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thumbnail The Heiresses (2018 Paraguay)

Crime, Drama, Event, Genre , comments closed

Director: Matteo Garrone
Starring:  Marcello Fonte, Edoardo Pesce, Nunzia Schiano
Genre:  Drama, crime
Duration:  95 mins

Asunción, Paraguay, 2013. Sixty-somethings Chela and Chiquita have been living together for more than thirty years, their relationship armoured against anything like homophobic complaint by the prerogatives of wealth and class. Times have changed though and with debts mounting the couple begin to sell-off some precious heirlooms to stay afloat. But the financial situation proves untenable and convicted of fraud, Chiquita is sent to prison by a court order. Suddenly, the sheltered Chela must fend for herself. Swallowing her pride, she reluctantly begins working as a chauffeur for the wealthy women of the neighbourhood. The changed circumstances lead her to, perhaps for the first time, contemplate her life and the choices she’s made…

Writer-director Marcelo Martinessi exquisitely balances character study with shrewd commentary on class, desire and privilege to tell an intimate and serenely rewarding story of loss, loyalty and self-determination.

thumbnail Dogman (2018 Italy)

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Director: Matteo Garrone
Starring: Marcello Fonte, Edoardo Pesce, Nunzia Schiano
Genre: Crime, drama
Duration: 101mins

Matteo Garrone’s Dogman returns the film-maker to the realist mob world of his 2008 film Gomorrah, but goes further than that film in explaining the toxic emotional inadequacy of gangsterism – its brutality, its sycophancy, its pusillanimity, its craven addictions. In a dilapidated Neapolitan suburb, the pint-sized, mild-mannered Marcello runs a dog-grooming business, caring for the neighbourhood pooches and raising his young daughter, Alida, for whom he’d do anything. He’s popular. But there’s a specific reason for that. Marcello is no angel: he deals coke on the quiet and has indirectly created a monster: a violent tough guy and poisonous bully called Simone who has been turned into a raging cokehead through Marcello’s business. Marcello soon becomes swept up in a criminal plan he wants nothing to do with.

thumbnail The Guilty (2018 Denmark)

Crime, Drama, Event, Genre, Thriller , comments closed

Director: Gustav Möller
Starring:  Jakob Cedergren, Jessica Dinnage, Omar Shargawi
Genre: Crime, thriller, drama
Duration: 85 mins Rated R

A police officer, Asger, temporarily assigned to emergency dispatch duty takes a desperate call from a kidnapped woman. The minutes that follow are so taut, that you almost forget to breathe but there’s more to The Guilty than a race against the clock. Drop by drop, information is fed to us about the incident that left Asger confined to desk duty. On the phone, he also veers wildly from the what-to-say-to-in-a-kidnap-scenario instructions given out at the Police Academy. Is Asger a good guy going the extra mile, or does he have a dangerous delusion of himself as a crusading cop? Or is it more complicated than that? This is Denmark’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Oscar.

thumbnail Everybody Knows (2019 Spain)

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Director: Asghar Farhadi
Starring: Penélope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Ricardo Darín
Genre:  Drama, crime
Duration: 132 mins Rated R

Soon after Laura (Penélope Cruz) arrives from Argentina for a wedding at her family’s estate in Spain, her rebellious teenage daughter is kidnapped in the dead of night. Desperate, Laura turns to old flame and family vineyard keeper Paco (Javier Bardem) and a tightly wound game of whodunit plays out on the estate. Working within the suspenseful trappings of an arthouse soap opera, revered Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi explores his trademark concerns of class tension, family secrets and domestic angst, while Cruz and Bardem, at the top of their game, are pushed to emotional extremes.

thumbnail C’est La Vie (2018 France)

Crime, Drama, Event, Genre, Romance , comments closed

Directors:  Olivier Nakache, Éric Toledano
Starring: Jean-Pierre Bacri, Jean-Paul Rouve, Gilles Lellouche
Genre:  Comedy, romance, drama
Duration: 115 mins

A cantankerous French caterer has to try and create a fairytale wedding while relying on the most disorganized group of waiters, cooks, photographers and wedding singers in the history of holy matrimonies in C’est la Vie. This is an expertly assembled, tartly played and hugely enjoyable romp from directors Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache, whose Intouchables became a monster hit a few years ago. Working his last wedding event, Max is just trying to get through night, but has to deal with a cast of offbeat characters and a girlfriend who’s flirting with a young server.

