Cinema is a collaborative medium, but a lot of great films have powerhouse personalities in charge. Here are four future classics to catch in Melbourne in the next few weeks, including one with an accompanying live score.
Charlie Kaufman's Anomalisa
Charlie Kaufman might not be a household name, but in the early 2000s his scripts for Being John Malkovich, Adaptation and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind cemented him as a master of surreal, complex comic dramas. He went quiet for a bit, before returning with his directorial debut, the deeply weird and divisive Synecdoche, New York.
Many will be pleased that his new film, Anomalisa, is a return to the romantic honesty of his earlier work. It’s still bloody weird, though. A stop-motion animation using 3D-printed puppets, Anomalisa concerns Michael Stone (David Thewlis), a travelling inspirational speaker and one-man pity party suffering from the Fregoli delusion. To say anything more will spoil this singular piece of filmmaking, but suffice to say it’s got Charlie Kaufman written all over it.
Screening now at Cinema Nova.
Miranda July's The Future
Miranda July, performance artist, author, actor, film director and cult hero, hit the ground running as a filmmaker with her directorial debut Me and You and Everyone We Know in 2005. Ahead of her visit to Melbourne in March, ACMI brings her second film, The Future, back to the screen. July’s second feature takes a different approach from the scattered, largely unrehearsed whimsy of Me and You. It focuses on a 30-something couple (played by July and Hamish Linklater) that realises their hip, passive lifestyle can’t sustain them forever. It’s for this reason they decide to adopt a sickly cat, Paw-Paw (who also, of course, narrates the film). This forces them into the adulthood they’ve both been avoiding. A visually stylish existential crisis ensues.
Screening from February 26 to March 5 at ACMI.
Simon Stone's The Daughter
Perhaps dividing audiences is a hallmark of the great auteur. If so, Australian director Simon Stone got his credentials in early. As a theatre director, Stone is known for adaptations of Henrik Ibsen’s The Wild Duck and Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard, both of which set the action in modern Australia and drew critical awe, but also their share of ire. The Daughter, his first feature film, returns to his adaptation of Ibsen’s The Wild Duck. It turns it into a family saga set in rural New South Wales. It’s raw, moving and extremely accomplished for a first-time filmmaker, and it’s given a boost by a cast featuring Geoffrey Rush, Miranda Otto and Sam Neill. It’s hard not to wonder if Stone will go on to have a similar impact in cinema as he has in theatre.
The Daughter is out on general release from March 17.
Xavier Dolan’s Heartbeats (with a live score by GL)
French-Canadian prodigy Xavier Dolan is only 26 (he was 21 when Heartbeats was released), but he’s already got five feature films under his belt and a raft of critical acclaim. This new Dolan film is now something of an event on the cinematic calendar. Heartbeats is an excellent example of what he does best. Dolan takes his visual cues from Kubrick and applies them to a love triangle and all the horrible stuff that goes along with one – jealousy, spite, stubbornness and rage – but does it all with such levity and colour that it never sinks into melodrama.
If you make it to this screening at Howler you’re in for something a bit special – D-floor-ready synth-pop group GL will score the film live. Let’s see what they come up with.
Screening at Howler on March 3 with a live score by GL.