monsters who drive cars into people, behead British soldiers and set off bombs in Paris will win. On the other hand we can’t idly by and not react. Up and Down is a reminder that most immigrants only make a nation richer, to recognise our common humanity, to remain hopeful for the future and to never let racism thrive no matter the circumstances. In that way Up and Down only gets more timely.

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WALL: Screening on Sunday 07AUG2005 in Regent Cinema 3 at 7:30pm was Wall from Israel and France directed by Simone Bitton. Pretty sure I came over from South Bank to the Regent to catch this. May have snoozed but this followed on from the previous film in terms of how we shut ourselves out to be safe but that doesn’t necessarily make it so. An interesting film I may have been guilty of snoozing a tad through this, it seems to happen more in the sessions I get into as a Volly rather than a paying customer, coincidence? Images of Israel and Palestine have haunted me from this film ever since. The question of how we can hate ourselves so much and how can we come to peace with each other is at the heart of similar war torn territories from the Sudan to Northern Ireland to the former Yugoslav to the Middle East. I hope we find the answers one day.

ROADGAMES: Was the last film I saw at BIFF 2005 and the last film I saw from the Blacktop Dreams program. An Australian film made in 1981 it screened Sunday 07AUG2005 at South Bank Cinema 4 at 9:20pm. The landscape of the time was fascinating, Road Games was the most expensive Australian film ever made at the time and the Australian film industry was at the height of its powers. A mish mash of tributes to the style of Alfred Hitchcock and 1970s Australian road movies and starring the Scream Queen herself Jaimie Lee Curtis it had dated very badly by 2005. Stacy Keach’s humour didn’t stand up and while he was a likeable enough lead I can’t help but wonder what could have been if original choice Sean Connery hadn’t been so expensive. Still the visuals are great and there’s some neat stuff. Quentin Tarantino says its one of his favourite movies, that’s great Quentin…I’m happy for you. I remember leaving late after the screening with one of the front house staff. I never really saw myself as very useful so I always tried to make up for it with an enthusiasm to help where I could. I hope I did.

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THELMA AND LOUISE: There is one more film to cover that I saw at BIFF 2005. I can’t tell you when I saw it, it was part of the free screenings at the Suncorp Piazza but obviously not CineSparks. These included the Max Max trilogy and many others so as you can see there were many road movies at BIFF 2005 that weren’t part of the Blacktop Dreams program which makes sense. Most of the films in that program were rare hard to find titles whereas the free screenings at the Suncorp Piazzi mostly included titles people had seen several times and possibly owned in their home collection. I chose to see Thelma and Louise for two simple reasons. It is my favourite film and I wanted to see it with a live audience and see how they reacted. So on a cold evening I think during the week I sat on the aluminium seats and watched up on a relatively big screen Thelma and Louise. I can’t say enough things about this film, once somebody seemed surprised that it was my favourite film as a man. I don’t identify as a feminist and but I think it is certainly a great feminist film. It rails against all the hypocrisies of our society and the way it treats women. It takes a classic male story of rebellion and freedom and gives it to these women. If you ever had the special edition of the DVDs I highly recommend for the commentaries from stars Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis, write Callie Khouri and director Ridley Scott. Scott who hails from Great Britain and is a master visualist captured what was so beguiling about the idea of the American open road. Most of the film was shot outside LA in regional California with some in Utah. When a helicopter flies through smoke swirling everything in its rotor wash everybody understands how Scott makes things look better. Yet  take for example a diner scene with Sarandon and Michael Madsen. The next scene is the same diner table with Davis walking in as Madsen leaves. One is shot closer with more intimate lighting. You won’t notice the difference until its pointed out to you and yet it evokes different moods. Its these subtleties that I don’t think Scott gets recognised enough for. Sarandon and Davis start out as two women wearing make-up and sunglasses. As the film goes on they get wilder, more boyish in their clothing, more natural and yes more beautiful. We’ve talked about car chases a bit with BIFF 2005, Thelma and Louise has one of the best car chases of all time that I don’t think gets celebrated enough.

That’s Davis sitting next to the stunt driver as they plough through the fence. But to get back to why it appeals to me? Because its about hitting the open road, its about not taking shit from anybody anymore, its about empowerment. I spoke to author and BIFF 2005 guest Jack Sargeant who had written quite a lot about road movies at the break-up party. I asked him what he thought of Thelma and Louise and he said he liked it but he didn’t think it was fair that Thelma and Louise paid for it in the end. I knew Ridley Scott’s intention was to make them mythic legends but I think Sargeant has a point. I’d be interested to know what Callie Khouri’s intention was with the ending. Hopefully one day soon I’ll write more about my favourite movie.

