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« THE CRITIC'S CAPSULE: REVELATION 2015, VOLUME 2. | Main | THE CRITIC'S CAPSULE: SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL, VOLUME 2. »
Saturday
Jun272015

THE CRITIC'S CAPSULE: REVELATION 2015, VOLUME 1.

The 2015 slate of films screening at Revelation Perth International Film Festival is as compelling and eclectic as any in it’s history. We’ve come to expect that from the programming team, who seek the truly unique and challenging in world cinema. SCREEN-SPACE will offer extensive review coverage with our new ‘Capsule Critic’ format, kicking off with five of the most anticipated films on the RevFest schedule… 

THE TRIBE (Dir: Miroslav Slaboshpitsky / Ukraine, Netherland; 132 mins / pictured, above)
The toast of the international film festival circuit for much of 2015 (it has 24 trophies to date, from Cannes to Sitges to Thessaloniki), Miroslav Slaboshpitsky’s study of teenage tribalism and the brutal adherence to a gangland-style hierarchy is a grimy, gripping, unrelenting vision. Setting the narrative in a steely grey boarding school for the deaf and employing Ukrainian sign language in place of a single word of dialogue or subtitles serves to draw in the audience with a vice-like grip. Brutal violence, graphic sexuality and a central figure shaded in his own dark immorality make The Tribe a tough film to connect with (despite all the festival acclaim, it has struggled to find distribution in many territories) but it is nevertheless an extraordinary study in isolation and exploitation and an exciting, technically accomplished first feature from the Ukrainian auteur.
You’ll be talking about…: The single-take, fixed-camera matter-of-factness Slaboshpitsky utilises, put to no more brilliantly disturbing use than during the abortion sequence. And that ending… 
RATING: 4/5 

THE FORBIDDEN ROOM (Dir: Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson / Canada; 130 mins / pictured, right)
Working creatively unfettered in a bold, bewildering genre all of his own creation, Canadian maverick Guy Maddin (My Winnipeg, 2007; The Saddest Music in The World, 2003) kicks of his latest celebration of the confoundingly recherché advocating the joys of a hot bath before plunging the ocean depths and joining the crew of a doomed submarine. Maddin’s vision (shared with longtime collaborator Evan Johnson, earning a first-time director’s credit alongside his mentor) encompasses florid, screeching detours into worlds far beyond the confines of the sub, employing such influences as Kafka, Burroughs and German expressionist cinema in his exploration of the very nature of storytelling. Scratched and crumpled film stock, soaring melodrama, silent era title cards, multi-layered narratives and a garish palette barely skim the surface when trying to describe the outsider auteur’s latest, daring, giddily abstract work. Actors love him; on hand are Udo Kier, Matthieu Almaric; Maria Medeiros, Charlotte Rampling, Elina Lowensohn and Geraldine Chaplin. Audiences unfamiliar with Maddin’s methods can be less forgiving (there were walkouts during the recent Sydney Film Festival sessions). Stick with it…
You’ll be talking about…:  The Aswang.
RATING: 3.5/5 

THE HUNTING GROUND (Dir: Kirby Dick / USA; 103 mins)
College campus sexual assault is exposed for the American epidemic it truly represents in Kirby Dicks’ deeply disturbing call-to-action documentary. Just as the statistics hit home regarding the regularity with which women (and men) are raped in the hallowed halls of our revered tertiary education institutions, the filmmakers double-down with revelations that connect the amount of crimes reported and convictions sought with the silencing role played by administrators in charge of admissions levels and fund-raising. A determined investigative journo with serious filmmaker cred (the Oscar nominated The Invisible War, 2012; This Film is Not Yet Rated, 2006), Dick’s latest documentary sometimes appears unwieldy, his desire to fully convey the scope of the issue dictating an occasionally rat-a-tat presentation of facts, figures and faces. But there is no denying the director achieves his primary goal; the stark presentation of horrifying numbers, backed by heartbreaking first-hand accounts of those dealing with shattered dreams, blunt-force betrayal and broken innocence.
You’ll be talking about…: The ingrained misogyny of American frathouse culture, fuelled by a grotesque sense of self-entitlement that leads to campus rallies in which our future leaders chant, “No Means Yes! Yes Means Anal!”
RATING: 4/5 

STATION TO STATION (Dir: Doug Aitken / USA; 71 mins)
In just under a month, the ‘Station to Station Express’ travelled 4000 miles of America’s finest railroad tracks (pictured, right). Along the way, artists of every creative bent would hop on and off as they pleased, sharing their creations with the land and its people. Doug Aitken wields all manner of filming techniques in compiling the 62 short films that chronicle what organisers call “a living project exploring modern creativity,” (a London leg launched on June 27). As with all anthology films, some instalments connect better than others; even at a scant 71 minutes, the length of Aitken’s film feels about right. If it never manages to gel as a cohesive cinematic whole, it certainly captures the spirit of unity and joy of creating art that is immediately embraced by a new, wider audience.
You’ll be talking about…: ...whichever of the 62 featured artists most impresses. We favoured the electronic art of Icelandic ‘elemental sculpture’ Olafur Eliasson, in which he records the speed and movement of the train and creates strobe-light ‘pulse-images’
RATING: 3/5 

SPRING (Dirs: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead / USA; 109 mins)
Director team Benson and Moorhead impressed the underground festival crowd with their weird, wonderful cabin-in-the-woods variant, Resolution (2012), then backed it up with the best of an ok bunch in V/H/S Viral (2014). With Spring, they deliver on the promise they’ve shown, exhibiting considerable growth and ambition as storytellers as well as crafting a fine example of that toughest of genres, the horror/romance. As Evan, the wayward American dodging cops and responsibility amongst some of Italy’s most picturesque seaside locales, genre fave Lou Taylor Pucci (Southland Tales, 2006; Carriers, 2009; Evil Dead, 2013) finds the alluring Louise (German ingénue Nadia Hilker; pictured, right) irresistible, romancing her despite some hard-to-read signals she is giving off. Love can be rocky road, but Evan can’t have seen what he must deal with if he is to keep his Euro-fantasy dreamgirl. Think Before Sunrise as written by HP Lovecraft; or, a Richard Linklater version of Species.
You’ll be talking about…: Some convincing practical effects (the fate of a sleazey alley way pick-up is especially unpleasant), but also some tender moments Pucci shares with an elderly orchard farmer (the wonderful Francesco Carnelutti), discussing the nature of fate and love.
RATING: 3.5/5

All ticketing and venue information for 2015 Revelation Perth International Film Festival are available at the event's official website.

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