Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Father of my children

Father of my children (Le pere de mes enfants)

Writer and Director: Mia Hansen-Love (All Is Forgiven)

Starring: Louis-Dominique de Lencquesaing, Chiara Caselli, Alice de Lencquesaing, Alice Gautier

French film producer, Grégoire Canvel (Louis-Do de Lencquesaing) has a wife (Chiara Caselli) and three delightful daughters (Clémence , Valentine and Bobbie ) he adores. He loves his work and is driven and fulfilled artistically by discovering new talent and developing new projects. His world is perfect. Or is it? On the surface all is well but when the ‘worm turns,’ Gregoire has to contend with debts that have piled up over the years and issues with his productions that are currently in the works, Can he cope and will his loving family give him support ? You will need to see the movie to find out.

This is a well made French movie and thought provoking drama offering a rare insight into the joys and challenges of family life.



Look out for the end credits with the only song in the film and all is revealed.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The kids are all right

Director and Writer: Lisa Cholodenko (High Art and Laurel Canyon)

Starring: Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wasikowska, and Josh Hutcherson

Comic tale of a dysfunctional family in which Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore) are a married lesbian couple with two upstanding children, the introspective 18-year-old Joni (Mia Wasikowska); and her 15-year-old sibling, Laser (Josh Hutcherson). Unbeknown to their parents the kids decide to meet their biological father, the man who donated the sperm that led to both their conceptions. He turns out to be the laid-back Paul (Mark Ruffalo), an organic restaurateur who rides his motorcycle to and fro, from organic garden to Tuscan kitchen. His scruffy demeanor and easygoing attitude eventually earn the affection of the kids and Jules but sets Nic on edge. Unsure of how to allow him into their collective lives, the adults try to determine what’s best for all involved. Never realising of course the consequences of what awaits. Good performances throughout this well crafted and at time hilarious, movie.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Boy

Director Taika Waititi (Eagle vs Shark)

Starring Taika Waititi, James Rolleston, Te Aho Eketone-Whitu, Moerangi Tihore

Set in 1984 in Waihau Bay, New Zealand this coming of age movie tells the story of Boy (James Rolleston), and his younger brother, Rocky (Te Aho Aho Eketone-Whitu) who live with their deserted extended family on a farm. Nan (Mavis Paenga), the kid’s gran, looks after them and there is a goat called Leif. Boy's father, Alamein (Taika Waitit) has been absent for several years but makes a surprise return when Nan takes a short trip away from the farm. In the father’s absence the boys have become infatuated with Michael Jackson who has become a romanticised version of their old man. In reality of course the King of Pop and this incompetent criminal in search of hidden loot have little in common.... or have they? The movie is littered with a cast of quirky characters, swimming with imagination, humour and crammed full of in-jokes.



Matching Jack

Matching Jack
Director: Nadia Tass (Malcolm, The Big Steal, Amy)
Starring: Jacinda Barrett (Ladder 49, The Namesake), and James Nesbit (Five Minutes of Heaven and TV’s Cold Feet and Murphy’s Law).

Set in Melbourne, Marisa Hagen (Jacinda Barrett) struggles with her son's (Tom Russell) leukemia and her architect husband's (Richard Roxburgh) infidelity. In desperation she seeks potential doners from possible siblings from her husband’s previous affairs. After a chance encounter with the quirky Connor (James Nesbett) and his son Finn, (Kodi Smit-McPhee ), her life is turned upside down in a love story that defies explanation and breaks all the rules. As director, Nadia Tass deals sensitively with real issues affecting families, and how humour and optimism guide a mother through her darkest hours. Based on experiencesof Lynne Renew whose son was diagnosed with leukemia she co-wrote the script with Nadia Tass. Always enjoy watching James Nesbett (more so on the big screen) and there are good performances from the rest of the cast. This is a movie worth the watch. Take you hanky.



I Am Love (Io sono l'amore)

Writer/Director: Luca Guadagnino

Starring: Tilda Swinton, Marisa Berenson, Gabriele Ferzetti, and Edoardo Gabbriellini.

A tragic love story set at the turn of the millennium in Milan. The film follows the fall of the haute bourgeoisie due to the forces of passion and unconditional love. Emma (Tilda Swinton) is the Russian-born wife of a Milan industrialist, Tancredi Recchi (Pippo Delbono). She lives in a beautiful house with her two sons and daughter. Domestic bliss prevails until Edo (Flavio Parenti), introduces his mother to Antonio (Edoardo Gabbriellini) a young chef with dreams of opening his own restaurant in the countryside. Kismet and the two have a passionate affair but are their lives about to change? This is a beautiful film, moving, stylish with a sensual romance at its heart. Great performances all round.



