Sydney Film Festival: Week 169

Sydney Film Festival at the State Theatre: Sydney, Australia

The State Theatre opened in 1929 as, “The Empire’s Greatest Theatre.” It was a rich mixture of Gothic, Italian, and Art Deco design topped with a glittery Koh-I-Nor cut crystal chandelier. At four tonnes, it is the second largest of its type in the world.

Unfortunately I couldn’t dig up any more info about the chandelier, which is surprising because ‘Koh-I-Nor’ is a massive name-drop in the world of diamonds.

Slight spelling difference aside, the lengthy history of the Koh-i-noor diamond dates back to early 14th century India. It means ‘Mountain of Light’ in Urdu and at 186 carats it certainly was a mountain of a diamond.

When Britain took control of the Punjab in 1849, one of the conditions was that the Koh-i-noor be gifted to Queen Victoria. Ironically, when the gemstone was shown for the first time at the Great Exhibition of 1851, the public was most unimpressed. Only after trimming down 42% to a svelte 109 carats did the new ‘oval brilliant’ cut sparkle in a way suitable to the court’s sensibilities.

Which makes me wonder- was the excess diamond then used for industrial purposes, such as crystal cutting? Is that how the State Theatre’s chandelier came into being? I don’t know, but now I regret deleting the photo I took of it.

Since 1974 the State Theatre has been home to the Sydney Film Festival. For the 2014 festival alone it screened 42 showings inside the 2,000 seat theatre. The film I went to see, The Rover, was a sold-out post-apocalyptic film by the Australian director David Michod.

The Outback was a perfect visual match for a dystopian future filled with dirty lethargic men. I liked that Michod never revealed the reason civilization collapsed and I also thought it was an interesting choice to cast Robert Pattison as an intellectually disabled thug with a penchant for violence. However, the lack of narrative struck a bad chord with me.

I also really didn’t like the way Guy Pearce’s character was portrayed. He perfectly captured the sullen and implacable role, but the role sucked. It was neither villainous enough to ‘love to hate’, nor was it redeemable enough to root for. In the end Pearce was just a really unlikable guy and I didn’t care what happened to him.

While The Rover was not a dismal write off by any means, the plot was not cohesive enough. The tagline on the poster said ‘fear the man with nothing left to lose,’ but he actually did have something left to lose. That’s the reason he woke from a post-apocalyptic stupor to chase down his stolen car.

What could have been left in the car that was so important? The answer is disappointing (full disclosure- I’m a cat person) and then a bunch of sweaty, gristly guys die. The end.

Remind me to leave Australia before civilization collapses.

About: The Sydney Film Festival

How to get to the State Theatre: 49 Market Street, Sydney NSW 2000

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