British Film Festival 2016
The pound may be sinking like a stone, but at least British cinema’s fortunes are still shining just as brightly as ever. Opening on Oct 25, the fourth BBC First British Film Festival dives directly into British culture, humour and traditions with a spread of international award-winners and crowd-pleasing hits. There are 19 Australian premieres, a series of classic restorations, a specially curated Local Heroes retrospective with films as diverse as Carry On Camping to Sid And Nancy, and a focus on pioneering director Ken Loach’s work plus his new Palme d’Or winning drama I, Daniel Blake. Fans of Michael Fassbender can check out two of the hottest films around before their Australian release (The Light Between Oceans with Alicia Vikander, and Trespass Against Us with Brendan Glesson). And not to be missed is part-doco, part heist thriller The Banksy Job. Will Britain’s most mysterious and elusive man finally be unmasked? All in all, a jolly sterling show!
From 25 Oct to 16 Nov at Palace Cinemas. Full details and bookings: britishfilmfestival.com.au
Thanks to the British Film Festival, we have 5 double passes to giveaway. See our Giveaways page for details.
Hell or High Water
Set in badlands of Trump’s America but unlike that candidate, David Mackenzie’s stunning new thriller is pure class. We’re in No Country For Old Men territory, harsh and desperate rust-bucket towns where almost everyone routinely carries a gun. After a bank threatens to foreclose on their late mother’s farm, divorced dad Toby (Chris Pine) and his wild ex-con brother (Ben Foster) stage a series of heists against its own branches in a bid to provide for Toby’s own sons’ future. But a grumpy veteran Texas Ranger (Jeff Bridges) is determined to outwit the modern-day Robin Hoods – one last job before he’s forced retire and sit on the porch, spitting into the dust of a morally broken country. Written by Sicario’s Taylor Sheridan, this shares both the ethical complexity of that film and its tension, adding acerbic wit (much of the tangy dialogue is laugh out-out funny) and biting social observation. We all hate banks, right? So its ambiguous message will resonate deeply. But wait: Even that has a sting in its tail as deadly as the rattlesnake we glimpse in a final explosive and cathartic scene.
CTC from Oct 27.
Thanks to Madman Entertainment we have five double in-season passes to give away. See our Giveaways page for details.
Belle & Sebastian: The Adventure Continues
Here’s a treat for our younger readers, or their parents – for everyone loves tousle-haired French kids, Alpine scenery and big slobbering poochs, right? After helping defeat the Nazis in their last outing, Sebastian and his faithful hound now save the day again by rescuing Resistance fighter Angelina, whose homecoming plane has crashed in the mountains.
PG Available of DVD and Digital from Oct 12.
Thanks to Icon Films we have a DVD of Belle & Sebastian: The Adventure Continues PLUS a Family Films DVD pack of five movies to give away. It includes the original Belle & Sebastian, City of Ember, Lassie, Fairytale: A True Story and Tarzan. See details and how to enter on our Giveaways page.
The Neon Demon
Maybe bad-boy Nicolas Winding Refn’s latest provocation does blur the line between art and pornography… Maybe! Is it the jaw-dropping lesbian necrophilia scene with make-up artist Ruby (Jenna Malone) and a naked corpse? The one where buckets of blood pours out of her vagina? Or when a model (Aussie actress Abbey Lee looking awesomely fabulous) does something I dare not mention with an eyeball? The eye belongs to the barely legal Jesse, a model (Elle Fanning) trying to make her way in the deadly LA model scene. A film this tacky and empty-headed really shouldn’t be so ravishingly beautiful to look at and so much fun. But it is both – spectacularly!
CTC from Oct 20.
Joe Cinque’s Consolation
Two new Aussie films this open this fortnight, both debut features for their directors. Both hugely promising, but both leaving us with the feeling that “something’s missing…” Canberra-based Sotris Dounoukos’s version of Helen Garner’s book Joe Cinque’s Consolation will get most attention, mainly because its source material – the sensationally true 90s story of the drugging and murder of young Canberra engineer Joe Cinque (here played by with some charm by Jerome Meyer) by Anu Singh is so disturbing and mystifying. Maggie Naouri – also excellent plays Singh, but doesn’t quite get inside her head (could anyone?). And if a writer with the very considerable talents of Garner couldn’t shed much light on that, what hope does a debut filmmaker?
Dounoukos takes a different tack from the very partisan Garner altogether – leaving us to decide by laying out the events as described by the book and the courts in a fairly linear manner. Anu Singh is a non-participant, again, and the script struggles to help us understand her. The movie starts as Joe and vivacious and the bright law student hook up, then skips three years to where she is the mentally unstable girlfriend from hell planning to ply him with Rohypnol and heroin with the active assistance of one accomplice, and more bizarrely, the full knowledge of a whole group of their mutual uni friends.
What were they thinking? Why weren’t they charged, let alone punished? Why did Anu serve only a few years? This is a fascinating and confronting film – one that raise many questions about the milieu in which these young Canberrans lived. But what can we make of it all? There are no answers here.
M from Oct 13.
Boys in the Trees
Don’t be put off by its Halloween night setting or misled by the marketing, this isn’t just another teenage horror movie. Melbourne-based writer-director Nicolas Verso’s debut is actually a startlingly original work that defies genre. More than that, it’s also a distinctly Australian suburban coming of-age tale which combines adolescent hi-jinks with melancholic yearning, hallucinatory scenes, romance, and even a couple of real shocks.
Set in the late 90s, it plays out over one wild Halloween night as we follow teen hunk Corey (Toby Wallace) as he hangs out with a few skateboarding mates, bullying gang leader Jango (Justin Holborow) and goth beauty Romany (Mitzi Ruhlmann). Later he teams up with a bullied loner Jonah (Gulliver Holborow), and the two freak each other out in a conveniently located spooky forest. But gradually we learn that something pretty horrible has happened to these boys…
It meanders at bit – it’s easy to spot the scenes that should have been cut, and some of the dialogue is more than a bit clunky. But it’s a stylish debut for Verso, another talented local filmmaker we’ll most likely soon lose to Hollywood. And those two lead actors have certainly got “the look” we’ll be seeing lots more of – particularly hot inner west local Mitzi Ruhlmann.
M from Oct 20
* Reviews – Russell Edwards