After dealing with dementia for the past five years, June wakes up one day in a nursing home, to find that she is experiencing a moment of temporary lucidity. Confused as to her whereabouts, she plans her escape so she can get back to her life; only to find out that her family is falling apart, and the family business has gone downhill. Written and directed by JJ Winlove as his debut film, June Again is an incredibly moving Aussie dramedy that'll have you laughing and crying in the same beat.
Aussie icon Noni Hazlehurst plays the titular character, June Wilton. Having regained some sense of herself, June works quickly and methodically - well aware that she is on borrowed time. Hazlehurst's transition from her state of dementia, to her usual self showcases the many facets and extent of Hazlehurst's incredible acting. Having to pull her family and business back together, her grip on reality is shaken as she begins to feel her lucidity slip away from her - which is expertly represented with Winlove's use of flashbacks and blurred memories. Hazlehurst is quick on her feet - throwing out sass and cheeky lines in every direction, as June tries to rebuild the life she left behind.
June's two estranged children Ginny and Devon are played by the fantastic Claudia Karvan and Stephen Curry. With their relationship strained after the hospitalisation of their mother, the two siblings' stubbornness to make amends is hilarious to watch, especially with how well Karvan and Curry bounce of each other. With the two kids straying from the paths that June laid out for them, their bonds with their mother are tried and tested. It isn't until June realises that they need to forge their own future, that the family is able to move forward and accept the lives they lead.
For many, June Again deals with such a personal subject, which is written so well by Winlove. June Again is a triumphant debut for Winlove, and one that makes us excited for what the director next has in store for us. As always, Noni Hazlehurst is an absolute gem - proving that she is easily one of Australian cinema's heavy hitters. With this winning combination, plus the overlying fact that family makes us what we are; we found ourselves loving every moment of this film.
June Again is in cinemas now, so make sure you don't delay to seeing this touching film.
From the brilliant minds of the original Saw team, Mark Burg and Oren Koules, comes Spiral: From the Book of Saw. Over the past year, a lot of interesting things have happened in the world, so hearing that Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson were teaming up to shoot the next Saw film was as big a surprise as they come. Going in with an open mind, the latest entry into the Saw universe contains the usual torture, all in the name of teaching valuable life lessons, while bringing a fresh perspective, and at times, a humorous take on the genre.
While the previous films in the franchise have centered around the average wrong-doer, Spiral focuses on the actions and consequences of a particular police department. Detective Ezekiel "Zeke" Banks (Chris Rock) is partnered up with rookie William Schenk (Max Minghella) to investigate a series of murders against fellow police officers, which are believed to be the actions of a Jigsaw copycat. This neo-noir detective thriller takes the audience on a journey seeking truth and redemption, while providing the all too familiar gratuitous gore that we've a know from the film series.
Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman and written by Josh Stolberg and Pete Goldfinger, these brilliant minds pull us yet again into the Saw universe in a way that only a Saw film can; with enough gruesome scenes to last a lifetime. Like any good film in the series, the journey comes full circle (or for a better word, full spiral), to leave us with a series of important messages aimed at eliminating corruption and unraveling the truth. In today's social climate, the film's stance against corruption in the police force was almost a commentary on recent news, and how the world needs to make changes. Admittedly, the film had us thinking about and replaying scenes in our heads for days, so we would definitely recommend it to anyone who has been able to stomach the previous releases.
Arriving just in time for the school holidays, IMAX's newest doco Dinosaurs of Antarctica 3D will transport you to a prehistoric world now covered in ice. Spanning over 250 million years, from the Permian Ice Age, to the Age of Dinosaurs to now, the documentary follows a group of palaeontologists as they make incredible discoveries into the lush forest-laden environments that we now know as Antarctica.
Introducing new-to-science dinosaurs Cryolophosaurus and Glacialisaurus, the film deals with how climate change and evolution impacted what was once the flourishing biome of the Antarctic continent. The evolution of the dinosaurs during the mesozoic era is brilliantly shown through CGI, and of course through the stunning 3D IMAX experience. The predatory Cryolophosaurus steals the show; regardless of whether it is flaunting its hunting tactics, or attracting a mate, the dinosaur is really something to behold on the big screen.
Dr Nathan Smith, palaeontologist and Curator of the Dinosaur Institute at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, features heavily in the film; guiding viewers through the journey the research team made discovering the new types of dinosaurs. Dr Smith himself was involved in the Cryolophosaurus excavations, and lent his knowledge of the dinosaurs to the doco's production film, to bring the mighty reptiles to life. As explained in the film, he expects many more discoveries to be made in the coming decades, which will further our understanding of the world the dinosaurs lived in, and what we expect to live in.
Dinosaurs of Antarctica is screening exclusively to IMAX this school holidays, so grab the kids and get ready for an absolutely dinomite experience in 3D! Tickets are on sale now - head to the IMAX website for info on ticketing and COVIDSafe measures.
Canadian director Miranda de Pencier's debut film The Grizzlies takes us way past the Canada we know, and transports us to the unforgiving terrain of Nunavut. Graduate teacher Russ takes on a government teaching job to pay off his student fees, while waiting for a job to come through from an elite grammar school. Travelling to the town of Kugluktuk, Russ comes face to face with plenty of cultural miscommunications, and a community that is still recovering from a government that changed the ways they knew. With Russ trying and failing to get through to his students, he works out a plan to introduce his community to lacrosse. Based on a true story, The Grizzlies is an incredibly touching film that will stay with you.
