Documentary Domination – Revelation Film Fest 2019

Documentaries are dominating at this year’s Revelation Film Festival. Diving deep into unique topics to provide a fresh, eye-opening perspective, these documentaries will challenge your preconceived ideas.

Elle Cahill

Stuffed
Documentary
USA

A light-hearted look into the world of taxidermy and the big players in the industry.

2
Stuffed
is a brilliantly made documentary about the art of taxidermy and its place in the modern world. It features interviews with a wide range of subjects, from veterans who have worked in museums for more than twenty years, to those who have turned taxidermy into an artform through experimentation, and newcomers who are looking to modernise the world of taxidermy and how it is perceived.

Director Erin Derham offers a well-rounded, international take on the industry and handles the subject with sensitivity. She tackles the topic with eyes wide open, showing the taxidermy process, including the removal of the skin from the dead animal and the manipulation of the corpse into a pose. It’s less shocking than you’d expect, and far more intriguing, as it’s all done in such a casual manner. The opening credits alone make this documentary one worth watching.

Midnight Family
Documentary
Mexico

A tense and uncomfortable look into the private ambulance system in Mexico City.

4

Midnight Family follows the Ochoa family, taking an intimate look into their ambulance service business. It provides an unflinching portrayal of multi-faceted issues, both on a human level as well as a political and economic level.

The Ochoa family are stuck between a rock and a hard place, wanting to help people in need of their service, but also needing money to survive. While you can certainly empathise with the difficulty of their situation, director Luke Lorentzen doesn’t hide away from the ugliness of their business. I was continually shocked by the brazenness of their actions, from taking people to a hospital further away as part of a paid agreement or having to approach people in grief to ask for money for their services.

There’s a strong sense of injustice that runs through the documentary; while the state-run ambulances clearly can’t keep up with the demand, the private ambulance services pursue accidents like hungry paparazzi, constantly bribing the police to be able to go about their work.

There’s a desperation at the core of Midnight Family that follows you long after the documentary has finished, showing the power it has to open a very small door to a much larger problem.

Hail Satan?
Documentary
USA

More political than expected, Hail Satan? is a look at American politics in a Trump era from a fresh perspective.

3

Hail Satan? explores the history of the Satanic Temple and its role in a Trump era America. Offering a safe space for people who don’t fit in with traditional religious organisations, the Satanists are presented as being more human and down-to-earth than first thought.

Taking a tongue-in-cheek approach, director Penny Lane is given access to a religion that has been vilified in the press by people who simply misunderstand their beliefs. While they are continued to be treated as outsiders to this day, the Satanists are mostly concerned with being moral and just citizens who support equality.

Hail Satan? is a fun yet intellectually driven documentary that shows the power a small group of people can have in unnerving the bullies that govern our countries.

The Revelation Perth International Film Festival screens from July 4-17 2019. Images courtesy of Revelation Perth International Film Festival.

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2019 Revelation Perth International Film Festival

July always brings two pieces of good news to Perth. Firstly, it means that we’re halfway through winter. Secondly, it means the Revelation Perth International Film Festival is back for another year! Here’s a snapshot of some of the films screening around Perth over the next fortnight.

Elle Cahill

Metal Heart
Feature Film
Ireland

A funny coming-of-age tale about twins who are worlds apart.

1
Metal Heart
follows fraternal twins Emma (Jordanne Jones) and Chantal (Leah McNamara) who are on the cusp of graduation from high school. Although they may have shared a womb, the two could not be more different. Chantal is blonde, perky, pretty twin who is convinced her venture as a skincare and make-up influencer will lead her straight into a profitable business as soon as high school is over. Emma, on the other hand, takes part in Goth culture, and is relying on university as her ticket out of her seemingly underwhelming existence.

When their parents go away for the weekend, the two seemingly swap lives, as Chantal becomes house bound after a minor crash, and Emma becomes determined to get her band going with her best friend Gary (Seán Doyle). Enter the charming but troubled neighbour Dan (Moe Dunford), and the twins plotting against each other reaches new heights.

Metal Heart is a charming young adult comedy about discovering yourself and the daunting move from adolescence to adulthood. It’s a story that could be set anywhere in the world, and it’s this connection with the teenage experience that makes it one to not be missed.

