Cinema

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

TERMINATOR 2 : JUDGEMENT DAY 3D 4K RESTORATION

August 29, 1997 has come and gone but T2 is back and it hasn’t really aged a bit.

A quarter of a century ago, when Terminator 2 was freshly minted, August 29, 1997 was mooted as Armageddon, the day Skynet triggered World War III and the rise of the machines.

Twenty years on from that inglorious date Terminator 2 has been newly minted as T23D4K.

It’s the same thrill ride movie from 1991 enhanced by 4K restoration and 3D conversion.

Some seven years passed between Terminator and this sequel, clearly not a rushed job, and the care and detail in the honed and polished script is all up there on the screen, from performance, cinematography, special effects that are special and effective, and good old fashioned startling stunt work.

From its first skull crunching frame to the self sacrificing cyborg finale, director James Cameron makes that rarity – a sequel that is the equal or better than the original. And for all its macho gun play, T2 is a masterpiece of feminist pacifist cinema.

Sarah Connor, is a tough woman, working on emotion and instinct to protect her son and mankind from assured destruction. Like Ripley in Aliens, another James Cameron sci fi/actioner masterpiece, Sarah is not some passive adjunct to a male driven story, she’s a driver not a passenger. Linda Hamilton is fantastic in the role.

And John Connor, the savior of the human race, illustrates his humanity by ordering the robot sent to protect him not to kill anybody. So the death toll is depleted even among all the destruction. Mayhem without mass murder!

The killing is left to the shape shifting assassin cyborg T-1000 played with steely confidence and deadly droid focus by Robert Patrick.

And, of course, there’s Arnie, reprising his role in a most surprising and satisfying way, with deadly deadpan delivery and convincing robotic bulk.

T2 was a triumph when it was made and remains a triumph today – in mood, textures, concerns. Meticulous in its manufacture, it is a text book example of cinematic craftsmanship.

The 4K 3D are enhancements to be savoured, especially on the big screen, where its size and spectacle can be best appreciated.

Make sure you get in early – who knows what may happen come August 29, 2017.

TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY is hitting cinemas for one-week-only on August 24.

 

MAHBAS : OPENING NIGHT FILM TO THE 14TH ARAB FILM FESTIVAL

Perhaps not as funny or as slick as the current film phenomenon, The Big Sick, MAHBAS, casts a probing eye on carcinogenic parental prejudices that cause impediments to impending intended unions of their offspring.

While both studying in Dubai, Lebanese lass, Ghada and son of Syria, Samer, fall in love and plan matrimony. Ghada’s dad, Maurice, has no trouble giving his blessing but baulks at telling his wife, Therese, knowing her systematic hatred for Syrians will null the nuptials.

Twenty years ago, Therese’s brother was killed by a Syrian bomb and ever since she has borne a bias against all things Syrian.
Dad has the fervent but foolish belief that an ambush meeting between the intended in laws will bring Therese to her senses, especially as the stakes are her only child’s happiness.

And so the scene is set for some some sprightly, spiteful conflict, with Therese going into seat of the pants sabotage mode in an attempt to rent the couple asunder.

Apart from being a study in racial or cultural tensions, MAHBAS can be read as a meditation of marriage, the sterility of the unions of both parents in contrast to the couple eagerly anticipating their own embarkation into the deadlock of wedlock.
Maurice is busily shagging his secretary, excused by Therese’s devotion to her martyred brother. Samer’s dad is gregarious whereas his mum is the opposite. She harbours an idea that all Lebanese girls are sluts.

It is interesting to note that both mothers perceive their prospective son in law/daughter in law as unsuitable, whereas the father’s are both happy for the match to take place.

Sophie Boutros‘ film has a slow burn beginning where drama takes the ascent before the descent into comedy leavens the mood. However, just before it free falls into farce, the fractious facts of foibled humans ferment and foam in a brew that is true, sobering and bitter sweet.

MAHBAS is anchored by a sterling performance by Julia Kassar as Therese, conniving, manipulating, furious and flawed. Her counterpoint is delightfully played by Betty Taoutel, as her daffy neighbour, Solange, a scene stealer at every stage.

