Cinema

COMMEDIE FRANCAISE PRESENTS ‘CYRANO DE BERGERAC

We were privileged to see the Comedie Francaise in a revival of the much loved French classic by Edmund Rostand CYRANO DE BERGERAC. (yes in French, with English subtitles).

Rostand’s play tells of the soldier-poet Cyrano de Bergerac, who is a brave and resolute man, full of passion and wit, who is accomplished both with words and swords, but is afraid of rejection by the woman he loves.

Cyrano is in love with the beautiful intellectual Roxanne but dares not to woo her because of his over size nose. However he helps Christian – who is handsome but not majorly intellectual – to woo Roxanne with passionate letters. Only on Cyrano’s deathbed does Roxanne discover that she has been the love of his life. Continue reading COMMEDIE FRANCAISE PRESENTS ‘CYRANO DE BERGERAC

THE RUSSIAN FILM FESTIVAL IS COMING!

The Russian Resurrection Film Festival is one of the largest, oldest and most respected Russian film festivals outside of Russia. The festival takes audiences on a captivating journey into one of the world’s most diverse film cultures.

From humble beginnings in 2004 screening in just three cities in Australia, the festival has grown in size and now screens in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Auckland in New Zealand.

2017 is set to be bigger than ever with a fantastic line up of new films screening and a special retrospective celebrating the 80th Birthday of Andrei Konchalovsky, the legendary Russian and Hollywood director.

One of the most keenly anticipated films of 2017, THE BOLSHOI tells the story of a young small-town girl who dreams of becoming a ballet dancer with the Bolshoi Theatre. Continue reading THE RUSSIAN FILM FESTIVAL IS COMING!

TEN DOUBLE PASSES TO SEE ‘INGRID GOES WEST’

An indie hit in the US and on the international Festival circuit, INGRID GOES WEST stars Aubrey Plaza as “Ingrid Thorburn” an unhinged social media stalker who sets her sights on “Taylor Sloane” (Elizabeth Olsen) an Instagram-famous “influencer” whose perfectly curated, boho-chic lifestyle becomes Ingrid’s latest obsession.

When Ingrid moves to LA and manages to insinuate herself into the social media star’s life, their relationship quickly goes from #BFF to #WTF.

INGRID GOES WEST releases at cinemas on Thursday 26th October.

Sydney Arts Guide has ten in season double passes to see this fun indie film during the first two weeks of its release.

editor.sydneyartsguide@gmail.com  with INGRID GOES WEST in the subject heading. Please provide your postal address in the body of your email. Winners will be advised by email.

 

MOUNTAIN : AUSTRALIAN FILMMAKER JENNIFER PEEDOM’S CINEMATIC AND MUSICAL ODYSSEY

MOUNTAIN is a unique documentary movie directed by Australian filmmaker, Jennifer Peedom. Her previous documentary movie, Sherpa, was nominated for a BAFTA in 2016.

Willem Dafoe contributes his distinctive voice in Jennifer’s new movie, MOUNTAIN, as the narrator. The beautiful harmonies of the Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO) add to the film’s unique quality.

The film explores the human obsession and relationship with mountains, one of the great forces in nature. The movie includes footage from man’s first treks up mountain tops up to the current day across many different countries and encountering a range of different climates. Continue reading MOUNTAIN : AUSTRALIAN FILMMAKER JENNIFER PEEDOM’S CINEMATIC AND MUSICAL ODYSSEY

STANLEY TUCCI’S ‘FINAL PORTRAIT’

Gorgeous, sumptuous, sensual, funny, tempestuous, Stanley Tucci’s FINAL PORTRAIT is a work of art and entertainment, a same sense marriage between cinematography and painting, a highlight of the movie going year.

In 1964, while on a short trip to Paris, the American writer and art-lover James Lord is asked by his friend, the world-renowned artist Alberto Giacometti, to sit for a portrait. The process, Giacometti assures Lord, will take only a few days. Flattered and intrigued, Lord agrees.

So begins not only the story of a touching and offbeat friendship, but, seen through the eyes of Lord, a uniquely revealing insight into the beauty, frustration, profundity and, at times, downright chaos of the artistic process. Continue reading STANLEY TUCCI’S ‘FINAL PORTRAIT’

ZELOS : LOCAL INDI FILMMAKING AT ITS BOLDEST

 

Cheaters always cheat, so can trust be restored?

