The top picks for the 2012 Sydney Film Festival

The top picks for the 2012 Sydney Film Festival. By Simon Miraudo.

Has it been a year already? I’m back in New South Wales for the 2012 Sydney Film Festival, facing a flurry of flicks even more fantabulous than those featured last time. Well, hopefully!

From June 6 to 17, myself and Melbournite Richard Haridy will be reviewing the most intriguing pictures, and interviewing some of the fest’s most esteemed attendees. You need only check back here on the Quickflix Blog every day, or keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter, for updates. (You can even follow my personal exploits here.)

For those of you who can’t make it to NSW for the week-and-a-bit of filmic goodness, fear not; we’ll do our darndest to bring the festivities to you. If you’re a Sydneysider still undecided on what to check out, here’s a brief guide to the pictures we’re most looking forward to. This is only a brief glimpse however; you can see the full schedule over at the Sydney Film Festival’s official website. But these are movies we’re particularly excited for, and we’ll be sure to report as to whether they live up to the hype, or are good old fashioned art-house stinkers.

In alphabetical order…

Alps

Dogtooth director Yorgos Lanthimos returns with a tale – we pray – as strange as its predecessor. Alps tells of grief counsellors who provide avatars for those unable to deal with the death of a loved one.

Amour

Michael Haneke recently scored the Palme d’Or at Cannes for his film about an elderly man struggling to care for his ailing wife. I never thought I’d say this about a Michael Haneke film, but bring a hanky.

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild was the big hit out of Sundance, and won the Camera d’Or (Best First Feature) at Cannes. Place your bets now; this might be the indie Best Picture contender at next year’s Oscars.

The Comedy

Tim and Eric‘s Tim Heidecker (he’s ‘Tim’) stars in this alienating comedy as one of the most detestable protagonists in recent memory. Ignore the title; if reports from SXSW are accurate, the laughs may be few and far between.

Goodbye

Everyone’s keeping their eye on Iranian cinema at the moment, thanks to 2011′s Sydney Film Fest Official Competition winner and Best Foreign Language Oscar victor A Separation. Acclaimed filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof brings his newie Goodbye to SFF2012, concerning a female lawyer’s difficult plight to leave Iran.

Holy Motors

Leos Carax‘s Holy Motors astounded on the Croisette, and was widely considered the dark horse for the top prize. A late – but smart – addition to the SFF schedule, this surreal life-swapping pic stars Denis Levant and Kylie Minogue.

Jeff Who Lives at Home

Mumblecore maestros Mark and Jay Duplass send their long-delayed latest effort, Jeff Who Lives at Home, to Sydney. Jason Segel, Ed Helms, and Susan Sarandon feature in the brothers’ follow-up to Cyrus and The Puffy Chair.

Lore

Australian director Cate Shortland has been absent from cinema screens since winning a slew of AFIs for Somersault. Her new project is a German-language adaptation of The Dark Room, set in the aftermath of WW2.

Not Suitable for Children

The opening night film is perhaps one of the more populist choices (but there’s nothing wrong with that); a raunchy Aussie sex comedy starring Ryan Kwanten and Emma-Stone-in-the-making, Sarah Snook. Kwanten plays a party boy who discovers he’ll soon be infertile, and begins seeking a suitable mate to bear his offspring.

Polisse

Mononymous actor-director Maiwenn is in town, showing off her acclaimed Child Protection Unit procedural Polisse.

On the Road

I began reading Jack Kerouac’s novel On the Road while flying over from Perth, in preparation for Walter Salles‘ film adaptation. Sam Riley and Garrett Hedlund play Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty respectively, with Kristen Stewart farewelling Bella Swan once and for all as the freewheeling Marylou.

Safety Not Guaranteed

Jeff Who Lives at Home director Mark Duplass stars here as an eccentric convinced he can travel through  time. Parks and Recreation‘s Aubrey Plaza and New Girl’s Jake Johnson play investigative reporters who humour him, in search of a good story. This charming comedy closes proceedings, and has been winning fans since its Sundance debut.

Tabu

The lyrical Tabu seems to defy description – especially for those of us yet to see it – but we’re certainly looking forward to chatting with director Miguel Gomes and unravelling its mystery.

Undefeated

This year’s Academy Award winner for Best Documentary, Undefeated, focuses on the 2009 American football season of the Memphis-based Manassas Tigers. We’re Friday Night Lights fans, so we’re in.

Wuthering Heights

Fish Tank helmer Andrea Arnold brings her unique style to this retelling of Emily Brontë’s gothic novel Wuthering Heights. It sparked controversy in the U.K. for the salty language and sex scenes. Sold.

Discuss: What are you looking forward to seeing (or reading about)?

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