A screening of MAHBAS will launch the 14th annual Arab Film Festival Australia at the opening night party in Sydney, held at Riverside Theatres Parramatta, Thursday 17 August with director Sophie Boutros in attendance.

http://riversideparramatta.com.au

5TH QUEER SCREEN FILM FEST 19 – 24 SEPTEMBER 2017

The QUEER SCREEN FILM FESTIVAL lineup has been announced and it will feature 20 films from four continents, including 16 Australian premieres, puts the diversity of LGBTIQ experience and Queer strength on screen in Sydney and the Blue Mountains.

There are screenings at the Mt Vic Flicks, Event Cinemas and thanks to a partnership with City of Sydney, Queer Screen Film Fest will also present three free film events for the whole community.

There is an outdoor family screening of Moana at Sydney Park, a seniors (and friends) viewing of the moving documentary The Lavender Scare, complete with afternoon tea. In addition there is a youth event featuring Behind The Curtain: Todrick Hall, a high energy documentary following the titular YouTube and Rupaul’s Drag Race sensation.

“Being able to give back and reach out to the community is something Queer Screen views as vitally important, and through our strong relationship with City of Sydney we are again able to provide free entertainment that focuses on three pillars of the LGBTIQ community: families, seniors and youth” says Festival Director, Lisa Rose. Continue reading 5TH QUEER SCREEN FILM FEST 19 – 24 SEPTEMBER 2017

LOGAN LUCKY : STEPHEN SODERBERGH’S LATEST, A CRIMINALLY ENTERTAINING ROMP

Think Oceans 11 as made by the Coen Brothers, inverting Vegas artifice into a red neck, blue collar, John Denver themed heist at a speedway and you’ve got LOGAN LUCKY, Steven Soderbergh’s sensationally silly return to the big screen after a four year spell.

LOGAN LUCKY is wheeling, stealing West Virginia, where two brothers and a sister, Jimmy, Clyde and Mellie Logan plot to make a pot from relieving a raceway of its takings. The scheming siblings enlist the help of another trio of kin, the Bang Brothers, Hoe, Fish and Sam.

Joe is a safe cracker currently incarcerated in the local penitentiary, so part of the plan is to extricate this bleached blond in black and white bars onesie, and reinstall him in the pen after the robbery is just one of the delicious intricacies in this criminally entertaining romp.

The script is credited to Rebecca Blunt, a first time screenwriter, and is filled with plot twist, twisted humour – what’s with the bag man bear in the woods? – and characters who are around the twist. Continue reading LOGAN LUCKY : STEPHEN SODERBERGH’S LATEST, A CRIMINALLY ENTERTAINING ROMP

THE TRIP TO SPAIN : ON THE ROAD AGAIN WITH COOGAN AND BRYDON

It’s kinda like a culinary 7 UP, three pictures in seven years, the latest THE TRIP TO SPAIN.

Seven yeas ago, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon , under the direction of Michael Winterbottom, embarked on a tasty tour of England called THE TRIP, where they gourmandised and performed duelling impressions in a hip, flip and funny film that had us laughing in the British Isles.

The film spawned THE TRIP TO ITALY, with more gutsy gourmandising with gusto and impressario impressions of Michael Caine, Al Pacino and Sean Connery.

THE TRIP TO SPAIN is more of the same with more impressive impressions, this time with the additions of Roger Moore, David Bowie and Anthony Hopkins in full Bligh bounty. The Moore jousting comes about specifically because of the locale, where the Moores’ left behind an impressive array of architecture.

Putting Steve’s Range Rover on the ferry, the pair sail to Spain then drive through a taste tempting tapas tour to the accompaniment of Windmills of Your Mind. Yes, it’s an allusion to Don Quixote tilting at windmills, but Brydon’s dry meandering wit links it this way – Noel Harrison had the hit version of the song. Noel Harrison was Rex Harrison’s son. And Rex Harrison sang The Rain in Spain. Ole!

The Cervantes analogy is definitely and drolly pursued with Coogan as the Don and Brydon as Sancho Panza, as if Winterbottom is playing at being Terry Gilliam.

