Friday, May 31, 2013

Monthly Round-Up: May Viewing

In May after a slow start (I was on holiday, and needed a break) I still ended up watching 34 films. The diversity surprises me as much as ever. 

New-To-Me Films (In Order of Preference)

---------- Essential Viewing ----------

The Rocket (Kim Mordaunt, 2013) - Provoked immense joy. Fragments of history and Laos villager tradition/struggles built tension but it is the relationships that are truly special. Wonderful film.

The Fountain (Darren Aronofsky, 2006) - Awe-inspiring, century-spanning romance deals with the quest to rejuvenate life and the acceptance of mortality in realms of science and religion. An ambitious film of ideas and feeling, it is also very well acted by Jackman/Weiss and has incredible visuals and soundscape. I sat mouth agape.

The Place Beyond the Pines (Derek Cianfrance, 2013) - This epic and ambitious storytelling provokes audiences by continuing to evolve a large-scale narrative while incorporating relatable anxieties, emotional conflicts and acts of fate. The tension is palpable, standout sequences linger and the acting is of a high quality. Mark it up as two for two for one of the most promising filmmakers in the industry in Derek Cianfrance. 

Blackfish (Gabriela Cowperthwaite, 2013) - Add BLACKFISH to your Sydney Film Festival lineup (June 7 and 8), or at least consider seeing it when it hits cinemas later in the year. Incredible documentary insight into the marine park Orca shows, the decades of incidents involving the trainer death and injury, the indecency of the conditions and the greedy cover-ups and public manipulation. The footage is shocking, the accounts very moving. Wow.

Only God Forgives (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2013) - Extremely intense and atmospheric. Proceed with caution upon entry to this surreal and unsettling tale of underworld revenge and redemption, mysticism and justice, but marvel at the beauty of Refn’s obsessively considered aesthetic and the syncing audio/visual beats. This is a heavyweight film from a brilliant auteur.

Solaris (Steven Soderbergh, 2002) - An excellent re-imaging of Stanisław Lem's classic novel.

---------- Essential Viewing ----------

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Review: Sinister (Scott Derrickson, 2012)

Co-written (with C. Robert Cargill) and directed by Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose), Sinister is an atmospheric and often-terrifying suburban-set haunted house thriller with grounds in a grisly crime mystery, and a twist of paranoia and the supernatural.

A washed up true crime writer, Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) has just moved his wife (Juliet Rylance) and two children into a new home to start working on a new novel. He solely possesses the knowledge that the previous occupants died a horrible death in the backyard. Ellison has decided to investigate and utilise this case as the basis for his book, which he hopes will result in another bestseller and repair his reputation.

Not long after moving Ellison finds a box in the attic containing a projector and a series of 8mm films. What he first believes to be innocent home movies turn out to be violent snuff films shot by the killer. Who filmed them? How did they get into the attic? Rattled by these questions Ellison begins to obsess. But when he notices a masked figure watching on in one of the films, strange things begin to go bump in the night. He finds his tough nerves shredded, his sanity suffering and his family threatened.

Continue reading at Graffiti With Punctuation

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

SFF Review: Only God Forgives (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2013)

The new collaboration between Danish writer/director Nicolas Winding Refn (Valhalla Rising, Drive) and star Ryan Gosling (Drive, The Place Beyond the Pines) caused quite a stir at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. The hyper-violent crime thriller received a divisive vocal reception from the crowd at the Croisette; and while the film’s pacing, heavy stylisation and stomach-churning violence will likely result in its share of detractors, on an aesthetic level it is a highly professional work of formal vision and precision. Following Drive (for which Refn was awarded Best Director at Cannes), he has taken a potentially alienating diversion here. This challenging film, driven by his own existential crises and his fascination with images in favour of dialogue and violent characters that live on the fringe of reality, is a daring and unconventional exercise of a very different beast. Though not all of Refn’s decisions hit the mark this time, it is a tough film to shake.

