Riders – Europa Festival Film Review

Riders - Europa Festival Film Review

The Europa Film Festival is in full swing in Melbourne and Sydney, offering me the perfect opportunity to review the Australian Premiere of Slovenia’s Riders.

Directed by Dominik Mencej, Riders was Slovenia’s submission for the Best International Feature Film Academy Award and this, its Australian premiere, forms part of the Europa Europa film festival running from Feb 15th to Mar 11th.

Set in the spring of 1999 in Slovenia, the film follows two friends from a small village. Inspired by their love of Easy Rider, they travel cross-country on their souped-up mopeds. Anton (Petja Labovic) is seemingly on a quest for his ex-girlfriend, and Tomaz (Timon Sturbej) is seeking truth and acceptance. They are joined along the way by the enigmatic Ana (Anja Novak), who is trying to travel cross-country for reasons of her own, and elder bikie Peter (Nikola Kojo), a father figure and older version of Anton.

Riders - Europa Festival Film Review

The performances are nuanced and authentic, with Tomaz and Anton sharing equal billing in their journey. Tomaz, with his gentle demeanour and unwavering loyalty, becomes the unsung hero of the journey, while Anton’s fiery spirit and impulsive actions add a layer of unpredictability. With her mysterious allure, Ana redirects their path towards the seaside, a twist that enriches their voyage. The initially tense relationship between Anton and Peter evolves into a believable mentor-protege bond, adding another layer of emotional depth to the story.

Mencej masterfully controls the film’s pacing, allowing audiences ample time to engage with each character’s development and the group’s interpersonal dynamics. This deliberate storytelling showcases the complexity of their personalities and mirrors their internal quests for identity and belonging.

At its heart, “Riders” is a meditation on the search for self, brilliantly symbolized by the protagonists’ journey across Slovenia. Is there any better way to do this than to jump on your motorbike and journey across the country?

We glimpse love, jealousy, anger, tragedy, a hint of romance, and redemption of a kind that culminates in a conclusion that satisfies but remains open-ended at the same time, inviting us to ponder the characters’ futures.

This is an excellent film with a simple premise about the ever-elusive quest for truth, portrayed with depth and authenticity.

This film gives us a small snapshot into another time and another country far removed from Australia but remains timeless in terms of the human experience. We’ve all had our seminal moments, and this film encourages us to reflect on our own journey, the personal truths we’ve uncovered along the way, and ponder those that still remain hidden from our view.

I wholeheartedly recommend “Riders” to anyone attending the Europa Film Festival.

For Sydneysiders, this film can be viewed at the Ritz Cinema in Randwick on the 18/2 and 3/3 at 5:15pm.

For Melbournites, this film can be viewed at Classic Cinemas, Elsternwick, on 18/2, 29/2 and 8/3 from 5:15pm.

This review also appears on It’s On The House, and check out more reviews at Dark Stories Theatre to see what else is on in your town.

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The Great Escaper Makes a Clean Getaway

The Great Escaper

In a poignant blend of humour, adventure, and heartfelt drama, “The Great Escaper” stands as a cinematic tribute to the enduring spirit of love and camaraderie shaped by the crucible of war. Starring the inimitable Sir Michael Caine as Bernie and the late Glenda Jackson as his wife, Rene, the film unfolds the captivating true story of an octogenarian’s daring escape to Normandy for the D-Day celebrations, reflecting on a lifetime of love, loss, and unspoken trauma.

Central to the film’s emotional core is the undeniable chemistry between Bernie and Rene, convincingly portraying a couple married for 60 years. Their relationship, rich in history and affection, anchors the narrative, starkly contrasting the adventure and introspection Bernie experiences on his journey.

The Great Escaper

Bernie’s interactions with new acquaintances, including Arthur (John Standing), a fellow WW2 veteran who served in the Air Force with his own haunting past, and Scott (Victor Oshin), a modern-day British soldier grappling with PTSD, enrich the storyline. These relationships, painted with depth and sincerity, offer a multi-generational reflection on the impacts of war.

The film skillfully weaves together Bernie’s bittersweet escapade with Rene’s equally compelling narrative back at the nursing home. Rene’s interactions with the nursing staff, particularly with Nurse Adele (Danielle Vitalis), who undergoes her own transformation, add layers of humour and warmth, balancing the sombre moments of Bernie’s journey.

Michael Caine delivers a sterling performance as Bernie, showcasing his legendary acting prowess across six decades. Glenda Jackson is superb in her final role, embodying Rene’s strength, wit, and emotional resilience, even while confined to her room.

Through flashbacks, the film revisits Bernie and Rene’s early courtship and their lives around the time of the D-Day landings in 1944, offering a glimpse into their personal history and enduring bond. Bernie’s decision to forgo official anniversary festivities in favour of a more personal tribute to fallen comrades speaks volumes about his character and the themes of memory, honour, and reconciliation that the film explores.

“The Great Escaper” is a film with universal appeal, filled with moments of humour, adventure, and emotional depth that will resonate with audiences of all ages. Without delving into spoilers, the film is packed with compelling scenes designed to engage, entertain, and provoke thought.

As Bernie’s impromptu adventure becomes a media sensation, his newfound celebrity status forces him to confront and share his burdens for 70 years, culminating in a powerful narrative about facing one’s past and the catharsis of shared experience.

