Tag Archives: Sydney Film Festival

Sydney Film Festival Review: Jirga (Australia, 2017) is a humane look behind the curtain of war

That Jirga is quiet and understated is the film’s biggest strength, consciously moving away from the lurid details of your typical war blockbuster and presenting something of a bare-bones human story about redemption and forgiveness. When Director Benjamin Gilmour and actor Sam Smith, both Australian, spent 20 days shooting this film they did so at great risk to their own lives. It was made in secret, shot on a camera bought at a Pakistani shopping mall, amidst all the storied dangers of a country like Afghanistan, mainly the risk of being taken hostage by ISIS or killed in a suicide bombing. Smith reportedly slept with a knife in his hand under a pillow while staying in a hotel room with a broken lock, and one of the Afghani actors carried a handgun as security.... Continue Reading

Sydney Film Festival Review: The Wife (Sweden/UK, 2017) is a slow-burning & tense character study about a woman’s conflicting emotions

The title of the film, The Wife, gives away about as much as the titular character. Is she a good one? A bad lady? The answer is a mystery for a large portion of this slow-burning character study. One thing’s for certain, this wifey is brimming with conflicting emotions in this bittersweet, character-driven drama.... Continue Reading

Sydney Film Festival Review: Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist (UK, 2018) is about a style iconoclast & punk who became one fine dame

Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist shares some things in common with David Bowie’s song, “Fashion” and not just for the obvious fact that Vivienne Westwood is a fashion designer. Consider Bowie’s “Listen to me- don’t listen to me/Talk to me- don’t talk to me/Dance with me- don’t dance with me, no” lyrics. It’s a curious dance straddling the lines between do you/don’t you want to and it’s in this same environment that Westwood operates here. She allowed cameras to follow her around but then she’s gone and publicly denounced the final documentary. In the opening scenes she is exasperated and assumes that looking at the past is “boring.” Westwood is quite possibly the world’s most reluctant interviewee even though she speaks well and has strong principles and opinions and it’s this dichotomy that makes this film such an entertaining one.... Continue Reading

Sydney Film Festival Review: Nico, 1988 (Italy, 2017) shows the songstress left behind after all tomorrow’s parties

A bio-pic can be a tricky beast. When a person has achieved so much in their lifetime what part of the story do you focus on? If you’re Italian director, Susanna Nicchiarelli you eschew the obvious and omit the lauded days. Nicchiarelli instead focuses on later life and this is precisely the scene we are greeted with in Nico, 1988.... Continue Reading

Sydney Film Festival Review: Chef Flynn (USA, 2018) is as neat & tidy as an entrée but you will probably be left wanting more

It’s fair to say that most of us home cooks are more like Nailed It! contestants than MasterChefs. So imagine how surprising it is to see a young child cooking up fine dining dishes with aplomb. Chef Flynn is a documentary about Flynn McGarry, this particular child prodigy. While it’s an entertaining story you can’t help but feel like you’re being served an entrée rather than the full three course menu.... Continue Reading

Sydney Film Festival Review: The Breaker Upperers (New Zealand, 2018) is immensely entertaining, genuinely hilarious, and wonderfully heartfelt

Given that we can almost outsource every chore, errand, and activity that come our way, it only makes sense that the unfortunate responsibility that is breaking up with someone be a lucrative business too.  Enter The Breaker Upperers, a duo of frozen-hearted, screwed-over singletons who appear more than happy to break the heart of someone else’s significant other – for the right price of course.... Continue Reading

Sydney Film Festival Review: Beirut (USA, 2018) is an absorbing thriller that doesn’t break convention

Aided by a sense of retro charm and bathed in a yellowy hue that appears to be the go-to filter for Hollywood’s take on anything Middle East, Brad Anderson‘s Beirut is an absorbing thriller that doesn’t break convention, but manages a certain robustness that keeps it sailing along with intrigue.... Continue Reading

Sydney Film Festival Review: Nature and nurture square off in the fascinating Three Identical Strangers (UK, 2018)

BAFTA-nominated documentary director Tim Wardle has an enviable subject with the highly publicised reunion of long-lost-triplets Robert Shafran, Eddy Galland and David Kellman, who found each other at the age of 19, tracking three identical New Yorkers separated at birth by a prominent Jewish adoption agency. It’s the kind of stranger-than-fiction story that the most engrossing documentaries are made of, and it certainly helps that the account is not lacking when it comes to eccentric characters. And that’s what truly strengthens Three Identical Strangers, with Wardle faithfully sticking close to the three brothers and those around them while gradually peeling back the layers to reveal a much larger narrative, questions around the age old “Nature vs Nurture” debate, and the moral implications that come with studying such a thing. It feels like a sitcom with a conspiracy wrapped around it, a wholly unique and endlessly fascinating stab at the dark side of psychological research and the importance (especially in this modern era) of individual differences.... Continue Reading

Sydney Film Festival Review: The Seagull (USA, 2018) is a charming bore

Despite scene-swallowing work from Annette Bening (fabulous, as to be expected), the quiet mastery of Saoirse Ronan, and a brilliantly comical Elisabeth Moss, Michael Mayer‘s The Seagull (adapted from Anton Chekhov‘s classic play) fails to deliver them material worthy of their considerable talent.... Continue Reading

Sydney Film Festival Review: The Heiresses (Paraguay, 2018) is a low-key, yet compelling character study

If one were to describe this film briefly, The Heiresses could be seen a cross between Wong Kar-wai‘s Happy Together and Albert and David MayslesGrey Gardens. As Kar-wai says about the title of his film, being happy together is being happy with oneself, and it is within that context is where the journey in The Heiresses comes from.... Continue Reading