Friday, 2 August 2013

MY MIFF2013 experience so far......

We are into the first week of MIFF, and since my first MIFF experience, it is more than just seeing the films. My MIFF experience is about seeing the regular faces; standing in the members queues; chopping and changing films and schedules; meeting friends and new faces; and now also the food at the festival lounge. I am over my biggest hurdle, being the first weekend, where I saw 8 movies over the 3 days (yes I know, for most people that's a lot, but for the MIFF diehards that's nothing). The films I have seen so far: Dirty War; Mystery Road; Grigris; The Trials of Muhammad Ali; I Declare War; Marvin, Seth, and Stanley; The Major; Powerless; The East; Omar; The Attack; and Mistaken for strangers.

This Documentary reminded me of George Orwell's 1984, and still has me thinking of where is our future heading towards. I think Jeremy Schahill showed an angle, of this war on terror, which is not shown to us via mainstream media. How over the past decade the US have reacted to the war on terror, creating a new special forces that seem to have no rules of engagement and that only answers directly to the US government. I found that this documentary was well worth watching, providing us with as much facts as it could and showing a war which seems to have no ending in sight.
- Next MIFF Sessions: 9pm, Monday 5th August. Might be hard to get a ticket for this one being on the MIFF standby list.

Mystery Road:
An Australian thriller, by Ivan Sen, with a few big name Australian actors thrown into the mix. I enjoyed this movie, it provided a good story while showing a side of Australia which most Australians don't get to see. Ivan really gave you a sense of that outback feeling in this film, and it took me back to my outback travelling holidays when I was growing up.
- Next MIFF Sessions: Only had the showing last week, which is a pity.

The great thing about MIFF is experiencing all the different styles of films from all over the globe. GRIGRIS is one, being from France/Chad. Apart from being a good story, you just need to see this film for Souleymane Démé, what a great dancer. With the starting scene, you wouldn't have known he had a paralysed leg, he could really pull of some fantastic moves.
-Next MIFF Sessions: No more MIFF screenings. Grigris had two showings already at MIFF, the last being last night.

The Trials of Muhammond Ali:
Only knowing Muhammond Ai for his boxing prowess while growing up. I found this documentary providing me with an interesting insight to the man behind the boxer. Another reason why I love MIFF, the only time you are really able to see interesting documentaries on the big screen. With this documentary and Dirty Wars being amongst them.
- Next MIFF Session: 4pm, Sunday 4th August.

I Declare War:
This was one of the films I was looking forward too at the festival. A Canadian film, it had an interesting angle and take on kids playing capture the flag. While they were just using sticks as guns, you see the weapons in the eyes of the kids, with also the blood splatter. It reminded me a little of 'The Lord of the Flies', where the power corrupts the kids. It slightly let me down, but an interesting movie, and I think still worth watching.
- Next MIFF Session: 1:30pm, Saturday 3rd August.

Marvin, Seth and Stanley:
The film is about a dad with his two sons, on a fishing trip. Had funny moments, dragged on a little, but I didn't mind it. It did give a good sense of a father with his sons, and at some moments reminding me of being with my dad and brothers. Probably what our fishing trip would be like if we went on one.
- Next MIFF Session: 6:30pm, 3rd August, selling fast.

The Major:
A Russian film, starting with a cop, Sergey Sobolev, getting a call from the hospital, with his wife giving birth to their first baby. From here he races of on the icy snow to go and see them, only to kill a little boy, along the way. From here he calls his cop friends, where they start to cover up the incident. This thriller movie was ok, but had a few holes in the storyline.
- Next MIFF Session: 6:30pm, Friday 9th August. On standby.

The East:
Another film I was looking forward to at this festival. The East is about a private intelligence officer (ex FBI agent) infiltrating a cult. I liked the angle of how it is a private intelligence firm (and not a government agency) working for corporations, and going after a cult group that is planning to attack the corporation. The film starts of well and continues to build on this, and then I found the ending was let down. I felt that the ending killed what could have been a fantastic movie.
- Next MIFF Session: 7pm, Sunday 11th August. Selling fast.

An interesting film about the Israel-Palestine conflict. Omar is force to scale a wall to see his friends and girl friend. The movie shows an aspect of West Bank, which most of us have no clues on. I found it very interesting, and learnt a lot, the storyline could have been touched up a little, but overall I enjoyed it.
- Next MIFF Sessions: No more MIFF screanings.

