If you’ve been busy with exams, sun-baking down at the beach, or still wrapped up in your doona watching Netflix in bed (in which case get it together; the weather is too good to be inside), you may not know that The Adelaide Film Festival had just rolled through. Dozens of interesting films, animations, and documentaries were showcased from October 15 – 25th. Some of the directors, writers, and actors even came down to participate in Q&A sessions as well as meet the fans and film-lovers.
Chapter I: Office
Office is directed by Hong Won-Chan and stars Park Sun-Woong and Ko Ah-Sung. A detective investigates a homicide case and begins to unravel the dark secrets of the office in which the suspect worked. The film is critical of the office and corporate working environment, and director Won-Chan stated that although he has not worked in an office such as this himself, he has had many family and friends who have, and he was able to draw inspiration from their experiences and twist it into a thrilling film.
The films cinematography was near immaculate. It’s clear that thought went into each shot. Won-Chan is a master at tension, and in Office it can be described as a slow burn that ramps up until you find that you’ve found yourself in a crackling inferno.
The dialogue is crisp and short; not a line seemed wasted or out of place. The mood is dark but not without humor sprinkled throughout, while the pacing is perfect, and there’s never a dragging moment.
A well-deserved 5/5.
Chapter II: Cemetery of Splendour
Otherwise known as Rak Ti Khon Kaen, the film is labelled as a Thai drama centered around a sleeping sickness spreading amongst a group of soldiers. The most fascinating part of this film was Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s cinematography. The way he framed the shots and was able to capture so much information was astounding. Then, because the film utilises a wide variety of unique long cuts, it really leaves an impression.
Unfortunately there was little drama to speak of, and I cared nothing for the characters or the way they simply meandered about the village, as though they too wished there were more plot or some sense of progression. So alas, the stellar visuals of this art-house-esque film weren’t enough to keep it from dragging on heavily as it passed the halfway mark.
An unfortunate 2/5.
Chapter III: The Tribe
I wasn’t sure how to feel in the hours leading up to this film. Perhaps I was simply tired, because my interest in attending had faltered a little. But wow, I was glad that I did.
If you haven’t heard, The Tribe is a film told through deaf people. There is no dialogue or subtitles to hold your hand along the way as you follow alongside this new student who is roped into some sort of… Clique? Gang? Mafia? See, I don’t even know the finer details of the movie and I still came out loving it. The actors did brilliantly in their raw emotion, and the director seemed to be a big fan of long tracking shots. While I was a little confused as to certain motivations and how quickly events shifted (I had no sense of how long passed between beginning and end), I can truly say that I came out shocked and captivated by what may be one of the best releases this year.
Here, have a 4/5.
Chapter IV: The VVitch
It has been so long since I’ve seen a good horror movie. And no, I didn’t enjoy It Follows or The Babadook.
The VVitch was supposed to change that. The film promised to satisfy my hunger of the uncanny and unpleasant. It seemed to be everything I ever wanted, and as I settled into my seat, I prepared myself for a true gem of a film.
So did it follow through?
Well… Yes and no.
The VVitch was A-class in its setting, acting, and use of tension and score. It deals with religion and witchcraft back in 1630, and paints a dark, twisted image of human behaviour. The biggest problem with the film was the 87-minute runtime that left me feeling empty; as though I had been given the most wonderful dessert, only to have it ripped away once I had take a few bites. There was so much more it could have offered. While I still believe that it’s certainly a film you should check out, I can’t say that I wasn’t a little disappointed.
Chapter V: Girl Asleep
The final day of the festival. I had probably eaten more popcorn than any one man should consume in his lifetime, and the staff were beginning to tell tales of how I lived in the rafters and stalked the empty hallways when the cinema vacated, making manic goat noises at anyone who dared approach me.
I had been one of the lucky ones to receive a ticket for the sold out showing of Girl Asleep, an Australian coming-of-age type of film starring Bethany Whitmore and a host of local Adelaide teenagers who preformed fantastically. Set in the 70’s, the film was adapted from a trilogy of plays, and hosts a magnitude of charm and fairy-tale-type surrealism.
I didn’t enjoy much of the editing towards the end of the film, but appreciated what the film was trying to convey. An overall enjoyable watch.
I bestow upon thee a 3/5.
Chapter VI: The Lobster
I began the Adelaide film festival on a high note, and thus came full-circle and ended on a high note. The Lobster is a dark comedy set in a dystopian future, and stars one of my personal favourite actors, Collin Farrell. In a nutshell, the film is outrageous; hilarious; bold; blunt; sad; and thought-provoking.
The momentum that the film built seemed to falter slightly towards the end, but that would be my only complaint if I needed to make one. That and the fact that it has kept me up all night wondering what animal I’d like to be…
Look! It’s a 4/5
I would recommend everyone be on the lookout for more film events and festivals, as Palace Nova Eastend is constantly housing these throughout the year. What better use of your time than to sit comfortably in a dark room, surrounded by total strangers all getting lost in the same spectrums of light?
None, I’d argue.