ZELOS is the perfect title, for this Australian indie feature movie film, as the word in Greek has the meaning of ZEAL and PASSION, but also of JEALOUSY and SUSPICION.

The nature of  freedom versus responsibility in relationships is explored, during this different and intriguing story of  two successful thirty-somethings, Bernard (Ben Mortley:- Lantana, McLeod’s Daughters, Drift, Foreshadow, Pinch) and Sarah (Shannon Ashlyn:- Wolf Creek 2, Love Child, Dripping in Chocolate, Puberty Blues, Devil’s Dust).

ZELOS takes a bold and brave path that shows precisely how both Bernard and Sarah cope, from the announcement of her affair whilst overseas on holiday without Bernard.

With the notion of salvaging their relationship, and in a bid to restore his trust, Sarah insists that Bernard sleep with another woman to even the score.

What could possibly go wrong?! Whole levels of their relationship immediately take on a very different dynamic, fuelled by Bernard’s constant questions and jealousy.

ZELOS is fast paced entertainment, with the perfect cast of Sydney based actors. The movie is  a film helmed predominantly by women, including director, co-producers, writer, cinematographer, editor and female-dominated crew.                Continue reading ZELOS : LOCAL INDI FILMMAKING AT ITS BOLDEST

THE DANCER : INSIDE THE WORLD OF AN ARTIST AND INNOVATOR

Down in adoration falling, THE DANCER is an exquisite film of form, style, grace and the toil, turmoil and torment that goes with being an artist and innovator.

THE DANCER begins incongruously in the wilds of North America, where Loie Fuller and her father live in a frontier town tailing the dying days of the 19th century gold rush.

Dad drunkenly boasts about his diggings along with his faith in his daughter’s artistic destiny. She is a reader of plays, an aspiring Shakespearian, and she gets a taste of tragedy quick smart. He eats lead over his gold aggrandisement and she is forced to eat crow in New York where her mother takes her into her Temperance mission.

Stultified by the uber sober wowserism of her mother, – books, booze, dance are anathema- Loie sails to Paris where her art is appreciated from the Follies Bergere to the Paris Opera. Continue reading THE DANCER : INSIDE THE WORLD OF AN ARTIST AND INNOVATOR

NT LIVE PRESENTS TONY KUSHNER’S REMARKABLE AND EPIC ‘ANGELS IN AMERICA’

 

Divided into two parts and in total about 8 and  hours long, Tony Kushner’s multi award winning play ANGELS IN AMERCIA : A GAY FANTASIA ON NATIONAL THEMES, performed in two parts is set in America in the mid-1980s.

We see how In the midst of the AIDS crisis and a conservative Reagan administration, New Yorkers grappled with some huge social issues.

Part One is entitled Millenium Approaches and Part Two is entitled Perestroika. Both parts are given gripping, emotionally powerful performance by the splendid cast.

The issues it raises are still  relevant today, twenty five years after the work was first performed. It is a sweeping epic about gay rights and gay responsibilities, loyalty, religion, politics, guilt, and the failure to live up to the expectations of oneself and others. Continue reading NT LIVE PRESENTS TONY KUSHNER’S REMARKABLE AND EPIC ‘ANGELS IN AMERICA’

GOD’S OWN COUNTRY : ONE OF THE MOVIES OF THE YEAR

This has to be one of the films of the year. Certainly one of the most striking.

Francis Lee’s new film is set in the deep country in the IJK. Elderly couple Martin and Deidre Saxby own a large, sprawling country property which, as they become increasingly frail, are finding it harder and harder to maintain.

Their twenties something son Johnny, who  they are hoping will take on more responsibility, is a big problem. He is uncommunicative, withdrawn, and  has taken to the bottle in a big way. When he has tasks to do around the farm he labours over them grudgingly.

He spends most nights going to the local getting smashed, and when he comes home he literally falls out of his trailer. As well as resenting the responsibilities of being the future heir to the property, he is also battling dealing with being gay. Continue reading GOD’S OWN COUNTRY : ONE OF THE MOVIES OF THE YEAR

5 DOUBLE PASSES TO THE BRILLIANT NEW AUSTRALIAN DOCUMENTARY ‘MOUNTAIN’

MOUNTAIN is a unique cinematic and musical collaboration between the Australian Chamber Orchestra and BAFTA-nominated director Jennifer Peedom.

