Jul 282015


In cinemas this week: Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Far From Men, Coming Home, Max and Noble. 

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation – Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) returns for yet another top-secret assignment as hot property screenwriter Drew Pearce (Iron Man 3, Pacific Rim) takes over writing duties for the fifth instalment of the phenomenally successful spy franchise. Christopher McQuarrie (Jack Reacher) directs. Following up Brad Bird’s superior franchise instalment is no easy feat, but this has all of the ingredients (including returning cast members Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner and Ving Rhames) to be a standout action blockbuster.

Far From Men – Algeria, 1954. While the rebellion rumbles in the valley, two very different men thrown together by a world in turmoil are forced to flee together across the Atlas Mountains. In the midst of an icy winter, Daru, the reclusive teacher, has to escort Mohamed, a villager accused of murder. Pursued by horsemen seeking summary justice and vengeful settlers, the two men decide to confront the unknown. Together they fight to gain their freedom. Viggo Mortensen stars.

Coming Home – Lu Yanshi (Chen Daoming) and Feng Wanyu (Gong Li) are a devoted couple forced to separate when Lu is arrested and sent to a labor camp as a political prisoner, just as his wife is injured in an accident. Released during the last days of the Cultural Revolution, he finally returns home only to find that his beloved wife has amnesia and remembers little of her past. Unable to recognise Lu, she patiently waits for her husband’s return. Directed by veteran Chinese director Yimou Zhang (Raise the Red Lantern and Hero).

Max – A military dog from Afghanistan is adopted by his late handler’s grieving family in the U.S., where his close bond with the soldier’s brother leads to a life-altering revelation in this family-friendly adventure from MGM and director Boaz Yakin (who penned the screenplay alongside writer Sheldon Lettich). Lauren Graham and Thomas Haden Church star.

Noble – They broke everything but her spirit. They took everything but her dream. This is the incredible true story of a fearless Irish heroine driven by her daring vision to escape the slums of Ireland and risk everything on the streets of Vietnam.

Weekly Recommendation: Rogue Nation. No one works harder in action films than Tom Cruise, now arguably the biggest action star of all time. This time he is hanging onto a plane as it launches into the air. I’m in. For something different, festival-regulars Far From Men and Coming Home have been well received, and have promising pedigrees. Sam included Coming Home in her Best Films of 2014 after catching it at TIFF14.

Jul 272015

Law School
Dear Readers,

This is just a little update to let you know of some changes. There is going to be a little less content on the site for about 50% of the year, as I have gone back to studying. It’s on a part-time basis only as I’m still working full-time, but the studyload is heavy. Unfortunately that means something has gotta give, and that something is film.

I’ll still be posting the odd review and post here and there, but for the most part it will be Andrew who will keep An Online Universe chugging along. We’ve been talking about doing a podcast for a while now, so that’s something that could happen in the near future…we’re working on it.

Anyway, we’re still here and we’re still seeing films…so don’t leave us, okay?


 Posted by at 18:29
Jul 242015


In Bill Condon’s rather superb Mr Holmes, an elderly Sherlock Holmes (Sir Ian Mckellen) looks back on his life and career, and grapples with an unsolved case that led to his premature retirement thirty years earlier. Mitch Cullin’s novel, an imagination of the famous detective’s retirement – not covered by John Watson in the classic Sir Arthur Conan Doyle collection – has been well adapted for the screen by screenwriter Jeffrey Hatcher. It works as a sterling accompaniment to, but quite the departure from, the most recent portrayals by Benedict Cumberbatch and Robert Downey Jr, both portraying the sleuth at his most eccentric. This charming and quietly powerful film moves along at a modest clip, but reveals a deceptive amount of depth as it deftly traverses multiple mysteries over three different time periods, revealed in fragments to the rhythm of the 93-year-old’s imperfect memory.

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Jul 222015


Sick of winter? Want to escape Sydney but don’t have the time or money? Well thanks to the wealth of film festivals in the city, you can travel around the world from the comfort of the cinema. In the month between August 6 and September 6, there are no fewer that 7 film festivals happening in Sydney. Here’s our quick guide to what’s on.

