Jun 302016
 

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June, as usual is all about the Sydney Film Festival. A binge of films for two weeks, followed by a period of very few. I watched a total of 34 films at the Sydney Film Festival. I wrote about them all, to various lengths, in four diary entries. You can read about them all here, as well as full-length reviews, and a festival awards round-up written by Sam and myself. These are not listed below – ended watching 44 films in June + 20 episodes of TV.

I also played a good chunk of Witcher 3.  I am so close to the end, after almost a year of intermittent playing. Certainly one of the greatest games I have ever played. I am also very close to finishing A Little Life. A tremendous, life-changing novel that deserves all of the praise and dialogue it has provoked. Perhaps my album of the year (not a surprise for anyone who knows my music tastes) is The Glowing Man by Swans. While it still clocks in at close to two hours it is a much more subdued and penetrable effort than their previous two works. It still evokes the feeling of swimming in a deep, dark ocean, but here Swans offer some flashes of light. I also very much enjoyed Puberty 2 by Mitzki, Bottomless Pit by Death Grips, and Freetown Sound by Blood Orange.

Read beyond for a recap of everything I watched outside of the Sydney Film Festival.

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Jun 302016
 

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In cinemas this week: The BFG, Central Intelligence, Ice Age: Collision Course, Belle and Sebastian: The Adventure Continues and The Wait. 

The BFG – Ten-year-old Sophie is in for the adventure of a lifetime when she meets the Big Friendly Giant (Mark Rylance). Naturally scared at first, the young girl soon realises that the 24-foot behemoth is actually quite gentle and charming. As their friendship grows, Sophie’s presence attracts the unwanted attention of Bloodbottler, Fleshlumpeater and other giants. After traveling to London, Sophie and the BFG must convince Queen Victoria to help them get rid of all the bad giants once and for all. A personal childhood favourite, and despite the mixed reviews I am intrigued to see how Steven Spielberg can make this work for the screen.

Central Intelligence – Bullied as a teen for being overweight, Bob Stone (Dwayne Johnson) shows up to his high school reunion looking fit and muscular. While there, he finds Calvin Joyner (Kevin Hart), a fast-talking accountant who misses his glory days as a popular athlete. Stone is now a lethal CIA agent who needs Calvin’s number skills to help him save the compromised U.S. spy satellite system. Together, the former classmates encounter shootouts, espionage and double-crosses while trying to prevent worldwide chaos. One to catch on VOD later in the year, because it looks quite funny. Johnson and Hart will, no doubt, make a great comic duo.

Ice Age: Collision Course – Scrat’s epic pursuit of the elusive acorn catapults him into the universe where he accidentally sets off a series of cosmic events that transform and threaten the Ice Age World. To save themselves, Sid, Manny, Diego, and the rest of the herd must leave their home and embark on a quest full of comedy and adventure, travelling to exotic new lands and encountering a host of colourful new characters. Another one? It must be the school holidays.

Belle and Sebastian: The Adventure Continues – The young boy and his big shaggy dog from 2014’s Belle & Sebastian are back in a new tale of adventure! Set at the close of the Second World War, Sebastian (Félix Bossuet) is now ten years old and ready for an action-packed search in the Alps for his friend Angelina (Margaux Chatelier) who has gone missing after a plane crash. The first film was lovely. And this will at least have some beautiful scenery. 

The Wait – A young woman (Lou de Laâge) waits for the arrival of her boyfriend (Giovanni Anzaldo) in Sicily, but the man’s grieving mother (Juliette Binoche) does not tell her that he is dead. Fans of Melanie Laurent’s incredible Breathe will recognise Lou de Laâge here, working alongside the legendary Juliette Binoche. Yep.

Weekly Recommendation: The BFG, but we’re not at all sure what to expect. The Wait is screening regularly at Opera Quays this week if you missed it at the French Film Festival earlier in the year.

Jun 292016
 

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As per usual, the New Zealand International Film Festival is absolutely packed with an amazing variety of fantastic films. I have been lucky enough to see a fair amount of the films showing, so I’ve gone through the programme and picked 12 films I think are worth adding to your festival schedule. Check them out after the jump.

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Jun 262016
 

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After looking forward to it for so long, it’s hard to believe that another Sydney Film Festival is done and dusted. The quality of films was exceedingly high this year, and we had a wonderful time at the festival. Thanks and congratulations to the entire festival team and all of the volunteers.

The Sydney Film Prize (the prize given to the winner of the Official Competition) was this year awarded to Kleber Mondonca Filho’s Aquarius, which also happened to be our favourite film from the festival. The Audience Award (Feature) was awarded to Deniz Gamze Ergüven’ s Mustang; while the Audience Award (Documentary) went to Australian documentary Zach’s Ceremony, directed by Aaron Petersen. 

After the jump we have picked out favourite films, performances, music, cinematography, and other achievements, from the films we saw at the festival. For context, Sam saw 40 films and Andy saw 49 – about 1/5 of what was playing. These selections are purely based on what we saw, and we have no doubt we missed some gems – please let us know what they are! We highly recommend you seek out any of the films mentioned in our “awards” after the jump.

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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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