Movies – 228


Even in 1977, a trek across 3000km of desert with only grumpy camels for company must have seemed mad. But as Robyn Davidson explains her reasons at the outset of John Curran’s beautifully rendered film, and reveals a startling nonchalance to the very obvious dangers, we also see just how much the times have changed.

The ’70s were different. Young people were eager for adventure and money, technology and social approval were all seen as tyrannies to be resisted. Robyn didn’t have to check how many Facebook likes her journey got, she just went. Alone. Only reluctantly did she agree to meet up with a photographer (Adam Diver), who she initially disdains but eventually shares a swag with. And what a trip!

Mia Wasikowska is perfectly cast. Maybe a little young, but she brilliantly captures the determination, courage, bravado and even the personal demons of this lonely, driven woman. What an inspiration for these drearily conformist times!

M15+ from March 6.

• Thanks to Transmission Films we have 5 double in-season passes to give away.
Please see our Giveaways page for details on how to enter.



whats-on-FFFThe 25th French Film Festival

It’s been a quarter of a century since the first Alliance Francaise French Film Festival, and each year they’ve gone on getting bigger and better. Not only the biggest film festival in Australia, it is now also the biggest festival of French films outside of France.

From March 4th to the 23rd, the newly renovated Palace Norton St Cinema (also Verona, Chauvel and Cremorne) will be screening a carefully curated selection of the best contemporary French films, including comedies, dramas, documentaries; everything from crowd-pleasing blockbusters to daring indies. And once again Ciao has been fortunate to preview some of the films. It’s the unusual and the non-mainstream fare, the sort of films that don’t end up in commercial release that often catch our eye.

Like the dry and smart Domestic Life (reviewed below) and Roman Polanski’s latest provocation, Venus In Furs. Also recommended – Gabriel Byrne and the lovely Emmanuelle Devos in Just a Sigh, an unusual romance that really gets under your skin; and Homeland, which neatly turn the tables on the usual refugee story when a French uni student of Algerian background finds he’s “illegal.”

There’s plenty more, of course, check out the full program and all the special events and Q&A sessions at

• Win double passes to the French Film Festival.
Please see our Giveaways page for details on how to enter.



movies-domestic-lifeDomestic Life

Despite being a suburban nation, Australians don’t do suburban comedies well. So many feel insensitive, like Latte Leftie-types poking fun at people they consider ‘boring’.

Isabella Czajka’s very witty look at a Hills District-like enclave outside Paris is something else though – brittle, funny, perceptive and as immaculately presented as her cast of busy mums in their perfectly turned-out contemporary homes.

Mainly focusing on Julie (Emmanuelle Devos) and her attempt to get back into publishing, it’s the details that matter here – the quick repartee, the asides and quickly passed over but jarring scenes which show something is not quite right in these perfect facades.

It’s acidly cynical but clever – exactly the sort of satire we should be making instead of just sneering.

• Win double passes to this and other French Film Festival movies.
Please see our Giveaways page for details on how to enter.



movies-vamp-academyVampire Academy

Thanks to Bella and Edward, even high school movies are now ridden with pesky bloodsuckers.

Director Mark Waters (Mean Girls) and writer Daniel Waters (Heathers) clearly know their classrooms and have cast the types (hotties) we just know will be enrolled. There’s Lissa (Lucy Fry) the feathery blonde, Rose (Zoey Deutch) her fast talking BFF and Mia (Sami Gayle) the Queen Bitch. Guys too – a dangerous one, a jerk and a hunk (Danila Kozlovsky).

Pity I can’t reveal too much (I haven’t seen it) but it sounds like fun – the plot involves warring clans of teen vampires and ugly whispers about Rose letting Lissa suck her dry. Well, we all know what happens to a nice girl’s rep when she opens her veins on a first date.

The girls are way more spirited than the wan, slightly pathetic Bella but it’s a pity the filmmakers have adopted that franchise’s marketing tactics and been light-on with press screenings. Often that just prompts critics to get their fangs out!

CTC from March 6. (Unpreviewed)

• Thanks to STUDIOCANAL we have 10 double in-season passes to give away.
Please see our Giveaways page for details on how to enter.



movies-armstrongThe Armstrong Lie

While waiting (in vain) for The Corby Lie, Australians can treat themselves to another tale of incredible deception.

Alex Gibney started this doco in 2009, wanting to document (and believing in) a clean Lance Armstrong making a comeback. The cyclist looks at us (and Gibney) as fools. His attitude, in a revealing portrait, seems to be, “You don’t get it, do you?”

We all live in a culture in which winning is everything and accept a system that rewards it. Perhaps we admire the spirit but ultimately the feeling from this astonishing film is just horror.

M15+ from March 13


Reviews by Russell Edwards


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