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Unknowing me, unknowing you – The Unknown Known review (Sydney Film Festival)

By Simon Miraudo June 6, 2014 Not even Errol Morris‘ infamous Interrotron – a camera-rig that gazes right into the subject’s freaking soul – can pierce an unyielding Donald Rumsfeld in The Unknown Known. Morris’ latest documentary isolates the former U.S. Secretary of Defence and sees him grilled on topics ranging from the World Trade […]

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Piety party – Calvary review (Sydney Film Festival)

By Simon Miraudo June 5, 2014 Those devilish McDonagh boys, always zigging when you think they’ll zag. John Michael McDonagh – brother of Oscar-winning In Bruges director Martin – follows up his dirt-black buddy comedy The Guard with despairing anti-hymn Calvary. It plays out like a parable, or, maybe, some half-remembered joke, with Brendan Gleeson‘s generous Father James learning of a mysterious parishioner’s desire to murder him; […]

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Lose your head – Frank review (Sydney Film Festival)

By Simon Miraudo June 5, 2014 Michael Fassbender covers up in Frank, though you could say that of any film he’s done in the years since Shame. The pants stay on, and now, a papier-mâché head has been added to the mix, obscuring the Irish actor’s handsome visage for the majority of the movie. Though […]

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A festivus for the rest of us: Sydney Film Festival 2014 begins!

The Sydney Film Festival is once again upon us, and 2014’s slate is as tantalising as any that has come before. This, of course, means our editorial team will be occupied skittering from darkened cinema to darkened cinema, up all night scribbling reviews, and frantically posting them each morning for the pleasure of those unable […]

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The top 10 films to catch at the 2014 Sydney Film Festival

By Simon Miraudo June 3, 2014 The Sydney Film Festival is upon us again, and you can trust us to cover all the hits, misses, and, well, whatever word we end up using to describe that single-shot Iranian slasher flick (more on that later). Scheduling and prioritising movies can be a stressful endeavour, so here […]

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Sydney Film Festival unveils its 2014 program

The Sydney Film Festival’s 2014 program has been loosed upon the world, boasting the Australian debut of David Michôd’s Animal Kingdom follow-up The Rover and Richard Linklater’s decade-spanning Boyhood, as well as hotly anticipated international titles such as Bong Joon-ho’s first English-language effort, Snowpiercer, and the Dardenne brothers’ Two Days, One Night, starring Marion Cotillard. All four of those features will screen in SFF’s official competition, alongside 20,000 Days on […]

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‘God Help the Girl’, ‘Frank’ bound for 2014 Sydney Film Festival

The first batch of features bound for the 2014 Sydney Film Festival have been unveiled. Lenny Abrahamson’s music comedy Frank, starring Michael Fassbender in a giant papier mâché head, will make its Australian debut at the festival, as will Belle & Sebastian frontman Stuart Murdoch’s directorial debut, God Help the Girl. David Gordon Green and Nicolas Cage’s collaboration, Joe, […]

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No fairytale – The Selfish Giant review

By Simon Miraudo March 10, 2014 Clio Barnard’s variation on Oscar Wilde’s The Selfish Giant transplants the pastoral fable to depressing, modern day Northern England. Short story scholars, however, shouldn’t look for specific comparisons between the two takes. They are few and far between. In Barnard’s telling, newcomer Conner Chapman plays Arbor, an unhinged kid […]

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Ring that Bell – In a World review

By Simon Miraudo March 4, 2014 Lake Bell, like Rashida Jones and Olivia Wilde before her, just up and made herself a star. The immensely talented comic actress hasn’t been given much to chew on of late, being alternately relegated to the role of quirky/sassy/supportive best friend or the icy, sexy, younger wife of someone’s […]

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Talk that talk – The Darkside review

By Simon Miraudo February 23, 2014 When media-watchers accuse the giant, globulous entity that is Australian Cinema of not making pictures the regular punter would be interested in seeing, I don’t think they’re citing films like The Darkside as an example of what they want more of. For 90 minutes, some fine actors sit down […]