Cobby: The Other Side of Cute
Documentary
Australia

A fascinating look at the underbelly of childhood innocence…

3
Cobby: The Other Side of Cute
follows director Donna McRae as she travels to the US to seek out Cobby, a chimpanzee who starred in the TV show Cobby’s Hobbies back in the 1960’s. The show holds a lot of sentimental value to McRae, having helper her through some lonelier times in her childhood.

The documentary quickly turns from an expression of childhood glee into a poignant telling of the history of performing animals and animal cruelty. It’s a saddening documentary to watch, but McRae keeps it upbeat in reiterating how far humans have come in being able to emphasise with animals and animal rights. It’s also incredibly interesting to see people struggle to understand what their parents and the generations before them were thinking, despite performing animals being socially acceptable not that long ago.

Kursk
Feature Film
Belgium/Luxembourg

A nail-biting historical drama about a group of men fighting to survive underwater.

2

When a naval exercise on a Russian submarine goes terribly wrong, 95 men are instantly killed. Only 23 make it to a safe space within the submarine, with oxygen supplies slowly dwindling and a continuous flow of water gradually filling the cabin. Meanwhile, a political war wages on the surface, with Russia desperately trying to save face in front of the whole world.

Matthias Schoenaerts plays the lead role of Mikhail Averin, delivering a strong and very human performance as he attempts to keep the men alive for as long as possible. The film is incredibly tense, with scenes throughout only heightening the stakes as desperate acts are taken in the name of survival. The political scenes are infuriating and it’s shameful to watch Russia’s ego get in the way of saving their countrymen.

A great opening film for Revelation Film Festival and about a disaster from 2000 that could have been avoided.

Images courtesy of Revelation Perth International Film Festival

Recap of the 91st Academy Awards

Rhys Pascoe

Another year, another Oscars ceremony has been and gone. Green Book won Best Picture while Rami Malek and Olivia Colman’s portrayals of Freddie Mercury and Queen Anne earned them Best Actor and Actress accolades respectively. Let’s dissect some of biggest stories from Hollywood’s night of nights.

The safe option

Academy Awards - Green Book 2

What do you do when the Best Picture field is as varied as it was this year? If you’re the Academy, you choose Green Book, the safest option from eight very different films. Because let’s face it, the films that actually deserved to win (and had something powerful to say) were never going to get gold. Roma is black and white and not in English; Blackkklansman is too inflammatory and outspoken; The Favourite is too kooky and strange; A Star Is Born is a remake of a remake of a remake; and Black Panther is too mainstream.

Clearly, the only film that fits the bill – by having a palatable core message about tolerance and loving thy neighbour – is Green Book. It’s straightforward, pandering and comforting. It’s the film equivalent of a warm blanket and a mug of cocoa. It’s fine, but it’s a million miles from the best film of the year. But it could be worse; they could have given Best Picture to Bohemian Rhapsody.

We are the champions

Academy Awards - Bohemian Rhapsody

Speaking of Bohemian Rhapsody, it was the most awarded film of the night and none of the winners thanked its director (Bryan Singer). Let that sink in.

Easily the worst Best Picture nominee in years, Bohemian Rhapsody scored four wins – Best Actor, Editing, Sound Mixing and Sound Editing. Moving past the fact that it deserved none of them, the Academy proved itself tone deaf and clueless enough to heap praise on a film directed by an alleged paedophile only 12 months since Time’s Up took centre stage. Sure, you could argue that one man’s actions shouldn’t overshadow the whole film, but with its messy editing, acting and overall storytelling, Bohemian Rhapsody is not worth the acclaim anyway.

Wakanda forever

Academy Awards - Black Panther

Superhero films have won Academy Awards before, but none have won as many as Black Panther. Ryan Coogler‘s smash hit took home Original Score, Costume Design and Production Design, three richly deserved accolades that illustrate how the film brought the fictional nation of Wakanda, its people and its culture to life.

The colours, textures and overall design elements in Black Panther seamlessly melded traditional African patterns with cool futuristic elements, and Ludwig Göransson‘s score – complete with tribal drums and chanting and classic orchestral – was the icing on the cake.