THE TRIP TO SPAIN is a voyage around a quasi fictional infarction (from the Latin infarctus, meaning stuffed into) of the two real flesh and blood characters. These fictional traits are stuffed into the factual where the audience is at odds to know where the reality ends and the fantasy begins. It’s an impression, and so the ad infinitum, (some, unkindly, may say ad nauseum), impressions become the film’s trope. It is certainly the film’s shtick.

Coogan and Brydon are the 21st century Crosby and Hope, bringing silliness, charisma, storytelling and nostalgia with more than a wink and a nod to insider jokes from television and movies.

If orthodoxy is the grave of invention, then Coogan, Brydon and Winterbottom seem to be whistling past the cemetery.

More than a moreish morsel of madcap mirth, THE TRIP TO SPAIN takes a serious and sinister turn towards the end, either flagging a finale to the series or a further fling possibly titled The Trip to Tripoli.

THE BIG SICK : A MOVIE THAT WILL CHASE THOSE BLUES AWAY

THE BIG SICK could well be the title of an article about the health of the romantic comedy, a noble genre that has been gasping for breath lately due to anaemic scripts and endemic malnutrition.

The film, THE BIG SICK, brings the rom com back from the brink of death, and restores it to the rudest of health, even though a life and death experience embodies the film’s narrative and story.

Based on the real-life courtship between Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, THE BIG SICK tells the story of Pakistan-born aspiring comedian Kumail, played by co-writer, Nanjiani, who connects with psychology graduate student Emily after one of his stand-up sets. However, what they thought would be just a one-night stand blossoms into the real thing, an ankle over ears love affair, which complicates the life that is expected of Kumail by his traditional Muslim parents.

Kumail, out of filial duty, keeps Emily’s existence a secret, and continues to have dinner with his family, meals that are always punctuated by an impromptu arrival of a marriageable Pakistani girl. The girls bring pictures of themselves as if they were actors looking to be cast in a role, the role of Mrs. Kumail. Continue reading THE BIG SICK : A MOVIE THAT WILL CHASE THOSE BLUES AWAY

TEN DOUBLES TO THE FEEL GOOD MOVIE ‘THE TIME OF OUR LIVES’

Determined to gate-crash her ex-lover’s funeral, former Hollywood siren Helen, played by Joan Collins, escapes her London retirement home with the help of Priscilla, played by Pauline Collins, a repressed English housewife stuck in a boring marriage.

Together they hit the road in a race to get to the funeral on time. On the way they become entangled in a love triangle with an Italian millionaire, played by Franco Nero, find true friendship in one another, and have the time of their lives.

David Wigg from  Daily Mail described THE TIME OF OUR LIVES as ‘this year’s most hilarious feel good movie.’

Sydney Arts Guide has ten in season double passes to give away. Be on the first to  email editor.sydneyartsguide@gmail.com. Winners will be advised by email.

THE TIME OF OUR LIVES opens in cinemas on Thursday 10th August.

 

5 DOUBLE PASSES TO NTL’S ‘WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF’ @ DENDY NEWTOWN

Sharmill Films and Sonia Friedman Productions are presenting Imelda Staunton (Gypsy, Vera Drake, the Harry Potter films), Conleth Hill (Game Of Thrones, The Producers), Luke Treadaway (A Street Cat Named Bob, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, The Hollow Crown) and Imogen Poots (A Long Way Down, Jane Eyre) in James Macdonald’s critically acclaimed  production of the late Edward Albee’s landmark play, captured live for cinemas from the Harold Pinter Theatre, London.

In the early hours of the morning on the campus of an American college, Martha, much to her husband George’s displeasure, has invited the new professor and his wife to their home for some after-party drinks. As the alcohol flows and dawn approaches, the young couple are drawn into George and Martha’s toxic games until the evening reaches its climax in a moment of devastating truth-telling.

Sydney Arts Guide has five double passes to give away to the preview screening at the Dendy Newtown on Wednesday 9th August at 6 pm.

Be one of the first to editor.sydneyartsguide@gmail.com Winners will be advised by email.

NTLive’s WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF will screen at selected arthouse cinemas from Thursday 19th August.

 

EXHIBITION ON SCREEN :MICHELANGELO LOVE AND DEATH

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free” Michelangelo.

