Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Aussies go Canuck, Part II

In case you missed part 1, I'm just doing a bit of a web/Twitter round-up of how the Aussie films are faring at the Toronto International Film Festival. Part one featured The Loved Ones (with Xavier Samuel), Bruce Beresford's Mao's Last Dancer and the Spierig Brothers' big cast vampire flick Daybreakers.

Robert Connelly's Balibo is a film that I didn't expect to travel well since it deals with a moment of Australian history that strikes such a chord with Aussies, but might fly right over those from overseas. It appears I was wrong as the message has gotten out. On Twitter it has been called "amazing" and a "must see film" (@solotraveler), "powerful in the end" (@ashleybrett), "a stellar film" (@albertwisco), and it made @phishy123 feel "angry, sad and disgusted". That's a good thing. "First excellent film I've seen in the festival" and "Highly recommended" (@diggininthedirt) is mighty high praise, so too is "masterfully crafted portrayal. It was real, raw, tragic and I haven't stopped thinking about it. Well DONE!" (@klyster).

There are plenty of reviews for the film (here's mine) since it was released in theatres here a little over a month ago. Some of the reviews out of Toronto however include Moviehole (an Australian site, but featuring reviews from Toronto of Australian films - yes) says "perhaps one of the most powerful and emotional films of the year" and calls it an "astonishing, accomplished and compelling" and the film received a standing ovation. More Aussie reviews can be found collated at the TIFF website.

Rachel Perkins' Bran Nue Dae probably headed to Toronto to become the next Slumdog Millionaire (just look at the poster there to the right). A Feel good musical with big energy, lots of colours and exotic locals. While that certainly won't be the case, it's getting some great write-ups. Tederick.com says it is "atrocious good fun if you let yourself go with it, and is a sunny way to spend a morning, or evening, or night" and that it's "sloppy, messy, like a big wet kiss from a round girl on a hot summer day."

On Twitter people are saying that it is "good fun" and that "Geoffrey Rush turns in a great comic performance" (@canmark), "Bran Nue Dae may have been the best of my Toronto films this year" (@chicagobliss), "Geoffrey Rush ... was brilliant in Bran Nue Dae!" (@kaiexos) and "such a great film to start the day with! Missy Higgins is a riot" (@scolford). Was good to hear (via @kcobuffalo) that the film's screenings were sold out. Geoffrey Rush was there, although it's a bit disappointing they couldn't fly anyone else over. Not Missy Higgins or Jessica Mauboy? Darn.

I can't say Scott Hicks' latest feature (he's nominated at the upcoming AFI Awards for his documentary on Phillip Glass) has me very excited, but the word out of Toronto for The Boys are Back is very encouraging. Variety has gotten in early and says it is "impressive that director Scott Hicks steers clear of the maudlin and the manipulative" and that "Hicks here delivers an intimately scaled character piece that many will consider his finest work since 1996's "Shine." ScreenDaily is very impressed too, saying "His (Hicks) adaptation of Simon Carr’s memoirs offers a sensitive, expertly crafted exploration of the bond between a father and his sons. It has the same understanding of male emotions as a Nick Hornby bestseller and could be that rare warmhearted weepie with an appeal that spans the genders and generations.

Screen Rant thinks is especially impressed by Clive Owen, saying it "might be the best of his career". While I find that hard to believe (Closer? Croupier?) the reviewer (John Foote) says he "goes places as an actor he has never gone before", so that's good to hear. Meanwhile, Cinematical thinks "his younger co-stars are scene-stealers", but unfortunately " it's not in a perfectly formed package."


The cast and the director at their photo call.

On Twitter it's similarly full of praise. "Great performances, especially by young Nicholas McAnulty" (@OrmigaDesign), " beautifully told story. Well acted by both young and old" (@GJD) and "easily the best movie I've seen at #TIFF09" (@mariaaguilar).

Meanwhile they don't have reviews but Indiewire is stating that Thelma Adams of US Weekly has given it a B and Susan Wloszczyna of USA Today has given it a B-.

So Australian films keep kicking goals (THAT'S A SPORT TERM!) in Toronto. I'll have another roundup soon.

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