Everybody Wants Some

Following the universal admiration that was directed – and deservedly so – at Richard Linklater’s 12-years-in-the-making contemporary classic Boyhood, the anticipation surrounding the director’s next movie has been considerable. Marketed as a ‘spiritual’ sequel to Linklater’s 1993 effort Dazed and Confused, Everybody Wants Some is a wonderfully witty exploration of what it’s like to be a particular type of young male in America.  Set in Texas in 1980, Everybody Wants Some tracks the antics of a group of college students in the week prior to the commencement of classes. Like so many of Linklater’s films (the Before… trilogy for example), Everybody Wants Some is very much dialogue-driven; the characters here love to talk and much of the film is nothing more than this motley group of young men riffing on sports and women and, well, that’s about it really, but rest assured Linklater, who also wrote the screenplay, has constructed characters far removed from the Stifler-esque grotesques who typically populate films in which teenaged males are front and centre of the narrative.

Everybody Wants Some poster

The film opens with Jake (Blake Jenner), a freshman pitcher who has secured a baseball scholarship to South Texas State University, arriving at the somewhat dilapidated house in which the baseball team are being accommodated. As Jake meets the various other characters who inhabit the residence, it becomes apparent that everything that happens here is a competition, a never-ending quest for one-upmanship and the alpha-male jostling for position in the social hierarchy. Whilst the various members of the team share a single-minded desire to achieve success on the field, their motivations for doing so and their expectations about where this success will lead are vastly different. There is very little baseball to be seen – just one practice session in fact – because it is not about baseball per se, it is about young men grasping an opportunity that has been presented to them and using it for maximum advantage; whether that be setting themselves on a path for a career in the major leagues or simply enjoying the freedom and friendship of university life. This freedom, of course, is all about partying and the pursuit of pussy which, as crass as it sounds, is a reasonable and reasonably accurate representation of the priorities that might inhabit the minds of young men in such a situation. Jake possesses a quiet confidence that enables him to engage with his housemates and their myriad misadventures whilst maintaining a sense of propriety in his romantic pursuit of the artistically inclined Beverly (Zoey Deutch).

Everybody Wants Some 2

Over the course of the film, not a lot happens to our intrepid troupe; some of them get laid, some get wasted and they all get bored. They cruise the streets trying to impress girls and find ways to keep themselves occupied during the day. The banter between them again demonstrates that Linklater has an understanding of young people that is perhaps only surpassed by the late John Hughes. It could be argued that their attitude towards women is unenlightened, but these young men do reveal levels of complexity beneath the swagger. Sure, the majority of the actors playing these roles are in their 30’s and you can never really believe that these characters are as young as they are supposed to be, but that doesn’t detract from the effectiveness of this as an insightful exploration of masculinity and mateship. Regardless of what transpires between them, they remain united in their commitments to the team. Whilst Jenner is solid in his first feature film role, it is Deutch who really impresses and it is no surprise to learn she subsequently has seven projects currently in various stages of development. Not confined to merely being an object of desire, Beverly is an intelligent, quietly confident young woman whose budding relationship with Jake proves our protagonist to be much more than a sex-obsessed muscle-bound jock.

EVERYBODY WANTS SOME

The production design is fabulous with the costumes resplendently reflecting the sheer hideousness of 80’s fashion, while Linklater also uses the music of the time fantastically well, from the opening moments featuring The Knack’s My Sharona, to an in-car sing-along of The Sugarhill Gang’s Rapper’s Delight, to Devo’s Whip It and plenty more besides. Linklater was adamant that he would only use music that had been released at the time the movie was set (one song was rejected was because it was released just 4 days after the week in which the events take place) and this attention to detail is just one of the many things that make Everybody Wants Some such an utterly enjoyable experience.

In Character at GoMA

The ‘In Character’ film program currently screening at the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) Cinemateque features a collection of films selected to complement the Cindy Sherman photographic exhibition that runs at GoMA until October 3. The program brings together films in which the actresses and/or their characters challenge our expectations of behaviour.

Kill Bill

There are four strands in the program – Hollywood Babylon, The Lady of the House, Dangerous Relations, and Women in Revolt – with each film featuring characters that are “exaggerated expressions of identity”. The program include a range of cinema classics from All About Eve and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane to Breakfast at Tiffany’s to more contemporary fare such as 2013’s Under the Skin or Xavier Dolan’s 2014 effort Mommy.

This Friday (June 24) will feature Abel Ferrara’s 1981 release Ms 45 and Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill (Vol. 1), two selections in which revenge is the driving force behind the actions of the lead characters. Also screening on Friday night are two episodes of Absolutely Fabulous for those seeking something a little lighter in tone.

