Tagged: Sydney Film Festival

Love & mercy Still

Icon Film Distribution is proud to announce that the Australian premiere of LOVE & MERCY will be held at Sydney’s State Theatre on Sunday June 7, 2015.  As announced last month, the film will be featured as part of the 2015 Sydney Film Festival with its first festival screening serving as the Australian Premiere.

We all know the music, but few know the true story of musical genius, Brian Wilson and his struggles with brilliance and balance.  Whilst his music shaped our lives, it would be the love of one special woman who saved his.

First time director, Bill Pohlad puts his experience as a producer on films such as 12 Years a Slave, The Tree of Life and Brokeback Mountain to good use.  In LOVE & MERCY he paints an unconventional portrait of Wilson, interweaving seminal moments from his youth and later life.

The role of Brian Wilson is masterfully shared between Paul Dano (12 Years a Slave, Little Miss Sunshine) as the younger, 1960s Brian; and John Cusack (Maps to the Stars, High Fidelity) as Wilson in the 1980s.  The film explores the many challenges Brian has faced, both from his point of view in his younger years; and from the perspective of his now wife, Melinda (Elizabeth Banks) when she meets Brian in his 40s and under the questionable medical care of Dr. Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti).

The Beach Boys were already experiencing chart topping success with Surfin’ Safari, I Get Around, Help Me Rhonda, California Girls and Good Vibrations when Brian found himself driven to move in a new musical direction.  Whilst this would ultimately lead to the creation of what is widely ranked as one of the greatest albums of all time – Pet Sounds – and songs like Wouldn’t It Be Nice, Sloop John B and God Only Knows; it also lead to the band breaking up and Brian breaking down.

The films shows  Brian becoming more and more isolated from his family and friends to the point where he seems to have been signed over into the care of Landy who seems determined, through overmedication and other manipulations, to keep Brian away from all real connections to the world.  When Melinda Ledbetter enters his life, their mutual attraction becomes a bond that the oppressive doctor cannot break.

As few biopics about musicians do, LOVE & MERCY offers a hopeful and happy ending – one that continues to play out in reality today.  Brian Wilson’s music continues to resonate with existing as well as new audiences every day.  Wilson’s 11th solo album, NO PIER PRESSURE was released earlier this year to critical acclaim.  One Kind of Love which is featured on the new album and also in the film has just been recognised as “Best Original Song” at the Nashville Film Festival.  More importantly (and even more rare) Brian and Melinda are still together and still in love.

LOVE & MERCY debuted to a standing ovation at the Toronto Film Festival and has continued to garner critical acclaim including from its showings at the Berlin Film Festival and the South By Southwest Festival.

Words used to describe LOVE & MERCY include, “compelling” (Collider); “dreamy and delirious” (Indiewire); “deeply satisfying” (The Hollywood Reporter); “emotionally exhilarating” and “exquisite” (HitFix); “engrossing” (Indiewire); “extraordinary” (The Washington Post) “tender” (BBC.com) and “touching” (Screen International).

Critics have also hailed the dual performances from Dano and Cusack as, “career-topping performances”; (Indiewire); “groundbreaking” (The Washington Post); “phenomenal” (Bloody Disgusting) and “uncanny” (Mashable Australia). Best known for her work as a comedic actress, Elizabeth Banks has also attracted praise for her career-redefining dramatic performance she gives in the film.

It seems likely that its screenings at the Sydney Film Festival will no doubt attract similar accolades for LOVE & MERCY including the film’s unique style and excellent performances.
Perhaps the best reactions are those from the man who lived the story, Brian Wilson himself

Only God Forgives

Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn and starring Ryan Gosling and Kristin Scott Thomas, ONLY GOD FORGIVES has been awarded the Sydney Film Prize at the 2013 Sydney Film Festival.

Following its world premiere at Cannes, this daring piece of cinema has continued to provoke debate amongst critics and filmgoers.  After much discussion, the SFF jury united in their decision to recognise the movie with this prestigious award.

Releasing in cinemas on July 18, the film is the second collaboration between its director and star who first worked together on 2011’s Drive.  It is also the second time the festival has recognised Winding Refn’s work (Bronson won the competition here in 2009).

Pleased with news of the film’s win, Nicolas Winding Refn commented, “I am very honoured and extremely excited to have received this honourable award from a country that, in my opinion, has one of the great film histories of the world.”  The writer/director has previously described his movie as, “a stream of consciousness… based on real emotions but set in a heightened reality.”

The stylish revenge thriller stars Ryan Gosling as Julian, who runs a boxing club in Bangkok as a front for his family drug business.  When his brother savagely murders a young prostitute, he is killed as retribution.  The matriarch of the family – and of the criminal organisation – Crystal, arrives to retrieve her son’s body.  Crazy with rage and thirsty for vengeance, she demands that Julian brings the heads of those responsible.  To do so he must face both the local figurehead of divine justice and his own personal demons.

Kristin Scott Thomas gives a chilling and abrasive powerhouse performance as Crystal, with standout dialogue that the actress has commented took her several takes to say.  Conversely, the withdrawn and tortured nature of Julian is brilliantly communicated by Gosling without the aid of much dialogue.  The film’s mood is further enhanced by the mesmerising Cliff Martinez soundtrack.

Icon CEO, Greg Hughes thanked the Sydney Film Festival for the award and for their continued support of “bold and visionary filmmakers like Nicolas Winding Refn”.  He further stated, “Icon is proud to be bringing ONLY GOD FORGIVES to Australian and New Zealand audiences.”

ONLY GOD FORGIVES will release In Cinemas July 18
Releasing on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital on November 20