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Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Sydney Film Festival (29) - A Pigeon Sat on Branch Reflecting on Existence - but did not have to worry about mobile phones....

There are people who like Roy Andersson's films a lot more then me. We were informed by the enthusiastic young man who did the intro on stage that this film was the third of a trilogy that had taken twenty five years to make. In fact I think it's more like 15 but who's counting. It's an output that is OK with me, though the last couple have come fairly close together which suggests that the people who put up the money are getting more supportive....

But first let me say that I saw this in the State Theatre at a weekday afternoon session where the average age of the punters has gotta be well past 60 or so. Many of these punters have in recent times acquired mobile phones at which they are inept in managing texting, internet surfing and Facebook posting which goes with these new toys. Thus for most of the session in the face of nothing more than a few words on a slide requesting that phones not be used or some such (I'm going on someone's word that it is fact there) the aging throng happily answer their phones and do all the other things that the phones allow them to do, most especially they let the screens light up and care far more for whatever message they have received than for the film on view. Its like being in an Event multiplex on Saturday night or in an Indian or Chinese movie.

My suggestion is that the Festival spend a little money and bring out from Vancouver, the amazing cinema manager extraordinaire Bodey. Bodey comes dressed for action at VIFF and gives a warning standing up right in front of the crowd before the lights go down. If he sees a phone go on he will come down and shine his torch in the person's face and ask them to accompany him into the foyer where he will give them a chance to explain why it was more important to take or make a phone call or text message than to obey his instruction. If the answer is good enough he may allow them back into the cinema with a warning. It's amazingly effective. The sooner the SFF cleans up this part of its act the better. In the meantime, avoid the State and its postage stamp screen on weekday mornings and afternoons. The oldies have new toys that will destroy your equanimity. Now...where was I...

Yes, Roy Anderssson..... I heard this film described as 'great 'by one of the better known scribes not long after it screened and my heart sank. Andersson's tropes - the single shot sequence, the camera placed so far away that details of faces are nil to non-existent, the banal reduction of colour and the flat lighting, the deadpan acting, the recurrent lines which are no doubt expected to build up to great hilarity at their repetition, the non-movement of actors - all of these things are apparently very amusing to some and even 'great'. Well, after the recent two of the three of the trilogy I'm not begging for more. It was interesting that the DOP who had flown out for the SFF screening said the film flopped with the Swedish domestic audience but has sold to 34 countries.In Australia it is distributed by Madman the distributors supplying twenty three titles, screening at 50 sessions of the SFF.

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