The film jarringly opens with a teenager committing suicide - which sets the bleak scene for the first half of the film. Caught off guard by this opening, de Pencier throws the audience into the harsh reality of what these people are dealing with. Faced with abusive family, youth suicide rates, alcoholism and poverty, the Nunavut students have no rest; dealing with challenges both in school and in their home. Having dealt with plenty of teachers who failed them, their attitude towards their education and life is threatened on the daily. It isn’t until they are introduced to lacrosse, that they begin to see some hope on the horizon.
With standout performances from Ben Schnetzer (Russ), Booboo Stewart, Emerald MacDonald and Paul Nutarariaq (students Kyle, Miranda and Zach), the audience is moved as the relationship between student and teacher grows. With plenty of Inuit actors throughout the film, it is touching to see such a strong representation of their culture.
Something the film does well, is that it delicately avoids Russ playing the part of the white man fixing everything - showing how the attitudes of the Kugluktuk youth changes when they are given a chance to make something of themselves. Their character development has the audience cheering them on; watching as the students stand up for themselves, and take the initiative to make changes in their lives.
The Grizzlies isn’t your typical high school sports film - in fact, it takes the genre and flips it on its head; throwing in plenty of hurdles along the way. Regardless of this, it truly is a fantastic film in how its representation of the Inuit is shown - a culture not everyone would know much about. The Grizzlies is in cinemas now, so make sure you check it out while you can.
Josh Lawson’s second directorial effort comes in the form of Long Story Short; a refreshing entry into the time travel genre. A quirky comedy about the importance of time, the film leaves a lasting impression about living life to the fullest.
Leading the cast is Rafe Spall as Teddy - a chronic procrastinator who has just married the love of his life, Leanne. Much to Leanne’s annoyance, Teddy is constantly putting off chasing his dreams, claiming that he has all the time in the world. It isn’t until he has a run in with a stranger (Noni Hazlehurst), that he realises he’s taken his precious time for granted. Jumping forward a year every few minutes, Teddy watches helplessly as his idyllic life crumbles around him, and he loses everyone he cares about.
Lawson’s writing perfectly showcases the comedic prowess of Spall; who spends most of the movie in full freak out mode. Alongside theatre star Zahra Newman, who plays the cool, calm and collected Leanne, the two have undeniable chemistry. Rounded out with comedian Ronny Chieng and Lawson himself, the film cleverly picks its moments when it comes to having a laugh, or even a bit of a sniffle.
The film even goes to the lengths of poking fun at other time travel films at times (we’re looking at you, Groundhog Day), Long Story Short finds the perfect balance of comedy, charm and pure emotion; making you question what really is important in life. Long Story Short hits cinemas February 11 - just make sure you check it out now, not later!
Given the never-ending #MeToo revelations that have surfaced throughout the years, Jay Roach's latest film Bombshell couldn't be more relevant in today's climate. Starring Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie and John Lithgow, the film covers Fox News' 2016 sexual harassment scandal. Discrimination in the workplace is at times an unspoken evil - we all know it's there, but we don't like to talk about it. Bombshell delivers satisfaction from served justice - and we enjoyed every minute of this real life portrayal.
Charlize Theron and Nicole Kidman star as Fox anchors Megyn Kelly and Gretchen Carlson, the two primary sources in the claims against Roger Ailes. After Gretchen is laid off after years of unfair treatment, she starts a fire under every woman working at Fox. What then snowballs is a mass court case, bringing the corporation's harassment and discrimination to light. Slipping in and out of documentary style retelling, the film deals with the seriousness of sexual harassment in the best way possible. Theron and Kidman bring the story to life, and alongside Margot Robbie's ficticious character Kayla, the trio highlight the heartbreaking scenes that occurred at Fox.
One of the standout features in the film is the makeup, particularly John Lithgow as Roger Ailes and Charlize Theron as Megyn Kelly. The film deserves to be in contention for awards at the detail put into each character's appearance throughout the film. Alongside this, the other highlight is the film's ability to tackle the difficult issues in a serious but entertaining manner - encouraging us all to take a stand and making it clear that expectations in the workplace have shifted. While it is challenging at times to watch the behaviour of the Fox executives, from Roger Ailes telling a make-up free Carlson that 'no one wants to watch a middle-aged woman sweat her way through menopause', through to the secret arrangements made behind closed doors, the film doesn't try to paint anything but the truth and the importance of coming together to support what is right.
Bombshell sets out to start a conversation, and we believe it delivers. The performances from each of the main characters tells their story in a film we will not soon forget. We hope as time goes on that movies like Bombshell are an important part of where we've come from, and that each film plays a part in changing where we are heading.
A murdered millionaire and a malicious family with all the motives? Sounds like all the makings for a classic whodunit. In director Rian Johnson's (Looper, Star Wars: The Last Jedi) latest film, Knives Out is an Agatha Christie-inspired entry into the murder mystery genre that has survived all these years. Featuring an ensemble cast, plenty of plot twists, and some absolutely killer one-liners, Knives Out is definitely one of our favourite films of the year.
