Oct 092015


Winner of this year’s Cannes Jury Prize, the new film and English-language debut from the idiosyncratic mind of Yorgos Lanthimos (Alps, Dogtooth) is a deadpan absurdist satire of modern romance that could only have come from the Greek auteur.

In the near future, single citizens are sent to a hotel where they have 45 days to pair off with a mate – or be turned into the animal of their choosing and hunted in the woods. Reviews suggest thatThe Lobster is fiercely, unmistakably Lanthimos: surreal, grimly funny and strangely moving.

The Lobster features an all-star cast including Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Lea Seyoux and John C. Reilly, and comes to limited Australian cinemas from October 22. Check out the trailer below:

NSW – Dendy Newtown, Palace Verona

VIC – Cinema Nova, Palace Brighton Bay

ACT – Palace Electric

QLD – Palace Centro

WA – Luna Leederville

TAS – Hobart State Cinema

SA – Palace Nova East End (From October 29 following Adelaide Film Festival screening)

Oct 072015


September was not the Martian wasteland at the cinema that the photo above might suggest. In fact, September saw me add three films to my favourite of the year list. Aside from these, there were a couple of well executed genre pieces, some underground film festival weirdness, rewarding rewatches, and a film so bad the director refuses to put his name to it. My round-up of the 24 films I viewed in September is after the jump.

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Oct 062015

Son of Saul 1A

The Jewish International Film Festival is back for another year, with an impressive line-up of 60 feature films and documentaries. The festival will screen its full programme in Sydney and Melbourne, with a choice selection of titles playing Perth, Brisbane and Auckland.

Kicking of the festival in all locations is SON OF SAUL, the astonishing début from director László Nemes which took home 4 awards at the Cannes Film Festival, including the Grand Prix Prize (2nd prize). The film follows a father’s quest for moral redemption as he tries to salvage the body of a boy whom he believes to be his son, amidst the horrors of 1944 Auschwitz. Sure to be a challenging, but a rewarding watch.

Closing out the festival is SABENA HIJACKING – MY VERSION, a compelling docu-drama that revisits the 1972 hijacking of Belgian’s Sabena Flight 571 by four armed members of the Palestinian Black September terrorist organisation.

Other highlights include
A TALE OF LOVE AND DARKNESS – Natalie Portman’s directorial début, in which she also stars as Fania, a Holocaust survivor (and mother of Amos Oz, one of Israel’s best-known writers) who struggles with the horrors of the past, whilst facing the challenges of the present. Based on Oz’s best-selling memoir.

BY SIDNEY LUMET – In a never-before-seen interview recorded a few years before his death, legendary filmmaker Sidney Lumet guides us through his life and work – from his early years on the Yiddish stage to directing of some of cinema’s most enduring classics, including 12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico and Network.

FELIX AND MEIRA – Meira is a Hasidic wife and mother consumed by the strict rules of her society. Felix is an eccentric French-Canadian man mourning his wealthy father. When the two meet in a bakery, an unexpected friendship is born. It soon blossoms into something more as they open one another’s eyes to the possibilities that lie beyond their worlds. This film is Canada’s nominee for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2016 Academy Awards.

THE VOICE OF PEACE – A documentary about a pirate radio station based on
a ship in international waters off the coast of Tel Aviv which broadcast messages of peace and love, as well as great music, to millions across the Middle East and Europe. Fighter pilot turned political activist Abie Nathan was determined in his mission to bring Israelis and Arabs together in peace, and soon counted Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Yoko Ono,Johnny Mathis and The Carpenters among his supporters.

Festival dates & locations

SYDNEY: 28 October – 18 November, Event Cinemas, Bondi Junction
MELBOURNE: 4 – 29 November, Classic Cinemas, Elsternwick
PERTH: 31 October, 1 & 8 November, Event Cinemas, Morley
NEW ZEALAND: 15 & 22 November, Academy Cinemas, Auckland
BRISBANE: 21, 22 & 29 November, New Farm Cinemas

To view the full programme and ticket information, visit the official JIFF Website at: www.jiff.com.au

Oct 062015


In cinemas this week: Black Mass, Learning to Drive and Miss You Already. 

