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The writings of Bill Mousoulis

Ciné-Journal
(Mar-April 1998)

I hope the following is of some use to readers, operating in some kind of trans-psychic, empathetic (not vicarious) way. Film culture is not some entity separate from those who participate in and make it. The following is my experience of it, but an experience which crosses over to and feeds off the experience of others.

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Wed, Mar 18: Write, type, print out and deliver to the Super-8 Group, my article on the Cantrills' Harry Hooton for the newsletter. Bump into Sam Pupillo - he says he has a video copy of Antonioni's Beyond the Clouds. I arrange to borrow. Melbourne Cinematheque night, the best show in town for cinéphiles. Tonight, a Bergman double, including the atrocious Now About These Women. Oh well, good to see the lesser works too.

Thu, Mar 19: Heinz Boeck from S-8 Group rings, asking me to bring forward my retrospective screening from May to April. I immediately select which films, write and type up the notes.

Fri, Mar 20: My friend Mark Zenner takes some portrait shots of me, for a 5-page "Profile", which I'm putting together to aid my film career, to give to producers, companies, agents, etc.

Sat, Mar 21: Drop into S-8 Group, meeting (eventual) new committee member, Ben Ryan. New blood is always necessary. To Kino, to see the British Under the Skin. The script is okay, but the camera drives me balmy. Able to bitch about it to Michael Filippidis and Adrian Martin, who I happen upon along Brunswick St. Adrian says he's going to watch some obscure '50s Hollywood film on pay TV that night. I tell him it's Saturday night, to go out, forget about cinema. He says he is going out, but at midnight. Party animal!

Sun, Mar 22: To Tenement Gallery in Brunswick St., where Vikki Riley (critic, curator) has initiated a new screening space/venture. She shows a doco on American experimental film-maker Robert Breer, whilst local legend Tony Woods shows some of his work. His Frames '95 stands up as a classic.

Mon, Mar 23: Watch André Téchiné's J'embrasse pas on TV. I find it reasonably engaging, and certainly a far sight better than his overrated Wild Reeds, which is just pure arthouse fodder.

Wed, Mar 25: Cinematheque, Sweet Smell of Success, which I was part dreading seeing again, because of its melodramatic aspects. But I find it sharp, dynamic, entertaining. A pity about its director, Alexander Mackendrick, who didn't make many more films after this one - you can't be too good in Hollywood.

Thu, Mar 26: To Queer Film and Video Festival, for the controversial Frisk, about a serial killer. Lee Renaldo soundtrack ace, and the film overall quite exciting, both cinematically and thematically. The killer looks like Wayne Carey, and I think: yes, iconically, this is correct. Meet the critic/film-maker Spiros Economopoulos on the night.

Fri, Mar 27: Quentin Tarantino's birthday. Melbourne celebrates by putting on two (clashing) programs of experimental films. One is at The Bridge, in Footscray, organised by Marcus Bergner and Steven Ball. Good to see films by Ooni Peh and Steven Ball that I hadn't seen before. The other experimental program is at the Queer festival (probably just films showing hetero activity). Earlier in the day: final edit done of my video showreel, which has me presenting excerpts from my films. Part of the whole awful "selling oneself" business, as mentioned above.

Sat, Mar 28: Visit the set of the Ian Handasyde-produced, Angelo Salamanca-directed, half-hour shot-on-Super-8 film The Right Moves. Meet the cast and crew, half of them aspiring newcomers. The atmosphere is very positive, an atmosphere created by co-operation. Non-industrial, independent film-making just warms the cockles of my heart, dear reader. Shoot some doco images for my upcoming Super-8 film Underground Sky. Later that night, have a chat with writer (poet, critic, playwright) Angela Costi, who is now writing a screenplay. I look forward to reading it - she impresses me somewhat.

Sun, Mar 29: Queer fest closing night, the grrl power Slaves to the Underground. Its level of naturalism (mainly in the performances) is excellent. But, like All Over Me, which was on at the Lumiere recently, it is too self-conscious, too conscious of its politics, to succeed fully. Still, to qualify further, both films have sublime moments that more than make up for the films' overall deficiencies.

Mon, Mar 30 and Tue, Mar 31: Watch all my Super-8 shorts, in preparation for telecine-ing them. Am appalled by some, thrilled by others.

Wed, Apr 1: Cinematheque, Seven Samurai. Toshiro Mifune and the rest of the cast are quite wonderful, but the film bores me. I've never really liked some of the lauded '60s arthouse directors, like Kurosawa, Fellini, Truffaut. Chat with Marie Craven on the night. Good to see her attending C'Teq screenings this year - film-makers should watch films!

Fri, Apr 3: Get offered a job as the scriptwriter on a corporate video. I accept, much to my amusement, but the production company ends up not getting the job. I obviously have a guardian angel ...

