Jun 162016
 

The_Childhood_of_Leader_Still

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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Jun 152016
 

30954_43_Unter_dem_Sand02_c_Amusement_Park_Film_GmbH

Here are my thoughts on seven of the eight films I watched over the first weekend of the Sydney Film Festival, save for It’s Only the End of the World – reviewed in further detail hereRead on for thoughts on Official Competition entries Aquarius, Goldstone and Land of Mine as well as Weiner, Contemporary Color, Mahana and Wild. There is only one of these films I wasn’t impressed with, and so the high quality continues.

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Jun 152016
 

ItsOnlytheEndoftheWorld

Xavier Dolan, the 27-year old French-Canadian filmmaker with prodigious talent and a handful of brilliant films under his belt (including the 2014 Jury Prize winner, Mommy), returned to Cannes this year with the understandably anticipated It’s Only the End of the World. Despite being met with boos and largely negative reviews, it was surprisingly awarded the prestigious Grand Prix prize. While it is a flawed film, it certainly doesn’t deserve that vitriolic reception. There is still a lot to like about this emotionally intense – and often excruciatingly shrill – but stylistically restrained family drama, adapted by Dolan from an eponymous play by Jean-Luc Lagarce.

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Jun 142016
 

findingdory

Set 6 months after the events in 2003’s Finding Nemo, Finding Dory focuses on Dory’s quest to find her parents. For a very long time Dory had forgotten that she had lost her family, but now that she has remembered, she will stop at nothing to be reunited with them. Thankfully Dory has friends such as Nemo, Marlin, and Mr Ray to help her on the mission.

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Jun 142016
 

Weiner

In May of 2011 seven term Congressman Anthony Weiner sent a sexually explicit photo on Twitter to a woman he was following on the service. After dodging and denying, he finally admitted that he had sent the photo, and in mid-June 2011 he resigned from public office. This film should have documented his triumphant return to politics, but instead a completely different story was told.

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Jun 132016
 

being-17-andre-techine

Read beyond for my thought on films I have seen on Days 1-3 of this year’s Sydney Film Festival – Born to Be Blue, Being 17, Certain Women, Elvis & Nixon, Julieta, Tickled and The Lure. Let’s just say it has been a fantastic start.

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Jun 132016
 

BuzzGuide-Peacekeepers

Directed by Pakistani’s first, and now two-time, Oscar-winner Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy (Saving Face and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, also screening at SFF16) and Geeta Gandbhir, A Journey of a Thousand Miles: Peacekeepers is an absorbing and enlightening document of the experiences of a group of Bangladeshi policewomen who join a year-long UN peacekeeping mission in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. While it serves as a challenge for these dedicated and strong-willed women, willing to leave behind their immediate families to honour other family members who had either died in the same line of work, or firmly believed in it, they do experience many psychologically affecting obstacles as they shatter commonly held Muslim traditions and gender stereotypes.

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Jun 122016
 

Sonita2

When we join Afghani teenager Sonita Alizadeh, she has spent the last 10 years of her life as an undocumented refugee Iran. She’s working part-time at a Refugee Centre in Tehran, the same place where she receives her schooling. While she may find herself in a dire situation, economically, politically, and socially, she still has dreams – dreams of music and making it big.

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