Fallen star

Academy Awards - Star Is Born

Following its premiere at the Venice Film Festival in August, it seemed inconceivable that A Star Is Born would walk away from the Oscars with only a single accolade to its name. But it appears as though this star burned too bright too soon, burning up long before the home stretch. The long and short of it is this; Bradley Cooper was robbed of Best Actor and completely snubbed in the Best Director category. The decision to shower Bohemian Rhapsody with awards while ignoring A Star Is Born will go down as one of the more baffling decisions from this year’s baffling ceremony, especially after that goosebump-inducing performance of ‘Shallow’.

Yaas queen

Academy Awards - The Favourite

Possibly the biggest surprise of the night was Olivia Colman swooping in and stealing Best Actress from under Glenn Close‘s nose. The popular English actress fought through the tears to deliver the best speech of the show, as she spluttered her way through a list of thank yous and had the audience in stitches. Even though Close was the hot favourite, I was stoked to see Colman collecting her statue, and her visible shock exemplifies what makes the Oscars so special.

Other feel-good moments included Lady Gaga collecting her award for Best Original Song, Spike Lee leaping into Samuel L Jackson‘s arms after he won Best Adapted Screenplay, and the makers of Period. End of Sentence, a documentary that tackles the stigma around menstruation in rural India, winning Best Documentary Short Subject.

That’s all folks (until next year)

Truth be told, I’m glad this awards season is over. It’s been an absolute dumpster fire from start to finish. Controversy tends to find the Oscars in some shape or form year after year, but even by their abysmal standards, this year’s awards season has been nothing but dismal for The Academy.

From the Best Popular Film furore (the Oscars category nobody asked for) to the Kevin Hart hosting saga (he stepped down following controversy over old homophobic tweets), it’s been non-stop negative press for months. The ongoing outrage surrounding Bryan Singer (he has joined the growing ranks of men in Hollywood accused of sexual misconduct) has cast a shadow over proceedings, while internal decisions to trim down the runtime and halt a slide in viewership – such as the ill-conceived idea to present certain technical categories during the commercials – only served to alienate people who cared about the Oscars the most. When you’ve got guys like Alfons Cuarón and Guillermo del Toro expressing their dismay online only two weeks beforehand, you know you’ve really put your foot in it.

A shambolic affair from start to finish, I’m glad to see the back of this awards season. Worst of all, the headlines have shifted attention away from some excellent films from some of the greatest filmmakers working today.

Images courtesy of Universal Pictures (Green Book), Twentieth Century Fox (Bohemian Rhapsody & The Favourite), Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures (Black Panther), Roadshow Films (A Star Is Born). 

Best Films Of 2018

We’ve paid out the bad, now it’s time to celebrate the good. 2018 was an incredible year for cinema. Here’s our favourites from the year that was.

10. Isle Of Dogs 

“The Isle of Dogs is a visual feast for the eyes. The whole production team has put a lot of love and dedication into every minute detail of this film and the result is nothing short of outstanding,” – Josip Knezevic. 

04 April - Isle of Dogs

9. A Star Is Born

“Bradley Cooper’s first outing as a director is an exciting success, but the real star here is Lady Gaga. She lights up the screen with her incredible voice and the on-screen chemistry between her and Cooper makes for one hell of a ride,” – Elle Cahill.

A Star Is Born November 2018

8. A Quiet Place

“Few films are as adept at crafting tension as A Quiet Place; prepare to peer through your fingers, dig your nails into the armrest and squirm like you’ve got an eel in your undies,” – Rhys Pascoe.

04 April - A Quiet Place

7. Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse

“In a year completely overstuffed with superhero movies, one very late entry blows the whole lot of them away and manages to completely reinvigorate the genre. It’s also the most satisfying bang-for-your buck blockbuster extravaganza for 2018,” – Corey Hogan.

Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse December 2018

6. The Shape of Water

“Meticulous in its craftsmanship, every frame, facet and fabric in The Shape of Water is dripping with sumptuous detail, from the intricate sets and rich colours, to the grotesque design of the creature himself,” – Rhys Pascoe.

January 2018 - The Shape of Water

5. Hereditary 

Hereditary is trauma-inducing, nerve pounding, soul shredding satanic fun for the whole family. It’s yet another stunning debut from a director to watch, and another triumph from the ever-creative A24,” – Corey Hogan.

