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Hint: click on contents for more Festivale
May, 1998

Reviews this issue include:

A Thousand Acres;
Blues Brothers 2000;
Stella Does Tricks
there's more, see the review index
For the latest stuff in Festivale, check out what's new
The coming attractions section has Australian release dates
Imagine no McDonalds (at Movie Development Meetings)

"Why can't you accept films for what they are?" - reader comment

We all live a finite life, and few of us know exactly when the end will come; and life, they say, is not a dress rehearsal.

That being the case, we should spend our lives wisely. Why listen to fools? Why sit in a corner in a maudlin snit blubbering over past injustices (real or imagined).

Better to suck the marrow out of the days, enjoy all our experiences, savour life, appreciate adversity as a learning experience, and rejoice in the opportunities we have to share the best of ourselves with others.

Imagine there's no heaven,
It's easy if you try,
No hell below us,
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people, living for today...(John Lennon)

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If we act as if the only sure thing we have is today, then the days, hours and minutes of our lives are too previous to waste on muddy messages, on second-rate work from people who don't care to do better, or just plain lack insight and good story-telling skills. Some Hollywood movie productions are preceded by development meetings where they literally discuss characters as potential toys for McDonalds et al, and for shop shelves. If a film maker has a story to tell, is putting in anything gratuitous going to make the message clearer or more confused -- less powerful?

If film is the most emotional medium, then let film makers evoke our emotions with good intent and thoughtful motives. Which doesn't mean don't make money. By all means lets make money, people need to eat.

The same camera, the same lights, the same film stock and the same alphabet can be used to arouse our thoughts, our pity, our love, our anger, our respect, our adrenals or our hormones.

When the cheap, breathless trip of a loud, speedy light show is over, what is left? When the fright is flushed from our systems, is there any new understanding?

A rather scary horror fan once boasted that horror films desensitized him -- he needed more and more extreme sights to elicit a response. The man clearly was on a one-way path to snuff films (where people are actually killed for the entertainment of the audience). Nothing in his experience of horror films gave him a horror of the subject or events. He accepted and enjoyed the sensation, considering no questions, his adrenal glands were in gear but his brain was definitely in the off position.

He was spending his life in a darkened room riding his personal chemicals. He wasn't improving his understanding of the world, or himself. He wasn't thinking, he wasn't inspired to change himself or the world, to fight injustice or to respect and support courage or to appreciate the many acts large and small that people do to make our world liveable.

Storytelling is a profession as old as speech. Why else did we learn to talk, but to communicate with others? Movies are stories told in sight and sound, a trick of light and language that has the power to move us out of ourselves and give us the gift of seeing life through other eyes, and living life through other lives.

Sure there are funny stories and sad stories, exciting stories and mystical tales, but when the sound has died away and the lights come on, a story should leave you with something new: memories, thoughts, challenges, dreams.

Movies cost anything from a few thousand dollars to many millions to make. They cost us dollars and life-time to watch. If we are to be entertained, let the entertainers do it with style; if we are to be informed, let the speakers show us, not preach to us; and if we are bored or insulted or disgusted with the show, then let us walk out. Do not pass the concession stand, do not buy another chocolate topped ice cream, but let us vote with our feet. Give the film makers feedback that they might learn, and if appropriate, tell them, "We're as mad as hell and we're not going to take it any more!".

Ali Kayn, May 1998

Also this month: Cinema Nova introduces special sessions for busy parents. See our cover story

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Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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