Category: Film Festivals

Summary:  A fictitious 1980s Japan. Soji, a soldier on furlough, returns to his country. He receives a request from Haya, who was sent from the World Bank, to help her on a mission to investigate the actual circumstances of a narcotic called “Golden Monkey” which is running rampant through Japanese society.

Year: 2022

Cinema Release Dates:  TBA

VOD Release Dates: TBA

Country: Japan

Director: Yanakaya

Screenwriter: Yanakaya

Cast: Yoshino Fujima, Yui Fukuda, Yarita Jin, Toshihide Mori, Shinya Tomita, Yukina Tsuchida, Wataru Uenoyama

Running Time: 75 mins

Classification: TBC

OUR BATTLECRY REVIEWS

Kyle McGrath’s Battlecry Review:

I greatly appreciate films which are made as a labour of love by a small crew. Many of my favourite independent films feature stand out performance in bit parts by crew members who jumped I’m front of the camera out of necessity. Likewise there’s something admirable in today’s world of CGI heavy movies with thousands of crew members where films come along with a much smaller amount of people breaking their backs to make something. Filmmakers like Tim Miller or The Brothers Strause have been able to create impressive looking CGI feature films largely by putting in most of the hard work themselves to keep the budget down.

Battlecry is a CGI animated scifi thriller set in a fictionalised 1980s Japan. It follows Soji (voiced by Shinya Tomita) a soldier on leave who is approached by Haya (Yui Fukuda) an agent of the ‘World Bank’ with a request to assist her on a mission. Throughout the world bizarre shadow monsters are appearing unprovoked with apparent links to Japanese citizens. The new performance enhancing super drug ‘Golden Monkey’ is thought to be to blame for these monsters and together Soji & Haya must locate the source of this drug and shut it down. Discovering long hidden connections to Soji’s childhood and a government cover up along the way.

The interesting novelty behind Battlecry is that supposedly with the exception of voice actors and musical talent this entire film was written, produced and created as a solo project by it’s director Yanakaya. Apparently creating the entire thing on his laptop director Yanakaya has produced an anime-like action film which while nothing groundbreaking is one of the most interesting additions to the 2022 MIFF line-up and quite an achievement in low budget filmmaking.

The animation throughout Battlecry is extremely janky at times and it would come as no surprise to the unenlightened viewer that it was a one-man project. Having grown up with early EARLY examples of CGI animation such as 1993’s The Incredible Crash Dummies as well as Playstation 1 era video game cut scenes the aesthetic of Battlecry was one which brought back feelings of nostalgia to me. With character models being extremely simplistic what undoubtedly would look like placeholder pre-vis animation to audiences today I found myself enjoying. The foreknowledge of this film’s production meant that I was amazed by the detail the film exhibited thanks to it’s creator’s hard work rather than being disappointed by the lack of detail which it would be unreasonable to expect a production of this type to feature.

The stand out achievement of this movie’s style would be the beautifully realised locations and backdrops. It features cyberpunk design of illegal black market streets, love hotels and overhead tram systems. This creative flair more than made up for any shortcomings of the film’s more ambitious action sequences which I felt were the only times the director bit off more than it could chew on a technical level.

The storyline of Battlecry is very anime cliche heavy. Soji carries a sword for no real reason, the flashbacks to past trauma, the villain’s direct connection to the protagonist are all stock standard. Even the shadow monsters themselves seem to exist in the film solely so there can be action scenes combating them. Straight story wise there was no real reason for the shadow monsters to feature at all and even if Yanakaya is planning on building on them in follow up projects I think that time could have been better utilised on building up what minimal characters and plot the film had.

Which is to say that although the twists and turns the story goes through did still entertain me on a cheesy level the movie still feels too short. With such a scant seventy five minute runtime the hefty themes of past trauma, government conspiracies as well as the sub-plots involving childhood friends reconnecting years later all feel extremely half baked and rushed as a result.

