Night Moves

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Aug 262014

Night Moves

Opening in a remote Oregon national park, we meet Josh (Jesse Eisenberger) and Dena (Dakota Fanning) as they are walking around a damn. We soon discover the reason for their visit is recon for an upcoming act of crime which they intend to commit in the name of the environment, a big F U to big business. Along with Harmon (Peter Sarsgaard), the pair intend to stuff a motorboat (named ‘Night Moves’) full of a homemade fertilizer explosive and blow up the damn.

Very much a film of two halves, pre-crime and post-crime, we see the planning of the explosion and then how the threesome deals with the consequences of their action, which are far more serious than they could have envisioned. What Night Moves does so well, is let the character’s actions speak for themselves. There’s very little exposition here, with writer Jonathan Raymond and writer-director Kelly Reichardt trusting their audience enough to fill in the gaps. Truth be told we don’t need to know more, the real story is in how they exist after the events, not what drove them to it.

Jesse Eisenberg is quietly intense as Josh, his controlled performance serving to emphasise his characters few outbursts. Dakota Fanning is emotive but understated as Dena, and it is through her that the moral conundrum of their actions play out. What is the difference between eco-terrorism and eco-activism? Do the ends justify the means? Reichardt lets the audience decide this for themselves, although events in the final scenes (which may be too hard for many to buy) may be interpreted as a shove in a particular direction.


By Sam McCosh

The Facts

Director: Kelly Reichardt
Writer(s): Jonathan Raymond, Kelly Reichardt
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, Peter Sarsgaard
Runtime: 112 minutes
Release date(s): Australia & New Zealand: September 11 2014

2014 Sydney Film Festival Audience Award Winners

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Jun 182014


Winner of the Foxtel Movies Audience Award for best narrative feature went to WINTER SLEEP directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan. The Foxtel Movies Audience Award for best documentary went to LOVE MARRIAGE IN KABUL directed by Amin Palangi. Festival audience members can rate the films after viewing via the web, app and SMS-based voting systems. These ratings produce the winners for the audience awards.

While I enjoyed Winter Sleep, I am surprised that the 3 hour + Palme d’Or winner won the audience award. It’s a beautiful film but I wouldn’t exactly call it accessible. I did not see Love Marriage in Kabul but I will be sure to keep an eye out for it in the future.

Podcast: Matt’s Movie Reviews #52 [Sydney Film Festival]

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Jun 172014


Matthew Pejkovic (of Matt’s Movie Reviews) and I wrap up the 2014 Sydney Film Festival in this fun and concise chat. We discuss building a festival programme; highs and lows; the official competition; and the expansion of the festival into other corners of Sydney. Listen to the podcast here.

2014 Sydney Film Festival Round-up

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Jun 172014


By the time the curtain dropped on the 61st Sydney Film Festival I had viewed 38 titles from the more than 180 on offer. Epic queues for Events 4, evening subscribers who had made the State their home and the Dendy Opera Quays dash, the festival had them all. My brief round-up of the fest is after the jump.

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What We Do in the Shadows

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Jun 162014


Lurking in the shadows & hiding in plain sight, the vampires of Wellington are an incredibly charming and rather vicious breed. A documentary team are granted protection and are granted special access to the shared house of one such group of vampires. What We Do in the Shadows is the shocking account of what they discover.

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2014 Sydney Film Festival Award Winners

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Jun 162014


Out of a selection of 12 films in Official Competition, the Sydney Film Prize was awarded to Two Days, One Night directed by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne.

Of the nine official competition films I saw, Boyhood was my favourite, however I was quite pleased that Two Days, One Night one the prize. It’s a terribly effecting and relevant film about the dire economic situation facing an increasing number of people, particularly in Europe. Marion Cotillard was incredibly good and the direction was extremely sharp. Bravo the Darenne brothers!

The inaugural Documentary Australia Foundation Award for Australian Documentary was awarded to the brave and confronting 35 Letters, directed and written by Janine Hosking. Special mention went to Tender directed by Lynette Wallworth.

The Dendy Awards for Australian Short Films were also announced, with the Dendy Live Action Short Award going to I Want to Dance Better at Parties, directed and written by Matthew Bate and Gideon Obarzanek. The Yoram Gross Animation Award went to Phantom Limb, directed, written and produced by Alex Grigg. The Rouben Mamoulian Award for Best Director was awarded to Eddy Bell for Grey Bull.

The Event Cinema Australian Short Screenplay Award, also new this year, was awarded to Welcome to Iron Knob directed and written by Dave Wade. Special mention also went to Matt Durrant for his short film Pocket Money.

A huge congratulations to Festival Director Nashen Moodley and the whole team at the Sydney Film Festival for another spectacular event. The quality of films screened was quite outstanding and the festival experience was elevated by the Festival Hub and other events linked to the festival. The volunteers also deserve a massive shout out – thanks guys and gals!

We plan to publish several more festival reviews, so be sure to visit An Online Universe regularly over the next couple of weeks.

Official competition film ‘Fell’ available on VOD 13, 14, 15 June

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Jun 122014


Sydney Film Festival and Adelaide Film Festival will break with tradition and stream online the World Première Australian film Fell over the same weekend that it premières in Official Competition at the State Theatre in Sydney.

Fell will screen in high definition to any Internet-enabled device: Smart TV, digital TV, touchscreen tablet, PC, laptop, game console or smartphone. It will be available on streaming for 50 hours from 8pm Friday 13 June EST until 10pm Sunday 15 June AEST for $9.99. The film will be available to everyone in New South Wales, Queensland, Australian Capital Territory South Australia and Northern Territory.

“The World Première of Fell via the Internet is a game-changer in a multi-screen world. It’s democratic, it’s inclusive and it’s about time,” said the film’s producer, John Maynard.

Visit the Sydney Film Festival website to stream Fell. The film will be available online for 3 days only.

Fell screens Friday June 13th (6pm) and Saturday June 14th (12pm) at the Sydney Film Festival.


View the trailer below.