Born in 1475 in Tuscany, Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni is regarded as one of the great artists of the Renaissance, if not of all time, with his sculptures and paintings including the giant statue of David, (fashioned from a single block of marble), his eloquent Pieta in the Papal Basilica of St Peter, and the rather overwhelming Sistine Chapel ceiling in the Vatican. Not forgetting the Manchester Madonna (today at the National Gallery in London).

This documentary, the latest in the Exhibition on Screen series, linked in with the National Gallery in London’s Michelangelo/Sebastiano exhibition that closed in late June, features expert commentators such as the art critics Martin Gayford and Jonathan Jones and Vatican Museum and National Gallery curators, who illuminate various facts about the bravura artist and reveal the passionate and ambitious man behind the work.

Use is made of letters by Michelangelo and his contemporaries, and quotes from the Vasari and Condivi biographies, in particular. We also hear some of Michelangelo’s poetry (one of which is set to a madrigal). His life and work are placed in context (Florence and Rome in the 16th century were turbulent times) and we learn of his friendship with and patronage by the Medicis and three Popes. Continue reading EXHIBITION ON SCREEN :MICHELANGELO LOVE AND DEATH

A MONSTER CALLS : A TRIUMPH OF IMAGINATIVE FILM MAKING

A film that defies easy definition is a film to cherish in these days of flaccid franchise.
A MONSTER CALLS sounds like a horror movie, but it’s not really.

With a pre-teen protagonists it could be pathetically pigeon-holed as a teen movie, but it is not in the prevailing pen of kiddie gross out pictures.

A MONSTER CALLS is a wholly original film that deals with the monsters that come a calling throughout our lives, the monster of bullying, the monster of illness, the monster of separation, the monster of dealing with the death of a loved one.

Continue reading A MONSTER CALLS : A TRIUMPH OF IMAGINATIVE FILM MAKING

ROMEO AND JULIET @ THE COMEDIE FRANCAISE: A PRODUCTION TO SWOON FOR

This production  sees Shakespeare’s ROMEO AND JULIET performed for the first time in over 50 years at the Comedie Francaise.  The play is performed in French, it is the Victor Hugo version with English surtitles.

The clean camera work exquisitely transfers the play from the stage to screen, with very effective use of close up when appropriate.

There are some wonderful touches in Ruf’s direction as for instance when Romeo blow dries Juliet’s hands with his breath.

The high, looming sets were cold and imposing (mostly tiles or marbled walls) with fluid, seamless set changes .

The costumes by Christian LaCroix were evocative of a broken down glamour.

This production resets Shakespeare’s classic play to the early twentieth century. A main theme is the idea of the vendetta and with turbulent emotions seething just under the surface. There were no extended sword fights but rather the deadly use of a small, hidden stiletto dagger. Continue reading ROMEO AND JULIET @ THE COMEDIE FRANCAISE: A PRODUCTION TO SWOON FOR

BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S : A LOVELY TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE

Dendy Cinemas are gearing up to host a series of retro screenings themed to feature food, drink and moments reminiscent of those in the movies.

On Monday July 31st at Dendy Opera Quays will host two separate screenings of the iconic movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s – starring the fabulous Audrey Hepburn in one of her most iconic roles on screen.

Dendy Cinema-goers can attend either a 10am session with a coffee & croissant, or a 6:30pm session with a glass of champagne (just like Audrey) for either of these two very special limited screenings. Continue reading BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S : A LOVELY TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE

PALACE OPERA AND BALLET :  ROYAL BALLET PRESENTS AN ASHTON TRIPLE BILL

 

As part of the Palace Opera and Ballet season, celebrating 70 years at the Royal Opera House, the Royal Ballet brings it season to a close with a tribute to its founder choreographer Sir Frederick Ashton.

The tribute comprised a marvellous triple bill featuring The Dream (1964), based on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the non-narrative work Symphonic Variations (1946) to music by Franck (Ashton’s first work after World War 2), and then finally the 1963 passionate, tempestuous Marguerite and Armand (1963), based on La Dame Aux Camellias, created for the legendary partnership of Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev to a Lizst sonata.