When crime author Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) is found dead in his study, his suicide is investigated by the police. Each family member descends upon his property like vultures; all unknowingly with their own motives for Harlan's death. It is not until private investigator Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig, featuring a thick, Southern drawl) steps in that these motives come to light, and it becomes known that there is more than meets the eye.
Filling out the cast is Jamie Lee Curtis and Michael Shannon as Harlan's children, with Chris Evans, Toni Collette and Don Johnson playing other members of the Thrombey Family. Relative newcomers Katherine Langford (13 Reasons Why) and Ana de Armas (Blade Runner 2049) also round out the all-star line up. The chemistry between all characters is one of the film's many highlights, as they play off each other under Detective Blanc's watchful eye.
Set in the Thrombey mansion, the film's setting is claustrophobic, cluttered, and rich with character. Filled with secrets, you'll find yourself scouring each scene for some sort of clue towards the murder, but will end up feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of detail being put in front of you. The detailing itself truly is amazing, and something that made the house feel almost like a den of treasures.
The film really throws some amazing curveballs that you won't see coming; to the point of us constantly finding ourselves in a state of 'oh-no-they-didn't'. Backed up with some incredibly well written comedic moments, call backs, and foreshadowing, the film undoubtedly had the right recipe. Obviously we can't give too much away, as that would ruin the surprise, so you'll need to see it for yourself.
Knives Out is now showing in cinemas, so make sure you do yourself a favour and get a ticket!
The Russian Resurrection Film Festival returns for a 16th year, with Melbourne hosting at the Capitol Theatre on Swanston Street. Bringing the best of Russian cinema to Australia, the film festival is one of the biggest and oldest festivals outside of Russia itself. Boasting a strong lineup of upcoming and classic films, the festival seeks to break down stereotypes and showcase their country's talent.
We were fortunate enough to be invited to the festival's opening night. Despite having a very limited understanding of Russian culture, we had an incredible time! The audience was treated to pre-show entertainment - Russian folk songs, performed by traditionally dressed band Carousel Folk Band. Following the opening speeches and an appearance by actor Yulia Aleksandrova, the festival was officially opened with a ceremonial bread and salt greeting. We personally hadn't been to a film festival that started like so, but it was nice to see tradition being carried out throughout the night.
The film chosen for the Melbourne opening was Hero; a new spy comedy directed by Karen Oganesyan. Starring Alexander Petrov in the lead role as Andrey Rodin, the film follows sleeper agents being reactivated. Of course with Hero being a spy film, double-crossing is bound to happen, much to the chagrin of the characters. With plenty of high-velocity action scenes and jokes galore, the film was a great choice for opening night.
Closing off the night was an after party, featuring traditional folk dancing and music. Those who were game enough (and energetic enough!) to join in really added to the vibe of the night. The after party was really high energy, and it was great to see everyone really getting into the celebrations.
The festival will be running throughout Australia on the following dates. Make sure you check out the film festival's website for more information on screenings and tickets.
Perth: Event Cinemas Innaloo from (25-30 October)
Brisbane: Event Cinemas Myer Centre Brisbane (5-13 November)
Canberra: Capitol Cinemas Manuka (6-10 November)
Sydney: Event Cinemas George Street & Burwood (7-17 November)
Melbourne: Capitol Theatre (8-17 November)
Adelaide: GU House Adelaide (14-17 November)
Making its grand return yet for another year, was the Astor Theatre's annual 'Spooktacular' Halloween marathon. Following last year's marathon of John Carpenter's Halloween series, the Astor's 2019 catalogue contained a series of screenings of the best and most interesting classic and cult horror films - with a few hidden surprises.
Kicking off the marathon was George A Romero's Dawn of the Dead (1978); a film that the Astor had worked years on acquiring the screening rights to. We were privileged to see one of the four screenings that will eventually take place at the Astor, and appreciated the significance of the event and the hard work from the Astor team. Romero's classic was then followed by Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974); two films that made a huge impact on the slasher genre. As the night grew later, it was great to have films that keep you on your feet with suspense.
We'd now crossed over into Sunday, with Sam Raimi's instant classic Drag Me to Hell (2009) offering up some supernatural horror vibes, as well as some more early morning jump scares. Those who tried to nap during this film were out of luck - a first-hand experience for some of our team. Before the next film, and to lighten the mood, the Astor pulled out a surprise screening of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966). This was a welcome addition to the film catalog and while it was offered as a chance to stretch your legs as the evening progressed, the majority of film goers stayed for the full surprise screening.
Next up, body horror film Society (1989) amps up the suspense, and ends with a scene that will be forever burned into our memories. You'll have to see it to believe it. The Slumber Party Massacre (1982) brings the audience back to the slasher genre, with plenty of laughable moments included. These films steered away from the classics and offered a unique perspective on what the horror genre has to offer.
Wrapping up the marathon was The House of the Devil, Next of Kin and Scream; Wes Craven's 90s satirical masterpiece. In true Astor fashion, there was plenty of audience participation, movie trivia and prizes, and of course, an overwhelming love of film from all. We jumped, we laughed, and some of us definitely watched moments through our fingers. Either way, we're already looking forward to the selection for next year's Astor Halloween marathon!