GoMA

More than 40 films will be screened as part of the program, including work from directors such as Pedro Almodovar, David Lynch, Rob Reiner, Todd Haynes and Roman Polanski. The film program runs until August 28 with screenings every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Tickets, which are $9.00 per film or just $36.00 for a 5-film pass, can be purchased online or at the GoMA box office.

For more information about the program or to see the full screening schedule, visit the GoMA website.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Although this buddy comedy from Taika Waititi ticks all of the typical conventions for such a film and is very funny , Hunt for the Wilderpeople is much more than the sum of its laughs. Waititi’s fourth feature is a whacky, whimsical adventure in which a fat kid and a curmudgeon come together to form an uneasy alliance in the face of myriad adversities, misunderstandings and moments of mirth. Our two protagonists are taciturn 13-year-old Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison), a foster child with a penchant for haikus, and ‘Uncle’ Hector (Sam Neill), a surly loner whose gruff exterior is more bark than bite. Sure, there are clichés at play here as these two distinctly different personalities find themselves on the run from authorities, but the two central characters are so likeable that it is easy to forgive the more predictable elements of the story.

Wilderpeople 1

The opening moments of the film come across as quite mean-spirited with Ricky the subject of numerous jokes about his weight by the very people you would expect to know better; Paula (Rachel House) the welfare officer delivering him to his last-chance foster home, and Bella (Reme Ti Wiata) the big-hearted woman who has agreed to take him in. Not surprisingly, city kid Ricky is reluctant to stay with Bella and Hec, who reside in a ramshackle cottage deep in the New Zealand countryside. His wordless assessment and rejection of the idea is very funny indeed, but ultimately he has no choice as Paula makes it clear that his only other option is juvenile detention. As expected, Ricky’s misgivings fade soon enough and he develops a nice rapport with Bella. However when tragedy strikes, Ricky, fearing for his future, heads for the hills. Intercepted by Hector, the two reluctantly team up and spend the best part of a year living in the wilderness, oblivious (initially at least) to the extensive ongoing efforts to track them down. With Paula leading the way, the authorities start closing in and a spectacular Thelma and Louise­-inspired showdown ensues.

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Amidst all the humour are more serious undertones with Waititi taking particular aim at the New Zealand child welfare system. Paula is a pathetically punctilious public servant whose every effort to paint Ricky as a menace to society falls short when his list of ‘crimes’ contains nothing more serious than setting a letterbox on fire. Her obsession with tracking down Ricky is more to do with her saving face than it is to do with what might be best for him. The way in which she exhorts control over the law enforcement and military personnel involved in the search pushes her character from being merely objectionable to utterly repulsive and unconvincing. Crazier even than Rhys Darby’s off-the-grid conspiracy theorist Psycho Sam, Paula is the worst kind of crackpot; one with the power to influence the lives of others. In fact, most of the supporting characters, with the exception of Tioreore Ngatai-Melbourne’s chilled Kahu, are over-the-top caricatures. Whenever Ricky and Hector are on screen though, the film soars and it is a great credit to young Dennison that he is more than a match for his veteran co-star.

Wilderpeople 2

Visually, the film is a treat, with sweeping vistas of the New Zealand landscape and a series of seamlessly edited montage sequences that are so effective in representing the passing of time and the movement of the characters through the bush. Adapted from the book Wild Pork and Watercress by Barry Crumb, Hunt for the Wilderpeople is also presented in chapters, allowing Waititi to necessarily advance the story several months at a time. There are moments of action – including an encounter with a wild pig and an elaborate chase sequence that might have served as Waititi’s audition piece for his gig helming the next Thor film for Marvel – combined with touching moments of drama and genuinely funny comic interplay between the two leads and the various supporting players. Perhaps what makes Hunt for the Wilderpeople so enjoyable though is the fact that these two characters are oh-so-flawed but oh-so-likeable all the same.

Pick Your Favourite Pic

The Lord Mayor’s Photographic Awards are an annual celebration of images that reflect Brisbane’s history, social vibrancy and creative lifestyle. Open to Australian photographers, the competition seeks images that reflect the “expressive, energetic and enthusiastic Brisbane”.

Lord Mayor

Cash prizes are awarded to the three categories, with $10 000 to the winner of the open section. The top tertiary entry will win $2000 with a $1000 prize for the winner of the People’s Choice Award, which is decided by online public vote.

Entries for the 2016 competition have closed, however voting for the People’s Choice remains open until Thursday, July 7. To check out the 23 finalist images for the 2016 LMPA People’s Choice Awards and cast your vote, head to the awards website.

WEFF is On Again This Weekend

The West End Film Festival is on again in Brisbane this weekend, with a tasty selection of Australian short films and music videos on the menu. Now in its 7th year, the festival has become a popular fixture on the local festival circuit with more than 500 people attending the 2015 event.

WEFF

Presented by the West End Community Association with support from Brisbane City Council and Screen Queensland, the 2016 West End Film Festival kicks off at 6.00pm on Friday night (June 24) with a free launch party featuring live local bands and the WEFF Music Video Awards at the Boundary Hotel.