This particular performance also marks the retirement from the stage of principal Zenaida Yanowsky and at the end we see the extended curtain calls and appearances by several of her leading men who have partnered her over the years in various roles.

Opening the program was a delightful revival of The Dream. The forest clearing set was enchanting and beautifully lit, the Mendelssohn music gloriously played by the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House under the energetic baton of Emmanuel Plasson with the London Oratory Junior Choir giving a fine performance. The fairies were absolutely enchanting. Continue reading PALACE OPERA AND BALLET :  ROYAL BALLET PRESENTS AN ASHTON TRIPLE BILL

A COUPLE OF COPPOLA GEMS AWAIT YOU AT A CINEMA NEAR YOU

Your cinematic cup runneth over in July with a couple of Coppola pictures that are a cut above the pack.

Forging away from father and husband Francis, daughter Sofia and wife, Eleanor, have each made a film that entertains, enchants and engages in both narrative and image.

THE BEGUILED

Sofia’s choice is THE BEGUILED, the latest in the crinoline and corset carousel that’s merry go rounding our cinemas at present.

Often one will see a film and be inspired to track down its source material.

This was the case when Sofia Coppola finally caught up with Don Siegal’s Clint Eastwood starrer, The Beguiled.

Instead of doing a remake she wanted to shoot a re-imagining of Thomas Cullinan’s novel of the same name, a bit like the Coen Brothers did with True Grit a spell ago.

Laced with elements of a taut psychological thriller, the tale unfolds in 1864 – three years into the Civil War – and is tightly concentrated in and around a Southern girls’ boarding school in Virginia.

Sofia Coppola weaves some Peter Weir-ness in this Southern Gothic, with a haunting hitch of the petticoat nod to Picnic at Hanging Rock.

Coppola’s version begins with a young student of the school out foraging for fungi when she comes face to face with a not much fun guy, a fearful and almost fatally wounded infantryman. He’s an Irishman in a Yankee uniform. He might as well be the Devil in blue dress, but Christian benevolence suffered by little children determines the little girl to bring the soldier back to the school fore succour and sanctuary.

The girl brings him back to the school where the headmistress ministers his wounds. As she and the French teacher and the remaining students provide refuge and tend to his wounds, the house is taken over with sexual tension and dangerous rivalries, and taboos are broken in an unexpected turn of events.

Think Misery out of Picnic at Hanging Rock and you get the picture.

Nicole Kidman is at her recent best as the school principal, Miss Martha. Prim and proper but with a perceptible impishness, she is a deliciously decisive den mother with a nuanced sense of propriety mixed with a suitably appropriate sense of humour and irony.

Kirstin Dunst is her dignified French teacher, Edwina, seduced by the soldier’s courtly charm.

Elle Fanning is the precocious senior student, Alicia, intent on seducing the soldier and satisfying the curiosity of her own burgeoning sexuality.

The soldier is played with rat cunning charm by Colin Farrell. When he tries to get a leg over, he comes a cropper.

Among the younger students, watch out for rising Australian star, Angouri Rice as Jane.

Sofia Coppola’s script is succinct, suspenseful, sexy and very funny, and the look of the film is to die for.

Draped in Southern Gothic, Costume Designer Stacey Battat brings a stately gorgeousity to the film that is beguiling and bewitching as the narrative.

PARIS CAN WAIT

Departing the historical Southern states of America for the byways of contemporary France, Sofia’s mother, Eleanor Coppola, delivers a delicious and delightful road movie PARIS CAN WAIT, her first narrative feature that benefits from her documentary film making experience.

Basted biographical, PARIS CAN WAIT had a six year gestation from its genesis. In 2009, Eleanor Coppola found herself with a bad head cold which prevented her from flying. She had accompanied her husband, Francis, to the Cannes Film Festival with an expectation of continuing on to Eastern Europe, where he had business. What now?!

The dilemma was quickly solved by her spouse’s long-time business associate, a Frenchman, who was driving back to Paris right then. He suggested she come with him. She accepted. By nightfall she’d be sleeping in the Coppolas’ Paris apartment. And, when his meetings were over, Francis would join her for a short vacation.

