Aug 202014

this is where I leave you

I don’t want to say the ‘O’ word so early in the year, so I’m not going to. But the ‘O’ word is definitely in play as the spring releases start pouring in. There’s a mix of big hitters, O hopefuls and indie titles (that are coming from the festival circuit) coming to our cinemas in spring. After the jump I’ve listed 16 films to seriously consider seeing this spring* – check them out. (*subject to the ever-changing Australian cinema release schedule)

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 Posted by at 21:44
Aug 182014

The Inbetweeners 2

The raunchy teenage/young adult male sex comedy is one of those ubiquitous sub-genres that won’t be going away anytime soon. From Animal House to American Pie, these movies are usually good for a chuckle or two so long as the laughs are good-natured, the leads are loveable and the female characters aren’t too appallingly written. But does The Inbetweeners 2 pass this litmus test? My review after the jump.

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Aug 172014


I was honoured when Ryan McNeil at The Matinee invited me to contribute a guest post to his fantastic site. The brief – write about a film you didn’t like a first, but grew to love when you watched it again. A couple of films sprung to mind, but the film I think I’ve done the biggest 180 on is Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut.

When Eyes Wide Shut was released in cinemas I was 14, that’s 4 years below the age allowed by New Zealand law to view the film. I didn’t know who Stanley Kubrick was, but I knew Hollywood stars Kidman and Cruise, and I thought a film with both of them in it might be cool. A few years later I caught the film when it played on TV late one Saturday evening. By then the film had become infamous for the orgy scenes, and Cruise and Kidman had ended their marriage, but I still didn’t know who Kubrick was (I was a late bloomer in many areas of film appreciation).

Read the full post at The Matinee.

Aug 162014

Oh boy.

I first heard about Nightcrawler when this ad was posted on Craigslist. The ad contained a link which led to the video resume of one Lou Bloom, aka the lead character in Nightcrawler. I must say I appreciate when marketing tries something a little different.

The official synopsis is as follows:

NIGHTCRAWLER is a pulse-pounding thriller set in the nocturnal underbelly of contemporary Los Angeles. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Lou Bloom, a driven young man desperate for work who discovers the high-speed world of L.A. crime journalism. Finding a group of freelance camera crews who film crashes, fires, murder and other mayhem, Lou muscles into the cut-throat, dangerous realm of nightcrawling — where each police siren wail equals a possible windfall and victims are converted into dollars and cents.

Jake Gyllenhaal is one of my favourite actors right now. Between Enemy, Prisoners and End of Watch , he is so on form. This is director Dan Gilroy’s first feature film, however he is no stranger to Hollywood. Gilroy has behind the pen for films which include The Bourne Legacy, The Fall and Reel Steel.

Madman Entertainment has picked up Nightcrawler for a 2014 release in Australia. The film will première at TIFF (where I hope to see it) in September.

Aug 152014


In this rather unusual documentary, we follow a day, the 20,000th day in the life of UK-based, Australian musician Nick Cave. This day is a construct, one which is representative of Cave’s daily life. We follow him from writing, catch ups with friends, doctors appointments and of course, practice. This was more like a collage or scrapbook than a linear story. Mixed media – audio, photographs, archival footage are blended in with the documentary’s own footage, giving the film an incredibly textured feel.

Cave spends much of the film musing on some of some pretty big ideas – the power of memory, what legacy we leave and what it means to create. It seems like it’s something he spends a long time thinking about, like he is constantly searching for validation or purpose for his art. His thought processes are quite complex, even pained, and once or twice I felt myself getting lost within the depths of his soul. Much like his music, his thoughts are rather intense and brooding at times. Famous friends, bandmates and associates make appearances throughout, though I found that their contribution served mostly to inflate the mystique of Cave, rather than offer any real insight.

Aside from the interesting construct of the film, what I loved was the cinematography and editing. The film was extremely slick and photographed so beautifully by Erik Wilson (The Imposter, The Double, Tyrannosaur), who is fast becoming one of my favourite cinematographers. Jonathon Amos (Attack the Block, Scott Pilgrim vs the World) stitches the various material together expertly, weaving a layered scrapbook to represent Cave’s life.

