Monash’s hidden boutique cinema

By Ye Yuan

On the sixth floor of the B building, not accessible via the commonly used escalators, lies a mysteriously hidden boutique cinema.

Stepping on to the sixth floor was like walking into another dimension. The usual student clutter of desks and computers is replaced by fibrously painted white studios either filled with rows of easels or strangely beautiful objects.

The Grandmaster.
The Grandmaster.

It’s a perfect fit for Monash Film department’s newly renovated cinema, where Associate Professor Deane Williams plans to hold monthly showcases of alternative films that are hard to find in commercial cinemas.

For its opening screening this week, Associate Prof Williams chose the recent martial arts filmThe Grandmaster, by famed Hong-Kong second-wave filmmaker Wong Kar-wai. “In film studies, Wong Kar-wai’s a big name,” says Prof Williams.

“We use quite a few of his films in our teaching. “Everyone’s talking about this film as a ‘back to form’; My Blueberry Nights, his previous film, was not received so well and did poorly at the box office.”

Mostly known for his portrayal of drama and romance, this is Wong’s first dabbling in the realm of martial arts.

The Grandmaster.

“In recent years, one of the things people have been saying is that martial arts films have become a bit predictable and what Wong’s done … was turned it into a very epic and highly stylized choreographed film, which seems to be less about the fighting then about the way in which they are represented,” Associate Prof Williams said.

“One of the key scenes is … it’s not a fight scene, the Grandmaster Yip Man is trying to knock a cake out of his hand … so it’s more about the choreographing, the shooting and the very complicated special arrangements that he constructs with his camera and editing.”

Critics have found many technical pleasures in the film.

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone magazine said: “You leave this deeply flawed, deeply beautiful film with no doubt that you’ve seen an indisputable cinematic grandmaster in action.”

However, martial arts fans might be sorely disappointed as the film is less about the action and more about the artistic depiction of the action.

The new film venue at Monash was previously used as a video promotions studio. With the arrival of the digital age, the room’s function was rendered obsolete, and it had been out of use for five or six years before being rediscovered and revamped by the film department.

Films to be shown will usually run as supplementary to course content, providing students with further insight on key issues.

Future screenings on the list include the Pussy Riot documentary, Made in America and Sweet Grass