Apr 172015
 

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There have been a wave of announcements and reveals in the last 24 hours – a new Star Wars teaser, news that Ryan Gosling is in negotiations to star in the Blade Runner sequel – but the most exciting news for us is the announcement of the roster for the 68th Cannes Film Festival, which is set to run May 13-24.

This year’s intriguing line-up has an international selection of Cannes veterans and some former prize winners in Paolo Sorrentino (Youth), Jacques Audiard (Dheepan), Matteo Garrone (The Tale of Tales), Hou Hsiao Hsien (The Assassin), Jia Zhang-Ke (Mountains May Depart), Hirokazu Kore-Eda (Our Little Sister), Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster) and Nanni Moretti (Mia Madre) as well as exciting new films from Denis Villeneuve (Sicario), Todd Haynes (Carol), Gus Van Sant (The Sea of Trees), Justin Kurzel (Macbeth) and Joachim Trier (Louder than Bombs).

Our most anticipated are the Sorrentino (This Must Be The Place and Oscar winner The Great Beauty), who is teaming up with Michael Caine and Jane Fonda for Youth, Villeneuve (Incendies, Prisoners, Enemy), working here with Emily Blunt and Josh Brolin), Haynes (Far From Heaven, I’m Not There), who has a likely-Oscar contender in Carol, starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, Trier, whose last film was the unforgettable Oslo, August 31, and Kore-Eda (Like Father, Like Son and I Wish), whose films are a joy so rare to find. 

Making out of competition appearances are Woody Allen with his new film Irrational Man, Pete Docter with Pixar’s Inside Out, and George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road. Asif Kapadia, the director of Senna, brings his documentary about Amy Winehouse to the Midnight section, while Natalie Portman’s directorial debut will feature in the Special Screening section.

The Coen Bros are the presidents of the Jury that will preside over the Official Competition. There has been no closing film announced yet, but La Tete Haute by Emmanuelle Bercot will open the festival.

Check out the full line-ups, including the Un Certain Regard, after the jump: Continue reading »

Apr 162015
 

RG

Australian film Ruben Guthrie will have its world première as the opening night film of the 62nd Sydney Film Festival on June 3rd. The film is the directorial début of award-winning playwright, screenwriter and actor Brendan Cowell, who adapted it from his own critically acclaimed theatre production. The film, produced by Kath Shelper, was shot on location all over Sydney. The cast includes: Patrick Brammall, Alex Dimitriades, Abbey Lee, Harriet Dyer, Jeremy Sims, Brenton Thwaites, Aaron Bertram, Robyn Nevin and Jack Thompson.

The synopsis of the film is as follows:

Life is good for ad man Ruben Guthrie – he leads a party boy lifestyle, has a model fiancée and lives in a house on the water. He’s at the top of his game, until some drunken skylarking lands Ruben at the bottom of his infinity pool, lucky to be alive. His mum hits the panic button, and then his fiancée leaves him, but not before issuing him one final challenge: If Ruben can do one year without a drink, she’ll give him another chance…
Ruben Guthrie is the story of one man not only battling the bottle, but the city that won’t let him put it down.

Tickets will go on sale for the film and opening night party at 9am Thursday 16 April via sff.org.au

The full festival line-up will be announced next month.

Apr 152015
 

it follows

In cinemas this week: It Follows, While We’re Young, The Age of Adaline, The Gunman and Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2.

It Follows tells the story of pretty 19-year-old Jay (Maika Monroe), who finds herself plagued by strange visions and a pursuing supernatural force after a seemingly innocent sexual confrontation. She learns from her boyfriend, the transmitter, that this mysterious entity will kill her if it catches her, unless she can pass it on to someone else before that happens. If she succeeds and that person is killed, she will become the target again. Jay enlists her sister and friends to help her escape the ever-present horror and find a way to rid herself from it forever. It is the indie hit of 2015 in the US, expanding to 1000+ screens after a successful limited release. It is an intelligent, accomplished feat of claustrophobic horror filmmaking with the capacity to transcend the cinema environment, get under a viewer’s skin and continue to terrify long after the credits. Has a terrific giallo-throwback score too. Full review at the link.