The latest film from German director Michael Herbig is Balloon; a retelling of the 1979 East German balloon escape. Released as the opening film of this year's German Film Festival, Balloon follows the thrilling escape carried out by two families, in order to find a better life in West Germany.
The film opens with little introduction to the planned escapees - the Strelzyk and Wetzel families. Rushing right into it, Herbig races through the Strelzyks' first escape attempt, which visibly leaves the audience on the edge of their seats. It is then the two families working on their second attempt to escape to a better life, that fleshes out the rest of the film. Add in the fact that the Stasi is after them following their first failure, and that their own neighbour is also actively searching for them, and you've got a recipe for a nail-biting thriller.
Peter and Doris Strelzyk are played by Friedrich Mücke and Karoline Schuch; parents who wish to find freedom for their family from the communist regime. Aided by friend Günter Wetzel (David Kross) - the mastermind behind the balloon - the two families work together tirelessly. Their motivation and desperation is heart-wrenching, but relatable, as they only want the best for their children.
Balloon will hit cinemas at the end of October. Check your local cinema for screening times.
Pedro Almodóvar's Pain and Glory (Dolor y Gloria) sees the Spanish director once again work with longtime collaborator Antonio Banderas. The film revolves around Banderas' character Salvador Mallo - an auteur who, in his later years, begins to reflect on his childhood. His self-reflection is brought on by one of his first films being restored and re-released - prompting him to reconnect with the film's lead actor for the first time in 30 years. The film sees the internal battles Salvador faces; his declining physical and mental health, his creative block, and his battle with drugs.
Almodóvar's film is semi-autobiographical in a way; the aging director struggles with his identity alongside his creative output. It's an artist's hardship audiences can only imagine, as we see Salvador's failing health and creativity, which we can't help but wonder if they're related and stuck in some vicious circle. Almodóvar switches seamlessly between Salvador's childhood memories and his current-day actions that spawn these flashbacks. At no point do we feel dragged between past and present - but it is those past memories Almodóvar uses to link up the film's narratives.
Banderas' portrayal of Salvador is more than human and relatable in every sense - a big step away from the crooning Spaniard image most audiences would associate him with. His character is brooding; mad at life, confused and defeated. Banderas brings life to the struggling artist, so much so, that he rightfully won the award for Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival for it. Supporting Banderas is Penelope Cruz as Mallo's mother, seen in flashback scenes, and Asier Etxeandia as the estranged actor from Mallo's early film.
Once again, Almodóvar brings another masterpiece to the screen - one rich with vibrant character and feeling. Pain and Glory is a film that will stay with you; a narrative that will haunt you, yet remind you that things do in fact get better.
Official Secrets is a real-life true story about Katharine Gun, a British secret service translator whose bold efforts to thwart the Iraq War through whistle-blowing classified information challenged society to question the motivations of their government. The film paints a picture of a strong woman (played by Keira Knightley) whose single handed efforts blurred the lines of what is right and wrong to do what was needed. Through the many barriers put in her way, this story is about being faced with a decision to look after oneself or to stand up for what is true.
Knightley's portrail of Gun is remarkable, managing to bring the fiery passion, smart wit and just nature of her story. As the world revolves around her, the film does an excellent job at highlighting the impact of events throughout the media outlets and in the legal system. Oscar-winning director Gavin Hood (Tsotsi, Eye in the Sky) incorporates real news footage from the time to best capture the reality characters were facing during their trials and tribulations. The all-star cast including Matthew Goode and Ralph Fiennes manage to highlight the good work that was done to help Katharine chase justice. The film manages to achieve all of its desired intentions, leaving the audience well informed.
Directed by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Belgian film Young Ahmed (Le Jeune Ahmed) tells the story of a young boy swayed by extremist ideas. Ahmed, a 13-year-old muslim boy, has radical thoughts after the influence of his imam causes him to make an attempt on his teacher's life. After failing to do so, he is sent to a youth rehabilitation centre, where he begins to question his religion, motives and the world around him.
Despite being quite confronting at times, the Dardenne Brothers deal with will be seen as a controversial topic by some audiences in the best way possible; by showing each character as an everyday human being. The supporting characters simply reflect the effect Ahmed's change of mentality has had on them. From refusing to shake his female teacher's hand, to admonishing his French-speaking mother in Arabic for drinking - we see Ahmed's behaviour confuse his friends and family. It is this confusion that mimics the everyday lack of understanding between social, religious or cultural groups; the great fear of the unknown.
Idir Ben Addi's portrayal of the title character is at times chilling and unnerving. Throughout the film, we see his behaviour change dependent on who he is around. When at school, we see a boy sneaking under the radar, with his head down and his routines in check. It is not until Ahmed is by himself, that we see the darker side to the character - one that might be past the point of no return. Each time the audience feels as though the character is on their redemption arc, or the right path, the Dardennes toy with the notion of 'will-he-won't-he'; which is further emphasised by the ominous ending.
Young Ahmed is a rollercoaster of emotion from start to finish. Audience members will find themselves biting their nails, or even (like we were), cursing the Dardenne Brothers for not revealing what comes next.
