That’s a wrap: final thoughts and reflections on the 2011 Melbourne International Film Festival
Note: this blog post is not a strictly accurate account of the last moments of the 2011 Melbourne International Film Festival, for reasons that will become clear once/if you read it…
In the early hours of Sunday morning, the final day of screenings for the 2011 Melbourne International Film Festival, I woke up from a dream in which bright pink flying pigs dropped manure bombs onto the breasts of the statue of liberty. I blearily took note of my surroundings, scratched my head and drifted back to the sleep.
My final film lined up for this year’s MIFF was writer/director James Gunn’s outrageous post-mod superhero flick Super, starring The Office’s Rainn Wilson in his now staple role as a psycho dweeb. It would be my 61st film in 17 days and I wanted to go out on something snappy and invigorating. An hour or so before the 6:30pm screening I hopped in my car – a beat-up ’94 Magna station wagon known as The Great White Shark – and ventured to the city, feeling more than a pang of sadness that the curtain was about to close on this year’s festival.
As I drove down Nicholson street, approaching Flinders, past Parliament House and the Treasury Gardens, a very odd thing happened. What I can only clumsily describe as a loud silence erupted around me. Something impossible to see hit the car. I turned off the engine, mouth agape. I looked around and noticed that time…had stopped still.
A bird hung motionless in the air above me, an awesome sight: its body propelled in forward momentum but its wings, glistening from the wet and the last rays of sun, were completely still. Blades of grass, clumped together in patches in the park, now stood independently of each other, no longer as a communal movement but as brilliant entities of their own. In a world that relentlessly pulls itself forward, I sat and watched as absolutely nothing happened.
A few seconds later that changed. A slew of dark and despairing clouds spread like a virus over the horizon. From somewhere in them the figure of a person dressed entirely in black descended and slowly began walking towards me.
I sat back, frozen in time and now frozen in fear. This was it, I thought. This was the moment when some ambassador from hell would come and try to recruit me as a new working agent for the devil or Baz Luhrmann. But as the mysterious figure came closer, its intentions appeared not to be sinister at all. It stood next to the Great White Shark close enough for me to feel its musty breath. It reached into its robe, retrieved a small brass key and placed it in my hand. It didn’t speak a word but I understood what it was saying: hold onto this. You’ll need it.
I put the key in the inside pocket of my brown leather jacket and suddenly life started moving again – the bird continued flying, the grass waved in the wind — and I used the opportunity to reach over to the creature. I pulled the hoody away from its face and just as I began to see who it was….I woke up.
Two strange dreams in a single night. Maybe the craziness of seeing such a large number of films in such a short period of time had gone to my head, and my subconscious. I pottered around at home for the rest of the day and arranged to meet some friends before Super (film #61). I drove into the city in the Great White Shark, found a park, had a couple of beers with my mates then went inside. The film proved a perfect final choice: a peppy, blackly hilarious superhero send-up about a man who dons a DIY suit and goes around whacking people with a wrench. It could have simply been a portrait of a creepy guy with a bad attitude and a crappy costume – which it partly is – but was also hilarious, endearing and gory (an odd tripple score).
Afterwards I sauntered back to the festival lounge, mingled with other film festival nerds uneasy with the idea of letting go for another year, and returned to the Great White Shark. I opened the door, sat down and tried to put my key in the ignition. It wouldn’t fit. Same key, same car, every day. I tried it again. Again, it wouldn’t fit. And again. No go.
I contemplated calling the RACV and fumbled around, checking the pockets of my jeans and leather jacket. Inside the breast pocket of my jacket my fingers found something unusual. I removed a small brass key, put it in the ignition, and the engine purred to life. This was the key to my film festival highlights.
As a drove out of the car park, I noticed Ryan Gosling shuffle past me nonchalantly, his jacket smeared in blood (Drive). I saw Noam Chimpsky standing on a street corner, signing the words “hug me” to a petrified stranger (Project Nim). Somewhere high above him, next to a hotel window with a couple of long range rifles, two hired assassins bickered about what they were going to eat for dinner (Kill List) while on the same floor a panicked Frenchman tried to figure out what to do with a hostage in a bath tub (Top Floor Left Wing). In the hotel’s function room I saw, through the blinds, Matthew Newton managing a mediation session between a bunch of disgruntled people (Face to Face).
I pressed my foot down on the accelerator when two sweaty Brazilian men ran out of a cafe and started chasing each other with huge guns (Elite Squad: The Enemy Within), right past Paul Giamatti, who was carrying a briefcase and looked characteristically downtrodden (Win Win). I eventually arrived home, switched off the engine, got out of the car and saw a mysterious series of words below me in tiles on the concrete, something about Toynbee and Planet Jupiter (Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles).
These were some of my favourite festival films. To all those who have kept reading, thanks for following me through this wild experience, and congratulations to MIFF for putting together another vibrant and exciting program.
Recapping MIFF blog posts:
- Covering the 2011 Melbourne International Film Festival
- Opening Night: Fairies, a hissing microphone, red onion tart canapes and fine company
- Day one: Three, The King of Comedy, The Silence of Joan, Hobo With a Shutgun
- Day two: The Hollywood Complex, El Valador, The Eye of the Storm, Take Shelter
- Day two half midnight mini mental update
- Day three: Surviving Life, Fruit of Paradise, Exporting Raymond, 13 Assassins
- Day four: Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles, Win Win, Detroit Wild City, 33 Postcards, The Unjust
- Day five: The Stoker, Viva Las Vegas, Bobby Fischer Against the World, Face to Face
- Day six: Project Nim, The Matchmaker, Tabloid, The Future
- Day seven: The Big Sleep, Winter’s Daughter, Jess + Moss, Submarine
- Day eight: Top Floor Left Wing, Experiment Shorts, Finisterrae, Outrage
- Day nine and ten: Toomelah, POM Wonderful Presents the Greatest Movie Ever Sold, Little Rock, Page One: Inside the New York Times, I’m Not Dead Yet, Short Film Awards
- Day eleven: Boxing Gym, Buck, Polisse, Khodorkovsky
- The cinema of life: when a film triggers a memory and that memory becomes reality
- Day twelve: Tuesday After Christmas, Natural Selection
- Day thirteen: Sensational Sonata, Outside Satan, Being Elmo, Elite Squad: The Enemy Within
- Day fourteen: Innocent Saturday, Life in a Day, The Slap
- After a film screening, my encounter with the long flabby arm of the law…
- Day fifteen: The Ugly Duckling, My Wedding and Other Secrets, Swerve, Kill List
- Day sixteen: The Mill and the Cross, Wasted Youth, Drive
- The Melbourne International Film Festival’s blog-a-thon snub: a case of MIFFmanagement or contempt for bloggers?