While We’re Young – Noah Boaumbach’s new comedy stars Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts as Josh and Cornelia, a childless New York married couple in their mid-forties. As their other friends all start having children, the couple gravitates toward a young hipster couple named Jamie (Adam Driver) and Darby (Amanda Seyfried). He’s an aspiring documentary filmmaker, a vocation Josh already has. Soon the older couple begins enjoying the energy they feel hanging out with the younger generation, but eventually Josh begins to suspect his new best friend might not be as straightforward and trustworthy as he thought. Baumbach (Greenberg, Frances Ha) still hasn’t made a bad film, and Stiller sure is at his best in this partnership. This is such a funny and relatable study of the differences between Gen X and Y – and I found myself uncomfortably familiar with both couples.

The Age of Adaline – After miraculously remaining 29 years old for almost eight decades, Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively) has lived a solitary existence, never allowing herself to get close to anyone who might reveal her secret. But a chance encounter with charismatic philanthropist Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman) reignites her passion for life and romance. When a weekend with his parents (Harrison Ford and Kathy Baker) threatens to uncover the truth, Adaline makes a decision that will change her life forever. It is directed by Lee Toland Krieger, who directed the excellent Celeste and Jesse Forever. Sam, in her review, suggests to “embrace the silliness and the romance of the premise, and this film is surprisingly entertaining.”

The Gunman – A sniper on a mercenary assassination team, kills the minister of mines of the Congo. Terrier’s successful kill shot forces him into hiding. Returning to the Congo years later, he becomes the target of a hit squad himself. Great cast – Sean Penn, Idris Elba and Javier Bardem – but this is reportedly very bad. Directed by Pierre Morel (Taken) this looks out of place in an already-stacked aging action hero genre.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 – After six years of keeping our malls safe, Paul Blart has earned a well-deserved vacation. He heads to Vegas with his teenage daughter before she heads off to college. But safety never takes a holiday and when duty calls, Blart answers. How many times can we watch Kevin James fall over?

Weekly Recommendation: It Follows and While We’re Young are two of our favourites of the year so far.

Apr 132015
 

f.BlackSea

Black Sea is a claustrophobic heist thriller directed by Kevin McDonald (director of Touching the Void, The Last King of Scotland and How I Live Now) from an original screenplay by Dennis Kelly, and featuring an all-star British and Russian cast. Set almost predominantly on board a submarine this is a film about bitter and desperate men placed in physically and mentally stressful situations. The submarine film is a genre all of its own, and this will absolutely satisfy fans. It is very intense, and the wringing of suspense is outstanding. There are several sequences, and I won’t discuss them here, with the capacity to give heart palpitations.

Continue reading »

Apr 122015
 

adaline

Imagine a life where you don’t age, living but never getting any older. You stay young and healthy, while those around you grow old and die. Decades pass, the world changes and yet on the outside, you remain the same. Is this a life you would want to live? Is it a gift, or is it a heavy burden to carry? The Age of Adaline is reviewed after the jump.

Continue reading »

Apr 102015
 

It-Follows-1

It Follows has been at the centre of discussion since the Cannes Film Festival last year. David Robert Mitchell’s (Myth of the American Sleepover) film screened at the Melbourne International Film Festival last July and then at the Toronto International Film Festival in September to positive buzz and critical acclaim. It’s expansion from very limited screens to 1,000+ in the US has made it the independent hit of 2015 to date, and for good reason. It is an intelligent, accomplished feat of claustrophobic horror filmmaking with the capacity to transcend the cinema environment, get under a viewer’s skin and continue to terrify long after the credits.

Continue reading »

Apr 082015
 

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In cinemas this week – Mommy, The Salt of the Earth, Black Sea, X+Y and The Longest Ride. 

Mommy – A feisty widowed single mom finds herself burdened with the full-time custody of her unpredictable 15-year-old ADHD son. As they struggle to make ends meet, Kyla, the peculiar new neighbor across the street, offers her help. Together, they find a new sense of balance, and hope is regained. The BEST film yet from Quebecois wonder kid Xavier Dolan (Laurence Anyways and Tom at the Farm – #12 film of 2014), this is a risky film of technical audacity, enormous emotional resonance, and outstanding acting. This was my #2 film of 2014.