The Attack:
Another film on a different view of the Israel-Palestine conflict. I am liking 'Omar' and 'The Attack' for being able to see and experience a view of a world which is totally different to Australia. Both movies are good, but I feel they both could have stronger story lines.
- Next MIFF Session: 9pm, Wednesday 7th August. selling fast.

Mistaken for Strangers:
Going to say my MIFF movie highlight so far. This a documentary about two brothers, Tom and Matt Berninger (Matt being the frontman to the band 'The National'). Tom was asked to be a roadie for the band on a world tour, and while doing his job he decides to make a documentary while on the trip. I really enjoyed this one, it was just what it was meant to be, a must see.
- Next MIFF Session: 9pm, Sunday 4th August. On standby; and 11am, Sunday 11th August.

So far the biggest improvement, for me at the festival, has been the food at the festival lounge. From what I recall from previous festivals, it used to be just basic salads and sandwiches, now its lots of yummy hot foods. A big positive tick on this one, and will be another aspect of why I long going to MIFF.

I have been struck down with the flu today, so if all goes to plan here are my remaining Films that are on my ticket list: Fatal Assistance; Lunacy!; The act of killing; Computer Chess; Fruitvale station; Drinking Buddies; A Hijacking; Ilo Ilo; and Artifact.

Posted via DraftCraft app

Monday, 8 July 2013

MIFF2013 is nearly upon us

It is nearly that time of the year again, yes MIFF is back. This will be my fourth year in a row of going to the festival, with last year being my biggest achievement of 35 movies in the two weeks, while also working full time and blogging about the festival. This time I have gone back to around 13 films (at the moment).

The films which I have selected and booked so far (In order of how I am seeing them):
- Dirty Wars
- I Delcare War
- The Major
- Powerless
- The East
- The Attack
- Fatal Assistance
- Lunacy!
-The Act of Killing
- Computer Chess
- A Hijacking
- Ilo Ilo
- Artifact

I don't think I will hit my high of 35 movies this year, it will probably be my usual amount of just under 20 movies. I wasn't planning on blogging on them, but to my surprise I did get some of my friends asking if I was going to do my MIFF blog, and so I will give it a shot (ok, so maybe it was just my wife suggesting it). I will keep the same format as last year, which was quick and simple. If you haven't experience MIFF yet, well now is your chance. It is a great festival, with lots of different and exciting films to see. MIFF gives you the chance to see same movies which will never go on the big screens in Australia, and also is the only time of the year you can watch a movie at the forum.

Watch this blogsite soon for my MIFF movie blogs.

MIFF Program Guide for 2013

Posted via DraftCraft app

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Masak Masak

Last Friday night Lauren and I went to my brothers comic book realease at the Over the Moon Launch at Sentido Funf on Gertrude St.. Lauren, being the forward thinker she is, made sure we had our dinner planned and booked for that night. This was at Masak Masak, a Malaysian hawker-style restaurant. Lauren booked this place from seeing pictures of the food on Instagram, and then checked it out online. Along with the delicious pictures, Masak Masak received good reviews online.

Masak Masak had a few set dinner options, and we decided to choose 'Set One', which is for max of 2 to 3 people. The first thing we had was the 'Century egg, pickled ginger, chilli oil'. This was a very interesting little bite size dish, with the egg coming cut in four pieces, and looking a very weird dark colour. It was very tasty, and started our journey off in the right direction. We then continued on our set dinner with 'Satay Beef with condiments' and 'Prawn wonton', fried of course. Both dishes being amazing, I could have had a whole bowl of the Prawn wontons they were so great.

Then the main dishes came out, we didn't think that the set menu would be enough for us, and so decided to add another item to our set dinner. The next on our food journey was 'Slow cooked beef ribs with sambal oelek' along with 'Wok-fried rice, chinese sausage, spring onion' and 'Kai-lan chinese broccoli, oyster sauce, garlic chips'. The beef ribs were huge and just melted away from the bone, and of course were delish. Lauren not normally a fan of fried rice, along with me, found the fried rice really yum. The journey finished with a sweet treat, Petit Four by Luxbite, along with some coffees.

