In Cinemas 15 Oct 2015

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Oct 142015
 

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In cinemas this week: Crimson Peak, The Walk, Legend and Unindian. 

Crimson Peak – When her heart is stolen by a seductive stranger, a young woman is swept away to a house atop a mountain of blood-red clay: a place filled with secrets that will haunt her forever. Between desire and darkness, between mystery and madness, lies the truth behind Crimson Peak. From the imagination of director Guillermo del Toro (Cronos, Pan’s Labyrinth) comes a supernatural mystery starring Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska and Charlie Hunnam. This looks spectacular; hopefully a return to the Gothic masterpieces aforementioned that launched and established Del Toror’s career. Looks like a blend of Nosferatu, Suspiria and a bunch of other creepy, wicked things.

The WalkThe true story of a young dreamer, Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), and a band of unlikely recruits who together achieve the impossible: an illegal wire walk in the immense void between the World Trade Center towers. With little more than nerve and blind ambition, Petit and his ragtag crew overcome daunting physical obstacles, betrayals, countless close calls and overwhelming odds to beat the system and execute their mad plan. Veteran director Robert Zemeckis tackles the incredible story documented in the unforgettable Man on Wire, and I believe makes the most of the 3D technology at his disposal. If pushed, I would see it, but I don’t think I can stand Levitt’s ‘exaggerated’ accent.

Legend – From Academy Award-winner Brian Helgeland comes the true story of the rise and fall of London’s most notorious gangsters, Reggie and Ron Kray, both portrayed by Tom Hardy in an incredible performance. Legend is a classic crime thriller taking us into the secret history of the 1960s and the extraordinary events that secured the infamy of the Kray TwinsDouble the Hardy will be fun, but I’m not sure I need another gangster biopic right now.

Weekly Recommendation – It is a star-studded week, but we’re most excited for Crimson Peak.

Podcast: THE MARTIAN (The Matineecast Episode 144)

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Oct 132015
 

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For some reason Ryan McNeil decided it was a good idea to invite me onto the Matineecast for a 3rd appearance. Who am I to say no? It’s both fun, and an honour to be a guest on a show that I regularly enjoy listening to.

This episode we talked about Rodley Scott’s The Martian, one of my favourite films of the year thus far. We also swayed over briefly to the otherside and chatted about Solaris (well Ryan talked, and I kinda fumbled my words and tried to make intelligent sounds) and All Is Lost.

You can listen to the full episode here.

Bridge of Spies

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Oct 132015
 

Brooklyn lawyer James Donovan (Tom Hanks) meets with his client Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance), a Soviet agent arrested in the U.S. in DreamWorks Pictures/Fox 2000 PIctures' dramatic thriller BRIDGE OF SPIES, directed by Steven Spielberg.

A new film from Steven Spielberg is here, surprisingly without the usual buzz. While his most recent films Lincoln and War Horse were long tipped to feature in the Oscar nominees, and released for Christmas or in January, Bridge of Spies has been smoothly unveiled without fuss in October. That’s not to say that it won’t end up being a player again this year, but it is refreshing to just watch the film without those added expectations.

What is striking throughout The Bridge of Spies is the confidence in the craftsmanship – the polished competency present in every frame. The veteran Spielberg, directing his 29th feature film across five decades, is a master of the cinematic medium. One can’t deny that this is a maturely constructed and intelligently conceived film. Though features like Schindler’s List, Minority Report and Munich suggest otherwise, Spielberg’s films often adhere to conventions and stereotype and serve as widely consumable crowd-pleasers. Bridge of Spies, a true-life Cold War historical drama of shady allegiance and daring espionage, is one such film. It tells a compelling American story starring one of American’s heroes of the screen, Mr. Tom Hanks.

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Trailer: The Lobster [Oct 22]

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Oct 092015
 

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Winner of this year’s Cannes Jury Prize, the new film and English-language debut from the idiosyncratic mind of Yorgos Lanthimos (Alps, Dogtooth) is a deadpan absurdist satire of modern romance that could only have come from the Greek auteur.