It makes sense that writer-directors Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard come from a visual arts background. What they have created here is quite innovative, ions away from a traditional musical documentary or bio-pic.
By Sam McCosh
The Facts

Director: Iain Forsyth, Jane Pollard
Writer(s): Iain Forsyth, Jane Pollard, Nick Cave
Starring: Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Blixa Bargeld, Susie Bick
Runtime: 97 minutes
Release date(s): Australia & New Zealand: August 21 2014

Aug 142014


This is the eleventh post in the “The Best Films Set In…” series. The setting can be a place (like Tokyo), a location (like the beach), or a time (like Winter). In these posts I’m going to pick my 5 favourite films that are set in that particular place/location/time and explain why I like them.

In honour of my current sports movie week, this edition focuses on films set on a particular type of field that you’ll find in the USA. They’re in schools, small towns and big cities. These fields are inhabited by big men, in big padding with big dreams. The screenplays aren’t always subtle, but you’ll almost always be emotional by the end.

After the jump, check out my picks for The Best Films Set In…On a Football Field.

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 Posted by at 21:33
Aug 132014


The 18th Japanese Film Festival (JFF) will begin its national tour starting mid-October in Adelaide, and continues to other major Australian cities until its final stop in Melbourne in December.

The JFF is growing both domestically and internationally this year! In Australia, the JFF expands to include new venues: Adelaide’s Mercury Cinema, Sydney’s Event Cinemas Parramatta, Art Gallery of New South Wales and Fremantle’s Hoyts Millennium. Internationally, the JFF debuts in Auckland from November 6 at Rialto Cinemas, Newmarket.

In each city, over 10 of the latest feature films will be screened. Flagship cities Sydney and Melbourne will enjoy an even greater program comprising of 45+ films. The full programme is yet to be announced but the festival has confirmed the live-action adaptation of popular manga series, Rurouni Kenshin will return to the Festival as a trilogy in 2014.

Japanese Film Festival Dates and Venues
The 18th JFF runs nationally between October – December 2014
Ticketing: Adult $18 / Concession $15/ 5-Film Pass $75

Adelaide 10 – 12 & 17 – 19 October @ Mercury Cinema
Canberra 15 – 19 October @ Capitol Cinema Manuka
Brisbane 22 – 26 October @ Event Cinemas, Brisbane City Myer Centre
Perth 29 October – 2 November @ Hoyts Carousel & Hoyts Millennium
Auckland 6 – 12 November @ Rialto Cinemas, Newmarket
Sydney 13 – 23 November @ Event Cinemas, George Street & Event Cinemas, Parramatta
Art Gallery of New South Wales new! (JFF classics – Wed, Sat & Sun, 15 – 26 October)
Melbourne 27 November – 7 December @ Hoyts Melbourne Central & Australian Centre for the Moving Image

Follow the fest
Facebook: japanesefilmfest
Twitter: @japanfilmfest / #JFF2014AU

 Posted by at 07:36
Aug 092014

Whiplash, written and directed by Damien Chazelle won both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Prize at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Sundance award winners are always worth giving a watch, as they represent some of the most interesting independent film-making in the US.

The official synopsis is as follows:

Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller) is an ambitious young jazz drummer, single-minded in his pursuit to rise to the top of his elite east coast music conservatory. Plagued by the failed writing career of his father (Paul Reiser), Andrew hungers day and night to become one of the greats. Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), an instructor equally known for his teaching talents as for his terrifying methods, leads the top jazz ensemble in the school. Fletcher discovers Andrew and transfers the aspiring drummer into his band, forever changing the young man’s life. Andrew’s passion to achieve perfection quickly spirals into obsession, as his ruthless teacher continues to push him to the brink of both his ability—and his sanity.

This trailer is intense! The synopsis didn’t quite prepare me for how full on it would be. JK Simmons looks terrifying – he’s such a great character actor, and I’m really looking forward to seeing him in this interesting role. Miles Teller is an extremely capable actor, who has proven he has what it takes to carry a dramatic role. This film was at the top of my TIFF wishlist, but now that I know it has an Australian release date, I’m going to wait and check it out on release here.

Whiplash will release on October 23 in Australia.