MAGNOLIA’S LATE NIGHT LIVE: REVELATION FILM FESTIVAL SPECIAL, SUNDAY JUNE 5 @ BABUSHKA
Revelation Film Festival has emerged, like the proverbial groundhog from its burrow, to grace us with its presence. Eager not to let the weekend slip by without taking advantage of the fact, I slip over to Leederville and into Luna’s Cinema 1 to catch ‘Last Cab To Darwin’ (you can head over to Clayton’s review this week to read about that film).
Anyways, one of the film’s highlights is the alternately cheeky and confronting portrayal of a young Oodnadatta local named Tilly, and when I leave the cinema and stroll around the corner to Babushka, I’m stoked to see the actor behind Tilly – Mister MARK COLE SMITH – being interviewed by the legendary Magnolia’s trio (Tristan Fidler, Matt “Randal Denton” Aitken and Joe “Jimmy’s Choice” Walsh). Magnolia’s – in case you’re not familiar – is a sort of IRL talk show and features a range of interviews and segments, growing from humble beginnings in a North Perth garage. This chat with MCS is an insightful conversation, in which Cole Smith addresses the challenges and risks of representing another group of Aboriginal people (he himself is from around Broome), not to mention the pitfalls of depicting negative stereotypes surrounding substance abuse and violence while building a lovable character (but the consensus seems to be that he nailed it). It’s also a hilarious interaction. Cole Smith is unwilling to name a Best Film of the Noughties (which is of the big questions of the night) and instead steers the discussion towards Terminator 2; before too long AMBER FRESH invades the stage to the tune of ‘Loving You’ for the ‘Amber’s Love Seat’ segment. But the digression – which typically involves Amber sitting on Tristan’s lap and asking guests romantically-oriented questions – turns into a bout of very convincing slow-dancing and extended eye contact. After several minutes of jokey (?) innuendo Amber finally does proffer one question, about Cole Smith’s grandfather being a pearl diver, which elicits a pretty fascinating story, before their interaction is sadly truncated.
People vote for their favourite film of the noughties by writing titles on a whiteboard while a ping-pong tournament rages on at the back of the room, and Brett Murray spins tunes side of stage. Matt runs us through a useful selection of gestures you can use when talking about films, including “the teeter” (hands rotating either side of face to indicate something-but-not-quite), the “tour de force” and “the masterpiece/love guru.” The Love Guru is being projected on the far wall, by the way, and there is a quiz about the Jason Bourne movies called “I Wasn’t Bourne Yesterday.” Amazing.
Up next is Ali Williams, former manager of much-loved SOR cult video store Jumbo Video. Chats revolve around the slow death of the video rental industry (Netflix, she says, was the straw the broke the camel’s/elephant’s back), the fact that Tristan never went there (boo! jeers the crowd), and Yelp reviews. Williams reminisces slightly unflatteringly about her old customers (“old people…poor people…lonely people”) but ultimately with a fondness and evident love of the medium; it’s a charmingly personal insight into a fading cultural institution. In the absence of usual “Mystery Drinks” figurehead Nick Odell, Aitken hosts the segment, which interestingly is essentially just him pulling a PBR out of his jacket pocket.
Last up are PLATON THEODORUS and TEIK-KIM POK, who discuss their claustrophobic, surrealistic new film ‘Alvin’s Harmonious World of Opposites.’ We hear about their takes on collaboration vs authoritarian directing, experiences filming in expansive salt lakes near Kalgoorlie, and Amber returns for another round of ‘the love seat.’ She asks Platon and Teik-Kim if either of them are in love; they say they are, which leads Teik-Kim to a protracted tangent about olive oil. When they ask Amber the same question in response, she leans in and whispers an answer as the music fades up… “I think this is what in Shakespeare is called an aside!” pipes up Aitken.
At last, the results are in: the best film of the Noughties is Children of Men. The Magnolia’s boys hand over now to live-in-the-studio trio DOCTOPUS (via an aborted Antiques Roadshow impression by Jimmy’s Choice) and the band appear wearing blindfolds. As you might expect, this impedes their ability to play properly and indeed, to even find the microphone – but tonight they’re called DONNIE DARKTOPUS so it all ties in neatly, and 3 self-sabotaging songs later it’s been a totally entertaining exercise.
It all wraps up, and we trickle out the door, down the stairs into the damp night. Despite years of hearing about the wonders of Magnolia’s late night live second hand, tonight was my first personal experience of the local phenomenon. It’s totally unique, bizarre, joyous and – not least of all – a worthwhile and disarming platform for illuminating discussion. Thanks Magnolia’s; it took me a while, but I’m sure from now on it won’t be so long between drinks.