It's been about eighteen years of waiting for a decent opportunity, but at long last I have made it this year to the Sydney Film Festival.
So far I have seen nine films, ranging from the earnestly good to the bloody brilliant, and I'm booked in for two more before the Festival closes next Sunday.
Here are some brief reviews of the first three films that I saw, with more to follow in future posts:
A Hero's Welcome - Documentary about, and narrated by, Timor-Leste president Xanana Gusmao, shot before the current problems flared up. The film is something of a hagiography of Xanana, but by all reports he's that kinda guy. Directed by Grace Phan, the former CNBC Asia presenter who answered questions following the screening (which was in fact the world premiere). The aerial photography of the Timorese countryside is quite beautiful.
An Inconvenient Truth - The best motion picture adaptation of a Powerpoint presentation I have ever seen (and hopefully the only one). Al Gore's lecture on the impact of global warming is quite powerful and very persuasive - and if you live on the coast, any coast, start worrying now. Question though: which special effects unit was responsible for making Gore appear human? I've seen this film debunked on the basis of Gore's politics and the wonky environmental track record of the Clinton administration. Don't shoot the messenger. This is one film that should be seen by everyone. (And no, he gives no opinion on the future of nuclear power.)
Cinemas, Aspirin and Vultures - It's a road movie. Yes, I find the genre boring too, but at least this was an offbeat story in an unusual location - rural Brazil during World War II. A German flees to Brazil to escape the War and becomes a travelling salesman spruiking the new wonder drug, aspirin, and showing commercials to people who get no other movie entertainment. He befriends a bloke who apparently is based on director Marcelo Gomes' father, and they travel around together until Brazil declares its entry to WWII. At which point all German nationals are ordered to either return home or enter an internment camp in Sao Paolo... The Brazilian swing music of the 20s and 30s makes for an interesting soundtrack, including a young pre-Hollywood Carmen Miranda.