thumbnail Shoplifters (2018 Japan)

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Director: Hirokazu Koreeda
Starring:  Lily Franky, Sakura Andô, Kirin Kiki
Genre:  Drama, crime
Duration:  121 mins Rated R

After one of their shoplifting sessions, Osamu and his son come across a little girl in the freezing cold. At first reluctant to shelter the girl, Osamu’s wife agrees to take care of her after learning of the hardships she faces. Although the family is poor, barely making enough money to survive through petty crime, they seem to live happily together until an unforeseen incident reveals hidden secrets, testing the bonds that unite them.
Winner of the Palme d’Or 2018, Shoplifters is a complex, subtle, mysterious film that builds to the most extraordinary surprise ending, a twist-reveal worthy of psychological suspense noir.

thumbnail Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017 USA)

Crime, Drama, Event , comments closed

Director: Martin McDonagh
Starring: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell
Genre: Drama, Crime
Duration: 115 mins

This third film written and directed by profane poet Martin McDonagh is a rough meditation on the true nature of loss, grief and vengeance. Yet it’s not the simple tale you presume it to be at heart: that of a mother’s most primal pain and her redemptive path away from it. It dwells and squats in the ugly pain, the very fire of the grief, muddying preconceptions and presumptions beyond recognition, while still speaking to both small realities and profound truths. This is McDonagh at his most complex, painting entirely in greys as he surveys the cruelties born from barely buried hurts.

thumbnail The Nile Hilton Incident (2017 Sweden)

Crime, Drama, Event, Genre, Thriller , comments closed

Director: Tarik Saleh
Starring: Fares Fares, Mari Malek, Yasser Ali Maher
Genre: Drama, thriller
Duration: 106 mins

Egypt’s 2011 revolution provides the backdrop for Swedish director Tarik Saleh’s unforgiving political thriller, which incrementally shifts focus from the grimy back streets of Cairo to the highest levels of parliament in the course of a scandalous murder investigation. Only a writer-director intimately familiar with Egyptian culture but possessing an outsider’s perspective could convincingly portray the barely concealed menace lurking within the corridors of power. Even though Saleh was ironically forced to shift shooting to Casablanca after the production was shut down by the Egyptian state security service, the worn, begrimed locations remain remarkably evocative of Cairo’s implied putrefaction under the Mubarak regime.

thumbnail Sweet Country (2017 Australia)

Crime, Event, Genre, Western , comments closed

Director: Warwick Thornton
Starring: Bryan Brown, Matt Day, Tremayne Doolan
Genre: Crime/western
Duration: 113 mins

Directed by Warwick Thornton and winner of the Special Jury Prize – Venice Film Festival.
A period western, set in the late 1920s on the Northern Territory frontier, where justice itself is put on trial. Sam, a middle-aged Aboriginal man, works for a preacher in the outback. When Harry, a bitter war veteran, moves into a neighbouring outpost, the preacher sends Sam and his family to help Harry renovate his cattle yards. But Sam’s relationship with the cruel and ill-tempered Harry quickly deteriorates and when Sam kills Harry in self-defence he becomes a wanted criminal, and is forced to flee with his wife through glorious but harsh desert country. A hunting party led by the local lawman Sergeant Fletcher is formed to track Sam down. But as the true details of the killing start to surface, the community begins to question whether justice is really being served.

thumbnail Goldstone (2016 Australia)

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Director: Ivan Sen
Starring: Aaron Pedersen, Alex Russell, Jacki Weaver
Genre: Crime, thriller
Duration: 110 mins

Indigenous detective, Jay Swan, (Aaron Pedersen) arrives to investigate a missing persons enquiry in the frontier town of Goldstone, overseen by Mayor Jacki Weaver and company hatchet man, David Wenham. What seems like a simple investigation opens out into a web of crime and corruption. A striking film to watch, but a better and bigger one to think about. The key to unlocking this ambitious genre hybrid- a Australian film classic and an outback noir masterpiece- is understanding that Goldstone is a country, not a town, and its name is Australia.