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It’s still the first week of the Sydney Film Festival but numbers have already appeared to drop a little. One of the first screenings of The Wolf Returns outside of South Korean only attracted a handful of people, despite being one of the only films to have its director accompanying it. The Sydney Film Festival undoubtedly goes past unnoticed, filmmakers and actors are few and far between at the screenings.

There are those who track along to as many films as possible and this year’s festival has certainly provided an admirable line-up not reliant on anticipated indie cinema. Films that typically go below radar in Australian are being screened this year, particularly in the ‘New Asian Cinema’ and ‘This Sporting Life’ strands of the program. Movies are emerging in festival that are becoming must-sees for Sydney audiences, Trilogy, the Weeping Meadow sold out both screenings. The festival also quickly secured screenings of The Beat That my Heart Skipped just this week. Beyond the hype, two films have shined through despite not selling out cinemas due largely to their daytime slots.

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room

Enron: The Smartest Guys In the Room already made a name for itself at Sundance and it certainly lives up to its buzz. For those that don’t know, the film is a documentary that follows the rise of the Enron corporation before its spectacular and devastating crash.

There is no doubt director Alex Gibney undertook an ambitious project as he had so much ground to cover. Certainly Enron is most notable for cramming so much into its running length just under two hours. As a result, the film is not far from last year’s The Corporation by the factuality that drives this documentary. Enron respectably holds the audiences’ attention and this is due in part to its cool soundtrack and clever use of popular culture. Accounts of Enron’s collapse are accompanied by a clip of the ‘Enron ride’ from The Simpsons that gets laughs. Gibney then has found the ideal balance of information and entertainment that so strived for in the current documentary filmmaking trend.

The Wolf Returns

The Wolf Returns confirms that eyes should be peeled for comedies emerging from South Korea. The film follows Detective Choi, who in the opening scenes looks like he belongs in action film as he hangs onto speeding cars and chases criminals. Tired of such a life, Choi is transferred to a rural town with no crime. When cuts are made in the department, Choi faces finding crime or going back to the city. Dong-kun Yang, in his performance as Choi, brings life to the film, effectively engaging the audiences with his character. What emerges is a unique form of comedy, somewhat quirky, and it’s admirable that director Ku Ja-Hong mastered comedy so finely in his first feature.

Following the film, Ku Ja-Hong commented on looking for comical inspiration from Woody Allen and earlier Korean comedies, before settling on doing what he hoped audiences would enjoy. Certainly as a scene progress in which three characters in a love triangle are attempting to find a song to listen to, avoiding certain awkward lyrics, it is certain Ja-Hong succeeded.


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