Watching a plethora of bold films every day from the minds of interesting artists from various spots on the globe is, to a point — when, say, your eyes roll back into your head and your body develops deep vein thrombosis as a way of saying f-you, pal — nourishing for the mind but not particularly nourishing for the body. It involves — and I am sure this is will come as no surprise — a great deal of sitting down.

It’s a good idea to at least try to maintain a decent diet throughout a film festival if you’re intending to plough through a packed program, often with little time between screenings. Home prepared lunches are a good idea but junky food is also par for the course.

Yesterday I had a hankering for a jam donut — one of those artery clogging 7/11 numbers coated in an inch thick layer of castor sugar — so I bought one, wolfed it down before an early evening screening then ventured into the cinema foyer where I sat and fumbled with my iPhone. About to watch my 26th film in six days, and wearing suitably comfortable attire (black beanie and trackie pants), I will be the first to admit that I wasn’t looking my Sunday best. My baggy eyes instantly inform the people around me that sleep is not a resource I am, at this point in my life, particularly stocked up on.

Sitting opposite me about a metre away was a man and (presumably) his teenage son, who looked like the clean-cut types who share crosswords before bed time over a glass of tang and an occasional cheeky lamington. It’s difficult to describe the look this fellow was giving me without using words like “stink eye.” He caught my gaze and held it until I looked away, staring at me with what appeared to be absolute contempt, as if I was some diabolical affront to the human race.

It wasn’t until I ducked into the men’s room that it became clear why. I washed my hands, glanced in the mirror and then I saw it: a large clump of castor sugar from the donut perched just underneath my left nostril. Suddenly I felt like Neil Young on the set of The Last Waltz.

Good thing his man was not — at least I assume not — a person in the industry who will forever remember a ratty looking Luke Buckmaster wearing what appeared to be the remnants of a pre-film drug binge. Ah well. Que sera, sera, a yada yada.

Below are write-ups for the films I saw yesterday. Today I’ll watch one of my favourite films, the 1946 version The Big Sleep starring Humphrey Bogart, for the first time on the big screen, then Winter’s Daughter, Jess + Moss and Submarine.

My pantry is out of caffeinated tea and cheap coffee. I’ll go and prepare myself a peppermint tea instead; a reliable source informs me it’s good for the respiratory system. But that, of course, is by the bye…

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I kicked off day 6 with a screening of the powerful nature-versus-nurture doco Project Nim (film 23), which I’ve been looking forward to since the MIFF program launch. It deserved a meatier write-up, which can be found here.

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Writer/director Avi Nesher’s warming Israeli dramedy The Matchmaker (film #24) has one of the most empathetic criminal characters you’ll see this festival — a smuggler and illegal gambler operator whose front is a matchmaking service that pairs potential lovers, particularly ones with quirks. Are you missing an arm? Are you a midget? Got a gigantic nose?

Yankelle (Adir Miller) can help you find love. He hires a young lad — suitably, a detective novel enthusiast — to investigate potential clients to ascertain if they are deserving of his services. The kid and him slowly develop a mentor/protege relationship as the various subplots and supporting characters unfold around them.

The premise may sound a slice cheesy but the film is guided by Nesher’s no-dairy direction, despite use of several conventional structural supports i.e. narration (which seems superfluous for 90% of the running time but justifies itself right towards the end) an emotional bookend framing device and explorations of familiar coming of age themes such as a first love interest, a first job, etcetera.

There is not a single sappy moment in The Matchmaker, yet a warm glow surrounds the characters and the film feels deeply romantic despite having barely any “romance” — at least of the traditional variety — depicted in it.

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A talking head documentary with very few talking heads and one particularly loud and obnoxious one, Fog of War director Errol Morris’s Tabloid (film 25) explores two weird incidents in the life of Joyce McKinney, a once stunning model who rocketed to stardom in the 1970s.

Like Bobby Deniro’s character in The King of Comedy, which I watched on the first day of the festival, Joyce’s undeserved celebrity is linked to a kidnapping incident and, worse, a rape charge she still hotly disputes. The other point of interest is a curious incident 32 years later in which she cloned her beloved dead dog Boogie into five puppies.

If you think you’ve had a rocky relationship with an ex-lover, wait until you hear about the barney between McKinney and her fiancé in the 70s, a mormon who jumped ship and fled oversees, presumably intending to never see her again. He was tracked down by McKinner and private investigators, kidnapped using a fake gun and…a lot of other stuff, for which the words “spread-eagled” are repeatedly used to describe. McKinney, however, says the idea that a woman can rape a man is like “putting a marshmallow in a parking meter.”

Morris gradually questions the sanity of his subject simply by allowing her to keep talking, and talk she does. The film employs flashy use of words and fonts and plays well in front of a large crowd, much better, I suspect, than it will play in the lounge room.

The dog segment marks the point at which the film becomes a picture of a kooky unhinged person rather than an investigation into a bizarre international media story. It’s a funny side, but not deserving of the chunk of screen time it consumes and it’s obvious that Errol is light on material, and that there isn’t enough in this story to flesh out a feature film. Chop it down into a TV hour and you’ve got a real winner.

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Writer/director/actor Miranda July follows up her chatty and ruminative strange times, strange people indie dramedy Me, You and Everybody We Know (2005) by intravenously injecting lethal amounts of self-conscious quirk into her second feature, the faux chic hipster flick The Future (film #26).

Sophie (July) and her chilled-out long-term partner Jason (Hamish Linklater) decide to adopt a sick cat and have to wait a month to do so. Rationalising that they will need to take constant care of it, they decide to spend the next 30 odd days doing whatever the hell they fancy starting with — those hooligans! — disconnecting the internet.

For these layabout suburbanites, doing what they want doesn’t mean sky jumping, rock climbing or dunking their faces into fountains of melted chocolate.Their idea of living it up is walking down the street and, apropos of nothing, becoming an environmental volunteer or randomly calling a phone number to see what happens.

We get it. Life is random. Life is what you make of it. Life is that plastic bag floating in the wind in American Beauty. But in a film like this, comprised of disjointed situations, “random” too often equates to lazy writing.

The characters in The Future behave like the Flight of the Conchords anti-cool funksters, in the sense that they float around in a non-narcotic haze. But Sophie and Jason aren’t really characters, they’re hollowed out merchants for shabbily gift-wrapped low-fi quirk and the kind of moon talkin’, cat narratin’ anything-goes idiosyncrasies that give American indies a bad name.

You can’t help but want to shake these lackadaisical characters to life, to get them to speak at something resembling a normal speed and thinking at something resembling non-infuriating nonchalance.

Suffocated by here-it-comes-again-quirk (did I mention the film is narrated by a dying cat? How quirky!) The Future plays like a bad sitcom stripped of canned laughter and slowed down to stroke victim speed. For the first 15, maybe 20 minutes, the downbeat randomness of the situational gags amuses, but it gets old quick, like an episode of The IT Crowd on repeat.

You need to be in the right mood — whatever that may be — to appreciate the film’s lethargic grasp of comedy. Take my word for it.

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