No MIFF would be complete without a movie marathon at the Astor Theatre. This year's treat was a 12+ hour round-up of prime Jeff Goldblum (AKA the internet's boyfriend) films. The world's interest in Goldblum has peaked over the past couple years, with the charming, yet kooky actor raking in the recognition he deserves. It was only fitting that the actor had his own movie marathon dedicated to him during the festival. With the marathon starting at 11pm on a Friday night, the event was opened with a special message from Jeff himself; a video welcoming the marathon-goers to the night, complete with his trademark delivery. With the message finished, the audience whoops and cheers - and everyone is ready for the marathon to begin.
The first movie to be shown is Vibes (1988), a psychic rom-com also starring Cyndi Lauper. It's the perfect choice to start the night, with its campy, over-the-top comedy. Following up is Thor: Ragnarok (2017) and The Tall Guy (1989) - also starring Emma Thompson and Rowan Atkinson. Cronenberg classic The Fly (1986) marks the half-way point of the marathon. It's an essential Goldblum film, so everyone is on the edge of their seats, despite it being the very early hours of the morning. Another film also co-starring Geena Davis is next, with the super fun Earth Girls Are Easy (1988) shown on 35mm. Finishing up the night is Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) and Independence Day (1996). By the time the marathon is over, everyone is all Goldblumed out (if it's even possible). We're keen to know what marathon MIFF and the Astor have in store for next year!
Keanu Reeves returns as semi-retired hitman John Wick, in director Chad Stahelski’s third instalment. Stahelski doesn’t fail to disappoint, delivering another brilliant entry into the John Wick universe.
John Wick 3 picks up directly from the end of the second film, throwing the audience headfirst into a chaotic opening scene. After being excommunicated at the end of the second film, we see John rushing through the busy streets of New York, weaponless and with a $14mil bounty on his head. Everyone on the street seems to be an assassin, making for an incredibly tense few minutes as John ducks and weaves his way through the crowds.
Keanu Reeves’ portrayal of the stoic titular character takes another turn as we find out more of the character’s backstory throughout the film. Reeves plays Wick with his trademark silent treatment, delivering one liners at choice times. The character almost seems an extension of Reeves himself; effortlessly cool and calculating.
Returning to the screen is Ian McShane and Laurence Fishburne in their respective roles of the New York Continental manager Winston, and the Bowery King. Supported by Halle Berry, Anjelica Huston, and Game of Thrones’ Jerome Flynn, the audience is treated to a new range of characters - some that we hope will be revisited.
What deserves a massive applause in the film series is the choreography. The action scenes (gun fights, hand-to-hand combat - you name it) have always been a highlight of the John Wick films, but the third film easily takes it up a notch. Ever seen someone in a film killed with a book? Or a fight scene in an antique weapon shop? Prepare to find yourself on the edge of your seat.
Bordering on ridiculous at the best of times, John Wick 3 is flat out the most hard-hitting entry into the series. With the right balance of twists, action and dark humour, the film has it all for new and old fans of the series. Thankfully the film’s ending leaves it open enough for a sequel - we know we’d happily watch another three John Wicks.
Long Shot is brought to you by the team of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, made popular from comedy hits including Bad Neighbours and This Is The End. In this comedy epic, we see one of the most influential women in the world reconnecting with the boy she used to babysit in what seems like the world’s most incredible mismatch - an unexpected rom com that pushes the boundaries of what can and can’t be said in a film centred around the US presidency.
Who better to play the lead roles than powerhouse Charlize Theron and lovable stoner Seth Rogen. Long Shot wastes no time in introducing the audience to the preposterous shenanigans of Fred Flarsky (Rogen). From the opening scene which shows Flarsky fling himself out of a building in the name of journalism, his life truly takes a turn when he has a chance encounter with his old babysitter Charlotte Field (Theron) at a function featuring Boyz 2 Men. The accomplished diplomat who is running through the motions at another function seeks to reconnect with Flarsky and as one thing leads to another, invites him to be her writer for her upcoming presidential campaign tour.
In what would initially seem like the world’s most unlikely pairing, the chemistry between Theron and Rogen is undeniable, fueled by nostalgia, admiration and intimacy from understanding one another. The rom com delivers a constant barrel of laughs as the pair manage to get wrapped up in a series of unexpected and dangerous events. What we take away is the importance of truly understanding someone, as the pair manage to bring out the best in each other - Flarksy learning to take accountability for his actions and beginning to think about his future, and Field learning that it’s not just about the numbers.
We highly recommend this film to anyone looking for an intellectual comedy, or for anyone who wants to see Bob Odenkirk perform the role of a US president, TV star elected to the oval office, who wants to throw it all away to start his career in the film industry.
Showing at this year’s French Film Festival is Dumped, Eloïse Lang’s mother-daughter comedy, which is perfect for a night out. While Dumped is Lang’s first feature film release, it packs a punch, leaving you wanting more.
After her husband leaves her for a younger woman, Françoise is taken on holiday for her 60th birthday to the tropical island of Réunion by her two daughters - with their goal being to “save mom” and prevent her from spiralling further into depression. What ensues is a gut-splitting rivalry between the two sisters, and antics that include a one-night-stand, and hotel staff being paid to romance their mother.
The legendary Miou-Miou takes on the role of Francoise; the no-nonsense mother subjected to her daughters’ plan. Camille Cottin and Camille Chamoux play daughters Rose and Alice, who are the polar opposites of each other. The on-screen chemistry between the three leads is undeniable, lead by Cottin’s undeniable charisma, Miou-Miou’s quick-fire wit, and Chamoux’s hysterical. control-freak facade.
