Tuesday, 9 August 2016

August 11th - this week:  
Louder Than Bombs
Down Under
Indian Film Festival

Yet another fabulous film festival comes to our screens - it's Bollywood and Beyond in the Indian Film Festival. Also three new releases, from a drama about a grieving family, to a wacky Aussie comedy, to a heartwarming tale of impending death, friendship  and a dog.  

Louder Than Bombs
Director: Joachim Trier
Length: 109 mins

© Sharmill - Huppert and Byrne: strong on-screen chemistry
Isabelle Huppert is always a wonderful screen presence. In this story she features mainly in flashback as a respected war photographer, Isabelle, who has died in a car crash, leaving her husband Gene (Gabriel Byrne) and two sons to grieve, and to organise a retrospective of her photos. Gene has trouble coping with his taciturn youngest son, (wonderful perf by Devin Druid) while a newspaper article about Isabelle threatens to unearth some skeletons in the closet. This is an interesting study of grief and of memory, that at times gets a bit fragmented and airy-fairy, but still has plenty to recommend it, not least the great acting. 

3.5 - Recommended!
For my full review:

Down Under
Director: Abe Forsythe
Length: 90 mins

© StudioCanal - The "Lebs" head out to battle the "Skips". 
Plenty of people may not agree with my delight in this film, but I really laughed at this clever, politically incorrect comedy set in the wake of the Cronulla riots a decade back. Two carloads of hotheads, one full of Lebanese and the other full of Ockers go out to brawl and take revenge. Laughs are generated from the fact that both sides say and do really stupid things (stupid knows no racial boundaries!), and there are enough unexpected surprises to keep it from formulaic territory.  Best of all, some serious food for thought lurks behind the laughter, and the sobering ending shows the ultimate upshot of dumb prejudice.  

3.5 - Recommended!
For my full review:

Director: Cesc Gay
Length: 108 mins

© Palace  Darin and Camara  - a beautiful friendship
A crowd-pleaser at this year's Spanish Film Festival, Truman is actually the name of a dog. Julian, a middle-aged actor, is dying of cancer and refusing further chemotherapy. His childhood friend Tomas comes to spend time, and the two friends bumble along together, chatting, reminiscing, laughing, re-connecting with Julian's son, and trying to find a new owner for Truman. This is a sweet and gentle film with much to say about male friendship (seldom so well-depicted on film), and about choosing how to die. The two actors Ricardo Darin and Javier Camara are among the best in the world of Spanish film.  

4 - Wholeheartedly recommended!
For my full review:

Indian Film Festival
August 11 - 20
Hoyts Melbourne Central and Highpoint

Many people think of Indian film as nothing more than the dance, colour and music associated with Bollywood. They rarely think of India's film industry being associated with serious drama. Every year IFFM gives viewers a chance to see movies from different regions of the sub-continent that speak to deeper issues in life (which is not to say that there isn't a healthy dose of Bollywood entertainment too!) I love Bollywood, but this year have previewed a number of films that fall into a less frivolous category. Several of them reflect this year's festival theme, the empowerment of women. 

Parched: The opening night film is an exquisitely filmed drama set in Rajasthan, where women living in the villages are victims of serious gender inequality. It tells of three friends, one a dancer, one a woman desperate to conceive a child, and one bringing up a boy who is running wild. All are brutalised either physically or mentally by men. The women start to see a glimmer of hope that they can change their lives and break free from these archaic traditions that subjugate them. A film like this is especially important given the horrendous sex crimes in India widely publicised over the last couple of years. 

©  - Sharon Hurst   Duck herder in southern India -
from my own trip to Kerala. 

Ottaal: Winner of the Crystal Bear at the Berlin Film Festival Ottaal is a gentle story of a boy, Kuttappayi, and his grandfather who live in India's southern area of Kerala where they herd ducks. They are poor, and Kuttappayi would love to go to school. The only friend he has is from a rich family where he is not welcome. The heart-breaking story follows what happens as Grandfather falls ill and can no longer care for the lad. If you've ever travelled down the Kerala backwaters amid the duck herds, don't miss this moving delicate film. 

Waiting: A Tara, a modern young women, waits in a hospital to hear the results of a brain scan on her injured husband. There she meets  the elderly Shiv who has been visiting his wife who has been in a coma for eight months. The two strike up a friendship that manages to bridge the age gap, and provide moments of amusement, amid the pain, as the two butt heads over language and world outlooks. This is a beautiful film about love, loss, friendship and the universal things that span all ages. 

Bridge: A lonely elderly widower is about to leap into the Ganges from a bridge, when he notices a young woman bent upon the same self-destruction. In a flash he dashes over and saves her and takes her home. Her psychologically traumatised condition makes her a challenge, but gradually, with the help of the old man and his caring servants, things take a turn for the better. Again this film is gentle, if at times a little melodramatic, with its major message being one of hope, friendship, compassion and better treatment for Indian women. 

4 - Wholeheartedly Recommended!
For details of all the films, awards ceremonies, guests and special events head to 

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