Nov 192014

atmosphere- Moonlight Cinema launch(0029)

Moonlight Cinema’s December and January film program has just been announced and it’s jam-packed with over 20 different advance screenings – and that’s just the first two months. The outdoor cinema will be making an appearance in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth this summer.

Moonlight Cinema will be officially launched across the country with an exclusive advance screening of zany comedy Dumb and Dumber To on December 18. It’s been a whole twenty years since Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels brought their lovable imbeciles, Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne, to the big screen.

Fans of Bill Murray can catch him in upcoming indie drama St Vincent, more than a week before it hits cinemas. We caught this film at TIFF and can recommend it for those looking for a feel-good film with heart. Other titles to catch at Moonlight before the rest of Australia include Disney’s latest, Big Hero 6 about a boy and his plus-size, inflatable robot (we’ve seen this and we’re in love with the robot!); the superhero film with an art-house edge, Birdman starring Michael Keaton and Emma Stone; and WWII drama filmed in Sydney and directed by Angelina Jolie, Unbroken.

Also joining the program will be Clint Eastwood’s latest directorial American Sniper, starring Bradley Cooper as U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. This film has been getting awards buzz following its première in the US and is a film we’re really looking forward to seeing. The Imitation Game, Foxcatcher, and Nightcrawler are three other big-name titles that you should consider booking a patch of grass for.

Bring Australia Day in early with some Australian cinema. The Water Diviner will be showing at Moonlight Cinema on Australia Day Eve, January 25. It tells the moving tale of an Australian man, played by Russell Crowe, who travels to Turkey after the Battle at Gallipoli to try to locate his three missing sons. The Water Diviner is also showing as an advance screening at Moonlight on December 19.

For more information on the programme and to book tickets, head to the official website.
Moonlight Cinema can also be found at the following social media channels

Oct 022014


The annual Jewish International Film Festival returns to Melbourne and Sydney – and, for the first time Perth, Gold Coast and New Zealand – with an incredibly rich global selection of 49 award-winning features, documentaries and shorts within 11 categories.

Gett, The Trial of Viviane Amsalem, will open JIFF in each city. This compelling French/German/Israeli co-production, which screened as part of Directors’ Fortnight at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, affords a rare insight into the rabbinical court and its treatment of women as we follow the five-year quest of Viviane Amsalem to obtain a ‘gett’ (Jewish divorce) amidst a process where tragedy and absurdity abound. Above and Beyond, a riveting documentary that encapsulates the indomitable Jewish spirit, will screen on Closing Night.

What lies between these two films is a selection of outstanding features and documentaries sourced from Israel, Germany, France, USA, the Philippines, Switzerland and Ireland that will enthrall, inform and captivate audiences from both within and beyond the Jewish community.

Highlights include:
THE GREEN PRINCE (Germany/Israel/UK/USA) D: Nadav Schirman
Category: Hamatzav (The Situation)
Winner of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award (World Cinema: Documentary) and Best Documentary at the 2014 Ophir Awards, this is a gripping account of terror and betrayal based on the best-selling book, Son of Hamas, a memoir by Mosab Hassan Yousef. Palestinian Yousef, is ready to fight Israel, but at 17, is arrested for smuggling guns. Interrogated by Israel’s security service, he is sent to prison, where he turns and, deeply ashamed, agrees to spy for Israel. But for his Shin Bet handler, there is no greater prize than operating the oldest son of a founding member of Hamas.

THE FAREWELL PARTY (Israel) Directors: Tal Granit and Sharon Maymon
Category: Triumph of the Spirit
Nominated in 14 categories at the 2014 Ophir Awards this off-beat comedy, which won the Venice Day’s People’s Choice Award at the 2014 Venice Film Festival, is a compassionate tale about life, death and friendship. Ezikiel and his friends at a Jerusalem retirement home build a euthanasia machine to help their terminally ill friend. When rumours of the machine begin to spread, more and more people ask for their help, and the group is faced with an emotional, ethical dilemma.

MY OLD LADY (France, USA) Director: Israel Horovtiz
CATEGORY: Meant to Be
An uplifting, superbly acted story about what life can do to you while you’re making other plans, and about making the most of the time we have. A down-and-out, harried New Yorker (Kevin Kline) travels to Paris to sell a valuable apartment he has inherited from his estranged father. Once there he finds the apartment inhabited by a refined older lady (Academy-Award winner Maggie Smith) and her daughter (Kristin Scott Thomas). She tells him that, legally, he cannot sell the apartment until she dies.

Festival dates & locations

SYDNEY: 29 October – 16 November Event Cinemas, Bondi Junction
MELBOURNE: 5 – 23 November Classic Cinemas, Elsternwick
GOLD COAST: 15, 16 & 23 November Event Cinemas, Robina
PERTH: 15, 16 & 23 November Event Cinemas, Innaloo
NEW ZEALAND: 16 & 23 November The Bridgeway, Auckland

Tickets are now on sale

Visit the official website at:
Follow the festival on Twiiter: @JewishIFF

Aug 312014


It’s holiday time! When most people go on holiday they go and sit on a beach or do other such relaxing things. Well, I watch movies. Some people might think it’s crazy flying across the world just to sit in the cinema, but if you’re a regular reader of this site, I doubt you’re one of them.