Hereditary June 2018

4. Mission Impossible – Fallout

“When Fallout gets going, boy does it let loose. From a breathless chase through tight Parisian streets to another dizzying dash across London rooftops, the action set pieces arrive one after the other, each more exciting than the last,” – Rhys Pascoe.

Mission Impossible Fallout July 2018

3. The Favourite

The Favourite is as delightfully fun as its trailers suggest. It’s a wild ride of back-stabbing and manipulation and it’s lead performance from Olivia Colman is unmissable,” – Elle Cahill.

image

2. BlacKkKlansman

BlacKkKlansman is funny and electric, placing a microscope on the issues that African American’s are still battling to this day. This brilliant, stranger-than-fiction story is definitely worth a watch,” – Elle Cahill.

August2018_BlacKkKlansman

1. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is an explosive first offering to 2018. It combines wit and sensitivity in a gritty story about one woman’s mission to find her daughter’s killer,” – Elle Cahill.

January 2018 - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

Honourable mentions: 
Widows 
I, Tonya 
Roma 
A Simple Favour 
The Wife 
American Animals 
Brother’s Nest 
Bad Times at the El Royale 

Isle of Dogs image courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox
A Star Is Born image courtesy of Roadshow Films
A Quiet Place image courtesy of Paramount Pictures
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse image courtesy of Sony Pictures
The Shape of Water image courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox
Mission Impossible – Fallout image courtesy of Paramount Pictures
The Favourite image courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox
BlackKklansman image © Universal Pictures 2018
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri image courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Worst Films of 2018

Here it is. The films of 2018 that made us cringe the most. The ones that made us roll our eyes and sigh. Check out our top picks for the most disappointing films of last year.

7. The Predator

“Backstories are hinted at but never explored. Plot points are established early and then forgotten. The larger hybrid Predator is completely underwhelming. And then, before you can blink, the climactic fight is over and something even more underwhelming happens: a sequel is teased” – Zachary Cruz-Tan

Predator

6. Fifty Shades Freed

“Like an impotent lover that never really attracted you in the first place, the Fifty Shades trilogy limps to an unsatisfying climax that leaves you feeling dirty and ashamed,” – Corey Hogan

February 2018 - Fifty Shades Freed

5. Venom

“Venom just washes over you, it’s neither entertaining nor horrifying enough to hold your attention. I found myself strangely bored by the mish-mash of ugly VFX, dark cinematography and uninspired design oozing from every frame,” – Rhys Pascoe

Venom October 2018

4. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald

“Rowling’s story comes across as convoluted fan fiction. It tends to favour side-characters delivering monologues and backstories that no one will be able to follow without a PhD in Pottermore,” – Corey Hogan

Fantastic Beasts Crimes of Grindelwald November 2018

3. Winchester

“The scares are both well-orchestrated and heart-pounding, but Winchester doesn’t bring anything original to the horror genre and at times it becomes predictable,” – Elle Cahill

February 2018 - Winchester

2. Submergence

“Submergence is a dull, tiresome plod through a series of events that are no doubt meant to be shocking and romantic, but simply end up resembling a dying fish flopping about on the shore. It is a joyless, merciless experience,” – Zachary Cruz-Tan

August2018_Submergence

1. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom follows a narrative that’s muddled with ridiculousness and built on poor foundations. It’s just as silly as The Fast and The Furious series, except here there are no excessive action sequences to offset the weak narrative and ensure the film is at least somewhat enjoyable,” – Josip Knezevic

Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom June 2018

The Predator image courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Fifty Shades Freed image (c) Universal Pictures 2018

Venom image courtesy of Sony Pictures 

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald image courtesy of Roadshow Films

Winchester image courtesy of StudioCanal

Submergence image courtesy of The Backlot Films

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom image (c) Universal Pictures 2018

Movie Review – McKellen: Playing The Part

And he’s still playing a part…

⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Elle Cahill

McKellen: Playing the Part takes a look at the life of stage and screen acting legend Sir Ian McKellen, tracking him from his time as a young boy, through to his career in the theatre world and his eventual move into the film industry. Filled with firsthand stories from McKellen, the documentary demonstrates the inspirational figure McKellen has been and continues to be in society.

While it largely relies on interviews with McKellen to narrate the story, the use of archival footage and photographs is actually the most interesting part. Director Joe Stephenson has been allowed unrestricted access into the life of a traditionally private man, and he takes full advantage of this privilege.

