In the second full day of screenings, and the first to fall on a weekend, the Melbourne International Film Festival wasted little time filling its many venues. With nine sold out sessions (including Werner Herzog’s Cave Of Forgotten Dreams, Irish comedy The Guard and the Australian premiere of The Eye Of The Storm) and a multitude of other titles on offer (retrospective Beauty And The Beast, Sydney Film Festival favourite Tomboy and Cannes hit Take Shelter among them), the program provided something for everyone, with Richard Ayoade’s Submarine, Ben Wheatley’s Kill List and Ti West’s The Innkeepersalso in the schedule.
Happiness comes in a variety of shapes and forms, often inspired by one’s own understanding of ourselves and our interactions with those around us. In his assured and empathetic directorial debut Submarine, Richard Ayoade extends his talents beyond the cult comedy confines of the small screen (including Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, Nathan Barley, The Mighty Boosh and The IT Crowd) to dwell upon sources of and threats to contentment, as apparent to a self-aware teenager burdened by the coming-of-age milestones of first love and parental marital disharmony. In a stylish adaptation of Joe Dunthorne’s 2008 novel featuring a pitch-perfect turn by Craig Roberts (Jane Eyre) as the wise-beyond-his-years Oliver Tate, and capable support from Yasmin Page (TV’s The Sarah Jane Adventures) as his rebellious object of affection, Sally Hawkins (Never Let Me Go) and Noah Taylor (soon to be seen in Red Dog) as his unhappy parents, and Paddy Considine (Le Donk & Scor-zay-zee) as an eccentric neighbour, the surprisingly sincere and sympathetic effort chronicles the tender troubles of the Swansea youth. Accompanied by a suitably emotive soundtrack by Alex Turner of The Arctic Monkeys, and channelling the awkward oeuvre of Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach, Ayoade’s exacting and earnest offering appropriately captures the uncertainty and alienation of adolescence as it charts a journey to discover that happiness is simply what you make of it.
Submarine will be released by Madman Entertainment on September 8, 2011.
Ben Wheatley announced his arrival on the U.K. filmmaking scene with the disarming crime family saga Down Terrace, exploring the intersection of survival and violence in the blackly comedic effort. In his sophomore feature Kill List, the former television comedy writer director (with Time Trumpet, Modern Toss, The Wrong Door and Ideal on his resume) retains the same thematic undercurrent whilst increasing the psychological tension, unravelling the extreme exploits of a former solider turned self-styled hitman caught in a wicked web. Struggling to support his wife (MyAnna Buring, Lesbian Vampire Killers) and son (newcomer Harry Simpson) after returning from service, Jay (Neil Maskell, Doghouse) turns to contract killing at the suggestion of his mate Gal (Michael Smiley, Burke And Hare). As the duo work through the titular roster of victims, their involvement in a broader scheme becomes apparent, with the stakes continually raised by their sinister employer (Struan Rodger, Stardust). With the severity of the situation worsening with each additional target, the emotional, physical and moral toll on the friends and those around them only amplifies as the list is whittled down. Cleverly combining elements of domestic drama, hitman thriller and pure genre horror, Wheatley’s vivid and visceral second offering makes a shockingly bold statement whilst asking audiences to piece together a puzzle of potent and powerful proportions.
Kill List has been picked up for Australian distribution by Madman Entertainment, but does not currently have a release date.
After garnering a cult following courtesy of his satanic panic stylings in House Of The Devil, up-and-coming horror writer, director and producer Ti West retraces familiar territory in the haunted hotel effort The Innkeepers. As West explained in an impressive question and answer session after the film’s first Melbourne screening, the aforementioned return is of the literal as well as stylistic kind, with the supposedly spooked location visited whilst shooting the earlier feature inspiring and providing the setting for the current ghost tale. At the centre is The Yankee Pedlar Inn, a real-life Connecticut establishment depicted by West as being mere days away from closure after a chequered past. During the final weekend of trade, bored employees Claire (Sara Paxton, The Last House On The Left) and Luke (Pat Healy, The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford) spend their final moments as the titular custodians of the building investigating the apparent haunting by a jilted bride turned suicide victim years earlier, with actress turned medium Leanne Rease-Jones (Kelly McGillis, worlds away from her Top Gun fame) caught up in their escapades as one of the hotel’s only remaining guests. Taking the time to establish the characters rather than jumping straight into the chills and thrills, West’s fifth feature (with Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever also on his resume) combines horror with humour in an offering purposefully full of contrasts. An enjoyable genre effort that invests fun into the many fright-inducing moments, The Innkeepers is illustrative of West at the top of his game.
The Innkeepers does not currently have an Australian release date.