While Battlecry may not look like much on a big cinema screen the sound design did still impress me with deafening explosions of dramatic gunfire. Not to mention the voice actors do a fine job even though there were some moments where the supposed English speaking characters are having trouble with their lines. In some ways the experience as an English only speaking audience member was just as janky as well. At least with the screening I had there were many grammatical errors, some subtitles disappearing off screen too quickly for anyone to have read them and at one point the dialogue went without any translation text at all with the subs picking up midway through a sentence.

Battlecry isn’t a brilliant film however there simply aren’t many movies it can be compare to and for that I give it credit. It is a quite literal ‘independent’ feature film and I can’t deny I enjoyed the aesthetic and appreciate that the director managed to create something very special all on his own. Now while it may not look the best….well it must be said Thor Love & Thunder cost 250 million and still looked awful in its own way!

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Summary:  Kitty, the imaginary girl who Anne Frank wrote to in her 1940s diary during WWII, seeks out the deceased diarist while also inspiring a wave of modern social justice for refugees.

Year: 2022

Cinema Release Dates:  23rd June 2022 (Australia), 12th August 2022 (UK), 18th March 2022 (USA)

VOD Release Dates: TBA

Country: Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Netherlands , Israel

Director: Ari Folman

Screenwriter: Ari Folman, Anne Frank

Cast: Nell Barlow (Elsa Platt (voice)), Skye Bennett (Margot (voice)), Emily Carey (Anne Frank (voice)), Sebastian Croft (Anne’s Peter (voice)), Ari Folman (Officer Van Yaris (voice)), Michael Maloney (Otto Frank (voice)), Ralph Prosser (Kitty’s Peter (voice)), Ruby Stokes (Kitty (voice)),

Running Time: 99 mins

Classification: TBC

OUR WHERE IS ANNE FRANK REVIEWS

Kyle McGrath’s Where Is Anne Frank Review:

I love animated films either made for adults or with more mature themes. The films of Pixar or Studio Gibli have shown us many times over the years a single animated picture can be used to entertain children and adults alike with both appreciating it for different reasons. It’s important to remember that animated films can be used to excite but also educate audiences of all ages with important messages.

Where is Anne Frank is an animated drama following historical events with a fictionalised fantasy twist. It follows the journey of ‘Kitty’ (voiced by Ruby Stokes) the imaginary friend Anne Frank (here voiced by Emily Carey) wrote her famous diary to as a tactic not to be writing to herself. Kitty through magical means comes to life in the modern era unaware of what has happened to Anne since her final diary entry. Flashing backwards and forwards though the decades we are presented with the heartbreaking story of Anne’s confinement as well as Kitty’s adventure throughout modern day as she experiences it in the face of Anne’s legacy.

While not a direct follow up to Waltz With Bashir (that would be the lesser appreciated The Congress) this is the latest film by Israeli born filmmaker Ari Folman with a creative use of animation in order to tell a documentary like story.

The idea of Kitty being the main character was an inspired choice as a way to both introduce us to Anne Frank who we all know but also to reflect what Anne Frank’s legacy means to us today. The ravages of time, censorship and endless retelling of history have inevitably led to a bastardisation of the facts and Folman does not shy away from saying that despite honouring Anne Frank by naming schools, streets, theatres and hospitals after her along the way the humanity and the soul of this young girl might be overlooked.

Not to mention turning the annex in which she and her family hid from the Nazis for years into a tourist attraction though done in the best of intentions is meaningless if nothing is truly learned from the experience in how we conduct ourselves today.

The animation throughout the film was stunning. I am not educated enough to know whether this was a true old style hand drawn animation however it was infinitely more soulful than something like the recent Chip n Dale film was. Likewise the mixing of 2D with 3D characters & environments blended in a flowing way and never took me out of the movie. There was always something real about the characters and how they were presented which couldnt have been achieved I think with a live action experience.