In the near future, single citizens are sent to a hotel where they have 45 days to pair off with a mate – or be turned into the animal of their choosing and hunted in the woods. Reviews suggest thatThe Lobster is fiercely, unmistakably Lanthimos: surreal, grimly funny and strangely moving.

The Lobster features an all-star cast including Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Lea Seyoux and John C. Reilly, and comes to limited Australian cinemas from October 22. Check out the trailer below:

NSW – Dendy Newtown, Palace Verona

VIC – Cinema Nova, Palace Brighton Bay

ACT – Palace Electric

QLD – Palace Centro

WA – Luna Leederville

TAS – Hobart State Cinema

SA – Palace Nova East End (From October 29 following Adelaide Film Festival screening)

Monthly Round-up: September 2015 [Sam]

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Oct 072015
 

TheMartian

September was not the Martian wasteland at the cinema that the photo above might suggest. In fact, September saw me add three films to my favourite of the year list. Aside from these, there were a couple of well executed genre pieces, some underground film festival weirdness, rewarding rewatches, and a film so bad the director refuses to put his name to it. My round-up of the 24 films I viewed in September is after the jump.

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Jewish International Film Festival 2015

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Oct 062015
 

Son of Saul 1A

The Jewish International Film Festival is back for another year, with an impressive line-up of 60 feature films and documentaries. The festival will screen its full programme in Sydney and Melbourne, with a choice selection of titles playing Perth, Brisbane and Auckland.

Kicking of the festival in all locations is SON OF SAUL, the astonishing début from director László Nemes which took home 4 awards at the Cannes Film Festival, including the Grand Prix Prize (2nd prize). The film follows a father’s quest for moral redemption as he tries to salvage the body of a boy whom he believes to be his son, amidst the horrors of 1944 Auschwitz. Sure to be a challenging, but a rewarding watch.

Closing out the festival is SABENA HIJACKING – MY VERSION, a compelling docu-drama that revisits the 1972 hijacking of Belgian’s Sabena Flight 571 by four armed members of the Palestinian Black September terrorist organisation.

Other highlights include
A TALE OF LOVE AND DARKNESS – Natalie Portman’s directorial début, in which she also stars as Fania, a Holocaust survivor (and mother of Amos Oz, one of Israel’s best-known writers) who struggles with the horrors of the past, whilst facing the challenges of the present. Based on Oz’s best-selling memoir.

BY SIDNEY LUMET – In a never-before-seen interview recorded a few years before his death, legendary filmmaker Sidney Lumet guides us through his life and work – from his early years on the Yiddish stage to directing of some of cinema’s most enduring classics, including 12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico and Network.

FELIX AND MEIRA – Meira is a Hasidic wife and mother consumed by the strict rules of her society. Felix is an eccentric French-Canadian man mourning his wealthy father. When the two meet in a bakery, an unexpected friendship is born. It soon blossoms into something more as they open one another’s eyes to the possibilities that lie beyond their worlds. This film is Canada’s nominee for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2016 Academy Awards.

THE VOICE OF PEACE – A documentary about a pirate radio station based on
a ship in international waters off the coast of Tel Aviv which broadcast messages of peace and love, as well as great music, to millions across the Middle East and Europe. Fighter pilot turned political activist Abie Nathan was determined in his mission to bring Israelis and Arabs together in peace, and soon counted Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Yoko Ono,Johnny Mathis and The Carpenters among his supporters.

Festival dates & locations

SYDNEY: 28 October – 18 November, Event Cinemas, Bondi Junction
MELBOURNE: 4 – 29 November, Classic Cinemas, Elsternwick
PERTH: 31 October, 1 & 8 November, Event Cinemas, Morley
NEW ZEALAND: 15 & 22 November, Academy Cinemas, Auckland
BRISBANE: 21, 22 & 29 November, New Farm Cinemas

To view the full programme and ticket information, visit the official JIFF Website at: www.jiff.com.au

In Cinemas 8 Oct 2015

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Oct 062015
 

black-mass

In cinemas this week: Black Mass, Learning to Drive and Miss You Already. 