Weeks later, after returning to her home in Northern California, Eleanor regaled a friend with colorful anecdotes about her jaunt from Cannes to Paris with a cuisine-obsessed Frenchman who took her on a “trip” in more ways than one. A seven-hour sojourn stretched to forty before his gasping vintage Peugeot took its final breath and was exchanged for a rental. “That’s a movie I’d like to see,” her friend said, laughing.

PARIS CAN WAIT is that movie. Written, directed and produced by Eleanor Coppola, it is a wry contemporary comedy, starring Diane Lane and Alec Baldwin as the fictionalized film couple, “Anne and Michael Lockwood.” , with French writer director-actor Arnaud Viard portraying the irrepressible “Jacques.” , Anne’s sheer chance chauffer.

PARIS CAN WAIT reflects both the pleasures and vexations which stem from hours of close contact between an American woman at something of a crossroads in her life, and a charming Frenchman who oozes charm and erudition to camouflage life “issues” of his own.

It’s a road movie and a culinary adventure, much like the Steve Coogan/Rob Brydon Trip movies, but without the self consciousness.

Jacques knows all the best off the beaten track sights and restaurants and Anne, at first frustrated by the meanderings and barely muted amour of Jacques, becomes fascinated with the journey and her guide.

Anne, like Eleanor, has a fine eye and constantly snaps away with her camera, capturing the many moods and foods encountered on this epicurean and emotional epic.

Anne is also frock conscious and Coppola has had the great good sense to employ costume designer Milena Canonero, four time Oscar winner, for Barry Lyndon, Chariots of Fire, Marie Antoinette and The Grand Budapest Hotel. Adding to the sumptuous look of the picture is production designer, Anne Seibel, who was the art director on Sofia’s film, Marie Antoinette.

PARIS CAN WAIT is worth the price of admission for the travelogue aspects alone. The drive from Cannes to Paris with its sublime stopovers, including Lyons, is a scenic spectacular.

The narrative may seem to take a back seat but it drives the movie in a deceptively simple way.
Diane Lane is perfect as Anne, graceful, articulate and strong, a luminous presence, the complete antithesis of the Ugly American, while Arnaud Viard relishes the sometimes stereotypical “Frenchness” of Jacques.

PARIS CAN WAIT is well worth a look – don’t wait.

TEN DOUBLE PASSES TO FILM PREVIEW : A GHOST STORY @ PALACE VERONA

With A GHOST STORY acclaimed director David Lowery (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Pete’s Dragon) returns with an exploration of legacy, loss, and the essential human longing for meaning and connection.

Recently deceased, a white-sheeted ghost (Casey Affleck) returns to his suburban home to console his bereft wife (Rooney Mara), only to find that in his spectral state he has become unstuck in time, forced to watch passively as the life he knew and the woman he loves slowly slip away.

Increasingly unmoored, the ghost embarks on a cosmic journey through memory and history, confronting life’s ineffable questions and the enormity of existence.

Described as an unforgettable meditation on love and grief, A GHOST STORY emerges ecstatic and surreal—a wholly-unique experience that lingers long after the credits roll.

Sydney Arts Guide has ten double passes to give away to a preview screening of A GHOST STORY to take place at 6.30pm on Tuesday 25th July at the Palace Verona cinema, 17 Oxford Street, Paddington. Email editor.sydneyartsguide@gmail.com with A Ghost Story competition in the subject heading. Competition winners will be advised  by email.

A GHOST STORY opens in cinemas on Thursday 27th July.

 

BABY DRIVER

A bona fide instant cult classic, BABY DRIVER turns up the heat with cool: cool script, cool cast, cool wardrobe and cool music. Hot!

This full throttle thoroughbred is a mash up masterpiece – think Drive out of LA LA Land, a motor musical, a heist feist pedal to the metal toe tapping genre fender bender!

A good kid and a devil behind the wheel, Baby is a getaway driver for criminal mastermind, Doc.