Stephenson doesn’t interview anyone other than McKellen for the entire duration of the documentary, which seems like a pretty big mistake. McKellen has worked with a host of brilliant actors including Dame Judi Dench, Dame Maggie Smith and Sir Patrick Stewart. Each of them could have added a different dynamic to the documentary with anecdotes about McKellen.

Stephenson attempts to get McKellen to open up and bring some rawness to the documentary, but this proves to be a bit of struggle. To be honest, it’s not really a surprise. McKellen has spent his entire career ‘playing the part’ during his interviews and press tours. No wonder it’s difficult to pull down his walls.

The documentary still has its emotional moments, however, especially when it comes to how McKellen hid his homosexuality until his early forties. His coming out was very public and he shares how he lost friends and lovers to the AIDS epidemic. Here we gain a real insight into parts of McKellen’s life that aren’t as well known, especially his strong activism around sexuality.

While it doesn’t quite reach the depth it needs, McKellen: Playing The Part is still a nicely made documentary that’s worth watching on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

McKellen: Playing The Part is available in Australian cinemas from September 27

Image courtesy of Icon Film Distribution 

Movie Review – I Am Paul Walker

The life of the late Paul Walker is told plainly in Adrian Buitenhuis’ new documentary.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Zachary Cruz-Tan

We all know of Paul Walker’s achievements as an actor, having starred in some of the most successful movies of our time. Some of us may also know that he was deeply fascinated by marine life and the preservation of the ocean. Maybe even fewer might know he was an avid car collector, a pricey hobby that turned the circumstances of his death into tragic irony. He seemed like a great guy, genuine, level-headed. I Am Paul Walker, the new documentary by Adrian Buitenhuis, recounts the man and the many things he did, though not always in exciting fashion.

It’s a real shame, because Mr. Walker was a complex figure, at least as detailed by the many relatives and friends who speak during the movie. He was primarily devoted to surfing, having grown up along the Californian coast, but his interests extended beyond the waves.

As a young boy, he was handsome and charismatic. He landed a few early acting roles alongside Michael Landon and Josh Brolin on Highway to Heaven. Then he decided to jeopardise his career by returning to his studies. He always dreamed of becoming a marine biologist. Then he acted again, this time as a strapping adult, and before he knew it he was a megastar, pulled away from the seas six months at a time.

He made millions very quickly but refused to succumb to the Hollywood life. Instead he’d vacation up in snowy mountains, go diving, wrestle Great Whites or revisit his love of surfing. The key to his appeal is that he never lost sight of who he was, even when fame propelled him above his reality.

All this is told simply and with great efficiency, but the movie is incredibly basic. It begins with Walker as a teen in 1988 and ends in 2013 with tears and regret. There’s home footage, standard interviews, serviceable music. Occasionally there’s a clip from one of his movies.

He strikes me as a man who always went back to his childhood, even when money and women flowed like a river around him. He treaded the line between fame and obscurity. Shouldn’t he deserve, I don’t know, something more than this film? For the life of me I can’t identify anything wrong with I Am Paul Walker. It’s perfectly vanilla. It tells the story it needs to and does it professionally. I’m just not sure it’s interesting enough. It needs to take risks, like he did.

I Am Paul Walker is available in Australian cinemas from 21 September 2018 

Image courtesy of The Backlot Films 

Movie Review – McQueen

Alexander McQueen was a famed fashion designer who sadly took his own life in 2010. The documentary McQueen explores the enigma of this creative genius and the path that led him to despair and loneliness.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ½
Elle Cahill

McQueen follows the short and tragic life of fashion designer Alexander McQueen, from his start as a tailor, all the way through his incredible shows and partnerships with major labels, until his death in 2010. It examines where his influences and inspirations came from, as well as the events that led him to suicide.

The documentary is not only for his fans, but also for those who are interested in visionaries of the modern world. McQueen was well-known for his daring take on fashion that made strong commentary on aspects of society. The documentary explores where McQueen got his ideas from, and how he translated this into runway fashion, with a determination to always top his last show.

Through the use of interviews with people who were close to McQueen, we begin to get an idea of the man who frequently shied away from the spotlight. Behind the scenes footage of his runway shows help to create an image of the chaotic world that he operated within, and personal videos and photographs of him also give a rare insight into the enigma that was McQueen.