The film is a dazzling exploration of our obsession with mountains. Only three centuries ago, climbing a mountain would have been considered close to lunacy. The idea scarcely existed that wild landscapes might hold any sort of attraction. Peaks were places of peril, not beauty. Why, then, are we now drawn to mountains in our millions? Continue reading 5 DOUBLE PASSES TO THE BRILLIANT NEW AUSTRALIAN DOCUMENTARY ‘MOUNTAIN’

I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO – JAMES BALDWIN, IN HIS OWN WORDS

Told entirely in the words of James Baldwin, through both personal appearances and the text of his final unfinished book project, I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO touches on the lives and assassinations of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Medgar Evers to bring powerful clarity to how the image and reality of Blacks in America today is fabricated and enforced.

Medgar Evers, died on June 12, 1963. Malcolm X, died on February 21, 1965. Martin Luther King Jr., died on April 4, 1968.
James Baldwin loved these men and was determined to expose the complex links and similarities among these three individuals. He was going to write about them. He was going to write his ultimate book! ‘Remember this House’ was the working title of that book.
But James Baldwin never wrote ‘Remember this House’ and film maker Raoul Peck has stepped in with this ambitious film to partly fill the void. Continue reading I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO – JAMES BALDWIN, IN HIS OWN WORDS

PATTI CAKE$ : A UNIQUE AND ORIGINAL CINEMATIC EXPERIENCE

Like 8 Mile out of Precious, PATTI CAKE$ is a rock solid cinematic rap to dreams, aspirations and perseverance.

Written, directed, and with original music and songs by Geremy Jasper, the film stars Danielle Macdonald, an Australian actress fallen on her feet in the American film market.

Macdonald plays the titular Patti Cake$, a Jersey girl tending bar, doing casual catering gigs, and dreaming of making it in the music business as a rap artist. Patti’s rich inner life is depicted in hallucinatory sequences that turn classic hip-hop tropes into surreal dreams, giving the film a delightful dose of cinematic splendour. Continue reading PATTI CAKE$ : A UNIQUE AND ORIGINAL CINEMATIC EXPERIENCE

MOTHER

The Legion of Mary may well take out a fatwa on this Lady of Fatima inversion of Rosemary’s Baby.

MOTHER has a shocking, literally scorching pre title sequence. Fire and ash give way to verdant vistas, a pristine secluded paradise, an Eden of solitude.

The Adam, credited as Him, is a writer, a poet suffering writer’s block. The Eve, credited as Mother, is his handmaiden, renovating their rural abode, cooking, cleaning, creating a space for him to create. They are newly married yet the union has yet to be consummated.

Into their universe of two, someone comes a knocking, a tubercular doctor, a chain-smoking quack seeking succour. Continue reading MOTHER

VICTORIA AND ABDUL

Last time Judi Dench was directed by Stephen Frears, she was nominated for an Oscar.

The film was Philomena.

The last time Judi Dench played Queen Victoria, she was nominated for an Oscar. The film was Mrs. Brown. That was twenty years ago.

Sadly, VICTORIA & ABDUL is not up to the calibre of these preceding films, however there is no denying the technical virtuosity and sheer screen presence of Judi Dench.

Here she plays the Queen as a moribund, morbidly obese monarch obsessed with her bowel movements. Nobody does bedpan as dead pan as Judy!

This supposed true story unfolds thus:

In 1887,Abdul, played by Ali Fazal, a tall Muslim bookkeeper travels from India to present a ceremonial medal as part of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, a task allocated to him merely because he is tall. He is tutored in protocol which he breaks and Queen Victoria is quite amused, beginning an unlikely relationship, reminiscent of the Mr. Brown infatuation. Indeed, the court refers to Abdul as “the brown Brown”.