Suffering tinnitus after a tragic traffic event that left him orphaned, Baby is permanently plugged into an Ipod, of which he has an array. On any given caper, he chooses his own personal soundtrack that fuels his feel with the wheel and gets his engine running. Continue reading BABY DRIVER

CHURCHILL : JONATHON TEPLITZKY’S COMPELLING BIO PIC

CHURCHILL follows Britain’s iconic Prime Minister Winston Churchill in the days before the D-Day landings in June 1944. As allied forces stand on the south coast of Britain, poised to invade Nazi occupied Europe, they await Churchill’s decision on whether the invasion will actually move ahead.

After stirring the British through the blitz and the Battle of Britain, poor old Winnie is knackered and someone clapped out. A lush and slightly demented

An impulsive, sometimes bullying personality and bulldog stubborn – fearful, obsessive and hurting – he is fearful of repeating, on his disastrous command, the mass slaughter of 1915, when over 500,000 soldiers were killed on the beaches of Gallipoli. Continue reading CHURCHILL : JONATHON TEPLITZKY’S COMPELLING BIO PIC

THE ROYAL SHAKESPEARE COMPANY IN SHAKESPEARE ‘S MIGHTY ‘ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA’

 

The latest Royal Shakespeare screening is a fluid, fast paced ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA starring Josette Simon as Cleopatra and Antony Byrne as Antony.

While the political machinations, battles and titular romance depicted are all historically accurate, most of the action takes place offstage, and the play focuses on the greed, pride, ambition and passion which drive Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt , Mark Antony and Octavius Caesar.

Messengers report the movements of the rivalling triumvirs and the results of unseen battles, making it  confusing and difficult to keep up with shifts and twists of the complicated narrative, especially with the huge cast involved.

Iqbal’s Khans production is contemporary in its speech rhythms,  almost everything is spoken in a kind of  prose, which means that we  lose the poetry in Enobarbus’  famous lyrical ‘burnished barge ‘ speech describing the arrival of Cleopatra.

Otherwise this production is clear, fast paced and dynamic, with a huge cast zooming through the various battles. The set, by Robert Innes Hopkins, has various parts that move up and own but features mainly minimalist staging with tall columns and imposing stairs for Rome and a bed and a giant cat for Egypt.

For the Roman scenes there are imposing senatorial togas or the soldiers are grandiose in their heavy armour, while for Egypt it is generally lighter with wonderfully textured robes for Cleopatra and exotic eye makeup.

The Roman scenes also feature a steamy sauna while for Egypt we catch a decadent masked party.The tower/tomb scene at the end for Cleopatra is performed on a risen plinth as if on a rooftop. I was  impressed by the use of the model ships for the battle of Actium.

At first mismatched there is great chemistry between the two main eponymous lovers. Simon as Cleopatra is astonishing. She is a perfectly poised chameleon, kittenish, proud, full of feline grace, teasing, mocking , with an incredible vocal and physical range. She hints at an underlying insecurity in Cleopatra.

There is brief nudity towards the end when she changes robes to stoically meet her death. As Cleopatra she reveals her inner Egyptian self, regal to the last. She changes between joyous love, icy anger, despair and laughter to hide tears. Her death is viewed as a fitting, perhaps welcomed crowning culmination. Her handmaidens Iras and Charmain ,(Kristin Atherton and Amber James),  are steadfast and loyal caught up in events .

Byrne as Antony is dominated by his love for Cleopatra yet he is also a fiery, bull headed, top flight military commander.  He has sudden cruel, violent rages yet we also see his softer, tender side.

Khan’s production highlights Mark Anthony’s personal struggle between his love for Cleopatra and his political duty to Rome.

Mostly the Roman scenes are colder and more formal, the characters moving in neat blocks of formation and where political and military decisions are made the dialogue is fast-paced dialogue, signed ,sealed and delivered quickly.

Antony’s wedding to Octavia, for example, is very stylised. Egypt, however is a decadent, captivating place of romance and pleasure. Antony’s death scene is quite brutal.

Ben Allen’s darkly handsome Octavian is a finely nuanced, captivating performance. He is presented as likeable, astute and perceptive, yet ruthless, always one step ahead of his political rivals.

In this opulent production Rome eventually conquers all at the final curtain as Octavian (the future Emperor Augustus) assumes the pose of the famous statue of him.

Running time allow just under 4 hours including interval, interviews and behind the scenes short documentary plus the cinema ads.

