Cinema

THE SENSE OF AN ENDING

Many critics thought Julian Barnes much too good to win the Booker Prize, but then he did, a half dozen years ago, with The Sense of an Ending.

Many thought that the book, a very internalised view of memory, would be impossible to turn in to a beautifully textured film, but then playwright Nick Payne, author of the stupendous stage play, Constellations, wrote an adaptation and the acclaimed director of The Lunchbox, Ritesh Batra agreed to be the helmer, and so we have the graceful film, THE SENSE OF AN ENDING.

Here’s a sense of a beginning: Tony Webster leads a reclusive and quiet existence until long buried secrets from his past force him to face the flawed recollections of his younger self, the truth about his first love and the devastating consequences of decisions made a lifetime ago. Continue reading THE SENSE OF AN ENDING

NERUDA

Pablo Larrain’s picture of the  larrikin poet, NERUDA, is as ambitious, ambiguous and audacious as his anti biopic, Jackie.

Man and myth, icon and hedonist, a champagne Marxist with the heart of a poet and a predilection for pulp, Larrain’s Neruda, personified in performance as a portly proletariat potentate by Luis Gnecco, is a delicious super imposed study of a popular hero, who’s hallowed legacy is harrowed by the blunt edge of a fallen halo.

Writer Guillermo Calderon and director Pablo Larrain have invented a world, just as Neruda invented his. The film is more a “Nerudian” film than it is a film about Neruda. Continue reading NERUDA

THE ROYAL BALLET IN BALANCHINE’S ‘JEWELS’

 

We were privileged to see absolutely dazzling dancing in this revival of Balanchine’s Jewels by the Royal Ballet.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Balanchine’s work and a decade since it became part of the Royal Ballet’s repertoire.

The three works, all without a clear narrative structure, are a homage by Balanchine to French Romanticism (Emeralds) America and Broadway (Rubies) and the Imperial Russian ballet of Petipa ( Diamonds). The works feature scores by three composers – Faure , Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky.

Continue reading THE ROYAL BALLET IN BALANCHINE’S ‘JEWELS’

THE VICEROY’S HOUSE

“Makes Buckingham Palace look like a bungalow”, Lady Mountbatten opines as she surveys her new digs in THE VICEROY’S HOUSE, the latest picture to depict Partition and the creation of Pakistan.

The dwelling was designed by Lutyens and took 17 years to build. Its imposing architecture was an expression of Imperial power, intended to intimidate. It was completed in 1929, as Wall Street crashed, but few could have imagined that in less than 20 years it would become the home of the first President of India. Interestingly, it remains the largest residence of any head of state anywhere in the world.

Back in 1947, Lord Mountbatten was appointed the last British Viceroy of India, a Horay Henry of the Last Hurrah of the Raj, and this film depicts him as much a hapless pawn in the machinations of the British Government at the time as the creator and administrator of the divvy up.

Director Gurinder Chadha, probably best known for her breakout film, Bend It Like Beckham, split’s the film’s narrative fairly evenly between the political wrangling of the real historical figures upstairs in the seat of Colonial power and the emotional downstairs scenes, centred on the fictional romance between Jeet, a Hindu personal valet to Mountbatten, and Aalia, a Muslim
translator for Mountbatten’s daughter Pamela, and it’s as cheesy as a naan laced with rennin. Continue reading THE VICEROY’S HOUSE

DON’T TELL : A BRILLIANT NEW AUSTRALIAN FILM

Above : Jack Thompson plays the silkiest of silks, Bob Myers. Featured photo- Sara West plays the gutsy main character, Lyndel.

DON’T TELL is the kind of film that makes audiences “do tell” and strong word of mouth should launch this splendid court room drama into the box office success it so richly deserves.

Sara West is superb as Lyndal, a young woman at crisis point, desperate to be heard and needing to be believed. A decade ago, she was sexually abused by a teacher at a school run by the Anglican Church.

The vile experience together with the bottled up anger, guilt, and fear has derailed a life on track for a stable and productive life.

