US critics laud Oz time-traveling tales
By coincidence two Australian time-travelling films had their world premieres at the weekend at the SXSX festival in Austin, Texas, and both got effusive reviews.
Variety hailed the Spierig brothers’ Predestination as an “an entrancingly strange time-travel saga that suggests a Philip K. Dick yarn by way of Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex or perhaps a feature-length mash-up of Looper and Cloud Atlas."
The Hollywood Reporter described first-time writer-director Hugh Sullivan’s The Infinite Man as a “semi-comic relationship film about a control-freak inventor trying time and time again to perfect an affair that may not have needed fixing before he started to tinker with it.”
Pinnacle will release Predestination in the second half of the year. Starring Ethan Hawke, Sarah Snook and Noah Taylor, it centres on a secret government time-traveling agency designed to prevent future killers and terrorists from committing their crimes.
The Infinite Man, which stars Josh McConville, Hannah Marshall, and Alex Dimitriades, will launch mid-year via Infinite Releasing, a new banner formed by the producers, Hedone Productions’ Kate Croser and Sandy Cameron, and executive producer Jonathan Page.
Variety’s Justin Chang said, “Graced by an extraordinary breakout performance from Aussie newcomer Sarah Snook, Predestination is likely fated for a minor arthouse reception at best, but there will be plenty of cultists willing to indulge its heady and rarefied approach.
“In the end, though, whatever success Predestination achieves rests almost entirely on the shoulders of its central performer. Over the years, Hawke (who also starred in the Spierig Brothers’ Daybreak) has become the sort of actor whose adventurous choice of material inspires confidence more often than not, and he makes an ideal guide to the mysteries on offer here. But he’s playing the foil this time, and it’s Snook, an actress in her 20s with an ethereal resemblance to Jodie Foster, who stays with you.”
Twitch Film’s Peter Martin opined, “The Spierig Brothers create a dreamy, precise, alternative version of the 1950s and 1960s, one in which the space program offers opportunities for young women to blast off to the stars.
“If everything doesn't quite add up, though, Predestination still satisfies as a tender character study, played with my favourite minor-key notes, and nimbly performed by Snook, Hawke, and Noah Taylor, who figures into things as an elegant, laconic authority figure. The Spierig Brothers continue to grow as filmmakers.”
The Hollywood Reporter’s John DeFore wrote, “The metaphoric possibilities of time-travel fantasies are unusually well exploited in The Infinite Man, Hugh Sullivan's semi-comic relationship film about a control-freak inventor trying time and time again to perfect an affair that may not have needed fixing before he started to tinker with it. Puzzle-like but rarely alienating, the Aussie import would be easy to market in art houses despite the absence of familiar faces on- or off-screen."
Way Too Indie’s Dustin Jansick said, “It’s pretty hard to believe that The Infinite Man is Hugh Sullivan’s feature directorial debut as very few attempt to make a science fiction film in the independent world because of budget restraints. And only a fraction of those who do take the leap would even consider doing a sophisticated time-travel story.
“The Infinite Man takes a rather simple idea and expands on it by adding several layers of visual flair and complexity due to interweaving time-travel–imagine Nacho Vigalondo’s Timecrimes with an influence of Wes Anderson’s stylishness.”
Matthew Razak of Flixist observed, “While some holes may exist, they're easily overlooked and excused thanks to the quick pace and fact that all time travel films by their very nature must have holes. The film knows its goal and drives toward it with pluck and panache leaving the viewer not only working out the time line, but the growth of its characters as well. This an easy to enjoy feature length debut from a director who I'd be happy to see more of.”