As the documentary moves on, it slowly grows darker as the pressure of fame and fitting in to the modelling world began to impact McQueen. It also shows how fleeting life can be, and after a series of deaths of close loved ones, it all proved too much for McQueen.

McQueen is a brilliant documentary about an innovative fashion designer who was taken from this world too soon. Directors Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui have done a great job showcasing McQueen’s talent, while also exploring the underbelly of fame and the fashion industry.

McQueen is available in Australian cinemas from September 6 2018. 

Image courtesy of Madman Entertainment and © Salon Galahad Ltd 2018

 

Part 1: Revelation Perth International Film Festival 2018

The Revelation Perth International Film Festival is back for 2018! Screening from July 5-18, this is your chance to check out the latest and greatest in independent cinema. Featuring films and documentaries from Australia and all over the world, here’s a snippet of what’s on offer! Stay tuned for another sneak peak next week!

Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex, Fashion and Disco
Documentary
USA

Sex, fashion and disco – need we say anymore?

Elle Cahill

Revelation FF Antonio Lopez July 2018
Sex, Fashion and Disco chronicles the crazy, wild ride that was fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez’s career. The documentary features interviews from some heavyweights in the fashion and film industry such as Grace Coddington (American Vogue creative director) and Jessica Lange (American Horror Story), as well as wild stories about Karl Lagerfield, Jerry Hall, Grace Jones and Andy Warhol.

Tales are told, and old times are reminisced upon with joy and laughter from an era when sexuality was an experiment and drugs went hand-in-hand with the fashion industry. There are some poignant moments, such as the racism issue in America that drove Lopez away in the late 60’s, and the impact that the AIDs epidemic had on the fashion industry that brought about a sense of seriousness to the documentary, but director James Crump doesn’t delve too deeply into these matters.

Sex, Fashion and Disco is intended to take the audience on a mad trip back in time to a period when irresponsibility was to be favoured, and the fashion industry was at its peak, and it certainly achieves this.


More Human Than Human
Documentary
Netherlands

What does it mean to live in the age of intelligent machines? Two documentarians set out to find out.

Rhys Pascoe

Revelation FF More Human Than Human July 2018
For over a century, science-fiction cinema has heralded a future populated with synthetic robots and artificial intelligence, from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis to Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049. In their 78-minute documentary More Human Than Human, filmmakers Tommy Pallotta and Femke Wolting attempt to condense this abundance of ideas into a single streamlined premise; could a robot replace a filmmaker?

In partnership with a robotics lab, Pallotta and Wolting set to work rigging up a ‘camera bot’ that can read faces, frame its subject and pose questions to the ‘interviewee’, which in this case is Pallotta. In parallel to this, the documentarians scour the globe for case studies relating to the current state of artificial intelligence, conducting interviews and learning more about current innovations in the field.

While this pattern – cutting between case studies and the unfolding lab project – helps to structure the film, the two strands don’t always mesh seamlessly. While the main premise is interesting, it doesn’t have the same pull as the varied experiments that are touched on to flesh out the runtime.

All told, this tidy film has something to say about a wide range of technological marvels, and should make even the most ardent technophile feel a little on edge next time they boot up their smartphone or laptop.


Lost Gully Road
Feature Film
Australia

A film about a girl on the run, a bag of money, a spiritual entity, some shady side characters and some flickering lights… confused yet?

Elle Cahill

Revelation FF Lost Gully Road

On the run, Lucy (Adele Perovic) goes into hiding in an isolated house in the middle of a forest. As the days trickle by, she quickly descends into boredom, with her only form of entertainment coming from the once a day phone call from her sister to give her an update on the “situation”. A spiritual entity soon makes its presence known, further adding to Lucy’s paranoia and the feeling of isolation.

This spiritual entity is portrayed in a very similar way to Olivier Assayas 2016’s Personal Shopper, and is further emphasised through flickering lights and voyeuristic POV shots, but it doesn’t quite achieve the thrill or scariness that I think was intended.

Perovic does well with the material provided, particularly during her interactions with the spiritual entity and the physicality she brings to those scenes. Without giving too much more away, director Donna McRae has attempted to use Lost Gully Road to comment on the female experience in a male-dominated world, and the issue of consent. Unfortunately for me, the film doesn’t quite hit the mark, but I can understand what McRae was trying to achieve.


