May 24 — May 30
|Sat & Sun||2:00||5:00||7:15|
Unless otherwise noted, films begin on Friday and run through the next Thursday.
Director Wayne Blair’s charming, irresistible film seems improbable, but it’s based on a true story—co-scenarist Tony Briggs is the son of one of the original Sapphires, an Australian Aboriginal girl group who won the hearts of American troops stationed in Vietnam in the late ‘60’s, lifting troubled spirits with heartfelt renditions of Motown and other R&B classics. Chris O’Dowd is fantastic in a star-making role as Dave Lovelace, a boozing piano player always on the lookout for a fast buck. When he discovers a sister trio absolutely nailing a Merle Haggard song—though the racist audience doesn’t think too highly of the (non-white) ladies warbling Country-Western tunes—his cash register brain recognizes a gold mine. Lovelace becomes the girls’ manager and changes their song-list: he prefers sweet soul music and quickly turns the girls (Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, Miranda Tapsell) into a sultry antipodean version of the Supremes. Their cousin (Shari Sebbens) soon becomes the fourth member and the sexy, sparkly-miniskirted Sapphires begin touring nightclubs throughout Southeast Asia, entertaining soldiers at the height of the Vietnam War. This enjoyable, nostalgic romp gets some humor for the incongruity of Australian girls learning a distinctly American musical idiom—much like The Commitments, in which an Irish group perform R&B—but there are also some sharp points made in The Sapphires comparing the American Civil Rights movement to similar struggles faced by Aborigines in Australia. The acting is terrific, and there’s a refreshingly prickly romantic chemistry between O’Dowd and Mailman, holding her own against his Irish blarney as Gail, the eldest, most outspoken of the girls—she’s a good counterpoint to O’Dowd’s breezy, devil-may-care charm. The Sapphires is pure crowd-pleasing entertainment, as exuberant as the girls’ dynamic renditions of beloved tunes like “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and “I Can’t Help Myself.” It’s a joyous celebration of music, talent, determination, and the universal allure of sequined miniskirts.
Cinema NewsManhattan Short Presents Film of the Week. Each week the Festival Screens a Past Finalists Award Winning Film Online. Click here to watch the film short of the Week.
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Seniors/Students with valid ID: $7
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