12 Films to Watch This Spring

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Sep 042016


With the Blockbuster season all-but over, typically the Australian Spring months offer up less anticipated, but usually more interesting films. Typically, they include a higher volume of smaller productions (no box-office giants to compete with), and higher-quality international films and documentaries. This year we are privileged to have new films from Paul Verhoeven, David Mackenzie, Amma Assante, Mel Gibson, Andrea Arnold and Denis Villeneuve, amongst others. We’ve picked 12 we’re particularly looking forward to seeing, check them out after the jump.

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12 Films to see at NZIFF 2016

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Jun 292016


As per usual, the New Zealand International Film Festival is absolutely packed with an amazing variety of fantastic films. I have been lucky enough to see a fair amount of the films showing, so I’ve gone through the programme and picked 12 films I think are worth adding to your festival schedule. Check them out after the jump.

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In Cinemas 9 & 16 June 2016

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Jun 082016


In cinemas June 9 – A Perfect Day, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, The Conjuring 2

In cinemas June 16 – Finding Dory, Warcraft: The Beginning, Me Before You, Miles Ahead, Downriver and Mr Right

A Perfect Day – The subject of this anti-war comedy/thriller – the bureaucracy-plagued international aid program in the Balkans during the Bosnian War – was compelling on its own. Assigned the task of removing a body from a well before it contaminates the village supply, a misfit troupe of aid workers attempt to procure some rope. When all sorts of obstacles impede that mission the series of misadventures are equally hilarious and nail-bitingly suspenseful. The performances (headlined by a superb Benicio Del Toro, and also including Tim Robbins and Olga Kurylenko), and the unusual soundtrack, are also terrific.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows – The turtles face a new challenge when Shredder escapes from custody and joins forces with Baxter Stockman, a mad scientist who plans to use a serum to take over the world. Along for the ride are Bebop and Rocksteady, two dimwitted henchmen who provide plenty of muscle. Luckily, the turtles have their own allies in April O’Neil, Vernon Fenwick and Casey Jones, a hockey-masked vigilante. As the pizza-loving heroes prepare for battle, the notorious Krang also emerges to pose an even greater threat. Ummm. What is this about? They keep making these movies, and it just seems like no one cares about the Turtles anymore.

The Conjuring 2 – In 1977, paranormal investigators Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) come out of a self-imposed sabbatical to travel to Enfield, a borough in north London. There, they meet Peggy Hodgson, an overwhelmed single mother of four who tells the couple that something evil is in her home. Ed and Lorraine believe her story when the youngest daughter starts to show signs of demonic possession. As the Warrens try to help the besieged girl, they become the next target of the malicious spirits. This sequel to the massive horror hit, by way of the Annabelle spin-off, has some big shoes to fill. The Conjuring was a genuinely terrifying film, distinctly elevated by excellent direction from James Wan, who returns to helm here.

Finding Dory reunites the friendly-but-forgetful blue tang fish with her loved ones, and everyone learns a few things about the true meaning of family along the way. The all-new big-screen adventure takes moviegoers back to the extraordinary underwater world from the original film. While the idea of spending a whole film with Dory isn’t particularly appealing, it is Pixar – and directed by Andrew Stanton (Wall E) – so it is automatically essential viewing.

Warcraft: The Beginning – Looking to escape from his dying world, the orc shaman Gul’dan utilises dark magic to open a portal to the human realm of Azeroth. Supported by the fierce fighter Blackhand, Gul’dan organises the orc clans into a conquering army called the Horde. Uniting to protect Azeroth from these hulking invaders are King Llane, the mighty warrior Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel) and the powerful wizard Medivh. As the two races collide, leaders from each side start to question if war is the only answer. Early reactions suggest that Duncan Jones (Moon and Source Code) has made a major flop here, and this looks suited to fans of the game only. 

Me Before You – Adapted from the bestselling novel by Jo Jo Moyes, Me Before You tells the story of the unexpected relationship that blossoms between a contented small town Englishwoman and the wealthy, paralyzed Londoner who hires her as his caretaker. Has alluring stars, Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin, and fans of the weepy rom-drama will surely get their fix.

Miles Ahead is not just about the music. It’s about what we all face at one time or another in our lives; questions about who we really are, what we have to say and how will we say it. How will we ultimately be defined and who gets to say so? This Miles Davis biopic is both directed by and stars Don Cheadle, and reviewers have admired the unconventional approach to a fleeting period of the Jazz legend’s life and career.

Downriver – After serving time in prison for a crime he supposedly committed as a young child, James (Reef Ireland) returns to his hometown and the community he devastated years ago to put the pieces of his past together. Don’t know much about this, other than some quiet discussion following its premiere at the Melbourne International Film Festival last year. Limited run I expect.

