Arts – Film

Cousins 

Vendetta Films
by
21 June 2021

Cousins, a new release from New Zealand, has its heart in its throat, harmonising a driftless protagonist with the enduring love of her whanau (Māori for extended family).

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Playing with Sharks 

Madman Films
by
18 June 2021

Any film about shark conservation faces a dilemma: how to de-sensationalise an animal whose cinematic charisma relies on the combination of thrill and fear. What reels us in as viewers is the excitement of an up-close, full-frontal encounter with a dangerous predator. Film scholar Tom Gunning talks about this as ‘lust for the eyes’, when an image ‘rushes forward to meet the viewer’, provoking ‘a complicated sort of excitement bordering on terror’.

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Martin Eden 

Palace Films
by
15 June 2021

‘I want to tell you about my incessant march through the kingdom of knowledge.’ Hands in pockets, jacket collar turned up against the wind, Martin Eden (Luca Marinelli) strides forward, centre-frame. He cuts a bold, broad-shouldered figure against a steely Rothko of a backdrop, all cool blues, hazily banded into sky, sea, and deserted concrete waterfront. But for his lilting napoletano voiceover, and the chanson strains of Joe Dassin’s 1970s hit ‘Salut’ – addressed, like Martin’s words, to a lover who’s far away in more senses than one – he seems like a man out of space and time.

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Percy vs Goliath 

Rialto Distribution
by
07 June 2021

Percy vs Goliath, known simply as Percy in some territories, is based on a real-life legal case of an independent crop farmer who took on a large-scale agrochemical corporation. One can imagine a shared sentiment that the story would make a great Hollywood movie. Problematically, the reason for thinking this is because Hollywood has made this film before, repeatedly. The familiarity and predictability of the events depicted are the very reason why it shouldn’t be made into a film.

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My Name is Gulpilil 

ABCDFilm
by
07 June 2021

In 1955, Charles Chauvel’s Jedda – the first colour feature film made in Australia – was released. At the January première in Darwin, the two Aboriginal cast members, Rosalie Kunoth-Monks and Robert Tudawali, were the only ones permitted to sit with the white people. (Later that year it was released in the United Kingdom as Jedda the Uncivilized.)

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De Gaulle 

Palace Films
by
04 May 2021

General Charles de Gaulle (1890–1970) was an icon of the French Resistance movement during the Nazi occupation of France in World War II. Lending his name to the postwar Gaullist myth that presented France as a collective, unalloyed nation of resistance fighters, de Gaulle (founder and president of the Fifth Republic from 1959 to 1969) became a symbol of French strength, determination, and honour during a divisive and turbulent period of history.

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The Dissident 

Madman Films
by
22 April 2021

Watch out. Depending on the tone and context in which they’re said, these words combine to various effects. In the presence of a definite danger – a frisbee flung carelessly or a vehicle careening off course – they ring with a flinching impact. Muttered indistinctly and without danger, ‘watch out’ becomes the threat itself, from word of caution to verbal omen. Watch this. With the alteration of a word, caution transforms into excitement. The demand to look twists into a signal of anticipation, uttered, perhaps, by a hopeful entertainer, preparing some spectacle or act of prestidigitation. Now, you’ve got to watch this. Less immediate, less anticipatory, here the pressure to look is pressed further, with renewed urgency, connecting it to social or even civic expectations.

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Supernova 

Madman Films
by
12 April 2021

Supernova marks the second film released in cinemas this month to deal with dementia, following The Father (2020). While Florian Zeller’s film, based on his own stage play, employs inventive devices to place the audience inside the mind of a character afflicted with the condition, Supernova’s more traditional approach is in service of achieving maximum emotional impact.

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The Father 

Sharmill Films
by
29 March 2021

So much critical discussion of films adapted from plays centres on the notion of the ‘opening out’ of the action and on the ways in which the director and screenwriter have disguised the work’s theatrical origins, the implication being that this is always desirable or appropriate. Mike Nichols, with his extraordinary adaptation of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), understood that some works demand a restricted, claustrophobic setting; that film can indeed feed off the physical limitations that define the stage. With this principle squarely in mind, French playwright Florian Zeller has, along with English screenwriter Christopher Hampton, adapted for the screen his own play La Père (2012). A finer example of the process of translation is hard to conceive.

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French Exit 

Sony Pictures Classics
by
19 March 2021

‘My plan was to die before the money ran out,’ says Manhattan socialite Frances Price (Michelle Pfeiffer) when confronted with the fact that, after a lifetime of wealth and privilege, she is soon to become insolvent. This rationalisation on the part of our glamorous, widowed heroine tells us a lot about her, and a lot about the film French Exit: they are both unfailingly sardonic, somewhat ill-conceived, and utterly preoccupied with death. The film comes from the Patrick deWitt’s 2018 novel of the same name, and deWitt serves as the sole screenwriter. This also marks the second collaboration between deWitt and director Azazel Jacobs (Terri, 2011), which suggests a certain synergy, a healthy creative continuity from page to screen. It’s all the more disheartening, then, that the film adaptation feels so unfocused; a collection of missed opportunities hinged around a stellar central performance from Pfeiffer.

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