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5 Must See Flicks at MIFF

By Stephen A Russell - 14 Jul 2014


It's almost that time of year when Australia's biggest and best movie marathon, the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF), hits town for an almost three-week stint with more than 300 flicks on offer from all corners of the globe. 

Whether you're full of the joys of life and in the mood for romance or hankering for a dash of high fashion, there's plenty for all tastes, and you can even find out what it takes to bring something as simple as salt to your kitchen table, as MIFF director, Michelle Carey, reveals five of her top picks to The Urban List.

Boyhood | Richard Linklater

Not a traditional romance movie per se, the latest offering from writer/director Linklater, who brought us the fantastic trio of Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight, is nonetheless a love letter to growing up. Once again featuring regular collaborator Ethan Hawke, this time paired (sort of) with Patricia Arquette, the real star of the show is actually Ellar Coltrane as Mason.

Filmed over the course of an astonishing 12 years, Coltrane was six-years-old when they started filming and 18 by the time they wrapped, so the film literally follows his progress from a young boy playing on swings, through moody adolescence right up to leaving home for college in this dramatic feature so gracefully imitating real life.

A cinematic triumph, it's arguably Linklater's finest yet, exploring with passion the messy love of families through all of their ups and downs. "It's so moving, and it kind of knocks you out," Carey says. "It's such a simple premise, but the power of it is very unexpected. I was walking on air afterwards."

Two scenes in particular had Carey reaching for the hankies. "One is where Patricia Arquette's having dinner in a restaurant and a waiter comes up to her saying, 'you probably don't remember me, but you changed my life.' The other is when Ethan Hawke is in a music club with his son and he turns to him and says, 'you know, I'm really proud of you, and I just really like who you are.'"

Linklater's daughter Lorelei plays Mason's sister Samantha and somewhere around her own teenage years she got a bit sick of the project and asked to be killed off. He refused, insisting she's in it until the end. MIFF-goers will be glad he got his way. 

To book, click here.

Love is Strange | Ira Sachs

After spending forty years together in a committed relationship, New York couple Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina) take advantage in the recent change in the law to get married, which should spell a happily ever after. Unfortunately, the Catholic school where George works sees things a little differently and promptly fires him, setting off a chain reaction that involves the loss of their shared apartment. The couple find their true love and familial bonds tested when they're forced to live separately. 

"It's beautiful and romantic but very sad as well," Carey warns. "It's all about how living in separate dwellings affects their romantic relationship, as well as their relationship with family and the different dynamics at play there. It's bittersweet."

To book, click here

Advanced Style | Lina Plioplyte

Ari Seth Cohen's blog that spawned a book has now paved the way for this fantastic documentary charting his insatiable documenting of New York City's most fashionable ladies in the 50+ and don't give a hoot bracket. With a hint of the fabulous Bill Cunningham New York about it, Advanced Style is packed full of colourful characters with fascinating life stories to tell and an inspirational sense of their own creative identities.

"He has this amazingly glamorous Jewish grandma who runs a fashion boutique, and that's where his love of older ladies comes from," Carey says. "He's a street photographer who just goes out there, photographing and interviewing these women. It's just so inspiring, no matter what your age. There has been a lot of talk recently about the appropriate way to dress at certain ages. Oh my god, you only live once."

Cohen will be a guest of MIFF and will be out and about with his camera on Melbourne's streets, so look out for a local instalment featuring our older fashionistas.

To book, click here

Dior and I | Frédéric Cheng

Throwing open the doors of legendary House of Christian Dior just as the new guy takes over, the non-French speaking Raf Simons, makes for a fascinating insight into a clash of fashion worlds. 

"Dior is a very classical fashion house, with the big, beautiful skirts of the 1950s with the tiny waist, whereas Raf comes from a very modernist, minimal straight up and down, all angle aesthetic," Carey says. "He's a bit of a fish out of water. It's quite the mash up, how he integrates into this culture."

A triumph, Carey says it's a great MIFF choice for fashionistas, offering a remarkable insight into this cloistered world. "It's a remarkable documentary just because it opens the doors to the Dior atelier, with all the people making those outfits.  They're the real stars of the film." 

To book, click here.

My Name Is Salt | Farida Pacha

Carey recommends that food lovers with a keen eye for a good story might circle this quirky offering in their MIFF calendar. Part of the India in Flux: Living Resistance stream that looks beyond the Bollywood whirlwind, My Name is Salt centres on Sanabhai and his family; year after year they toil in the desert harvesting salt with nothing but the most rudimentary of tools and backbreaking persistence 'til the rains come and wash it all away again.

Pacha's incredibly beautiful insight will have you pondering the cost of our culinary obsessions for a second as you sprinkle some of the white stuff onto your next big café breakfast. It scooped the Best First Feature prize at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam and the Hong Kong International Film Festival's Firebird Award for Best Documentary.

To book, click here.

Enjoy your MIFF picks, Listers!

Melbourne International Film Festival 
Tickets Now On Sale

Various Cinemas | 31 July – 17 August

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Main image credit: Melbourne International Film Festival Facebook.

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