Julian (Gosling) runs a Thai boxing club with his brothers, using it as a front to smuggle and deal drugs. When his brother Billy (Tom Burke) rapes and kills an underage prostitute he is turned over to the young woman’s father by a ruthless retired cop named Chang (Vithaya Pansringarm), who has resolved to bringing divine justice to the corrupt Bangkok underworld. Billy’s subsequent death-by-vengeance brings their mother Crystal (Kristin Scott Thomas), the head of the crime syndicate, to Bangkok to reclaim his body. She instructs Julian to find and kill those responsible for her favourite son’s death, which draws him in to Chang’s own reign of vengeful bloodshed.

Continue reading at Graffiti With Punctuation

Monday, May 27, 2013

New Releases (30/05/13)

Hitting cinemas this week are The Great Gatsby, A Haunted House, Sinister and Happiness Never Comes Alone.

The Great Gatsby - Follows would-be writer Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) as he leaves the Midwest and comes to New York City in the spring of 1922, an era of loosening morals, glittering jazz, bootleg kings, and sky-rocketing stocks. Chasing his own American Dream, Nick lands next door to a mysterious, party-giving millionaire, Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), and across the bay from his cousin, Daisy (Carey Mulligan), and her philandering, blue-blooded husband, Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton). It is thus that Nick is drawn into the captivating world of the super rich, their illusions, loves and deceits. As Nick bears witness, within and without of the world he inhabits, he pens a tale of impossible love, incorruptible dreams and high-octane tragedy, and holds a mirror to our own modern times and struggles.

A Haunted House - In an outrageous send up of the Paranormal Activity movies, The Devil Inside and other "found footage" movies, A Haunted House features young couple Malcolm (Marlon Wayans) and Kisha (Essence Atkins) who have just moved in to their dream house. As they settle in, they quickly find they're not alone. But it's not the house that's haunted, it's Malcolm's girlfriend who is possessed by a demon. Malcolm hires everyone from a priest to modern day ghostbusters to rid her of this unwelcome intruder, determined not to let the evil spirit ruin his relationship or, more importantly, his sex life. [Review by Chris Elena, An Online Universe]

Sinister - A frightening new thriller from the producer of the Paranormal Activity films and the writer-director of The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Ethan Hawke plays a true crime novelist who discovers a box of mysterious, disturbing home movies that plunge his family into a nightmarish experience of supernatural horror.

Happiness Never Comes Alone - Directed by James Huth, the film is about a young jazz musician (Gad Elmaleh) who enjoys seducing young women. His carefree life of pleasure is interrupted when he meets an older woman (Sophie Marceau) with three children, two ex-husbands, and a thriving professional life, and the two, who have nothing in common, become involved in a romantic relationship.

Weekly Recommendation: Well, The Great Gatsby is not going to be for everyone, it is as simple as that. I love the book, enjoy the cast, and I also happen to like Moulin Rouge, so it could go either way for me. The mixed reception has not lessened my anticipation. I was won over by the first trailer. Sinister, screening exclusively in Sydney at Dendy Newtown, is a genuinely scary horror film with a great performance from Ethan Hawke. I can recommend it, safely.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Review: The Hangover Part III (2013)

In the latest, and hopefully last installment of Todd Phillips’ ludicrously successful Hangover Trilogy, the ‘Wolf Pack’ – Alan (Zach Galifianakas), Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Stu (Ed Helms) – find themselves at the mercy of a mob boss, Marshall (John Goodman), who has been ripped off by Mr Chow (Ken Jeong).

Threatening to kill the token hostage, Doug (Justin Bartha), he instructs them to locate Chow, who has just broken out of prison, and his missing gold bullion. The reason they are intercepted on the road? Callow man-child Alan has gone off his meds and his behaviour has escalated into new realms of ‘destructive’ so his friends agree to escort him to a psych facility.

The basis for this plot is a series of extended loose ends, which no one knew existed and have been drawn from very thin influences. The repercussions of their adventures in Vegas and Bangkok led to the events in this film, but the motivation behind it seems to be the ludicrous idea to have the intolerable Chow enter their lives again.