It is in Scotland that Victoria’s history with John Brown resonates and strengthens her new bond with Abdul. Screenwriter, Lee Hall, observes Glassalt Shiel was Victoria’s remote, private little house where she would retire to be on her own, sometimes with John Brown. After his death, she had avoided going there. But from the diaries found, she took Abdul there. Hall and Frears tap into the resonating romance to the place; they share an appreciation of the glorious landscape. The Queen and Abdul grow closer. Continue reading VICTORIA AND ABDUL

SISTERHOOD : PART OF QUEER SCREEN FILM FEST 2017

SISTERHOOD is a wonderful inclusion in QUEER SCREEN FILM FEST 2017.  The film is soulful and uplifting despite the pathos of the mystery at its heart.  And it has superbly realised relationships to touch the heart of any woman who has had a best female friend.  It was the only Macau film at the inaugural Macau International Film Festival in December 2016, where it won two awards including the “Eye of the Audience” award.

We meet Sei.  In her late thirties, she runs a Taiwan Guest House with her husband, Chen.  She has fallen again and her doctor is tired of treating injuries caused by her alcoholism.  “Should I give up drinking?”  Sei asks of her husband.  “It’d do you good but I want you to be happy.”  There is unresolved grief on both faces.   

A public notice in the paper will lead Sei back to Macau where, 15 years ago, she applied for a job at a massage parlour.  Seen in flashback with a younger cast, Sei’s past will collide with a post-handover Macau.  Her story, both the exuberantly hopeful younger self and the remote, self-medicated adult, will explicate a sisterhood of four best friends. Continue reading SISTERHOOD : PART OF QUEER SCREEN FILM FEST 2017

12th LATIN AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL @ DENDY OPERA QUAYS

Only a limited window of an extended long weekend opens for the 12th Latin American Film Festival, but it’s chock full of films you may not see otherwise.

A highlight is the Ricardo Darin starrer, KOBLIC, about an ex Argentinian top gun who rebels at his government’s policy of taking political dissidents up in his aircraft and jettisoning them sans parachute.

A study in abusive political power and the power of an individual to to oppose, KOBLIC is a suspenser full of intrigue, subterfuge and romance. Continue reading 12th LATIN AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL @ DENDY OPERA QUAYS

TOMMY’S HONOUR : A GOLF STORY FOR THE AGES

Without doubt, my favourite golf movie is Goldfinger.

The sequence where James Bond and Auric Goldfinger club it out for a bar of Nazi bullion is full of suspense, tension, drama and wry humour.

The sequence cemented Sean Connery’s love of the game – he became obsessed with it. Fitting, then, that his son Jason, has directed the film TOMMY’S HONOUR, about a couple of sporting legends and pioneers of the multi-billion dollar industry that thrives on green fees and tees.

By rights, the story of Old Tom Morris and his son Young Tommy ought to be known the world over. Old Tom, Master greens keeper of the iconic St. Andrews Links, struck the very first ball at the inaugural Open Championship in 1860, going on to win the tournament on four occasions. His extraordinary feats were matched by teenage prodigy Young Tommy soon after – establishing the Morris family at the forefront of the emerging sport, and as the pride of their countrymen.

Based on Kevin Cook’s prize winning book of the same name, TOMMY’S HONOUR is a beautifully detailed story of ambition, class politics, and filial conflict. Continue reading TOMMY’S HONOUR : A GOLF STORY FOR THE AGES

ALI’S WEDDING OPENS AACTA’S FESTIVAL OF AUSTRALIAN FILM 2017

Featured image – Maha Wilson, Helena Sawires, Osamah Sami, Frances Duca. All Photos by Ben Apfelbaum.

ALI’S WEDDING was chosen to be the opening night film of AACTA’s Festival of Australian Film.

The film was the winner of Foxtel Movies Audience Award at the 2017 Sydney Film Festival and the Age Critic’s Award at the 2017 Melbourne International Film Festival. The film was chosen to be the opening night film of AACTA’s Festival of Australian Film.

After a ‘white lie’ which spirals out of control a neurotic, naive and musically gifted Muslim cleric’s eldest son must follow through with an arranged marriage. The only problem is that he is madly in love with an Australian born Lebanese girl.

The film has been directed by Jeffrey Walker and features a fine cast including Osamah Sami, Helena Sawires, Maha Wilson and Frances Duca.

An affectionate and entertaining story of love and duty ALI’S WEDDING opened nationally on 31st August.