Both Stokes & Carey in their respective roles as Kitty & Anne were amazing. Two different actresses essentially playing the voice of the same true life figure worked much better than I believed it could have. Again simply dressing up modern day actors in period clothing would not have achieved the same level of emotional authenticity I believe this movie did using animation. There were times I felt that maybe having English speaking actors was a little bit anachronistic however years of ‘Hollywoodised’ historical films made this a non issue. Ironically the only voice which felt out of place was perhaps that of Ari Folman himself in his cameo voice role as a police officer Kitty interacts with in the modern timeline.

I feel that this movie achieved something brave by essentially telling us that in viewing Anne Frank as a historical figure and not seeing her as a true person we were like tourists stomping through her bedroom. Everyone knows what happened to Anne however witnessing a depiction of this beautiful girl with such a big heart and imagination slowly losing that spark in her confinement was a terrible thing to see. Through Kitty’s eyes we see not so much the exact details of what happened or who betrayed the Franks but her learning that this friend of hers ended the same way as millions of other Jewish children and it is absolutely heartbreaking.

I did find Ari Folman’s insistence that we need to see Anne as a person and not simply a concept an apt conclusion. Unfortunately I believe he hurts the message then by recontextualising everything he achieved and attempting to compare her story and that of the entire holocaust itself to current day immigration issues in Europe. While Folman pulls back from comparing immigration officials to actual Nazis (as they alone are depicted in a stylised demonic way in the past timeline emphasising a lack of humanity) the entire conflation between the two comes out of left field and may be considered quite problematic in how lightly it takes both issues.

Where is Anne Frank is a beautiful yet heartbreaking portrait of a young woman who lost her life like many many others during one of the darkest times in human history. While I feel Ari Folman betrays his own achievements in the film’s final moments everything up until then was a uniquely special film enhanced by the animated style.

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Summary:  Down on her luck and saddled with debt, Emily gets involved in a credit card scam that pulls her into the criminal underworld of Los Angeles, ultimately leading to deadly consequences.

Year: 2022

Cinema Release Dates:  12th August 2022 (USA)

VOD Release Dates: TBA

Country: USA

Director: John Patton Ford

Screenwriter: John Patton Ford

Cast: Jonathan Avigdori (Khalil), Bernardo Badillo (Javier), Megalyn Echikunwoke (Liz), Amje Elharden (Robert), Ricarlo Flanagan (Mike), Gina Gershon (Alice), Wesley Han (Mike), Sheila Korsi (Luna), Janice Sonia Lee (Becca), Roman Mitchyan (Armen), Tomas Pais (Taylor), Aubrey Plaza (Emily), Ben Rodgers (Jason), Theo Rossi (Youcef), Kimiko Singer (Sarah), Brandon Sklenar (Brent), Jack Topalian (Vaz), Lamar Usher (Lamar)

Running Time: 97 mins

Classification: M (Australia), 15 (UK), R (USA)

OUR EMILY THE CRIMINAL REVIEWS

Kyle McGrath’s Emily The Criminal Review:

I’ve always loved crime films regardless of what level of crime or what country these films come from. With The Godfather, Once Upon a Time in America, Goodfellas and Pulp Fiction being considered some of the greatest movies ever made it’s undeniable that many filmgoers feel the same way that I do. While not always realistic the genre can be approached from all sorts of angles not simply being about the crime itself but often as interesting character studies on people and what it is in their lives which drives them to the wrong side of the law.

Emily the Criminal is a drama thriller which acts as the debut feature film from writer director John Patton Ford. It follows Emily (Aubrey Plaza) a former artist with a past criminal assault record weighing her down. She struggles to make ends meet and pay her student debt with her low paying job, by chance one day a co-worker gives her the opportunity to make some quick cash via a credit card fraud ring operated by Youcef (Theo Rossi) and his cousin Kahlil (Jonathan Avigdori). Quickly Emily becomes seduced by the allure of making fast money and developing a relationship with Youcef however this new life of crime she has adopted begins leading her down an increasingly dark path she may not be ready for.

