Cinema

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

THE DANCER :A DANCER’S QUEST FOR BEAUTY AND PERFECTION

Part of the French Film Festival, THE DANCER is exquisitely, lushly photographed with some sensational performances. A feast for the eyes, it is fascinating for those who love dance, even if the film is heavily fictionalised. Some of the film is in English, at other times it is in French with subtitles.

Stéphanie Di Giusto’s film follows the life of avant- garde dancer Loie Fuller (Soko) who was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, lived with her father in the boondocks, and after his sudden tragic death was sent to live with her strict, God fearing mother in New York before becoming a sensation in the world of dance, first in New York and then in Paris at the turn of the 20th century, inspiring artists the like of Toulouse- Lautrec and Rodin and esteemed scientists such as Marie Curie.

The film also tells the story of her relationship and rivalry with Isadora Duncan, a fellow American who at one stage was Fuller’s protégé. Continue reading THE DANCER :A DANCER’S QUEST FOR BEAUTY AND PERFECTION

NT LIVE’S OVERLY AMBITIOUS ST JOAN @ THE DONMAR

 

George Bernard Shaw’s ST JOAN, in a production directed by Josie Rourke at the Donmar, is the latest play in the NT Live screenings.

I had mixed feelings about Rourke’s production. Gemma Arterton as St Joan is superb, and the idea of updating the play to now with computers, mobile phones and rolling screens of financial statistics was intriguing but  didn’t feel like it worked that well.

The dialogues was beautifully spoken it could perhaps be a terrific radio play version. The play is abridged, but much attention is paid to the complicated, convoluted text of Shaw’s play. Continue reading NT LIVE’S OVERLY AMBITIOUS ST JOAN @ THE DONMAR

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: THE CLASSIC TALE REVISITED AGAIN ON THE BIG SCREEN

 

When the animated film BEAUTY AND THE BEAST was released in November 1991, the film became an instant  classic.

With the film’s rich, beautiful, high quality level of animation and musical numbers that everyone loves and remembers, it belongs to an era known as the Disney Renaissance which includes films such as The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and The Lion King.

This was a time when the studio was enjoying a resurgence in producing hit animated films. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST was the third highest grossing movie of the year, just behind Terminator 2: Judgement Day and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. The film made over $400 million; the highest ever grossing animated film up until that point.

The film won the Academy Award for Best Original Score and Best Original Song and was the first animated film in history to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. It spawned direct to video sequels, a TV series, an award winning live theatre adaption and was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

In recent years Disney has been experiencing success with live action remakes of its back catalogue of old animated films. First it was Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, then Maleficent, a remake of Sleeping Beauty in 2014, The Jungle Book in 2016, remake of the 1967 version. To list a few in the works are live action remakes of: The Lion King, Aladdin, Dumbo, Mulan and even a sequel to Mary Poppins scheduled for sometime in 2018.

Continue reading BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: THE CLASSIC TALE REVISITED AGAIN ON THE BIG SCREEN

LOVING : AN EXCEPTIONAL FILM BY JEFF NICHOLS

I saw LOVING back in November and loved it. I saw LOVING again last week and loved it even more.

As good as Emma and Natalie and Isabel were, I was fervently rooting for Ruth Negga to win the Academy Award for her beautifully poised performance as Mildred Loving, a black woman who had the temerity of accepting a marriage proposal from a white man, Richard Loving, in the state of Virginia, United States of America, 1958.

The United States of America, contrary to its appellation, was not united in everything, as the Appalachian state continued with a miscegenist law about marriage. It was the state of Virginia, where the appropriately named Loving’s were making their home and starting a family, that first terrorised and humiliated them, then jailed them and then banished them for defying its law against interracial marriage. Continue reading LOVING : AN EXCEPTIONAL FILM BY JEFF NICHOLS

DAVID STRATTON : A CINEMATIC LIFE

What a cast!

Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, Sam Neil, Judy Davis, Jackie Weaver, Rachel Griffiths, Geoffrey Rush, Bryan Brown and Eric Bana. To name a few. That’s the incredible line-up amassed for DAVID STRATTON: A CINEMATIC LIFE.

A film critic can sometimes unearth an audience for a film that does not have the vast advertising techniques and budget that ensures a mass audience for a major movie, usually from a studio in Hollywood.

Such an excavator is David Stratton whose exuberance for the wide exhibition of quality films, especially those made in Australia, is extolled in this brilliant exultation of local films, DAVID STRATTON: A CINEMATIC LIFE. Continue reading DAVID STRATTON : A CINEMATIC LIFE

THE SALESMAN

We’ve all probably done it. Pressed the intercom key release indiscriminately, thinking the caller is someone expected.
That’s what Rana does, expecting her husband as she prepares to take a shower.
The upshot is a devastating seismic incident, a potent aftershock to the earthquake that begins THE SALESMAN, this years recipient of the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award.

This Iranian bombshell explodes into an exploration of a couple imploding. School teacher Emad (Shahab Hosseini) and his wife Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti) need new digs when their home is devastated by an earthquake.

The couple are also actors in an amateur Tehran production of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, and a member of their troupe arranges for them move into a new apartment, until recently occupied by a mysterious young woman. Continue reading THE SALESMAN

ALLIANCE FRANCAISE FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL 2017

 

The Alliance Française French Film Festival will return to Palace Cinemas throughout March and April with a host of contemporary movies and documentaries exemplifying the very best of France’s vibrant film industry. 

Brimming with highlights, the 2017 event will present 45 films, unveiling the artistry of renowned directors ranging from Emmanuelle Bercot, Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, Nicole Garcia, Benoît Jacquot and Mia Hansen-Løve, to Philippe Lioret, Martin Provost, Jérôme Salle, Bertrand Tavernier and Roschdy Zem.

Helming the Festival for the first time, Artistic Director, Philippe Platel, has assembled a brilliant programme encompassing romance, adventure, comedy, historical tales, thrillers and dramas, that will be showcased across 10 aptly named sections, incorporating many Australian première screenings. Continue reading ALLIANCE FRANCAISE FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL 2017

THE SALESMAN : BEST FOREIGN FILM 2017 ACADEMY AWARDS

 

Iranian auteur Asghar Farhadi’s  feature film, THE SALESMAN, winner of this year’s Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, tells the story of Emad (Shahab Hosseini) and Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti), actors playing the roles of husband and wife in a Tehran production of Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller.

They are also husband and wife off-stage, sharing an apartment that is devastated by an earthquake.

Forced to move, a tragic incident changes their lives in ways they could never have predicted.

THE SALESMAN has been described as a powerful social critique that touches on themes of family, gender, and the chilling psychology of vengeance.

The film will be released nationally next Thursday, March 9.

The double passes offered with this post have been won.

EXHIBITION ON SCREEN : I, CLAUDE MONET

Directed by Phil Grabsky this is an autobiographical exploration of the great Impressionist painter Claude Monet’s life based on his voluminous correspondence  (over 2500 letters). The letters are mellifluously, eloquently read by Henry Goodman and in the background there is a dreamy soundscape including compositions by Satie.

Many of Monet’s works, over a hundred, now scattered around the globe, are luminously photographed in closeup so we can see the swirling brushstrokes.

The film features glorious view of favourite Monet locations including Paris and Giverny and we can see the changes that have taken place since Monet’s time. Continue reading EXHIBITION ON SCREEN : I, CLAUDE MONET