Film

Sundown 

by
04 July 2022

Michel Franco’s Sundown opens with a close-up of fish slowly suffocating on a boat deck, the first of many enigmatic interjections that punctuate the film. We begin with a family vacation in Acapulco. The Bennetts, an apparently typical nuclear family, swim, sip margaritas, and joke around on the terrace of their luxury resort suite.  They attend a cliff-diving contest at the iconic La Quebrada and dine at an exclusive outdoor restaurant. The atmosphere is one of relaxation, with a hint of uneasiness ...

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Elvis 

by
20 June 2022

Crafting a biopic is a near-impossible act of curation; of the hundreds of thousands of hours that make up a person’s life, which two and a half will accurately sum up their entire existence? Some recent attempts, like the excellent Steve Jobs (2015) or the Judy Garland biopic Judy (2019), limit their slice of life to a handful of defining moments and allow the viewer to extrapolate from there ...

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Men 

by
17 June 2022

The films of Alex Garland (The Beach, 28 Days Later, Sunshine, Ex Machina, Annihilation) all share a distinct feeling of descentan almost gravitational pull towards madness, towards decay, towards a loss of self. His new film, the ingeniously titled but only half-realised Men, continues this tradition.

It stars Jessie Buckley (devastatingly good in Maggie Gyllenhaal’s The Lost Daughter, and equally committed here) as Harper ...

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Lost Illusions 

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15 June 2022

Xavier Giannoli calls Lost Illusions less an adaptation of Honoré de Balzac’s three-volume novel (1837–43) than a transfiguration, comparing it in form to Max Richter’s celebrated reworking of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Richter’s ‘Spring’ appears in the film, and a famous quote from Oscar Wilde finds its way into the dialogue, signalling Giannoli’s intention to remake the novel in a way that expresses its ‘spirit and modernity’ without betraying the original. 

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A Hero 

by
03 June 2022

Some directors leave their fingerprints on a finished product through a trademark visual style, a particular musical taste, or a recurring ensemble of actors. Others embody the notion that when something’s truly well made, the handiwork is invisible. Such is the case with Asghar Farhadi, two-time Oscar-winning writer and director of A Separation (2011) and The Salesman (2016), who continues to ride the crest of the Iranian New Wave with A Hero – meticulously studied, profoundly insightful, and expertly executed right through to its impeccable final frame.

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Dear Thomas 

by
03 June 2022

Will this biopic be the film that reintroduces German author and filmmaker Thomas Brasch to the world? Perhaps. Something is indeed afoot. Brasch and his family – his three siblings are also notable figures in literature and film – have been the subject of three films in the last decade. Besides Dear Thomas (Lieber Thomas, 2021), currently screening the German Film Festival, we have The Brasch Family (Familie Brasch, 2018) and ...

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A Stasi Comedy 

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27 May 2022

A Stasi Comedy bundles its explorations of truth, desire, morality, and freedom into an exuberant coming-of-age story. In Melbourne, the Palace Cinema Como was humming in anticipation at the opening night of the German Film Festival. Christoph Mücher, director of the Goethe Institut, invited us to celebrate the joy of a shared film experience; we raised our glasses and toasted our fellow-cinemagoers – a nice touch.

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Everything Went Fine 

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16 May 2022

When a father asks his daughter to help end his life, is it out of love or perversity? In Everything Went Fine, it is both. François Ozon’s films typically belong to the French tradition of intimiste cinema, melodramas centred on the bourgeois patriarchal family. Everything Went Fine (Tout c’est bien passé, 2021), Ozon’s twentieth feature film, is no exception. This preference for melodrama means that his films predominantly focus on familial relations and French social mores. This does not mean they ignore broader social or political issues ...

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Father Stu 

by
09 May 2022

What makes a man choose to be a Catholic priest? The cynical and snide these days might bring up an unhealthy interest in other people’s children. And yet, historically, the calling to the cloth has often been a noble one, as likely an impulse driven by spiritual yearning and zeal for social justice as mere careerism or a flight from normative sexuality. The Catholic Church, which faces a crisis of vocations across the Western world, would do well to look again at this story ...

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Maixabel 

by
28 April 2022

You are camping with friends, drinking beer and swimming, celebrating your nineteenth birthday. A car pulls up in the forest. Your aunt emerges, and as she walks towards you she calls out, palms pressed as if in prayer. In Spanish filmmaker Icíar Bollaín’s gripping Maixabel (2021), it is enough for a relative to say your name to know that the worst has happened: your world has ended, your father has finally been slaughtered.

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