Sep 032014
 

wrenched

I had heard of Edward Abbey’s infamous novel, ‘The Monkey Wrench Gang’ (1975), but I was unfamiliar with the man himself. Watching Wrenched, and listening to Abbey speak, I felt that there was no better way to summarise the core of his activism than in his own statement: “A bulldozer tearing up the hill-side is committing a kind of terrorism against life”. Underneath it all lies the terrifying vision of machines tearing and devouring the natural world and all living things that inhabit it. ML Lincoln’s documentary, Wrenched, concerns itself with Abbey and his legacy, of the groups and ideals that grew out of his fertile beliefs, and it will make you angry, hopefully in a good way.

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Sep 022014
 

gringotrails

Opening with a quote from Chief Seattle of the Suquamish tribe, “Take only memories, leave nothing but footprints”, Gringo Trails concerns itself with the problem of uncontrolled tourism, and the positive breakthroughs made by eco-tourism. A globe-trotting documentary, it bustles across a variety of tourist locales, demonstrating the need for more education and awareness from backpackers and holidaymakers. Chief Seattle’s words are allowed to hang over the film, standing as an ideal and a warning, as we are introduced to the pitfalls of a rampant tourism industry powered by cashed-up foreigners whose only concern is for themselves and the bragging rights to some glorious narrative of authenticity and adventure.

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Sep 012014
 

north of the sun

The Environmental Film Festival Melbourne (EFFM) is now entering into its fifth year, running from the 4th till the 12th of September. It offers a selection of feature and short documentaries, along with a plethora of guests and panels discussing an assortment of topics. Their mission statement, as taken from their website, states that:

“The Environmental Film Festival Melbourne entertains with groundbreaking films, traversing the relationship between humans and their environments, challenging the way people think about the natural world and inspiring them to discuss, explore and act on important environmental issues”.

First and foremost for both the festival and the selection of films is the power of a community drawing together to shape the world that we want. The best festivals foster a community around the ideas they present, and with a fine selection of panelists accompanying most of the screenings this is shaping up to be a very worthwhile proposition for Melbourne audiences.

What: Environmental Film Festival Melbourne 2014

When: Thursday Sept 4 – Friday September 12, 2014

Where: Kino Cinemas, Collins Place, 45 Collins St, Melbourne

Website / Full Program / Tickets: www.effm.org.au

Aug 312014
 

TIFF-Bell-Lightbox-Cinema-1-photo-by-George-Pimentel-WireImage-for-TIFF

It’s holiday time! When most people go on holiday they go and sit on a beach or do other such relaxing things. Well, I watch movies. Some people might think it’s crazy flying across the world just to sit in the cinema, but if you’re a regular reader of this site, I doubt you’re one of them.

While I’m away at TIFF I won’t be reviewing films. This is a bucket list holiday for me and I want to soak every minute of it up. I’ll take some notes and hopefully write some things when I’m home, but for now my intention is to take it easy.

Thankfully I have a bunch of amazing and talented friends and writing colleagues who have agreed to fill An Online Universe with interesting writing while I’m away. There’s some reviews from an upcoming festival, posts about great films that have been forgotten and lists of the best films set in various places.

I’d like to thank every one in advance for their fantastic contributions! Over the next three weeks there will be posts going up frequently between 11am-Midday (Sydney time), so be sure to come back and read the excellent pieces.

Follow me on my holiday adventures via Twitter @sakura_59 and keep up with my thoughts on the films via Letterboxd

 Posted by at 07:30
Aug 302014
 

totoro

Oh my, Madman Films are bringing something truly great to select Australian cinemas later this year. Celebrating iconic Studio Ghibli Founders Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, Madman will present four feature films by these legendary directors, along with two documentaries about their work. The Tale of Studio Ghibli showcase will screen for a 2 week season beginning October 9th.

Co-founders of renowned Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli, Hayao Miyzakai and Isao Takahata are two of the most celebrated filmmakers of all time. As creators of some of the most beloved and award-winning animated features the world has known, their legacy is one of unrivaled imagination and unsurpassed excellence.