Mr Right – A woman (Anna Kendrick) comes to a crossroad when she finds out that her new beau (Sam Rockwell) is a professional assassin who kills the people who hire him instead of the intended targets. While this has its charms, and takes some baffling chances as a genre mash-up, both of the likeable leads deserve more than what this thin premise offers.

Weekly Recommendations – A Perfect Day has been a long time coming (on and off the release schedule), but certainly our favourite new film. The Conjuring 2, Finding Dory and Miles Ahead would account for the rest of our cinema visits in the next fortnight, if we weren’t attending the Sydney Film Festival.

12 Films To Watch This Winter

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May 292016


It’s hard to get the winter blues in Australia when the two biggest film events of  the year, the Sydney Film Festival (June 8-19) and the Melbourne International Film Festival (28 July – 14 August) bring hundreds of films and plenty of fun to the chilly days and dark nights. Outside of the festival, there are a number of interesting films getting general cinema releases. We’ve picked 12 we’re particularly looking forward to seeing, check them out after the jump.

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69th Cannes Film Festival Winners

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May 232016


Twenty one films competed for the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, making it one of the biggest, and, according to many critics who attended the festival, one of the strongest fields in recent history. Overnight the Jury, presided by George Miller (director of Mad Max: Fury Road), selected the award winners.

From a star-studded lineup of films it was Maren Ade’s Toni Erdmann that received consistent raves from critics and became the clear favourite for this year’s Palme. Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson, Jeff Nichols’ Loving, Kleber Mendonca Filho’s Aquarius, and Christian Mungiu’ The Graduation all received very positive reactions. Paul Verhoeven’s Elle caused a storm on the second-to-last day, drawing many speculations that it would win and/or star Isabelle Huppert would win her third Best Actress award. Andrea Arnold’s American Honey was more divisive, but was also believed to be a very strong contender. Of course, there were films that copped it from the Croisette crowds. Olivier Assayas’ Personal Shopper, Nicolas Winding Refn The Neon Demon, Xavier Dolan’s It’s Only the End of the World and Sean Penn’s The Last Face, were aggressively booed, with the latter pair widely regarded as two of the worst to screen in the competition. There was barely a whisper for the latest Dardenne Bros film The Unknown Girl, and subdued response to Pedro Almodovar’s Julietta. 

But, various Jury Grids yielded different results, and amongst all of the online chatter it became impossible to predict just who would win this year. The Cannes Jury selections were surprising, to say the least. All we know is that we’re excited about all of these films, and hope to have the opportunity to see them all at some point this year.

Here is a list of all of the winners:

Palme d’or

I, Daniel Blake, directed by Ken Loach

Grand Prix

Juste La Fin Du Monde (It’s Only the End of the World), directed by Xavier Dolan

Jury Prize 

American Honey, directed by Andrea Arnold

Best Director (tie)

Christian Mungiu, Bacalaureat (Graduation)

Olivier Assayas, Personal Shopper

Best Screenplay 

Asghar Farhadi, Forushande (The Salesman)

Best Performance by an Actress 

Jaclyn JOSE in Ma’ Rosa, directed by Brillante Mendoza

Best Performance by an Actor

Shahab Hosseini inForushande (The Salesman), directed by Asghar Farhadi

The Jury of the CST also awarded the Vulcan Award of the Technical Artist to Seong-Hie Ryu, for the artistic direction, with great inspiration, for The Handmaiden by Park Chan-Wook

12 Films to See at Sydney Film Festival 2016

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May 152016


With 244 films screening, picking which films to see at the 2016 Sydney Film Festival can be an overwhelming experience. We’ve combed through the impressive programme and have selected 12 films we think are must-sees at this year’s festival. The films we have picked included Afghani cinefiles, a vampire-mermaid, an escape into virtual reality, and Daniel Radcliffe’s farting corpse.

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Top 10 Sexiest Films of All Time

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May 012016


What constitutes a sexy movie? Is it something explicit like the shooting a Cadbury Cream Egg ejaculate into one’s mouth like Short Bus? No. Is it a movie that features ONE blindingly good sexy scene a la Neve Campbell and Denise Richards’ pool party in your pants in Wild Things? No. A sexy movie is about tension or sexual energy between the characters. A sexy movie immerses you into a filmmaker’s voyeuristic gaze; appraising beauty and passion of the characters. A sexy movie is about being tempted with what’s forbidden and occasionally giving in and having a taste. With that in mind, here’s my Top 10 Sexiest Films of All Time. In no particular order…

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The Best Films Set In…Detroit

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Apr 132016


This is the fifteenth post in the “The Best Films Set In…” series. The setting can be a place (like Tokyo), a location (like the beach), or a time (like Winter). In these posts we’re going to pick our 5 favourite films that are set in that particular place/location/time and explain why we like them. In this edition we visit the urban jungle that is Detroit.

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