After ten years of troubled existence, Lyndal must tell of her experience, must publicly dispel her appalling sentence of silence to have any semblance of a normal life. Continue reading DON’T TELL : A BRILLIANT NEW AUSTRALIAN FILM

The Paris Opera Ballet in Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

f we shadows have offended, Think but this, and all is mended, That you have but slumber’d here. While these visions did appearA Midsummer Night’s Dream, Scene 7

Stunningly danced the latest screening of the Palace Opera and Ballet season is the Paris Opera Ballet’s presentation of Balanchine’s A MIDSUMMER’S NIGHT DREAM in two acts and six scenes .It is the first time the Paris Opera Ballet has performed this particular Balanchine work , one of Balanchine’s few narrative ballets .

Created in 1961 it features the marvellous music by Mendelssohn and uses a luscious reworking of the original Karinska costumes by fashion icon Christian Lacroix. Continue reading The Paris Opera Ballet in Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

TEN DOUBLE PASSES TO THE AMERICAN ESSENTIALS FILM FESTIVAL

 

This May Palace Cinemas once again brings the best of American independent film to Australian screens with American Essentials.

Twenty films make their Australian premiere at the three-week festival, celebrating the latest indie treasures in narrative feature and documentary, together with newly restored American classics.

Thirty-one films curated by Artistic Director Richard Sowada reflects the remarkable breadth of contemporary independent cinema produced in the US, proving a richness far greater than the same old, same old studio pictures inherent in the Hollywood machine.

American Essentials kicks off with 20th CENTURY WOMEN. Nominated for Best Original Screenplay in this year’s Academy Awards, Mike Mill’s 20thCENTURY WOMEN resembles a ramshackle novel rather than a polished screenplay. Continue reading TEN DOUBLE PASSES TO THE AMERICAN ESSENTIALS FILM FESTIVAL

GET OUT : MUCH MORE THAN A BLACK AND WHITE STORY

 

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? meets The Stepford Wives in this creepy anthropological and psychological sleeper hit.

Like Sidney Poitier, Daniel Kaluuya’s Chris is invited by his white girlfriend to meet the folks. Like Spencer Tracey and Katherine Hepburn, Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener are upper middle class liberals, brimming with bonhomie. He is a neurosurgeon and she is a psychiatrist. And they both want to play in, and with their daughter’s intended’s brain. Continue reading GET OUT : MUCH MORE THAN A BLACK AND WHITE STORY

TEN DOUBLE PASSES: THE NEW FRENCH FILM ‘THE INNOCENTS’

The original title for Anne Fontaine’s THE INNOCENTS was Agnus Dei, or Lamb of God.The Holy Ovine who is supposed to take away the sins of the world, God’s gamboller who will grant peace and mitigate mercy.

The film is based on a true story, on events that occurred at the end of World War II. As the Nazi’s were withdrawing from Poland, the Russians advanced and occupied and pillaged Poland. Rape was considered a reward and Soviet soldiers were responsible for the insemination of several nuns.

The convent closed ranks, Mother Superior deciding to conceal the atrocities. Within cloisters, the baby bumps mature, and the physical and psychological effects fit to burst.
Now is the winter of this convent from whence a maid becomes a glorious summoner. Continue reading TEN DOUBLE PASSES: THE NEW FRENCH FILM ‘THE INNOCENTS’

THEIR FINEST : A MOVIE LIKE THEY USED TO MAKE

My Mum’s mantra about modern movies is “Why don’t they make films like they used to?”

Well, guess what, Mum? They still do.

At least Lone Scherfig’s latest film, THEIR FINEST, is about how they made films back in the Forties, and so finely made is it, that it does, in fact, feel like a picture made back then.

In the midst of the Second World War, the population of England and her allies were in need of something uplifting they could relate to, to help raise the spirits of the nation during this bleak time.

Going to the pictures became more than just an exercise in entertainment, but an excursion into hope and optimism.

Gemma Arterton stars as Catrin Cole, a creative copywriter who catches the eye of the Government section that produce propaganda feature films. She is employed to create engaging scenarios and write female dialogue, to tap into the emotions and imaginations of the fast growing women’s workforce, to stroke the heart, stoke the hearth, and keep the home fires burning. Continue reading THEIR FINEST : A MOVIE LIKE THEY USED TO MAKE

TEN DOUBLE PASSES TO THE NEW FRENCH FILM ‘THE INNOCENTS’

Directed by acclaimed filmmaker, Anne Fontaine (Coco Avant Chanel, Nathalie, Gemma Bovery), THE INNOCENTS is based on actual events and set in Poland at the end of World War 2.