While I’m away at TIFF I won’t be reviewing films. This is a bucket list holiday for me and I want to soak every minute of it up. I’ll take some notes and hopefully write some things when I’m home, but for now my intention is to take it easy.

Thankfully I have a bunch of amazing and talented friends and writing colleagues who have agreed to fill An Online Universe with interesting writing while I’m away. There’s some reviews from an upcoming festival, posts about great films that have been forgotten and lists of the best films set in various places.

I’d like to thank every one in advance for their fantastic contributions! Over the next three weeks there will be posts going up frequently between 11am-Midday (Sydney time), so be sure to come back and read the excellent pieces.

Follow me on my holiday adventures via Twitter @sakura_59 and keep up with my thoughts on the films via Letterboxd

 Posted by at 07:30
Aug 302014


Oh my, Madman Films are bringing something truly great to select Australian cinemas later this year. Celebrating iconic Studio Ghibli Founders Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, Madman will present four feature films by these legendary directors, along with two documentaries about their work. The Tale of Studio Ghibli showcase will screen for a 2 week season beginning October 9th.

Co-founders of renowned Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli, Hayao Miyzakai and Isao Takahata are two of the most celebrated filmmakers of all time. As creators of some of the most beloved and award-winning animated features the world has known, their legacy is one of unrivaled imagination and unsurpassed excellence.

THE TALE OF STUDIO GHIBLI SHOWCASE features not only their 2013 masterpieces in Takahata’s THE TALE OF PRINCESS KAGUYA and Miyazaki’s THE WIND RISES, but also the two films they each made 25 years earlier which cemented their reputations and made the name Studio Ghibli synonymous with quality – Miyazaki’s MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO (my favourite animated film of all time!!) and Takahata’s GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES. Complementing these feature films in THE TALE OF STUDIO GHIBLI SHOWCASE are two revealing documentaries, THE KINGDOM OF DREAMS AND MADNESS (which I gave 5 stars to at the recent Sydney Film Festival) and ISAO TAKAHATA AND HIS TALE OF THE PRINCESS KAGUYA, each providing unrivalled access to the inner workings of Studio Ghibli and the painstaking creative process behind the creators’ most recent films.


October 9-22
Sydney – Dendy Newtown
Melbourne – Cinema Nova
Canberra – Dendy Canberra
Brisbane – Dendy Portside

November 6-19
Perth – Luna Leederville

November 27 – December 10
Adelaide – Palace Nova East End

For more information, visit: &

Jun 282014


It must be something to do with to the extremely cold winters and stunningly gorgeous summers, the films that come out of Scandinavia are rather unique. I’m not sure any other part of the world could make a good comedy out of death quite the way that they can.

Lovers of Scandinavian film rejoice! Australia now has it’s very own Scandinavian Film Festival, set to hit selected Palace Cinema locations around the country in July. The festival features 21 outstanding films selected from Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Iceland.

The festival will open with Swedish Blockbuster The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, a colourful comedy based on the international bestselling novel of the same name by Jonas Jonasson.

Other highlights from the programme:

Pioneer – Director Erik Skjoldbjærg (Insomnia, Prozac Nation) has created a thrilling, claustrophobic conspiracy based on true events. With its emphasis on the inky blackness of the deep-sea and confined spaces, Pioneer is suspenseful, edgy and full of tension.
Metalhead – The rugged, isolated beauty of Iceland is a fitting backdrop to this powerful family drama of loss and grief. Despite the steely title, beautifully nuanced performances enhance this quietly compassionate film that respects the sounds of heavy metal, without turning up the volume.
Waltz for Monica – Monica, a young, rebellious small town girl is determined to make it as a singer in the vibrant sixties jazz clubs of Stockholm, and even New York City. Beautiful and sensual, she embarks on the singing career of her dreams, and an exquisite singer and actress evolves in the golden era of jazz.

Festival dates & locations

CANBERRA 8-20 July Palace Electric
SYDNEY 9-27 July Palace Norton St & Palace Verona
MELBOURNE 10-27 July Palace Cinema Como & Palace Brighton Bay
BRISBANE 11-20 July Palace Centro
ADELAIDE 23-31 July Palace Nova Eastend
PERTH 24-30 July Cinema Paradiso
>BYRON BAY 25-30 July Palace Byron Bay

For more information and session times visit

Follow the festival on Twitter: @ScandiFFAu

May 232014


The Sydney Underground Film Festival is one of my favourite festival experiences. The SUFF team bring together the weird, the wacky, the controversial, the erotic and the just plain crazy, for a festival quite like no other. SUFF is a non-for-profit festival, with all the funds going back into festival. This year they have launched a Pozible campaign to make sure the 2014 edition of the festival is the best yet.