 

AuSTRALIA’S SILENT FILM FESTIVAL : SEPTEMBER SCREENINGS

This month, the Sydney Silent Film Festival is presenting films that pay tribute to Australians on and behind the silver screen at two locations – the State Library Of New South Wales and the Dougherty Community Centre, 7 Victor Street Chatswood. Tickets are just $20 adult and $15 concession.

State Library of New South Wales 

September 10 at 2pm The Dam Busters (1955) 123 mins.

September 17 at 2pm Caddie (1976)103 mins.

September 24 at 2pm My Brilliant Career (1979) 95 mins. Continue reading AuSTRALIA’S SILENT FILM FESTIVAL : SEPTEMBER SCREENINGS

GIFTED : A MOVIE TO CHERISH

It’s hard as algebra to find a more charming, feel good movie than GIFTED.

Featuring Fred the monocular moggie, a cute kid maths prodigy, a hunky uncle and a wicked witch from the east, GIFTED is a tacit custody tussle with a controlled tear jerking muscle from the gifted penmanship of screenwriter Tom Flynn.

A Beautiful Mind out of Kramer vs Kramer, GIFTED gifts us Chris Evans as Frank Adler, a single man raising his spirited young niece Mary, played by Mckenna Grace, in a coastal town in Florida. Mary is a brilliant child prodigy and Frank’s intention that she lead a normal life are thwarted when the seven year old’s command of mathematics comes to the attention of his formidable mother Evelyn, a brilliant portrayal by the formidable Lindsay Duncan. Continue reading GIFTED : A MOVIE TO CHERISH

TEN DOUBLES TO ‘GOD’S OWN COUNTRY’ : ‘A BRITISH BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN BUT BETTER’

“A British ‘Brokeback Mountain’ but better”

IndieWire

“One of the most assured, fully-formed British debuts in recent years”

Sight & Sound

“A bold & brilliant drama…Josh O’Connor is a revelation”

The Film Stage

“A poised piece of filmmaking, and ‘God’s Own Country’ is broodingly beautiful”

The Upcoming

“Tough, sensual, unsentimental, with excellent lead performances”

The Guardian

 

“God’s Own Country’ turns out to be a romance which soars…It should touch the hardest of hearts”

Screen

In Francis Lee’s GOD’S OWN COUNTRY Johnny Saxby works long hours in brutal isolation on his family’s remote farm in the north of England.

Johnny numbs the daily frustration of his lonely existence with nightly binge-drinking at the local pub and casual sex.

When a handsome Romanian migrant worker arrives to take up temporary work on the family farm, Johnny suddenly finds himself having to deal with emotions he has never felt before.

An intense relationship forms between the two which changes  Johnny’s life forever.

Sydney Arts Guide has ten in season double passes to give away to GOD’S OWN COUNTRY. Be one of the first to email the Editor on editor.sydneyartsguide@gmail.com with God’s Own Country in the subject heading. Please provide your postal address. Winners will be advised by email.

KILLING GROUND : 5 DOUBLE PASSES TO THIS NEW AUSTRALIAN THRILLER

KILLING GROUND is an attempt at schlock horror channelling Wolf Creek and Deliverance. The deliverance is an ugly cry wolf experience.

A well heeled couple, Ian and Sam, who should be booking a holiday at the Hilton decide to go on a camping trip in a remote spot of the Australian wilderness. Passing through a one horse town, they ask directions to the secluded spot from a pair of suspiciously psycho locals. As you do in films of this genre.

Finally finding the secluded spot, the couple find it not so solitary, as a tent has already been pitched. But where are the happy campers?

Is that the faint twang of Duelling Banjos I hear on the soft, off shore breeze, rustling the leaves of the eerie eucalyptus?

With the other campers at large, Ian and Sam’s discovery of a child wandering alone sets off a terrifying chain of events that will put them through a hellish ordeal and punch a hole in the space-time continuum. Continue reading KILLING GROUND : 5 DOUBLE PASSES TO THIS NEW AUSTRALIAN THRILLER

THE KING’S CHOICE

A grandfather plays hide and seek with his grandchildren in the snow. This simple autumn pleasure will soon turn into a winter of discontent as the grandfather faces the future of a war with Germany.

