DIY Does DIFF, Again

Yup, it’s a sequel. We’re bringing you daily coverage of DIFF this week. Aren’t we nice? Today, Bob Perfect reviews This Is Not A Film, Russell Grant covers the Wavescape selections: Rebel Sessions and The Art Of Flight, and we welcome a guest writer, Jason Duvenage, who caught Beware of Mr Baker and Tyrannosaur over the weekend.

 

This Is Not A Film reviewed by Bob Perfect

 

After the last two days of being inspired, I was setting myself up for disappointment expecting another inspirational tale of hope in This Is Not A Film. My biggest mistake was going into This Is Not A Film with any expectations at all. Having heard that it had been smuggled out of Iran on a USB stick inside a cake for the Cannes Film Festival, I was expecting a politically charged film against censorship and the Iranian government, I got a day in the life of a film director under house arrest instead. That it is grossly trivialising the film though. The day that Jafar Panahi and his friend Motjaba Mirtahmasb film, lets you know more than enough about what life is like under the rule of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the current president of Iran. When we meet Jafar in the film, he is in the process of appealing a six year jail sentence and a twenty year ban on being allowed to make films. He and Motjaba go about trying to tell the story of the last script of his to be denied which, if I’m honest, bored me at first because like most of the film, not a lot actually happens. It’s all in the conversations held that you really feel the censorship creep in and get a sense of Jafar’s frustrations with his situation. This is not the film he wanted to make, but it’s the film he landed up having to make because of his government. It’s also full of genuine moments, you meet his neighbours, you hear him on the phone to his family and friends and see and hear what’s going on in the city of Tehran from the confines of Jafar’s apartment, all of which fill you in on what Jafar was going through before his appeal trial. Jafar is now serving his six year jail sentence and I’d say go watch this film purely to see what life is like when censorship reigns so you have a reason to always fight it.

 

Art of Flight & Rebel Sessions reviewed by Russell Grant

 

 

Last night Musgrave centre featured a double bill for the Wavescape Film Festival with Rebel Sessions and The Art of Flight playing back to back from 8 o’ clock. I didn’t know it was a double bill. I was there for The Art of Flight, but the inclusion of another film was not a huge worry. Rebel Sessions is a shortish documentary showcasing last year’s Rebel Sessions contest, a new format of big wave surf contest that runs throughout the Cape winter and sees dedicated film crews waiting on call to capture big wave chargers on big days, eventually awarding cash prizes for the biggest paddle in wave, biggest tow, gnarliest bail, and best surfer of the season. It’s the kind of film I would expect from Rebel TV, and in fact feels very much like an episode of the show itself. It features all the big names, and younger up and comers, with some genuinely good surfing and spectacularly large waves, but is just a little too tainted by that corny Rebel TV early 2000s “X-treme Sports” thing we’ve all come to hate. The voice over guy speaks in a kind of hybrid quasi-American accent, but uses words like “yooou-ge”. Despite all of this it still manages a kind of simplistic charm, like it was made by a bunch of genuine surf ballies who badly wanted to appeal to the youth, but didn’t know that the youth don’t listen to Papa Roach anymore, or require an American accent to make it feel legit. A tick in its favour is that it’s shot really well, with some innovative technology that gives cameramen the ability to capture ever-more dynamic and exciting angles. Overall it’s an unpretentious and heartfelt effort, and actually pretty enjoyable if you’re into big waves and good camera work.

 

 

The Art of Flight is what happens when you give a bunch of off-their-heads snowboarders a stupendously large budget, a helicopter, a plane, and just let them kind of go for it. It’s a Red Bull Media House and Brain Farm production, so it’s hella slick, but unfortunately that’s all there is to it. The cinematography is irrefutably stunning, shot in full HD in some of the most spectacular locations in the world, with some of its best and boldest riders, but one can only stomach so many ultra slow-motion shots before they start to grate. By the end the technique has completely lost its effect, and I found myself kinda bored by it. The film could’ve used some more behind the scenes shenanigans, the kind of stuff that made old No Friends bodyboarding DVDs so awesome (or any skate or surf vid worth its salt when we were kids). You want to get to know the characters, and the kind of shit they get up to. There’s a bit of that in the beginning, and it’s awesome, but that’s all. One scene. It’s also pretty thin on motive. You’re never quite sure why the guys are going to the places they’re going, or what they’re hoping to achieve, and the sense of adventure is diminished a bit by how quickly and easily they skip from location to location. The lack of ‘plot’ or story forces the film to rely on pretty visuals, which, admittedly, are very pretty, but way overdone. The lack of story (or any kind of structure for that matter) is starkly exposed at the end when it kind of, just, ends. Without warning. It wasn’t all bad though, and certainly made me want to book a flight straight for Canada, strap myself in, and hurl myself down a mountain, but I’m pretty sure there are better snowboarding DVDs out there, and this film just goes to show that a big budget and slick production are not everything.