Sunday will see two sessions of Australian short films at The Rumpus Cinema (cnr of Boundary and Russell Streets), with the first session commencing at 5.30pm. Awards up for grabs this year include Best Film (Community), Best Film (Industry), Best Music Video, Best Animation, Best Director and Best Cinematography.

Tickets are available via the festival website or can be purchased at the festival launch party on Friday night. For event updates and more information about the festival, follow WEFF on Facebook.

 

 

QFF Screening Schedule Released 

The screening program for the 2016 Queensland Film Festival has been released and, as expected, there is a very eclectic collection of 20 features and 20 short films for movie buffs to savour, 19 of which will be Australian premieres.

QFF

Running from July 15 to July 24 at New Farm Cinemas, the QFF program is twice the size of last year’s inaugural festival and, in addition to the local and international films on offer, will also feature panel sessions, including a discussion on the art of editing in Eugène Green’s La Sapienza and The Son of Joseph, particularly the ways in which Green has adapted the stylistic and philosophical underpinnings of the Baroque for cinema.

The opening film of the 2016 QFF will be Julieta, the 20th feature from Spanish auteur Pedro Almodovar. The director of films such as Talk to Her, Bad Education, Volver and the fabulous The Skin I Live In, Almodovar is renowned for his blend of humour and drama, passionate characters, a vibrant, evocative use of colour and narratives that often focus on the lives of women.

Single screening tickets are just $15, with a 5-film pass offering even better value at $50. For full details about the 2016 QFF, including the free short film session at the Institute of Modern Art in Fortitude Valley on Saturday, July 9, check out the festival website or follow them on Facebook.

We Need to Get Serious About Bullying

I find it hard to believe that the front page story in today’s Courier-Mail that outlines the desperate measures taken by a 13-year-old girl in a bid to secure help in dealing with schoolyard bullying would come as a surprise to anybody. It is hardly a secret that bullying is rampant in Queensland schools and that school authorities are loathe to take any genuine action against those responsible.

Claims by the Queensland Department of Education that bullying is not tolerated in state schools and that any situation that risked the safety and wellbeing of students was “dealt with as a matter of urgent priority”, is utterly false. Yes, all schools will have an anti-bullying policy in place and will claim zero tolerance of such behaviours, but these are just meaningless statements devoid of any real substance when it comes to preventing bullying and dealing with the perpetrators. Such policies look good on the school prospectus as part of the marketing campaign to convince parents that the school is genuinely engaged in student welfare, but the reality is that bullying and harassment remains rampant on school campuses and it will take a fundamental change in attitude from education authorities before anything changes.

Young people need to be resilient and we certainly don’t want to foster an environment that shields them from the realities of world in which people possess a wide range of values, beliefs and attitudes. Furthermore, we don’t want to stifle individuality in young people and create a generation that conforms to one very narrow way of thinking and behaving. However, we do need to protect students from being subjected to physical and/or psychological abuse at the hands of other students or teachers. It happens every day in every school and even though stories such as this one will foster sympathy and outrage in readers, ultimately nothing much will change.

Too often I have heard instances of bullying and harassment dismissed by school administrators and teaching staff with statements such as “well, teenage girls can be bitches, there isn’t anything we can do about that” or “boys will be boys”. I have also been privy to moments where a member of the school staff has told a student being subjected to bullying that they need to “harden up” and “deal with it”, while on other occasions I have seen students mocked by teachers or school staff for being “weak” should they dare to seek assistance in trying to combat sustained campaigns of harassment and bullying. Even when any action is taken, it usually comes very late in the cycle and much too late to protect the victims from harm. Schools need to be proactive, rather than reactive, in their approach to the issue. After all, it is too late to take action when the harm has already been done and we know that the end result from bullying, harassment and intimidation can be devastating. How many stories of young people taking their own lives do we need to read before somebody decides that enough is enough?

You see, schools are worried that if they take action against bullies, they will develop a reputation as an institution rife with behaviour problems. They would much rather do nothing as this enables them to declare, most disingenuously, that they have had “no instances of bullying”. After all, if there has been no action taken against any students, there mustn’t have been any bullying going on, right? That is certainly what our education administrators would like us to believe, even if the truth is a vastly different reality. It really does seem as though education authorities are standing in the corner with their eyes and ears covered, repeating to themselves “I cannot see you, I cannot hear you” when it comes to their approach to dealing with bullying, harassment and intimidation in our schools.

Unfortunately, it seems as though stories such as this – which you can read here – will continue to fill our news feeds until somebody, somewhere in a position of authority declares that enough is enough. Until then, bullies and thugs will continue to thrive and their victims will pay the price for the lack of genuine commitment to combating this plague of physical and psychological torment that has infected our education system.