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Curb your historicism – Oh Boy review

By Simon Miraudo February 17, 2014 A German hipster ambles from uncomfortable situation to uncomfortable situation in Jan Ole Gerster’s Oh Boy. Though the black-and-white feature has its fair share of jazzy stings on the soundtrack, what it really needs are the infamous horns from Curb Your Enthusiasm’s theme tune. But then Gerster would have […]

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Sing a sad song – The Broken Circle Breakdown review

By Simon Miraudo February 10, 2014 The Broken Circle Breakdown doesn’t jerk tears. It attempts to extract them by using enhanced interrogation techniques, as if inspired by George W. Bush himself (the former American president cameos frequently throughout the movie, on TV sets and the like). Utterly devoted to making you cry, it tells of […]

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That sinking feeling – All Is Lost review

By Simon Miraudo February 3, 2014 The most remarkable feat in J.C. Chandor’s stranded-in-the-sea survival story All Is Lost is star Robert Redford’s ability to shave on open water. Credited only as ‘Our Man,’ here is our first glimpse of how steely this guy’s resolve really is. Good thing, too. He’s going to need it. […]

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Chef aid – A Hijacking review

By Simon Miraudo January 20, 2014 Tobias Lindholm‘s Danish drama A Hijacking follows in the footsteps of Best Picture nominee Captain Phillips…. kinda. Well, not technically. Though it’s arriving on our shores in 2014, it was actually released in its native country back in 2012. Still, it’s novel to see the release of two movies […]

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Live with it – What Richard Did review

By Simon Miraudo December 10, 2013 Newcomer Jack Reynor gives a startling, star-making performance in the slow-burn Irish drama What Richard Did. It’s no surprise he’s since been snapped up for a big gig like Transformers 4 (though it does suggest Michael Bay has seen this little flick, and liked it, despite it not featuring […]

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La la land – Twenty Feet from Stardom review

By Simon Miraudo December 9, 2013 Twenty Feet from Stardom is the latest documentary to burrow into the deeper recesses of the music industry, with the intention of setting the record straight and giving unsung heroes their due. We’ve previously seen forgotten folkster Rodriguez, would-be metal-heroes Anvil, and proto-punks Death given their big-screen close up, […]

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Mild horse – Jappeloup review

By Simon Miraudo December 2, 2013 Not every athlete’s triumph needs its own cinematic adaptation. Not even the animal ones. A series of very ordinary events unfurl in Christian Duguay‘s Jappeloup, based on the true story of the horse of the same name, who was small or something. Despite his diminutive stature and a poor […]

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The wives of others – Much Ado About Nothing review

By Simon Miraudo November 25, 2013 What it must be like to live in Joss Whedon’s mind, his neurons and synapses constantly electrified into formulating spunky one-liners for his talented pals to zing one another with. To paraphrase William Shakespeare, “Uneasy lies the head that wears that Buffy–creating crown.” No wonder, then, that Whedon takes […]

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Melbourne International Film Festival – Passion review

By Simon Miraudo July 26, 2013 In the notorious ‘How Not To’ book The Devil’s Candy, journalist Julie Salamon documents Brian de Palma‘s efforts to bring author Tom Wolfe’s acclaimed anti-80s satire The Bonfire of the Vanities to cinemas. De Palma’s fastidiousness saw the project run over budget and over time, and the resulting concoction became […]

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Revelation Perth International Film Festival – White Reindeer review

By Simon Miraudo July 8, 2013 The holidays are hard, and writer-director Zach Clark only makes them harder on his Christmas-loving heroine in White Reindeer. The spectacularly affecting Anna Margaret Hollyman stars in the black (despite what the title might imply) comedy as Suzanne, a professional, thirty-something real estate agent looking forward to moving to Hawaii […]