The next day was the last day at BIFF and true to tradition I did not work as a Volly but did attend the Volly party. The closing night film was The Jacket starring Adrien Brody and Keira Knightley.  We had the break-up at some pub at South Bank reflecting our move away from the Regent. I had spent some hours up in the foyer outside South Bank Cinema 3 and 4. I got out a mop and bucket and wiped the floor in between sessions because I could feel the stickiness of dried soft drink on the bottom of my shoes. I had gotten to hand with more of the front of house staff. One of the twins went to a café with me and got me to drink chinoto for the first time with coffee. Having a sweet tooth I was not a convert but I was surprised to find he didn’t care for Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing and was fascinated by his reasons. I hung out with Andre again and met his wife. There was a Volly from Norway who’s name I can’t remember but who was just the nicest guy who everybody fell in love with. Maybe I did work, I remember carrying an amplifier up to the top of that pub in preparation for the party. I asked the Executive Manager again if he felt BIFF had been successful and why. I had applied for a job with BIFF that year and so now knew the likelihood of that happening was minimal. I started to think of going back to uni to become a teacher rather that save up and travel to Canada. Looking back I really wish I had gone to Canada you make choices and these our the paths we take. BIFF 2005 was the best year I had at BIFF, BIFF 2004 will always hold a special place in my heart but this was it and I’m very grateful for these memories.

Today is Remembrance Day here in Australia, I would like to acknowledge all those who have sacrificed so much in war including those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Lest We Forget.

-Lloyd Marken

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STAR CHARACTERS ACTORS – STEPHEN TOBOLOWSKY

“Who’s that guy? I’ve seen him before but I don’t know where.” is a refrain used often when recognising character actors. Traditionally although not exclusively they’re interesting and dynamic performers who lack movie star good looks, maybe a charismatic persona (although arguably they do) or just that lucky break in their career. Often they’re regulated to similar types of roles, positions of authority, henchmen, working stiffs, parents in teen comedies, ugly ducklings around the office, oddballs in the ensemble. The list goes on. Yet if they play in enough good movies and get enough breaks they sometimes eclipse these roots to become marque names in their own right or at least get supporting or lead roles in straight to video fare or off Broadway theatre productions.

Such an actor is Stephen Tobolowsky who you may recognise from this photo.

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If not maybe this might job your memory.

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Or maybe more helpfully this.

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That’s right Mr Tobolowsky played Ned in Groundhog Day, the annoying guy that Bill Murray has to meet every morning over and over again. That punch is the beginning of Murray’s character deciding to the test the parameters of his predicament.

Character actors specialise in this, communicating the backstory or type of character quickly with little set up, proving a useful even pivotal foil for the star and then fading away. As the Internet Movie Data Base notes Tobolowsky has often played “annoying business-men types that the heroes or villains loathe to deal with”. So it’s interesting to note he’s played bad guys in action films like Bird on a Wire Image result for stephen tobolowskyor Glimmer Man of which there is an interesting story that you can find his quote about on IMDB. Probably his most successful roles and most substantial roles came in the late 1980s early 1990s but he had parts throughout in The Philadelphia Experiment, Spaceballs, Mississippi Burning, Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael, Sneakers, Basic Instinct, Single White Female, Memento. Over the past decade he has worked more in television and probably become more well known as a result having re-occurring parts in Deadwood, Glee, CSI: Miami, Heroes, Justified, Californication, The Mindy Project and Silicon Valley to name a few.

IMDB can give you a lot of information on his career so rather than crib from them I will simply discuss some favourites of mine.

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Community is a television show about adults going to community college to get ahead in life. One of the characters Abed (Danny Pudi) often makes meta references about the nature of television story telling and riffs on pop culture ensure. The best season is arguably Season 2 and Tobolowsky appears in a classic  episode Competitive Wine Tasting. Abed’s plot that episode is taking a class with Professor Peter Sheffield who teaches a class about Who’s the Boss? the TV show. Abed takes it upon himself to disprove the teachings of Professor Sheffield with predictable results. It’s not a showy performance per se but Tobolowsky like all great character actors shows up like he’s always been there, tells the story and disappears at episode’s end. It’s just if he wasn’t that good they wouldn’t have put him in that episode. Characters like that need good actors or the whole show fails.

Finally of all the great Tobolowsky’s performances he’s given us there’s a special place in my heart for Max who is Hal Slocumb’s partner (Harvey Keitel) in Thelma and Louise. They come across as two professionals, familiar with each other but different in temperament. In a scene where they were running up to a doorstep in the rain Keitel playfully pushed Stephen off the path unscripted. The kind of choice an actor will make to establish a history and rapport between characters in a quick throwaway moment. Later Hal and Max are briefing Thelma’s no good husband Darryl (Christopher McDonald)about how to talk to her on the phone to try and get information about her whereabouts. The scene is a masterclass in subtle acting from McDonald, Keitel and Tobolowsky as they slowly show the growing disdain the two detectives have for Darryl and him trying to hold onto some sense of their respect. It ends with the deadpan “Women love that shit.” delivered by Tobolowsky.  The choices made by the three actors here set up later scenes well.

Stephen Tobolowsky continues to work, happily married to his wife character actress Ann Hearn since 1988 with two kids, Stephen has some interesting real life tales of when he almost bit the bullet quite literally.

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Image result for stephen tobolowsky ann hearnYou can most likely hear some of them via his podcast The Tobolowsky Files where he relates personal behind the scenes stories. No matter what role, big or small Tobolowksy brings something unique and special to every one. Do you recognise him and do you have a favourite performance of his that you would like to share?