Along this entire journey is a distinct feeling of intensity which never let’s up. Although there is definitely a sudden change at some point I felt the film hadn’t earned up until then Emily feels like someone who doesn’t quite gather just how deep she’s digging this hole for herself and around this John Patton Ford crafts some nail biting sequences for sure.

What I found interesting about this movie is how it only really scrapes the surface of the crime world Emily becomes involved in. Some might find this disappointing however as there isn’t a lot to this story that we haven’t seen before in other films. We never go too far into the organisation or branch out into different areas it largely stuck with simple credit card fraud in action coupled with the bond which grows between Emily and Youcef.

I admit I have not seen all of Aubrey Plaza’s recent work however she always struck me as an actress with a particular charisma and she puts her all into this movie. As the stakes get higher and Emily goes from someone who is simply a cog in the machine to the person calling the shots it was great seeing that when pushed she can definitely take care of herself, all the while still there are hints that she is still a good person underneath.

The relationship which grows between Emily and Youcef leads to us seeing Youcef in a completely new light as time goes on. It never really struck me as a cliched ‘thief with a heart of gold’ character arc rather it was a role reversal I enjoy seeing done well in films. Through Theo Rossi’s great performance over the course of the film there is almost a switch as he becomes the out of his depth character while Emily is the one willing to get dirty and hurt people for a big pay day.

Something I disliked was how the film seemed to have the same issues a lot of others have in where to go with this type of story. This isn’t at all a good vs evil Robin Hood-type storyline and while I don’t wish for any morale grandstanding Emily’s ambitions are quite shallow and her capabilities and competency as a master criminal is debatable. As such I think the final act definitely needed work to create something with more significance all things considered.

Ford has does an excellent job creating a thrilling crime flick beginning to end with Aubrey Plaza & Theo Rossi nailing it showing off their respective talent. Unfortunately the film strikes me as not building towards an ultimate goal and I felt myself disappointed when the ending credits rolled on.

Other Subculture Emily The Criminal Reviews:

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Summary:  In an isolated mountain village in 19th century Macedonia, a young girl is kidnapped and then transformed into a witch by an ancient spirit.

Year: 2022

Cinema Release Dates:  22nd September 2022 (Australia), 1st April 2022 (USA)

VOD Release Dates: TBA

Country: UK, Serbia, Australia

Director: Goran Stolevski

Screenwriter: Goran Stolevski

Cast: Leontina Bainovic (Nevena/Young), Amini Cishugi (Self), Carlotta Cotta (Boris), Arta Dobroshi (Stamena), Alice Englert (Biliana), Djorde Zivadinovic Grgur (Stoyan/Young), Anastasija Karanovich (Biliana/Young), Sara Kilmoska (Nevena), Anamaria Marinca (Maria/Wolf-Eatress), Felix Maritaud (Yovan), Djordje Misina (Miroslav), Marija Opsenica (Ur-witch), Milos Pantic (Dusan), Noomi Rapace (Bosilka/mother), Nikola Ristanovski (Milan), Irena Ristic (Elica), Danilo Savic (Yovan/Young), Komka Tocinovski (Yoana), Teodor Vincic (Vladimir), Mladen Vukovic (Stoyan)

Running Time: 108 mins

Classification: MA15+ (Australia), 15 (UK), R (USA)

OUR YOU WON’T BE ALONE REVIEWS

David Griffiths’ You Won’t Be Alone Review:

Dave’s rating Out Of 5

Kyle McGrath’s You Won’t Be Alone Review:

You Won’t be Alone is a fantasy horror film set in the 19th century and inspired by Macedonian folklore. It tells the tale of mute 16 year old Nevena (Sara Kilmoska) who’s mother has hidden her away in a cave since birth attempting to keep her safe from the evil shape shifting witch Old-Maid Maria (Anamaria Marinca). Inevitably the witch succeeds in capturing & transforming the girl into her protégée although frustrated by Nevena’s naivety & lack of malice quickly abandons her to wander the world alone. Completely isolated her entire life Nevena understands nothing of society or nature and after accidentally killing a nearby villager (Noomi Rapace) Nevena begins her new life as a skin walker taking the form of different people man or woman, adult or child experiencing a range of lifestyles as she attempts to understand this world. Always in the shadows Maria, bitter and twisted watches over her certain that Nevena will live a life as painful as her own.

