• (L - R) 'Loro', 'Spotlight', 'Burning' and 'Cold War' (SBS)Source: SBS
SBS Movies managing editor Fiona Williams offers her pick of the movies coming to SBS On Demand this month.
21 Aug 2020 - 2:44 PM  UPDATED 21 Aug 2020 - 11:45 AM


South Korea, 2018
Genre: Mystery, Drama, Thriller
Language: English, Korean
Director: Lee Chang-Dong
Starring: Yoo Ah-in, Steven Yeun, Jun Jong-seo, Kim Soo-kyung, Choi Seung-ho, 
What's it about?
Make the time to immerse yourself into this subtly sinister noir from South Korea, that pits two types of masculinity against each other. Poor, shy, hapless lug Jongsoo (Yoo Ah-in), thinks he might just hit the jackpot with a popular girl he went to school with, Haemi (Jeon Jong-seo), when she allows him into her orbit. Alas, a short trip brings her closer to the handsome, rich, charmer, Ben (Stephen Yuen). Jongsoo tags along on their dates, relegated to third wheel status, until the dynamic shifts dramatically and Ben doesn't seem the least bit bothered. Lee Chang-Dong doesn't provide easy answers, but drops enough bread crumbs for the viewer to follow along as Jongsoo fills in the blanks and learns a few lessons about how the world works for the idly rich. Adapted from a short story by Haruki Murakami, it reveals the best elements of a noir, and a few shades of Patricia Highsmith. 


Cold War

Poland, 2018
Genre: Romance, Drama
Language: Polish
Director: Pawel Pawlikowski
Starring: Joanna Kulig, Tomasz Kot
What's it about?
No one makes the past come alive in luscious monochrome like Poland's Pawel Pawlikowski. Like Ida before it, Cold War commences in the recent wake of WWII, and makes the political personal through a multi-layered story of a relationship. In this case, it's the complex love story of two musicians whose red-hot chemistry struggles to straddle the Iron Curtain. Brooding band leader Viktor (Tomasz Kot) is immediately attracted to fiery singer Zula (Joanna Kulig), and they become the darlings of a travelling propaganda supergroup, until the interference of the government authorities becomes unbearable - for one of them, at least. The ramifications of a last-minute change of heart echo across the decades, as we follow their fortunes through song, as each becomes a cliche striving for 'authenticity' and you just can't help but barrack for these two foxy lovebirds to get their acts together. The movie was pipped to the Best Foreign Language Oscar by Roma in a big year for black-and-white movies about enduring love.  

Cold War Review
'Cold War': An Intimate Epic

Cold War


American Animals

USA, UK, 2018
Genre: Drama, Crime, Documentary
Language: English
Director: Bart Layton
Starring: Evan Peters, Barry Keoghan, Blake Jenner, Jared Abrahamson, Ann Dowd
What's it about?
A group of students plot and attempt to pull off an ambitious, weird, and definitely too-good-to-be-true robbery, by lifting a $12m rare book from its scarcely-guarded place in a college library reading room. It's all true, and this documentary gives us lengthy re-enactments, blended with the older-and-wiser recollections of the naive crooks. Suffice it to say, their enthusiasm outweighed their ability, and even in hindsight they can't quite work as a team. It's riveting from start to finish, all told to Bart Layton, who made magic with The Imposter a few years ago. 

How Bart Layton combines truth and fiction in the real-life heist film 'American Animals'


The Insult

Lebanon, 2017
Genre: Drama, Crime
Language: Arabic
Director: Ziad Doueiri
Starring: Adel Karam, Kamel El Basha, Rita Hayek, Christine Choueiri, Diamand Bou Abboud, Camille Salameh
What's it about?
Let's celebrate some Lebanese cinema this month, with the 2018 film shortlisted for an Oscar. You only need a cursory awareness of the beleaguered history of Beirut, to understand the parable at play here in this story of a surface-level dispute that picks at old scabs and escalates wildly, when religion, ethnicity and circumstance come into it. In this widely acclaimed film by Ziad Doueiri, a 40-something Lebanese Christian garage owner, Tony (Adel Karam), argues with a 60 year-old Palestinian foreman, Yasser (Kamel El Basha), about a dripping water pipe. Heated words lead to some argy bargy, and both men's mutual stubbornness abandons any hope of an olive branch being extended any time soon. They head to the courts and we see the complicated reality of living in the wake of war. 



