Archive for February, 2015

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GFF 2015: Theeb (Naji Abu Nowar, 2014)

February 28, 2015

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Echoes of Rudyard Kipling adventure yarns and Hollywood’s more pessimistic classic Westerns permeate Theeb, the directorial debut of Jordan-based filmmaker Naji Abu Nowar, whose film was also shot in that region and features non-professional actors from one of Jordan’s last nomadic Bedouin tribes to settle down…

Click for the full review for Sound On Sight

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GFF 2015: Force Majeure (Ruben Östlund, 2014)

February 27, 2015

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A Swedish family are on a ski holiday in the French Alps. Everything seems to be going great for Tomas (Kuhnke), Ebba (Kongsli) and their two kids. That is, until one fateful day when an avalanche strikes during lunch. The mountainside restaurant seems to be right in its path, and everyone around them is screaming at the terror about to unfold. Except, as his previous film (tricksy race relations drama Play) proved, things in writer-director Ruben Östlund’s films never go down the route you might presume…

Click for the full review for The Skinny/The CineSkinny

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GFF 2015: Dearest (Peter Chan, 2014)

February 25, 2015

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Based on one specific real life incident, Chinese drama Dearest concerns the aftermath of a child abduction in Shenzhen, China. Starting in 2009, Peter Chan’s film follows Tian Wen-jun (Huang Bo) and his ex-wife Lu Xiao-juan (Hao Lei) as they both search for their missing toddler and come to terms with their respective guilt, forming bonds with a support group for bereft parents, as the narrative moves forward over several years…

Click for the full review for The Skinny/The CineSkinny

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GFF 2015: Life in a Fishbowl (Baldvin Zophoníasson, 2014)

February 25, 2015

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Icelandic ensemble drama Life in a Fishbowl follows three wildly different people, whose lives (and double lives) intersect in strange ways, exploring the roots of the country’s economic collapse in 2008. There’s a former athlete-turned-international-banker (Kristjansson), a famous author (Bachmann) haunted by addictions and past tragedies, and a debt-ridden young pre-school teacher (Hilmar) moonlighting as a prostitute in order to make ends meet and provide for her daughter…

Click for the full review for The Skinny/The CineSkinny

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GFF 2015: Spring (Justin Benson/Aaron Moorhead, 2014)

February 25, 2015

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The sophomore feature from directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, Spring is a body horror tale for the hopeless romantic.

Stuck in a personal tailspin after his mother dies, Evan (the charismatic Pucci) flees the US to Italy on a whim. Ending up in an ancient Mediterranean village near Mount Vesuvius, he sparks up a romance with a beautiful genetics student, Louise (Hilker, also great), who harbours dark secrets verging on the primordial, involving strange recurring lesions and a habit of transforming into various monstrosities. And yet Evan, believing he has found the love of his life in this foreign fling, carries on in his pursuit. In a way, it’s like H.P. Lovecraft’s Before Sunrise

Click for the full review for The Skinny/The CineSkinny

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GFF 2015: The Little Death (Josh Lawson, 2014)

February 22, 2015

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The Little Death is an Australian comedy concerning five hetero couples (or potential couple in one case), whose relationships become defined by their fetishes. Though the lives of some of these characters intertwine through the setup of them living in the same neighbourhood, the film is more anthology feature than network narrative in that the stories basically act as shorts that we jump in and out of for 95 minutes – and one of them runs uninterrupted for the final 20. Writer-director Josh Lawson even introduces each plot thread with a title card akin to what you might find in a more traditional anthology feature. This isn’t so much The ABCs of Sex, but the title of recent Argentinean anthology Wild Tales wouldn’t be out of place if re-applied to The Little Death.

Lawson definitely tries to be wild, anyway. His film is relatively experimental in terms of its structure and theoretically risqué in content, but a lot of it plays more like rote sitcom than scathing taboo breaker. The characters are all white and middle class, many of the punch-lines are too obviously telegraphed, a couple of performers deliver lines like they’re expecting a laugh track to follow, and the film ultimately feels too cutesy even during its nastier diversions. To riff again on another movie title, it’s almost like Richard Curtis’ Fuck Actually

Click for the full review for Sound On Sight

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Blackhat (Michael Mann, 2015)

February 20, 2015

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Cyber terrorism thriller Blackhat sees director Michael Mann continuing to explore themes found in his earlier works like Heat and Thief, but with a firm foot in the stylistic experimentation that has characterised his 21st century output to date.

Those with little tolerance for Collateral, Public Enemies, and, especially, Miami Vice may find little to latch on to here, but those enamoured or, at least, fascinated by his increasingly impressionistic and abstract use of digital in approaching action film scenarios will be rewarded. He’s even thrown in a couple of cheeky self-citations for the super-fans to get a kick out of – see Chris Hemsworth’s lauded hacker Nick Hathaway quoting one of Manhunter’s best remembered lines…

Click for the full review for The Skinny