Continue reading at Graffiti With Punctuation.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Trailer: The World's End

Following on from Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Hot Fuzz (2007) the new Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost collaboration, The World's End, looks awesome. It wasn't at all about what I expected, but the trailer is a lot of fun.

It hits Australian cinemas August 1.

Monday, May 20, 2013

New Releases (23/05/13)

Hitting cinemas this week is The Hangover Part III, The Reluctant Fundamentalist and Dead Man Down.

The Hangover Part III - The third and final film in director Todd Phillips' record-shattering comedy franchise. This time, there's no wedding. No bachelor party. What could go wrong, right? But when the Wolfpack hits the road, all bets are off.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist - We begin in 2011 in Lahore. At an outdoor café a Pakistani man named Changez (Riz Ahmed) tells Bobby (Liev Schreiber), an American journalist, about his experiences in the United States. Roll back ten years, and we find a younger Changez fresh from Princeton, seeking fortune and glory on Wall Street. The American Dream seems well within his grasp, complete with a smart and gorgeous artist girlfriend, Erica (Kate Hudson). But when the Twin Towers are attacked, a cultural divide slowly begins to crack open between Changez and Erica. Changez's dream soon begins to slip into nightmare: profiled, wrongfully arrested, strip-searched and interrogated, he is transformed from a well-educated, upwardly mobile businessman to a scapegoat and perceived enemy. With time, he begins to hear the call of his own homeland. Taking us through the culturally rich and beguiling worlds of New York, Lahore and Istanbul, The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a story about conflicting ideologies where perception and suspicion have the power to determine life or death.

Dead Man Down - Niels Arden Oplev, the acclaimed director of the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, makes his American theatrical debut with this new action thriller. Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace star as two strangers who are irresistibly drawn to one another by their mutual desire for revenge. The film co-stars Terrence Howard and Dominic Cooper. 

Weekly Recommendation: Save your bucks, though The Reluctant Fundamentalist looks to be the best option, unless Phillips can return to the form he showed in the trilogy's first installment.  

Friday, May 17, 2013

Review: Snitch (Ric Roman Waugh, 2013)

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, set to grace our screens in four films in 2013 – G.I Joe, Fast and Furious 6 and Pain & Gain are the others – gives quite an affecting performance in the forgettable, often-preposterous Snitch, a crime thriller directed by former stunt man Ric Roman Waugh.

When his estranged son, Jason (Rafi Gavron), is charged for possession of ecstasy, the victim of a setup, John Matthews (Johnson), an owner of a construction business, desperately tries to help him escape a minimum 10-year prison sentence.John meets with U.S Attorney Joanne Keeghan (a snippy Susan Sarandon), who is in the midst of running an aggressive anti-drug campaign and cracking down on distribution. She is immovable on the newly introduced mandatory sentencing, but is willing to compromise and allow John a chance to reduce Jason’s sentence. John agrees to infiltrate and provide intel on a local drug ring run by Malik (Michael K. Williams in less-cool Omar mode).

Continue reading at Graffiti With Punctuation

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Review: Drift (Morgan O'Neil and Ben Nott, 2013)

Drift, a good-looking Australian surf drama directed by Morgan O’ Neil (who also wrote the screenplay) and Ben Nott, tells the story of Andy (Myles Pollard) and Jimmy (Xavier Samuel) Kelly, who escaped from Sydney with their mother (Robyn Malcolm) in their teens, to a surfing hotspot in the Margaret River region in Western Australia. Over a decade later, Jimmy has become a gifted talent with the potential to take on the worlds best. With their mother still in debt from the mortgage, Andy decides to start an ambitious entrepreneurial venture, which unites the skills of the family, as well as some local friends including JB (Sam Worthington), a Combi-dwelling surf photographer and his companion from Hawaii, Lani (Lesley-Ann Brandt) and personally crafted surf gear straight out of their backyard.

Drift focuses on a small pocket of this development, but surf gear is everywhere in Australia and the carefree beach-dwelling lifestyle will be relatable to anyone who has ever lived near or visited a coastal tourist spot. Commendably, it is a film about the drive required to embrace your passion, the selfless decisions we make for one another and the importance of maintaining a strong sibling relationship and surrounding yourself with friends you can trust.

