5. Together Together
These types of indie films are almost destined to be left out in bigger conversations, think of “Private Life” or “Maggie’s Plan”. Who knows why, maybe they have a certain sense of humor that doesn’t necessarily appeal to everyone, or the majority of people just don’t like to look at parenthood, friendships or romantic relationships from different, more unexpected angles since we have more taboos than we think we do have. Writer-director Nikole Beckwith has shot the film in only 17 days, which is quite impressive.
The film follows Anna who works as a barista in a café. She would love to go to college, which she couldn’t do after high school because she got pregnant. Anna is interviewed by Matt in his forties, who has made it to a certain degree as an app developer. He is looking for a woman who will carry a child for him. Then they come to an agreement. This is a surprisingly funny and tender film and not here just for the quirks of the lead characters or anything. It’s actually very sensitive on its subject, which one might call thought-provoking. Even when the film ends, you might find yourself discussing what happens to the characters aftermath of the events in the film.
It’s the 1980s and Argentina is a military dictatorship. The Swiss private banker Yvan De Wiel travels to Buenos Aires with his wife Inés to look for his partner René Keys, who has disappeared without a trace, but there are no clues… maybe I should stop here because it doesn’t make much sense to talk about what more happens in the plot. This is a slow-burn film but when you invested in the story, it won’t bore you or anything. In fact, the narrative is so well structured that it only makes the story more creepy and disturbing. It’s visually engrossing as well. The director Andreas Fontana has so many polished surfaces all around the film but that’s the point; it makes what is inside more scary.
In clever dialogues, “Azor” tells of the mechanisms and the paradigm shift in the international financial world without getting tangled up in theoretical constructs. The focus is on our main character, how he tries to penetrate the web of power and greed and constantly has to readjust his integrity. Its quietness makes you question the things; all the deception and self-delusion going on. The crimes of dictatorship, financial colonialism and so much more. It bit leaves up to you to analyze everything and come up with answers yourself.
3. The Dry
Federal Agent Aaron Falk, who left his home nest 20 years ago, returns to Kiewarra to attend the funeral of a childhood friend. Luke is believed to have killed his wife and child before he committed suicide. While Falk is loath to confront the townspeople who rejected him twenty years earlier, the circumstances around the deaths compel him to dig deeper into the events leading up to all these. “The Dry” is the 2016 debut novel by Australian author Jane Harper which sold over a million copies worldwide and its film adaptation had enough success in its native Australia but seemingly struggled to get much attention from the rest of the world which is a shame since it’s one of the finest Australian films of the recent years.
The film was shot in the Australian state of Victoria, which is known for its long periods of heat and thus not only reflects the setting of the novel but also lets Connolly’s film sometimes seem like a kind of neo-noir, albeit in merciless heat and brightness. The atmosphere is so well used here, you get the sense of shiny, light places but inside, you feel that this paradise-looking place might be the hell for our characters. And just like a great noir, you get invested in this story of investigation which also reveals a lot about our main character’s past traumas, and Eric Bana, in one of his best performances, comes up with a richly written character that keeps you interested. In the end, you get a film that works both as an entertaining mystery film and a very good character study.
Let’s follow an Australian film with another film from Australia. This time a little controversial one. In a case you don’t know, in 1996 a mass shooting happened in Port Arthur, Tasmania by the murderer Martin Bryant. The 35 people were killed and 23 others were wounded in a tragic event. He pleaded guilty and was given 35 life sentences without the possibility of parole. It became the worst single-person mass shooting in Australia’s history, and is still one of the worst recorded worldwide. So, the movie about his life and what eventually led to tragedy will always be controversial. Some even condemned to make a film about it.
It’s certainly a disturbing film, and they didn’t even add anything much to make the story more interesting or anything. Almost all of those things did actually happen and Justin Kurzel finds the right cinematic language for his film, creating a chilling atmosphere. Caleb Landry Jones won a very well deserved best actor award at Cannes for his incredible performance, but Judy Davis is almost as good. Even Anthony LaPaglia gives a heartbreakingly strong performance. It’s hard to call it “underrated” when it almost swept the Australian Academy Awards but who knows for distribution problems or whatever, the movie didn’t get worldwide attention. Yet, it should. It’s a remarkable psychological portrait of a disturbed man and a shocking story, told incredibly well.
1. Boiling Point
Andy Jones, the owner and head chef of the London luxury restaurant “Jones & Sons”, is already stressed that day before he even starts his work. It’s Christmas time and all tables are overbooked. When he learns that the restaurant has been downgraded from five to three stars, it doesn’t exactly help but more and more things are yet to come. If you think it’s stressful to work in restaurants, you’re right but you have no idea how. It’s hard to make a great one-shot film, a full-length movie filmed in one long take by a single camera, or manufactured to give the impression it was. It’s not only hard on a technical level, but it’s hard to use it in a meaningful way.
You can get criticized for its use as being just a gimmick that doesn’t add anything to the story but is only here to wow the audience. That’s what makes the “Boiling Point” so great. Here the style fully serves to the story, they become one and it only makes the film more thrilling and exciting to watch. You feel the anxiety and stress the whole kitchen goes through and being able to make a compelling drama/thriller with a subject like this requires incredible talent. The amazing ensemble cast, led by terrific Stephen Graham is just a treat to watch. Even when the storytelling dips, the director’s well-executed one-take conceit carries us right through it. This is a consistently exciting, tense, the adrenaline-packed film in search of a bigger audience.