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Shame

25 Jan

By Lizzie Lamb of www.thechopbuster.com

  This film with its hit-list cast is generating the kind of buzz that makes me vomit in my mouth a little bit, and damn it all if I wasn’t a little biased by the Oscar-bait concept and title. But regardless of my utterly unfair prejudices, this film is very well done.

  We were fair warned of full frontal nudity and R-rated subject matter, which seemed a little OTT but that they seemed giddy at the prospect of Michael Fassbender’s wang and just couldn’t quite contain themselves. And not to trivialise a film that is both beautiful and harrowing, but what a wang it be. And the places it does go…

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  Sex addiction is a very modern sort of theme, and I’ve seen a number of films either directly about it or at least nebulously involved. And finally I have seen one that answers a question that has been burning in my mind since I first found out boners make boys feel nice. In an effort to avoid spoilers I’ll not say what that question is and how it is answered, but it’s nice to see Steven McQueen thinks outside the box (so to speak). And while I don’t wish to be fatuous in general, I feel an awful lot of reviews you’ll read will be dreary pieces of gravitas. THAT, my friend, is not fair to the gentle humour McQueen also represents. There is light in this dark world, it’s only made sadder that the leads aren’t cast in the glow.

  Now this is a serious film, as you’ve no doubt heard, so no dicking the toaster or secret diary of a call girl-esque fetish tourism. The title is apt, the Shame sits like a third character in every scene, squatting over any potential happiness Brandon and his sister Sissy (she’s hot for a reason) may dream of. The tension between these two is palpable, and I don’t mean that in a bullshit Brad-and-Angelina-punch-and-snog way, I mean these two characters are torn in so many directions that any semblance of stillness is just a thousand ropes pulling them tight. It’s electric viewing.

See?

   One could follow the trend and mention Carey Mulligan’s stirring take of New York, New York, but it’s easy to tug at the heart with a song. Frankly, it’s just the most potent example of McQueen’s long-take formula, and if I may I’d state an extended shot of Brandon jogging through the night streets of the song’s New York is what adds kick to the juice.

  This film is the devastating flipside to our hyper-sexualised culture, the sex becomes meaningless and titillation impossible. We know Brandon is a complicated creature, and McQueen respects his characters enough not to sensationalise their turmoil by exposing it. All we know is Brandon and Sissy are damaged people with surrogate tear ducts: Sissy her veins, Brandon his cock. The saddest moments in this film are orgasms, the deadest places are the most opulent, and the most happens at the slowest times. Well worth seeing, and if the Oscars were worth a damn I’d probably give a couple to this picture.

You will not find this guy on chat roulette.

In cinemas February 9

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THE HUNTER (2011)

20 Sep

IN CINEMAS OCTOBER 6

I have always found that there is a rough honesty behind Williem Dafoe, that can transcend almost any character.  The type which may call for an isolated soul, a marginal outsider to come into the community to see their flaws, and be brave enough not only to demand chance, but to brace it upon themselves.

The kind of character that can change the world, knowing beneath that they will lose everything of themselves in the battle.  That kind of character is Martin, a mercenary scientist (Hunter) sent in search of the extinct Tasmanian Tiger.  A man alone, with nothing but simple possessions and the temptation of money to guide him, Martin accepts the challenge with the condition that he be left alone.  There is a feeling though, that the powerful company that has assigned him this project has too much at stake to leave it to a single individual who has little to lose.

However, there is much more to the isolated township than the possibility of finding hidden treasures. The townsfolk are lost in anger, and frustration which creates further marginatisation for outsiders.  They know the agenda, and seem ready to defend what may well be rightfully theirs.

Yet, aside from the handful of assaults perpetrated against Martin to scare him away, and his lone journeys into the Tasmanian wilderness to find his prey.  Martin’s story is a journey of discovery.  Of one man’s understanding of what is really important in life, and the sacrifices we must often make in order to find ourselves on the right path.

Ergo, Dafoe’s ability to morphe from a solitary man, to the only man that can bring justice to the world. 

Directed by Daniel Nettheim and based on the novel ‘The Hunter’ by Julia Leigh.  It also stars Sam Neill and Frances O’Connor.

4/5 Highly Recommended.

MIFF 2011: 33 Postcards

26 Jul

By Mia Robinson

97 Minutes, Mandarin and English.

Director Pauline Chan presents a beautifully told, original story with 33 Postcards.  