Continue reading at Graffiti With Punctuation

Winter Preview: 22 Films To Watch For This Season

Before we look ahead to the 2013 theatrical 'Blockbuster Season' lets take a look back over the last three months. With The Great Gatsby still to come on April 30, it has been a solid stretch of films, with exactly half of the films I saw during that time receiving a cinema recommendation. The year really comw into it's own on May 9 (The Place Beyond the Pines and Spring Breakers particularly), easily the most interesting release date of the year so far.

The Great (4.5-5) Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, The Place Beyond the Pines, The Hunt and No.

The Good (3.5-4) Rust and Bone, Spring Breakers, Iron Man 3, Chasing Ice, Oblivion, Star Trek Into Darkness, Trance, Tabu, Sleepwalk With Me, Warm Bodies, First Position and Oz the Great and Powerful.

The Average (2.5-3) Barbara, Broken, In the Fog, Evil Dead, Drift, Haute Cuisine, The Big Wedding, The Company You Keep, Hara Kiri: Death of a Samurai and Mama.

The Poor (0-2) Snitch, Jack the Giant Slayer, A Good Day to Die Hard, Hyde Park on Hudson, The Loneliest Planet, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, G.I Joe: Retaliation and Olympus Has Fallen.

But, here is what we can look forward to in the coming months. June is pretty dire and I am a bit thin on the August releases (though there are still plenty to look forward to) as is usually the case when investigating the ever-changing schedule from afar.

Mud (June 13)*

Man of Steel (June 13)

Monsters University (June 20)

World War Z (June 20)
Satellite Boy (June 20)

In the House (June 27)

We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks (July 4)

To the Wonder (July 4)

Before Midnight (July 11)

Pacific Rim (July 11)

Behind the Candelabra (July 11)**

Much Ado About Nothing (July 11)

This is the End (July 18)

Only God Forgives (July 18)

The Way, Way Back (July 18)

The Bling Ring (July 25)

Blancanieves (August 8)

Elysium (August 15)

Frances Ha (August 15)

You're Next (August 22)

What Maisie Knew (August 22)

Stoker (August 29)

What are your most anticipated films for the next three months? Are there any that I have left off this list with a confirmed release date that you can recommend? 

*New addition, courtesy of Andrew McCarthy.
**New addition, courtesy of Roadshow schedule update.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Review: Evil Dead (Fede Alvarez, 2013)

This intense re-imagining of Sam Raimi’s 1981 low-budget gore-fest, The Evil Dead, which spawned two sequels and remains a cult favourite today, is the feature debut from Fede Alvarez. Raimi (Spiderman, Oz: The Great and Powerful), his Evil Dead star, Bruce Campbell, and original producer, Robert G. Tapert, remained involved to supervise this new addition to the franchise, serving as producers.

Five twenty-somethings – a brother and sister, Mia (Jane Levy, very good) and David (Shiloh Fernandez), David’s girlfriend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore), and Mia’s friends Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) and Olivia (Jessica Lucas) – meet at an abandoned cabin deep in the forest. The reason: not to party, but to form an intervention to support Mia through drug withdrawal and a give her opportunity to cleanse herself from her addiction. When they discover a book titled Naturom Demonto: The Book of the Dead, irresponsibly opened by Eric, releases a demonic presence from the surrounding woods.

Continue reading at Graffiti With Punctuation.

Review: Tabu (Miguel Gomes, 2012)

Winner of the Alfred Bauer Prize for Artistic Innovation and the FIPRESCI Jury Prize at the 2012 Berlinale, Miguel Gomes' passionate and provocative drama, Tabu, about love and memory, is separated into two distinct halves. Opening up in contemporary Lisbon, it follows a temperamental old woman named Aurora (Laura Soveral), her Cape Verdean maid, Santa (Isabel Munoz Cardoso), and her caring neighbour,Pilar (Teresa Madruga), who shares the same floor of Aurora's apartment building. Pilar does her best to take care of Aurora, who gambles away all of her money at casinos and is convinced that her maid is practicing witchcraft on her.

