Author: Amanda Clarke

Review: American Pastoral

There is something to be said for easing yourself into new things. This is advice that Ewan McGregor could have used before diving head first into his first directing project. There is a great deal of ambition behind his debut, American Pastoral. An adaptation of a Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Phillip Roth, you can sense the complexity of ideas that made the source material such an acclaimed work. Unfortunately, the film only hints at the issues underlying the social and political upheaval in the 1960s. Told in a flashback, the film centres around Seymour “Swede” Levov (played by...

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ImagineNATIVE 2016 Review: Born to Dance

For Tu (Tia-Tahoroa Maipi), dance is his ticket away from a life in the army. When K-Crew, the country’s premier dance group, puts out an open call for new members, Tu jumps at the chance of stardom. If you’ve seen any contemporary dance film, you know exactly how Born to Dance is going to turn out. Director Tammy Davis has not set out to reinvent the wheel. Instead, he has focused on making an enjoyable, if predictable film. Davis has collected a group of young attractive actors who also have mad dance skills. Born to Dance brings a different flavour of hip hop...

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Planet in Focus 2016 Review: In Pursuit of Silence

In Pursuit of Silence explores the human relationship to noise and sound and examines the importance of silence. Taking John Cage’s 4’33” as it’s reference point, In Pursuit of Silence asks us to reexamine our acoustic surroundings. Like Cage has done with 4’33”, director Patrick Shen has created an intelligent work that raises important questions about how we perceive our everyday surroundings. Shen has created a complex web of connections, linking urbanization and the increase in mechanical noise directly to elevated stress and other health concerns. Shen is careful to consider all the aspects of silence. He talks with philosophers, musicians, health...

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Planet in Focus 2016 Review: Costa Da Morte

The coastline of Galicia, located in Northern Spain, is notorious for its dangerous waters. Nicknamed “coste de morte” or “coast of death”, it is a place of frequent shipwrecks. The film explores the power of the coastline and the stories of the inhabitants. For a film about shipwrecks, Costa da Morte spends very little time on them. Instead, director Lois Patiño presents his film almost entirely in extremely long shots of the endless ocean. The sounds of the crashing waves create the film’s soundtrack, mingling with the voiceovers of the island’s inhabitants as they tell their stories. Everything is dwarfed by the vastness of...

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Review: Unless

When contemplating the big picture, Unless is nothing special. It’s a simple story; that of a middle-class family thrown into chaos when their oldest daughter, Norah (Hannah Gross), shows up on the street outside of Honest Ed’s, mute and clutching a sign that reads “goodness”. A series of images of the family desperately trying to get her to come home, or at least speak to them, make up the bulk of the film. The cinematography is a bit spotty, never quite deciding if it’s going for a documentary handheld feel, or if it would like to capture a slightly more...

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Review: Two Lovers and a Bear

The first thing you notice in Two Lovers and a Bear is the snow. It stretches across the screen creating an endless winter wonderland. There is an immediate feeling of cold that is rarely seen on screen. The actors are all bundled up in baggy snow pants and winter coats,with balaclavas and ski goggles obscuring their faces. Clouds of their breath engulf their heads every time they speak and their faces have that red, windswept look that comes from spending hours out in bitter winds. It is a winter that is completely authentic and pleasantly familiar for those of us who live...

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Review: The Girl King

There’s a lot to be admired in The Girl King. For one, it features a truly remarkable female lead from history. King Kristina of Sweden, who ruled from 1632-1654 and was one of the most educated and respected women of her era. An only child and therefore the only heir, she was raised as a boy. She is one of only three women to be buried at the Vatican. There is also the casting. Malin Buska cuts a striking figure as Queen Kristina, dominating the screen. She doesn’t exactly chew the scenery, but she bulldozes her way through every scene...

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