This film gets off to a rather ambiguous start as three sailors enter a hotel room. Various references are made to an event that the audience do not yet know of. This is a technique designed to suck the audience in to the story, however I’m no sure it worked here as I found myself not caring all that much.
On the whole the film was rather aimless. There weren’t really any set goals or a string of fascinating events to follow. Just three sailors wandering through the city of Sydney. The fact that we don’t know what happened on the ship for the majority of the movie contributed to the feel of pointlessness.
There was one incredibly long poker scene, that was only broken up by one scene up on the roof. This poker scene, like the film, seemed rather pointless as the topics of conversation kept changing radically and had little developmental value on the characters in the film.
Filming in Hyde Park was quite impressive, audio wise. Being from Sydney I know that no matter where you are in that park and no matter what time of day there will always be a hell of a lot of traffic noise from all sides. Therefore it was quite impressive that the audio in the Hyde Park scenes contained little to no traffic noise. It also looked like they grabbed a few passers by and not regular actors in the Hyde Park scenes, taking photos with them and such. Their reactions were too genuine to have been an actor.
Bob Franklin was a nice surprise. I’m quite used to seeing him in comedy roles such as Thank God You’re Here or The Library, but when he plays a serious dramatic role it reminded me just how intimidating his dry style of dialogue can be.
This film also ends with a bookend as they all leave the hotel room and turn the light off, which mirrors the movie’s beginning.
This delightful Italian comedy appears to question reality through the character of Marta, a philosophy graduate who has ended up working in a call centre. The film opens with a surreal musical number in which Marta is an observer. This however turns out to be reality, as the call centre girls do a dance before every shift.
The show Big Brother comes up a lot and serves as a metaphor for Marta’s life in the call centre. The call centre itself is very visually appealing, artsy and high tech, not unlike the Big Brother house. Call centre employees are fired regularly based on their low number of appointments made, similar to the eviction system on the show. It once again makes the viewer question reality.
Furthermore the office reminds me of the film The Island, another film about questioning reality. It’s appearance of paradise, containing a very dark side and even the monthly awards (similar to the lotto in The Island) speak of potential influence from that film.
The actual office set was clearly difficult to film as all of the wide shots, usually during the dancing scenes, are at awkward angles and make the office space look extremely cramped.
One interesting technique that was the use of sound in the scene where Marta is listening to music whilst running from the union guy. When the headphone is in her ear the music is loud, drowning out his voice, but when it is out it the sound is instantly cut. Very simple, but something I’ve never seen used before.
This film ends with a bookend performance containing a musical sequence similar to the beginning.
The Wackness is a very low budget film that contains wonderfully interesting characters and some very well executed film techniques.
The relationship between Luke and Dr Jeffery is very much one of equals, despite their differing age and status. Both of them have quick wit and catch out each other’s statement flaws a lot, giving them equal conversational control. The two of them are also purposefully juxtaposed encountering the same problems and dealing with them in different ways. For example they both start having problems in bed. The doctor deals with this by watching porn and taking drugs, while Luke talks and works things through with Stephanie.
The film also features a lot of interesting transitions. One involves going from opposing rooftops to a medium close up of Luke. The others are very musical and feel natural as the music takes you to the next scene. There is also the idea of music fueling the world the characters live in as they are constantly exchanging music with each other. This includes Luke, Dr Jeffery, Luke’s supplier and even one of Luke’s customers.
Various references are made to the setting being in 1994, such as the old school brick gameboy and several radio monologues about Mayor Giuliani. That aside the film does not particularly focus on the time period at all and it feel pretty much like the modern day.
The film can be described as more realistic with expressionistic elements. For example the beginning with Luke’s fantasy on the train made me feel for sure the film would be quite Scrubs-like with a lot of fantasies. It turned out to be quite realistic with only tiny elements of expressionism inserted here and there.
The Wackness provided a fun story with serious elements and fantastic humor delivered by quirky likeable characters.
This film offers a slice of life amongst the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I think a lot of the film is lost on Western viewers. For example the issue of compensation and the strong Palestinian belief that they cannot take Israeli money. While the government is unfairly removing her grove I don’t see the reason for the extremely strong emotion evoked in Salma. This is probably a mixture of things lost in translation, cultural differences and the fact that I have never cared about something that much in my life. Whatever the case the film failed to deliver that emotion to me and I found myself not caring about the trees and annoyed at her continued opposition.
There was a photo on the wall of Salma’s late husband that appeared a lot. I don’t know if it was the intention, but it got a laugh every time there would be a straight cut to it. It reminded me of a scene in Bend It Like Beckham where there is a cut to a portrait of Babaji on the wall with the intent of being funny. I’m not so convinced that the humor of those numerous photo cuts in Lemon Tree were intended to be funny, but rather another cultural difference.
The characters spoke random English at times such as “off the record” which reminded me a lot of Japanese media, where they regularly use English in sentences that don’t often make sense (e.g. “crazy shining love”).
The film did have a rather realistic end which was partially satisfying, as it would be incredibly unbelievable for her to defeat the government. He relationship also seemed quite impossible, given the social stigma attached and seemed right that it did not work out, even if it was a little bitter and sad.
Lake Mungo was intriguing, perplexing and simply a pure mindfuck of a film. Different to anything I have ever seen before. As such I cant write up the review in my normal style, as so many of the things I jotted down on my funky note pad became incredibly pointless and layered as my views and realities on the film changed as often as they did. For example in the beginning I took notes such as:
– Blurred footage to mask actors
This was under the assumption that the documentary was real and I was pointing out a documentary technique which is done in recreations to hide the actors. I’ll also point out that they stopped using a lot of these after about the first half an hour. In retrospect it was a brilliant strategy to suck you in and it was done so smoothly that you (or I) don’t even realize unless you think about it afterwards.
The film also has a lot of logistical flaws that only realize afterwards. This includes things such as various unresolved plotlines (e.g. the Tooheys, the sex tape and what actually happened to Alice). These dlaws also extend to technical faults such as when it was revealed that Matt used a TV screen to get Alice’s reflection in the mirror. Logistically a television in the dark would light up the entire room and the light around the room would be ever changing. This did not occur to me at the time and I’d be willing to bet it didn’t to most others either.
There are a lot of subtle hints that the documentary is fake. The comedic moments, such as having to drive back to town in reverse, feel quite out of place, however they are so brief that you accept them, have a laugh and move on without a second thought.
The other huge hints are the rather soap opera like plot twists. The revelations of Matt having faked the photos, the discovery of the tape, the Ray/Alice relationship and the footage of Lake Mungo were all quite shocking events that changed the direction of the story in much he same way that happens every day on The Bold and the Beautiful. However after the transition into these events the documentary still appears to take itself so seriously that we cant help but be sucked in.
One more hint that was unintentional from the film makers was the juxtaposition to the short film My Rabit Hoppy, an obviously fake film shot as if it was realistic. This was a clever move by whoever came up with the idea to put them together.
Lake Mungo is a one time experience and I consider myself to have been very lucky to be a part of it. Under no other circumstances would it have had the effect it did. If it were to be released in mainstream theatre word would get around it would become more like The Blair Witch Project, where the audience goes into it knowing that it was fake, ruining the initial experience.