Volvo Scandinavian Film Festival 2016
The poster for this year’s Volvo Scandinavian Film Festival suggests we’re in for more Nordic Noir, or maybe a dose of existential angst. Both are there (The Pusher Trilogy, Absolution, Parents), but there’s an impressive collection of lighter and often sardonically funny films too, like Other Girls, about four Finnish high-school girlfriends misadventures as they near graduation, plus the bright Swedish romantic comedy Love is the Drug (pictured above).
The strongest film of the festival, which was also in the 2016 Sydney Film Festival’s Official Competition, is its Centrepiece, Land Of Mine – a gripping award-winning thriller about a group of young German POW soldiers in Denmark after World War II. And sure to be of interest here is Welcome to Norway – an acerbic and sharply witty take on the region’s refugee issues. An aspiring hotel owner decides to turn his half-built alpine hotel border into a state-funded refugee asylum reception centre. Take note local councillors: Nothing works out as planned!
July 5 – July 27 at Palace Cinemas.
*Thanks Palace Cinemas we have five double in-season passes to give away. See our Giveaways page for details.
Maggie’s plan is as nutty as the person carrying it out. Greta Gerwig, charmingly doing her gawky Francis Ha thing again, is a single woman whose biological clock is ticking away. An attempt at impregnating herself with the sperm of a Brooklyn “pickle entrepreneur”, who chivalrously offers to do it the normal way first, seemingly fails, but just then she successfully woos a married writer (Ethan Hawke) away from his dour academic wife (Julianne Moore). Three years into their affair, and now with a toddler in tow, she decides she’s had enough and plots to give him back.
That’s the screwball premise of Rebecca Miller’s comedy, and it moves along agreeably enough – if a little sedately. It mines all the elements of similar New York yukfests – brownstones, book stores, a jaunty jazz score and impossibly hyperverbal self-obsessed people, though the big laughs we’re constantly being primed for don’t come often enough. Gerwig’s fans won’t be disappointed, it is fun, but maybe she should have teamed up with her real-life b-f Noah Baumbach instead…
M from July 7.
Aaron Pederson didn’t have to waste much time memorising his lines in Ivan Sen’s triumphant follow-up to Mystery Road – his entire dialogue would fit on a single A4 page. Mostly he just growls and looks surly… or else just silently enigmatic.
Again he plays troubled outback cop Jay Swan, and this time he’s even more damaged than before. He meets fellow small-town cop Josh (Alex Russell) by getting arrested while driving drunk, only rarely do we see him without a bottle in his hand. Now and then he sobers up enough to do regular cop work – he’s looking for a missing girl – an Asian prostitute.
Quickly his investigation reveals a vicious girl-trafficking gang and an expanding mining outfit mired deep in corruption. David Wenham, in his most menacing outing since The Boys, is the mine’s boss, while Jackie Weaver, reprising her sinister role in Animal Kingdom, is the town’s snake-like mayor. Though why a “town” that consists only of a few tin demountables in a sea red dust needs a mayor at all is not explained… David Gulpilil also has a small but significant role as the one indigenous elder who hasn’t sold-out to the mine – and pays the price.
Jay himself is black too, but really, he’s the white-knight John Wayne figure here – the outsider who rides in and cleans up a dirty town. And what magnificent dirt, what sensational camerawork and fantastically paced action! Pedersen is just mesmerising. Although Sen and didn’t plan Mystery Road as the start of a franchise, after this exquisite sequel, probably the best Australian movie for a decade, a lot of people will be hoping to see a lot more of Jay Swan.
M from July 7.
Everybody Wants Some!!
Richard Linklater usually has strong and feisty female characters in his films – like Celine in the Before trilogy, or even Mason’s mum in Boyhood who totally outshone its supposed subject. But they’re absent here – replaced by beer, bongs and boobs – the primary obsessions of the jocks of Linklater’s own college youth.
Very much a rose-tinted and nostalgic reverie for the 80s, he amiably captures the blissed-out days of many young men before adult responsibilities kick in. Or maybe that’s just how we’d like to remember those times… The likeable and talented cast includes Ryan Guzman and Zoey Deutch, and, since this is the “spiritual sequel” to his 80s classic Dazed and Confused, Charlie as the “cat in the fridge.”
MA15+ from June 23.
All sessions of Zanbo Zhang’s incredible account of a motorway project in Hunan, China were sold out at the SFF, and although also part of Palace’s current Hot Docs Fest, it won’t be screened locally. But it will turn up somewhere sometime, so take note – since for the WestConnex-affected Inner West, The Road makes for spectacularly relevant viewing. Not that we have bureaucrats hiring gangsters to knife opponents here, or even openly handing out “red envelopes” – buying off difficult locals, safety inspectors and certifying local authorities.
But sickeningly exposed is the depressing way state capitalism works everywhere. There’s lots of talk about corruption with the WestConnex too, but it’s largely paranoid nonsense. We’re getting our tolled motorway for the same reason Hunan did: Even in open societies like ours, money is like water, it just flows downhill to the lowest spot it can. Our political leaders, if they’re effective, can put a stop to that. What a pity the inner west has elected two state MPs whose lack of ability and clout have put Newtown and Rozelle right at the bottom of a hole.
* Reviews – Russell Edwards