St Kilda Film Festival tours highlights!

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Troublesome teddy bears, droll deaths, dirty dick jokes and botched romanticism – Cream presents highlights from the comedy leg of the St Kilda Film Festival Top 100 Session 5, some of which are touring Melbourne in June and July. Reviews by Latoyah Forsyth.

Sylvester Stallone admittedly fails at it; Ryan Gosling fears it unless it possesses an existential and self-reflexive quality; Christopher Fry calls it a welcome escape and Woody Allen believes it pokes fun at society and resembles a meringue. It is the filmic genre of comedy – “the art of making people laugh without making them puke” according to Steve Martin.

We at Cream tend to agree with Woody Allen, not so much on Comedy’s resemblance to a dessert, but on the idea that Comedy as a prolific genre operates as a lighthearted platform to poke fun at society and shed light on lessons we may be yet to learn. With this in mind, here are a few things we learnt from the St Kilda Film Festival Top 100 – Session 5: Comedy at the glorious Astor Theatre…

Never underestimate the power of a much-loved stuffed toy to wreak jealous havoc on a romantic relationship, as told by the hilarious film, Teddy. For Jim (Angus Sampson), a night of passionate love-making spurs the beginning of what seems to be beautiful relationship until his lady friend Sarah introduces him to Teddy – a cute yet conniving and crack-brained childhood teddy bear suffering from severe fear-of-abandonment issues. Drawing influence from a myriad of tacky 90s thriller films, everything about this revenge-of-the-teddy saga is spot on. Highlights from the 14 minute film include a suspenseful shower scene involving hot water, a GHD hair straightener dangling hazardously within reach of the shower taps and a fateful flush of a toilet as well as a curious trail of teddy bear stuffing found on the carpet to signify a wounded killer Teddy on the loose who drops from the bedroom ceiling ninja-style inciting a serious scuffle with poor Jim. Suffice to say Teddy wins; Sarah is lonely once more and the film as whole deserves a whopping high five.

Biting the dust, conking out, kicking the bucket or whatever you choose to call it, Boo! proves that slapstick scare tactics can kill. The ever so playful characters of Ma and Pa spend their elderly days faking ways in which they could bite the big one, until one of them actually dies. Maggy Blinco and Don Reid as the gorgeous Ma and Pa are astoundingly proficient in their assorted abilities to shuffle off their mortal coil and the somewhat unfortunate way in which the short film concludes is what makes the story simultaneously special and wittily touching.

Romance is over-hyped, over-commercialised, over-sweetened and overplayed in the movies. And thanks to director Josh Lawson, we are now able see what indeed happens after the romantic credits roll and it’s not pretty. After The Credits centers on soul-mates Kyle and Lucy and their instantaneous descent into passive-aggressive squabble, perhaps more affectionately known as The Lovers Tiff. Robin McLeavy’s demanding girlfriend-like neurosis comically contrasts with Toby Schmitz’s impulsive boyfriend-like need to be right proving that love does not triumph like it does in the movies, there is no happily ever after, love is indeed a battlefield (thank you Pat Benatar) and logistical realities truly suck.

Honourable mentions go to:

Keeper by Adam Spellicy and Roslyn Di Sisto: A film that highlights no matter how mind numbingly simple one simpleton’s life can be, we are all here for a reason.

Lemonade Stand by Alethea Jones and Julian Vincent: Tropfest 2012 winner and worthy of a watch.

Bonny Doon by Matthew Saville and Julia Peters: A film that reveals a ‘different side’ to The Castle actor Stephen Curry who teaches Dave Lawson the undeniable power of the 1000 Yard Stare, All Knowing Sniff, Dramatic Eating Acting and the Double Take.

And on the flipside, a Dishonourable Mention goes to:

The Confession of Father John Thomas: While ballsy (pun intended) in its submission to the comedy section of the film festival, dirty dick and vagina jokes appear cheap and passé in filmic contexts like this – even if the jokes are re-imagined through vibrantly sketched animations that are rather creditable.

Although the St Kilda Film Festival concluded at the tail end of May, the festival is set to tour highlights from the 2012 Top 100 short film competition throughout regional Victoria in June and July.

Visit www.stkildafilmfestival.com.au for more information on the films, dates and locations.