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Dead Europe

Directed by Tony Krawitz

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Vassili Raftis (William Zappa) is cursed, and so are his sons even though they don’t believe and all that stuff from the old country. Photographer Isaac (WAAPA’s Ewen Leslie) and his brother Nico (Marton Csokas) were born in Australia after their Greek parents migrated. Although their father forbade his children to ever return to Greece, Nico is living in Europe and Isaac decides to take his father’s ashes back after his sudden death. The film is based on the novel by Christos Tsiolkas which reminded director Tony Krawitz of the extremely violent Grimm’s fairy tales his German Jewish grandparents used to tell him.

Dead Europe is about history, guilt and secrets and looks at how the hatreds and superstitions of the past have bled into the present. The film is quite confronting as Krawitz sets out to capture the forgotten people of Europe and the activities that are hidden from the tourists’ eyes. From the refugee-filled laneways of Athens to the underground sex trade in young boys in Budapest, Krawitz calls it ‘an anti-travel landscape’. He challenges assumptions and is deliberately provocative by including close-up shots of gay passion.

Despite lots of drugs and random sex, Isaac feels that the echoes of the past are closing in on him and he is haunted by the vision of a young Jewish boy that his father had protected during the war. Be believes that Josef (the very photogenic Kodi Smit-McPhee who starred in The Road), a refugee boy young he met in Greece, is his reincarnation. Questioning his own reality and beginning to believe in the curse, Isaac finally seeks out his brother in Budapest to find out the truth about his family’s dark past. Unfortunately, he is drawn deeper into the underbelly of Europe and becomes part of a Greek tragedy.

Dredd 3D (MA)

Directed by Pete Travis

In the middle of an irradicated landscape that was our world, lies a walled city of about 800 million people. With 96% unemployment, drugs and crime are rampant and the only ones fighting the chaos in Mega City One are the Judges. This elite team enforces the law, sentences offenders and executes people on the spot if necessary. Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) and new recruit Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) are locked in a high-rise apartment after going there to investigate a particularly grizzly triple homicide. Living in the penthouse and ruling her criminal drug empire is former prostitute Ma-Ma (Lena Heady), who puts out a directive to the 75,000 people under her to kill the two Judges. Based on a comic, the body count rises as you find out how many ways there are of killing someone. Thanks to the Slo-mo drug, some of the most violent deaths are poetically beautiful to watch. Enjoy!

Argo (m)

Directed by Ben Affleck

In the Iranian revolution in 1979, the American Embassy in Tehran was stormed and everyone inside was held hostage for over a year. Well not everyone, as six of the Americans managed to escape and find refuge in the home of the Canadian ambassador. Although based on actual events, the solution to getting these six Americans out of the seething Iran was improbable and farcical. As one of the organisers says in the film ‘we did suicide missions during the war that had better odds.’ CIA agent Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) goes to Iran as a location scout for a science fiction film called Argo. After setting up a production company in Hollywood, he takes false passports with him in the hope of smuggling the six out as film crew. So the intensity of the war-torn Middle East meets the frivolousness of Hollywood for a moment in history that is as thrilling as it is hilarious.

Robot and Frank  (m)

Directed by Jake Schreier

In the near future, books will be phased out completely. Seventy year-old Frank (Frank Langella) seems to be the only person still using his local library and chatting with librarian Jennifer (Susan Sarandon) is one of his regular highlights. At the same time that the library books are being removed, Frank’s son Hunter (James Marsden) delivers a robot (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard) to look after his father. With the need for Hunter to visit diminished and the only contact with his daughter Madison (Liv Tyler) by video phone, the lack of human contact is certain to affect Frank’s increasing forgetfulness. Having divorced many years ago, Frank is at first resistant to having the robot around. But he decides he needs a project and teams up with his helpful robot to revive his career as a cat burglar. This is a very heart-warming film about age, technology and companionship.

Mariachi Gringo  (M)

Directed by Tom Gustafson

Tom Gustafson fell in love with Mexico when he worked with Russel Crowe on Master and Commander and his partner, Cory Krueckeberg, wrote the script for a film that celebrates the traditional folk music that beats in the hearts of all Mexicans. Turning thirty brings the realisation for Edward (blue-eyed, blond Shawn Ashmore who made a name for himself as the Iceman in X-Men) that he wanted leave Kansas and immerse himself in the Mariachi music of Mexico. This gringo travels to Mexico in search of his dreams and meets Lila (Martha Higareda), a beautiful lesbian who also wants to escape from her family’s expectations. Featuring renowned Mariachi singer Lila Downs, Mariachi Gringo is the opening film of the Mexican Film Festival which runs 15-21 November at Cinema Paradiso. The after-party has Tequila, beer, Mexican food and a Mariachi band.

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