“What drew me to the film? I don’t know if I “got” the script when I was given it,” Vashti Hughes laughs. Having seen the locally-produced film, we’re not entirely sure we “got it” either. But there’s no denying that Platon Theodoris’ debut feature Alvin’s Harmonious World Of Opposites is a singular cinematic journey. The film follows Alvin, who maintains an air of normalcy to his friends and boss online, but hasn’t left his cluttered apartment for years. However, when external pressures start to mount, Alvin finally escapes – into a very strange world…
Stepping into the socially anxious shoes of Alvin was Teik-Kim Pok, who was drawn to the epic challenge the film and this character presented. “As an actor, it was hard to turn down an opportunity to help carry a feature,” he says. “I’d known Platon a while and trusted his desire to put a character like Alvin on screen, not to mention a cast of borderline misfits with whom he tries to limit his interactions. Plus, getting to some extraordinary locations, who can resist the lure of adventure?”
Vashti Hughes plays a neighbour in Alvin’s apartment block, and lets just say she’s a little angry. While she may have been perplexed by the script, Hughes recognised her character all too well. “I did relate to the “hideous neighbour” character as I have one of my own – I’m sure every apartment block does. There is always someone who’ll complain about every minor thing, leave notes in a hall, come down heavy on ridiculous rules…. it was nothing less than cathartic to play that hideous person!”
Ahead of the film’s Sydney premiere at the Sydney Underground Film Festival, we asked the two actors to list the films that changed their lives – and it’s unsurprising to find a Michel Gondry film in the mix, as well as The Wizard of Oz.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
“I did not realise how film could explore interiority in such a vivid and emotionally-accurate way. Existential masterclass in relationship-therapy.”
“So much fun watching the watcher watching. Made me realise film was essentially a conduit for our collective pervy instincts.”
“Visceral. Will never put myself through it again. Amazing treatise on the futile yet seductive nature of violence as vengeance. Will always associate deep unexplainable rage with a fire extinguisher.”
“I remember playing the video rental 20 times in one week. 14 years after this binge, I learnt [Michael Jackson’s] moves for my uni graduating project, which launched my performance practice.
Another worn-out VHS of my childhood. For better or worse, this film sort of planted in me the belief think you can’t have love and be great at the same time. Thanks for ruining my life Christopher Reeves.
The Wizard Of Oz
“It left a big impression on me as a child. I just watched it again for research for a subversive cabaret I’m in called Screamers, and I found the powerful images, strange fantasy and sometimes nightmarish dream like quality swept me away again all these years later.”
“I laugh so much I hurt myself.”
“I haven’t read the book but it must be a page turner. Every step of the way we are further embroiled in a story where we are on an inevitable journey that can only end badly. I got addicted to The Sopranos later and it was a joy to see how The Godfather themed resonated through.”
Tim Winton’s The Turning
“It gives a sense of an Australia we know deep in our core and sadly the darkness and disturbing violence that rests there.”
Some Like It Hot
“For sheer joy and hilarity.”
Alvin’s Harmonious World of Opposites is in the Narrative Feature Competition at the 2016 Slamdance Film Festival in Park City. Slamdance runs concurrently with Sundance and has been described as Sundance’s “Director’s Fortnight.”