Trailer: Top Five

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Oct 172014

Top Five was a big hit at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival and is one of those films that I am kicking myself for missing out on. Friends who have seen it have all said how smart, funny and fresh it is. It’s another film which is in some ways examining identity and the performer – something which I feel has been a very prominent theme in 2014 (Venus in Fur, Clouds of Sils Maria, Birdman are a few examples of others).

The official synopsis is as follows:
Written, directed by, and starring Chris Rock, “TOP FIVE” tells the story of New York City comedian-turned-film star Andre Allen, whose unexpected encounter with a journalist (Rosario Dawson) forces him to confront the comedy career—and the past—that he’s left behind.

The cast is absolutely packed with comedic talent including Chris Rock, Rosario Dawson, Kevin Hart, Tracy Morgan, and Cedric The Entertainer.

Top Five will be released in Australia on January 29.

British Film Festival 2014

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Oct 162014

The Imitation Game

The Emirates British Film Festival full 2014 program of 21 titles, including 13 Australian premieres and a retrospective has been launched and tickets are now on sale.

Testament of Youth based on the famous memoirs of Vera Brittain and starring Alicia Vikander (Anna Karenina) and Kit Harington (Game of Thrones) will open the festival nationally; and the Closing Night selection is The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing who cracked Nazi Germany’s Enigma code during World War 2. The Imitation Game is not released nationally in Australia until January, so this is a great opportunity to see the highly anticipated film early.

Other highlights include: Mr Turner – Timothy Spall  in his 2014 Cannes Film Festival-winning performance as the famed painter J.M.W Turner from writer-director Mike Leigh; Miss Julie – Jessica Chastain is Miss Julie in the latest adaptation of August Strindberg’s 1888 play, directed by Liv Ullmann; ’71 – in this critically well-received début feature from director Yann Demange, Jack O’Connell (Starred Up, Skins) leads a talented cast in a story of abandonment and conflict on the dangerous streets of Northern Ireland.

Festival dates & locations

MELBOURNE 5 – 26 Nov
SYDNEY 6 – 26 Nov
ADELAIDE 5 – 16 Nov
PERTH 5 – 16 Nov
CANBERRA 6 – 23 Nov
BRISBANE 6 – 16 Nov
BYRON 6 – 16 Nov

For the full programme and information about how to buy tickets, visit the official festival website

You can also follow the festival on Twitter 

Son of a Gun

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Oct 142014


When the realities of prison existence smack young offender JR in the face, he is relived when someone with a serious street cred steps in to help him out. He knows nothing in this life is free, but JR couldn’t even begin to imagine how much his safety will cost him. Son of a Gun is reviewed after the jump.

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The Judge

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Oct 112014


Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall star as father and son in the David Dobkin (Shanghai Nights, Wedding Crashers) directed family drama, The Judge. From a story and screenplay by Nick Schenk (co-written by Bill Dubuque) Downey Jr. is Hank Palmer, an arrogant big shot New York defence attorney who returns to his hometown of Carlinville, Indiana, for his mother’s funeral. While there he re-bonds with his brothers Glen (Vincent D’Onofrio) and Dale (Jeremy Strong), and an ex-flame Samantha (Vera Farmiga), but soon discovers that his estranged and seriously ill father Judge Joseph Palmer (Robert Duvall), is suspected of murder and soon to face trial. With Joseph initially unwilling to allow Hank to represent him, a firm motive and the inexplicable gaps in his testimony leave plenty for prosecutor Dwight Dickham (Billy Bob Thornton) to use to put him away. That is unless father and son can put aside their difference and mend decades of conflict.

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Windows on Europe Film Festival 2014

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Oct 092014

white god

The 9th Windows On Europe Film Festival will showcase 16 brilliant new films from the member states of the European Union at Dendy Opera Quays in Sydney, 17-23 November, and Dendy Canberra 20-24 November.

Presented by the European Delegation to Australia, supported by EU member states and programmed by non-profit company The Festivalists, many of these films are being shown in Australia for the very first time.

Fair Play, a film by Andrea Sedlackova, will open the festival in Sydney on 17 November. Set in the 1980s, the Czech drama charts one young woman’s efforts to train for the Olympics as a sprinter, as a way to escape from behind the Iron Curtain. The screening will mark the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, the non-violent movement that saw the end of communist rule in Czechoslovakia.

Other highlights of the festival include Cannes Un Certain Regard winner White God and gay drama Land of Storms from Hungary, In The Courtyard starring French screen legend Catherine Deneuve, Spanish relationship drama 10,000 Km, Berlin Film Festival winners Violet and Stations Of The Cross, and gritty Scandinavian coming-of-age dramas from Denmark (Northwest), Sweden (Sanctuary) and Finland (Concrete Night).

The documentary program also includes Cathedrals Of Culture, a series of 3D documentary portraits of iconic buildings by filmmakers such as Wim Wenders, Robert Redford, Michael Madsen and Michael Glawogger; Hubert Canaval’s snapshot of the global energy crisis Energized and Alex Fegan’s endearing portrait of traditional publicans, The Irish Pub.

Mathieu Ravier, the festival’s French-Australian programmer had this to say about this year’s program: “This is a fabulous festival from which to sample the rich culture of modern Europe. I invite you to enjoy the vibrancy and quality of European cinema, with stories that will move you and keep thinking long after the credits have rolled.”

Festival dates & locations: November 17-23 (Dendy Opera Quays Sydney), November 24-30 (Dendy Canberra)

For more information, visit & for tickets visit


By Andrew Buckle

Japanese Film Festival 2014

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Oct 072014


The Japanese Film Festival is back for 2014 with over 50 titles featuring in the varied programme.

