Julia Leigh

Film is a powerful medium, and the best ones can make you feel strongly one way or the other about fictional characters and their make-believe lives. These people exist only on the screen, and yet we can feel joy, fear, love, hatred and so much more for them as if they were living and breathing beside us. Most movies never accomplish this feat. And Sleeping Beauty is no different. Instead Julia Leigh‘s debut film manages something decidedly unique. The lead character is passive, bland and as emotionally inspiring as a wash cloth, but the actress who plays her? You just may find yourself feeling bad, embarrassed and fearful for her. Lucy (Emily Browning) is a college student like many others. She attends class during the day and at night works in a restaurant or office and occasionally volunteers for paid medical experiments. Sure, some nights she heads to swanky bars to do lines of coke with Asian women in the bathroom, but mostly she works hard. It never seems to be enough though as she’s always behind in her rent and at risk of being booted out by her roommates. Until she responds to an ad for a silver service waitress to work private parties. The interview is brief but invasive, and it comes with two warnings. Don’t make a career of this. And indiscretion will not be tolerated.

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Remember the time in college when you were strapped for cash and ended up working as a subconscious prostitute where anyone with a few bucks could have their way with you in your sleep? Yeah, we had that wiped from our memory too. Thankfully, Julia Leigh‘s new film Sleeping Beauty won’t let us forget. Here’s the trailer if you want to refresh yourself and get some context for the big spooning image of Emily Browning and your grandpa to the right. It hit Cannes with a mixed vengeance, and it should be in theaters (limited style), but it’s also available right this second on SundanceNOW. That is, if you like paying for things. Since we don’t, we’re giving away a free online ticket to see the movie through that wonderful website. How do you enter? How do you win? Glad you asked.

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With the Toronto International Film Festival mere weeks away, cinephiles everywhere are prepping to ship off to America’s hat for ten days of films and fun, all fueled by bagged milk and and trademark Canadian politeness. TIFF has already established itself as North America’s premiere film festival (duking it out with Sundance for top billing), but this year, the festival’s programmers have truly outdone themselves when it comes to putting together a drool-worthy schedule. This year’s TIFF has already announced the bulk of their lineup, including The Ides of March and Moneyball and their documentary and genre picks, but they now round out their programming with some final and spectacular picks.

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The last film Emily Browning was in featured her exploited, stripped down to lingerie and kicking a dragon’s ass. For Sleeping Beauty, it looks like she’ll be exploited and stripped down without a dragon in sight. The film from writer/director Julia Leigh was selected for Cannes in competition, and tells the story of a young student (played by Browning) who takes a job where men fulfill their sexual fantasies with her while she’s asleep. Of course, the trailer is sufficiently haunting, and it spells out a potentially bleak film that explores a person as object. Check it out for yourself:

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Emily Browning has replaced Mia Wasikowska as Sleeping Beauty. Generally, we’d find a statement such as this one to be (a) logical and (b) completely uneventful. Both actresses are young, fresh and would fit right in to the classic role of the sleepy princess. The twist is that this isn’t Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, it is the erotic version.

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