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Revelation Perth International Film Festival – The Fifth Season review

By Simon Miraudo July 8, 2013 The Fifth Season will be a sobering experience for anyone who has long denied the possibility of Earth’s ecosystem collapsing upon itself, and a terrifying one for those who sulk if the tap water doesn’t get hot enough for a shave (I, shamefully, belong to the latter group). It […]

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Revelation Perth International Film Festival – Pictures of Superheroes review

By Simon Miraudo July 5, 2013 With his debut feature film, Pictures of Superheroes, writer-director Don Swaynos emerges with a fully formed comedic voice, if not a fully formed screenplay. Ably assisted by a winning cast, he inspires a great number of laughs over the flick’s swift 70 minute running time. Though, for a movie […]

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Revelation Perth International Film Festival – The Act of Killing review

By Simon Miraudo July 5, 2013 Joshua Oppenheimer‘s The Act of Killing is, at the very least, unlike anything we’ve seen before. Gruelling, harrowing, and weirdly funny, it follows the real-life Indonesian gangsters who were tasked by militia in the 1960s to execute communists, intellectuals, and the Chinese. Many of these subjects are seemingly untroubled […]

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Only God Forgives wins top prize at Sydney Film Festival

Nicolas Winding Refn’s ultraviolent collaboration with Ryan Gosling, Only God Forgives, has taken the top prize at the 2013 Sydney Film Festival. Jury president Hugo Weaving announced the Official Competition winner on the closing night of the fest, declaring it “a visually mesmerizing and disturbing film which polarised our opinions.” Only God Forgives trumped 11 other movies for […]

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Sydney Film Festival – The Past review

By Simon Miraudo June 16, 2013 Iranian director Asghar Farhadi is taking his victory lap. He’s earned it. After winning the Best Foreign Language Feature Oscar for the universally-adored crossover hit A Separation, he’s wisely replicated the formula for his follow-up, The Past. It similarly deals with a divorce, also amongst hugely reasonable parties. There […]

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Sydney Film Festival – Only God Forgives review

By Simon Miraudo June 16, 2013 If a boy’s best friend truly is his mother, this guy is seriously screwed. In Only God Forgives, Nicolas Winding Refn’s laboriously paced follow-up to Drive, Ryan Gosling plays Julian, a drug-dealer based in Bangkok, seemingly hiding out from his American tiger mother Crystal (Kristin Scott Thomas). When his brother Billy is brutally murdered, Crystal comes […]

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Sydney Film Festival – Stories We Tell review

By Simon Miraudo June 16, 2013 Stories We Tell is just about the loveliest portrait of a family I’ve seen. A documentary similar in structure to Capturing the Friedmans – but ultimately more joyful and less concerned with harrowing tales of paedophilic clowns – it explores the family history of Canadian director Sarah Polley through […]

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Sydney Film Festival – Upstream Color review

By Simon Miraudo June 16, 2013 Shane Carruth‘s Upstream Color might even be better than his previous effort, Primer. In the world of micro-budgeted science fiction flicks, that is akin to a miracle. The magic of Primer, however, is that it seems to improve on each subsequent viewing; its intricately engineered time-travel plot making more […]

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Sydney Film Festival – Frances Ha review

By Simon Miraudo June 15, 2013 I’ll enjoy Greta Gerwig in quite anything – even that Arthur remake – and I’m discovering that the same goes for Adam Driver, of Girls (and one particularly uncomfortable sex scene) fame. So, director Noah Baumbach wasn’t fighting an uphill battle with this particular viewer of Frances Ha. His previous efforts […]

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Sydney Film Festival – Borgman review

By Simon Miraudo June 15, 2013 How do you solve a problem like Borgman? A puzzle movie from the Netherlands with seemingly no key, it frustrates and intrigues in equal measure. Well, maybe not equal measure. Much more of the first thing. I left the cinema mostly feeling fooled, and it’s always nicer to think […]

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