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See also: SHADOWS FILM FESTIVAL | Last update 31.Aug.19

Bathroom Stalls & Parking Lots  
Review by Rich Cline | 3/5  
Bathroom Stalls & Parking Lots
dir Thales Correa
scr-prd Thales Correa, Izzy Palazzini
with Thales Correa, Izzy Palazzini, Oscar Manski, Malakani Severson, Nick Ryan Jurewicz, Patrick Bohan, Guilherme Zaiden, Lucas Pagac, Travis Maider, Jacob Ritts, Dominic Olivo, David Hernandez
release US 10.Sep.19
19/US 1h20

correa and palazzini
Filmed with a loose sense of lively streetlife, this comedy is packed with snappy characters. Actor-filmmaker Thales Correa keeps everything smiley, deploying colour-drenched, sensual photography by Cassie Hunter accompanied by Same K's gently pulsing score. There's a goofy charm to the movie that overcomes both the low budget and the cast and crew's inexperience. But it's a bit too unfocussed to have much of an impact.
Living in Los Angeles, recently unemployed Brazilian immigrant Leo (Correa) travels to San Francisco to visit his pal Donnie (Palazzini) and to reconnect with a guy he met online. So they hit the clubs accompanied by personal trainer Hunter (Mansky), who clearly isn't as straight as he claims to be. Donnie gets up to various antics and Hunter looks for cocaine, leading to them all getting kicked out of the bar. So they roam the streets, meeting another Brazilian (Zaiden) and a helpful friend (Severson) and hitting a few more parties.
The rapid-fire dialog is sparky and often downright ridiculous, keeping the audience smiling while the story spirals through various madcap encounters over the course of this rather wild evening. The scruffy narrative indulges in some undeveloped plot turns, including cliches like a dead phone battery and faux-shocking events like a cross-generational underwear party. Still, the reflection of a openly sexual youth culture is played in a way that's relaxed and realistic.

The actors are engaging even when they ham up their performances. Correa plays Leo as a guy who's likeable and rather pathetic, living in an awkward fantasy that he's unwilling to do anything about. He's been chatting for over a year with this guy, yet has never said how he feels. Palazzini has a little more texture as a fun-loving drama queen who has some intriguingly serious edges, hiding from a nice guy (Pagac) he likes. The moment Donnie and Leo finally run out of patience with each other is well-played, even if it feels rather abrupt.

Oddly, the script is packed with little moral sermons about drug abuse, smoking and meaningless sex. Despite their youthful freedom, these guys eventually admit that they just want real relationships, both romantically and with friends they can rely on. Thankfully, Correa and Palazzini don't dwell on these messages, instead making a surprisingly pointed observation on the nature of friendship in the gay subculture, where connections are based on sexuality and little else. The film feels a little unfinished and disconnected, but does leave us thinking.

cert 15 themes, language, drugs, sexuality 3.Sep.19

The Furies  
Review by Rich Cline | 3.5/5  
The Furies
dir-scr Tony D'Aquino
prd Lisa Shaunessy, Andy Marriott
with Airlie Dodds, Linda Ngo, Taylor Ferguson, Ebony Vagulans, Tom O'Sullivan, Danielle Horvat, Harriet Davies, Kaitlyn Boye, Jessica Baker, Steve Morris, Leon Stripp, Ben Toyer
release UK 16.Sep.19,
Aus 7.Nov.19
19/Australia 1h22


