My first full day at filmfest, and traditionally the day that feels most like filmfest is underway. I saw 4 films across 3 venues and finally said hi to my old seat buddies at the State Theatre. First film was at the Art Gallery of NSW in their theatrette; Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore screening as part of a retrospective of Scorsese’s films. This was a character piece made in 1974 and explored the life of Alice as she tried to make a life for herself and her son and find some sort of independence. It also speaks strongly to the need for woman to woman conversation and support networks, as well as the hardship of returning to work after many years as a housewife.
The next two films were over at event cinema and were the first two parts of a 3 part documentary called American Epic, which explores the history of early music in America in the 1920s and contextualises it as a forerunner to the later emergence of rock’n’roll, R&B, and even a little hip hop. Clearly a lot of research went into finding and developing the stories and the director spoke of the long hours in finding photos and traces. This was fascinating as it provided the background for the emergence of the early folk singers in the 20s, interspersed with plenty of music examples.
I have mixed feelings about the final film, It’s Only the End of the World, a new film from France including a a host of french stars. Reviewers too are divided though it did pick up a prize at Cannes. One reviewer is disappointed while another liked it; both reviews had interesting things to say that broadened my understanding of the film. It comes across mostly as a well acted family melodrama when a son returns home after many years to tell his family he is dying but it ends up being full of recriminations and yelling; Vincent Cassel’s character seemed to spend the entire movie yelling. The Guardian’s reviewer argued that we were actually viewing the family through the returning son’s sense of things ie his perception that his brother Antoine (played by Cassel) is a loudmouthed brute. There was a sense of unrealism in the way the family reacted to his return. The movie also touches on the idea that while the son thinks it’s about him and what he needs, his family have their own needs which for them, may be more important than his own.