Jan 312014
 

The Australian Academy of Cinema and Arts held their 3rd annual awards night in Sydney last night, awarding Baz Lurhman’s The Great Gatsby winning all but one of the 14 awards it was nominated for including best picture, best director and best leading actor (DiCaprio). The Rocket was the well-deserved recipient of the best original screenplay award; while Rose Byrne won best leading actress for her 7 minute role in The Turning.

At an earlier ceremony in LA, the AACTA international awards were given out, with Gravity taking out best film.

While Gatsby is certainly worthy of some of its wins (especially costume/production design), this year’s AACTA results are another sign of how out of touch with Australian film this organisation is. For the 3 years since the awards started (they were previously the AFI awards), the awards have been dominated by the “Australian” film which was the biggest box office success that year. This is wrong. To put it simply, box office success is not a measure of a film’s quality. Local films typically get smaller releases, they have smaller budgets and they don’t tend to have massive marketing money behind them. To make these smaller films compete alongside the one “Australian blockbuster” each year is never going to be fair. If the organisation wants to hold something more meaningful than an annual giant celebration of the upper echelons (money) of Australian film society, it’s going to have to rethink what “best” really means.

The full list of AACTA winners is after the jump.

 

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Jan 302014
 

 

In Paolo Sorrentino’s previous film, This Must Be The Place, God is described as stillness, as the snow that rests. This is peace, the snowflake’s journey is never over as it prepares to alter form, but in its stillness lies the art of a calmness that transcends all other states of being. Without spoiling the film, Sorrentino’s first international success, The Consequences of Love, concludes with a moment of total immobility. It is not stillness, it is the total loss of movement, and it is a rare moment of hopeless loss in oeuvre. The gliding, throbbing, endlessly propulsive movement of life is the dominant motif that unifies Sorrentino’s diverse filmography. It is easily noted in the pounding mixture of sound and movement that rushes the audience off their feet, so to speak, in the truly ecstatic birthday party that stands as the first chapter. It is impossible to read a review of a Sorrentino film without it being mentioned that he has a hell of a way with cinematic movement. But this movement is not only for the eye; his characters are constantly engaged in a desire or failure to move forward. Through his engagement with their quests, Sorrentino demonstrates himself as one of the great multimedia philosophers of 21st century life. Unlike many of his fellows, his films refuse the brick wall of nihilism, nimbling capering over or around them with a sense of hope, dignity and respect that electrifies. The Great Beauty is no exception.

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Jan 282014
 

Another year, another Paranormal Activity chapter! I can’t explain why this one isn’t called number 5 officially, though at time of this post, imdb lists Paranormal Activity 5 as being slated for release in October 2014. This installment absolutely loops in with the original films, and is a worthy addition to the franchise. My review after the jump.

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Jan 222014
 

The full programme for the 25th Alliance Française French Film Festival has been announced, with tickets going on sale from 31st January.

The 2014 Alliance Française French Film Festival will screen across seven cities throughout March and April, launching in Sydney on 4 April. The festival will this year feature an exciting, adventurous and romantic line-up of 46 feature films and documentaries. To mark the ‘silver’ anniversary of the festival, Australian entertainer, Julia Zemiro will be coming onboard as the Festival’s inaugural Patron.

A slate of French-themed special events, international guests and Première screenings will dominate Palace Cinemas for a glorious two-month period and will include a tribute to François Truffaut, the master of French New Wave Cinema and a Closing Night that will honour the comic genius of Jacques Tati. The Finishers, a poignant drama with characters inspired by a true story, will take centre stage on Opening Night in each city. Directed by Nils Tavernier and starring Jacques Gamblin and Alexandra Lamy, The Finishers follows the journey of an embittered, former Ironman champion, and his disabled son who join forces to compete in a triathlon. Other highlights of the 2014 festival include: Michael Kohlhaas, Möbius, Camille Claudel 1915, Folies Bergère and Mademoiselle C.

 

Festival Dates & Locations

SYDNEY: 4 – 23 March Palace Norton Street, Palace Verona, Chauvel Cinema & Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace
MELBOURNE: 5 – 23 March Palace Balwyn, Palace Brighton Bay, Palace Cinema, Como, Palace Westgarth & Kino Cinemas
CANBERRA: 6 – 25 March Palace Electric Cinema
BRISBANE: 6 – 25 March Palace Barracks & Palace Centro
PERTH: 18 March – 6 April Cinema Paradiso, Luna on SX & Windsor Cinema
ADELAIDE: 20 March – 8 April Palace Nova Eastend
BYRON BAY: 24 – 28 April Palace Byron Bay

 

For more information about the festival & tickets, please visit the official website at:
http://www.affrenchfilmfestival.org/

Jan 202014
 

The SAG and PGA award winners have been announced, tightening up the race for the Oscars.

First the SAGs – with Jared Leto, Matthew McConaghey and Cate Blanchett  repeating their Golden Globe wins, these three are the clear favourites in their respective categories.  I think Leonardo DiCaprio could potentially upset McConaghey, but it’s hard to see either Leto or Blanchett not taking hold the coveted Oscar statues.