The film chronicles a largely forgotten piece of history based on the astonishing true experiences of Madeleine Pauliac and deals with complex issues of war and faith.   

She is a young doctor at a Red Cross hospital who responds to a desperate plea from a nun and breaks protocol to visit a local Benedictine convent, where she is shocked to find a nun in the midst of a complicated labour and several more in various stages of pregnancy.

As she uncovers the truth of what happened, she begins the demanding task of caring for these women, whilst navigating the reluctance of the wary Mother Superior, who wants to keep the events that brought her charges to this situation, a secret from the outside world.

THE INNOCENTS will screen at selected arthouse cinemas from Thursday 27th April.

Sydney Arts Guide has ten in season double passes to give away. Be one of the first to email editor.sydneyartsguide@gmail.com. Winners will be advised by return email. Please provide your postal address in your email.

RAW : IN YOUR FACE FILMMAKING

A slap in the vagina with a piece of veal to vegans and vegetarians, RAW is about a couple of cannibal sisters who certainly like their meat rare.

These self same samplers of human flesh and sinew are veterinarian science students at a well heeled university, where fees cost an arm and a leg.

This is the alma mater of their parents, so they are carrying on an alpha tradition.

Another tradition that runs deep in the family is their dedicated veganism, so when initiation rituals include meat eating and blood splattering, we know we are in for some extreme angst, conflict and life altering experience.                         Continue reading RAW : IN YOUR FACE FILMMAKING

COLOSSAL : A QUIRKY NEW FILM STARRING ANNE HATHAWAY

Colossal entertainment of a bent and skewed kind awaits audiences with COLOSSAL, Anne Hathaway’s brave heart take on domestic violence, male manipulation and the canker of unrequited hanker.

COLOSSAL is a film in which a recognisably universal story is manipulated through a monster mash of genres – part rom com, part creature feature – and it works a treat in a meteoric, metaphoric euphoria.

The plot follows Gloria who has lost her high flying job and fiance due to being a tragic hostage in the battle for the bottle. She is the very opposite of her name.

She makes an ignominious return to her home town, rekindles an acquaintance with a bloke from her past and starts working in his bar. A drunk tending bar – now there’s a plan.                       Continue reading COLOSSAL : A QUIRKY NEW FILM STARRING ANNE HATHAWAY

PERSONAL SHOPPER : EXPLORING THE WORLD OF THE BEREAVED

 

In Olivier Assayas’ formidable film, PERSONAL SHOPPER, mourning becomes electric.

Genuinely eerie, PERSONAL SHOPPER is a ghost story but not in the contemporary chintzy, clutzy, gormless gory CGI scaremongering generic of hackneyed haunting.

No cheap thrills here, just a film with the gift of enigmatic clarity. There’s a piercing sadness and melancholy beauty in Olivier Assayas beautifully chilling essay on grief.

Kristen Stewart excels here, exquisitely transcending those vapid vampires that boosted her career.                Continue reading PERSONAL SHOPPER : EXPLORING THE WORLD OF THE BEREAVED

DENIAL : A DRAMATISATION OF THE DAVID IRVING VERSUS PENGUIN BOOKS LTD CASE

One cannot help muse that the defiant, deluded Holocaust denier, David Irving, must have been duped into thinking the case he brought against Penguin Books and their author, Deborah Lipstadt, was going to be heard by Jewry rather than a jury when he agreed that the matter be adjudicated by a judge alone.

Of course, the truth of the matter is brilliantly argued in the astonishingly gripping court room drama, DENIAL.

After historian Deborah Lipstadt’s book Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory is published in the UK, she is shocked to learn that British author David Irving, a prolific writer of texts on World War II, is suing her for libel.                        Continue reading DENIAL : A DRAMATISATION OF THE DAVID IRVING VERSUS PENGUIN BOOKS LTD CASE

TEN DOUBLE PASSES TO THE CONTROVERSIAL NEW FRENCH FILM ‘RAW’

This is a funny, sexy and scary new French film which has already won a slew of awards.

