Sydney Film Festival: Tangerine (2015)

The main selling point of Sean Baker’s Tangerine, a day-in-the-life melodrama centring on a small Los Angeles neighbourhood in which a pair of trans sex workers hunt down a cheating boyfriend, is that it was entirely shot on iPhone. While it’s not the first feature to boast this claim – cursory Googling suggests that Uneasy…

Sydney Film Festival: We Are Still Here (2015)

Modern horror is increasingly looking to the past for inspiration. There’re clever, nostalgic takes like You’re Next and It Follows. You’ve also got your remakes: the latest being the widely-derided Poltergeist. We Are Still Here shoots for the former category, but ends up missing the mark. Ted Geoghegan’s emulation of ‘70s haunted house films –…

Sydney Film Festival: Gayby Baby (2015)

Marriage equality in Australia is, at this stage, inevitable – and long overdue. Opponents of same-sex marriage have increasingly found their go-to arguments rendered obsolete or not fit for polite company. Even regressive politicians like Cory Bernardi try to avoid blatant homophobia (not always successfully), while religious dogma’s relevance continues to erode. The one argument…

Sydney Film Festival: Phoenix (2014)

I spent so long trying to untangle the allegorical and psychological underpinning of Christian Petzold’s post-Holocaust drama, Phoenix, that it took me a while to recognise how profoundly unmoved it left me. It’s not that I couldn’t embrace its implausible premise – where a concentration camp survivor (Nina Hoss) returns to her husband (Ronald Zehrfeld)…

Sydney Film Festival: Sherpa (2015)

On the 18th of April, 2014, an avalanche on the slopes of Mount Everest claimed sixteen lives; the worst accident in Everest history until the recent devastation of the Nepalese earthquake. The sixteen men that died were all Sherpas – underpaid Nepalese who risked and, ultimately, lost their lives on the treacherous Khumbu Icefall so…

Sydney Film Festival: Unexpected (2015)

It’s odd that one of the most dramatic, life-changing events of middle-class life – having a baby – tends to be an afterthought at the movies. Babies, more often than not, are presented as incarnations of a successful relationship. Look, they have a child now! Curtain goes down, happily ever after, etcetera. The impact of…

Sydney Film Festival: The Invitation (2015)

The Invitation sets a dinner party within a familiar horror movie setting: an expensive, (relatively) isolated mansion. Conspicuously comprehensive security, no mobile phone coverage, a creeping atmosphere of dread. Said mansion belongs to Eden (Tammy Blanchard) and David (Michiel Huisman), who are hosting a reunion of sorts after a sojourn to a ‘grief group’ in…

Sydney Film Festival: Nasty Baby (2015)

At first glance, Sebastián Silva’s Nasty Baby appears to slot neatly into the Noah Baumbach/Lena Dunham school of New York indie. You know the type. Loose, naturalistic dramas about trendy people in a trendy city, leavened with a hint of comedy before drifting towards Serious Issues that aren’t taken all that seriously. For most of…