Cinema

EXHIBITION ON SCREEN : DEGAS : PASSION FOR PERFECTION

EXHIBITION ON SCREEN, the pioneering series of cinematic films about exhibitions, galleries and artists returns for a sixth season with Degas: Passion for Perfection, in cinemas across Australia from 6 June 2019. Directed by David Bickerstaff, the film journeys from a superb exhibition at The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, where the UK’s most extensive Degas collection is held, to Paris and Italy, where Degas spent his formative years and taught himself to paint.

DEGAS : PASSION FOR PERFECTION offers a unique insight into Degas’ personal and creative life, looking at his relationship with the impressionist movement, fascination with dance, and struggle with his eyesight, which in time would prevent him from making art altogether. Continue reading EXHIBITION ON SCREEN : DEGAS : PASSION FOR PERFECTION

TRANSITIONS FILM FESTIVAL COMING TO SYDNEY

The Transitions Film Festival returns to Sydney this April with another enthralling line-up of cutting-edge documentaries about the existential challenges, mega-trends, game-changing technologies and creative visions that are redefining what it means to be human.

The festival focuses on sharing inspirational stories about the solutions to society’s greatest challenges and showcases the local heroes and changemakers who are building a better world.

Covering a huge range of mind-expanding themes, including: climate change, regenerative agriculture, artificial intelligence, innovation and youth activism, this year’s festival will change the way you look at the world.

Featuring a stellar line-up of powerful films and inspirational guest speakers, the Transitions Film Festival runs from the 1st until the 4th of April at Dendy Cinemas Newtown.

For more about Transitions Film Festival Sydney tour, visit https://www.transitionsfilmfestival.com/sydney-program–2019
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GIRL : ONE OF THE GEMS AT THIS YEAR’S FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL

It is hard to believe that this is Lukas Dhont’s debut feature film. It is beautifully photographed, terrifically acted and raises important issues .

It looks not just at the hard work, daily grind and obsessiveness needed in order to become a professional ballet dancer but also the generally hidden physically and emotionally difficult world of being a transgender teen. Body image is also most important both in the ballet world and generally. GIRL is about both Lara’s gender-changing journey and her all-consuming relentless passion to be a great dancer — to the exclusion of all other desires.

Cross gender actor Victor Polster plays Lara, a teenage girl now living in an apartment in Brussels with her father Matthias (Arieh Worthalter )and younger brother Milo. (Oliver Bodart) Lara has just transferred to a new dance school where she dreams of becoming a ballerina. Lara was, however, born with a male body, so she has been undergoing hormone treatments while eagerly awaiting confirmation for a sex-reassignment operation. The people in her life, for the most part, are very caring and supportive.In the eyes of her accepting father, Mathias, Lara is already a girl, and as her Flemish-speaking psychiatrist puts it, “The only thing we can do is confirm and support that.”

Dhont develops Lara’s story with the awkward growing-up moments everyone can relate to: the lunchroom on the first day of school, a tentative first sexual encounter, the gap between young people and parents at adolescence and so on. It is not clear whether Lara’s classmates know her secret, but it appears she’s trying to keep it hidden (though she uses the girls’ locker room, she comes already dressed and makes excuses so as not to shower with the others after). We see ghastly peer pressure when Lara is extremely embarrassed at a friend’s birthday party.

What could have be yet another highly awkward moment, when a teacher asks Lara to close her eyes and the rest of the female students are asked to raise their hand to indicate whether they are ok with Lara being in their dressing room, is shown in a brief, rather casual way.

And at school, a teacher discomfits Lara by drawing attention to her in the ‘what I did over the holidays’ round. We see Lara using white tape to flatten her crotch before ballet class – and that area becomes painfully infected and bleeding – which is also compared to the tape on all the girl’s feet to try and keep their feet surviving during pointe work (but still become a horrendous bloody wreck) .Both are used in the search for the image of perfection.

On the other hand Lara beams, delightedly when she drops off Milo at his school and a teacher asks if she is the boy’s sister.