From the SUFF team:

As the 2014 festival approaches, we are pretty darn motivated and excited about what the year has in store – but we are a not-for-profit endeavour. We work for the love of independent cinema, and we always seek to deliver the best festival we can. This year, we are asking for your assistance to do just that. This Pozible campaign will enable us create the greatest festival yet, and have a little more freedom than we are used to.

Last year at SUFF I saw one of the best films of the year (A Band Called Death), one of the weirdest films of my life (The Dance of Reality) and I had a great time drinking beers and chatting all things film with friends between sessions. I don’t usually push campaigns (there are just so many out there!) but I honestly think this is a worthy group to give some cash to.

Support the 2014 Sydney Underground Film Festival Pozible campaign here
May 082014


The 61st Sydney Film Festival programme consists of 183 titles from 47 countries and includes 15 World Premieres (including 6 World Premiere short films), 122 Australian Premieres (including 14 Australian Premiere short films) and 6 International Premieres (including 1 International Premiere short film). The full programme is now live at

The Opening Night Gala features the Australian Premiere of 20,000 Days on Earth, an innovative film about international cultural icon Nick Cave directed by visual artists Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard, who will be in attendance. Cinematographer Erik Wilson (The Imposter, The Double) is the reason I’m excited about this film – his work is fresh and interesting and I can’t wait to see more of his work.

The Closing Night Gala features the Australian Premiere of the vampire mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows, the new film from Taika Waititi (Boy, which won the Audience Award at SFF 2010) and Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords). I can’t think of a better way to close the festival than a sold out crowd cackling along to some choice Kiwi comedy. This is going to be a fun night.

SFF Festival Director Nashen Moodley on the festival experience. “SFF not only presents the best films from across the country and around the world, but we also open up dialogue between the creators and audiences and curators and critics alike, in every direction and combination. Together in a crowded theatre, comedies are funnier, horror films are scarier and tender moments bring tears more readily; everything we feel is amplified by the power of the shared experience.”

After the jump I delve into the programme in more detail.
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Apr 192014

The Cannes 2014 Official Selection lineup has been announced, with a host of well-known film-makers returning with new projects, as well as a few first timers and as always, a surprise or two.

Cannes returnees such as Mike Leigh, David Cronenberg, Atom Egoyan, the Dardenne brothers, Andrei Zvyagintsev, Tommy Lee Jones, Zavier Dolan and Michel Hazanavicius are all back with new films. Compared to last year, this line-up of directors has a more Continental feel about it. While there are still American directors in competition, last year really felt like the year of the American story. I’m happy to see a little more variety in 2014, including new films from three very interesting and very different Canadian filmmakers.

In a slight improvement from 2012 and 2013, this year’s official competition features two female directors, Japanese filmmaker Naomi Kawase (Still the Water) and Italian filmmaker Alice Rohrwacher (Le Meraviglie). New Zealand filmmaker Jane Campion is the president of the year’s jury. Campion is the only female to win the Palm d’Or for 1993’s The Piano.

For a good analysis of this year’s offerings, I suggest checking out Variety .
Here are the 5 films that I am most excited about from the lineup.

Lost River – dir. Ryan Gosling. Gosling steps behind the camera for his directorial début Lost River which is playing in Un Certain Regard. The film which has been re-titled from How to Catch a Monster  stars Eva Mendes, Christina Hendrix, Ben Mendohlson and Doctor Who‘s Matt Smith. The brief official synopsis is as follows: “A single mother is swept into a dark underworld, while her teenage son discovers a road that leads him to a secret underwater town.” Well colour me very interested!

Foxcatcher – dir. Bennett Miller.  The Moneyball director is back with a boxing film of sorts, this one an account of the murder of Olympic wrestling champion Dave Schultz. The screenplay is adapted from the book written by Schultz’s brother, Olympic wrestling gold medalist Mark Schultz. Dave Schultz is played by Mark Ruffalo, while Channing Tatumn plays brother Mark.

Goodbye to Language –  dir. Jean-Luc Godard. The 83-year-old French director is back at Cannes with his 39th film, this one in 3D. Will Goddard be able to convince cinephiles that 3D is worthy of the eyeballs? I have no idea, but I am so intrigued to see this. It’s just the most unlikely combination!

Mommy – dir. Xavier Dolan. The 25 year-old (!!!!!!!!!!) is back at Cannes for the fourth time, this year for the first time in official competition. To be honest I don’t care what the film is about, I’ll watch anything that Dolan makes. We’re yet to see Tom at the Farm in Australia (it plays at the upcoming Sydney Film Festival), but that doesn’t mean I can’t get excited about his next offering. The synopsis for Mommy is as follows: “A widowed single mother, raising her violent son alone, finds new hope when a mysterious neighbor inserts herself into their household.”

Still in the Water – dir. Naomi Kawase. A Cannes returnee, the Japanese director has previously won the Grand Pix in 2007 and the Camera d’Or in 1997. This film centers around a couple who get caught up in a murder investigation on a small Japanese island.

Other films I’m interested in include: The Captive, La Meraviglie, The Rover, Eleanor Rigby and How To Train Your Dragon 2.

Full lineup after the jump.

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