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Saturday, 18 June 2016

Sydney Film Festival (11) - Short and scrappy notes - A Fish, Suburra and Apprentice

Park Hongmin's A Fish (South Korea, 2011) is the only festival movie in 3D. That gave it some curiosity value even if the story about a private detective, a fish objecting to being carved up for sashimi and a wife who's gone off to be shaman wobbled about a bit. The so-called 'home-made' 3D was quite brilliant. Park has since made another movie and it should be chased down....

Stefano Sollima's Suburra spins a tale out of five days of Italian political, economic, religious and mafia family crisis way back in 2011 when Pope Benedict announced that his time as the numero uno lamb of God was over and he was heading for a monastery. The Government, presumably Berlusconi's, was crumbling.  Sollima's tale of total brutality, corruption and dirty-deal making, (amazing the way everyone's share can be enlarged, presumably by gorging ever-greater amounts from state coffers) is filmed with a mostly quiet camera, nothing like extravagance of Gomorrah here. Similarly the violence is less brutal, little enough to make it into prime time TV you would think. But like Garrone's film, this is a truly stark work about all those inter-connections and it reminds you that the Italians have been doing this stuff very well for a long time. Their jungle of politics and business and personal and economic bushwhacker has also been a target for film-makers for decades. The fact that the films get made but the dirty politics goes on regardless is an indication of the Italian sense of ennui at the whole thing. No wonder Italians more than most hate paying their taxes. Rosi's Hands Across the City back in the early sixties trod the same ground, revealing businessmen who go into politics for what it can do for their business rather than what they can do to serve the people. Business never stops. Politics never stops and..... we get Berlusconi sitting on top.....

Boo Junfeng's Apprentice is a very brave film to be made in a country which regularly tops its own and visiting citizens for the allegedly heinous offence of drug dealing. Aiman is a Malay who likes to work in environments where discipline is enforced. He gravitates to prison administration and insinuates himself into the orbit of the executioner, Rahim, another Malay. The casting is interesting seeing that Malays are only 16% of the population. Maybe more to be explored here if ever the film comes under greater scrutiny. Films about executioners and the prison system tell you a lot about the place where they are made. The exteriors for this one were shot at the now museum prison at Maitland where I think the heavily AFI-nominated Stir  was also filmed. A reminder also of that fruity piece with Eric Portman and Ann Todd, Daybreak, where he plays the Brit hangman, a job performed masked. Aaah nostalgia. But I'm getting away from Apprentice a very fine film indeed and one which took amore than a little courage to make.

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