THE TALE OF STUDIO GHIBLI SHOWCASE features not only their 2013 masterpieces in Takahata’s THE TALE OF PRINCESS KAGUYA and Miyazaki’s THE WIND RISES, but also the two films they each made 25 years earlier which cemented their reputations and made the name Studio Ghibli synonymous with quality – Miyazaki’s MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO (my favourite animated film of all time!!) and Takahata’s GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES. Complementing these feature films in THE TALE OF STUDIO GHIBLI SHOWCASE are two revealing documentaries, THE KINGDOM OF DREAMS AND MADNESS (which I gave 5 stars to at the recent Sydney Film Festival) and ISAO TAKAHATA AND HIS TALE OF THE PRINCESS KAGUYA, each providing unrivalled access to the inner workings of Studio Ghibli and the painstaking creative process behind the creators’ most recent films.
 

THE TALE OF STUDIO GHIBLI: CELEBRATING THE GENIUS OF HAYAO MIYAZAKI AND ISAO TAKAHATA locations and dates

October 9-22
Sydney – Dendy Newtown
Melbourne – Cinema Nova
Canberra – Dendy Canberra
Brisbane – Dendy Portside

November 6-19
Perth – Luna Leederville

November 27 – December 10
Adelaide – Palace Nova East End

For more information, visit: www.studioghbili.com.au & www.madman.com.au/incinemas

Aug 302014
 

Sideways

I don’t think I’ve ever seen so few films at the cinema in one month before. This month I went to the cinema twice, and one of those times was to rewatch Guardians of the Galaxy, which was still great the 2nd time around but I felt the length in a few spots. The other film was Lucy which I did not like. This may be an unpopular opinion, but I much preferred Transcendence and believe it explored the similar themes more effectively. My round-up for August is after the jump.

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Aug 292014
 

TIFF-logo-598

So this is the time of the year that I usually get insanely jealous of my North American friends. Telluride, TIFF and NYFF are generally packed with amazing films. Many of these films could take months and months to reach Australia, that’s if they get here at all. This year is different, because this year I will be at TIFF. This is bucket list stuff for me and despite my hideous fear of flying, I am ridiculously excited to go.

I won’t be reviewing at TIFF but I hope to write a diary of sorts or write-up some good notes so that I can smash out some reviews when I get home. After the jump check out my schedule. I’m pretty happy with it, although by the time my ticket window had come around 4 films (St Vincent, While We’re Young, Elephant Song, Welcome to Me) on my list were sold out at the times I could see them. I also didn’t pick some films due to upcoming release dates in Australia (such as Whiplash which I’m very keen to see).

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Aug 262014
 

Night Moves

Opening in a remote Oregon national park, we meet Josh (Jesse Eisenberger) and Dena (Dakota Fanning) as they are walking around a damn. We soon discover the reason for their visit is recon for an upcoming act of crime which they intend to commit in the name of the environment, a big F U to big business. Along with Harmon (Peter Sarsgaard), the pair intend to stuff a motorboat (named ‘Night Moves’) full of a homemade fertilizer explosive and blow up the damn.

Very much a film of two halves, pre-crime and post-crime, we see the planning of the explosion and then how the threesome deals with the consequences of their action, which are far more serious than they could have envisioned. What Night Moves does so well, is let the character’s actions speak for themselves. There’s very little exposition here, with writer Jonathan Raymond and writer-director Kelly Reichardt trusting their audience enough to fill in the gaps. Truth be told we don’t need to know more, the real story is in how they exist after the events, not what drove them to it.

Jesse Eisenberg is quietly intense as Josh, his controlled performance serving to emphasise his characters few outbursts. Dakota Fanning is emotive but understated as Dena, and it is through her that the moral conundrum of their actions play out. What is the difference between eco-terrorism and eco-activism? Do the ends justify the means? Reichardt lets the audience decide this for themselves, although events in the final scenes (which may be too hard for many to buy) may be interpreted as a shove in a particular direction.
 

3.5/5
 

By Sam McCosh

 
The Facts

Director: Kelly Reichardt
Writer(s): Jonathan Raymond, Kelly Reichardt
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, Peter Sarsgaard
Runtime: 112 minutes
Release date(s): Australia & New Zealand: September 11 2014