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.
Showing exclusively at IMAX is Great Bear Rainforest 3D - an intimate look into the last intact temperate rainforest in the world and its inhabitants. Directed by Ian McAllister and Jeff Turner, the documentary was filmed over the span of three years. Beautifully shot, the filmmakers’ techniques are really something to behold.
Narrated by Canada's sweetheart, Ryan Reynolds, Great Bear Rainforest looks at the amazing ecosystem found in British Columbia. The rainforest itself is home to grizzlies, black bears and the rarest bear on earth, the white spirit bear. The film follows the lives of the resident bears and the guardians of the forests - the First Nations people, who live amongst the bears and dedicate their lives to protecting them.
The Indigenous protecting the rainforest for thousands of years has allowed researchers to understand the rich biome of the Great Bear Rainforest; something that the First Nation youth are helping with. The film crew also tracks the footsteps of the rainforest’s sea otters, salmon and coastal wolves - all having their own role to play within the forest’s ecosystem. The documentary in particular focuses on female spirit bear Mox, who is part of the rare sub-species of black bear. Her journey across the rainforest after coming out of hibernation is truly captivating, and left us wanting to know more about these incredibly beautiful animals.
With whimsical shots of the British Columbian landscapes, the IMAX format definitely makes you feel as if you are flying over the Canadian wilderness. The use of slow-mo is used to its full effect, as we see beautiful close ups of the spirit bears, as well as salmon making their way upstream. There's not a second that isn't an awe-inspiring shot, and the overlapping stories of the animals and the First Nations people are emotional triggers for many. If there's one message we took away from the documentary, it was definitely how important looking after our planet is. Advanced screenings for Great Bear Rainforest 3D will be showing from 27 December, so head over to IMAX's site for ticketing options.
Photo credit: Ian McAllister/Pacific Wild
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.
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 Time For Quiet - a journey of self-discovery through music
To describe No Time For Quiet as a documentary geared towards music and rock n' roll would be both accurate and a lie - mainly because this film has so much more to offer the audience. Allowing us a glimpse into the lives of 40 girls and gender diverse youth (11-17), we are invited to observe the inaugural week-long GIRLS ROCK! MELBOURNE camp in Brunswick. What we expected to see was the chance to understand the inner workings of a program designed to provide girls, trans and gender non-confirming youths a safe space to connect with like-minded individuals through music. As the film progresses, we are able to delve much deeper than intended - raising conversations around topics including gender fluidity and mental illness while promoting the key takeaway of inclusion and acceptance.
The film, directed by Hylton Shaw and Samantha Dinning and produced by Philippa Campey, draws you in on the premise of empowering today's youth with the power of music. There are a series of cameos with camp volunteers including rock legend Courtney Barnett, Melbourne punk trio Cable Ties and Sikh-Australian slam poet Sukhjit Khalsa. But what you take away from the film has nothing to do with the music industry at all - it's the stories, the emotions and the journeys that each of the characters faces in their daily lives that you become invested in.
Attending the World Premiere in Melbourne at MIFF 2019, we were fortunate enough to have a Q&A with Hylton, Samantha, Philippa and one of the main participants Phoebe. An enlightening experience into the film process and a great story about how even as filmmakers what we observe can take a life of its own.
No Time For Quiet is a powerful documentary that reminds us all that we're in it together.
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.
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!