Features: David Stratton, Margaret Pomeranz, Richard Sowada, Jack Sargeant, Peter Rowsthorne, Alan Stiles, Simon Miraudo, Mark Naglazas, Anita Krsnik, Madeline Bates, Jimmy Jack, Stephen Sunderland, Danielle Marsland and Rob Denham.
Writers/Directors: Gavin Bond and Ian Abercromby
REVELATIONS FILM FESTIVAL Screening – Sun July 15, 9.15pm.
A sweet if inconsequential celebration of what educated film types love most about movies, watching Buff is like joining a table of film nerds at a pub and trying to keep up. Which most true ‘buffs’ will do effortlessly, of course; there’s nothing particularly revelatory about anything anyone says, except perhaps exhibition legend Alan Stiles admission that his guilty pleasure is the Troma Studio's 1987 schlock Z-grader, Surf Nazis Must Die. Didn’t see that one coming!
The collated talking heads are all respected voices from most arenas in the world of cinema. They include festival directors (including Revelations own Richard Sowada and Jack Sargeant), new-Gen online critics, actors, scholars and, of course, the ubiquitous ‘David and Margaret’.
Their contributions are in the form of rather straightforward answers to the sort of questions anyone might ask should they be seated next to them at a dinner party – What’s your favourite film? What’s your favourite scene? What’s your least favourite movie? What’s your favourite line? Responses don’t surprise for the most part, but watching the joy with which these commited cinephiles speak about their passion is endearing. (The one exception may be Sargeant, who will put Generation X’ers offside with his hateful dissing of the collected works of the great John Hughes. What the hell!?!)
Directors Gavin Bond and Ian Abercromby (who get Screen-Space onside from the opening scenes, in which they wax lyrical about a personal fave, The Pope of Greenwich Village) were part of the creative team behind the rough-around-the-edges public-access film show Flicktease for close to decade. Their spirited japery, combined with their own buff-ness, is part of the film’s charm (ageing fans will enjoy seeing some footage of the Teaser team in their prime). Less successful are the part-recitations/part-improvised skits that actors Sam Longley and Damon Lockwood perform to provide bridging moments between the natter. Perhaps they exist in lieu of the production’s inability to afford copyright fees on scene clips, though Buff is peppered with movie moments, so that can’t be entirely true.
Given not all contributors are instantly recognisable and some have a less than compelling onscreen presence, Buff feels a little stretched even at 62 minutes. With no particularly stringent point to be made, the ‘I love this!/I hate this!’ to-and-fro wears thin. That said, it is still a joy to get an insight into the generational influence that films have had, to hear that films as diverse as El Cid and Working Girl had the same profound impact on the hearts and minds of those of us sharing a lifelong love affair with the movies. As love stories go, it is one to which many of us can relate.