“Below Her Mouth” review: An authentic exploration of sex and vulnerability

Arriving at the Sydney Mardi Gras Film Festival following a run through the international film festival circuit, including TIFF, I was lucky enough to attend a screening of “Below Her Mouth” followed by a Q&A with director April Mullen. This was the second screening of the film during the festival, with both 800-seat sessions sold out weeks in advance. Leading up to the screening, I had been eager to see the film, as much had been made of Mullen’s representation of female sexuality in a sensual and truthful manner, which is rarely seen on the silver screen and if it is, usually distastefully presented.

“Lion” review: A banal retelling of an astonishing story

“Lion”, the feature debut by Australian filmmaker Garth Davis, is a missed opportunity as his limited cinematic vision fails to translate the extraordinary sequences and themes of the film’s story. It’s a film about randomness, insignificance and love without the visual imagination to convey any of these ideas on the screen. It is imbued with perfunctory information and little else. “Lion” tells the extraordinary story of Saroo Brierley (played by Sunny Pawar as a child and Dev Patel as an adult), who becomes lost in India, lives in the streets of Calcutta, is adopted by a Tasmanian couple and grows up in Australia before finding his hometown via Google Maps and returning as an adult.

“Joe Cinque’s Consolation” review: A lack of curiosity fails to inspire the mind or eye

Note—for the purpose of clarity, references to the real-life people will be with their last name, and references to the fictional characters will be their first name. A film dealing with the events leading up to Joe Cinque’s death should not be this shallow. In 1997, Anu Singh was charged and later convicted of the manslaughter of her then boyfriend, Joe Cinque. Singh laced Cinque’s coffee with rohypnol before injecting him with a fatal dose of heroin.

“Hacksaw Ridge” review: An unimaginative throwback that appeals to the worst instincts of worship and jingoism

“Hacksaw Ridge” arrives ten years after Mel Gibson’s previous directorial effort, the near-excellent “Apocalypto”, and follows an industry-imposed absence from filmmaking after repeated personal indiscretions. Gibson returned to the screen as an actor in 2010’s “Edge of Darkness”. Gibson’s difficulties in securing Hollywood financing may still be an ongoing issue, as he returns here with an Australian cast and production on a very American subject. This decision ultimately harms the impact of Gibson’s artistry as it fails to connect its characters to any artistic or cultural relevance.

“The Shallows” review: A film that offers little to think about and even less excitement

“The Shallows” arrives in theatres with a great deal of anticipation. The film’s marketing campaign has focused on its minimal setting and straight forward narrative—a drawn out game of cat and mouse as a surfer tries to make it out of the ocean without getting eaten by a shark—and Blake Lively’s figure in a bikini. This is, it seems, enough to generate great anticipation. Written by Anthony Jaswinski (“Kristy”) and directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, whose previous directorial efforts include the Liam Neeson vehicles “Unknown” and “Non-Stop”, the film proper delivers on the marketing campaign’s promise and little more.

“Approaching the Unknown” review: Artistry limits the dramatic understanding of human existence

Mark Elijah Rosenberg writes and directs his first feature, “Approaching the Unknown”, with a keen appreciation of scientific ingenuity and human life but without an understanding of the artistry required to translate these ideas into a cinematic experience. The story focuses on astronaut William Stanaforth (Mark Strong), as he embarks on a near two-year journey to Mars to make the foundations of a human colony on the planet. He is followed by Emily Maddox (Sanaa Lathan), who leaves several weeks after Stanaforth, I can only presume as a redundancy, given that Stanaforth seems very much capable of running his own operation.