Berlin Syndrome (2017)

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A movie about a woman being victimised isn’t the kind I would normally go and see but Berlin Syndrome is directed by Cate Shortland (Somersault, Lore) so I knew it was going to be interesting with the story of the woman at the heart. Clare (Teresa Palmer) is a naive Australian tourist newly arrived in Berlin. By chance she meets German school teacher Andi (Max Riemelt) and strikes up a hesitant friendship that leads to her staying the night at his isolated apartment in an otherwise empty former East Berlin apartment block. When she wakes in the morning with Andi gone to work, she finds the doors and windows locked and she can’t leave. Continue reading

Emo the Musical (2016)

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Harold and Maude meets High School Musical in this messy, funny, teen romp of a film by Australian Neil Triffett. Ethan (Benson Jack Anthony) is a misfit in his school. Identifying as an emo with black eyeliner and a melancholic preoccupation with death, he is expelled after trying unsuccessfully to hang himself from a tree in the schoolyard. As the new kid at scruffy Seymour High, he finds his tribe with wannabe emo band Worst Day Ever who are vying for a prize in a regional band competition. Trouble arises when Ethan falls for Trinity (Jordan Hare), singer in rival Christian band Hope. Continue reading

The Family (2016)

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Image via MIFF

I wasn’t expecting this documentary about the Melbourne suburban and Victorian rural sect The Family and leader Anne Hamilton-Byrne to pack such an emotional wallop. It begins as a blow-by-blow retelling of the investigation into the cult in the 80s and takes a while to build a coherent story but ends as a devastating insight into the repercussions for the children involved and the inability of investigators to breach the protective wall of privilege around the cult to obtain justice. Continue reading

Jasper Jones (2017)

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This is a warm and sensitive adaptation by director Rachel Perkins of Craig Silvey’s excellent Australian novel of the same name. The film aims squarely at a mainstream and younger audience than the book, pulling its punches to just touch on the themes of racism and abuse that are central to the story of Charlie Bucktin’s awakening from childhood innocence in the rural town of Corrigan in the 1960s. Continue reading

Lion (2016)

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Image via cinemathread.com

This is an unexpectedly beautiful and thought-provoking film based on the true story of five-year-old Indian boy, Saroo, who becomes separated from his family. He is lost amongst the millions, one of 80,000 Indian children who go missing every year, and it is a 25 year journey before he has the chance to reconnect with his home. Continue reading

Sleeping Beauty (2011)

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Image via thevacantpage.com

Not the Disney film. Definitely not the Disney film. This surreal meditation on the fragility of one young woman is a mannered but metaphorically profound film by Australian director Julia Leigh. Don’t expect titillation, as many seem to from a superficial reading of the synopsis; university student Lucy begins work at an exclusive club where wealthy men can spend the night with her while she is drugged asleep. Continue reading