JFF opens its 2014 program with the Australian Premiere of Lady Maiko, a musical comedy directed by Masayuki Suo (Sumo Do, Sumo Don’t; Shall We Dance?) based loosely on the Audrey Hepburn classic My Fair Lady.

Closing out the festival, Yuya Ishii, the director of last year’s award-winning opener The Great Passage, returns with his latest offering, The Vancouver Asahi, set pre-WWII when Japanese immigrants were migrating to Canada. Based on the true story of the Japanese-Canadian baseball team of the same name, this sporting tale of underdogs overcoming racial discrimination, shows that baseball and life are not about winning – it’s about how well you play the game.

Other festival highlights include:

The Light Only Shines There (Mipo O, 2014) – Japan’s entry for the foreign language Academy award, the film details the romance between an unemployed man and his friend’s sister.
Tokyo Tribe (Sion Sono, 2014) – the ultra-cool hip-hop musical Tokyo Tribe (pictured) takes you down to the underbelly of Tokyo for a surreal night of turf wars. JFF will also screen Sono’s Why Don’t You Play In Hell, a bizarre showcase of gangster violence taken to comic extremes.
The Snow White Murder Case (Yoshihiro Nakamura, 2014)- a compelling commentary on a media-obsessed world in an atypical who-dunnit mystery.

As well as new release films, the festival also runs an accomapnying programme of Japanese classic films, which include many must-see treasures. This year, JFF Classics 2014’s overarching theme pool the talents of critically acclaimed directors and actresses of the 1950s and 1960s. Mikio Naruse, Kon Ichikawa and Kenji Mizoguchi are amongst the current selection of internationally renowned directors, alongside leading actresses of the time, Hideko Takamine, Ayako Wakao and Machiko Kyo.

The Japanese Film Festival tours nationally October-December, as well as visiting Auckland during November. For information about dates for your city, tickets and the full programme, visit the official festival website.

Japanese Film Festival’s official channels

Facebook: japanesefilmfest
Twitter: @japanfilmfest / #JFF2014AU

Jewish International Film Festival 2014

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Oct 022014


The annual Jewish International Film Festival returns to Melbourne and Sydney – and, for the first time Perth, Gold Coast and New Zealand – with an incredibly rich global selection of 49 award-winning features, documentaries and shorts within 11 categories.

Gett, The Trial of Viviane Amsalem, will open JIFF in each city. This compelling French/German/Israeli co-production, which screened as part of Directors’ Fortnight at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, affords a rare insight into the rabbinical court and its treatment of women as we follow the five-year quest of Viviane Amsalem to obtain a ‘gett’ (Jewish divorce) amidst a process where tragedy and absurdity abound. Above and Beyond, a riveting documentary that encapsulates the indomitable Jewish spirit, will screen on Closing Night.

What lies between these two films is a selection of outstanding features and documentaries sourced from Israel, Germany, France, USA, the Philippines, Switzerland and Ireland that will enthrall, inform and captivate audiences from both within and beyond the Jewish community.

Highlights include:
THE GREEN PRINCE (Germany/Israel/UK/USA) D: Nadav Schirman
Category: Hamatzav (The Situation)
Winner of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award (World Cinema: Documentary) and Best Documentary at the 2014 Ophir Awards, this is a gripping account of terror and betrayal based on the best-selling book, Son of Hamas, a memoir by Mosab Hassan Yousef. Palestinian Yousef, is ready to fight Israel, but at 17, is arrested for smuggling guns. Interrogated by Israel’s security service, he is sent to prison, where he turns and, deeply ashamed, agrees to spy for Israel. But for his Shin Bet handler, there is no greater prize than operating the oldest son of a founding member of Hamas.

THE FAREWELL PARTY (Israel) Directors: Tal Granit and Sharon Maymon
Category: Triumph of the Spirit
Nominated in 14 categories at the 2014 Ophir Awards this off-beat comedy, which won the Venice Day’s People’s Choice Award at the 2014 Venice Film Festival, is a compassionate tale about life, death and friendship. Ezikiel and his friends at a Jerusalem retirement home build a euthanasia machine to help their terminally ill friend. When rumours of the machine begin to spread, more and more people ask for their help, and the group is faced with an emotional, ethical dilemma.

MY OLD LADY (France, USA) Director: Israel Horovtiz
CATEGORY: Meant to Be
An uplifting, superbly acted story about what life can do to you while you’re making other plans, and about making the most of the time we have. A down-and-out, harried New Yorker (Kevin Kline) travels to Paris to sell a valuable apartment he has inherited from his estranged father. Once there he finds the apartment inhabited by a refined older lady (Academy-Award winner Maggie Smith) and her daughter (Kristin Scott Thomas). She tells him that, legally, he cannot sell the apartment until she dies.

Festival dates & locations

SYDNEY: 29 October – 16 November Event Cinemas, Bondi Junction
MELBOURNE: 5 – 23 November Classic Cinemas, Elsternwick
GOLD COAST: 15, 16 & 23 November Event Cinemas, Robina
PERTH: 15, 16 & 23 November Event Cinemas, Innaloo
NEW ZEALAND: 16 & 23 November The Bridgeway, Auckland

Tickets are now on sale

Visit the official website at:
Follow the festival on Twiiter: @JewishIFF

Gone Girl

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Oct 012014

Gone Girl

You get a call from your neighbour that your cat has somehow got out. You come home, collect the cat and deposit it back in the house, however something isn’t right. The door is open, there’s a mess in the lounge and your wife is gone. Gone Girl is reviewed after the jump.

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