David Stratton’s Great Britain Retro Film Festival – August 6-19
Where: Hayden Orpheum Cremorne
What: 19 classic British films, rarely seen on the big screen
Highlights: Stanley Kubrick’s digitally restored 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968); Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now (1973); the 4K digitally restored Carol Reed masterpiece, The Third Man (1949)

Korean Film Festival (KOFFIA) – August 12-20
Where: Event Cinemas, George St
What: 20 feature from from the exciting world of Korean cinema; 4 guest sessions
Highlights: Han Ji-won’s animation Clearer Than You Think (2015); Su-won Shin’s Madonna (2015), which played in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes; Park Jin-pyo’s romantic comedy Love Forecast (2015)

Arab Film Festival – August 13-16
Where: Riverside Theatres
What 10 films from the Arab world
Highlights: Amber Fares’ all-woman race car driving team documentary Speed Sisters (2015); Naji Abu Nowar’s Theeb (2015), a skillful, genre-crossing blend of a coming-of-age drama and a western

AICE Israeli Film Festival – August 18-30
Where: Palace Verona
What: 35 films across 6 categories
Highlights: Ari Foleman’s bold animation Waltz With Bashir (2008); Adam Colederon’s indie Marzipan Flowers (2014); Silvina Landsmann’s compelling documentary Hot Line (2015)

Lebanese Film Festival – August 21-September 5
Where: Bryan Brown Theatre, Hoyts Cinema Bankstown, Hoyts Cinema Entertainment Quarter, and Bankstown Arts Centre
What: Films that display of the diversity of Lebanese cinema and the many perspective through which Lebanon and it’s diaspora can be seen
Highlights: Kahil Gibran’s The Prophet (2014), the famous text brought to life by several directors in animated form; a collection of 10 short love stories, Rio, I Love You (2014); Farrah Zaine ALHashem’s Breakfast in Beirut, an experimental slice-of-life look at Beirut

Persian Film Festival – September 3-6
Where: Chauvel Cinema
What: Films from Persian speaking filmmakers around the globe
The Persian Film Festival programme will be announced soon! Be sure to check the line-up out on their website

Alliance Française Classic Film Festival – September 3-6
Where: Event Cinemas George Street and Hayden Orpheum Cremorne
What: Catherine Deneuve – Une Rétrospective; 6 of her most acclaimed films
Highlights: All the films are worth your time, but it’s hard to go past Luis Buñuel‘s Belle de Jour (1967), arguably the role for which Deneuve was most well-known for. 

Jul 222015


In cinemas this week – Self/Less, The Gallows, Mr Holmes, 13 Minutes and Man Up. 

Self/Less – In this provocative psychological science fiction thriller, an extremely wealthy man (Academy Award winner Ben Kingsley) dying from cancer undergoes a radical medical procedure that transfers his consciousness into the body of a healthy young man (Ryan Reynolds). But all is not as it seems when he starts to uncover the mystery of the body’s origin and the secret organization that will kill to protect its cause. The latest film from Tarsem Singh (The Fall, Immortals) boasts a talented cast, but seems to settle for lacklustre action and squander the potential of its premise.

The Gallows – Twenty years after a deadly freak accident at a high school play, a misguided attempt to re-stage the play and honour the student proves that some things are better left in the past. Reviews for this found-footage horror have been terrible and it does look like bottom of the barrel stuff.

Mr Holmes is a new twist on the world’s most famous detective. 1947, an ageing Sherlock Holmes (a captivating Ian McKellen) returns from a journey to Japan, where, in search of a rare plant with powerful restorative qualities, he has witnessed the devastation of nuclear warfare. Now, in his remote seaside farmhouse, Holmes faces the end of his days tending to his bees, with only the company of his housekeeper and her young son, Roger. Grappling with the diminishing powers of his mind, Holmes comes to rely upon the boy as he revisits the circumstances of the unsolved case that forced him into retirement, and searches for answers to the mysteries of life and love – before it’s too late. I enjoyed this a great deal. It is elegantly layered, richly plotted and leaves a lot to contemplate on. In addition to the great work from McKellen, it features an impressive performance from youngster Milo Parker, and a lovely score from Carter Burwell.

13 Minutes – The breath-taking story of a man who nearly would have changed the world. 1939, when Hitler tricked millions of people at the height of his power, one said a radical No: Georg Elser, disparaged as an assassin, is one of the greatest resistance fighters. Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel (Downfall), so this has the potential to be really good. However, I expect it is only mildly engaging.

