It's time to tear yourself away from that Jennifer Aniston feat. Channing Tatum rom-com (wait - has she done one of those before?) to branch out, spread your wings and get yourself some silver screen schooling.
The cinephiles of Australia have once again united to bring you the annual Melbourne International Film Festival. With a schedule of over 300 films shown between the 25th of July and the 11th of August, there's something here for everyone, be it a light coming of age film by an emerging Australian director, or a gripping drama that will make you question your own existence. It can seem an arduous task sifting through MIFF's painstakingly perfected collection, and we don't blame you for being a little daunted if you're popping your MIFF cherry.
So, we've made it a little easier for you by giving you a heads up on the movies we're going to see at the festival, and where we'll be dining/drinking before/after. Here's our guide to the crème de la crème of cinematic experiences, be it with your lover, your mates, or your parents.
MIFF PICK #1
Outrage Beyond (Japan) + Kuni's
Outrage Beyond is Japanese director Takeshi Kitano's second film to be shown at MIFF, and we're predicting it will be one of the most impressive of the festival. It follows the violent clash between two notorious Japanese mob groups, the Sanno and the Hanabishi, who become headlocked in an intense power struggle after the police force launches a full-scale enquiry into Japan's organised crime. We hear it's wordy and it's bloody, but also extremely well executed – making sure you're pumped full of adrenalin and back story for an intense and suspense-fuelled ending. We reckon this one's for the ladies and gents who love action-packed Quentin Tarantino-esque films, so bring someone who's got a steely stomach.
To get you prepared for this flick, we recommend hitting up Kuni's on Little Bourke Street for some pre- or post-sake-fuelled adrenalin. Typical in its layout, with minimalist furniture, wooden benches and traditional art littering the walls, Kuni's is somewhat of a Melbourne institution. The best way to dine here is sitting by the sushi bar for some hot sake and agedashi tofu - lightly floured tofu that's pan-fried until crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside, served in a soy sauce, dashi and mirin broth. It's one of those places that make you feel as though you're actually in Japan, perhaps sitting next to some of the yakuza themselves.
Where: Kuni's | 56 Little Bourke Street in Melbourne
Contact: 03 9663 7243
MIFF PICK #2
Child's Pose (Romania) + Berlin Bar
Winner of Best Film at the 2013 Berlin Film Festival, Child's Pose follows the perpetually displeased Cornelia and her plight to save her 34-year-old son when he accidentally hits and kills a child while driving. It's described as a riveting, angst-littered family drama that will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout. The film is documentary-like in style, only adding to the tension of what's sure to be a gripping portrayal of the unconditional love between mother and son.
You're probably going to need a drink after this one(!), and what better place to unwind than the Berlin Bar on Corrs Lane. Follow the winding stairs above the criss-cross of alleyways below, to find yourself at a doorbell. After pressing, you'll be taken upstairs to a bar dedicated to the fusion of East Berlin and West Berlin. Big communist stars and faux barbed wire, pillowed bunk bed seating, a bathtub table and low ceiling capture a feeling of secrecy and project a pre-war mentality. They focus on craft drinks, so make sure you're in the mood for a delicious cocktail. We recommend getting a 'Café Del Ron' – Stolen Gold infused Café and Pecan, lemon and a simple sugar syrup.
Where: Berlin Bar | 16 Corrs Lane in Melbourne
Contact: 03 9639 3369
MIFF PICK #3
Tim Winton's 'The Turning' (Australia) + Henry and The Fox
In a festival that is overflowing with international talent, this film brings together the cream of the Australian crop and throws them in the waiting arms of another Australian icon, novelist extraordinaire and now director, Tim Winton. In this film, Winton shows us seventeen short and interconnected stories of the residents of seaside town, Angelus, in Western Australia. The film spans three decades and promises a stunning depiction of Australian community.
To get you into the mood for Australiana, Henry and The Fox on Little Collins Street is the place to go. Capturing all that is Melbourne in an eatery, it has a laidback aesthetic created with wooden tables, open spaces and pea-green chairs. There's nothing more Australian than seafood, and after watching the rolling waves of WA's shores for an hour and a half, there's going to be plenty of room in your belly for The Fox's spanner crab salad served with mango and coriander, or a tiger prawn and cherry tomato tagliatelle. There's also a great selection of easy pizzas and the best polenta chips this side of the CBD.
Where: Henry and The Fox | 525 Little Collins Street in Melbourne
Contact: 03 9614 3277
MIFF PICK #4
Ain't Misbehavin (France) + Siglo
If you're a doco fan, this one's for you. Ain't Misbehavin, follows the now 85-year-old award-winning filmmaker, Marcel Ophüls. He is described as feisty and wry, and we can't wait to see his life story from behind, in front, and all around the cameras of Hollywood. Featuring anecdotes and interviews with the likes of Woody Allen, Jeanne Moreau and François Truffaut, we're sold.
To get in the mood for this one, it's probably a good idea to surround yourself with some clichéd ideals of Old Hollywood cinema. For this, we recommend Siglo. Sitting above The Melbourne Supper Club, Siglo is a swanky rooftop bar complete with intimate tables and big communal long benches. You'll be surrounded by suits and the seductive scent of woody tobacco and fine wine as you look out over Spring Street and Parliament House, making Siglo just too cool to miss out on. So grab a seat under one of the heaters outside and enjoy the view.
Where: Siglo | Level 2, 161 Spring Street in Melbourne
Contact: 03 9654 6631