Garbo the Spy
A detailed and fascinating portrait of Juan Pujol - a Spanish secret double agent working for both Britain and Germany during WWII who changed the course of the war and in turn history.
Despite its short running time this documentary feels long, perhaps due to odd placements of certain information. At one point each of the talking heads in the film introduce themselves and what they do; the placement of these introductions feels odd and coupled with several other scenes led me to feeling the film was winding up, when it would in fact continue for another X minutes.
Apart from this, the subject of the documentary is extremely interesting, and this remarkable person and his story is enough to keep you watching. Coupled with the information given by the talking heads the filmmaker has cleverly, although at times desperately, used scenes from old movies, obviously due to lack of related video material.
Overall a fascinating insight into a man whose impact on the Second World War was inspiring and entertaining, although I would probably be more enthusiastic about this film should I have caught it on television rather than at the film festival.
I was lucky enough to snap up one the much coveted tickets to the Australian/World/Universe premiere of Richard Gray's feature film debut Summer Coda at MIFF. I've already written a bit about the film in my Waiting on Wednesday section which you can read here so this will just be a quick summary of my reactions.
I don't really know what I was expecting going into this film, after having "followed" director Richard Gray, on Twitter, not in an obsessed stalker way! Summer Coda was one of my most anticipated films at MIFF this year, it was one of the first films I booked in and was in fact the first film of MIFF 2010 to sell out. That my response directly after seeing the film was "it's a real movie!" doesn't mean anything really. Perhaps I had the 2009 film Charlie and Boots in mind and thought an Australian film couldn't showcase our wonderful landscape without resorting to cliches and cringe worthy dialogue.
Needless to say, I really enjoyed this film - the relationships ring especially true. I absolutely loved the soundtrack, from the word go you're thrust into this film through the vibrant score and choice of recognisable tracks.
As for the performances there's not a sour grape - or should I say orange - in the bunch. Taylor is strong and Dimitriades shows his versatility playing a romantic lead. Unfortunately despite being promised that Alex would introduce the film shirtless, there was not a bare chest in sight on the night. Angus Sampson was another highlight for me, his mere presence on screen garnered the most laughs in the film that night and you can't help but feel a little sorry for his character in the end.
This is an outstanding debut from Gray. The script is solid, obviously refined over the 6 years it took to get this film made, and both Mildura and Nevada are shot stunningly - brilliant work from cinematographer Greg De Marigny. This is a breath of fresh air for Australian cinema, it's not conscious of what it is supposed to be and the Australianisms come through naturally as part of the landscape. I highly recommend catching this film when it releases around Australia on October 21st.