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It’s summer in Brisbane, and I’m going on a lot of movie dates just to escape the heat. Here are a few mini-reviews of recent offerings: film Chronicle and film festival FLiCKERFEST.

Film: Chronicle

This sci-fi thriller, in which three ordinary teens score alien superpowers, is the directorial debut of Josh Trank. Chronicle is a fairly short film, at 83 minutes, but it takes a while to get going — so long we wondered if we were in the wrong theatre. The protagonist, Andrew (Dane DeHaan), holds the handy-cam for most of this found-footage-esque flick, and for the first quarter it’s a gritty urban drama. Once Andrew and two new pals, Matt (Alex Russell) and Steve (Michael Jordan), gain telekinesis, the plot kicks into gear — well, actually, it doesn’t.

What would Average Joe really do with a superpower? It’s an interesting idea, but does it make for compelling viewing? In this instance, the problem is that these ordinary boys stay ordinary — they are young idiots who become young super-idiots, using their powers to raise skirts and play pranks. Andrew’s lot in life is certainly tough, but he’s too sulky and sullen to empathise with. His cousin Matt namedrops Schopenhauer and Jung, but that’s the extent of his personality (until a quick dip into the character development bucket at the climax).

How we manage anger, frustration and isolation are interesting themes, but Andrew’s inevitable hulk-out doesn’t bring anything new to the table. Writer Max Landis’ dialogue is inane — evidently for the sake of realism. Yet, every day, writers around the world manage to produce believable dialogue without being dull. To get to the finish line, Chronicle asks you to make some serious leaps of logic. And with no wit or warmth on offer, I didn’t want to jump.

We saw Chronicle at the Myer Centre Cinema (for the air conditioning, again — and we were too lethargic to leave the city). One student ticket was $16.50. Should’ve stuck with the Blue Room.

I give it 1 and a half semicolons out of five. ; :

Dane DeHaan as Andrew

Film Festival: FLiCKERFEST

Australia’s only Academy Award-recognised short film festival stopped in at the Judith Wright Centre last week, from Feb 9 to 11. We went along on opening night to check out the best homegrown picks.

Fish and Chips (written and directed by Anna Broinowski) and Julian (w. & d. by Matthew Moore) offered up similar but equally satisfying punch lines, exploring the childhoods of our most talked-about political personalities.

The evening’s comedies deliver laughs in all the right places. After the Credits (w. & d. by Josh Lawson) will please anyone cynical of rom-coms, whilst Op Shop (directed by Lee Rogers and written by Christopher Gist) joyously exploits the sexual discoveries of three senior ladies whose shop receives a mysterious donation. Nullabor boasts gorgeous animation and characteristically ocker faces, and without dialogue drives a simple idea right off a cliff (literally).

Cockatoo (w. & d. by Matthew Jenkin) has a brilliant premise, but tries a little harder than necessary. Paris Lakes (w. & d. by Robert Stephenson) says all the right things, but strays to close to moralism. Bear, written by Nash Edgerton and David Michôd, is nominated for a Cannes Palm d’Or Best Short Film Award — but it isn’t my kind of humour. For me this comedy of errors was too painful to bear.

Subtle, tense film Crosshairs (directed by Mike Hoast and written by Peter Templeman) is something of an outback western. It was the most unexpected of the evening’s films, and one of my favourites. Two Laps (w. & d. by Trevor Owen) is beautifully shot and From Here (w. & d. by Nick Waterman) is an instant tearjerker, and both develop interesting characters with distinct voices.

Scalpers employed by FLiCKERFEST’s major sponsor stalked the pre-show drinks crowd, attempting to sell us bank accounts. For those there who’d come to enjoy an evening out (presumably everyone), this tactic was in poor taste. That aside, the films were of a high caliber, and the JWC makes a nice movie theatre. In short? A screening of well-paced short films is always a treat.

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