The Salt of the Earth For the last 40 years, the photographer Sebastião Salgado has been travelling through the continents, in the footsteps of an ever-changing humanity. He has witnessed some of the major events of our recent history; international conflicts, starvation and exodus. He is now embarking on the discovery of pristine territories, of wild fauna and flora, and of grandiose landscapes as part of a huge photographic project, which is a tribute to the planet’s beauty. Sebastião Salgado’s life and work are revealed to us by his son, Juliano, who went with him during his last travels, and by Wim Wenders, himself a photographer. I was floored by this film – review at the link.

Black Sea – A suspenseful adventure thriller directed by Academy Award winner Kevin Macdonald, centering on a rogue submarine captain (two-time Academy Award nominee Jude Law) who pulls together a misfit crew to go after a sunken treasure rumored to be lost in the depths of the Black Sea. As greed and desperation take control onboard their claustrophobic vessel, the increasing uncertainty of the mission causes the men to turn on each other to fight for their own survival. I like Kevin Macdonald’s films and this looks Sunshine in a submarine, which makes it immediately appealing.

X+Y – This heart-warming and life-affirming story follows the unconventional and hilarious relationship between student and teacher – whose roles are often reversed – and the unfathomable experience of first love – even when you don’t understand what love is. This screened at TIFF immediately after one of the films I watched, and while sheltering from a storm I spotted Asa Butterfield on the red carpet. I believe this is a really heartwarming story. Part of my weekend viewing plan.

The Longest Ride – Based on the bestselling novel by master storyteller Nicholas Sparks, The Longest Ride centers on the star-crossed love affair between Luke, a former champion bull rider looking to make a comeback, and Sophia, a college student who is about to embark upon her dream job in New York City’s art world. As conflicting paths and ideals test their relationship, Sophia and Luke make an unexpected and feateful connection with Ira, whose memories of his own decades-long romance with his beloved wife deeply inspire the young couple. Spanning generations and two intertwining love stories, The Longest Ride explores the challenges and infinite rewards of enduring love. Another one?

Weekly Recommendation: Potentially one of the strongest cinema weeks of the year – even with the latest Nicholas Sparks adaptation – if Black Sea and X+Y live up to their…potential. Mommy is amazing. 5 stars. I still find it hard to come up with the words to describe that experience at Sydney Film Festival last year.  Salt of the Earth, nominated for Best Documentary at the Oscars, has a very limited release but well worth seeking out a session. 

Apr 062015
 

wildtales

The Spanish Film Festival returns to Australian screens during April and May, with a selection of 38 Spanish language films.

The festival opens with Spanish blockbuster Spanish Affair, a comedic tale mischievously pokes fun at cultural differences as it tracks a young southerner who tenaciously seeks to win the heart of a Basque girl. The festival will close with Damián Szifrón’s Oscar-nominated Wild Tales, a revenge film composed of six rebellious vignettes, which include a deadly case of road rage and a wedding gone very wrong.

Some of the highlights from the programme include:

Marshland – the period police drama was the recipient of 10 Goya Awards including Best Film, Best Director and Best Actor. Set in 1980 in the repressed southern marshland town of Villafranco del Guadalquivir, an eerie place where everyone holds their cards close to their chest.

The Unexpected Life – some of Spain’s finest actors Javier Cámara (Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed, Talk To Her) and Raul Arévalo (Family United, Ghost Graduation) take to the bustling streets of Manhattan as they learn what it means to live and love as a Spaniard in New York City.

They Are All Dead Elena Anaya (The Skin I Live In) plays Lupe, an agoraphobic Spanish/Mexican former poprocker who is trapped by memories of her youth, and especially by the death of her brother Diego. She’s also having problems connecting with her son. When her mother (Angélica Aragón) discovers she is dying, she is determined to set things to right and On the Day of the Dead, she asks for her departed son Diego’s help…and he responds.
What: The 2015 Spanish Film Festival
When: April-May
Where: Palace cinemas in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Canberra, Brisbane & Adelaide
Tickets & full programme: http://www.spanishfilmfestival.com/