[Censored]
Documentary
Australia

An Australian documentarian goes looking for shocking material of old. Surprisingly, she’s upset when she’s shocked by it…

Corey Hogan

Revelation FF censored July 2018
[Censored] is the hour-long final product of Sari Braithwaite’s delve into Canberra’s extensive archive of clips cut from international films by Australian censors between 1951 and 1978. She presents her findings as an essay documentary and think-piece, slicing thematically linked clips together and intercutting with the rules and regulations of the Australian Censorship Board, commentating with her own opinion on what was deemed unacceptable for audiences back in the day, and what would surely pass without the bat of an eyelash in more modern, unshackled times.

Cinephiles and historians will no doubt revel in the mouth-watering smorgasbord of never-before-seen clips surgically removed from hundreds of films of the era, ranging from timeless classics like Ingmar Bergman’s Persona, to lesser-known gems and even a (potentially) educational video featuring a childbirth. Braithwaite states upon commencing that her goal was to liberate these filmmakers’ artistic visions from the conservative fuddy-duddies intent on muffling creativity. At first, she is true to her word, highlighting the ridiculousness of cutting simple scenes of kisses between couples and verbal arguments that drop a few F-bombs. Soon though, she begins to question the necessity of sex scenes, nudity, and violence – in particular violence against women – and it is up to us as an audience to decide whether we agree with her more contemporary opinion, or if we can appreciate these clips as a time capsule in the context of their films and period.

Personally, I found Braithwaite’s approach decidedly closed-minded and loaded with bias, but no doubt there will be a large crowd who agree with and find poignancy in how off-put she is by the shocking content here. Considering the amount of these taboos we see unabashedly in everything we watch these days, perhaps it’s consuming so much distressing media at once that had Braithwaite sympathising with the censors. However you feel about the topic [Censored] is certainly provocative in one way or the other.

Images courtesy of Revelation Perth International Film Festival 2018

Movie Review – Tea with the Dames

In Tea with the Dames, Roger Michell gives us a snapshot into the lives of four impressive icons of the stage and screen.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Zachary Cruz-Tan 

Roger Michell’s Tea with the Dames is pretty much what you’d expect. It is a cordial documentary spent in the company of four utterly charming and gracefully weathered dames of the British Empire, who have spent their lives on the stage and screen and now appear on screen once again to speak candidly over cups of tea.

The ladies are Joan Plowright, who married the invincible Laurence Olivier in 1961 and retired in 2014 when her declining eyesight made acting impossible; Eileen Atkins, who surrendered a career in dance to recite Shakespeare; Maggie Smith, remembered by many as Professor McGonagall from the Harry Potter movies; and Judi Dench, who reached cinema late in life and then gobbled it up.

According to an early blurb, all four women meet regularly to brush up on each other’s lives. This time, they’ve let the cameras and microphones in, an allowance they start regretting before the afternoon’s over.

It’s clear almost at once that they are immaculately private women. Their first conversation is awkward and quiet, with careful side-glances and uncomfortable silences. But as the day draws on and the talking moves from room to room, conversations begin to flow, sporadically prompted by Michell somewhere off-screen.

The women cover nothing of any real importance. Nothing that cannot be read off their Wikipedia pages or learned from old footage. They discuss their early days at The Old Vic, the magic and woes of marriage, growing old, the burden of superstardom. Sometimes they curse and other times they tease one another. You can tell they’ve had these conversations before, many times, and are tired of having to repeat themselves.

But they are tremendous sports, and brighten the camera as only such heroes can. It is precisely that they’ve known each other for decades that makes Tea with the Dames such a fascinating and enjoyable experience. Sometimes we’re not even interested in what they’re talking about, but the language they employ and the humour with which they deliver it endear us to their shared experiences.

There’s not much else to say about a documentary in which the characters do nothing but talk. I can only express how I felt while watching them, and I think I had a smile across my face for most of it. I certainly laughed a lot. And if you have an appreciation for beautiful, fiercely forthright ladies who know how to command the screen, you will too.

Tea with the Dames is available in Australian cinemas from June 7 

Image courtesy of Transmission Films