[With less than a week until the Melbourne International Film Festival programme is launched, Julian considers how he would fill out the festival if he was given the opportunity.]
Every year the Melbourne International Film Festival brings together six films exploring the worst of human society. The Crime Scene section is filled with guns, drugs, and cops in intense dramas, daring epics, and frenetic action-thrillers from around the world. My picks follow a similar trend to last year’s, featuring different genres from six individual countries.
So, let’s take a look at my selections for the Crime Scene section:
Easy Money | dir. Daniel Espinosa | SWE
Many will know Espinosa for his film Safe House (starring Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds) but at the start of 2010 he released a Swedish film named Snabba Cash (Easy Money). The Weinstein Company – teaming up with Martin Scorsese – is finally releasing the film in the US, and I believe it deserves a screening in Australia as well. The film features a trio of excellent central performances (including Joel Kinnaman of The Killing), a contemplative soundtrack, and a raw look into the world of drugs.
Gangs of Wasseypur | dir. Anurag Kashyap | IND
Already announced to play at MIFF, the 5-and-a-half hour crime epic has already won over audiences at Cannes and Sydney. Focusing on a mining magnate and politician as he takes on three generations of a gangster family, the film’s style is closer to New Hollywood than that of Indian cinema. This is an explosive and incredibly violent feast.
Headshot | dir. Pen-ek Ratanaruang | THA/FRA
An existentialist hitman noir from Thailand might be a mouthful, but Sydney audiences certainly appreciated the striking visual style and twisting narrative structure of Headshot. The film is ultra-stylish, totally badass, and just a great piece of genre filmmaking.
Miss Bala | dir. Gerardo Naranjo | MEX
A tight, engaging and stylish action-thriller chronicling three days in the life of an aspiring beauty queen looks incredibly exhilarating. Kidnapped by a drug cartel, the protagonist – and the audience – is given insight into the amount of corruption still rife in the country of Mexico. Strong and audacious filmmaking won over audiences in Sydney, and I expect it to do the same in Melbourne.
Rampart | dir. Oren Moverman | USA
While Sydney Film Festival attendees reacted negatively to the film (including AtTheCinema’s own Greg Bennett), there is little doubt the festival will select Moverman’s follow-up to his incredible and criminally under-seen The Messenger (MIFF 2010). Rampart brings back Academy Award nominated Woody Harrelson as a trigger-happy cop in L.A. in 1999, and the film contains a stellar cast – Anne Heche, Cynthia Nixon, Ned Beatty, Ben Foster, Robin Wright, Ice Cube, Sigourney Weaver and Steve Buscemi – that is impossible to ignore.
Sleepless Night | dir. Frédéric Jardin | FRA
When a well-respected but dirty cop is caught stealing from a powerful drug lord, he must race against the clock to save his son’s life. It might be lean on logic but Jardin’s frenetic narrative weaves multiple cat-and-mouse games through the innards of a nightclub in this exhilarating feature. The stripped down action-thriller is already receiving an American remake, so it deserves your attention.
Honourable mentions: Antapal, Sound of Noise, Unit 7 (playing at the Spanish Film Festival)
So that’s what I would have in the programme for MIFF 2012. Have I missed anything? What would you want if you had free reign?