Film Festivals: A Cautionary Guide

I love the Melbourne Film Festival. I go every year. A lot. But I've learnt a few things about which films are good, and which ones make you want to stick blunt pencils in your eyes. So I've cast my eye over the 2007 program, and want to share some thoughts.

Avoid all films which contain the following in their descriptions:


"questions the very meaning of existence"

"a thought-provoking exercise in stretching film vocabulary to its limits"

"casts an austere gaze"

"the human need for emotion and tenderness"

Lars von Trier

"gritty metamorphosis of deeply wounded people"

"bitter and broken"

"walking the fine line between derision and sympathy, pessimism and very dim hope"


"passive and isolated"




"organic and raw"

"a whimsical exploration of existential angst"

"oppressive reality"

"sumptuous mood piece on longing and mourning"

"a sculptress whose marriage is an unfeeling abyss"


"this muted drama builds into a brooding study of loss, responsibility and incomprehension"

"a gruelling, often painful, occasionally dangerous marathon"

"introspective and minimalist"

Are you getting the picture? Some of these films SOUND like a good idea. Oh yes, a film about the relationship between an elderly couple, where, half-way through, they switch locations froma village to a hospital and replay all of the dialogue from the first half? Sounds interesting. Sounds experimental.

Consider this. According to an online calculator, I have 479688 hours left to live. I expect you have something not dissimilar. Do you REALLY want to spend two of those hours watching something described as a "free and minimalist portrait of nascent narcisissm?"