Shining stars and dark closets

APPEALING MUSICAL: Cast of The Sapphires above and a scene from Beauty (below).
APPEALING MUSICAL: Cast of The Sapphires above and a scene from Beauty (below).

Title: The Sapphires

Director: Wayne Blair

Rated: PG

It is rare to come upon a musical as thoroughly appealing as The Sapphires, particularly hot-on-the-heels of the recent dopey blockbuster Rock of Ages. The Sapphires is not only funny, entertaining and Australian, it's also based on a true story and the music is hot! And this is a film for young and old which manages to touch on all manner of emotions.

The movie, based on Tony Brigg's 2004 stage musical, is the first feature by writer/actor/director Wayne Blair. It proved to be hugely popular at the Cannes Festival and has since achieved a wide international release.

Set in the late 60s, the movie begins with three Aboriginal sisters, Gail (Deborah Mailman), Cynthia (Miranda Tapsell) and Julie (Jessica Mauboy) trying their luck at a small town pub talent quest where they meet up with rough diamond muso Dave (Chris O'Dowd). An ad for entertainers for the troops in Vietnam attracts their attention, and together with cousin Kay (Shari Stebbens) they're all too soon in war-torn Saigon.

The movie features great casting, the four girls are all unique and O'Dowd is excellent. While the story is both folksy and feel-good, it's also sarcastic and infectious and it certainly doesn't shy away from issues of racism, stolen children and war. But this is a musical and the brilliant voice of Jessica Mauboy and great soul music are the stars of this wonderful crowd-pleasing movie.

Title: Beauty

Director: Oliver Hermanus

Rated: R

This is a powerful, brave and unsettling movie; dealing with repression and hypocrisy. South African director/

screenwriter Oliver Hermanus, in his award-winning second feature, unfolds the story of a bisexual/gay male living under the facade of a heterosexual marriage in a basically homophobic society.

In a brilliant and mesmerising performance, Dean Lotz plays the role of Francois, a well-to-do timber merchant in the post-apartheid Afrikaans-speaking region of Bloemfontain. While he covertly appears to indulge in regular upper-class racially-

segregated male orgies he, like his mates, has repressed his own homosexuality until he encounters Christian (Charlie Keegan), the son of a close friend, at his elder daughter's wedding.

Francois' obsession develops into a form of madness, exposing the violent and predatory nature of a man who's willing to betray his friend and family.

There is an underlying menace and anger played out in Francois, a racist and homophobic character who feels left behind by the changes in South African society. The film features an outstanding ensemble of actors, fine cinematography and a very good script.

Beauty will be screened at the Bush Theatre, Nimbin on Friday, August 24 and Saturday, August 25 at 7.30pm, and at the Star Court Theatre on Sunday, Sept 2 at 5.30pm and Friday, Sept 7 at 7.30pm.

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