RAW tells the story of Justine (Garance Marillier), a brilliant 16-year-old whose admission to a prestigious veterinary school sparks a coming-of-age like no other. With her older sister Alexia (Ella Rumpf) watching on, Justine partakes in a bizarre hazing ritual where she is forced to eat raw meat for the first time, defying her vegan upbringing and unleashing an insatiable desire for flesh.

Tapping into the violence of youthful rites of passage and the power of sisterly bonds, RAW is emotionally and physically visceral, and totally unforgettable. The film imaginatively and intelligently expands contemporary horror cinema, announcing French writer-director Julia Ducournau as a key figure in an exciting and bold new wave of female genre filmmakers.

A Monster Pictures film, RAW will release nationally on Thursday 20 April.  Here is the link to the trailer- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDiVGDmgsFY.

Sydney Arts Guide has ten double passes to give away. Be one of the first to email editor.sydneyartsguide@gmail.com. 

Please put RAW competition in the subject line and provide your postal address. Winners will be advised by email and passes will be mailed out.

NT LIVE PRESENTS AN IBSEN CLASSIC : HEDDA GABBLER

The NT Live screening of Hedda Gabler brings us a bleak, sparse and shattering version of Ibsen’s classic play, written in 1891.

Under Ivo Van Hove’s assured direction, the play is updated to now, with a crisp, supple translation by Patrick Marber that makes it seem new and vivid .

The set is an almost bare, anonymous apartment in the inner city, in the middle of renovation. There are vertical blinds, a fridge and a security camera at the door. Jan Verswyveld‘s lighting is splendid.

The soundscape features a mix of popular songs including Joni Mitchell’s classic ballad Blue all of which go to depicting a person in crisis.

Ruth Wilson is luminous and riveting in the eponymous title role . We first see her slumped over the piano, in negligee and dressing robe, seemingly oblivious of what is happening around her– but is she really?!                               Continue reading NT LIVE PRESENTS AN IBSEN CLASSIC : HEDDA GABBLER

THE DAY OF THE JACKAL : CLASSIC SUSPENSE

Forty four years on and THE DAY OF THE JACKAL is still as taut, tense and terrific as it was when released in cinemas in 1973.

Helmed by master craftsman Fred Zinnemann this original adaptation of Frederick Forsyth’s best selling book is 143 minutes of precise methodical planning, suspenseful in a cool, measured way that reflects the cold calculating calm of the assassin code named The Jackal.

In a precision piece of police procedural, the movie painstakingly maps the trajectory of the hiring of the hitman to the cat and mouse chase and capture.

Continue reading THE DAY OF THE JACKAL : CLASSIC SUSPENSE

POLINA : A DANCER SEARCHES FOR HER TRUTH

 

Dark and at times somewhat disturbing . POLINA marks the directorial debut of renowned French choreographer Angelin Preljocaj and his wife, filmmaker Valérie Müller.

The film is wonderfully, at times moodily photographed, with some glorious landscape shots, including a striking early solo outside in the snow against the backdrop of the cooling towers of a nuclear power plant , and later some enchanting use of mirrors and shadows and unusual angles. and much use of intimate closeup. The interior of the Bolshoi Theatre and school are glowingly portrayed.

The film’s sections of electronic score, by 79D, works well with the shift away from classical music to something more edgy and contemporary.

POLINA is based on the graphic novel of the same name by Bastien Vivès and is about a ballerina and her artistic development.

Veronika Zhovnytska plays Polina as a young
girl, whose supportive hardworking parents encourage her dream of one day dancing for the Bolshoi. Continue reading POLINA : A DANCER SEARCHES FOR HER TRUTH

EXHIBITION ON SCREEN : THE ARTIST’S GARDEN : AMERICAN IMPRESSIONISM

“An artist’s interest in gardening is to produce pictures without brushes.” Anna Lea Merritt

The latest luminous film from Exhibition on Screen is from the Florence Griswold Museum in Connecticut located at the former boarding house in Connecticut where the artists gathered .

Narrated by Gillian Anderson and directed by Phil Grabsky, with some voice over of artist’s letters of the time, it documents how the American impressionist movement followed its own path, whilst taking heed of leading French impressionists such as Renoir and Cezanne.