Man Up – Nancy, is done with dating. 10 times bitten, 100 times shy, she’s exhausted by the circus. So when Jack blindly mistakes her for his date, no one is more surprised than her when she does the unthinkable and just — goes with it. It’s going to take a night of pretending to be someone else for Nancy to finally man up and be her painfully honest, awesomely unconventional self… but will Jack also man up, and be able to get over her duplicity? Best just to let the evening unfold, roll with the consequences, and see if one crazy, unpredictable, complicated night can bring these two messy souls together. Lake Bell and Simon Pegg lead the cast. This might be one worthy of a wait for DVD, but looks charming nonetheless. 

Weekly Recommendation: Mr Holmes. 

Jul 202015



So, I just watched the entire series of Gilmore Girls in 6 weeks. What an emotional rollercoaster. I feel like I was just transported back to the age of 16, and re-lived the 7 following years in hyper-speed. The show completely passed me by at the time it aired, which is a shame considering I was the exact same age that Rory was when it was on. I think it might have been a great comfort for me. In honour of my new-found love for show, I present the 10 things I love about Gilmore Girls. I’ve also listed my 5 favourite episodes. Warning: SPOILERS AHEAD!! Check it out after the jump.

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Jul 182015

We are just over half way through the year, but I thought I would reflect on the year so far from the perspective of performance. I expected to struggle to find performances I loved, because it hasn’t struck me as a year defined by great acting – many of my favourite films so far have been documentaries or been great for other reasons – but there have actually been a lot. I have seen each of these films for the first time in 2015, so if there is a great performance missing here, I may have caught it last year. These films have either had a release in Australian cinemas, screened at a festival I have attended, or had a DTV release and bypassed cinemas. I feel all of these performances have had a direct bearing on the success of the film.


Let me know what some of your favourite performances are in the comments. Mine are listed below in order that my eyes have witnessed them. I will note the standout, and that is David Oyelowo in Selma. 

David Oyelowo – Selma

Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything

Joaquin Phoenix and Katherine Waterston – Inherent Vice

Michelle Monaghan – Fort Bliss

Paul Dano and Elizabeth Banks – Love & Mercy

Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain – A Most Violent Year

Jack O’Connell – ‘71

Lily James – Cinderella

Jude Law – Black Sea

Mads Mikkelsen and Jeffrey Dean Morgan – The Salvation

Tessa Thompson – Dear White People

Lou Taylor Pucci and Nadia Hilker – Spring

Oscar Isaac and Alicia Vikander – Ex Machina

Carey Mulligan and Matthias Schoenaerts – Far From the Madding Crowd

Charlize Theron – Mad Max: Fury Road

Tommy Lee Jones – The Homesman

Guy Pearce and Kevin Corrigan – Results

Michael Shannon – 99 Homes

Elmer Back – Eisenstein in Guanajuatro

Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori and Kiersey Clemons – Dope

Laia Costa and Frederick Lau – Victoria

Nina Hoss and Ronald Zehrfeld – Phoenix

Luisa Cruz – The Arabian Nights: Volume 2

Amy Poehler (voice) – Inside Out

Jada Pinkett-Smith and Channing Tatum – Magic Mike XXL

Dan Stevens – The Guest

Ronit Elkabetz – Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem

Jul 162015


Thanks to eOne, we have 3 x DVD copies of ’71 to give away – available on Digital, DVD, & Blu-Ray from July 22nd

Official Synopsis:

Starring up-and-coming talent Jack O’Connell (Unbroken, Starred Up), this exhilarating, gripping thriller re-creates “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland through the eyes of a young British soldier, who is accidentally abandoned by his unit following a terrifying riot on the streets of Belfast in 1971. Unable to tell friend from foe, the raw recruit must survive the night alone and find his way to safety through a disorienting, alien and deadly landscape.

Check out the An Online Universe review of ’71 here. (spoiler – we really liked it)

To Win Tell us what your favourite post-WWII combat/war film is. Send your answers, along with your name and postal address to sam@anonlineuniverse.com by 9pm on Sunday 26 July, 2015.

Check out the terms & conditions of the competition after the jump.

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