What can I say the 'Set one' dinner was only $49 in total, yes not per person, in total. We really didn't need to get that extra dish, the main servings dishes were larger than what we expected. It has to be one of the cheapest Restaurants we have eaten at in Melbourne, without losing on quality. The food at Masak Masak really did take me back to being at a Singapore Hawker market, I just needed a Tiger beer to complete the flashback moment. The food was amazing, and I highly recommend this restaurant to all, we will certainly be coming back for more.

Mask Masak Menu.

Posted via DraftCraft app

Monday, 17 June 2013

Lagnaa and Singapore

Our first experience at Singapore, in 2010, was only for four days and on the end of a around the world trip. Being food lovers, and being the first time in Singapore we wanted to experience Indian dining at the famous Raffles. You could say our first Indian dining in Singapore was a let down. We clearly made a newbie mistake, Raffles was too over the top in so many ways, except where it counted for us, the food. With the four days going fast, we found that it just was not enough time to experience what Singapore had to offer, and so decided that we needed to come back. About a year later Jetstar provided us with this chance, via one of there special hot flight deal offers.

You could say it was not expected that we were going to be coming back to Singapore so quickly, but being able to get those cheap tickets, we were able to plan an unexpected holiday, back in Singapore. While in Singapore for the second time, we of course wanted to eat Indian, and with Raffles clearly out of the question, it was off to our trusty friend, Trip Advisor, which never lets us down for hotels, and decided to use it to help find a nice Indian Restaurant. Near the top of the list was this place called Lagnaa, and looking at the score and feedback, we decided to give it a go.

Lagnaa is situated in Little India, and on arriving, we were greeted straight away by Shanti. Her lovely smile and friendly persona, made you feel right at home. She took us upstairs and seated us at our tables (upstairs you need to take your shoes off, and sit on the floor, which is half the fun). Shanti then went over the menu, going over the monthly specials, which every month is picked by a panel of guest which vote for the monthly specials, which was then followed by the chillies scale, 1-10. I didn't notice at the time, but on the main floor they have a chillie scale, along the wall, for people willing to take the challenge. Wooden pegs, with people's names on the peg, go next to the level they were able to achieve. To date, no one has made it to level 10, with only one person getting to level 9, this is another blog in itself or something you need to experience by going to Lagnaa.

On our third trip back, we came back to Lagnaa 3 times, during our eight day visit. Trying different items on the menu including the monthly specials. They also do cooking courses, and if you are there at the right moment, you might be able to take part in choosing the monthly specials. One of the things we love about Lagnaa apart from the fantastic food is having the great chats with Shanti. Yes, it is our favourite Indian restaurant in the world, and we miss it as much as we miss Singapore itself. Our advice if you are going to visit Singapore, then this is truly a place you need to visit.

Monday, 31 December 2012

Lauren’s Best of 2012

2012 has been a massive year, a new job with added responsibilities, lots of family stuff happening and lots of films, books and albums (not to mention craft, restaurants, the world of finding decent decaf, the gym and just general faux-hipster time wasting activities). In fact, in 2012 I saw 91 films, I think the most I’ve ever seen.

So, here is the list of the best of 2012.