With the success of director Lang and Cottin’s previous work together (Connasse and Harry Me!), Dumped once again showcases a director/actor collaboration that we would love to see more of. Throw in touching mother-daughter moments, and inflections into love lost and gained, and you’ve got a film with something for everyone. Check out where Dumped is next playing at the French FIlm Festival’s website. Get in quick - this entry into the festival is sure to sell out quickly.
If there’s one film you’re going to see at this year’s French Film Festival, make sure it’s Gilles Lellouche’s Sink or Swim. A laugh from start to finish, you’ll find yourself walking out of the cinema with a massive smile on your face.
Sink or Swim follows a group of 40-something year old men, all on the verge of mid-life crises, and aspiring to compete in a men’s synchronised swimming competition. If only reading that makes you giggle, then you’re in for a treat.
Led by Mathieu Amalric and Guillaume Canet (one facing a deep depression, the other in the middle of a broken family), the characters all have their own problems. We see these throughout the film, which contrast with each moment of hilarity. The audience finds themselves really caring for each character - to the point of a few audience members even cheering out at the climax of the film.
Lellouche’s film is reminiscent of The Full Monty - but who needs this comparison? Sink or Swim is a fun, touching film; one that we’re glad we had the pleasure of seeing. Check the French Film Festival website for screening info - this is one you can’t miss!
Who You Think I Am is a cyber-thriller, that takes you on a journey into the life of literature professor and mother-of-two Claire, who seeks a human connection after her recent divorce. Claire, played by the one and only Juliette Binoche, brings the audience into her world as she seeks to make up for lost time. Through social media, her unintentional yearning to be desired soon leads to her unintentionally catfishing a younger man, as she is swept into a romance like never before.
Writer and director Safy Nebbou takes the 2016 novel written by Camille Laurens and amps up the importance of human connection; painting a realistic picture of the realities men and women deal with, both in their youth and their aging. The plot line, continued through Claire’s repeat visits with fill-in psychologist (played by Nicole Garcia), directs the film through heavy topics surrounding aging, identify, and what constitutes as the self.
As the film progresses, the audience sees Claire going further and further down the rabbit hole, as her actions become increasingly self destructive. Claire’s story and actions are humanised, as we see catfishing from the other point of view. In this day and age, our online profiles are (to some people) more important than how we present ourselves in public. It is how this is represented in the film that is so jarring, so truthful, and so frightening.
Claire is used throughout the film as an unreliable narrator, as we learn more about her declining mental health. At one point in the film, her reality is so distorted from guilt and shame, that the audience is practically begging for another outcome. One of our reviewers even found themselves whispering ‘no, no, no’ repeatedly under their breath.
The film is beautifully shot, and accompanied by a barely-there soundtrack by jazz musician Ibrahim Maalouf. The lack of sound throughout only intensifies the film’s revelations when they come to light. Nebbou throws in a few computer-illiterate jokes here and there, which resonate with older audiences. Claire adjusting her text language to appear younger also warrants a few laughs.
All up, Who You Think I Am is a strong entry into this year’s French Film Festival, and a strong argument for this year being the year of Juliette Binoche. A must-see for those who want a bit of excitement in their lives.
In a total of 110 sexually-charged minutes, Claire Denis’ High Life flips the sci-fi genre on its head. Filled with plenty of shock scenes and touching moments, the French director’s entry into the genre is one that most audiences will find unforgettable.
High Life follows a group of death row criminals on an unending space mission, all in the name of science. During their trip, the convicts are subjected to the onboard doctor’s reproductive experiments, resulting in the birth of prisoner Monte’s daughter. After being left as the last survivors on the ship, Monte and his daughter Willow must prepare themselves for the black hole their ship is headed straight for.
Denis’ film follows Monte and Willow’s relationship carefully; from the painstaking moments of being a desperate parent, to the tenderness of caring for one another. Their relationship, interjected with the film’s shock scenes of sexual violence and isolation is jarring and frightening at times, but only amplifies each contrasting moment more.
Lead by Robert Pattinson as Monte, and Juliette Binoche as the ship’s doctor Dibs, the cast is rounded out with familiar faces Mia Goth and André Benjamin. Space itself plays a big role here (of course, given this is a sci-fi film) - one that has definitely played on our minds. Needless to say, High Life was a roller coaster from start to finish. We 100% recommend seeing it while it’s screening during the French Film Festival - just don’t watch it with your mum.
Impossible to look away .
The Alliance Francaise French Film Festival launched this week with 54 films by the best French cinema has to offer, crowds begging for more with the opening night masterpiece The Trouble With You. This goofy comedy directed by Pierre Salvadori (Wild Target, Après Vous, Priceless) balances ridiculous adventures with true to life emotions, creating a movie with heart and a deeply human experience that stays with you after the credits have finished rolling.
The Trouble with You follows detective Yvonne, played by Adèle Haenel, a French Riviera police officer who discovers that her late husband, and chief of police, isn’t the man she thought he was. In an attempt to atone for her husband’s mistakes, Yvonne decides to do everything she can to help Antoine, an innocent man who her husband sent to jail. Drawn to one another based on their shared experience, the film shows Antoine spiraling out of control, learning who he has become after 8 years in prison, while Yvonne is discovering who she wants to be, knowing her old life was a lie.
