May 202015


Directed by Simon Curtis (My Week With Marilyn), from a debut screenplay from award-winning playwright Alexi Kaye Campbell, Woman in Gold is based on the extraordinary true story of Maria Altmann, an elderly Jewish refugee living in Los Angeles who fought the Austrian government to reclaim Gustav Klimt’s iconic painting of her aunt, ‘Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I’, stripped of all identity and re-named ‘Woman in Gold’, after it was confiscated from her relatives by the Nazis in Vienna just prior to World War II. Learn more about the story and why I recommend it this week after the jump.

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May 142015

Mad Max Fury Road

30 years after leaving Mad Max stranded in the mediocre wasteland of Beyond Thunderdome, director George Miller finally takes a break from dancing penguins and talking farm animals to reignite the franchise that launched him (and Mel Gibson) into the global zeitgeist. But has Mad Max: Fury Road come three decades too late, fated to be ignored by the Fast and the Furious loving crowd of 2015? My review after the jump.

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May 142015


In cinemas this week: Mad Max: Fury Road, When Marnie Was There and A Royal Night Out.

Mad Max: Fury RoadGeorge Miller gears up for another post-apocalyptic action adventure with Fury Road, the fourth outing in the Mad Max film series. Charlize Theron stars alongside Tom Hardy, with Zoe Kravitz, Adelaide Clemens, and Rosie Huntington Whiteley heading up the supporting cast. What can one say? I cannot wait to see this. While such hyperbolic praise can often be tiring, I have personally found the barrage of ‘masterpiece’ claims fascinating. Could it really be this good? I will find out on Saturday. It is sitting on a historic Rotten Tomatoes score and if it contains half as much of the energy and lunacy as I have been led to believe, I am going to be a very satisfied film nerd.

When Marnie Was There – Sent from her foster home in the city one summer to a sleepy town by the sea in Hokkaido, Anna dreams her days away among the marshes. She believes she’s outside the invisible magic circle to which most people belong – and shuts herself off from everyone around her, wearing her “ordinary face”. Anna never expected to meet a friend like Marnie, who does not judge Anna for being just what she is. But no sooner has Anna learned the loveliness of friendship than she begins to wonder about her newfound friend. Based on the novel by Joan G. Robinson, When Marnie Was There is the newest film from Studio Ghibli, and the second feature film by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, the director of The Secret World of Arrietty. I have almost caught up with all of Studio Ghibli’s films. I expect I will see this eventually, but it might be on DVD.

A Royal Night Out – On V.E. Day in 1945, as peace extends across Europe, Princesses Elizabeth (Sarah Gadon) and Margaret (Bel Powley) are allowed out to join the celebrations. It is a night full of excitement, danger and the first flutters of romance.

Weekly Recommendation: Fury Road. Hell, if it is this good see it twice. 

May 132015


When I heard that novelist and screenwriter Alex Garland was adding director to his resume, I was in. Garland is a frequent collaborator with Danny Boyle – he wrote the screenplay for arguably two of Boyle’s best films in 28 Days Later and Sunshine and his novel The Beach was adapted into a film directed by Boyle. Ex Machina is a very assured debut work, and this is because he is working with his own ideas and he has learned how to express them cinematically having worked with great filmmakers like Boyle and Kenneth Lonergan (Never Let Me Go). Ex Machina is a twisty, engaging sci-fi thriller that ultimately falls short of the great genre works despite being a triple threat of inventive ideas, filmmaking craft and commendable performances.

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May 112015


Anna (voiced in the English-language version by Hailee Steinfeld) is pretty down on herself. We don’t really know why, but she wants to hide herself away from the world. Her worried foster-mother sends her to stay with relatives (the Oiwas) in rural Hokkaido, hoping it will somehow help. In the countryside Anna discovers a lot more than fresh air. When Marnie Was There is reviewed after the jump.

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May 102015

After playing at Sundance earlier in the year, Unexpected has been announced as part of the Sydney Film Festival programme.

The synopsis as per IMDB is as follows

An inner-city high school teacher discovers she is pregnant at the same time as one of her most promising students and the two develop an unlikely friendship while struggling to navigate their unexpected pregnancies.

I like the look of the trailer, but the film could be treading some well-worn ground with the roles of the characters. However, what excites me is that the film is broaching the topic of working mother’s and the struggle to balance work and life. It’s something most women deal with but it’s not something talked about very often in film. It also touches on having an identity that is more that being a mother, something I know that some women struggle with.

The film is written and directed by Kris Swanberg (Joe Swanberg his her husband) and co-written by Megan Mercier. It stars Cobie Smulders, Anders Holm, Gail Bean and Elizabeth McGovern.

May 062015


The Sydney Film Festival have released the programme for the 62nd edition of the festival, with 251 films screening from 68 different countries.

The 2015 Festival reflects a strong year for Australian cinema, leading with the World Premieres of Ruben Guthrie, Brendan Cowell’s adaptation of his hit; and Neil Armfield’s Holding the Man, staring Ryan Corr, Anthony LaPaglia, Guy Pearce, and Sarah Snook.

Of the 12 titles in the internationally recognised SFF Official Competition – this year worth $62,000, three are Australian, while three are directed by women. Sherpa – the only documentary in the Official Competition is directed by Australian director Jennifer Peedom. It chronicles the uneasy relationship between Sherpa labourers and foreign mountain climbers on Mount Everest.
Other official competition titles include: Sundance hit, Me Earl and the Dying girl; Tehran Taxi (Winner of the Golden Bear at the Berlinale), the third film made in secret from the great Iranian filmmaker and dissident Jafar Panahi since he was banned from filmmaking; and Victoria, a spectacular one-shot film detailing a Berlin bank robbery and the aftermath created by German director Sebastian Schipper.

Direct from Cannes @ SFF – Japanese director Hirozaku Kore-ada’s Our Little Sister screens in Cannes’ Official Selection. Both Arabian Nights, director Miguel Gomes’ epic follow-up to Tabu, and American indie comedy Dope screen in Directors’ Fortnight. Amy, Asif Kapadia’s (Senna) documentary about Amy Winehouse, will have a midnight screening at Cannes; and Sembene!, a documentary about the great African filmmaker, screens in Cannes Classics.

The festival sections include:
Freak Me Out! – the Festival’s horror, cult, macabre and extreme arthouse film programme.
Sounds on Screen – illuminating stories from around the world about the creators and creation of music.
Focus on South Africa – illuminating stories from around the world about the creators present a snapshot of South Africa’s most vibrant film offerings.
International Documentaries – today’s documentary makers tackle the controversial and traditional with verve, respect and expertise.

Not sure where to start? We offer 10 suggestions after the jump.

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