When Aurora's health begins to fade she asks for Gian Luca Ventura (Henrique Espirito Santo), revealed to be a man she once knew but had never spoken of before, to come to her bedside. When he is tracked down, he reveals to the women an extraordinary tale (at this point the film shifts to the past) of obsessed love shared by he and a pregnant and married Aurora (Carloto Cotta and Ana Moreira respectively) in Africa in a period prior to Portuguese Colonial War, and the events that led to their since life-long separation.

Tabu is a beguiling and original film. Gomes has utilised a number of interesting stylistic devices; a 4:3 ratio and classy black-and-white cinematography from the very beginning, and in the second half a complete absence of dialogue, reliance on gesture and expression, and a blend of voice-over narration (Ventura's account), tribal beats, pop songs and the concoction of sounds from the Mount Tabu location. These inspired ideas are not a gimmick and give the storytelling unique qualities that are both alluring and distracting. I wasn't convinced they all worked, or were necessary, and when I viewed Tabu amidst the 2012 Sydney Film Festival it wasn't one of my highlights. But still, there was plenty about this film that I admired.

Even at close to two hours, which is a test, Gomes' film is certainly not dull. It does evoke a strange feeling of hypnosis in the second half as the sweaty African climate and the voice-over lull one into a surreal viewing state. It felt like I was dreaming up the story of Aurora's past for myself. Hard to describe. For future analysis I would be interested in giving it another go, ensuring I am fully alert. Perhaps I would have a completely different experience.

This adventurous drama uses subversive humour and creates effective tension. The performances are great, the sound design is brilliant and this rich tapestry of ideas will leave viewers with plenty to discuss. It looks explores the loneliness and bitterness that accompanies aging, the longing for the past. It also optimistically addresses the idea that fleeting chapters in our lives, if they significantly re-route them at the time, will always remain with us, the increasingly unreliability of memory aside.

My Rating: ★★★1/2

Monday, May 13, 2013

New Releases (16/05/13)

In cinemas this week we have Snitch, The Call, Broken, Tabu and A Place For Me.

Snitch - In this fast-paced action thriller, Dwayne Johnson stars as a father whose teenage son is wrongly accused of a drug distribution crime and is looking at a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years. Desperate and determined to rescue his son at all costs, he makes a deal with the U.S. attorney to work as an undercover informant and infiltrate a drug cartel on a dangerous mission - risking everything, including his family and his own life.

The Call - When veteran 911 operator, Jordan (Halle Berry), takes a life-altering call from a teenage girl (Abigail Breslin) who has just been abducted, she realizes that she must confront a killer from her past in order to save the girl's life.

Broken - Skunk is 11, diabetic, and pretty cool. The summer holidays have just begun and her days are full of easy hopes. Then Mr. Oswald, the ugly man who lives opposite, beats up Rick, the sweet, but unstable boy next door and Skunk's innocence begins to be drained away at a speed and in a way she cannot control. Her home, her neighborhood, her school - all become treacherous environments where the happy certainties of childhood give way to a fear-filled doubt, and a complex, broken world fills her future. Skunk seeks solace in the last remaining place where she knows she can find it - the unspoken friendship with sweet, damaged Rick - and falls into a chaos where suddenly, joyfully, she has choice thrust back into her hands. 

Tabu - Acclaimed director Miguel Gomes returns with a sumptuous, eccentric two-part tale centered on Aurora, shown first as an impulsive, cantankerous elderly woman in present-day Lisbon. When Aurora is hospitalized, she sends her neighbor, Pilar, to pass word of her grave condition to Gian Luca, a man of which no one has ever heard her speak. Pilar's quest to fulfill her friend's wish transports us to Africa fifty years earlier, before the start of the Portuguese Colonial War. We see Aurora again, this time as the gorgeous, smoldering wife of a wealthy young farmer, involved in a forbidden love affair with Gian Luca, her husband's best friend. Their moving, poetic tale is conveyed through the older Gian Luca's suave voiceover, combined with the lush, melodious sounds of its heady, tropical setting, peppered with a soundtrack of Phil Spector songs.

