MIFF picks for book lovers
This year’s Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) program features some great films inspired by literature. Here are some of our favourite picks for book lovers in 2016.
We’ve also compiled a list of family-friendly films, shared our staff picks, and prepared a quick ‘at-a-glance’ guide for the time-poor.
Directed by Park Chan-wook | Based on Sarah Water’s Fingersmith
Sooki, a beautiful young pickpocket, has been dispatched by a master conman known as The Count to become handmaiden to naive Japanese heiress Hideko. The plan: lure Hideko into falling in love with The Count and as soon as they’re married lock her in a mental asylum and claim her vast fortune. However, Hideko is far from what she seems and when handmaiden and mistress fall in love, the stage is set for a dangerous and sexually explicit power play that could leave all three of them unmoored.
Directed by Sotiris Dounoukos | Based on Helen Garner’s book
Anu Singh was an Australian National University law student in the late 1990s when she started complaining about her health and talking about suicide to her friends. Her worried boyfriend, Joe Cinque, tried to help but his efforts only seemed to make her mental state worse. Anu’s plans grew darker and more sinister, and she started hinting she would take someone with her. Her best friend, Madhavi Rao, seemed powerless – or unwilling – to stop her. Finally, Anu staged a farewell dinner party, preparing her guests, Rohypnol and two lethal doses of heroin. After all the warnings, who would step forward to stop her?
Directed by Terence Davies | Based on Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s novel
Set just prior to World War I, this is the coming-of-age story of Chris Guthrie, a Scottish farmer’s daughter torn between her love of the land and her desire to escape life under the rule of her brutal, abusive father. When she marries the handsome Ewan her fortune seems to turn, but her newfound happiness is threatened when war breaks out and the pressure on the men of the village to enlist is high.
Directed by Kelly Reichardt | Based on Maile Meloy’s Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It
In this film, three women find their way forward through trying circumstances. In the sleepy foothills of Montana, a lawyer juggles personal turmoil, a tense hostage situation and a difficult worker’s compensation case. Nearby, a couple build the foundation for a new home while shattering the basis of their marriage, and a rancher bonds with a law-school graduate.
Directed by Pedro Almodóvar | Based on Alice Munro’s Runaway
Years have passed since Julieta’s teenage daughter walked out on her. With no word on her child’s whereabouts, she prepares to leave Spain behind for good but a chance encounter triggers an onslaught of memories and leads Julieta to turn her life upside down.
Directed by Tom Tykwer | Based on Dave Egger’s novel
If Alan Clay can convince the Saudi Arabian king to buy his new three-dimensional holographic teleconferencing system, the IT specialist is certain that his problems – keeping his ex-wife happy by paying for his daughter’s college tuition, most notably – will be solved. But with his high-profile prospective customer always absent whenever they’re scheduled to meet, Clay instead spends his time in the Middle East searching, both for his sense of self and for a way forward, as assisted by a smart-talking cab driver and a kindly local doctor.
Directed by James Schamus | Based on Philip Roth’s novel
Leaving his small New Jersey hometown for an Ohio college offers an escape on many fronts for Marcus Messner, most notably dodging the draft as the Korean War rages, and evading his overprotective father. Alas, attending a Christian college as the atheist-identifying son of a Jewish butcher, Marcus learns that university life heralds its own challenges. While a blossoming romance with the alluring but fragile Olivia sparks a sexual awakening, Marcus finds his intellect and values questioned by his professors and classmates.
Directed by Ben Wheatley | Based on J. G. Ballard’s novel
Physiologist Dr Robert Laing moves into a sleek apartment block, specially designed by architect Anthony Royal to cater to its residents' every physical need. But as the building’s physical services fail – the electricity goes out; the lifts stop working; food shortages abound – its social structures melt and the world within the high-rise nosedives into a free-for-all class war.
Directed by Lee Tamahori | Based on Witi Ihimaera’s novel, Bulibasha
It’s the 1960s and on the rural East Coast of New Zealand, two sheep-shearing families – the Mahanas and the Poatas – have been enemies for generations. Tamihana is the Mahana clan’s proud and taciturn patriarch, who rules with an iron fist. His teenaged grandson, Simeon, starts challenging his authority after being introduced to George Bernard Shaw at school, and encouraged to speak his mind. Simeon’s newfound confidence to stand up to his tyrannical grandfather leads him to investigate the true cause of the Mahana–Poata rivalry.