Opening up the 25th Japanese Film Festival was biopic Hokusai; a film depicting the eventful life of one of Japan's most renowned artists. Directed by Hajime Hashimoto (Another Battle/Conspiracy), Hokusai explores the painter's inspirations, struggles and battles against society's norms.
Set in the Edo period, when many artists' work was considered 'corrupt' by the shogunate, Katsushika Hokusai is a struggling artist who is just trying to survive. Playing the artist is Yūya Yagira (Nobody Knows), who perfectly portrays the immaturity and frustration that the artist faces. It isn't until he is discovered by the famous publisher Tsutaya Jūzaburō (played by Hiroshi Abe, Still Walking), that Hokusai is pushed to realise his potential and finds his own original art style.
Throughout the film is the underlying fear and anger against the shogunate, and the oppression they had over artists and their work. Hashimoto opens the film with a raid on the publisher's office - in which the audience is thrown into the fray and pushed to the edges of their seats. It's a struggle that continues throughout, even when Hokusai is well into his later years (then played by Min Tanaka), and mentoring young artists and authors; all while they work in secrecy as tensions rise.
Of course a film about Hokusai wouldn't be complete without exploring his inspiration for his most recognisable piece, The Great Wave off Kanagawa. The film explores what defined the ukiyo-e artist throughout his career, through Hashimoto's thorough research of his turbulent life. Being both informative and entertaining, Hokusai was a love letter to the artist and his work, which defined Japanese art throughout the ages. Hokusai screened as part of this year's Japanese Film Festival, which is running until 5 December. Check out the program and book your tickets here.
Director Jonas Carpignano's Calabrian trilogy is brought to a close with A Chiara (To Chiara), a coming-of-age glimpse into the life of a 15-year old girl, as she comes to realise her life isn't exactly as it seems. Set in Gioia Tauro, Calabria, A Chiara follows the titular character's life as it starts to fall apart, after the young girl witnesses a car bomb outside her house, and her father fleeing shortly after. While her family plays ignorant, Chiara takes matters into her own hands, soon discovering her own father's part in the local mafia as a drug trafficker.
Chiara is played by Swamy Rotolo, who is so convincing throughout the movie, that at times the film almost feels like a documentary. Playing Chiara's family members are actual family members of the actor - with the Rotolo family making up the majority of the film's cast. In an introduction screened before the film, Carpignano tells the audience that the family themselves are close friends; this relationship is clearly evident throughout the film. Carpignano's use of Chiara's changing mood affecting her environment is clever - we see once the rose-coloured glasses are gone and the truth is out, that the world around her seems a little grim.
What begins as Chiara's seemingly normal life, spirals out and takes twists and turns that are unpredictable and gut-wrenching. As the winner of the Europa Cinemas Label for Best European Film at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, A Chiara was the perfect opening to the Italian Film Festival - showcasing incredible new talent, and a director who is definitely one to watch. A Chiara is screening at Palace Cinemas for the 22nd ST. ALi Italian Film Festival in Melbourne until 12 December.
Opening up the ninth British Film Festival was The Duke; a heart-warming true story about Kempton Bunton, a 60-year old taxi driver who became famous overnight for stealing Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery in London.
The film takes you on a journey following Kempton, an underdog working-class man from Newcastle, whose need to look out for the common man and sticking to his principles gets him into all kinds of trouble. What begins as a campaign asking for pensioners to receive free television licences, escalates quickly into the first recorded case of art robbery in Britain, and the only theft in the gallery’s history.
The film manages to beautifully capture Kempton’s adventures as well as the impact of his efforts on the entire Bunton family. The leads, played by Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren, have great on-screen chemistry and back and forth banter, as his wife Dorothy attempts to pick up the pieces for the whole family along the way.
Director Roger Michell’s beautiful take on a compelling tale brings this crowd-pleaser to life, making it a perfect choice to open the festival. The film wonderfully encapsulates the essence of the real-life Kempton Bunton; a revolutionary man who took matters into his own hands.
The Duke isn’t just about a family who stole the most expensive art acquisition at the time, and stored it in their spare bedroom. This story captures a man’s fight for justice, and his willingness to do anything to look after his fellow man. While you know that this film revolves around an art heist, you’ll still be surprised when the film also steals your heart.
A killer of a hit.
Guns, a kickass lineup of actors and a whole lot of ridiculous fight scenes - what more could you want from a film like Gunpowder Milkshake? When assassin Scarlet (Lena Headey) abandons her daughter Sam (Karen Gillan), little does she know that her daughter will follow in her footsteps. Years later, while working for The Firm, Sam finds herself caught in between a rock and hard place; after a hit goes wrong and she rescues an 8 year old, starting a massive gang war. Written and directed by Navot Papushado (Big Bad Wolves, 2013), Gunpowder Milkshake is a hell of ride to the very end.
Fleshing out the supporting cast is the fabulous Angela Bassett, Michelle Yeoh and Carla Gugino as the Librarians; Scarlet’s sisterhood of fellow assassins. Acting throughout the film almost as Sam’s twisted fairy godmothers, the Librarians’ ‘book collection’ is one of the film’s most entertaining features. Up-and-comer Chloe Coleman plays Emily, the wise-cracking kid that makes Sam question her purpose. Rounding out the cast is Paul Giamatti as Nathan, the head of The Firm, and Ralph Ineson as creepy mob boss Jim, who is dead-set on his revenge against Sam.
Visually, the film is stunning - a cacophony of neon and light run throughout, with a colour palette that is to die for. Like a comic book come to life, every colour is loud, and each character's look is iconic (no doubt we'll be seeing Sam's bowling jacket at upcoming comic cons). The library was a standout for set design, with its hidden secrets and themed rooms - especially when we see Angela Bassett and Michelle Yeoh colour co-coordinating with their backdrops - a big chef's kiss moment this was.
By the end of the film, it’s easy to see where Papushado may have just drawn his inspiration from. Gunpowder Milkshake is almost a female-led John Wick, or a gun-laden Kill Bill, with its gratuitous ultraviolence, snarky one-liners, and jaw dropping fight scenes. Complete with the film’s Baby Driver-esque scoring and car chase scenes, not at any point does it feel like you aren’t getting same thing over and over again. One of our personal favourite scenes had to be when Sam has just lost control of her arms, and has a trio of assassins coming for her head. We won't spoil it for you, but it does seem that duct tape fixes everything!
Despite its absurdity and excessive moments at times, this was easily one of the most fun films we’ve seen in a long time! Just when we thought that a scene couldn't get any crazier, it went that extra mile every time. Gunpowder Milkshake is in cinemas now, so check it out while you can!
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.
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.
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.
Photo Credit: Andreas Bommert
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.
Photo Credit: Blake Hannahson
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.