Melbourne International Film Festival – Day Sixteen. By Simon Miraudo.
I don’t normally write movie reviews while wearing a suit – it just seems a little formal considering the nature in which I usually watch the films; unshaven, in a hoodie, eating a kit kat – but I’m about to head off to the Closing Night festivities of the 2011 Melbourne International Film Festival. Yes, after sixteen days of spending hours and hours (and hours!) inside a cinema, eating poorly and barely sleeping, in an attempt to squeeze in 60 films, it’s time for myself and my fellow MIFF Blog-A-Thoners to get all dolled up for the red carpet. It will not be a pretty sight. So, while I go rub shoulders with Victoria’s finest (or, as is more likely, stand in the corner and Tweet incessantly), please enjoy my brief reviews of films 57 and 58 of my 60 Film challenge.
57) Page One: Inside The New York Times
My first thought at the end of Page One was not, “Gee, I hope the newspaper industry survives”, but rather, “Hmm, I didn’t realise that there are no female journalists working at The New York Times.” Seriously, couldn’t director Andrew Rossi have found at least one lady to follow at the famed newspaper, amongst all the (admittedly, fascinating) dudes? It’s a shame that that is the lingering feeling I had upon leaving the cinema, as I do hope the newspaper industry survives, and I care about the issues relating to the changing media landscape rather deeply. But for a film about an industry that respects objectivity and fair reporting, it doesn’t go out of its way to find the lady writers. If the NY Times really is that much of a boys’ club, then surely its worth discussing in the doco? Anyway… the featured males are all interesting enough subjects, as they attempt to report on the changing world (including the new wave of social media, the rise of Wikileaks and the supposed end of the war in Iraq) while their own paper comes under scrutiny as representative of a dying business model. The hero of it all is old-schooler David Carr, a croaky-voiced former crack addict who has found himself working the New Media desk, and is eager to cover it as best and honourably as he can. There are enough glimpses of exciting newsroom developments and lead-chasing to excite my fellow media geeks. Still, where the women at?
58) The Hollywood Complex
Well, at least I can leave MIFF saying that I saw a film even more depressing than The Turin Horse. Dylan Nelson and Dan Sturman’s The Hollywood Complex follows a bunch of child-actor hopefuls and their naïve/deluded/enabler parents holed up at the Oakwood apartment complex in Los Angeles. The resort is something like a Chateau Marmont for kiddies, in which the wannabees eagerly wait to score a role in the upcoming pilot season, but if a pilot is out of reach, a TV ad or Scientology instructional video will do. The kids range from young, wide-eyed enthusiasts, to heartbroken over-the-hill 13-year-olds (with the typical divas and crazies in the middle). There is nothing more distressing than seeing these eager kids have their dreams shattered – or even worse, to watch them and their going-broke parents devoting their lives to a pipe dream that will most likely never come true. I was concerned that the film would spend a lot of the time making fun of these kids, and to some degree, it does; you’re always laughing at, and never with, these subjects. But the picture, although hilarious, has more of a tragic tone than a mocking one. It plays like Sunset Boulevard Babies. That’s a compliment.