Opening this week
The compelling release for screen people is probably this:
Leave No Trace
A Sony picture on limited release, about a PTSD father who takes his daughter Tom back and forth to the wilderness. It looks pretty interesting.- it launched at Sundance, is a sensible take on important issues, and is made by Debra Granik.
Debra Granik made Winter's Bone, one of the great breakout US indie films.
Said the Guardian
Renowned for her empathetic portrayal of marginalised outsiders, Granik here conjures a low-key drama about cultural and generational divides that is alternately gripping and melancholic, but always shot through with the unmistakable ring of truth. The result is work of overwhelming, understated power that quite simply took my breath away.
And this will be charming and surprising:
A Madman animation. This one comes from Mamoro Hosoda and his animation outfit Studio Chizu. He is a key art-oriented animation director, active since 1989.
When four-year-old Kun meets his new baby sister, his world is turned upside down. Named Mirai (meaning “future”), the baby quickly wins the hearts of Kun’s entire family. As his mother returns to work, and his father struggles to run the household, Kun becomes increasingly jealous of baby Mirai… until one day he storms off into the garden, where he encounters strange guests from the past and future – including his sister Mirai, as a teenager. Together, Kun and teenage Mirai go on a journey through time and space, uncovering their family’s incredible story. But why did Mirai come from the future?
Continuing to cement his status among Japan’s best animation directors, Hosoda brings his trademark balance of gorgeous visuals and heartfelt emotion to this ingenious take on a highly relatable scenario – tenderly drawn from his own experiences as a father.
It ran at Cannes, Annecy and the Sydney Film Festival. Madman are stoked to release this one in the cinema expecting it to delight the Japanimation fans brought in by Studio Ghibli.
Working Class Boy
This is the documentary about Jimmy Barnes on boutique release by Universal. It is pretty good, and a treat for Barnes fans. It is probably a tad long but there's enough twists and revelations and bits of him doing stuff to keep your attention.
It rocked full houses at MIFF even though it is about the man rather than the music.
Transmission is opening this film widely. It is a rom-com starring Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda and Candice Bergen (whose total ages add up to 288 years) and is about a book club which starts to read Fifty Shades of Grey. Reviews are intermittently encouraging but some are scathing.
Village Roadshow is pushing this one wide too. It is supposed to be a black comedy but no-one seems to like it, despite Melissa McCarthy. The Guardian calls it 'a staggeringly bad attempt to add X-rated humour to Sesame Street.' Made by Jim Henson's son.
In the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles, two clashing detectives -- one human and the other a puppet -- must work together to solve the brutal murders of former cast members of a beloved puppet TV show.
A teeny film from Wagga Wagga, based apparently on the career of Jason Stevens, a Rugby League legend.
Wagga is a country town that loves its sport but is divided over its loyalty for the rival codes, Afl and Nrl. It's in this setting that we find our hero Chase daylight. Chase's dream to play in the NRL is falling by the wayside, just like his relationship to Brooke. At his lowest point, Chase takes a leap of faith to sort out his life. But living this out is a far greater challenge than he imagined, especially among team mates who won't let him give up his partying ways without a fight. Chase's leap of faith might possibly be the worst decision ever he has ever made.
Written by Jason Stevens, directed by Jason Perini, produced by Jason Stevens through Jason Stevens Productions.
The Korean, Lebanese and Armenian Festivals are all running in Sydney while the Korean films come to Melbourne and Canberra in September. In the West, Cinefest Oz is offering good food and interesting films and rising to a $100,000 prize climax.
The Melbourne Czech and Slovak Film Festival starts on September 12 and goes to Canberra in October. The Darwin International Film Festival starts on 13 September.
The Melbourne Writers Festival is running at the moment, partly at ACMI.
The Lavazza Italian Film Festival - a Palace favourite - starts in Sydney on 11 Sept and moves around the country.
And, don't forget, the AACTA screenings start on 3 September and are available to stream from the same night.
BINGE-R is an incredibly useful service for people like us. It’s an independent and critical weekly e-mail and website that highlights what’s available on Australian streaming services via recommendations and rundowns. BINGE-R covers Netflix, Stan, SBS On Demand and Amazon Prime Video. It’s written by long-time Fairfax film and TV reviewer and journo Craig Mathieson. You can sign up for a free weekly newsletter that pops up every Friday. Here’s a sample of the August 17 Column.
TV, and Streaming
Two important Australian films, a great piece of Americana, and very valuable blog.
Sherpa (2015, 117 mins, SBS on Demand)
A brawl on Everest? Director Jennifer Peedom set out to uncover tension in the 2014 Everest climbing season from the Sherpas' point of view and instead captured a tragedy when an avalanche struck, killing 16 Sherpas. Produced by Bridget Ikin, Sherpa tells the story of how the Sherpas united after the tragedy in the face of fierce opposition, to reclaim the mountain they call Chomolungma. Jaw-dropping cinematography by Renan Ozturk, Ken Sauls and Hugh Miller and an award-winning score by Antony Partos help to make Sherpa a documentary that Variety said ‘packs a visual and emotional punch.’ Sherpa also turned up recently as the only documentary listed in the Flicks.com poll by 51 Australian film critics on the 25 Greatest Australian Films of the 21st Century. It’s well worth a watch if you haven’t seen it yet.
The Daughter (2015, 96 mins STAN)
Written and directed by Simon Stone, and adapted from his acclaimed reworking of Ibsen’s play The Wild Duck, The Daughter is set in dark-forested contemporary rural Australia. It is a moving story of a man who returns home to discover a long-buried family secret, and whose attempts to put things right threaten the lives of those he left behind. A powerhouse of Australian acting talent feature here: Sam Neill, Ewan Leslie, Anna Torv, Miranda Otto and Geoffrey Rush. Odessa Young is great in the role of the innocent young girl. You can read Rochelle’s review over at SBS.
Great News (S1, 10 Episodes, Netflix)
Fans of workplace comedy 30 Rock will want to check out the goofy and good-natured Great News, written by 30 Rock’s writer Tracey Wigfield and produced by Tina Fey. Set in a New Jersey TV news station, the story follows Katie (Briga Heelan), an ambitious young producer who finds herself dealing with the toughest intern of all: her boundary-less mother (Andrea Martin). Also stars Adam Campbell and Nicole Richie as the anchors of the show.