-Lloyd Marken

LLOYD MARKEN: SUNSHINE BLOGGER AWARD

CFY Sunshine Blogger award

I consider myself very lucky and grateful to have been nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award by Alan over at Content For You. Alan’s Blog is a great source of information, predominantly full of entertainment industry news, film reviews and interesting pieces of trivia about films and those that make them. Always eager to reblog something he enjoys from another blogger, his site allowed me to learn of the work of not just him but other fellow bloggers whose work I’ve come to enjoy. Please check out his answers here.

The aim of the game with the Sunshine Blogger award is to answer 11 questions Alan asked of me and then write my own questions for 11 Bloggers I nominate to answer. Thanks once again Alan, you’re a champ. I hope to avoid asking too many questions people have already received from previous nominations.

 

First up Alan asks the following 11 questions, any other readers please put your answers in the comments section

  1. You are on a desert island for a year, you can only take 3 movies with you, 1 action, 1 comedy and one drama, what would they be? I humbly submit Thelma and Louise could serve as a perfect example of all 3. Off the time of my head let’s throw Lethal Weapon and About Time in there too.
  2. Pick your favourite actor who played Bond? Sir Sean Connery. Accept no substitutes.
  3. Name a movie which you love but hardly anyone else seems to like? Only my wife and I seem to have seen About Time. What is wrong with you people?
  4. An actor or actress who no matter how bad the movie is you still want to watch it because the actor or actress is so good? I’ve followed Harrison Ford through some dog shit and loved him in it.
  5. What would have been the greatest decade for most high quality movies released? I don’t think you can beat the 1970s for American movies. I’m still hoping to see so many titles from that era and of course I grew up in the aftermath of that period that influenced so many of the movies I went and saw. I’ve noticed lately I’m getting nostalgia for films from the 90s more and more and I think that has to do with what the time meant to me as much as anything but it’s the 70s kids.
  6. What movie do you never want to see again, even if your life depended on it? If my life depends on it, I’ll see it okay! I will say the worst movie I ever saw was Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Movie for Your Colon or something like that. Ten minutes in I treated it like an endurance test and a matter of pride to sit and watch the whole thing. Years ago I watched the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre believing it was more than based on actual events. That dinner sequence at the end was excruciating but at least I can see the craft and success in what Tobe Hooper achieved there. Aqua Teen Hunger Force just sucked. I hated, hated, hated it.Image result for aqua teen hunger force movie for colon
  7. Of the current crop of teen and 20s actors-actresses who will still be a big star when they are 55? There’s no doubt in my mind that Elle Fanning and Emma Watson are fantastic actresses. Whether they’re big in 30 years is a crapshoot. Hollywood has no rhyme or reason and we’ve got a long way to go before there’s more roles for women over 40. Is it bad that girls came to mind. I thought of Felicity Jones immediately but she’s in her 30s. I think Aaron Taylor-Johnson had a moment in Kick-Ass. I’d like to see him still around too.
  8. For every one movie you watch in a theatre how many do you watch at home? That’s a tough one. Maybe 4.
  9. If you could spend one hour with a movie star past or present who would it be and why? James Stewart. Part of it would be that he is a Vet. Why I don’t’ know. I mean I’m not going to ask him about the war. I’d like to pick his brain though. Oh who am I kidding, it would be Jennifer Garner. I’d just sit there and drink it in. Maybe David Letterman, Johnny Carson, Christopher Reeve, Harrison Ford, Robin Williams….you get the idea.Image result for jennifer garner dinner texas buyers club
  10. Apart from your own, what is your favourite non commercial hobby movie blog? I have a few favourites. If you’re one of the 11 I chose I’d say you’re one of them. But if it has to be one, it’s Cindy Bruchman. She’s given me confidence in my own blog and there’s never post on her’s I skip. No post is ever too long or too short and they’re about subjects that interest me.
  11. How many movies do you think you watched in the last 12 months? Including ones I’ve already seen I think it could easily be over 400.

I nominate       Cindy Bruchman

GP Cox

Beetley Pete

VinneH

Paul S

Windswept and Interesting

It Rains…You Get Wet

A. Gray

Assholes Watching Movies

Eddie@Jaccendo

Feralc4t

Jimmy

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Anybody familiar with the excellent Inside the Actors Studio will recognise some of the questions below but they’re still interesting to ask them of you and the rest I came up with myself. 😛

  1. Where were you born?
  2. What sound or noise turns you on?
  3. What sound or noise turns you off?
  4. What is your favourite curse word?
  5. What is your favourite late night talk show host?
  6. What is the attribute you’ve admired most in a long term partner?
  7. When you arrive at the pearly gates, what do you hope God will say to you?
  8. What was the first James Bond you saw at the movies and was he your favourite Bond?
  9. What is one of the sexiest things somebody ever did for you?
  10. Did you or somebody close to you ever serve in the military?
  11. There is no such thing as an ugly person only somebody who doesn’t see how beautiful they truly are. Nonetheless out of modern celebrities who do you find the most attractive? Screen persona can inform this as well as the obvious physical attributes.