9 items from 2017
The latest film from Warwick Thornton possesses both shocking cruelty and haunting beauty with its tragic tale of tensions in the outback
Sweet Country is Old Testament cinema, with an almost biblical starkness in its cruelty and mysterious beauty, set in a burning plain where it looks as if the sun-bleached jawbone of an ass could at any moment be picked up and used as a murder weapon.
The director Warwick Thornton is an Australian film-maker who made a superb debut with Samson And Delilah in 2009 and now raises his game still further with this brutally powerful outback western, written by Steven McGregor and David Tranter and set in the 1920s Northern Territory. It’s a place where white men are traumatised by the heat, hardship and memories of serving the motherland in the first world war, and where Indigenous Australians are treated with casual racism as virtual plantation field-hands, »
- Peter Bradshaw
“We’re all equal in the eyes of the Lord,” says a benevolent rural preacher in the opening scenes of “Sweet Country” — but the Lord’s eyes are evidently cast far from Alice Springs, the ravishing but spiritually soured landscape against which Warwick Thornton’s graceful, soulful, quietly incendiary Outback western unfolds. Marked by the same poise and care with which Thornton’s 2009 debut “Samson and Delilah” exposed the present-day marginalization of Australia’s Aboriginal community, the director-cinematographer’s second purely narrative feature probes the same social injustice in the bitterly divided frontier society of 1929, where one black man’s necessarily violent act of self-defense brings the white population’s most toxic racist dogma to the fore. The spare, classical chase drama that ensues is seeded with barbed observations on colonialism, cultural erasure and rough justice, kept poetically succinct by Thornton’s lithe, soaring visual storytelling.
Stately but universally accessible in its deft genre touches and border-crossing »
- Guy Lodge
Memento Films International has unveiled the official trailer of Warwick Thornton’s Australian western drama “Sweet Country” which is having its world premiere in competition at Venice Film Festival on Wednesday and is set to close Toronto’s competitive Platform section.
Set in the outback of Australia’s Northern territory, “Sweet Country” revolves around the encounter between Sam, a middle-aged Aboriginal man working for a preacher, and Harry, a bitter war veteran. Sam’s relationship with the cruel and ill-tempered Harry quickly deteriorates, culminating in a violent shootout in which Sam kills Harry in self-defence. Becoming a wanted criminal, Sam is forced to flee with his wife across the harsh desert country; but as the true details of the killing start to surface, the community begins to question whether justice is really being served.
Transmission will distribute “Sweet Country” in Australia on Oct »
- Elsa Keslassy
Venice, Italy – A bevy of Hollywood talent — including Oscar winners George Clooney, Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Jennifer Lawrence and Octavia Spencer — is heading to the Venice Film Festival, which opens its 74th edition Wednesday evening amid growing confidence in its role as an awards-season launching pad.
Leading a robust roster of studio pics premiering on the Lido is social satire “Downsizing,” the festival’s opening film, directed by Alexander Payne and starring Damon, Kristen Wiig and Hong Chau, who will all be on the red carpet for the opening ceremony Wednesday evening.
At a press conference earlier in the day Damon said that “Downsizing,” in which he plays a man who agrees to have himself shrunk down in order to live luxuriously in a government resort, “shows a likeable character whose life is different from our own, but whom we can find common cause with »
- Nick Vivarelli
Even before it kicks off on Aug. 30, the Venice Film Festival has bolstered its growing reputation as a launching pad for awards-season titles.
More so than in past editions, a deluge of English-language pics, including new works by Alexander Payne, George Clooney, Darren Aronofsky and Benicio Del Toro, will be world-premiering on the Lido during the fest’s first few days, before segueing to Telluride and Toronto. This year there is a greater number of movies that all three events just had to have, which is causing scheduling headaches and added stress for talent and publicists, plus more costs, of course. But apparently it’s worth it.
“We all wanted those particular seven, eight or 10 titles, which made things a little bit more complicated,” says Venice artistic director Alberto Barbera. “I’m only happy if a film I’ve chosen also goes to Telluride or Toronto.”
The point being: after launching multiple Oscar winners four years in »
- Nick Vivarelli
Australia’s fantasies about its past are a real problem, says the Indigenous director ahead of the world premiere of his new film, We Don’t Need A Map
The Indigenous, Alice Springs-born artist, best-known for directing 2009’s devastatingly brilliant Samson and Delilah, generated considerable controversy when he raised that prospect – expressing concern it was going to happen, rather than stating it had – seven years ago.
Continue reading »
- Guardian Staff
Warwick Thornton.s We Don.t Need A Map will open this year.s Sydney Film Festival, with the event also marking the documentary.s world premiere..
We Don't Need A Map will compete in the festival.s Official Competition. Among the 12 films in the running for the $60,000 prize are Aussie theatre director Benedict Andrew.s debut feature Una, which stars Ben Mendelsohn, as well as Sofia Coppola.s Beguiled.and Michael Haneke.s Happy End, both of which will come to the festival from Cannes.
Overall the festival program boasts 288 films from 59 countries, including 37 world premieres. Bookending the fest will be Korean director Bong Joon-ho.s Cannes film.Okja, »
- Jackie Keast
In the first part of Hollywood’s Golden Era when classic beauties such as Gene Tierney, Greta Garbo, Jean Harlow, Marlene Dietrich and Merle Oberon ruled the screen, Heddy Lamarr was the fairest of them all. In fact, her face became the inspiration for Walt Disney’s animators when they created the Snow White figure. By any measure except critical acclaim, Lamarr had a successful career. She starred in blockbusters like Cecile B DeMille’s Samson and Delilah and the steamy White Cargo (that had her impersonating a woman of color). And given the chance, she did hold her own against some of...read more »
- Greg Ptacek
What would an awards show be without an accolade for Meryl Streep? At Sunday night’s Golden Globes ceremony, the living treasure was the only talent able to walk into the auditorium with advance knowledge of her win, thanks to her previously announced Cecile B. DeMille Award win.
The HFPA’s version of a Lifetime Achievement award, the Cecile B. DeMille Award is given to recipients for “outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment.” Named after the legendary director of such films as “Cleopatra,” “Samson and Delilah” and “The Ten Commandments,” the award was first given out in 1952 and has been doled out continuously since, save for the 1976 and 2008 ceremonies, where it was not awarded to anyone.
Streep’s honor was — appropriately enough — introduced by America’s other best living actress, Viola Davis, »
- Kate Erbland
9 items from 2017
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