Mar 312016
 

sherpa-film

March was a pretty average month overall on the film front, but damn there was some fine TV. From the 28 films I watched, I would classify quite a few as ‘meh’ or just okay. Thankfully films like Sherpa, Zootopia, and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure ensured there was still some good viewing had. Film highlights included the three aforementioned films, along with thrilling bunker adventure and a couple of princesses out of the town. On the TV front, two BBC miniseries and the 5th season of an American comedy series topped. Check out my March monthly round-up after the jump.

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Mar 312016
 

scorses

Sydney Film Festival, Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) and the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA) announce that David Stratton will present a program of 10 essential films directed by Martin Scorsese. 

The curated films will screen as the retrospective program during the 63rd Sydney Film Festival (8-19 June) and in Melbourne at ACMI (27 May-12 June) and at the NFSA in Canberra (123 July) after Sydney Film Festival’s screenings.

The retrospective program of 10 specially imported 35mm prints, curated by David Stratton, entitled Essential Scorsese: Selected by David Stratton, features works by one of the most influential directors of our time.

David Stratton says: “Scorsese talks in a rapid-fire style as though he doesn’t have enough time to describe everything he knows. He’s like a character in a 1930s movie. His films are passionate too. His best are explosive in their impact, crammed with information and detail. On the one hand, his Catholic upbringing leads him to tackle religious subjects (The Last Temptation of Christ, Kundun) while the Saturday matinee kid in him revels in the trashy gore of his gangster films.”

The 10 films in the program are:

Mean Streets (1973)
Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974)
Taxi Driver (1976)
New York, New York (1977)
Raging Bull (1980)
The King Of Comedy (1982)
Goodfellas (1990)
The Age of Innocence (1993)
Casino (1995)
The Aviator (2004)
Tickets for Sydney Film Festival screenings are now on sale – head over to the festival website for more information.

 Posted by at 07:37
Mar 312016
 

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This week, off the back of a blockbuster week including Batman v. Superman and My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, we have a quiet selection of releases – Sherpa and Labyrinth of Lies.

Sherpa – A brawl on Everest? Director Jennifer Peedom set out to uncover tension in the 2014 Everest climbing season from the Sherpas’ point of view and instead captured a tragedy when an avalanche struck, killing 16 Sherpas. Sherpa tells the story of how the Sherpas united after the tragedy in the face of fierce opposition, to reclaim the mountain they call Chomolungma. This is an admirably balanced film that offers a provocative document of a high-altitude worker’s rights movement which eventually led to a drastic reappraisal of the role of the Sherpas, and how, through grief and unity, this spiritual people managed to reclaim professional respect. It is breathtaking, and you can find further thoughts at the link.

Labyrinth of Lies – Upon learning that many former Nazis returned to their pre-war lives with no penalty, an ambitious German prosecutor (Alexander Fehling) vows to bring them to justice.

Weekly Recommendation – While Labyrinth sounds fascinating Sherpa is the one you want to make the time to see in the cinema. We still haven’t caught up with the well-reviewed Kung-Fu Panda 3, so apart from that it will likely be a quiet weekend at the cinema. 

Mar 252016
 


 
Tickled is a documentary film I have been following since its early stages. I am a fan of David Farrier’s work and I supported the Kickstarter for the film. The updates to Kickstarter backers during the film’s production was like following a thriller via email – rather compelling stuff. The film screened at Sundance and received extremely positive reviews [check our Alex Billington’s great review here].

Synopsis:

New Zealand David Farrier journalist stumbles upon a mysterious tickling competition online. As he delves deeper he comes up against fierce resistance, but that doesn’t stop him getting to the bottom of a story stranger than fiction.

The film has US and NZ release dates, but an Australian release date is yet to be announced. If it doesn’t get a release beforehand, I wouldn’t be surprised if this popped up at the Sydney Film Festival. Either way, we’re eagerly anticipating the chance to see it! You can read more about the film over at the film’s website.

