Thursday, 26 June 2014

Edge of Tomorrow


Edge of Tomorrow is an ambitious feature: it is clever, succinct modern cinema. Confident execution, spectacular editing, lithe, smart dialogue held strong by the vibrant, monotonous beats of an ominous score - this Tom Cruise film promises and delivers. It risks a formulaic composition - that futuristic toned "defeat the enemy", apocalyptic mentality but is vindicated by a suave structure of the not-so-standard Groundhog Day-esque feature. It reminds us of the action, sci-fi thriller that is infectiously likeable but this time actually gives us legitimate reason to; a rare gem in film today. We may have the technology to create stunning visuals of a dystopian world, but believability and innovation is still up to the work of diligent craftsmanship. The laugh-out-loud humour, stellar performances and sublime, edgy editing surely provides a refreshing step away from the mindless action sequences of the standard Michael Bay production.

Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) carries title in an apocalyptic future where an alien race wrecks havoc and devastation. Warfare is commonplace and hope comes in the form of technological development - advanced weaponry. When William Cage objects to being placed in direct combat on the French coast against the known "mimics", he is stripped of his title and thrown into the mission. Cage is dropped in with the first wave where it appears the enemy anticipated the attack, the beach: a slaughterhouse. Upon slaughtering a large Alpha mimic using a mine, he becomes covered in its blood before the mine explodes. He awakens the morning before the attack, trapped in a time loop of death on repeat. 


Monday, 23 June 2014

Adore


A chilling, compelling arch narrative accompanied by transcendent cinematography and a haunting score Adore simply encapsulates so many things I adore about film. It's non-conclusive and conflicting, thought-provoking and treats its audience with endless intelligence. The script, some perceive as tame and lifeless, but I saw it as calculating and instrumental. I thought about this film days on end. French director, Anne Fontaine's, hold on the film is evident with European sensibilities at the backbone of the film. What themes would hardly be questioned in a French film mistakenly became its defining and most talked about features. Premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, the film was much better received internationally than in Australia. And its not hard to see why. 

Roz (Robin Wright) and Lil (Naomi Watts) are two true blue Aussie girls growing up as the closest of friends next door to each other, at the stunning coast of New South Wales. Their halcyon days of youth are spent on lazing around on a floating platform - a major fixture of the film itself. As time passes, the pair never leave their home even when both marry and have sons. Lil's husband passes away in a car accident and subsequently Lil is left to raise her son, Ian (Xavier Samuel) alone. Roz becomes something of a second mother to Ian and the two families grow up, side-by-side. At age 20, the two sons,  Ian and Tom's (James Frecheville) close friendship mirrors that of Roz and Lil's. When Roz's husband, Harold (Ben Mendelsohn) leaves for Sydney for a few months, attraction between Roz and Ian comes the beginning of something dark and real - a transgression which consumes them all.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Galore


Galore is a feature perpetuating life in its real form. It is a masterful, controlled piece of cinema which throws you in unexpected ways. You, as an audience member, delve so deep and convincingly into the lives of the characters that you feel somewhat affected by the swift turn of events - from sweet freedom to recluse circumstance. The careful and virtuoso craftsmanship of every character can truly be appreciated. You can actually feel their presence. The film is patient; it lets the light dance in front of the lens, it gives time for us to become familiar with places, season, routine and patterns, and it introduces us to every character as they come. 
Come a chilly Wednesday night, I find myself seated at a special screening of Galore at Cinema Nova on Lygon Street. It is always a different cinematic experience when you are prepared to come face-to-face with the very people who created the film you just saw. It was a strangely and uniquely intimate two hours. The director Rhys Graham, producer Philippa Campey and actors Toby Wallace, Lily Sullivan and Aliki Mantagi were in attendance and following the screening provided some insight into the work behind the magic.  

Galore tells the story of youth: that derelict, reckless time where in a narrow and singular vision, you are invincible. Billie (Ashleigh Cummings) is an indignant spirit who exists in a delicate balance, the prospect of eventual havoc looming quietly over her head. She loves and lives fiercely. Her summer days in the lazy town are spent working shifts at a local store, swimming and sunbathing by the river, long nights spent partying - all with the company of her best friend, Laura (Lily Sullivan). But the dynamics of the relationships Billie holds are far more complex. Billie and Laura's boyfriend, Danny (Toby Wallace), hide away for hours on end together, madly and indisputably crazy for each other.  

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Genre: Teen Culture in Film and Television


I've almost graduated out of the system. That is, out of the bewildering, all-consuming years they call adolescence. Being a teenager means everything, and then nothing. Your world is a thin strip of moonlight from a door cracked just slightly open. And what is beyond that? You don't know. So of course being young and curious, you are fucking obsessed with it. It's an ideal world where freedom runs wild, happiness is choice and you're free to dance with danger.
Representation of teen in media is tricky business. Na├»ve portrayals of teenagers are ridiculed yet sensationalised ones are criticised and dubbed "dangerous" and "inflammatory". It is the realistic ones which reign over these. They are masterpieces which portray the bittersweet experience with a brutal honesty, capturing the fragility of our worlds and enthusiasm for the forbidden. 
Below are my five favourite depictions of teen culture in media: 
(please note that I have excluded all Sofia Coppola works from this post as I intend to do write-up on her soon)

Thursday, 5 June 2014

A Week in Winter



This week I experienced new, more prominent forms of pain. I was let go, let down, put down, left behind. I gained insight into quiet absences, the fragility and condition of everything and the ready dark of this lying world. I was struck out into spaces alone and drifted about aimlessly, desperate to grasp something still, strong and constant. Experience destroys imagination. What dark things I use to paint with my mind with creativity, was ascertained yet cleanly eliminated by real events. Desolation and lunacy once romantic notions of justified angst were suddenly useless, meaningless and childish. Whims were scavenged in worlds away. Solace found form in the graceful words of John Green, the stark isolation of Sofia Coppola's visions and the ruthless escapades crafted by George R. R. Martin.


Tuesday, 3 June 2014

In Conversation with Jeffrey Katzenberg: CEO of DreamWorks


I live in a the cultural capital of Australia, Melbourne. The first ever feature-length film was filmed in Melbourne, The Story of Kelly Gang. Although, aside from this fact, Melbourne is not a city known for its contributions to the film industry. Recently, however, DreamWorks studio celebrated its 20th anniversary and the Australia Centre for Moving Image (ACMI) stepped in to help honour the occasion. Debuting on the 12th of April, ACMI opened a DreamWorks animation exhibition. The show itself is a lively archive of storyboards, props from the film sets, concept-drawings and interactive displays of the animated delights. On its opening night, a very special guest was invited to participate in a Q&A session: none another than CEO of DreamWorks, the man himself Jeffrey Katzenberg. And this is the legend I found myself seated before on that very night. 

Jeffrey Katzenberg is no mere businessman. He is the co-founder of DreamWorks, known for his tenure as co-chairman of the Walt Disney Studios during its Renaissance Period and his time as President of Production at of Paramount Pictures. But he is also a notable film producer, having conceived the early ideas for The Lion King, Kung Fu Panda, The Little Mermaid and Madagascar and served as executive producer for The Prince of Egypt, Shrek, Shark Tale and Chicken Run. The night was hosted by Channel 10's Executive General Manager and panellist of The Gruen Transfer, Russel Howcroft.