Friday, August 5, 2016

MIFF: Double feature #1


This post is entitled "Double feature #1" not only because it's my first-ever MIFF double feature, but because it's my first of ... let's see ... FOUR this year. That's right, I've got one coming up on Friday (tonight), the next on Saturday and the last on Wednesday. Tentatively the last, anyway. But I have one more ticket to squeeze in for a film that's as-yet undetermined, and if that happens on Tuesday then I might have FIVE double features in total.

Hey, it's how a busy father of two fits it all in.

As with my previous MIFF screening, there was a bit of pre-screening drama with this one. Maren Ade's Cannes sensation Toni Erdmann was starting at the Forum on Flinders Street at 6 p.m. -- 30 minutes earlier than films in this time slot usually start, due to its 162-minute running time (and yes, it's a comedy that runs 162 minutes). So I didn't have that much time to organize something to eat between getting off work at 5 and the movie's start time, though it was only a short walk from my work. And though the next movie -- the Czech film I, Olga Hepnarova -- was only right across the street at ACMI, I didn't know how much time I'd have to eat anything between the two screenings. (Nor could I wait until nearly 9 o'clock to eat dinner.)

And I really, really wanted Chinese food.

Despite a co-worker telling me I'd come across "10,000" Chinese holes-in-the-wall -- the kind that could get me a nice box of noodles -- on my way to the theater, this did not turn out to be true. In fact, I wove in and out of city blocks for so many fruitless minutes that not only would I have to accept something less than I was craving, but I'd barely have time to eat it.

I ended up with a cheeseburger -- in other words, the same dinner I'd had three nights earlier -- and a need to walk very briskly if I wanted to make it for the start of the movie. I had chosen the most mamoth one they had, so the thing was falling all over the place as I tried to take bites of it while walking. Not a pretty sight.

It became evident that I wasn't actually going to be able to finish it before getting to the theater. So I returned it to its paper bag along with the fries, and put them both in my backpack to smuggle in. I don't have a problem smuggling most types of food into a movie theater, but there seemed something especially greasy about doing it with a burger, especially given how nicely appointed this classic theater is. Then there was the issue of the seemingly half-dozen MIFF volunteers who were hovering right around my chosen seat near the front of the theater. I didn't know if they had been assigned the responsibility of shaming people for consuming messy food, or worse, expelling them from the theater altogether.

Long story short -- or shorter than it could have been -- I finished the burger and fries in peace and watched the movie without incident.

And what a movie. Toni Erdmann immediately insinuates itself into the year-end top ten conversation, a glorious mixture of laughs and sentiment that fully earns our every emotion. I could go on about it, but a) I'm getting behind on posting, as I saw it two days ago and I keep getting interrupted trying to write this post and b) I wrote a review of it, which is here.

I can't say the same about I, Olga Hepnarova, a gorgeously shot but dramatically inert black-and-white film about the last woman who was executed in the Czech Republic (for intentionally running down a sidewalk full of innocent people as some misguided type of vengeance for being bullied). This one was a slog. Hey, you can't win them all.

Onward and upward to double feature #2.

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