On weekends and the public holiday Monday, daytime subscribers only see two films per day instead of the usual four, with the night subscribers taking the opposite schedule. Today we opened once again with a documentary before moving on to the second of the films in the competition.
LISTEN TO ME MARLON tells the story of the legendary actor Marlon Brando, mostly in his own words. The film mostly proceeds chronologically, taking only a brief detour early on to foreshadow the sad fate which befell Brando’s son and daughter later in his life. While his story is interesting by itself, what truly makes the film special is the format the documentary takes. During his life, Brando made many recordings of his own voice. These tapes, being heard here for the first time by the general public, included anecdotes, memories, philosophical musings, and even a large collection of self-hypnosis sessions. The tapes are edited together with news clips, photographs, interviews and footage of Brando’s films to tell the story as a collage, jumping from subject to subject.
This is a wonderful way to present the information, allowing us to become immersed completely in the world of one of Hollywood’s greatest figures. At times the amount of information is almost overwhelming. This must have been an unimaginably complex editing job, and the result is very impressive. Unfortunately, the audio quality on the tapes varies wildly, making it a struggle understand some of them. It’s a small problem in an otherwise enjoyable experience.
Playing in the competition is Kim Farrant’s Australian drama STRANGERLAND. It’s an ambitious film, relying almost entirely on atmosphere and mystery, and I’m sad to say it’s not particularly successful. This is despite an impressive cast including Nicole Kidman and Joseph Fiennes as a married couple traumatised by the sudden disappearance of their two children, and Hugo Weaving as the police officer in charge of the investigation.
The film presents female sexuality as a force of nature, equally as dangerous as the heatwaves and dust storms which plague the remote town. There is a constant focus on this angle, with both Kidman and her missing daughter playing a part, but for my money the film never really does anything interesting with it. The plot is incredibly frustrating, refusing to do anything but sit there spinning its wheels. The vague threat of the unknown can only take you so far, and it’s not enough to sustain a 112-minute film.
It’s another short day tomorrow, with two more films on offer. The competition continues with VINCENT, and then there’s another Australian feature in the form of LAST CAB TO DARWIN. More on those tomorrow.
By Shaun Heenan