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Sydney Film Festival - Day 9

by Michael Collins

Another full day with five features to get through. It was a high standard all day and it was to finish with a highlight with the best film of the festival so far.

The day starts with a short film that addresses the age old debate of sport versus sex in the short film Hardball. One seems to interfere with the other - When you doing one, you’re thinking about the other.

The Great Match shows the reach of the football World Cup.

Firstly we are in the Mongolian desert with nomads and their hunting eagles. Then we are in another desert. This time in Niger with some camel herdsmen. Then it’s to the Amazonian rainforest where we meet some Indians.

What do they have in common?

They are all trying to watch the World Cup final between Brazil and Germany.

The film – really 3 films in one – is stunning. To think about the lengths that the filmmakers would have had to go to, to film these stories at those locations boggles the mind. It’s an inspiring effort.

Viewing the Mongolian desert, the desert in Niger, and the Amazonian forest, the visuals are stunning.

The film reminded me of a similar film I saw a few years ago – The Cup - that had a young monk in China trying to watch the World Cup. The Great Match, however, was on a much grander scale – it took it to a far higher level.

Kofi Annan was wishing the level playing field in football could be extended to the rest of life. The Great Match shows how universal Annan’s sentiment is shared.

The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema sounded a whole lot better than it ended up being. I loved saying the title to people, but that was before I saw it.

Slavoj Zizek gave his psychoanalytical look at a number of films. His main point that we need films to express certain feelings is a good one, but there’s a lot lost in the execution.

The film was a whistle-stop tour through some major psychoanalytical theories and how they have been portrayed in film. Some of the films included The Matrix, Star Wars and a number of efforts from Alfred Hitchcock and David Lynch.

His thick accent and scatterbrain approach made it difficult to engage in the interesting subjects. He was in top gear through out the film which did not allow the viewer to sit back and digest what he was saying.

Once In a Lifetime was all about America’s (read: the then head of Warner Communications, Steve Ross) to get the world’s biggest game to be a success in the world’s biggest market, America.

There had been many a false start and it was time for a new push.

The way to do it was judged to build a team in New York. The New York Cosmos. After modest beginnings, the team owners and management went for the biggest name of all, Pele.

The documentary traced the ups and downs of the extraordinary story of the New York Cosmos from a bunch of amateurs attracting a few hundred spectators to filling Giants stadium and winning the national championship three times in four years.

Most of the main players give candid interviews and we receive a fascinating insight into the workings of a football team.

There is a slight 70s feel to the film understandably given the main action of the story happens then. The story is just so fascinating as you see all the effort and drive that is required to achieve the success and the ego that is needed to ensure failure.

The Bet was having its second screening and it was heartening to see a solid crowd for the screening.

Starring Matt Newton and Aden Young as money market upstarts, they make a bet on who can make the most money in 90 days. This story looks at the foibles and paranoia of the financial market and how it generally ruins everybody’s lives.

It’s a theme that we’ve seen before, but director Mark Lee does a good job with his actors in Lee’s debut effort.

The film shows a glamorous money-centred Sydney and there’s certainly a lot of Sydney-style dick-waving going about.

I was second guessing this film a lot while I was watching it. I couldn’t quite work out what was to be the ultimate fate of its protagonists.

I wasn’t completely won over by the film. It’s good, but it doesn’t quite have that killer punch. Maybe that was because it has some well travelled themes and plot points. It wasn’t your cliché Australian film we’ve had to endure the failure of in the last few years. We can be thankful for that, but The Bet wasn’t quite on the money.

Rushing from that film I was then off to catch Secuestro Express.

I wasn’t in the mood for this film, I had already seen four features on this day I was ready to pack it in, but I was so glad I decided to watch this film.

It’s another frantic, tough, gritty, power house of a film that we’ve joyfully come to expect from Latin America at the moment.

Secuestro means kidnapping and express in this case means the quick kidnappings that are rampant in some areas of Latin America.

This film is fantastic in every respect. It is brilliantly written and masterfully directed with creative flair by Jonathan Jakubowicz.

The story is of a rich couple enjoying the high life in Venezuela when they are kidnapped by a quartet of opportunist criminals. A simple premise, but the journey it takes is just fabulous.

I thoroughly enjoyed this film and can not more highly recommend it. It was a great way to end the festival day.

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originally posted: 06/18/06 13:04:37
last updated: 06/22/06 09:54:14
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