FilmFest Australia 2012 kicks off tomorrow, which means it is time for us to take a closer look at the films selected for the UK’s foremost showcase of recent Aussie cinema. But rather than giving the usual superlative-fuelled synopsis extolling the virtues of a film you may never even have heard of (although we’ve done that too), we present five good reasons why you should check them out.
First up is rip-roaring comedy, Not Suitable for Children:
1) It’s already a proven festival opener…
…having brought the house down at its world premiere slot to open the Sydney Film Festival earlier this year, where it was embraced by a tough crowd of industry bods, film critics and festival hardened punters. Soon afterwards, it also opened the Dungog Film Festival, an annual showcase of the best Aussie films held in the glorious Hunter Valley of New South Wales. To complete the deal, not only is Not Suitable for Children opening FilmFest Australia at the Clapham Picturehouse on Friday September 14, however, it’s also making its European debut!
2) Leading man, Ryan Kwanten
He’s come a long way since his burger flipping days on Home and Away, and let’s face it, this guy is pretty hot right now! And hot in more ways than one (apparently), as he enters his fifth season as a t-shirt deficient ladies’ man/werepanther Jason Stackhouse in US southern-gothic vampire series True Blood. Not one to forget his roots, however, Kwanten has made a habit of returning home to take the lead in two recent Aussie cinema faves, Red Hill and Griff the Invisible. Now he’s finally set to go global, with a role in Takashi Shimizu’s (The Grudge) supernatural in-flight chiller 7500 and sharing the screen with Robert de Niro and Gael García Bernal in boxing biopic Hands of Stone.
In Not Suitable for Children, R-Kwan (yep, that’s what I’m calling him now) plays Jonah, a spoilt party animal whose hedonistic lifestyle grinds to a halt when he is diagnosed with testicular cancer. Unable to go the cryogenic route ahead of a life-saving operation, he realises he must sow his seed (and fast!) if he ever wants to become a father. Sure, it sounds like the premise for a horribly bawdy Hollywood comedy – and there are certainly elements of that – but the cast and crew have conspired to inject heart and warmth into an Aussie rom-com that’s more Judd Apatow than Todd Phillips.
3) Future leading lady, Sarah Snook
Rivalling R-Kwan in the hotness stakes is co-star – and on-screen housemate – Sarah Snook. Never heard of her? Well, you might be hearing a whole lot more soon: she’s already on the Hollywood radar, coming within inches of landing the Lisbeth Salander role in David Finchner’s version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and being dubbed ‘Australia’s answer to Emma Stone’ by The Hollywood Reporter.
The Adelaide-born actress made the jump from theatre and TV – where she won an AACTA for Best Lead Actress in a TV Drama for ABC series Sisters of War – with a small role in Julia Leigh’s excellent Sleeping Beauty, but has garnered bucketloads of praise for her smart and sassy portrayal of Stevie, Jonah’s hard-partying flatmate and co-conspirator. The Emma Stone comparison has oft been repeated – and not just because they’re both redheads – with Time Out Sydney even suggesting that as well as the comedic skills of Stone, Snook has ‘the dramatic chops of a Blanchett’. Not Suitable for Children certainly seems like the start of something big for Snook, with Screen Daily seeing her performance as a ‘career-launching turn’ whilst the folks over at Quickflix agreed, noting that ‘if Not Suitable for Children is to be remembered for anything, it’ll be as the movie that introduced us to Sarah Snook’. So if you don’t want to miss an introduction to Australia’s next big thing, don’t miss Not Suitable for Children!
4) Rising screenwriter, Michael Lucas
Up and coming multi-screen wordsmith Michael Lucas is on a dream run at the moment – and not just because Not Suitable for Children has landed the FFA opening slot! He’s also a writer and script producer on television dramedy Offspring, which just completed its second season to widespread critical and popular acclaim (no mean feat in the rarefied world of Aussie TV). And for his troubles he recently collected an AWGIE (Aussie Writers’ Guild award) for Best Writing in a Television Series, doubling his tally with a gong for best original feature screenplay for – you guessed it – Not Suitable for Children.
His work on NSFC has certainly garnered widespread acclaim, the AU Review crediting Lucas with a story that ‘brims with heart, soul and sentimentality’, populated by dialogue that Screen Daily called ‘consistently edgy and unpredictable’. Basically…the boy, he write good. You go see now, yes?
5) It brings the LOLs…
Last but not least, nine out of ten cynical film critics agree*, Not Suitable for Children is a veritable LOL-fest! And why wouldn’t it be? It’s about a guy with testicular cancer desperate for children, for gosh sake! And if you’re still not convinced, it also features plenty of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll! Just look at this trailer:
Not Suitable for Children opens FilmFest Australia 2012 on Friday September 14 at the Clapham Picturehouse, followed by a repeat screening on Friday 21/09 at the Hackney Picturehouse. Tickets are available via the FilmFest Australia website.
For more details, check out our festival overview.
* Not an actual statistic, although if it were my money would be on David Stratton as the lone grump! (Joke’s on me…even Stratton gave it four stars!)