Black Mass – In 1970s South Boston, FBI Agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) persuades Irish mobster James “Whitey” Bulger (Johnny Depp) to collaborate with the FBI and eliminate a common enemy: the Italian mob. The drama tells the story of this unholy alliance, which spiraled out of control, allowing Whitey to evade law enforcement, consolidate power, and become one of the most ruthless and powerful gangsters in Boston history. Scott Cooper has directed two underrated films before this – Crazy Heart and Out of the Furnace – so I am interested in this for his involvement. The supporting cast is very strong, too.

Miss You Already – They say opposites attract. Milly (Toni Collette) is the woman who has everything: a successful career; a rock-star husband and two beautiful children. Her best friend is Jess (Drew Barrymore), she works in a community garden; lives in a boathouse with her boyfriend Jago and desperately wants a baby. Friends since childhood Jess and Milly can’t remember a time they didn’t share everything – secrets, clothes, even boyfriends, their differences are the glue that binds them together. That is until Milly is hit with the life changing news that she has breast cancer and needs Jess’s support more than ever. As Jess tries to balance her own life as well as being there for Milly it is only a matter of time before the pressure on their bond takes its toll. 

Learning to Drive – Isabel Coixet’s slice-of-life comedy/drama Learning to Drive stars Patricia Clarkson as Wendy, a middle-ages book critic who is shattered when her husband Ted (Jake Weber) leaves her. In order to visit her daughter (Grace Gummer), who lives upstate, Wendy begins taking driving lessons from Darwan (Ben Kingsley) an American citizen originally from India who makes a living as a cabbie and giving driving lessons. The two strike-up a friendship that helps her learn to take control of her life, and him adjust to his new life after an arranged marriage. 

Weekly Recommendation: Not a particularly interesting week, but I am committed to seeing Black Mass. It looks to be the best of an unusually thin lineup. I still have a few others I would like to catch up with; notably Cut Snake and The Visit, and if you haven’t yet seen Sicario or The Martian make them your priority. 

Pan

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Oct 052015
 

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This prequel/origin story inspired by the beloved characters created by J.M Barrie and directed with the predicted visual flair by Joe Wright (Atonement, Hanna) is a completely batty and rather fun holiday fantasy adventure with enough pure magic buried beneath its stock central arc, dark themes, and questionable casting to remain immersive. I am not sure what the youngsters will make of all this often-hyperactive, high-flying pirates vs. fairies prophet-fulfilling escapade, but it is certainly an unusual and transportive journey. Often catching me unawares with its obscure pop references – Hugh Jackman’s scene-stealing Blackbeard is introduced with a ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ mass chant (?) – this gleefully derivative venture presents a version of how a young orphan discovered his true destiny in Neverland and became the hero forever known as Peter Pan.

Living a bleak existence at a London orphanage, the rebellious and mischievous 12-year-old Peter (Levi Miller) finds himself whisked away by pirates to the fantastical world of Neverland, where he is put to work as a miner alongside rigged but earnest long-time resident James Hook (Garrett Hedlund). When he eludes punishment via unexpected abilities, he learns that he might he might possess the key to overthrowing the Pirate regime led by Blackbeard and the whereabouts of his mother. Peter, Hook and warrior princess Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara) band together to save Neverland from the ruthless reign. 

Pan is visually interesting – the steam-punk inspired design of the various locations, spectacular set pieces and extravagant costumes are full of pleasures – and driven by an exceptional score from John Powell (How to Train Your Dragon). It also features a number of wild over-the-top performances that fit snugly into the film’s clowning-around sort of tone. Hedlund is especially ridiculous, and clearly not suited to the direction. Jackman appears to have a ball, and Rooney Mara lends her class to an underdeveloped character.

Much to my surprise I was on board with Pan throughout, even through the patches of sloppy visual effects. Comparisons to the Wachowski’s narratively unwieldy space-opera Jupiter Ascending from earlier in the year are understandable. I found this much more coherent though, and by taking the chances that it does, distinguished.

3.5/5

By Andrew Buckle

The Facts

Director: Joe Wright
Writer(s): Jason Fuchs (screenplay)
Starring: Levi Miller, Hugh Jackman, Garret Hedlund, Rooney Mara
Runtime: 111 minutes
Release date(s): Australia and New Zealand: September 24, 2015