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SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL 2017

THE REVIEWS

LATEST REVIEWS
By Charlie David Page
4th June 2017

Each and every year, the Sydney Film Festival grows bigger and more diverse. The 2017 offerings are wide and varied, with something for everyone. Take a look through SWITCH's reviews and start putting together your must-see list!

Check back throughout the festival for new reviews.

Pop Aye - Not your normal road trip movie
POP AYE
'Pop Aye' offers a glimpse inside the true Thailand, with an endearing story about a man and his elephant trying to find their place in the world.
Phantom Boy - An affecting animation full of warmth
PHANTOM BOY
There’s a great warmth to the film, with the animation splashed with bright colours and a wealth of humour. ‘Phantom Boy’ will give you shivers, but in the best possible way.
Spookers - A real horror show
SPOOKERS
‘Spookers’ interweaves a lot of different stories into one entertaining piece, but it’s not the horror that truly fascinates - it’s the people.
Game of Death - Unoriginal and unexciting
GAME OF DEATH
This one is for the horror junkies and those who don’t mind spending a little time with girls in bikinis covered (and I mean covered) in blood.
Insyriated - Escaping war within a personal prison
INSYRIATED
For a film that exists inside such a small setting, ‘Insyriated’ is a big film. As disturbing as it may be, it’s remarkably powerful and a strong piece of work from director/writer Philippe Van Leeuw.
Roller Dreams - The retro roots of roller skating
ROLLER DREAMS
What starts as a nostalgic look back at a joyous time and place that transformed lives and a humble beach quickly becomes a sad tale of racism.
Pulse - An ambitious Australian body swap story
PULSE
For a film with so much ambition, 'Pulse' must be commended. While there are aspects that aren’t entirely successful, it shows promise from Monks and Cruz-Martin, with important messages to impart.
Graduation - The role of a parent left unexplored
GRADUATION
Its intentions are unclear, its characters are hard to connect with and its cold, objective approach robs the narrative of any of its emotional potential.
The Other Side Of Hope - Charming and poetic
THE OTHER SIDE OF HOPE
While ‘The Other Side Of Hope’ is unapologetically moral and political in its message and agenda, it also comes across as a good piece of cinema with poetry all of its own.
Whitney: Can I Be Me - A heartbreaking tale
WHITNEY: CAN I BE ME
Broomfield says the ultimate goal for his film is to celebrate the star’s talent, and to reveal her as a person. In this regard, ‘Whitney: Can I Be Me?’ is a success.
To Stay Alive: A Method - The pain of art
TO STAY ALIVE: A METHOD
Iggy Pop is a seriously likeable character, Michel Houellebecq is an intriguing and provocative writer, and ‘To Stay Alive’ is a thought-provoking appeal to break your chains and go for it.
Mister Universo - Join the circus
MISTER UNIVERSO
'Mister Universo' is a bizarre melding of fiction and documentary which comments on the world's drastic evolution, and the fact that many art forms are quickly dying out.
Liberation Day - The sound of music
LIBERATION DAY
‘Liberation Day’ is a revelatory experience, a truly captivating documentary about a part of our world rarely seen, and the Westerners who tried to bring in a touch of nonconformity.
The Wound - Defining masculinity
THE WOUND
'The Wound’ is a great look at how tradition and modernity are coming to head. The film is about holding up a mirror to the problem, and leaving the audience to evaluate the best answer.
78/52 - A blow-by-blow account of 'Psycho's' shower scene
78/52
‘78/52’ starts out by looking at the climate that produced ‘Psycho’, Hitchcock’s motivation for making it, and continues until it reaches those iconic few minutes that changed the course of cinema.
Una - A dull, banal and woefully misguided male fantasy
UNA
This is a dull, insipid and woefully misguided film, a problematic male fantasy on the female experience of sexual assault. Its audience and its central character deserve better.
Brigsby Bear - Paws-itively pure, authentic joy
BRIGSBY BEAR
It’s so beautifully nuanced and performed that it’s not until you leave the cinema with a huge grin on your face that the film’s layers start to reveal themselves in the most warming way.
Ellipsis - Fails to come full circle
ELLIPSIS
This improvised film is clearly the workings of an actor trying to separate himself from his career in front of the camera. ‘Ellipsis’ has its charms, but is neither original nor the best of its kind.
Ama-San - Dive in to a fascinating tradition
AMA-SAN
The beauty of ‘Ama-San’ also becomes its downfall. The tradition of the ama is one which has to be seen to be believed, and is captured here with impeccable artistry.
Lady Macbeth - Beautifully hypnotic and unsettling
LADY MACBETH
It certainly crafts yet another powerful incarnation of Lady Macbeth as an intoxicating and complicated literary figure, especially in the hands of Florence Pugh.
Paris Can Wait - Food, France and frivolity
PARIS CAN WAIT
‘Paris Can Wait’ seems like a perfect balance between fiction and non-fiction for Eleanor Coppola. Despite the energy of our on-screen characters, there is a certain air of tranquility about the film.