“The Great Escaper” is a testament to the enduring human spirit, beautifully portrayed by a cast led by Michael Caine and Glenda Jackson. It navigates the complexities of love, war, and aging with grace delivered with a profound sense of humanity. This film commemorates a remarkable true story and celebrates the depth of human connection across the ravages of time and the scars of history.

This review also appears on It’s On The House, and check out more reviews at Dark Stories Theatre to see what else is on in your town.

The Great Escaper

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The Rooster Film Review

The Rooster Film Review

The Rooster, a cinematic journey directed by Mark Leonard Winter and set against the backdrop of Australia’s picturesque bush landscape, opens with a scene shrouded in mystery, immediately captivating the audience. Its title, a symbol laden with anticipation and curiosity, sets the tone for a film that promises an exploration of deep themes and complex relationships.

From the outset, the film establishes its narrative pace and character development through the silent routines of its main characters. This method, mostly devoid of dialogue, is well executed and intriguingly allows the audience to immerse themselves in the characters’ lives and get to know them by observing their actions, particularly highlighting Dan, a small-town policeman portrayed with depth and nuance.

The storyline revolves around Dan (Phoenix Raei) as he navigates the aftermath of discovering his oldest friend buried in a shallow grave. This discovery propels him on a quest for answers, leading him to Tim (Hugo Weaving), a hermit living off the grid and the last person to see Dan’s friend alive. But was Dan looking to solve a potential murder mystery or attempting to answer his own questions? What ensues is a complex tapestry of friendship, grief, and existential search for meaning.

The investigation into the friend’s death, initially the story’s core, gradually becomes a backdrop to a series of events that, while visually compelling and enhanced by the Australian bush’s stunning cinematography, meander away from the initial mystery. At times, the friendship that forms between Dan and Tim feels muddled by actions and decisions that seem incongruent with the actions of real people.

Disappointingly, the film takes the time for the obligatory and unoriginal disrespect towards a religious symbol, which serves little purpose in portraying the character’s evolving relationship and rips the watcher out of the story. We’ve seen it all before, and it unnecessarily distracts from the story’s emotional resonance and thematic coherence.

The visual storytelling, particularly the outdoor scenes set in the Australian bush, showcases the film’s technical strengths with excellent lighting and innovative camera angles.

As “The Rooster” concludes, the audience is left pondering the significance of its symbolism, the resolution of its mysteries, and the true arc of its protagonist, Dan.

The film explores themes of friendship, redemption, and the search for hope in unlikely places. Despite the strong performances and a promising premise, the film takes too long to develop the relationships between the central characters. The movie’s final act hints at the promise of an intense payoff worth the investment in time but inexplicably chooses to lower the stakes before concluding.

In summary, “The Rooster” offers an interesting afternoon’s entertainment, and with the star box office attraction Hugo Weaving present, fans will delight in his performance.

This review also appears on It’s On The House, and check out more reviews at Dark Stories Theatre to see what else is on in your town.

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Unlocking the Secrets of Carmichael Manor: An Immersive Journey into the Past

The Secrets of Carmichael Manor

Maitland, in the heart of the Hunter Region, is set to host its next immersive theatre experience this November. Get ready for a ghostly journey into the unknown as “The Secrets of Carmichael Manor” unveils its mysterious tale within the historic walls of Grossman House. 🏰🌟

This haunting and secretive immersive theatre show will run for four nights, from November 25th to December 10th. With limited seats available, securing your tickets promptly is essential to ensure you don’t miss this charming experience. 🎟️🔒

A Journey Through Time and the Supernatural ⏳👻

They say there’s no such thing as time travel or ghosts, but who are “they,” anyway? In “The Secrets of Carmichael Manor,” a well-intentioned attempt to bring solace to the tormented souls inhabiting Carmichael Manor takes an unexpected turn. An eccentric priest and his companions find themselves transported back in time to the fateful day of October 31, 1919 – the day of Elspeth Carmichael’s impending wedding to her beloved Henry Strallen. Or is it? 🚪✨

A Web of Intrigue and Mystery 🧩🕵️‍♂️

As you step into the world of 1919 with Father Patrick, you’ll find yourself immersed in a web of murder, mystery, and secrets lurking within Carmichael Manor’s walls. Your task? To aid Father Patrick in deciphering the clues that hide the truth behind this mystifying manor. What happened to those who once dwelled here? Can you uncover the secrets before the sands of time run out, or will you remain trapped in the past forever? 🌄🔍⏳

An Adventure Awaits at Grossman House 🏡🌟

Prepare for a memorable journey into the unknown as you enter the past at Grossman House in Maitland. The historical setting provides the perfect backdrop for this experience, where the line between reality and the supernatural blurs, and secrets long buried come to light. 🌌🌠

Don’t miss your chance to unlock the mysteries of Carmichael Manor. Secure your tickets now for “The Secrets of Carmichael Manor” and be a part of this unique adventure. Remember, with only a few performances and limited seats available, you must act quickly to ensure your place in this mesmerizing journey through time and the paranormal.

Get ready to uncover The Secrets of Carmichael Manor – an adventure awaits! 🎭🌟🎫