It also puts the art movement in context of the development of America at the time with the adoption of Impressionist techniques by US artists and it examines the way the movement interacted with changing attitudes to gardens, as well as the many other upheavals in American society at the time. Continue reading EXHIBITION ON SCREEN : THE ARTIST’S GARDEN : AMERICAN IMPRESSIONISM

A MAN CALLED OVE

Remember when the ownership of a Holden or a Ford was tribal? The same kind of one car nation or the other raises its quaint and parochial head in the Swedish episodic comedy, A MAN CALLED OVE.

Curmudgeon sexagenarian Ove is a Saab man through and through, with unmitigated disdain for Volvo drivers, although that at least is better than Audi, – “four zeros on the grille and one behind the wheel” is his disparaging default.

Recently widowed, Ove is the quintessential angry old man next door, the self appointed and opinionated neighbourhood watchman, with strict principles and a short fuse, who spends his days enforcing block association rules that only he cares about, and visiting his wife’s grave.

When suddenly retrenched, Ove decides that life is finally not worth living. He decides to commit suicide, but after a series of attempts, it appears that life is not ready to give up on Ove. Continue reading A MAN CALLED OVE

ZACH’S CEREMONY : A NEW FILM BY AARON PETERSEN

If you think the Sydney lock out laws are Draconian, consider the Queensland State Government’s Alcohol Management Plan affecting the town of Doomadgee – a first offence penalty for possessing a full strength alcoholic beverage is a fine of $44,175 or incarceration if unable to pay.

Imagine that imposition to the beer swilling burgers of Sydney. The weekend paralytic would be apoplectic, yet this appalling apartheid prohibition is levelled at the indigenous inhabitants, further pathetic paternalism by a white society.

Back in 1930, white Christian missionaries thrashed indigenous culture out of the locals, now there is a concentrated effort to claw it back. Out of a population of a thousand, there were fourteen suicides in twelve months, due partly to alcohol and drugs which is part of the problem of dissociation that prevails in these communities. Continue reading ZACH’S CEREMONY : A NEW FILM BY AARON PETERSEN

SMURFS – THE LOST VILLAGE (2017)

 

 

SMURFS – THE LOST VILLAGE (2017)

“The Smurfs” (2011) was the first film in the current franchise, and was quickly followed by the very successful “The Smurfs 2” (2013), and both were hybrids skillfully combining a live-action universe with a digitally animated CGI characters.

SMURFS – THE LOST VILLAGE is the latest film in the smurfs franchise, this time is fully digitally animated, and presents a brand new take on the Smurfs, and as experienced at the media screening, yet again SMURFS – THE LOST VILLAGE is a huge hit with very young children and their parents, with magnificent voice talents attached to the cast, and this is a very child-friendly kids fantasy movie for three-to-nine-year-olds.

Continue reading SMURFS – THE LOST VILLAGE (2017)

LAND OF MINE : A POWERFUL ANTI LANDMINES MOVIE

One of the best films of the year, LAND OF MINE, is the cinematic cousin, or soul mate of The Hurt Locker and The Hill.

In a nutshell, this bombshell of a movie is set in the days following the surrender of Nazi Germany in May 1945, when German POWs held in Denmark were put to work by the Allied Forces. With minimal training in defusing explosives, they were sent to remove in excess of two million of their own landmines from the Danish west coast.

The film begins with our introduction to Sergeant Rasmussen, military moustached veteran of the Nazi occupation, going berserk at the sight of a soldier, part of a column of vanquished Germans soldiers filing down the road, draped in a Danish flag.

Incensed to the point of inflicting grievous bodily harm, he screams at the souveniring soldier, “This land is mine.” Continue reading LAND OF MINE : A POWERFUL ANTI LANDMINES MOVIE

WOOLF WORKS : THE ROYAL BALLET REIMAGINING SOME CLASSIC VIRGINIA WOOLF STORIES

Ferri and Bonelli in The Waves

Originally created in 2015 this is a welcome return of resident choreographer Wayne McGregor’s three part work based on the life and works of Virginia Woolf.

McGregor’s three acts delve into three of Woolf’s novels, interwoven with images from her own life. The choreography is athletic and extremely demanding at times with death defying leaps and catches in the partnering and laser sharp legs .The Royal Ballet dancers are AMAZING.

Continue reading WOOLF WORKS : THE ROYAL BALLET REIMAGINING SOME CLASSIC VIRGINIA WOOLF STORIES