THE KING’S CHOICE is based on the true story about the three dramatic days in April of 1940, when the King of Norway is presented with the monstrous ultimatum from the Germans: surrender or die.

Erik Poppe’s picture is a slow burn affair, building a calm before the storm so exquisitely that the mounting tension is almost taken for normal until sudden and seismic action comes crashing down.

The hypocrisy of Hitler’s hideous hegemony is highlighted as German ambassador to Norway, Curt Braeuer, desperately tries to find a diplomatic solution to the King’s dilemma – submit sovereignty or assign bloody war to his subjects. It is a duplicitous gambit on behalf of the militaristic territory grabbing Reich, a regime that is quite prepared to use their envoy as a decoy.

Surrounding this central drama, there is the concurrent story of the ineffectual Prime Minister who desperately wants to leave his position and his responsibility.

The opening scene is mirrored, although transformed from playfulness to lethal pursuit as a game of hide and seek between the Nazis and the Royal Family ensues.

With German Air Force and soldiers hunting them down, the royal family is forced to flee from the capital. They decide to go separate ways, not knowing if they’ll ever see each other again. While Crown Princess Maertha leaves Norway with the children to seek refuge in Sweden, King Haakon and Crown Prince Olav stay on to fight the Germans, and bicker amongst themselves about how they should proceed.

THE KING’S CHOICE is a spell binding film of human eminence over dry historical fact.
Jesper Christensen is quietly majestic as the beleaguered monarch, and Anders Baasmo Christiansen is equally absorbing as his son, bridling under the perceived slowness of his father to act.

Karl Markovics as Curt Brauer finely conveys the frustrations of a man whose desperate diplomacy dents his domestic life, a man in crisis due to his conflict between patriotic duty and despotic expansionism.

A terrifically tiered and textured film, THE KING’S CHOICE is a back room view of brutish bureaucracy and a benevolent monarch forced to choose on life and death matters as dictated by a madman.

AMERICAN MADE

Absolution. Welcome back, Tom Cruise, all is forgiven after the misjudged, miscreant mess of The Mummy. AMERICAN MADE is hip, hep and a hoot, and gives Cruise a character to inhabit rather than being a mere cypher action automaton.

Cruise plays Barry Seal, a hotshot airman who gets caught up in a shadowy division of the government—running crates of AK-47s and kilos of cocaine—he makes a fortune as a key player in the Iran-contra affair. From trading arms for hostages to training forces of Central and South American kingpins, Barry becomes an improbable hero working against the system. So, how does he sleep at night? Well, it’s all legal if you do it for the good guys.

According to the press notes, screenwriter Gary Spinelli had recently seen Argo, which had piqued his interest in other untold CIA scandals of the era. After a bit of research on key players of the time, he had come across a man called Barry Seal, a fascinating character in recent American history—one whose devilish swagger and zest for life affected all he met.

In AMERICAN MADE, we are introduced to Barry as captain of a TWA airliner, an accomplished aviator reduced to cruise control and automatic pilot. The thrill of flying has dissipated and he spices up his routine life by taking the airliner’s controls from time to time to create a little turbulence, and also by smuggling contraband Cuban cigars.

Sprung by the CIA, he is given the option of serving time in the penitentiary or being sequestered into the secret world. Seal can’t wait to trade TWA for CIA.

Set up with a plane and a company called AIC stationed out of a small town in Arkansas, Barry was sanctioned by the CIA to run guns into Central America, especially to arm the Contras in their struggle against the Sandinista in Nicaragua. Continue reading AMERICAN MADE

47 METRES DOWN

Hook, line and sinker,47 Metres Down is a stinker, a John Dory of two sisters, Americans, whose holiday of a lifetime becomes a living nightmare when they become trapped in a shark observation cage at the bottom of the ocean in Mexico.

Hello! Mexico? Could this be the first bit of Hollywood halibut inspired by the great trout, Trump? Forget the wall, here’s a great idea, let’s put up a shark net between America and Mexico. Really great!

With oxygen running low and great white sharks circling, it becomes a race for survival for these two siblings, one an adventurous party girl, the other a sedate bore, a prim and proper whose lack of challenge has cost her her marriage. Trouble is, the film itself runs out of puff, a lack of narrative oxygen afflicting the film with a fatal case of the bends. Continue reading 47 METRES DOWN