The film is filled with memorable moments and even more memorable characters that will have to whole cinema in stitches. The mixture of the absurd and Pierre Salvadori’s awkwardly dark sense of humor manages to bring even the toughest of critics to tears and have you laughing at things that would make your grandma blush. There is never a dull moment on screen as you’re never sure what will happen next or how the situation could get any worse. It would be best to leave the children at home for this film to avoid any awkward conversations during the drive home.
One of the funniest films we’ve seen in French cinema, this one is not to be missed.
Why diamonds are a criminal's best friend.
Based on a true story, King of Thieves, depicts widower Brian Reader (Michael Caine) at the ripe old age of 77, uniting a band of former misfit criminals to plot a diamond heist at the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit. Finding the most experienced men possible, in credentials and age, the current and former criminals aged in their 60's and 70's bar one, seek to pull off what is likely to be their last big job of their careers/lives on a casual Easter weekend.
Directed by Academy Award winner James Marsh (Man on Wire, Theory of Everything), the film chooses to take on a different approach to most heist films, choosing to glance over the job itself to instead focus on the aftermath - how to divide the stolen goods fairly and remain friends with your fellow criminals. As loyalties are tested, each character brings to the film personality and a clear motivation of why they are part of the heist and what they are hoping to gain from the experience. With a stellar performance from all involved, the all star cast (Jim Broadbent, Tom Courtenay, Charlie Cox, Paul Whitehouse, Michael Gambon, Ray Winstone) bring life to the characters and to the film, highlighting true personalities in each of the people who took part in the efforts.
King of Thieves feels nostalgic, and takes your emotions on a rollercoaster ride where you want everything to work out, you just don't know for who exactly. When all of the characters appear to possess flaws, it's hard to spot a hero among them as these men grasp at straws to find their place in the world. The film did a fantastic job of highlighting the incredible feat that these men achieved in successfully robbing the jewellery store, and an even better job at identifying where it all fell apart, leading to their demise.
Overall, we highly recommend seeing King of Thieves if you enjoy a good heist and an even better comedy drama.
Revenge is best served cold.
Director Hans Petter Moland makes his Hollywood debut with Cold Pursuit; a classic revenge film, with quirky dark comedy lying under the surface. The film is a remake of Moland’s own film In Order of Disappearance (2014), featuring Stellan Skarsgård in the lead role. Every great revenge film needs a strong lead, and Cold Pursuit managed to book the one and only Liam Neeson - starring in what seems to be his typical role (a la Taken) in this icy thriller.
Neeson plays the lead role, Nels Coxman, a local snowplow driver in Kehoe - a resort town in the Rocky Mountains. After Coxman’s son dies of a suspect heroin overdose, Nels becomes obsessed with the details of his son’s passing and begins to realise something is amiss. As he begins to explore the drug market in Kehoe and its surrounding areas, Coxman stumbles into who he believes to be responsible and takes it upon himself to exact revenge on the local drug dealers and their lackeys. Wrapped up in a turf war and constant miscommunications between a spoilt and bratty young dealer and a Native-American mob boss, Coxman relies on his knowledge of crime from reading thriller novels to get what he came for.
Remaking your own film, as Moland has done, is a gutsy move that proves worthwhile. Moving the setting from Norway to the Rocky Mountains in the States translates perfectly, in a beautiful film about tragic loss. The audience experiences the isolation felt in the film through the setting - vast landscapes of unending snow. The pristine, crisp snow is almost a character in itself, providing the film with not only a setting, but a soundtrack, and a masking device. Add a snowplow to the mix, and you’ve got intense feelings of claustrophobia as the raging machine pushes itself through the towering walls of snow.
Neeson’s delivery of his character is a perfect fit for the film’s humour; his calm demeanour and overall cool quietly dishing out throwaway lines. The humour is very Coen-esque, especially through the use of repetition and deadpan deliveries. Neeson’s humour is mirrored by Tom Bateman, who plays the sociopathic drug dealer Viking. Bateman plays the character with an energy and craziness that is unhinged and entertaining to watch. Rounding out the cast is Laura Dern, starring as Coxman’s wife Grace, and Emmy Rossum and John Doman, as the two cops hot on the trail of the turf wars.
While Neeson’s foray into action films over the last few years was a welcome change, it was great to see another side of the revenge genre. Moland’s film has Coxman bring a sense of realism to the table; we see an inexperienced, older man struggle to beat up a drug dealer, struggle to deal with the death of his child, and most importantly, struggle with the consequences of his actions. This sense of realism only adds to the film’s dark humour - it was good to see a character awkwardly work his way through a hit list.
Overall, Cold Pursuit was a great take on the typical revenge film. We went in not exactly knowing what to expect, and left laughing - reminiscing on the film’s well-timed lines and quirky characters. Full of action, deadpan humour and just the right amount of badassery, Cold Pursuit has a little something for everyone.
For one magical night only.
Jim Hosking’s second offering to cinema brings to the screen a tale of a love triangle and a magical night. Lulu Danger finds herself escaping a dead end town and husband (Emile Hirsch as Shane Danger), to see the mysterious Beverly Luff Linn (Craig Robinson), live for one magical night only.