A Place For Me - Three years past his divorce, veteran novelist Bill Borgens (Greg Kinnear) can’t stop obsessing over his ex-wife Erica (Jennifer Connelly), who ignominiously left him for another man. Even as his neighbor-with-benefits, Tricia (Kristen Bell) tries to push him back into the dating pool, he remains blind to anyone else’s charms. Meanwhile, his fiercely independent collegiate daughter Samantha (Lily Collins) is publishing her first novel while recoiling at the very thought of first love with a diehard romantic; and his teen son Rusty (Nat Wolff) is trying to find his voice, both as a fantasy writer and as the unexpected boyfriend of a dream girl with unsettlingly real problems. As each of these situations mounts into a tangled trio of romantic holiday crises, it brings the Borgens to surprising revelations about how endings become beginnings.

Weekly Recommendation: I hadn't heard anything about A Place For Me until today but I have been recommended it. Broken and Tabu are both worth a look and I intend to catch Tabu again outside of the festival fatigue. 

Review: Broken (Rufus Norris, 2012)

Broken is an engrossing British social-realist drama, the feature-film debut from acclaimed theatre and opera director Rupert Norris. It chronicles the interweaving lives of three families who share a north London suburban street and the bright and innocent youngster, Skunk (an excellent debut performance from natural screen presence Eloise Laurence), caught up in the emotional turmoil.

The conflict is sparked by Skunk's problem neighbors, the Oswalds. Her solicitor father, Archie (Tim Roth), teacher, Mike (Cillian Murphy), and mentally challenged neighbor, Rick (Robert Emms), are drawn into the web of affairs following the allegations made against Mike and Rick by Mr Oswald's (Rory Kinnear) daughter, and the violent outbursts he unleashes as a repercussion.

This is quite an intense story. There are some affecting sequences, especially between Skunk and her father, but also some amusing and heartwarming coming-of-age moments. The well-written exchanges between Skunk and a young man from the neighborhood are amongst the film's brightest.

Ultimately, the story takes on a bit too much; feeling contrived and leaving some of the developments unconvincing and hard to accept, but this thoughtfully constructed drama deals with some relevant issues - broken family and community ties, physical empowerment and bullying, and health privilege and entitlement - quite competently, and boasts some strong performances from both newcomers and veterans alike.

My Rating: ★★★

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Review: The Place Beyond the Pines (Derek Cianfrance, 2013)

The Place Beyond the Pines, directed by Derek Cianfrance (2009’s Blue Valentine) is a tough and evocative crime drama with a sprawling multi-thread narrative and the emotional power to mesmerise audiences. It is a film that subverts typical storytelling conventions and this makes it a difficult one to discuss, considering the breadth of its scope and theme. But Cianfrance earns our respect because we can see the director’s bold intentions coming together, and accept the instances of coincidence and fate that seamlessly converge the stories. This bleak character study has its roots in family - the relationships between fathers and sons, the difficult existential crossroads that stem from paternal responsibilities, and the influence of a father’s decisions on the life of his son.

The Place Beyond the Pines is about a directionless man trying his best to take responsibility, and the lengths he is willing to go to honour his role as a father. It is about another man who, blessed with privilege and intelligence, selfishly and selflessly channels a conflict of emotions to change the avenue of his own life. The repercussions of an altercation, and the decisions he makes in its wake, will never rest. Finally, it is about a lonely and confused young man as he seeks to find out who he is and understand the origins of the path that seems to have been set for him.

It is a beautifully intimate film at times and unnervingly tense in others, and even if it stretches the believability a little thin in the slightly weaker (though essential) final act, it remains a fascinating and unpredictable journey. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Giveaway: Double Passes to 'A Haunted House' and Q&A with Marlon Wayans

A Haunted House, the new comedy starring Marlon Wayans (Scary Movie, White Chicks) is scheduled to open in cinemas nationally on May 30.