Black Mass – In 1970s South Boston, FBI Agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) persuades Irish mobster James “Whitey” Bulger (Johnny Depp) to collaborate with the FBI and eliminate a common enemy: the Italian mob. The drama tells the story of this unholy alliance, which spiraled out of control, allowing Whitey to evade law enforcement, consolidate power, and become one of the most ruthless and powerful gangsters in Boston history. Scott Cooper has directed two underrated films before this – Crazy Heart and Out of the Furnace – so I am interested in this for his involvement. The supporting cast is very strong, too.

Miss You Already – They say opposites attract. Milly (Toni Collette) is the woman who has everything: a successful career; a rock-star husband and two beautiful children. Her best friend is Jess (Drew Barrymore), she works in a community garden; lives in a boathouse with her boyfriend Jago and desperately wants a baby. Friends since childhood Jess and Milly can’t remember a time they didn’t share everything – secrets, clothes, even boyfriends, their differences are the glue that binds them together. That is until Milly is hit with the life changing news that she has breast cancer and needs Jess’s support more than ever. As Jess tries to balance her own life as well as being there for Milly it is only a matter of time before the pressure on their bond takes its toll. 

Learning to Drive – Isabel Coixet’s slice-of-life comedy/drama Learning to Drive stars Patricia Clarkson as Wendy, a middle-ages book critic who is shattered when her husband Ted (Jake Weber) leaves her. In order to visit her daughter (Grace Gummer), who lives upstate, Wendy begins taking driving lessons from Darwan (Ben Kingsley) an American citizen originally from India who makes a living as a cabbie and giving driving lessons. The two strike-up a friendship that helps her learn to take control of her life, and him adjust to his new life after an arranged marriage. 

Weekly Recommendation: Not a particularly interesting week, but I am committed to seeing Black Mass. It looks to be the best of an unusually thin lineup. I still have a few others I would like to catch up with; notably Cut Snake and The Visit, and if you haven’t yet seen Sicario or The Martian make them your priority. 

Oct 052015


This prequel/origin story inspired by the beloved characters created by J.M Barrie and directed with the predicted visual flair by Joe Wright (Atonement, Hanna) is a completely batty and rather fun holiday fantasy adventure with enough pure magic buried beneath its stock central arc, dark themes, and questionable casting to remain immersive. I am not sure what the youngsters will make of all this often-hyperactive, high-flying pirates vs. fairies prophet-fulfilling escapade, but it is certainly an unusual and transportive journey. Often catching me unawares with its obscure pop references – Hugh Jackman’s scene-stealing Blackbeard is introduced with a ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ mass chant (?) – this gleefully derivative venture presents a version of how a young orphan discovered his true destiny in Neverland and became the hero forever known as Peter Pan.

Living a bleak existence at a London orphanage, the rebellious and mischievous 12-year-old Peter (Levi Miller) finds himself whisked away by pirates to the fantastical world of Neverland, where he is put to work as a miner alongside rigged but earnest long-time resident James Hook (Garrett Hedlund). When he eludes punishment via unexpected abilities, he learns that he might he might possess the key to overthrowing the Pirate regime led by Blackbeard and the whereabouts of his mother. Peter, Hook and warrior princess Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara) band together to save Neverland from the ruthless reign. 

Pan is visually interesting – the steam-punk inspired design of the various locations, spectacular set pieces and extravagant costumes are full of pleasures – and driven by an exceptional score from John Powell (How to Train Your Dragon). It also features a number of wild over-the-top performances that fit snugly into the film’s clowning-around sort of tone. Hedlund is especially ridiculous, and clearly not suited to the direction. Jackman appears to have a ball, and Rooney Mara lends her class to an underdeveloped character.

