SFF16 Review Diary: Days 4-5

 2016, Feature, Sydney Film Festival  Comments Off on SFF16 Review Diary: Days 4-5
Jun 152016


Here are my thoughts on seven of the eight films I watched over the first weekend of the Sydney Film Festival, save for It’s Only the End of the World – reviewed in further detail hereRead on for thoughts on Official Competition entries Aquarius, Goldstone and Land of Mine as well as Weiner, Contemporary Color, Mahana and Wild. There is only one of these films I wasn’t impressed with, and so the high quality continues.

  Continue reading »

In Cinemas: 22 Jan 2015

 Features  Comments Off on In Cinemas: 22 Jan 2015
Jan 212015


In cinemas this week: Clint Eastwood’s six-time Oscar nominated war, box-office smashing drama American Sniper, Reese Witherspoon-led biographical drama Wild and romantic comedy The Wedding Ringer.

American SniperU.S. Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) is sent to Iraq with only one mission: to protect his brothers-in-arms. His pinpoint accuracy saves countless lives on the battlefield and, as stories of his courageous exploits spread, he earns the nickname “Legend.” However, his reputation is also growing behind enemy lines, putting a price on his head and making him a prime target of insurgents. Despite the danger, as well as the toll on his family at home, Chris serves through four harrowing tours of duty in Iraq, becoming emblematic of the SEAL creed to “leave no man behind.” But upon returning home, Chris finds that it is the war he can’t leave behind. Reviews have been mixed, with some very harsh criticisms about the film’s political conservatism and jingoism. But, following its late surge into the Oscar discussion – which earned Cooper his third straight Oscar nom – it exploded at the U.S box office, breaking January records. Balancing tense battle conflict with Kyle’s PTSD back at home I understand this is as much a drama than an action film.

Wild – With the dissolution of her marriage and the death of her mother, Cheryl Strayed has lost all hope. After years of reckless, destructive behavior, she makes a rash decision. With absolutely no experience, driven only by sheer determination, Cheryl (portrayed by Reese Witherspoon) hikes more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, alone. Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddens, strengthens, and ultimately heals her. Full review at the link.

The Wedding Ringer – Doug Harris (Josh Gad) is a loveable but socially awkward groom-to-be with a problem: he has no best man. With less than two weeks to go until he marries the girl of his dreams (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting), Doug is referred to Jimmy Callahan (Kevin Hart), owner and CEO of Best Man, Inc., a company that provides flattering best men for socially challenged guys in need. What ensues is a hilarious wedding charade as they try to pull off the big con, and an unexpected budding bromance between Doug and his fake best man Jimmy. This could be dismissed as a lazy rehash of The Wedding Singer, but it has an amusing idea and if the chemistry between Gad and Hart is winning could be quite entertaining.

Weekly Recommendation: Wild is worthy of a look, but I suspect it won’t be the most cinema-essential title released this year. It is perfectly adequate home viewing, but if you want to catch up with the two Oscar-nominated performances in the cinema you won’t be disappointed. American Sniper is something of a wildcard. I just don’t know how I am going to feel about this film. Clint Eastwood has made some brilliant films in his career and if this is a return to form it is going to be a tough one to shake. I will be catching it this week, and I wait in anticipation.