Mar 252016
 

Sherpa_Image_1-660x400

In 2013 a brawl between Sherpas and client climbers at the 21,000ft base camp of Mount Everest made news headlines. The Sherpas, an ethnic group of people living in the Himalayas, have been popularised as calm, cooperative and optimistic people who were always willing to assist foreign climbers achieve their dreams of reaching the Everest summit. But, something had made the Sherpa’s express an unusual emotion – anger. A serious verbal insult, in addition to the clearer realisation that their irreplaceable services were being exploited as the industry continues to boom, and the fact that their assignment of the highest proportion of risk was not being compensated. Add in their dismay at the escalating desecration of Everest’s sacred and natural wonders as a result of heavy expedition traffic, and this was enough to send a few over the edge when disrespected and provoked. Continue reading »

Mar 242016
 

Kung-Fu-Panda-3

In cinemas this week: Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, Kung-Fu Panda 3, Eye in the Sky and A Bigger Splash.

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of JusticeIt’s been nearly two years since Superman’s (Henry Cavill) colossal battle with Zod devastated the city of Metropolis. The loss of life and collateral damage left many feeling angry and helpless, including crime-fighting billionaire Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck). Convinced that Superman is now a threat to humanity, Batman embarks on a personal vendetta to end his reign on Earth, while the conniving Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) launches his own crusade against the Man of Steel. Rampant catastrophe. Fans of the inspiration comics will get their fill. Everyone else will be pummelled into a stupor and left shaking their heads as to what is going on.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 – Parenting and marriage is becoming tougher and tougher for Toula (Nia Vardalos) and her husband Ian. Not only has their relationship lost some of its spark, but they’re also dealing with a rebellious teenage daughter who clashes with Greek traditions. On top of that, Toula must contend with aging parents and the endless needs of cousins and friends. When a shocking family secret comes to light, the entire Portokalos clan makes plans to come together for an even bigger wedding than before. The first film was a mega hit. I didn’t get the appeal, and will be skipping this almost-certain inferior sequel. 

Kung-Fu Panda 3 – Living large and loving life, Po (Jack Black) realizes that he has a lot to learn if he’s going to fulfill the next challenge from his beloved instructor (Dustin Hoffman). After reuniting with his long-lost father (Bryan Cranston), Po must transition from student to teacher and train a group of fun-loving, clumsy pandas to become martial-arts fighters. Together, the kung-fu brethren unite to take on the evil Kai (J.K. Simmons), a supernatural warrior who becomes stronger with each battle. I seem to have rare appreciation of KFP2, but this has been a decent franchise to date. I’m intrigued to see where they take the story next.

Eye in the Sky – Complications arise when a lieutenant general (Alan Rickman) and a colonel (Helen Mirren) order a drone missile strike to take out a group of terrorists in Nairobi, Kenya. Aaron Paul and Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips) co-star and reviews have been very positive. Not all that interested initially, but one to catch up with on home release.

A Bigger Splash – The off-the-grid vacation of a famous rock star, Marianne Lane (Tilda Swinton), and her filmmaker boyfriend, Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts), is disrupted by the unexpected visit of Marianne’s old friend and music producer Harry Hawkes (Ralph Fiennes) and his salacious young daughter, Penelope (Dakota Johnson). Had a lot of promise, but didn’t live up to it despite an electrifying high-energy performance from Fiennes. Full thoughts at the link.

Weekly Recommendation – The two I have seen (Batman v. Superman and A Bigger Splash) I don’t care for. It is the Easter long weekend, people will see what they damn well please.

Mar 232016
 

batmanvsuperman

The hero of Metropolis vs the hero of Gotham. Are they really heroes or are they vigilantes who see themselves above any rule of law? In an epic showdown between two of the greatest superheroes, will there be any winners? Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is reviewed after the jump.

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Mar 182016
 

ralph-bigger-splash-xlarge

A Bigger Splash, the latest erotic-thriller from Italian filmmaker Luca Guadagnino, is an sexually-charged, sun-baked, stylistically jacked-up erotic thriller loosely based on 1969 film, ‘La Piscine’ starring Alain Delon. Working from a modest budget, a hot cast and the natural splendours of the remote, picturesque Italian island of Pantelleria, Guadagnino’s film is an unusual concoction of tones, textures and dynamics; beautiful people with years of privilege and success, painful pasts and restless passions. Continue reading »