Top 20

1. Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present
This was one of the most moving film experiences I have ever had. Watching Marina’s performance art and sharing in her story had me sobbing throughout the entire film. I’ve never felt like that in a film before.
2. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
One of the first films I saw in 2012 and it was hard to beat. It crept up on you. Grey London, bold Oldman (robbed of the Oscar) and Cumberbatch!
3. Beasts of the Southern Wild
This film was phenomenal. It touched my soul and challenged perspectives. Fantasy tinged with harsh reality.
4. Sound of My Voice
I do love a good story about a cult but this was about so much more than brainwashing and strange basement handshakes. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this film. It was a great narrative, perplexing and Britt Marling was incredible. A real highlight of the year.
5. Argo
I’m the first to admit I’m not a big fan of Ben Affleck the actor, but I am a massive fan of Affleck the director. A great film where the predictable suspense still had me covering my eyes!
6. Amour
Heart wrenching. Beautiful. Love.
7. Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol
Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt. Flying out a window. Renner. Action. Incredible. Enough said. Judge me, I don’t care.
8. Hugo
So beautiful (especially in 3D) that I could have sat in the cinema and watched it again and again. Thank you Scorsese. A lesson in film and a lesson in loveliness, family and dreams.
9. Weekend
A gay love story that was so much more than the average depiction, less nightclubs, more love. A beautiful film.
10. The Avengers
Superheroes!!!!! Loved every minute of Whedon fun!
11. Headhunters
A great Norwegian film that was a hilarious art-heist! Wasn’t expecting much so was totally surprised that this remained one of my favourites of the year!
12. Undefeated
I thought this would be a typical sports doco about the achievements of a wrong side turned good group of kids who win a championship. It was so much more. A moving glimpse of poverty, hard work and opportunity.
13. Diaz: Don’t Clean Up This Blood (Italian Film Festival)
This film slayed me and really affected me for days after I saw it. It reminded me of that time around the Seattle protests and S11 and G20 and what corruption, violence and political zeal mixed with corporate zeal can do to those who believe in the truth and freedom.
14. Looper
A great film with Gordon-Levitt and Willis delivering great performances. Action and sci-fi thrills.
15. The Dark Knight Rises
Nolan delivered an amazing film, made better by seeing it in the front row at IMAX. Joseph Gordon-Levitt was a highlight as Batman’s Robin, while Tom Hardy’s mumbling was a lowlight. A great end to the franchise.
16. Woody Allen: A Documentary
So great I saw this twice, once at ACMI and then on ABC. Nothing makes me feel better like Woody and Diane K talking about love and life. My teen hero.
17. Magic Mike
Soderberg for the win! What could have been Step Up with strippers ended up being emotive, gritty and real.
18. The Intouchables
As someone who has spent much of their career working in the disability policy area, often films about people with disability end up being inspiration porn, that is heart-warming stories that make you feel sympathy but hope. This film however was hilarious, genuine and avoided most clichés.
19. Margaret (Extended Version)
Lonergan delivered another great film. I’ve seen ‘You Can Count on Me’ so many times and this is just as good. To get into a teenagers brain to see tragedy, life and New York go by was incredible. Paquin was wonderful.
20. Chronicle
I went into this thinking it was a teen movie and left amazed at the way it was filmed and the impact of the story.

Almost made it to the top 20 but didn’t…

• The Artist
A beautifully shot and heart-warming film that reminds us of why cinema is so important.
• Rock of Ages
This film was a total guilty pleasure, so bad it’s good (along the lines of Burlesque), what more do you need – Tom Cruise, no shirt, singing Guns & Roses Paradise City.
• Cabin in the Woods
I’m so not into horror, in fact I’m so not into horror that I had to read the entire scene synopsis before we went into the cinema, but I surprisingly enjoyed it, I guess Joss makes everything ok. It was terrifying, random and Bradley Whitford was pure understated comedic genius!
• Moonrise Kingdom
A sweet curious tale, amazingly funning, with Bruce Willis a highlight. It was like an animated Norman Rockwell painting.
• Monsieur Lazhar
A reminder of the importance of good teachers and the importance of listening to children’s voices. The performances were emotive and beautiful.
• Safety Not Guaranteed
Funny, complete with Aubrey Plaza and Mark Duplass, what more do you need?
• Your Sister’s Sister
A well-written, charming indie. Plus Duplass and a love story!
• The Imposter
This unexpected and bizarrely fascinating documentary took me by surprise, twists and turns, reminded me of my two favourite docos of previous years, Catfish and Tabloid.
• Haywire
Soderberg does it again with a film that kind of creeps up on you and keeps you on the edge of your seat.
• Bill Cunningham New York
The story and life of Bill Cunningham was charming and unassuming.

Books (in no order):

• The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman
• Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn
• The Hunger Games Trilogy


• Patti Smith - Banga
• Cat Power – Sun
• Something for Kate – Leave your Soul to Science
• Ben Folds Five – The Sound of the Life of the Mind
• Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball
• Jay-Z and Kanye West – Watch the Throne
• Nicki Minaj – Roman Reloaded

Other highlights:

• Simon Callow at the Melbourne Town Hall
• Michael Palin – at the Melbourne Town Hall
• Jeffrey Eugenides at the Comedy Theatre
• Sherlock on TV – Freeman and Cumberbatch!
• Hawaii 50 and NCIS LA cross over – when cheesy met cheesier for the win!
• Being introduced to the music of Anthony and the Johnsons by Katee.
• Paul Thomas Anderson and The Master on 70mm at the Astor.
• The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime – National Theatre Live.
• Oscars Day at the Nova.