Much to my surprise I was on board with Pan throughout, even through the patches of sloppy visual effects. Comparisons to the Wachowski’s narratively unwieldy space-opera Jupiter Ascending from earlier in the year are understandable. I found this much more coherent though, and by taking the chances that it does, distinguished.


By Andrew Buckle

The Facts

Director: Joe Wright
Writer(s): Jason Fuchs (screenplay)
Starring: Levi Miller, Hugh Jackman, Garret Hedlund, Rooney Mara
Runtime: 111 minutes
Release date(s): Australia and New Zealand: September 24, 2015

Oct 042015


September was one of the most eventful months of the year so far – which involved moving house, and being without internet for two weeks, and a short holiday in New Zealand – and this resulted in limited opportunities to write. You will have seen a recent absence of content on the site, apologies for that we’ll be back shortly. Without the internet and the ability to stream, I didn’t have too many viewing options at home, so I decided to re-watch some of my blu-rays. I also caught ten films at the Sydney Underground Film Festival, which made up a majority of my cinema viewing, in addition to a select few regular releases we prioritised around our busy packing/moving schedule. Check out my quick thoughts on all of the films after the jump (ranked by preference):

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Sep 242015


So, hey. You might have noticed we’ve been a little quiet over the last few weeks. It turns out when you move house you don’t have time to see many movies, and you have even less time to write about them. It turns out, you also need the internet to keep a website running. We were without the internet for a couple of weeks and it just wasn’t possible to get content up.

Tomorrow we’re off to New Zealand for a short while, much means the site is going to be quiet for just a little longer. When we’re back we’ll be well rested, connected, and excited to get back to writing about films.

So, hey. We’ll be back soon. We hope you’ll be there.

PS – go see SICARIO and THE MARTIAN. We think they’re both tops.

 Posted by at 18:09
Sep 222015


As we are going to be away for a couple of weeks, here is a preview of what is to come in cinemas both September 24 and October 1.

Sept 24 – Sicario, Pan, Cut Snake, The Visit, Diary of a Teenage Girl and London Road.

Oct 1 – The Martian, Macbeth, The Intern and The Wrecking Crew.

Sicario – In the lawless border area stretching between the U.S. and Mexico, an idealistic FBI agent [Emily Blunt] is enlisted by an elite government task force official [Josh Brolin] to aid in the escalating war against drugs. Led by an enigmatic consultant with a questionable past [Benicio Del Toro], the team sets out on a clandestine journey forcing Kate to question everything that she believes in order to survive. The latest film from the great French-Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Enemy) strikes a troubling chord throughout, ensuring there is an ever-present tension, and wisely keeping his characters working on different frequencies and keeping us in the dark as to what this task force is really up to. With some genius photography from Roger Deakins and an psyche rattling soundscape from Johann Johannsson, this is essential cinema viewing that implicates you in an off-the-grid government-sanctioned drug bust mission. Jeremy Scahill (an investigative reporter featured in Dirty Wars) would have had a hot case with this one.

Pan – The story of an orphan who is spirited away to the magical Neverland. There, he finds both fun and dangers, and ultimately discovers his destiny — to become the hero who will be forever known as Peter Pan. Joe Wright’s (Atonement, Hanna) re-working of the classic fairy tale will no doubt feature his renowned visual flair, and it also boasts a strong cast, including Hugh Jackman and Rooney Mara.

Cut Snake – In 1974, Sparra sweeps Paula off of her feet and starts building a life with her. When Pommie, a brutish thug, shows up unannounced, Sparra has a difficult time hiding his criminal past from Paula as he juggles both of their expectations. Starring Sullivan Stapleton and Alex Russell, Cut Snake premiered at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, but has taken a while to come to Australian audiences. I have seen some positive reactions – a lean, mean thriller which subverts conventions – and it has a lot of potential.