 

Beware of Mr Baker and Tyrannosaur reviewed by Jason Duvenage.

 

“Beware of Mr Baker” chronicles the turbulent life of Ginger Baker, the infamous and prodigiously talented drummer of rock ‘n roll giants Cream. The film follows Ginger’s life from his early days on the streets of London to playing with the Graham Bond Organisation and later Cream, his endless confrontations and collaborations with fellow musicians from Fela Kuti to Public Image Ltd. His rise to fame and descent into relative obscurity, eventually landing in South Africa where he dedicated himself to his other passion, Polo.

Featuring testimony from prominent figures in music as well as ex-wives and children, along with rare archival footage and interviews with Mr Baker himself, Jay Bulger’s documentary pieces together the fragmented and often harrowing tales to deliver an electrifying account of the extraordinary career and life of Ginger, spanning multiple decades and continents, one common thread running throughout being his zealous musical exploration, something that would take him as far from London as Lagos, Nigeria where he would befriend and record with acclaimed African artist and activist Fela Kuti, an association which would later result in him having to escape the country in a hail of police bullets.

“Beware of Mr Baker” delves deeply into the often strained relationships he maintained with friends and family and through this we glean a picture of a deeply flawed, temperamental and at times downright nasty man, yet all speak of him with at least a dogged warmth and admiration – a testament to his enduring talent and strength of character. By all accounts Ginger Baker should have been a performer who died young, as someone who has lived his entire life on the outer edges of excess, but as Ginger puts it, “God is punishing me for my past wickedness by keeping me alive and in as much pain as he can.”.

 

 

Actor Paddy Considine crosses over to the role of director with “Tyrannosaur”, a bleak exploration of violence, unbridled rage and the trauma effected upon its victims. Peter Mullan gives a volatile performance as Joseph, an alcoholic widower who’s seemingly bottomless well of hatred and capacity for violence, at times, borders on the comical. After an encounter with Hannah(Olivia Colman) – a devout Christian woman who works in a charity shop where Joseph seeks refuge from a fight – an unlikely bond is struck up between the two, albeit grudgingly at first, after Hannah offers Joseph sympathy in the form of a prayer. Joseph’s initial view of Hannah as an effete do-gooder, disconnected from the harsh blows of reality is quickly rendered invalid as the complexities of her situation are revealed and we are spared a trite tale of redemption, being served something far more uncomfortable instead.

The story that unfolds under the steel-grey skies of northern England shows the ubiquitous nature of violence and how it is manifested in different spheres of society – how they deal with it, its effects and consequences – from Yorkshire’s housing estates to upper-middle class suburbs. “Tyrannosaur”, while grim, challenging and definitely not for the sensitive does allow moments of tenderness – as understanding grows between the pair and glimpses of their personalities are revealed. Colman is  exceptional as the battered yet stoic martyr whose convictions fuel her own persecution and Peter Mullan’s performance is as formidable as he is. Also notable is Eddie Marsan’s spine chilling role as James, Hannah’s husband.

This relentless portrayal of gut-wrenching violence, misery and shame, seemingly ripe for moral exploitation, ultimately manages to avoid driving home any particular point or cause leaving difficult conclusions to be drawn by the viewer, a desire which the director has expressed numerous times. “Tyrannosaur” serves as an exceptional debut from Considine – a name to look out for in the future.

 

So that’s it for today, 10 films covered, too many to go. I know Russell and I will be at Suncoast tonight for 360 and I’ll be heading there a bit earlier for Bitter Seeds. Tonight is also the opening of the Short Film side of the festival at The Upstairs which will be on from 18:00 for the next three days. What have you enjoyed so far and what are you still looking forward to?

 

Comments
5 Responses to “DIY Does DIFF, Again”
  1. Tea Bags says:

    Cool review os! Like guide dogs helping the blind across the road.

  2. Ugh says:

    Loved the comic-con documentary. Bummed I missed African Cypher. Looking forward to To Rome with Love on Friday and a triple header of Now Forager, 360 and Iceberg on Sunday.

  3. Ugh says:

    Also, was in two minds about seeing This is Not a Film and I think this review has probably turned me off of it.

  4. Grazey says:

    I like how a bunch of dudes that have never studied journalism manage to consistently out-do Mahala and the rest of the so called professionals. No pretention, just honest opinion. Nice one okes, shot for this.

  5. Steemo says:

    If Art Of Flight isn’t hand’s down one of the best extreme sport films ever made than I don’t know what to think of anything…. It’s like if you watching a porn, you don’t say, “I wish there was more of a story, and behind the scenes”. You just want to see the most gnarly tricks shot in such a way that it makes you froth and covered by music to make it pop. Job well done on that one in my opinion.

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