Jun 252016
 

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The final days of the festival – and when you’re 30+ films in you just want it to be over – brought a mixed bag of films. And more weird and wonderful sensory pleasures. I also slept through my first one on day 11 – Viva, meaning I didn’t catch all 12 of the Official Competition. Read on for thoughts on Fire at Sea, The Red Turtle, Personal Shopper, Notes on Blindness, Under the Shadow, The Handmaiden, Psycho Raman and Gimme Danger.

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Jun 232016
 

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In cinemas this week: Independence Day: Resurgence, Everybody Wants Some and Mustang

Independence Day: Resurgence – Using recovered extraterrestrial technology, the nations of Earth collaborate on an immense defense program to protect the planet. When the aliens attack with unprecedented force, only the ingenuity of a few brave men and women can save the world. Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman are back in Roland Emmerich’s anticipated sequel to his groundbreaking 1996 disaster hit.

Everybody Wants Some – In 1980 Texas, a college freshman (Blake Jenner) meets his new baseball teammates (including Will Brittain, Ryan Guzman), an unruly group of disco-dancing, skirt-chasing partyers. The latest from Richard Linklater has had its fans (and vocal dissenters), and sounds like a spiritual-sequel to his 1993 film, Dazed and Confused, provoking nostalgia for the free-wheeling of youth.

Mustang – Early summer in a village in Northern Turkey. Five free-spirited teenaged sisters splash about on the beach with their male classmates. Though their games are merely innocent fun, a neighbour passes by and reports what she considers to be illicit behaviour to the girls’ family. The family overreacts, removing all “instruments of corruption,” like cell phones and computers, and essentially imprisoning the girls, subjecting them to endless lessons in housework in preparation for them to become brides. As the eldest sisters are married off, the younger ones bond together to avoid the same fate. The fierce love between them empowers them to rebel and chase a future where they can determine their own lives in Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s debut, a powerful portrait of female empowerment. Truly wonderful – one of the finest films of the year so far. Further thoughts at the link.

Weekly Recommendation – There’s something for everyone here, but the one we urge you not to miss is Mustang. We’ll be catching Linklater’s latest, and seeing some big-screen mass-destruction this weekend.

Jun 192016
 

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Read beyond for my thoughts on films watched during the quietest stretch of the festival; days 6-9, which includes Chevalier, Letters From War, Desde alla, Suntan, Toni Erdmann, The Endless River, Magallanes and ApprenticeThere are several in here that I didn’t like so much – but certainly none I am sorry I saw.

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Jun 172016
 

Mahana

Set in 1960s rural New Zealand, Mahana (adapted by John Collee from the novel ‘Bulibasha: King of the Gypsies‘ by Witi Ihimaera) tells the story of a Māori family who are ruled over by their iron-fisted patriarch, Tamihana Mahana. Tamihana’s word is law, and he expects a lot from his family, particularly from his young grandson Simeon, who has of late begun to question his grandfather and other aspects of his life.

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Jun 162016
 

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Winner of the 2016 Sundance Film Festival Screenwriting Award, writer/director Chad Hartigan’s third feature film Morris From America is the tender coming-of-age story of a 13-year-old African-American teenager, Morris (Markees Christmas), who is trying to navigate puberty and acclimate to a strange new world, after being relocated to Heidelberg, Germany with his single father, Curtis (Craig Robinson, The Office and This is the End).

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Jun 162016
 

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In 1974, television news show host and journalist Christine Chubbuck committed suicide live on air. Suffering from severe depression, Christine was committed to continuing the network’s obsession with blood and guts TV with this pre-meditated act. Though believed to be the inspiration for Sidney Lumet’s 1976 film Network, where her character was substituted for a veteran male news anchorman set to be sent to pasture, she remains an unknown. The taped footage of the suicide is kept under lock and key, and inaccessible online, and the true reasoning behind what led to her suicide remains only speculation.

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Jun 162016
 

Chevalier

Athina Rachel Tshangari’s Chevalier is effectively a movie-length pissing contest, with a painfully accurate representation of the fragile egos of men. Six men on a fishing holiday aboard a luxurious yacht invent a game to pass the time. The game formalises what the men have been doing the entire trip, and likely their entire lives, which is competing with each other – seeking validation of their manhood.

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Jun 162016
 

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I present to you the biggest surprise of the Sydney Film Festival so far. This is an incredible film, and an understandable winner of Best Debut Feature and Best Director awards at the 2015 Venice Film Festival. As an actor, the 28-year-old Brady Corbet has displayed a taste for working with master filmmakers like Michael Haneke, Olivier Assayas and Lars Von Trier, appearing in films such as Mysterious Skin, Funny Games, Force Majeure, Clouds of Sils Maria and Melancholia. He has also written and edited several feature films, so after a decade of what seems to be grooming from some of the world’s élite directors he has been given the opportunity to produce and direct one to rival them. The result is an extraordinary debut achievement – a stylish, ambitious, and audacious period piece which feels like a lost great work from Louis Malle or Stanley Kubrick – which also offers mesmerising, precisely composed visuals and an assaulting orchestral score that immediately demolishes any expectations you may have for the film. Having seen thousands of films it is always exciting when one takes you aback, and offers such a whirlwind of intellectual and sensory impact.

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