Newton - Dark political comedy a winning formula
NEWTON
A fine example of a political satire. Its black humour comes with meaningful messages, and sheds light on issues which trouble India. For a positive reaction, ‘Newton’ is definitely a winning formula.
Waiting For Giraffes - A tall order
WAITING FOR GIRAFFES
Despite the hardship, the team persevere with their goals, and it’s hard not to want them to succeed. By the end, you’ll be rooting for them too - and amazed at the impossible zoo they have forged.
Spoor - A dark thriller with bite
SPOOR
It’s a particularly twisted film, growing from a defenceless wolf cub into a vicious, vengeant creature. Back an animal in a corner, and it will fight back. ‘Spoor’ strikes with all its might.
Wet Woman In The Wind - Sexual conquest
WET WOMAN IN THE WIND
While ‘Wet Woman in the Wind’ is provocative and a modern homage to its predecessors, its sexual dexterity certainly outperforms its intellectual endurance.
King Of The Belgians - A royal road trip
KING OF THE BELGIANS
It’s a fantastically fun tale that takes us on a trip of discovery, full of delightful humour and ridiculousness. ‘King Of The Belgians’ is a superbly appropriate film in a world so politically askew.
Saint George - A knockout lead performance
SAINT GEORGE
Nuno Lopes is the standout, his roughly-hewn physicality embodying Jorge’s suffering. It’s due to his performance that the material, which occasionally sinks into predictability, remains gripping.
That's Not Me - A marvel of indie ingenuity
THAT'S NOT ME
‘That’s Not Me’ is a marvel of indie ingenuity, with dollops of charm and confident direction. Shot over nine months for $60k, this film looks and sounds like a million bucks.
Last Men In Aleppo - A heartbreaking documentary
LAST MEN IN ALEPPO
The effect of ‘Last Men In Aleppo’ is hugely affecting - the death and destruction is wholly heartbreaking. The White Helmets are ready to help rescue the trapped, clear the rubble, and bury the dead.
Afterimage - Reality askew
AFTERIMAGE
For viewers and those inspired by Strzeminski and Wadja's work, this film serves as a lasting afterimage of their artistic legacy.
The Wall - Gripping but thin
THE WALL
Ultimately, ‘The Wall’ is gripping, but there isn’t quite enough meat on its bones to cover its feature-length running time.
The Pink House - Meet Kalgoorlie's ladies of the night
THE PINK HOUSE
Peek inside the last remaining brothel in the revealing documentary ‘The Pink House’. There are feuds, tales, fights, laughs, tears, hope - and, of course, sex. A good night out by anyone’s standards.
Wind River - Leaves you cold
WIND RIVER
The action in the film is muscular and aggressive, finding dynamic and surprising ways to showcase intimate battle sequences (as well as some creative ways of getting into them).
The Farthest - A tribute to Voyager 40 years on
THE FARTHEST
‘The Farthest’ feels like a fitting tribute for the 40th anniversary of Voyager’s launch, a mission which allowed us to learn more about our solar system, and make our mark on the universe.
Barbecue - Grills run the world
BARBECUE
After 102 minutes of watching so much food on your screen, you are guaranteed to be ravenous. There is an emphasis on the community aspect of a barbecue, as the meal brings people together.
A Modern Man - A model life
A MODERN MAN
While this documentary is mostly a glory piece, if you like classical music and hot guys, you will enjoy 'A Modern Man’ - otherwise you might be left like I was, cold and unable to connect.
Blade Of The Immortal - Gloriously violent
BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL
‘Blade of the Immortal’ is a thrilling, complex and hugely fun action film. If this is the standard of Takashi Miike 100 films into his career as a director, I hope he gets to make 100 more.
I Am Not Your Negro - A powerful documentary
I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO
‘I Am Not Your Negro’ digs into the unhealed wound of racism, prejudice and oppression unapologetically and forces us to take a hard look at what oozes out.
PACmen - The rise and fall of Ben Carson
PACMEN
As Donald Trump is wont to say, "America does not like losers," and Walker mines comedy gold with ‘PACmen’ by illustrating why Ben Carson was exactly that.
Patti Cake$ - Off track
PATTI CAKE$
The best thing here is Danielle Macdonald, who has the presence and charisma to pull off her white female rapper character. Still, the formulaic material has been executed more impressively.
Chicken People - Pecking order in poultry breeding
CHICKEN PEOPLE
‘Chicken People’ is interesting, insightful, and a touch heart-warming. Plus, maybe audiences will learn something new about something many of us have probably only seen on a plate.
My Life As A Zucchini - A refreshing animation
MY LIFE AS A ZUCCHINI
‘My Life as Zucchini’ never sacrifices what’s true for what’s trite and easier to sell. This truly is animation as art.
Okja - Spectacularly over-the-top
OKJA
A Bong Joon-Ho film is forcefully imaginative and maddeningly erratic, a combination that can be annoying or intriguing, depending on your tolerance for extravagance.
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