The Royal Shakespeare’s production of ANTONY AM Antony & Cleopatra screens at selected arthouse cinemas from the beginning of July.

 

LADY MACBETH : FILMMAKER WILLIAM OLDROYD TAKES ON ONE OF SHAKESPEARE’S DARKEST CHARACTERS

We are experiencing a copious cinematic cascade of crinoline and corsets led by the currently screening My Cousin Rachel and A Quiet Passion. The latest entry, LADY MACBETH is, quite simply, lady magnificent, trumping the current crop with performance, power and precision.

William Oldroyd’s beguiling film begins with a wedding. In a beautifully framed and composed shot, the focus is on the bride, veiled in virginal white. There is no sign of a groom. The feel is more like a funeral than nuptial celebration.

Later, in a joyless bedroom, the groom appears and orders her to take off her nightie. She dutifully obliges. He has a gander but is not up for goosing, and leaves the chamber with the marriage unconsummated.                   Continue reading LADY MACBETH : FILMMAKER WILLIAM OLDROYD TAKES ON ONE OF SHAKESPEARE’S DARKEST CHARACTERS

A QUIET PASSION : TAKES US INSIDE THE WORLD OF THE SUBLIME EMILY DICKINSON

Keith Carradine plays Emily’s loving father.

Featured image – Cynthia Nixon and Jennifer Ehle in A QUIET PASSION.

Emily Dickinson was first featured in Terence Davies cinematic ode to Liverpool, Of Time and The City, which contained his recitation of “I reason, earth is short and anguish absolute, and many hurt, but what of that? I reason we could die – the best vitality cannot excel decay. But what of that? I reason that in Heaven, somehow it will be even, some new equation given. But what of that?”

With A QUIET PASSION he has delivered a fully fledged bio-pic of the sublime poet, but what of that?

A portrait of a morbid, obsessed recluse needs careful handling and for the most part Davies’ picture is a fascinating and enthralling character study of people, time and place.

Born into privilege in 1803, Emily Dickinson spent most of her life on her parents estate in Amherst, Massachusetts. In her youth, as finely depicted by Emma Bell, Emily is a fiercely intelligent young woman, feisty in forthright opinions on life, art, love, religion and gender equality. This exasperated her teachers at Holyoke Female Seminary to the point of her expulsion. But what of that?

Sent home to the bosom of her family, she jousts with father, a perfect picture of paternal affection and frustration from Keith Carradine, and parries with sister, a sincere and sparkling turn of sibling simpatico from Jennifer Ehle.

As time passes, the mature Emily is taken up by Cynthia Dixon, in a performance that is rightfully being praised as a career best. But what of that?

Florian Hoffmeister’s cinematography is exemplary with both exteriors – Antwerp doubling for Amherst – and interiors having a definite 19th century feel.

The authentic look of the film is further enhanced by Merijn Serp’s production design and Catherine Marchand’s cossies. But what of that?

A QUIET PASSION does live up to it’s title – there is a passionate quiet at the core of the film, that now and then rudely bubbles to the surface. The results are exquisite. However, the film’s quiet passion verges on scuttling the sublime by shots that are excessively held, exhausting interest and rendering scenes enervating rather than exhilarating. But what of that?

LEXUS AUSTRALIA SHORT FILM PRESENTATION @ DENDY QUAYS

Featured photo- Judy Davis, David Wenham and Nashen Moddley.

During the recent Sydney Film Festival the world premiere screening of the first short films produced under the auspices of the wonderful $200,000 Lexus Australia Short Film Fellowship took place at the Dendy Quays.

The Fellowship recipients, four  talented Australian writer-directors – Anya Beyersdorf for How The Light Gets In, Brooke Goldfinch for Outbreak Generation, Alex Murawski for Snow, and Alex Ryan for Red Ink – were at the Gala Premiere and introduced their works.

The shorts impressed with their uniqueness and boldness of vision with Alex Ryan’s uncompromising Red Ink being my personal favourite as it depicts a young man who has a devastating psychotic episode at his local supermarket with a terrible outcome. Continue reading LEXUS AUSTRALIA SHORT FILM PRESENTATION @ DENDY QUAYS