Una is a powerful drama from the UK. It seemed interesting to me and was adapted from a very successful play. The storyline is about child sexual abuse and revenge so it isn’t a pleasant experience that everyone will enjoy. It is, however, handled very delicately and we don’t really have to delve into a great deal of the ugliness. There are a number of tense scenes in the move and they do not always end predictably. Maybe that ambiguousness in its story-telling technique is what makes us think more deeply about blame, revenge, guilt and redemption. Is redemption from some offence like this even possible?
I found the acting from the two leads Rooney Mara and Ben Mendelsohn to be very believable and they are well supported. Rooney’s character seems a bit confused and is sometimes less convincing in her purpose, but perhaps that too is how it might really be in this kind of situation.
I’m not going to put a spoiler on it, but I did talk to some friends who saw it on the same night and we came away with very different takes on the message left to us at the end of the movie. Is that based on our own life experience or the deliberate intent of the director Benedict Andrews? Good film making. 3.5/5
So the first few films that I saw didn’t amount to the best of starts for a film festival. These thoughts are just based on my preferences and opinions, so take them in that context. Here we go …
Ana, Mon Amour – This is a European drama with bonus sex scenes. I hated this film and would’ve walked out if I wasn’t sat right in the middle of a packed theatre. It was a sad tale about unhappy people, in an unhappy country, who are determined to lead unhappy lives. From memory there was even some hand-held moving camera work that was thrown in to make it look more “arty”, but that didn’t work for me. This is definitely a film to be avoided. How it was selected completely bemuses me and how it attracted such a large audience is also a mystery. Awful. Score: 0/5
The Ornithologist – I must admit that I was attracted to this one because “homoerotica from Europe”! Big mistake. This is a confused film and an even more confused story. It just didn’t work and I don’t say that because I am not clever enough to have followed the plot, if there really was one. I don’t think it knew what it wanted to be: a modern take on St Anthony; a transformation; a tragedy; a pilgrimage; or a surreal comedy. It failed to deliver in all of these aims. It had some potential but that all fell apart far too soon. Very disappointing. 1/5
Ellipsis – I saw this as it was billed as a love letter to Sydney and I thought it might reveal something of my home town that I had missed. It didn’t. David Wenham directed it and spoke for far too long in introducing it. I think that a good film should stand alone without an explanation about its process. The story is based on a night that the two lead actors, Benedict Samuel and Emily Barclay, spend together after an accidental meeting in the city. I didn’t find the chemistry between the two at all convincing and Emily’s character just became more and more annoying as it dragged on. Some of the scenes were a bit too cliched for me and others were just awkward. There is a side story about a dedicated phone repairman who is struggling with his citizenship test and I found that far more compelling than the main storyline. A little ordinary. 3/5
Yes, it is that time of year again. As Jack Thomson nearly said last year: “In the dark, we share our germs.”
Well, these are the films I’ve bought tickets for anyway. There were a couple that I’d like to see but couldn’t because they sold out or clashed with something else I had on. I did want to see Holding The Man, but I figure it’ll get a general release soon. It sold out as I was making our bookings. As my program was pretty long I decided not to try to see The Secret River as we will get to see it soon on TV.
I try to organise a big group of people and we bulk purchase tickets to get a good price. It is a bit like herding cats, but worth it in the end. Sometimes I am going with friends, sometimes alone. I generally take a few days off to enjoy the festival too, so whilst it looks a little ambitious, I’ll be on leave for much of it. So here we go with this year’s schedule:
We Are Still Here. Who doesn’t like a decent chiller? And this session is conveniently in Newtown.
Slow West. A western. With Michael Fassbender and Ben Mendelsohn. It won an award at Sundance. And Kodi Smit-McPhee is supposed to be the next big thing.
Results. Because Guy Pearce.
Mr. Holmes. I love Sherlock and a good mystery. Also, Ian McKellen is coming along nicely as an actor.
Vincent. I love many French films and I’m also a fan of the supernatural in film. So mixing the two could be magic. Or it might be a disaster.
99 Homes. A thriller. Even if it is no good, we still get to look at Andrew Garfield for 112 minutes. Although, he does seem to be sporting a silly beard …
600 Miles. Another thriller. I think Tim Roth is always good and a little under-rated as an actor. My kind of story, so it should be enjoyable.
The Tribe. Sex scenes! And violence. No, really I buy it for the articles. Well it has won heaps of awards and there is no dialogue.
Spring. A romantic drama with some mayhem. Who could resist that? Also, it is being screened in Newtown.
Victoria. A thriller set in Berlin. We have one spare ticket and I love Berlin, so I may go to this.
Phoenix. A post-WW2 mystery: another genre that I love.
54 (Director’s Cut). The unsanitised homoerotic version. It is being shown in Newtown.
The Invitation. Because Horror. And its being shown in Newtown.
A Second Chance. Yet another thriller, from Denmark. Stars the Kingslayer (aka Nikolaj Coster-Waldau).
“German Angst” (a trio of films: Final Girl, Make a Wish & Alraune). Because sex, death & supernatural forces.
I usually try to write up short reviews, especially if I think the film was worth seeing (or not).