Sydney FF 2019 Review: THE WEDDING GUEST – by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

With a feature filmmaking career that has spanned almost 25 years, although Michael Winterbottom has had some are undeniable misfires, he has simultaneously illustrated time and time again that when he’s good, he’s very good. The Wedding Guest adds to Winterbottom’s oeuvre while donating to his experiments with the crime/thriller genre, joining previous projects such as The Face of an Angel and 2010’s controversial The Killer Inside Me.

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ECHO IN THE CANYON – Review by Susan Granger

In this documentary, veteran music industry honcho Andrew Slater (former Capitol Records CEO) recalls a bygone era, focusing on the folk rock bands of the 1965-67 Los Angeles music scene. In the early part of the 19th century, bucolic Laurel Canyon, nestled behind Sunset Boulevard in the Hollywood Hills, was known for its rustic cabins and hunting lodges.

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HOLY LANDS – Review by Loren King

French novelist-turned-director Amanda Sthers, whose credits include You’ll Miss Me (2009) and Madame (2017), adapted her novel, the family drama Holy Lands, with its characters changed from French to American. With its themes about patriarchal abandonment, loss, regret, resentment and miscommunication, the movie is all over the place, with tones that shift from melodrama to black comedy. But the performances from a veteran cast led by James Caan make it worthwhile.

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Sydney FF 2019: OUR TIME – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Chances are, if you’ve seen a film by acclaimed Mexican filmmaker Carlos Reygadas before you’ll have a pretty clear idea what you’ll make of his latest feature Our Time before you even watch it. Tedious navel-gazing or ponderous poetic reflection? As is now seemingly par for the course with Reygadas, opinion is largely split, although Our Time does not seem to have drummed up quite the impassioned positive responses as his last feature six years ago, the more experimental and audacious Post Tenebras Lux from 2012. It may simply be a case of better the (animated) devil you know.

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MAIDEN – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

Sometimes the word “heroine” just won’t do. The documentary Maiden tells the inspirational story of Tracy Edwards, a true feminist hero who, at the age of 24, willed herself into becoming the skipper of the first all-women yacht crew to race around the world in 1989. Her only real sea-faring experience was as a cook and cleaner on charter boats. But with King Hussein of Jordan as her unlikely benefactor, she and her 12-women team managed collect enough money to renovate an aluminum vessel that they dubbed Maiden and made unexpected history.

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TOY STORY 4 – Review by Susan Granger

It’s been almost 25 years since the first Toy Story, and Pixar keeps coming up with lovable characters inhabiting relatable stories, culminating in a bittersweet conclusion. Now that Andy’s off to college, little Bonnie (Madeline McGraw) has inherited his beloved toys: Sheriff Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Jessie (Joan Cusack), Trixie (Kristen Schaal), Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles), et al.

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MAIDEN – Review by Loren King

The timing could not be more perfect for the exhilarating, inspirational Maiden, director Alex Holmes’s documentary about the first ever all-female crew, led by a novice British skipper, that competed in the 1989 Whitbread Round the World Race. I’m not sure how well-known this story is outside England, or outside sailing circles, but seeing it unfold onscreen, with a captivating cast of real-life characters and stunning archival footage of the grueling race, one is thankful that it’s been so memorably revisited and brought to general attention.

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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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MOVIE OF THE WEEK June 21, 2019: LATE NIGHT

Cross The Devil Wears Prada with 30 Rock, and you might get something like Late Night, director Nisha Ganatra’s timely comedy about a starry-eyed young comedy writer named Molly (Mindy Kaling) who gets the chance of a lifetime when she’s hired to work for iconic late-night talk show host Katherine Newbury (Emma Thompson). Written by Kaling, the movie mixes behind-the-scenes showbiz humor with smart observations about what it’s really like for women to break down barriers.

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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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