Both Matthias and her therapist ask about the kind of boys she likes, but Lara hasn’t given it much thought and would prefer to leave it until after The Operation. And you get the feeling Lara is not really much of a talker , with awkward conversations between Lara and Matthias. Matthias is worried about the operation. Lara on the other hand counting the hours.

A dance student at the Royal Ballet School Antwerp who makes his screen acting debut here, Polster as Lara is amazing giving an incredibly assured performance and he sure can dance brilliantly .

Another issue is the film’s unflurried approach to nudity, which is very frank at times with Lara staring at the mirror wondering when her breasts will start to grow and how long before her ‘ male equipment ‘ can be removed. It is also perhaps typical of the dance and art world in general .

The supporting cast is very strong and Worthalter (Sympathy for the Devil) in particular is brilliant as Matthias, but the film really belongs to Polster as Lara.The startling ending is sure to provoke lots of discussion.

This was a  powerful, thought provoking film .

GIRL is playing  as part of the Alliance Francaise French Film Festival which is screening until the 10th April, 2019.

Running time – with cinema ads allow 2 hours no interval

https://www.affrenchfilmfestival.org/film/girl/

SOMETIMES ALWAYS NEVER: THE END IS NIGHY

A
L
W
A
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SOMETIMES

NEVER is a triple word score of a film, literate, eloquent, elegant and laugh out loud sartorial mix of syntax, vocabulary and word play.

Bill Nighy plays Alan, a stylish tailor and Scrabble hustler. He has spent years searching tirelessly for his missing son, Michael, who stormed out tile-less after a game of Scrabble.
Frank Cottrell Boyce’s elegiac screenplay is an idiosyncratic retelling of the The Prodigal Son parable. Michael has disappeared, but it is younger son, Peter, who has been invisible to Alan in the years since Michael’s absence.

Absence, it’s been said, makes the heart grow fonder, and when Alan recruits Peter as possee in pursuit of possibly clearing up the mystery of Michael’s disappearance, the absence makes for a rebonding between remaining son and father.

Words worthiness has seldom been more worthwhile or mirth while, simultaneously whimsical and steadfast than in SOMETIMES, NEVER, ALWAYS, with ideas and emotions so exquisitely expressed.

And the script is beautifully expressed by a troupe of peerless performers – Bill Nighy restraining some of his trademark ticks and tricks to play the tailor and logophile, Alan, scrabbling at any semblance of hope of finding the missing Michael. It’s a finely measured performance, a bespoke characterisation of focus and fancy as he follows the tiniest threads that may fashion a finish to his quest while relishing stitching up Scrabble players with obscure lexicon.

Sam Riley is perfect as the perplexed Peter, puzzled not only by his father’s pursuit of pinpointing the prodigal, but by the changing landscape of his own family relationship with wife, Sue, played with sublime comic timing by Alice Lowe, and son, Jack, Louis Healy, making an impressive feature film debut.

Jenny Agutter and Tim McInnerny play a couple, Margaret and Arthur, who have lost their son, a simpatico acquaintance evolves, culminating in Alan measuring Margaret’s inside leg.

The articulate and eloquent script is augmented by an arresting visual style by director Carl Hunter and his cinematographer, Richard Stoddard. The composition of father and son in the frame, the use of back projection and lo fi animation emphasise the emotional time capsule the pair are trapped in.

Tim Dickel’s production design and Lance Milligan’s costume design beautifully enhance the world created in the screenplay, as does the score by Edwyn Collins.

Sometimes screwball, never boring and always captivating, SOMETIMES, NEVER, ALWAYS is an absolutely unmissable cinema experience

WATER LILLIES BY MONET – THE MAGIC OF WATER AND LIGHT

Brought to us by the team who produced Florence and the Uffizi Gallery and Caravaggio: The Soul and The Blood this is a journey through the life and times of Claude Monet ( 1840-1926) the obsessive Impressionist . An art-world disruptor at the turn of the 20th century whose obsession with capturing light and water broke all convention, Monet revolutionised Modern Art with his timeless masterpieces. His intention was to try and transfer onto canvas the “first, pure impression” of forms and objects as they appear to the eye as if they have never been seen before.

