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Xavier Toby

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The Loved Ones: an Australian horror movie

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By Xavier Toby in New Film on Thursday 18 November 2010

Time to lighten up with a bit of horror, Australia. Equal parts hilarious and disturbing, The Loved Ones is an incredibly twisted whole heap of fun. Clipping along at a cracking pace, whenever you think it can’t get any more messed up, someone starts drilling into a person’s head, and I won’t mention any more in order not to ruin it.

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Lemon Tree: based on a true story

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By Xavier Toby in New Film on Tuesday 16 November 2010

Israel and Palestine. Wow, what a mess. Based on a true story, a Palestinian widow is told, due to security concerns, that her picturesque grove of lemon trees needs to come down. She takes her case to the Supreme Court, and gains international attention. Told with relatively a light touch, illustrating the tensions on both sides along with the different religious and societal pressures, this is a wonderful examination of a ridiculously untenable situation.

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Gainsbourg: a biography of a wonderful French singer

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By Xavier Toby in New Film on Thursday 11 November 2010

A mesmerising biography of the French singer and songwriter Serge Gainsbourg. This is a fascinating and honest look the frenetic way Gainsbourg lived his life: smoking, drinking and screwing himself to the grave. The amount of cigarettes the man smokes is phenomenal.

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Welcome: charting a personal 4,000 kilometre journey

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By Xavier Toby in New Film on Friday 5 November 2010

Birth is a lottery. Very few of us are lucky enough to be born in a first world country. The large majority of others are not. Of those, some are drawn by the bright light of capitalist, consumer driven excess, to what they see as a better life. Due to the artificially constructed borders that society has seen fit to set up over the last few hundred years, it’s very difficult for them to get into those first world countries.

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The Army of Crime: the French battle the Germans

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By Xavier Toby in New Film on Tuesday 26 October 2010

Back in 1995, when The Simpsons was funny, Groundskeeper Willie called the French ‘Cheese-eating surrender monkeys’. Based on real events, The Army of Crime shows the inhabitants of France to be the opposite. This group of underground terrorists are from all over Europe but based in France and are single-minded in their determination to kill Germans.

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Sin Nombre: gang violence and the human train

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By Xavier Toby in New Film on Thursday 21 October 2010

This El Salvador film about gang violence and the human train travelling from Latin America into the USA shows the reality of a terrible situation from a variety of angles.

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Afro Samurai Resurrection: The Movie Bloodbath

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By Xavier Toby in New Film on Saturday 16 October 2010

You know those crazy action packed dreams you have, where everything seems to make sense at the time, but once you’re awake, it all falls apart after the smallest part of analysis? Which you know you shouldn’t do because it was just too hectic, extreme and, dare I say it, fun? That’s Afro Samurai Resurrection. Drawn with real flair and heaps of blood, the Afro Samurai is back, this time to save his father who’s slowly being reanimated by the evil Sio in order to torture him.

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The Kids Are All Right: a modern family fable

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By Xavier Toby in New Film on Wednesday 6 October 2010

A lesbian couple have been artificially inseminated with the same donor’s sperm. Now I’ve got your attention by saying lesbian, let’s talk a little about the film. Superbly acted and intelligently written, this is a modern family fable that manages to be funny, touching and honest.

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Cairo Time: thoughtful, romantic, comedy

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By Xavier Toby in New Film on Thursday 23 September 2010

Going on a date is dangerous, especially for a film reviewer and especially if that reviewer is me and the film is a romantic drama. The girl picked the flick. I’m not often one for romance, but I thought I’d give it a go. Often the most powerful parts of a film are in what remains unsaid and undone, and so it is in this thoughtful meditation on relationships.

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LOL (Laughing Out Loud)

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By Xavier Toby in New Film on Tuesday 21 September 2010

I hate this acronym, and every internet or text related abbreviation in general. They’re lazy and annoying clichés, fast food emotions meant for those who don’t really feel or think. If there were a shorter word for an expression, it’d be in the dictionary. Anyway, apart from my problems with the killing of language by a generation of the barely literate who substitute constant interaction for substance, this film focuses on such a generation and manages to be not too annoying at all.

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Wake In Fright: classic Australian movie

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By Xavier Toby in New Film on Wednesday 15 September 2010

Chosen as part of the official selection of Cannes Classics in 2009, and premiered at the Cannes Festival back in 1971 (don’t worry I pronounce it ‘cans’ as well), this gem of Australian film-making was thought lost for all time. Luckily, it’d just fallen down the back of the storage shelf, or was being used to keep someone’s table level or some such, because it’s been found and re-released. Part horror and part indictment of Australia’s ingrained drinking culture, it’s a brutal and uncompromising film that will be as hard to forget as Samson and Delilah.

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The French Kissers: a movie about making out

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By Xavier Toby in New Film on Tuesday 14 September 2010

French kids that look like real kids shoving real tongues awkwardly past pimply cheeks into real throats. The actors in The French Kissers actually look the age of the people they’re supposed to be portraying, and they’re all as immature, petty and accidentally hilarious as you’d expect.

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Last Ride: dark Australian movie

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By Xavier Toby in New Film on Friday 3 September 2010

Most movies avoid morally flawed and reprehensible central characters, since it’s too hard to get audiences to empathise with them. Instead, they go for safe fluffy leads who have a few little problems, but are only misunderstood, and really, they’re the sorts of people that we should aspire to be. Boring and yuk.

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Brute Force: prison escape story from 1947

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By Xavier Toby in New Film on Monday 16 August 2010

There are several reasons to watch a black and white film, and most of them are about impressing the person you’re watching it with. Brute Force is a superb choice. Released back in 1947, it’s well-made and written, without any avert racism. The story is simple — a group of prisoners have had enough of their evil warden and decide to break out.

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The Visitor

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By Xavier Toby in New Film on Thursday 5 August 2010

Avoiding the clichés of a Hollywood storyline, and delivering a powerful message in an unassuming package, The Visitor breaks many established rules of multiplex films, but none of those are great storytelling. The lead character isn’t at all charismatic, instead he’s an economics professor, quietly suffering through the death of his wife.

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