USA, 2015
Genre: Drama
Language: English
Director: Thomas McCarthy
Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber, Rachel McAdams, Stanley Tucci, Michael Keaton, John Slattery
What's it about?
2016's Best Picture and Screenplay dual Oscar winner is a celebration of dogged reporting by the investigative journalists at The Boston Globe. In 2001, they exposed child abuse within the Catholic Church and institutional cover-up of the crimes. The film follows the reporters who helped uncover the story, and recreates their methodical news gathering with great attention to detail, taking its time to underscore the efforts it takes to research and corroborate, to build trust with whistle blowers. The arms' length direction by Thomas McCarthy pays off when the impact of the story becomes apparent to those on screen in unison with the viewer.  It's only available for a short time, so seek it out before it expires from SBS On Demand September 7.

Spotlight review: Smart, subtle approach exposes villains hiding in plain sight



Italy, 2018
Genre: Biography, Drama
Language: Italian
Director: Paolo Sorrentino
Starring: Toni Servillo, Elena Sofia Ricci, Riccardo Scamarcio
What's it about?
Paolo Sorrentino pairs with his longtime frontman Toni Servillo to serve up the definitive biopic of Silvio 'Bunga Bunga' Berlusconi - which for legal reasons, can't lay claim to being anything of the sort. Once you wait out the lengthy disclaimer, we get what we came for, and witness the machinations of the shameless liar whose brand of gaudy faux-sincerity has since spawned a series of lookalike leaders around the globe.  The film focuses on a specific, fraught period in the late-2000s, and speculates on what may or may not have gone on behind closed doors. 



France, 2017
Genre: Drama
Language: French
Director: Xavier Legrand
Starring: Lea Drucker, Denis Ménochet
What's it about?
Actor-turned-writer-director Xavier Legrand has made a film to acknowledge the tragedy of domestic violence that kills a woman every three days in France. War Of The Worlds star Lea Drucker is in a custody dispute with her violent ex, and is fighting to keep their 11-year-old from his abusive father. A magistrate is unswayed of the risk of ongoing harm, until Julien spends his first solo weekend in his dad's care. Legrand cites influences of both Kramer vs Kramer and The Shining in this domestic horror film. 



Iceland, 2015
Genre: Comedy Drama
Language: Icelandic
Director: Grímur Hákonarson
Starring:  Sigurður Sigurjónsson Theodór Júlíusson
What's it about?
An infectious outbreak among the livestock of an Icelandic town threatens the livelihoods of the remote community, but will it bring peace to the 40 year-old feud between a pair of cranky twins? Gummi and Kiddi haven't spoken a word to each other since the '70s, and the next-door-neighbours limit their interactions to loaded death stares. Expect droll Scandi humour amind the drama, as we dig deep into the white hot rage that simmers beneath the excellent Nordic knitwear and their woolly grey beards. 

Cannes-winning Icelandic film 'Rams'


Mary Shelley

Australia, Ireland, Luxembourg, UK, USA, 2018
Genre: Drama, Romance
Language: English
Director: Haifaa Al-Mansour
Starring: Elle Fanning, Douglas Booth, Bel Powley, Stephen Dillane, Joanne Froggatt, Tom Sturridge
What's it about?
If like me, you've been enjoying Elle Fanning's work as Catherine The Great in The Great this year, take a look at Fanning show off her chops as yet another influential woman of history. Here Fanning plays Mary Shelley, as she finds her feet and puts quill to paper to create the immortal novel, 'Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus'. The film is the second film by Saudi filmmaker Haifaa Al-Mansour, after her celebrated Wadjda.



Genre: Comedy
Language: Persian
Director: Jafar Panahi
Starring: Sima Mobarak-Shahi, Ayda Sadeqi, Shayesteh Irani
What's it about?
Banned Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi (This is Not a Film, Tehran Taxi) won the Silver Bear for his 2006 movie, which follows a group of young Tehran women determined to attend a World Cup qualifier by any means necessary. Since women are banned from watching, they get crafty, and make an effort to enter the stadium disguised as men. The movie was filmed during the actual Iran versus Bahrain match in Tehran in 2005, but was banned from being shown in Iran.



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