My passion for film has reignited since I arrived in Australia just over a year ago after spending the best part of 12 years living overseas with no access to a regular cinema. I have spent the last year reacquainting myself with the cinema experience as well as introducing myself slowly into the online world of movie related geekery. It was here that I read Ryan McNeil (from the always informative and insightful The Matinee) account of attending the Toronto International Film Festival, as well numerous Australian bloggers who attended both the Sydney and Melbourne film festivals.
Their experiences sounded incredible, so it was fair to say that I was quite excited about attending the 16th Canberra International Film Festival (CIFF), which whilst not on the same scale as others, still boasted 60 films from 30 different countries. Additionally, this was not only my first time attending CIFF but it was also my first ever festival. There was lots to look forward to.
I skipped the opening gala evening and showing of Ken Loach’s The Angel’s Share, as it was over $50 a ticket, which seemed a little extreme, so my CIFF kicked off on the second day with two screenings at the beautiful, yet contemporary, Arc Cinema at the National Film and Sound Archive.
CIFF Film One – Grabbers
Director – Jon Wright
Starring – Richard Coyle, Ruth Bradley
Writer – Kevin Lehane
Year – 2012
Running Time – 94 mins
This was a great start to my festival, essentially a tale of Tremors in Tipperary. Richard Coyle (of Coupling fame) stars as a Garda officer, who alongside Ruth Bradley is posted to a small island off the Irish coast, which is invaded by blood sucking aliens. As so many often do, the local community turn to drink in order to drown their sorrows only to discover that being drunk may actually be their salvation.
Horror comedy is such a hard genre to get right, but Grabbers is pitched perfectly in this regard. The aliens look convincing, the story is ridiculous yet solid and the wide supporting cast put in entertaining performances whilst gently poking fun at their own stereotypical tendencies.
Highly recommended, Grabbers will grab you from the off and is a smart, intelligent and above all else funny horror comedy which succeeds where so many others have failed.
CIFF Film Two – Berberian Sound Studio
Director – Peter Strickland
Starring – Toby Jones, Tonia Sotiropoulou, Cosimo Fusco
Writer – Peter Strickland
Year – 2012
Running Time – 92 mins
Toby Jones stars as a British sound engineering sent to work on a Giallo Italian horror film in Rome. Jones, more used to recording the sounds of the British countryside, sons finds himself at odds with not only his new employers but also with the dark nature of the film.
This was a real contrast to Grabbers and much more hard work. The first half is interesting, especially looking at how a sound is mixed into a film, so much so that I will never look at vegetables and fruit in the same way again. The second half however dives deeper into Jones’s consciousness and it is hard to tell at times what is real and what is reality.
This deeper second half brought a significant amount of walkouts in the screening I was in, and if I am honest, I did consider it as well. However in the end I was glad that I stayed, but I am not sure I could really tell you what the last 20 minutes meant.
Worth watching for Toby Jone’s performance as well as a fascinating the opening half; however if you want to understand the second, then knowledge of 1970’s Italian horror films and especially Giallo would certainly help.