Melbourne International Film Festival’s Introductory Notes on Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn: Winner of the prestigious Golden Bear at the 2021 Berlinale, this comic, determinedly offbeat provocation by eclectic Romanian New Wave auteur Radu Jude takes aim at everything from sexist double standards to Romania’s political system to cinema itself. Polemical and unashamedly audacious, Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn throws cinema vérité, surreal satire and essay film into a blender to confront a world in which everyone is seemingly willing to cast the first stone.
Melbourne International Film Festival’s Introductory Notes on What Do We See When We Look at the Sky?: As he follows the couple’s journey towards reunification, writer/director Alexandre Koberidze also takes viewers on a leisurely and wittily self-aware detour through daily life in the historic Georgian city of Kutaisi, whose human, canine and inanimate-object populations are in the grip of World Cup fever. Saturated in colour thanks to Faraz Fesharaki’s artful mix of 16mm and digital cinematography, What Do We See When We Look at the Sky? is an expansive, eloquent love letter to romance, to the mundane and the magical, and to the art of cinema itself.
Melbourne International Film Festival’s Introductory Notes on Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy: Once again foregrounding his female characters, the Japanese auteur weaves his vignettes so that they interconnect in odd, gently unpredictable ways, twisting and turning around chance connections, mirrored selves and unlikely romantic portals – as the director himself puts it, they are tales of “coincidence and imagination”. Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy is another ingenious exploration of modern love from a filmmaker fast becoming a contemporary master of the terrain.
Melbourne International Film Festival’s Introductory Notes on The Girl and the Spider: The second film in Ramon and Silvan Zürcher’s loose trilogy about human togetherness follows their award-winning feature debut, The Strange Little Cat, in building a lingering claustrophobic tension hemmed in by four walls. As extended family members, neighbours, handymen and hangers-on pass in and out of the two flats, a palpable undercurrent of sexual desire and jealously fills the frame, and an increasingly chaotic whirl of ambiguity – underscored by Eugen Doga’s Gramofon waltz – threatens to tear it all apart. As a cinematic madrigal on the nature of impermanence, The Girl and the Spider is a unique work of taut, existential distinction.
Melbourne International Film Festival’s Introductory Notes on Drive My Car: Based on the eponymous short story by Haruki Murakami, Hamaguchi’s Cannes Best Screenplay winner is a poignant, moody triumph that channels his previous films with its intimate focus on a slowly unfolding, ultimately reparative relationship between two seemingly mismatched people. Warm and observant, with a memorably vivid visual style that evokes Wong Kar-wai and a powerfully contained performance by Hidetoshi Nishijima as Yūsuke, Drive My Car is another unique and stunning drama from one of Japan’s master storytellers of modern relationships.