Pop Culture #643
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Pop Culture #643

With the Melbourne International Film Festival just around the corner, now’s your big chance to see a whole bunch of the kind of films usually only seen inside tiny YouTube windows. With the flood of film festivals these days – if you can name a corner of the world, chances are they’ve got their own film festival – MIFF isn’t quite as all-encompassing as it once was.

But there’s no denying that it’s the premier film festival in this part of the world and a great way to see a whole lot of things that you might otherwise miss. That said, hopefully you’ve already gone and booked your tickets, as a lot of the high profile films – The Neon Demon, Weiner, Paul Verhoeven’s Elle – have already sold out.

But MIFF usually manages a way to throw on a few extras sessions of the big films in their surprise sessions, plus a lot of those films will be getting a regular release in the months to come. So rather than looking on missing out as, well, missing out, perhaps instead see it as an opportunity to check out some films you might otherwise have overlooked – such as the following:

*Mahana: New Zealand director Lee Tamahori (Once Were Warriors) returns home after an extensive career in Hollywood to tell this tale of rivalries between two sheep-rearing families in the 1960s. A cross between a western and a coming-of-age tale, it’s a powerful drama and a strong evocation of a lost stretch of New Zealand’s past.

*Paterson: Perhaps Jim Jarmusch’s most existential film yet (and that’s saying something), this is a look at the week in the life of a bus driver (Adam Driver) in which pretty much nothing out of the ordinary happens. But the focus on daily life brings with it its own insights – or just the chance to enjoy Driver’s low-key charm.

*The Jerry Lewis festival: This year MIFF is showing all twelve films directed by Jerry Lewis. From his 1950’s comedy classic The Bellboy through to Smorgasbord (aka Cracking Up), his final film. Not only is it a rare chance to see these films on the big screen, it’s an opportunity to reassess a director increasingly praised for his contribution to both comedy and cinema in general. Plus The Nutty Professor is hilarious.

*Beware the Slenderman: A disturbing look at the true-crime tale of two teenage girls who stabbed a 12 year-old 19 times in an attempt to become the servants of the fictional internet character ‘Slenderman’. As if the internet wasn’t scary enough.

*The Salesman: The latest film from Iranian director Asghar Farhadi (The Past) centres on a couple starring in an amateur production of Arthur Miller’s classic play Death of a Salesman. But when one of them is violently attacked a rift opens up between them in this mix of suspenseful drama and nuanced character study.

*A Hologram for the King: If you’re wondering what Tom Hanks is doing in the promos for this year’s MIFF, this is it. Director Tom Tykwer adapts David Eggers novel about an IT specialist (Hanks) trying to persuade a Saudi king to purchase a holographic teleconferencing system – a job that leaves him with plenty of time to wonder how his life led him here.

*Tickled: It’s a New Zealand documentary looking at the (totally real) world of competitive tickling. What more do you need to know?

Written by Anthony Morris

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