davies and dodds
Complete with a properly grisly cold open, this nasty little Australian horror has heavy echoes of Wolf Creek, and not just because its premise features men who inflict random violence on women (and also other men to be fair). Even if the plot is thin, genre fans will love the often mind-bogglingly hideous gore. And there's a riveting pace to the narrative as secrets are uncovered, and as one grotesque set-piece follows another.
Kayla (Dodds) and childhood friend Maddie (Vagulans) want to do something with their lives, but Maddie thinks Kayla is afraid to step out due to her epilepsy. Before they sort this out, they're kidnapped. Kayla wakes up in a box far out in the bush, where she meets young women (including Ngo, Horvat and Davies) who are hiding in the forest from masked men armed with murderous tools. As Kayla searches for Maddie, she begins to realise that there's something else going on here, as everyone has been surgically prepared for a sadistic game.
Women and men arrive in the woods in boxes marked "beauty" and "beast", respectively. The girls are in their everyday clothes, the burly boys are in drably stained farm outfits and the most alarming masks the costume department could dream up. The sets are equally unnerving, as the women take refuge in the falling-down shacks in an abandoned mining town littered with things baddies can hide behind. Most of the women work together, aside from the antagonistic Sheena (Ferguson), who's understandably wary of the super-intrepid Kayla.

Dodds has an unusually strong role for a movie like this, a feisty woman who refuses to give up and continually out-thinks the brutes. So why Maddie ever thought she was timid is somewhat inexplicable. The other women are less defined, some strong, some terrified, each clearly destined to die in a staggeringly awful way. Male roles are so generic that the actors can play multiple roles in different masks. They don't have much to do but growl as they swing their axes and scythes.

Writer-director D'Aquino thankfully makes sure that the film never seems misogynistic, partly because the men are mere monsters and also due to a quirk in the game's rules. Action sequences are skilfully shot and edited with a gleeful willingness to cross into over-the-top bloodiness, which the camera watches unflinchingly. And underneath this is a rather freaky exploration of the nature of friendship and entertainment. Not that this is why anyone would watch the movie.

cert 18 themes, language, violence 21.Aug.19

Review by Rich Cline | 4/5  
dir-scr Barnaby Southcombe
prd Christopher Granier-Deferre, Barnaby Southcombe
with Jodhi May, Jessica Barden, Jordan Bolger, Edward Hogg, Daniel York, Heather Atkinson, Amy-Louise Faulkner, Max Ross, Charlotte Mundey, Bethany Taylor, Michael Cockill, Susan Cockill
release UK 6.Sep.19,
US 13.Sep.19
18/UK 1h27

barden and hogg
Based on Fiona Evans' stage play with its dual romantic storylines, this British drama has been cleverly adapted to the screen by filmmaker Barnaby Southcombe, interweaving the plot threads in meaningful ways as he follows two couples around the eponymous English seaside town. It's strikingly well played by four leading cast members, who bring their connections to life in ways that feel honest and provocative.
In a grand old hotel in Scarborough, the concierge (York) gives Liz (May) a room with a sea view. She's immediately joined by the much younger Daz (Bolger) for chitchat and sex. Meanwhile, teenaged Beth (Barden) meets the older Aiden (Hogg) in the lift and they head to a room on the same floor. Both couples have a teacher-student dynamic, so they're understandably keeping their relationships secret. As they stroll around town, their relaxed, easy romances begin to shift based on new information, old issues and a nagging sense that something isn't quite right.
The film flickers between these couples, as their conversations mirror each other but take on a very different meaning with the genders reversed. There are added elements in each story, including the fact that the teachers aren't single and both women think they're pregnant. Not to mention the nagging point that it's illegal for a teacher to have sex with a student, even if he or she is of age. The repeating question is whether they truly love each other and have a possible future together.

All four actors are adept at veering between lively comedy and quiet tenderness. As the film progresses, both of the couples go through some dark moments as well as times in which they connect deeply with each other. Each is excellent as he or she pushes and pulls against their partner, leading to some striking confrontations and unexpected story twists. It's difficult to pick a stand-out in the cast, although Barden and Hogg spark more complex fireworks between them than the intriguingly controlled May and Bolger.

The script spirals around a variety of issues, poking and prodding the audience rather than simply pushing a straightforward theme. This is a powerful exploration of the nature of love and relationships, most notably the way we know for sure that we're drawn to someone, even if it might not be a good idea. It's a vivid depiction of the power of attraction and the way we can desperately long for someone and want them to go away in the very same breath.

cert 15 themes, language, sexuality 26.Aug.19

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