Shadows regulars and fabbo people, Tyson and Sim hosted a couple of screenings of films they sourced which they would have seen at MIFF if illness and other annoyances hadn't got in the way. While none of these titles made my dance card I was very grateful for the opportunity to see them and for the most part enjoyed my socks off at the witness I bore of them. Here are the results...
Barbara: Barbara has fallen foul of the East German authorities and has been consigned to ply her trade as a doctor to a country hospital held together by a kind of administrative gaffer tape. She is befriended by the local version of the medical hunk but she has her own plans and they don't involve hanging around in Dowdyburg. There is a carefully laid and maintained tightrope of tension here between what Barbara wants to do and the forces that would seek to prevent it, as well as a slowly thawing humanitarian tale which only serves to add more complication. Some obviousness in plotting and expository dialogue are smoothed over with good performances, particularly Nina Hoss in the title spot who can transform herself from severity to softness in seconds.
Undefeated: Documentary shows how a new coach strains to drag his underdog high school football team from the centre of the earth to a level playing field. Theme of constantly maintained inspiration in the face of defeatism engendered by lack of privilege works but for me the sporting surface gets in the way. That really is just me, though.
Easy Money: Swedish crime lifestyler involving ethnic gangs and an ambitious wrong-tracks guy trying to climb the social ladder with some of the money in the title. Workmanlike and effective if a little too generic too frequently. Performances very good throughout and good pacing help. I think we have grown too used to tv of this quality and now expect our cinema to reach further.
Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present: Performance artist docco gets going once the talking head plattitudes roll off and the show of the subtitle gets under way at New York's MOMA. Abramovic sits in a chair and looks at whomever sits in the one across from her. Results widely varying and steadily affecting as people from the very straight-laced to others so loosesly fastened they need to be removed by security. Too many profiles of performance artists fail to dispell the apparent silliness of the acts for me but the strength of the concept of this one was able to transcend its initial eulogistic tone and assume its own life.
Thanks again to Tyson and Sim for their generous hosting of these home screenings. Having failed to ressurect Shadows as a screening night through want of a venue and then seen so much defeating the micro cinema, my wish that the home screening could address the void left by the death of the arthouse scene in Melbourne might well have wings. Get projectors, ye cinebods 'n' frameophiles, and get some folks around. Let our flickering friends live loud and colourful upon your walls! We need it.