Monet was always trying to capture in paint Water,Light and Air. He lived most of his life near the River Seine . Like Turner and Constable ( for example) he painted in all kinds of weather. The term ‘ Impressionism ‘ comes from the title of his 1874 work Impression Sunrise included in the first of the independent exhibitions mounted by Monet and his colleagues as an alternative to the Paris Salon. In his famous gardens at Giverny (where he lived from 1883) he set himself the challenge to create the nature he wanted to paint, creating the striking way the garden was designed and the way the plants were organised in the garden, for example. Continue reading WATER LILLIES BY MONET – THE MAGIC OF WATER AND LIGHT

1985. TIMES PAST RESONATE WITH CONTEMPORARY RELEVANCE

1985 won the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at Queer Screen’s Mardi Gras Film Festival this year and what an emotional, realistic and moving film it is.  Schedule a dinner after you see the film because there are discussions to be had, judgments to confront and, sadly, lost people and times to remember.  Shot with great heart and a political will to “connect with those who are still experiencing any type of discrimination or resistance in 2018” according to filmmaker, Yen Tan, 1985 deals with religion, coming out, truth to self and the early catastrophe of HIV.

We meet Adrian.  It’s 1985 and he is home for Christmas from New York.  Small town, Bible-Belt home.  Over the few days he is there, Adrian will have none of the conversations which would make for manipulatively dramatic watching.  Rather, much is unsaid.  Though, much is understood but little is spoken between he and his peacemaker Mom, head of family carapaced Dad and a little brother who needs a particular kind of reassurance from him. A tragedy has propelled him there and Adrian is a boy lost.  His reconnection with a close female friend, Carly, from his school days gives him some release from the fearful times in which he lives. Continue reading 1985. TIMES PAST RESONATE WITH CONTEMPORARY RELEVANCE

DESTROYER AT MOONLIGHT CINEMA. LIKE THE DRIVE-IN ONLY BETTER.

It’s a bit like the heyday of the drive-in.  Moonlight Cinemas gives you the freedom to eat and drink and relax in a seat of your choice or the comfy bean bag sofas you can hire.  But the biggest advantage is being able to check in with your companion about the plot details.

Very useful for a film such as DESTROYER which has a time structure that requires constant attention from the audience to site the narrative as the threads weave together toward the slow burn climax.

The narrative eddies around the plodding, broken character of Erin Bell who staggers into frame with hangover and rumple, having slept in her car.  A banger is dead and Erin knows how and why … and who killed him.  A past is catching up with her as she hangs on by a liquid filament to her job as an LA Detective with a violent backstory, including an undercover operation that brings her to standing over a dead and dumped body. Continue reading DESTROYER AT MOONLIGHT CINEMA. LIKE THE DRIVE-IN ONLY BETTER.

SWIMMING WITH MEN. GIVEAWAY TO THE FUN, MALE-SYNCED COMEDY.

Sync or Swim.

In SWIMMING WITH MEN Rob Brydon stars alongside a talented British cast in a comedy that tips its (swimming) cap at beloved British comedies such as The Full Monty and Calendar Girls.

Inspired by the Dylan Williams 2010 documentary, Men Who Swim, SWIMMING WITH MEN tells the story of a man (Brydon) who is suffering a mid-life crisis and eventually finds new meaning to his life as part of an all-male, middle-aged, amateur synchronised swimming team. Together they make a bid to compete at the unofficial Male Sync-Swimming World Championships, and no doubt a shot at personal redemption along the way. Continue reading SWIMMING WITH MEN. GIVEAWAY TO THE FUN, MALE-SYNCED COMEDY.

EVERYBODY KNOWS: JAUPO, JUAPA!

Everybody knows that wedding nights are for kid making not kidnapping, but in EVERYBODY KNOWS, everybody is clueless.
Or are they?
EVERYBODY KNOWS is the latest film from from Oscar winning filmmaker Asghar Farhadi, a gripping and jaupo thriller about abduction, adultery and jealousy.

