After a busy first day in Melbourne, I had an even busier 2nd day lined up. Firstly a mission for some tasty brunch, and then 4 films and the closing night party. After the jump check out Part 2 of my Melbourne diary, including my thoughts on Undefeated, Ruby Sparks, and The Suicide Shop.
First plan of the day was to find a good sized feed which would fuel us through the day. Andy and I met Cam in the city and we headed down Degraves Street – a very funky lane which is packed with eateries and ‘hole-in-the-wall’ coffee joints. After a successful brunch (which was prematurely ended by a freak sideways rain storm), we headed off to the butt-numbing GU seats. Cam and I headed to Undefeated, while Andy went to see the dance documentary First Position.
Undefeated (Daniel Lindsay, T.J. Martin, 2011)
A documentary which tells the moving story of the Manassas Tigers football team and their struggle to turn around their reputation from a team no one will take seriously (they are even paid by successful schools to be a “practice” team), to a team with a serious shot at the playoffs. Manassas is an underprivileged school in a poor area of West Memphis, and the players are a mix of students with a whole raft of serious problems including violence issues and poverty. The team is coached by a local businessman Bill Courtney, who volunteers his time to coach the team and in turn be a mentor and father figure to the players. The film follows the team throughout the season, and we are given an insight into not only the sport and it’s politics, but the personal lives of the players and of the coach.
This film was incredibly moving – this story isn’t an “original” story (in the sense that we’ve heard this sort of story before), but because it was a documentary it hits harder than any fictional sports film could ever dream of. The characters were such interesting people, and my heart really broke for some of them. It’s not their fault they were born into these lives – I found myself willing for their success, particular for one of the players called Money, who was extremely bright but had little chance of getting into college due to his financial position. His story was worthy of it’s own film. As well as being an incredible story, the film is extremely well made. It’s a very polished film with fantastic cinematography and music, and some great sports action shots. I haven’t heard so many people crying in the cinema since Senna. Full review to come soon.
After Undefeated it was a very quick coffee break and then straight into Ruby Sparks.
Ruby Sparks (Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris, 2012)
Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul Dano) is a young writer who has not yet been able to follow up his extremely successful debut novel. The lonely writer dreams of a beautiful red-haired girl who he decides to write about; the more he writes about her the deeper in love with the idea of her he falls. She becomes so real in his head that he one day awakes to find her in his kitchen. Could he really have willed this woman into existence, or is there a far more logical explanation?
Ruby Sparks is for the most part utterly charming and quite funny – while it does take a darker turn in the 2nd half, there is a very adorable feel about the whole thing – bright colours, fun music, and quirky characters. Calvin is a fascinating character with some serious issues, and I found it really interesting to see his struggles with his passion. Unfortunately I felt the film got a little stale in the later stages, and the ending rates as one of the worst I have seen recently.
I came out of Ruby Sparks and happily escaped the GU for the very comfortable seats in the Extreme Screen cinema at Hoyts Melbourne Central. Next up was a French language, 3D animated film called The Suicide Shop. I’d totally forgotten that this was in 3D so I was a little surprised when I was handed the glasses.
The Suicide Shop (Patrice Leconte, 2012 – based on the novel by Jean Teulé)
The Tuvache family runs a shop which sells all manner of goods to assist people with ending their own lives (in private of course – public suicide is banned). The four family members are happy with their gloomy lives until the arrival of the newest family member upsets their depressing existence – this bouncy baby is happy, unbelievably and unequivocally happy. While this boy loves his family, he also loves life and doesn’t like what the family does to make a living. He makes his mind up that things must change and his family must be made to see that life is worth living after all.
I quite liked the premise of this film – I’m not sure I’ve ever seen another dark comedy which is centered around a suicide shop. The animation itself was very gloomy and fitting of the story; although I’m not really sure why it was in 3D. Unfortunately it turns out that this film was somewhat of a musical – I think I am allergic to musicals. I find that the songs get very repetitive and I just end up willing the songs to end so it can get on with the story. An interesting film, but not one that I loved.
After the film it was a quick run from the cinema back to the hotel to change into some nicer clothes for the closing night party and film. Melbourne Diary Part 3 with thoughts on Mental and The Hunt coming tomorrow!