Sat, Apr 4: The third of three days spent telecineing my films (i.e. the ones I hadn't done before). Good to have a copy of everything on VHS, even if it all looks really crappy. Con Filippidis does the work for me. Fiona Villella pops round in the middle of it, to see a couple of Super-8 rolls she has shot off. She's been threatening to make her first film for the past six months. Some people can talk the talk, but just can't walk the walk. (Hi Fiona! Love ya!) To Greek Film Festival opening night, a film called Balkanizateur, which is quite lively but has an uneasy mix of comedy and drama driving it. And a ridiculous premise. Meet the film-maker Christina Heristanidis, after having spoken to her on the phone a couple of times. She recently received a Cinemedia/SBS grant of $90,000, and it's seen as a prize, a victory. Ten years ago, many grants were allocated to film-makers, especially by the AFC. These days, there is an awful atmosphere of competitiveness, and a structure of elitism.

Sun, Apr 5: Attend the Provincial Comedy Film Festival for the first time. See the first five films and all the kiddies sitting on the ground. I conclude, of course, that this isn't film culture, and walk home.

Mon, Apr 6: cinema obscura at Binary Bar, an endeavor of Clea Frost's. More bloody VCA films, which are unbelievably tepid. Also, being a café, the screening environment isn't quite right. And, more kiddies. Still, this is cinéphilia at its most grass-roots, with some kind of bohemian ideology behind it all (if unconsciously), and so I support it.

Tue, Apr 7: Help out as DOP on Trevor Rooney's Super-8 feature High Noon Tide. He is shooting it very piecemeal, beautiful anarchist that he is, and so it will be awhile before it's completed. But watch out for it!

Wed, Apr 8: Killer double at C'Teq, Badlands and The Bed You Sleep In. Outstanding formal designs, excellent breakdowns of particular male psyches, and nicely sensitive to the females' perspectives to boot.

Sat, Apr 11: Meet up with the film-maker Mark La Rosa, still editing his 16mm. film Black Trade. Slowly, but surely. (Do not trust frenetic types.) Greek Film Festival, The Orgasm of the Cow. A very broad comedy, but with great/realistic sex scenes (still the cinema's great failure).

Sun, Apr 12: Greek film, Cavafy, about the noted poet. The over-the-top music kills it, as does a plodding script, more interested in the poet's sexual aesthetics than his ideas.

Mon, Apr 13: Closing night of the Greek fest, superbly organised by Superwoman Eleni Bertes. Touch Me Not clearly derivative of Bresson's Pickpocket, but quite worthy in itself. One scene in particular (the main character feels women up on crowded buses) is truly horrible. Addio Berlin is a strange B & W black comedy about a film director trying to get money for his current project.

Tue, Apr 14: Receive an email from my project officer at the AFC, re: my script Voyage to Greece, the application for development funds. He asks me to nominate a script editor, so maybe they're considering giving me the money. Super-8 Group screening, I show 10 of my non-narrative films, enjoying it tremendously. As for the Open Screening section, all I can say is that Daniel Kotsanis is THE KING!

Wed, Apr 15: C'Teq, two British travelogue cum essay cum personal doco films, Robinson in Space and Gallivant. Give me Chris Marker any day.

Thu, Apr 16: Have to go to S-8 Group committee meeting for a minor matter, and find myself volunteering to do some work in organising screenings, etc. Hey man, I don't mind.

Fri, Apr 17: Meet the AFTRS-graduate Fiona Tuomy at Fiona Villella's birthday party. Tuomy's film Sunset Box is one of the better shorts I've seen over the past 12 months.

Sun, Apr 19: See another British realist/surrealist melange of a film, Stella Does Tricks. Again, an OK script, but the direction just so conventional. At night, to Tenement, a program of classic experimental films curated by Vikki Riley. Hollis Frampton rocks!

Mon, Apr 20: Binary Bar. Animation night. Kinder time again. As the kiddies play and smile and pull faces (and occasionally even watch the films) around me, I write the majority of this article.

Tue, Apr 21: More contact with the AFC. I meet the screenwriter/script editor Alison Tilson, give her my script and other material - hopefully she'll agree to script edit the project. Watch doco on Zhang Yimou (and Gong Li), one of the few '90s film-makers I really like. See In The Company of Men, which has more clichés and holes in it than in Titanic. Don't film-makers know how to be subtle and complex?

Wed, Apr 22: C'Teq, another thematic doubling, Alice in the Cities and The Lusty Men. I like the Wenders film especially, its spaces, its muted feelings, its fractured characters. Bob Dylan may have borrowed one of Robert Mitchum's lines from The Lusty Men for his song "Everything is Broken", but I feel Dylan is connected more to Wenders' film. The year of the film, 1974, this Dylan song: "But me, I'm still on the road/ Headin' for another joint/ We always did feel the same/ We just saw it from a different point of view/ Tangled up in blue." And me? Well, I'm headin' off to another cinema, another film shoot, another café - see you there!


Bill Mousoulis April 1998