RSS

Tag Archives: Canberra International Film Festival

Lapland Odyssey

Introducing his film at the Canberra International Film Festival, director Dome Karukoski talked about the Finnish cultural cringe, and my first thought was that this would relate well in Australia, where our national identity is also commonly defined by our deficits. Lapland Odyssey is a hilarious romp through a landscape that’s about as foreign to Australia as it is possible to get, but its characters and humour will be as familiar to audiences of Australian films as sunshine and barbecues.

Karukoski is suitably cynical of the saleability of a comedy that starts with five suicides, but this black opening sets the tone perfectly for the hapless Janne. In his all-night search for the digibox he needs to secure his marriage, Janne leads his two hapless friends into Finnish Lapland wilderness amongst blizzard conditions, Russian tourists, the Aurora Borealis, animatronic deer and not a few boobs.

If I have to watch a formula film, the road movie is always my favourite. The formula, at its best, lends itself to a strong and consistent plot arc, excellent characterisation and endless laughs. Lapland Odyssey has all these features and is a model of the genre.

It puts me in mind especially of what I think is one of Australia’s best comedies: Lucky Miles. Also a road movie, it is set in our most extreme landscape and finds humour in the imperfections of our national character. Lapland Odyssey does much the same in a Finnish context, and is also funny as hell!

You may have missed your chance to see this as part of the 2011 Canberra International Film Festival; for a taste, the trailer is here.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on Friday, 4 November 2011 in Film, Finnish Film

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

King of Devil’s Island

The violence of power and the power of violence are both explored beautifully in King of Devil’s Island. A true story, based on events occurring in 1915 at Bastøy Island in the Fjord of Oslo; a detention centre for ‘maladjusted boys’, as the subtitles tell us.

Maladjusted is somewhat ironic in the context of this story. The boys in the film are remarkably well-adjusted, and have as keen a sense of right and wrong as their ‘protectors’. Each of the film’s protagonists fail at some point to act according to their convictions, as do their protectors, who subtly develop into the story’s antagonists.

What I like most about this film is that although it casts certain historical figures clearly in the role of antagonists, all of them are fully developed, and all but one are depicted with a degree of empathy. Just like the protagonists, they’re pawns in a bloody game of chess being played by rulers as remote and inviolate as kings. Violence, in this context, is the inevitable response.

I can hardly put into words how much I like this film. Beautifully shot in the fjords, with precise timing matching the mood of the film to the development of the winter and remarkable performances from a very talented cast. This film is perfect.

You may have missed your chance to see this as part of the 2011 Canberra International Film Festival; for a taste, the trailer is here.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on Sunday, 30 October 2011 in Film, Norwegian Film

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Toomelah

Toomelah is a particularly interesting film, if not especially engaging. Writer and Director Ivan Sen went into the New South Welsh township of Toomelah, which began life as an Aboriginal mission, and filmed this story with the local community performing the roles. As characters and performers, they offer a lot. They are, in a sense, playing themselves, and although the story is fictitious, the setting and the circumstances of life in Toomelah is very real.

After the screening at Arc, Sen described the experience of making the film in this community. He went alone, with no film crew, in order to get unhindered access to the community, and to allow the performers more scope to ignore the camera. The effect is remarkable; these characters come to life, despite having just about the thinnest plot I’ve ever seen. There was one point while watching the film when I wondered whether the story was actually just Sen following Daniel Connors around and filming his real life.

The reality, though, is that this is a fictitious story about a real community, played by the people of the community. The slowness of life in this community is, presumably, captured faithfully, but unfortunately I don’t think this verisimilitude does the film any favours. It asks a lot of the audience to keep watching, and while I think this is often acceptable, it is more effective when the story is more engaging.

I think it is particularly important that we tell the story of diverse Aboriginal communities, but I still think these stories need to be told in the dominant storytelling form of our society. While Toomelah is a film worthy of our attention, I doubt it will get much. With a plot arc this slow, it takes pre-established empathy with the characters for an audient to sit through it.

So I find it sad that I don’t think Toomelah will get much attention. It is worthy of every Australian’s attention, but its interest lies in the way it was made and what it offers as a picture of life in this community, rather than being intrinsic to the film.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on Saturday, 29 October 2011 in Australian Film, Film

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,