The Visit – The terrifying story of a brother and sister who are sent to their grandparents’ remote Pennsylvania farm for a weeklong trip. Once the children discover that the elderly couple is involved in something deeply disturbing, they see their chances of getting back home are growing smaller every day. The latest film from M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Signs and The Village – the good ones) has been gathering some praise – something the filmmaker has been in dire need of. The trailer isn’t much chop, but I don’t think anyone has every questioned his skills as a director of suspense – largely his scripts. Hopefully he deftly balances the horror and humour and makes the most of the tried-and-tired found-footage approach.

Diary of a Teenage Girl – Like most teenage girls, Minnie Goetze (Bel Powley) is longing for love, acceptance and a sense of purpose in the world. Minnie begins a complex love affair with her mother’s (Kristen Wiig) boyfriend, “the handsomest man in the world,” Monroe Rutherford (Alexander Skarsgård). What follows is a sharp, funny and provocative account of one girl’s sexual and artistic awakening, without judgment. Caught this at Sydney Film Festival and wasn’t overly impressed – I feel like I had seen it before, I never connected to or found sympathy in her sexploits. Many (almost everyone) has liked it more than me, but some further thoughts at the link.

London RoadDocuments the events that shook Suffolk in 2006, when the quiet rural town of Ipswich was shattered by the discovery of the bodies of five women. The residents of London Road had struggled for years with frequent soliciting and kerb-crawling on their street. The film follows the community who found themselves at the epicentre of the tragic events, and is based on interviews conducted with the road’s real residents. Using their own words set to an innovative musical score, London Road tells a moving story of ordinary people coming together during the darkest of experiences. Tom Hardy and Olivia Colman star, and Rupert Norris (Broken) directs. 

The Martian – During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meagre supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive. Millions of miles away, NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring “the Martian” home, while his crewmates concurrently plot a daring, if not impossible rescue mission. As these stories of incredible bravery unfold, the world comes together to root for Watney’s safe return. Sam absolutely loved this film – it is amongst her favourites for the year – and I am very much looking forward to seeing it. I believe the music and humour are the highlights.

Macbeth – Macbeth is the story of a fearless warrior and inspiring leader brought low by ambition and desire. A thrilling interpretation of the dramatic realities of the times and a reimagining of what wartime must have been like for one of literature’s most famous and compelling characters, a story of all-consuming passion and ambition set in war torn Scotland. Snowtown director Justin Kurzel teams up with Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard for an adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s greatest plays – and it is every bit as grim as suggested. Aesthetically brilliant and uncompromising, this lays down a challenge to the audience and I feel it will be very divisive.

The Intern – A retired successful business owner and widower lands an internship at a fashion website run by a young, career-driven woman. Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway star as said characters. I dunno. It could be fun.

The Wrecking Crew – What the Funk Brothers did for Motown…The Wrecking Crew did, only bigger, for the West Coast Sound. Six years in a row in the 1960’s and early 1970’s, the Grammy for “Record of the Year” went to Wrecking Crew recordings. This film tells the story in pictures and that oh, so glorious sound. The favorite songs of a generation are all here, presented by the people who made them for you. Produced and directed by Denny Tedesco, son of legendary late Wrecking Crew guitarist Tommy Tedesco, the film tells the story of the unsung musicians that provided the backbeat, the bottom and the swinging melody that drove many of the number one hits of the 1960’s. It didn’t matter if it was Nat “King” Cole, Frank Sinatra, Nancy Sinatra, The Monkees, The Byrds or The Beach Boys, these dedicated musicians brought the flair and musicianship that made the American “west coast sound” a dominant cultural force around the world.

Recommendation: A powerful fortnight of releases. Sicario is essential viewing, and cinephiles won’t want to miss Macbeth. I am especially looking forward to The Martian and London Road from the daunting amount of unseen, but am intrigued by the formerly-unfamiliar The Wrecking Crew, Aussie thriller Cut Snake and M. Night’s return-to-form The Visit.