Marlon and his brother Shawn will be in Australia on a live comedy tour (The Wayans Live) in May, and Marlon will be appearing at a limited number of special film preview events for A Haunted House, for pre/post movie chats and QandA.
When overactive man-child Malcolm (Wayans) takes the plunge and lets girlfriend Keisha (Essence Atkins) move into his house, he quickly senses they’re no longer alone. Videotaping a series paranormal events, Malcolm is shocked to discover the love of his life carries more than your average relationship baggage: she’s demonically possessed by an evil spirit. Malcolm enlists the help of priest/ex convict Father Williams (Cedric the Entertainer) to exorcise the demon from his girlfriend before it ruins his relationship… AND his sex life.

Courtesy of TM Publicity I have five double passes to the Sydney event, to be held at Hoyts Broadway next Tuesday May 14, from 8.30pm.

To enter, simply email to your name and a contact number. Winners will be notified by return email and/or text on Monday 13 May to confirm attendance.

Winners will not be sent a pass, but their name will appear on the door list on the evening of the event.

Entries close Sunday 12 May 10pm.

My Personal 2013 Sydney Film Festival Lineup

Well I am back from a much-needed and recuperating break just in time for the announcement of the 2013 Sydney Film Festival (June 5-16) lineup, one of the highlights of the year for an Australian film geek.

After several hours of studying this impressive and diverse selection of films - the entire line-up can be found here - I have come up with a carefully considered game plan. It is an ambitious (nutty) schedule of close to 30 films over the course of the twelve day festival. I had initially planned to only see about 18-20 but that soon became impossible. I also thought I would pass on a lot of the films that had a cinema release scheduled in July/August, but some, like Stoker with Park Chan-wook in presence, were too good an opportunity to pass up. The opportunity of seeing Before Midnight was far too tempting and I have heard so many great things about Upstream Colour I couldn't pass on it, especially considering it is sandwiched by Stories We Tell and Only God Forgives. The mentality was to go hard or not at all. Every year since I have started attending the festival regularly, the number of films I have watched has increased every time.

On this list are films that have received prizes and acclaim from Sundance, Berlin, Tribeca, SXSW and Hot Docs, as well as a few fresh from Cannes screenings.

Prior to the festival I will have also seen The Rocket, and taking it out of consideration, I manage to catch ALL of the other eleven films screening in the Official Competition. That is cool.

Here is my line-up, with a few open to change and a few gaps - Thursday 6 June could include Pieta, and Saturday 8 June could include Odd Man Out and A Highjacking - but this is as close to set as it will get, I think.

Wed 5 June

Dirty Wars 6:00pm
Outrage Beyond 8:00pm

Thursday 6 June

The Act of Killing 6:00pm

Friday 7 June

Wadjda 6:00pm
Stoker 8:30pm

Saturday 8 June

Before Midnight 9:30pm

Sunday 9 June 

Computer Chess 1.35pm
Grisgris 2.15pm
Muscle Shoals 4.30pm

Monday 10 June

Broken Circle Breakdown 11.45am
For Those In Peril 2.00pm
Child's Pose 6.15pm

Tuesday 11 June

Grisgris (pending work) 12:00pm
Monsoon Shootout 6:00pm
Blancancieves 8:30pm

Wednesday 12 June

Oh Boy 6:00pm
Mood Indigo 8:30pm

Thursday 13 June

Prince Avalanche 7:00pm
You're Next 9:00pm

Friday 14 June

Borgman 2.15pm
Shopping 5:00pm
Downloaded 7:00pm
Mistaken For Strangers 9:45pm

Saturday 15 June

We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks 9:30am
Stories We Tell 12:05pm
Upstream Colour 2:45pm
Only God Forgives 7:00pm

Sunday 16 June

The Past 12:00pm
Thanks for Sharing 5:30pm
Closing Night - Twenty Feet From Stardom 8:00pm

What are your thoughts on this line-up? Obviously there are a lot of potentially great films that I am leaving out. The first cut was about 50 films. Feel free to share and compare your own.