A very peculiar and at times hard to watch film I first became interested due to the involvement of Noomi Rapace as executive producer as I’ve enjoyed many of the other weird and exciting films she has been involved with. Also a somewhat Australian film, it is shot entirely in Serbia in a Macedonian dialect but with post production provided by Film Victoria.

Macedonian Australian Writers/Director Goran Stolevski has traced myths and legends from his family’s homeland to create something familiar although with a fresh take which is not seen often on the big screen. European fairytales of evil witches and curses have been so watered down by Hollywood and made safe for children I appreciate when movies, books or video games get back to the nitty gritty and remember that these stories are actually supposed to terrify at times.

The decision to feature mostly in-camera and physical special effects is a wise one which pays off. With brutal gore, body horror and make-up effects throughout the only times I feel the effects hold the film back are those few instances where CGI was actually used. The results of which whether due to budgetary constraints or not appear out of place and inconguent with the natural flow the rest of the production has. I hate to say but the one time we see a transformation happening before our eyes it looks like something from the a late 1990s Nickelodeon kid’s show.

I can’t say enough good things about the beautiful scenery throughout this movie. A wider aspect ratio or at least transitioning to one later in the film, although gimmicky I think would have been beneficial as much is made of the world opening up to Nevena when she is finally freed from her protective confinement. The Serbian landscape provides at times both a picturesque yet haunting backdrop for this tale.

With multiple actors of varying ages and genders playing the same character this is a tall order for the cast with Rapace playing a much smaller role than one might think. She does however do the lion’s share as she plays ‘Nevena’ at her most curious at human interaction and social norms. Having never even had contact with another person save for her deceitful mother and the evil witch Rapace as Nevena delivers a heartbreaking and at times surprisingly amusing performance.

Not to be outdone the rest of the actors and actresses portraying Nevena do an amazing job at playing her at different points of her awakening and understanding of the world. Kilmoska who plays her at the beginning of the film and again several times throughout has the most screentime but everybody involved makes the role their own.

The overall standout of the film is Anamaria Marinca’s ‘Old Maid’ Maria. Between her performance and how Maria is written as a character this makes for one of the most interesting depictions of a witch I’ve seen in a movie. Although much screen time passes without her she is always in the back of your mind and you know she is watching.

Much like 2020’s Gretel & Hansel, You Won’t Be Alone is a twisted fairy tale showcasing the clash between two witches on opposite sides of the spectrum of morality however here I think much more is said about the very nature of the world, our roles within it and where we go from there. I honestly was not expecting to have moments of introspection while watching a supernatural fantasy film inspired by Macedonian folklore but Goran Stolevski has crafted a facinating movie which I highly recommend.

Average Subculture rating Out Of 5

Other Subculture You Won’t Be Alone Reviews:

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Cannes hit Armageddon Time to make Australian Premiere

at Jewish International Film Festival 2022 with tickets on-sale today

Australia’s longest running Jewish Film Festival Returns this October with James Gray’s Armageddon Time headlining the event’s biggest line-up to date

