Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
ListsAn error has ocurred. Please try again
*Films that had their Australian release in 2014...
Portrait of a Lady on Fire is a stunningly emotive love story, painted with the same delicacy and craft as an 18th Century oil masterpiece.
Artist Marianna (played with subtle precision by Noemie Merlant) arrives on the coast of Brittany in 1770. She is tasked with painting the portrait of the mysterious Heloise (Adele Haenel) who is soon to be wed to a stranger against her will. Heloise has refused all previous attempts to pose, so Marianna must paint her from memory. The pair walk daily along the French coastline, the crashing waves mirroring the ebbs and flows of their relationship. At night, the pair play cards by candlelight and visit local bonfires, the flickering flames a consistent metaphor for their burning desires.
Celine Sciamma's all-female cast provide a restrained and touching experience, which feels like a direct antidote to male-dominated gun-slinging action films. How refreshing to watch a love story unfold through the eyes of a woman. Every scene painted with subtlety and care, and every moment given weight and meaning. Portrait of a Lady on Fire is an immensely satisfying viewing experience, and I can't wait to see it again.
The poetry of people and places
Paterson is a celebration of the small details in life. A poetic and charming love-story about a perfectly ordinary couple, living in a perfectly ordinary town.
The town in question is Paterson, New Jersey. Home of poet William Carlos Williams, comedian Lou Costello, and one of America's largest waterfalls. The man in question, in true Jarmusch style, is also named Paterson (played with pinpoint subtly by Adam Driver). Paterson is a hard-working bus driver who quietly goes about his duties, all the while allowing the scenery and eavesdropped conversation to inspire his main passion in life; writing poetry. Meanwhile, his girlfriend and the love of his life, played without fault by Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani, is a stay-at-home creative. She spends her day baking imaginative cupcakes and making new curtains from scratch. The films narrative centres around a seven day week. Each day brings a new variation on the theme, and each moment a reflection on two people who wholeheartedly accept each other for who they are.
Paterson is a quiet and contemplative film that sits perfectly in Jarmusch's repertoire. It's a film about how people choose to live their life, regardless of the necessities to work and make money. Like poetry, the words and images flow with little dramatic tension or conflict. Jarmusch explained at Cannes that he intended Paterson to be an antidote to the modern action film, and if this is the case, I'll definitely be coming back for another dose.
Breaking a Monster (2015)
A Cracking Rockumentary
Breaking a Monster is a fascinating rockumentary about 3 teenage boys caught in the absurdity of the music industry.
The film introduces us to Malcolm, Jarad and Alec - three 13 year-old African American musicians from Brooklyn who play heavy metal music on the streets of New York City. When one of their youtube videos goes viral, a music producer called Alan Sacks signs them onto a 5 album record deal with Sony Music. Without any recordings or music videos, the trio embark on a US tour whilst simultaneously being dragged from meeting to meeting with old, white, music executives.
Although the music in the film is incredible, and the boys themselves are super charismatic, the crux of the intrigue here is the relationship between Sacks and the 3 teenagers. His attempts to 'guide' them into fame are met with their teenage desire to question and misbehave. The boys interrogate Sacks on when they will see the money from their 'million-dollar' contract, and try and sneak into his fridge during recording sessions to drink more coca-cola.
Breaking a Monster is as funny as it is insightful, the 3 boys are intelligent, talented, and hilarious. They have so much personality, and are so unique in their own way, you can imagine they'd get famous regardless of the route. This film was real winner for me, and while the ending felt like a cliffhanger, it enticed me to go straight online and keep the story going.
Rak ti Khon Kaen (2015)
A Mysterious Bout of Narcolepsy
Cemetery of Splendour is a serene and mystical meditation on spiritual connection and dreaming. But Weerasethakul's first feature since 'Uncle Boonmee' will not be for everyone - it will either send you into deep spiritual contemplation, or send you to sleep.
The setting is a makeshift hospice in Thailand for soldiers with Narcalepsy; a sleeping condition in which patients are almost always asleep. Jen, a middle-aged woman with a physical impairment, is assigned to look after one of the soldiers as a volunteer. She rubs cream into his muscles, and takes him out for meals when he is awake. But beneath the ebb and flow of life at the hospice, there are other spiritual forces at play; talk of an ancient cemetery, and the spirits of kings and goddesses.
The film is shot beautifully. The camera stays fixed in wide angle - each scene being a window through which the characters enter and connect, reminiscent of the work of Bela Tarr. I think the camera moved twice the entire film.
Cemetery of Splendour is most definitely a slow burner. I'd go as far as to say that it doesn't really reach any heights of dramatic or narrative tension. The film is much more of an experiential, moody piece that lingers and floats like light sleep. I didn't quite understand it, and I almost fell asleep, but if the film is exploring Narcolepsy, then I think that's the point...
The Lobster (2015)
An Absurdist Screwball Comedy
The Lobster is a surreal deadpan comedy about the strangeness of social pressures and modern relationships.
The setting is a bleak, tightly controlled hotel on the coast of Ireland. David (Colin Farrell), a recently divorced Architect, is given 40 days to find a partner or else be transformed into an animal of his choosing; in this case, a lobster. Sound strange? That's just the first 10 minutes. Guests of the hotel are subjected to routine trips to shoot 'loners' with tranquillisers, and awkward high-school dances to entice singles to mingle. As David's days start running out, he decides to feign common interest with a heartless woman in order to escape his fate. But can he pull it off?
Farrell really hits the mark with this role, displaying awkward machismo and fragile humility in equal measure. His comedic timing is matched only by his supporting cast that includes John C. Reilly, Ashley Jensen, and Olivia Coleman. Rachel Weisz is also spot-on as the short-sighted woman.
The Lobster has just about everything you'd want from a film. It's unpredictable, it's offbeat, and it's laugh-out-loud funny. But it's most impressive feature is the subtext - it manages to reflect how odd our own modern-day social pressures are. How loneliness is feared, how individuality loses out to the mainstream system, and how relationships have to be deemed 'legitimate' by some higher order. There's plenty to talk about with this film, and I'll definitely be seeing it again to delve a little deeper....
An insightful documentary for any Linklater / Benning fans
Double Play is a film that delves into the themes and methods of two great contemporary filmmakers; Richard Linklater and James Benning. It charts their professional relationship, and the various thematic similarities that link their work. This is done through clips of their films, archive footage, and primarily an in-depth conversation between the two as they play tennis and baseball on Linklater's country-side property. This film would lack context if you were not already familiar with at least one, if not both, of these filmmakers - having said that, fans will be thoroughly engaged by the insightful exploration into the philosophical and stylistic approach of these two wonderful artists. Not a long film, but one that will satisfy and inspire filmmakers and fans alike.
The Skeleton Twins (2014)
A Quality Comedy / Drama
The Skeleton Twins is an impressive comedy / drama from director Craig Johnson and starring Saturday Night Live regulars Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader. It tells the story of two twins who are reunited through an attempted suicide, having not spoken for 10 years. The story explores love, loss, and how, after growing up in a broken home, we cope with the challenges of adulthood in the modern world.
First and foremost, the casting was superb, with brilliant comedic performances from Wiig and Hader, who also bring great depth to their characters. Luke Wilson is also fantastic as the fantasy-football playing jock husband. There are some really great, very funny moments; the chemistry of the two leads really carries the film. There were one or two flaws to the story, but they are few and far between. And although the ending was bit too "Hollywood" and predictable, the charm of the story allows some forgiveness here, and I would definitely recommend this film.