1. Orson Welles. No, not The Other Side of the Wind, which I still haven't watched, not sure why - but I will, soon. This is Mark Cousins' documentary (love letter), The Eyes of Orson Welles, inspired by the access he's been given (by Beatrice Welles) to an amazing archive of her father's drawings and paintings and cards and notebooks and scripts with scribbles and doodles and notes. Cousins has an intriguing analysis of how this all fits in with the work, both the finished and the unfinished, combining a fresh look at Welles' early life with a sort of dialogue with him about both his life and of course his work - particularly the unfinished Don Quixote, the early Shakespeare of Macbeth and Othello, and of course Chimes at Midnight - it's a rich and invigorating excursion that I immediately wanted to see again (and of course still do). I saw it at the Antenna Doco Festival, and asked Festival Director David Rokash what would happen next to the film; he'd talked to Madman about picking it up, but they said they didn't have much luck with films about filmmakers!
2. Cinema Reborn. I'll just add my voice to those who have already claimed this event as a highlight of the year, not only for the films, but also for the conviviality and just plain enjoyment of the occasion. The program was nicely spaced out, with time for food, and chat, it was great to see friends from Melbourne, and even though I find getting to AFTRS a bit of a chore, it all worked out pretty well. The films were of course great, but it was particularly good to not only see Between Wars after so many years, but to realise that it stood up much better than I'd expected, and to hear Michael Thornhill talking about it and its making so eloquently. The highlight for me, however, was Corinne Cantrill's wonderful In This Life's Body, which I hadn't expected to ever see again (and I'm still astounded that Geoff managed to get it). I'm already excited about the next event.
3. Festivals, festivals. The French Film Fest offered the confusing but always engrossing Ismael's Ghosts, the quixotic Let the Sunshine In, and the weirdly funny Mrs Hyde, while my favourites out of a good year at SFF were the very touching Indonesian film, The Seen and The Unseen, Transit,Wajib,Pig, Ex Libris, the very clever Terror Nullius, the wonderful and wordless The Ancient Woods, Wik vs Queensland, That Summer, Shoplifters and The Wild Pear Tree.
4. People on the screen. I loved having Lunch with the Dames, finding out so much more about Hedy Lamar in Bombshell, and Ian McKellen in McKellen while Hannah Gadsby in Nannette was wonderful and confronting . I'm really enjoying Jodie Whittaker as the first female Dr Who! But I was very sad to say goodbye to Saga in the final series of The Bridge. One of my favourite TV presences over the years has been Anthony Bourdain, who died earlier this year, but at least he left a great trove of programs which I'm still discovering on the various streaming services, many of which I haven't seen before (or will happily see again)..
5. Asian films. I saw and enjoyed Detective Dee and the Four Heavenly Kings, Detective K and the Secret of the Living Dead, and Project Gutenberg, but for me the highlights were the Korean 1987 When the Day Comes, Zhang Yimou's beautiful and mysterious Shadow, and of course, Shoplifters (and I saw Our Little Sister for the fourth time this year and loved it even more)
|Japanese poster, Shoplifters|
6 . Pleasures. Sweet Country, Three Billboards, The Florida Project, Ladybird, They Shall Not Grow Old, Searching, Gurrumul, Don't Worry He Won't Get Far on Foot, Isle of Dogs, The Gospel According to Andre, The Shape of Water, and Antman and the Wasp, Gloria, The Swimmer and All About Eve were wonderful to see again, as was West Side Story on the lovely big screen at the Randwick Ritz. On TV, Mystery Road, and Killing Eve were real highlights.
7. Guilty Pleasures:Wellington Paranormal, from those Flight of the Conchord people, Fucking Adelaide, and the wonderful Kates on Get Krackin'.