Lupta Nyong’o won outstanding female actor in a supporting role for her powerful performance in 12 Years A Slave. It’s going to be a tough to call between Jennifer Lawrence (for American Hustle  -she won the Globe) and Nyong’o in the supporting female actor race at the Oscars. Oscar-winner Lawrence is much-loved and has the much-admired David O. Russell behind her; but I feel that this category belongs to Nyong’o. Her performance was just so incredibly commanding – even more so when you consider this is her first major role acting role.

The PGAs surprised everyone (and made it harder to pick a clear best picture favourite) by awarding the top prize to two films (a tie), for the first time in the guild’s 25 year history. 12 Years A Slave and Gravity were jointly awarded The Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures. This award often gives the clearest indicator of the front-runner for the best picture Oscar…not this year!

The PGA for outstanding producer of a documentary was awarded to the Wikileaks doco, We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks which didn’t even make the short-list of 15 documentaries for the Oscar nomination. Frozen picked up best producer of an animated film, cementing its place as the front-runner for best animated Oscar.

While it’s not eligible for any Oscars, it was nice to see Behind the Candelabra pick up two wins from the guild awards – Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries (Michael Douglas) and The David L. Wolper Award for Outstanding Producer of Long-Form Television.

With only the WGA, DGA and BAFTA awards left (from the big awards), the Oscar race is certainly starting to have very clear favourites in some categories, while in others it is wide open.

Oh I do love award season!

The full list of SAG and PGA award winners (film/miniseries & TV Movie categories) are after the jump.

 

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Jan 172014
 

The 86th Academy Award nominations were announced in Beverly Hills today, with American Hustle and Gravity leading the pack with 10 nominations each. Close behind is 12 Years a Slave (9), Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club & Nebraska (6) and Her & The Wolf of Wall Street (5).

Apart from the fact I think American Hustle is a messy, mediocre film, I have to say that I don’t have too many issues with this year’s Oscar noms. I don’t think the Hustle cast should have received as many acting nominations as they did, particularly those for Adams and Lawrence. Philomena and star Judi Dench getting in ahead of family friendly Saving Mr. Banks and star Emma Thompson was a surprise, as I thought the conservative Oscar voters would love the feel-good industry film. However, Tom Hanks missing out for his incredible performance in Captain Phillips was perhaps the biggest acting omission. Bale was good, but come on Academy.

I am absolutely delighted to see my favourite film of 2013 Nebraska receive 6 nominations, including a somewhat surprise nomination for director Alexander Payne. Another pleasant surprise was the nomination of my favourite 2013 documentary, Dirty Wars. I have been harping on and on about this film since I saw it back in June and I honestly didn’t think enough people had seen it for it to be on the radar for a nomination. 20 Feet From Stardom receiving a nomination was also fantastic; although Stories We Tell missed out, which I think it surprising and sad for director Sarah Polley.

Prisoners receiving a cinematography nod for the endlessly talented Roger Deakins was a great inclusion. This film is gorgeously shot, particularly the night scenes which filled me with chills from head-to-toe. Deakins is so over-due for some Oscar love, he really is. 12 Years a Slave missing out in this category was quite surprising.

The Foreign language film selections were as predicted and I will be cheering for the magnificent The Hunt to take this one out. However, I’m yet to see Omar and The Square, which is something I will need to rectify before the awards are handed out on March 2nd.

I just want to leave you with one thought. The Academy Award nominated Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa people!

The full list of Academy Award nominations are after the jump.

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Jan 162014
 

From cheeky laugh-out-loud comedies, to insightful, honest takes on LGBTIQ life and culture, Queer Screen is proud to announce a diverse, quirky and exciting program for the 21st Mardi Gras Film Festival, this February from Thursday, February 13th to Sunday, February 23rd at Event Cinemas George Street, Sydney.

One of the most respected Queer Film Festivals internationally, and now in its 21st year, the 2014 program features no less than five world premieres, with 19 films also making their Australian première.

The 2014 program features one of the most fabulously diverse schedules in the festival’s 21 year history, covering a wide range of LGBTIQ issues. Out in the Line-Up, The Battle of the Sexes and The Rugby Player all explore gays in sports, while the hot topic of religion takes focus in Vicky – The Gay Gene Comes to Australia. Bullying takes a heartbreaking turn in Valentine Road, a documentary about Larry King, a 15-year-old boy who was killed by another boy at school for giving him a Valentine’s Day card. Larry’s murder made international headlines and brought issues of gender expression and sexual identity of teenagers to the global spotlight.

Films direct from this year’s Berlin Film Festival include 52 Tuesdays, Quick Change and Test, with 52 Tuesdays also playing at The Sundance Film Festival this month. 2014 will also be the first time that a kids film will be screened as part of the festival, with Disney classic Beauty and The Beast, presented by Rainbow Kids and babies. There will also be four short film categories as part of the festival, including My Queer Career, Australia’s richest prize for queer short films.
 
For information about all the fabulous films, events and tickets, please visit: http://queerscreen.org.au/