 Artistic Director of the Jewish International Film Festival (JIFF), Eddie Tamir today announced Armageddon Time, starring Anthony Hopkins, Anne Hathaway and Jeremy Strong, will make its Australian Premiere at the Opening Night, headlining the biggest JIFF festival slate to date.  The full JIFF programme will be released on Friday, 16 September, and the inclusion of James Gray’s film, which received a seven-minute standing ovation at Cannes, hints at the incredible standard of films to come in this special 2022 festival edition. Artistic Director Eddie Tamir says, “We could not be more thrilled to open the festival with this critics’ favourite, a beautiful film with a lot of heart – the emotional impact and story will resonate with audiences universally.” “With the showstopping cast, we could not have thought of a better headliner for the festival, and it is only one of the many amazing films in this iteration of JIFF” JIFF will run nationally from 24 October to 7 December with tickets now on-sale for select screenings of Armageddon Time across the country. 
JIFF Opening Night Events featuring Armageddon TimeMelbourne – Classic Cinemas, Monday 24 October at 7:30pmSydney – Ritz Cinemas, Tuesday 25 October at 7:30pmPerth – Luna Cinemas, Thursday 27 October at 6:45pmBrisbane – New Farm Cinemas, Wednesday 26 October at 7:00pmCanberra – Dendy Cinemas, Thursday 27 October at 7:00pmGold Coast – Dendy Cinemas, Thursday 27 October at 7:00pmHobart – State Cinema, Thursday 27 October at 7:00pm 
For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit the website here

It is a stellar evening as the 46th Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF46) showcases sci-fi blockbuster Warriors of Future, one of the two major local productions to open this year’s extravaganza tonight.

Joining actor/producer Louis KOO and first-time director NG Yuen-fai on the red carpet at Emperor Cinemas iSQUARE is member of the mega-budget sci-fi blockbuster’s cast Philip KEUNG.

Speaking to a packed audience before Warriors of Future‘s screening, KOO likens the production of the epic thriller – featuring state-of-the-art CGI and Hong Kong-styled action choreography – to taking the first step of an adventure.

“The production process was arduous and challenging,” KOO said. “Yet, I believe someone has to take forward the Chinese-language sci-fi genre. Hopefully, this would open more doors for Hong Kong cinema in the future. I stand firm on involving mostly local SFX professionals on the project. We hope you like this film, and enjoy the meticulous detail we strive to deliver.”

HKIFF46 is going hybrid again with screenings and audience-engagement events in theatres and online for 17 days until 31 August. The complete programme and screening schedule are available at HKIFF’s official website (www.hkiff.org.hk).  Tickets can still be purchased through URBTIX.

Philip YUNG’s much-anticipated crime epic Where The Wind Blows world premiered tonight as one of the two major local productions opening the 46th Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF46).

Joining co-lead Aaron KWOK on the red carpet at Emperor Cinema iSQUARE are members of the film’s glittering ensemble cast, including LAM Yiu-sing, Stephen HO Kai-nam, Deon CHEUNG Chung-chi, WAN Yeung-ming, and Paco WONG Hing Nam. The multi-talented KWOK also returns as Hong Kong International Film Festival’s official ambassador for the fourth year.

Despite his absence from Hong Kong for production, director YUNG shared his joy and excitement with a packed audience through a recorded message before the world premiere of his genre-bending magnum opus. 

Where The Wind Blows, YUNG’s long-awaited follow-up to the critically acclaimed Port of Call (39th Closing Film), is an ambitious, genre-bending epic loosely based on the rise and fall of the notorious “Four Great Sergeants” in 1960s Hong Kong.  The film centres on the friendship and rivalry between two resourceful police detectives who forge dangerous alliances with organised crime. 

This first onscreen pairing of superstars Aaron KWOK and Tony LEUNG Chiu-wai also boasts a scene-stealing performance from Hong Kong cinema icon Michael HUI. Michael CHOW, Elaine JIN, TSE Kwan-ho, DU Juan, Jessie LI and Patrick TAM Yiu-man are also among the stellar cast.

HKIFF46 is going hybrid again with screenings and audience-engagement events in theatres and online for 17 days until 31 August. The complete programme and screening schedule are available at HKIFF’s official website (www.hkiff.org.hk).  Tickets can still be purchased through URBTIX.