Laura returns to the small Spanish village where she spent her childhood to attend the wedding of her younger sister. Her husband Alejandro (Ricardo Darín) has remained in Argentina to fulfil professional obligations. Laura is travelling with her free-spirited teenage daughter, Irene, and her young son. Also attending the wedding is Paco (Javier Bardem). Irene learns from a new friend that her mother and Paco were once in love—but he, too, is now happily married, operating a modest but successful vineyard with his wife, Bea (Bárbara Lennie).

With Laura’s large extended family gathered to celebrate the nuptials spirits are high and a sense of frivolity reigns. Everybody knows how to drink and dance and have good time. Even when it rains and there is a power outage causing a blackout.

But the wedding night descends from joy to despair when Irene suddenly goes missing from her bed. In the place of the sleeping girl are a selection of newspaper clippings, all with stories about a local child who was kidnapped years earlier in the town.

As time passes, the situation only becomes more fraught. Alejandro flies in from Argentina, suspicions mount, loved ones begin to turn on one another, and dark secrets long hidden threaten to come to light, revealing shocking truths. Ah, families……

Instead of a home invasion, could this abduction be an inside job?

EVERYBODY KNOWS is a simmering story of secrets and lies, elevated by the star power of Penelope Cruz, Javier Badem and Ricardo Darin.

Sure hope everybody goes so everybody knows.

HOTEL MUMBAI. GIVEAWAY PASS TO THIS GRIPPING TRUE STORY

HOTEL MUMBAI: the true story of the devastating terrorist attack on the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in 2008.

The terrifying assault brings together the guests and staff of the luxurious hotel including wealthy new parents David and Zahra (Armie Hammer and Nazanin Boniadi), Russian businessman Vasili (Jason Issacs) and newly promoted waiter Arjun (Dev Patel) in a desperate fight for survival. This story celebrates humanity, compassion, courage, resilience and the unwavering desire to survive.

HOTEL MUMBAI releases in Australian Cinemas March 14, 2019.

Continue reading HOTEL MUMBAI. GIVEAWAY PASS TO THIS GRIPPING TRUE STORY

KING OF THIEVES: HIP REPLACEMENT REQUIRED

In his latest beaut book, BLOWING THE BLOODY DOORS OFF (Hodder & Stoughton), Michael Caine says “In my latest movie, KING OF THIEVES, I appear along with many old friends: Ray Winstone, Michael Gambon, Jim Broadbent. But maybe the one that gives me the most pleasure is Tom Courtney.”

There doesn’t seem to be much pleasure in KING OF THIEVES, a film about geriatric gangsters, an over the hill gang, who pull of an audacious heist and then squabble within their ranks, thieving from from themselves.

There doesn’t seem to be much honour among these thieves, their crotchety-osity elevated by psychopathy, paranoia, jealousy and the pains and ailments of old age.

Caine plays the King, Brian, who reigns over the plan, then rains on their parade by abdicating, sensing the his cohorts unstable.

Part of that instability comes from Tom Courtney’s character, Kenny, deciding to use his dodgy and dimwitted in-law, Billy ‘The Fish” Lincoln, played by Michael Gambon.
The other part of the problem is the short fuse temper of Terry, played by Jim Broadbent, aided and abetted by Ray Winstone’s, Danny.

As suspicion and treachery rent the gang, the police take advantage of the tear and close in.

With all the zip and zest of a Zimmer frame, KING OF THIEVES unspools like an episode of Z Cars rather than The Sweeney, shuffling between competence and incontinence.

It seems an odd choice for director James Marsh, a documentary maker now working in narrative feature, whose last film was The Theory of Everything.

Except for a couple of cardboard cops out of Central Casting, the only female in the cast is Francesca Annis as Brian’s wife. Her appearance is all too brief and her absence brings a lingering pall over proceedings.

Use of archival footage, including various shots from the principal actors from their younger years is well placed and a jaunty score by Benjamin Wallfisch, augmented by Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones and other nobles of nostalgia inject an uplift in a film that shows that there is no honour among thieves and no allegiance to self proclaimed kings.