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Yes No Maybe So: CREED, SECRET IN THEIR EYES, STEVE JOBS

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Entries in film festivals (256)

Sunday
Jun212015

Sydney Film Festival: Unconventional Creature Features

Glenn here offering some final thoughts on films at the Sydney Film Festival...

Let's talk about a couple of new documentaries and a horror-romance hybrid. 

The Russian Woodpecker
Chad Garcia’s The Russian Woodpecker is fascinating. It’s a wholly unexpected surprise from this debut director that not only presents an involving story that links the nuclear devastation of Chernobyl to the modern day revolution of Ukraine with plenty of conspiracy theory intrigue, but also presents it in a formally adventurous way. The film’s central figure is the eccentric artist Fedor Alexandrovich and he’s the sort of man that would drift through a party before promptly leaving and making everybody turn to each other and say, “Well he was a character!” If this wasn’t a documentary he would almost be too hard to believe as he rattles off his (as it turns out, not entirely absurd) theory that the Chernobyl nuclear disaster was a planned plot by the Russian government to disguise the failure of a nearby Soviet-built radar tower that emitted a persistent clicking sound known as “the Russian woodpecker”.

Alexandrovich’s amateur sleuth skills are hardly credible, but his growing unease at his proposed discoveries – his interviews with former workers of the radar tower seethe with barely contained tension – leads brilliantly into a navigation of the current political unrest on the streets of Kiev and his growing unease with choosing to bring these Russian grievances to light. Visually arresting, Garcia’s film is an uncomfortable must-see.

Oscar? I'd like to think it can find a general release and compete for Oscar. After a few years of music and sport films winning, perhaps last year's win for Citizenfour will turn them back to politics. Barring The Look of Silence, nothing has emerged out of the festival circuit looking like a winner so it's an open playing field.

Horror on the Italian seaside and an elephant in Hawaii after the jump...

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Friday
Jun192015

The Troubled Musical Tribute to 'Amy'

Glenn here offering some thoughts on films at the Sydney Film Festival. Here he is discussing the music documentary 'Amy'.

Given what director Asif Kapadia was able to accomplish with the otherwise (to me) uninteresting world of vroom vroom speed racing in Senna, logic would dictate that when handling a subject of great interest to me that the results would be even more outstanding. That doesn’t quite prove to be the case with Amy, another scrapbook collection of archival footage presenting the life of somebody who lived fast and died young, Amy Winehouse, but one which lacks quite the same verve of the director’s predecessor.

Kapadia is in the unique position of making a documentary about somebody whose life isn’t just rife for the Hollywood biopic treatment, but which actually feels like it already has been. Is her story not almost note-for-note for Mark Rydell’s The Rose with Bette Midler? It’s curious as a viewer of a documentary to feel as if I’d seen it all before in a fiction film (albeit one highly inspired by a real life person) and being disappointed because it comes off second best.

The Rose, Kurt Cobain and more after the jump...

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Monday
Jun152015

Sydney Film Festival: '54' Rises Like a Phoenix

Glenn here offering thoughts on some of the films at this year's Sydney Film Festival. Here he is on the '54: Director's Cut'.

The history behind Mark Christopher’s wannabe decadent, sexually-charged disco epic 54 is almost as interesting as the real life nightclub it uses as its setting. Originally conceived as a disco-themed coming-of-age drama like Saturday Night Fever blended with the hedonistic dungeon-like underworld of Cruising, all signs pointed to the film being a crazed and sexy paean to a world that no longer exists. And then Miramax got involved. There's a long history of director's cuts of famous films or those from famous directors (Blade Runner, Apocalypse Now) or cult titles (Dark City). 54 was neither, so how did it get into this position?

After a few fated audience test screenings, Miramax decided to change tact with 54. Cutting out 40 minutes of footage that showed an openly queer antihero and replacing it with 25 minutes of newly filmed material aimed to exploit the exploding popularity of stars Ryan Phillippe and Neve Campbell. Released to scathing reviews, the film ultimately limped at the box office, Mike Myers had a supporting actor nomination rescinded by the New York Film Critics Circle (at least according to the director) and was likely never thought much of since. Mark Christopher’s career was essentially ruined in the process.

Knock on wood with more after the jump...

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Saturday
Jun132015

Sydney Film Festival: A Second Take on 'Strangerland'

Glenn here offering some thoughts on films at the Sydney Film Festival including this second take on Strangerland after Nathaniel's initial negative review from Sundance.

Kim Farrant’s Strangerland is deeply, uncomfortably Australian. In many ways, it goes right to the heart of the country as a family infiltrate a place that is unfamiliar and even hostile to their arrival. A family, all of whom hold secrets and potentially criminal pasts. They could have been dressed up in Colonial costumes and set 150 years ago without much of a narrative alteration, which is probably much the point of Farrant’s debut feature. How our convict pasts have manifested as a society that turns on its own as much as the other.

Strangerland has a fairly simple premise, but one that allows for some fairly wide-ranging readings. After having left their last post due to an ambiguously alluded to crime, Matthew (Joseph Fiennes) and Catherine Parker (Nicole Kidman) find themselves in the remote outback town of Nathgari. He’s a pharmacist and she’s a housewife, neither of whom are able to handle their 15-year-old daughter, Lily (Maddison Brown). When Lily and young son Tommy vanish in the middle of the night, the town deals them with suspicion while Catherine becomes more and more emotionally unhinged at the thought their children may have deliberately abandoned her.

Peter Weir, Kidman and more after the jump...

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Sunday
May242015

Cannes Closing Prizes


12:25 The jury arrives and out pours their little soundbytes. Anticipation. Who will win the Palme D'Or?

We're proud of our choices."
-Rossy de Palma 

It was so congenial. One of the best experiences of my life. It was a great group."
-Joel Coen 

Beautiful. Every time we deliberated we went very deep. We argued back and forth in a good way. The Coens made it very clear we should be very passionate. It was one of the best experiences "
-Guillermo del Toro 

It feels like a little family. And the movies were so wonderful. It's odd artists judging artists but I guess it has to be done."
-Jake Gyllenhaal 

The reporter reminds us that Xavier Dolan leaves WITH Marion Cotillard tomorrow to start filming his next movie. He never stops. No rest for the Francophones. All the Jury prizes and quick thoughts after the jump

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Saturday
May232015

Potential Foreign Oscar Submissions from Cannes

While most of the world obsesses on Eurovision today, we'll stayed obsessed with France. The Cannes festival ends tomorrow with the awards ceremony and the biggies like the Palme D'Or (the overall winner) Best Actress (or 'The Anti-Marion' as it will surely soon be retitled since she's in the mix every single year but never wins) and the Camera D'Or (first film). But until tomorrow afternoon when we hear those honors, we've still got plenty to discuss including potential Oscar submissions (I must soon create those massive foreign submission charts) and the first wave of jury prizes.

UN CERTAIN REGARD
Isabella Rossellini's jury has handed out their prizes with this statement from Rossellini

We, the jury, would like to thank the Festival de Cannes for inviting us to be part of the Jury for Un Certain Regard. The experience of watching nineteen films from twenty-one countries was memorable. It was like taking a flight over our Planet and its inhabitants… Any anthropologist would be envious of us. We would like in particular to thank Thierry Frémaux and his team for their incredible kindness. I cannot refrain from expressing also my personal gratitude to the Festival for having chosen my mother Ingrid Bergman for the poster of the 68th edition of this festival. Mamma seems to hovered over all of us, filmmakers and film lovers, as a guardian angel. Thank you.

Here's a roundup of prizes including many potential Oscar submissions for Best Foreign Language Film...

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