Mei Mei (Zhu Lin) grew up in an orphanage in China.  Sponsorship from Australian Dean Randall (Guy Pearce) meant that she could receive an education and a sense of family that care for her, however remote.  The orphanage choir travels to perform in Sydney, and it’s Mei Mei’s one chance to meet the man who has been sponsoring her and writing to her for years.  Once in Sydney, she runs away from the group and endeavours to meet Randall.  Along the way she meets and befriends Carl (Lincoln Lewis), falls in with some bad company, has a few Aussie adventures of her own, and all beliefs about Randall’s supposedly “Brady Bunch” life (as depicted in his letters) are confronted.

This is a story that deals with belonging and redemption, but most importantly it explores what these two people from very different worlds have in common – a feeling of being alone.  Mei Mei’s demonstrative nature develops as a perfect balance next to Randall’s restraint.  An Australian and Chinese co-production, the film employs iconic imagery of Sydney and the countryside of China, along with a wonderfully melding of Australian and Chinese music.  However, 33 Postcards should not be limited to either nationality, it’s a universal story that is sure to please any audience.  You many need to take a tissue.

7 out of 10.

For trailer please visit:

http://33postcardsthemovie.com/

33 Postcards is out through Titan View.  It should get a general release in November.

SFF 2011: Susya (Short): Israel/Palestinian Territories

21 Jun

Susya

By Lukey Folkard, Sydney Film Festival Correspondent

Susya is an Israeli/Palestinian production shot on location in the archaeological site and ancient Jewish settlement of the same name, which until 25 years ago was a Palestinian cave village.

This rough, 15–minute short documents father and son, Mohammed and Nassir Nawaj‘ah, returning to see their home by way of purchasing tickets to the tourist site that now only remembers a Roman-era Jewish occupation. Documentary and activist filmmakers Dani Rosenberg & Yoav Gross spontaneously suggested and filmed this unfolding “Direct Cinema” piece in an afternoon and succeeded in capturing some powerful moments, revealing a story of loss and human rights violations.

7/10

SFF 2011: The Tree Of Life: Evolutionary Religion and a Baby Boomer

15 Jun


By Lukey Folkard, Sydney Film Festival Correspondent

As this was my most anticipated film of the SFF, I swore to myself I would write this in the morning and let it percolate a while. My expectations were very high. Though it seemed, after leaving (the aurally and visually distracting) State Theatre last night that a panning would be unanimous. People were looking around confused after the movie looking around in others faces for reassurance that the movie was long, bad and uncomfortable to sit through.

I’m glad I waited.

I didn’t like The Thin Red Line when I first saw it. I found it long and self indulgent, or so I thought at the time, and was looking more for band-mate extra’s that I knew were going to be killed repeatedly in the background. A couple of years later after catching the second half accidently on television I got a piece of the score stuck in my head. It took me a while to figure out where that music came from after stealing and reappropriating it for myself, and on a second proper viewing The Thin Red Line became forever one of my favourite, most rewarding cinema experiences forever. The New World is similarly excellent despite ‘Irish Alexander The Great’ in the starring role.

 

Terrence Malick, I think, succeeds at doing something Kuberick was trying to do and Godfrey Reggio attempts regularly, summing up and/or distilling the human experience, almost as a time capsule for the human race in case of complete global obliteration. Malick’s technique of music and visuals with disjoined dreamlike whispering narrative is something I wholeheartedly subscribe to. But the two previous were historically based. This one parallels the history of Earth and the universe with a post-war 20th-century, white American family experience.

During my screening, there were the few expected walkouts (Even I don’t blame ‘em completely… my ‘munchies’/undiagnosed diabetes got the better of me half way through and took off for a min’ to find me a brownie). Most of these expensive, wine sipping theatregoers aren’t going to be watching a Godfrey Reggio ‘Quatsi movie with me anytime soon. They’re not going to be watching 2001 A Space Odyssey as a visual musical again with me or ever stare at a bunch of pigeons splashing about in a puddle in the park with me. They’re out for a big night at the SFF or anything else Sydney has to offer.

This is a personal film about staring closely or grieving.  Fortunately I am not grieving at the moment, a couple of years ago this would have been the perfect movie, and it still is if you’re feeling oversensitive or cannot handle being offended  by unthoughtful randomness.  The big name stars were unnecessary but good. Malick loves his big names.

A tentative 8.5/10