The film’s over-the-top characters and dialogue is awkward humour at its finest, reminiscent of The Lobster. Aubrey Plaza’s familiar deadpan delivery is once again present in her portrayal of main character Lulu Danger, while Jemaine Clement’s Colin is hopeless and socially inept , albeit a lovable dork. While both actors feature in roles typical to what they’ve played in the past (Plaza’s April Ludgate, and Clement in Flight of the Conchords), the typecast characters play off each other perfectly.
The film’s absurdity is only amplified by the synth soundtrack and costumes - think tartan three-piece suits and striped one piece swimmers. Complete with Matt Berry playing the jealous partner and Emile Hirsch as Lulu’s loser husband, An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn is both a cringe fest and side splitter from start to finish.
MEL Live saw the film at the Lido’s rooftop cinema, as part of the Paracinema Festival. Screened before the film was The Elderly MacDonald, local director Ben Volchok’s short film. A French New Wave take on the Old MacDonald nursery rhyme, the short film is a ‘restoration’, and packs in lots of laughs. For more on the the Lido Cinema, click here.
The Astor Theatre has run their fair share of movie marathons; catering to all of Melbourne’s cinephiles, and offering a place to spend your weekend as you embark on a journey, day and night, to watch films as they were intended. Whether it be attending the Halloween ‘Spooktacular’, the Tarantino festival, the Sci-Fi marathon for MIFF, or full screenings of the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings franchises, the Astor delivers to a niche audience of dedicated film lovers who are willing to go the distance to gain the full experience.
When the Astor announced that they planned to run a 48-hour marathon dedicated to airing Marvel Studios’ ‘First Ten Years’, we knew this was going to be something truly special. Ambitious? Yes. Crazy? Of course! MARVEL-lous? Naturally.
Day one’s screening started off at 11am with the first two Iron Man films, closely followed by Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger. If there’s one thing Marvel mastered early on, it was how to successfully set up a franchise. Even as die-hard comic fans, we totally forgot how interconnected everything in the first few films were - from every post-credit scene, down to vague mentions of locations and characters. Joss Whedon’s The Avengers followed after - seamlessly linking together Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
After The Avengers finished, day two began with Iron Man 3. At this point, we had to call it a day and get some sleep! This meant we missed Thor: The Dark World (no big loss), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (sadly), and fan-favourite, Guardians of the Galaxy. We returned to the Astor to catch Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man, leading into Phase Three of the MCU; Captain America: Civil War (AKA the real third Avengers film), and Doctor Strange. Capping off the night’s screening was Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, bringing a close to the marathon’s second day.
Those that stuck out the whole weekend (and had the Monday off!) were in for a treat; the third day was kicked off with Thor: Ragnarok, and followed up with Black Panther - arguably two of Marvel’s best films. Avengers: Infinity War followed; the event that the MCU had been building up to for years. Closing the two, very long days was Ant-Man and the Wasp, the last released Marvel film.
When the marathon wrapped, our brains and hearts had turned to dust, and it was 11am on the Monday morning - time to return back to reality. Not to the Marvel universe, but to our own. As we emerged into the real world, we looked back on the weekend with the Astor Theatre and thought about the real heroes - the heroes who worked the entire weekend to make this possible. Be they superheroes, gods, or simply people who really, really love cinema, we send a big thank you to the team and look forward to returning again soon.
I’m not crying, you’re crying.
The fourth remake of A Star Is Born is Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut; breathing new life into a familiar story. Stuck in development hell for years, Cooper seizes the opportunity to bring in a new perspective and stronger character development than the previous films - telling the story of a depressed musician and a songwriter destined for stardom.
The chemistry between Cooper in the role of Jackson, a musician struggling to cope in the second half of his career, and Lady Gaga as Ally, a down-and-out songwriter who has almost given up, has the critics raving. The film paints a realistic picture of the ugly, vulnerable side of fame, as well as each characters’ motivations to maintain it. The film takes us on a journey into what love can do for someone - whether it be a rejuvenated perspective on life, or sacrificing everything to be with the one you love.
The film’s soundtrack has rightly been at the top of the charts since before the film’s release, only adding to the film being heralded as Oscar-bait. From our perspective, this film is a must-see, and will have you feeling you’re on tour with front row seats.
The Astor learnt something from last year’s Potterfest; that a crazy amount of people would happily sit through all (or as many as possible) of the Harry Potter films.
Starting at 11am and consisting of all eight HP films, plus Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the marathon brought in massive crowds.
Marathoners lugged in their pillows, blankets, and as many stacks as possible, and knuckled down for a solid 20-something hours of binging. The cinema’s atmosphere is contagious - with the audience cheering out, clapping along and booing at all the right moments.
There’s a good chance the Astor will be continuing Potterfest in 2020, so keep your eyes peeled, and don’t miss out on the next one!
Possibly our favourite Scottish-zombie-comedy-Christmas-musical.
A cross between Shaun of the Dead and High School Musical, Anna and the Apocalypse was screened as part of this year’s British Film Festival program.
Think catchy songs (including ballads, of course) played over footage of zombies being slain with a giant candy cane. The film has its touching moments, but that’s not what you’re paying to watch.
Anna and the Apocalypse is a gorey, silly, over the top film - but god it’s a fun one.