Goldstone Mines Australia’s Murky Past

Goldstone, Ivan Sen’s sequel to 2013’s Mystery Road, begins with sepia-toned photographs of Australia’s past. White families gathered around dining room tables. Gold miners dusted with grime. Indigenous children bedecked in white frocks. A procession of Chinese immigrants walking through the centre of a mining town. These photographs simultaneously hint at Goldstone’s allegorical intent as…

Patchwork (2015)

The filmmakers behind Patchwork – writer/director Tyler MacIntyre and his co-writer Chris Lee Hill – have an obvious affection for classic horror cinema. It’s not merely the way their story remixes the familiar Frankenstein mythology into a three-brained she-zombie (Tori Stolper/Tracey Fairaway/Maria Blasucci), complete with an 8-bit cameo of Frankenstein’s monster. But from the Maniac homage…

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015)

Indie sensation Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a proven crowd-pleaser, with Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s film’s easy, cutesy humour and plethora of classic movie references earning it Audience Awards at Sydney and Sundance. It’s certainly entertaining enough. But the exceedingly twee title also hints at its incessant solipsism, with the “Me” of the title…

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…