Sydney FF 2019: DARK PLACE – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Dark Place saves the best of its anthology of five horror shorts till last and excels with Kodie Bedford’s unforgettable, electrifying Scout. If every horror anthology contains one short you wish was a feature, this is it; despite being a newcomer to directing, Bedford directs action like an old-hand, and the way she combines familiar genre thrills with inescapable and at times explicit political agenda about the exploitation and abuse of Indigenous Australian women by white men is nothing less than masterful.

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MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL – Review by Susan Granger

Years ago, Will Smith used to brag that he (via his movies) “owned” the Fourth of July. No more! Without charismatic Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, this reboot is like a firecracker that barely fizzles.

The stand-alone story revolves around Molly (Tessa Thompson), a young Brooklyn woman whose love for Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time and childhood memories of her parents being neuralyzed by MIB after seeing an alien has given her insight into what’s invisible to most Earthlings.

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SYDNEY FF 2019: ANIMALS – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Bursting into the national consciousness with her smash 2013 debut feature 52 Tuesdays, Australian filmmaker Sophie Hyde has gone decidedly international in her vision with her much-anticipated sophomore effort, the international co-production Animals. Starring Holliday Grainger and Alia Shawkat, the two women play best friends and flatmates Laura and Tyler whose down-and-dirty carefree bacchanalia of their twenties suddenly begins to fade when faced with expectations of transitioning to the world of so-called ‘adult’ responsibility.

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THREE PEAKS – Review by Jennifer Merin

German director Jan Zabeil’s beautifully crafted sophomore narrative feature, Three Peaks, is a truly disturbing film. It’s a horror story without gimmicks, ghosts, ghouls or goblins. There is no paranormality. In fact, the story revolves around a very normal modern threesome — two adults and a child — who take a family vacation in a relatively isolated cabin in a beautiful and pristine mountain setting.

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HEAD COUNT – Review by Liz Whittemore

This script by director Elle Callahan and Michael Nadar is something special. Right off the bat, I noticed nods to It Follows, one of the most unique genre films in a long time. But once Head Count’s weirdness takes full hold, you’ll find it’s completely its own creation. You will be just as spooked/confounded as the characters.

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BOOK SMART- Review by Ulkar Alakbarova

We all went to school with a single reason in our minds – to get an education that will help build our life, find a good job, and be successful. Of course, colleges and the universities are just the beginning and there is no time to have fun at all, take it easy, or look around to see what our peers would do. Imagine, at some point, you wake up to find yourself at the podium to receive your diploma after having worked tirelessly, never missed a single book from the local library and look at those who never did what you have done, yet still graduating.

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Sydney FF 2019: MY NUDITY MEANS NOTHING – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

For those still shaken by Marina de Van’s shocking, brave and wholly unique 2002 debut film In My Skin, that the French filmmaker, actor and writer has finally returned with a feature-length film is cause for unbridled celebration. Like In My Skin, although shifting from fictional filmmaking to a documentary format with My Nudity Means Nothing, in many ways these two works have much in common: both feature de Van as their central subject, and both hold at their core a fundamental, almost clinical, focus on the relationship between gender, identity and corporeality.

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THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2 – Review by Brandy McDonnell

Meanwhile, the sprawling menagerie of Max’s NYC pet pals get into their own hijinks. Left to guard Max’s favorite toy, pampered Pomeranian Gidget (Jenny Slate) lets the beloved ball bounce through an open window into the local cat lady’s apartment. The pup’s plan to infiltrate the peevish pack of toms and tabbies involves taking lessons in how to pass as a feline from the quintessential cat Chloe (the deliciously droll Lake Bell).

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