Friday, July 23, 2010

Tinkerbell and the Great Fairy Rescue

Director: Bradley Raymond (Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World, The Hunchback of Notre Dame II)

Featuring: Mae Whitman (Tinkerbell) , Kristin Chenoweth (Rosetta), Lucy Liu (Silvermist), Jesse McCartney (Terence), Raven-Symoné (Iridessa)

I am a great believer in the power of pixie dust and so it was with great expectation I went along to see Disney’s Tinkerbell and the great fairy rescue. During the fairies' summer visit to the flowering meadows of England, Tink develops a special bond with a curious child in need of a friend. As her fellow fairies launch a daring rescue, Tinker Bell takes a huge risk, putting her own safety and the future of all fairykind in jeopardy. Bursting with excitement and imagination, Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue is perfect entertainment for children of all ages.


Look out for it at a cinema near you although this is likely to come out in DVD.


Toy Story 3

Director : Lee Unkrich and written by Michael Arndt

Starring: Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Jessie (Joan Cusack) and Andy (John Morris).

Pixar are back with Toy Story 3 and it is a cracker full of fun for both adults’ children alike. The story is Andy is now grown older and about to leave home for college. He decides to take Woody for sentimental reasons but the other toys face the prospect of being thrown on a rubbish truck. Fate however has them wind up in a day centre for toddlers. At first everything appears to be going well with new friends and children until they realise the kids are spoilt brats who whack, batter and abuse them. The worse is yet to come when new friends turn out to be cruel captors when the children have gone. The sinister, Lots-o’-Huggin (Ned Beatty) is the leader of the day centre toys and shows little mercy to Buzz and his friends. Faced with this and the prospect of being incinerated, Buzz and crew plan to escape from Sunny Side. All of which provides the backdrop for some dazzling and alarming moments. The 3D animation is glorious, and the plot turns are relentlessly witty, from the love affair between a discarded Barbie and a wonderfully camp Ken, to the scene in which Mr Potato Head has to make do with a floppy tortilla for a body. Take your handkerchiefs as they milk the sentiment but the climax of this 3 D movie is riveting (and worth the cost of the ticket, alone). Fear not because Pixar will be back with Toy Story 4.


Friday, July 9, 2010

Greenberg

Director: Noah Baumbach ("The Squid and the Whale")

Starring: Ben Stiller, Greta Gerwig, Rhys Ifans, Jennifer Jason Leigh

This Noah Baumbach movie has Ben Stiller (The Night At The Museum), as
New Yorker, Roger Greenberg, recovering from a nervous breakdown and house-sitting for his absentee brother. The self-obsessed bachelor lives in the shadow of his more successful sibling but takes opportunity to start again in LA reconnecting with old friends including his former band mate, Ivan (Rhys Ifans – Twin Town). However things are no longer as they once were. Meantime romance of sorts blossoms as Greenberg and his brother's personal assistant Florence (Greta Gerwig) finally get together after a false start. Superb performance from Greta Gerwig is the highlight of the movie and Stiller, to be fair, is not too bad either in this Woody Allenesque comedy. Rhys Ifans puts in a good effort as the long suffering friend and the movie does contain some clever dialogue in places, so it is worth seeing.



Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Room

Chance to catch the cult movie, The Room. Deemed the worst film ever made it is so bad as to make it essential art house. Writer, director and actor Tommy Wiseau ((Homeless in America, Neighbors) decided to make a film out his play and book. Turned down by mainstream Hollywood he spent five years developing and independently raising funds for the project. Originally shot on film and digital camera sitting side by side on the same mount. The camera crew was replaced twice during the making of the movie due to artistic differences with the director. Much of the dialogue was overdubbed and there is little attempt to lip sync. Many of the main actors had either never appeared in movies or taken a lead role. Both sub- plot and characters come and go and continuity errors abound. There is no attempt to set the narrative in chronological order, so like life itself: you just take this movie as it comes. Absolute celluloid chaos and well named the ‘Citizen Cane of movies,’ from the 21st century answer to Ed Wood (some say).



Not put off, then the plot is:



A melodramatic story of a tragic love triangle between banker, Johnny (Wiseau), his fiancée Lisa (Juliette Danielle) and his best friend, Mark (Greg Sestero). Johnny has a sidekick named Denny (Philip Haldiman) who he’s putting through college (no explanation why?) The boys like to throw ball together and Lisa’s mother Claudette (Carolyn Minnott) is an interfering old bat. The film has also several subplots involving secondary characters. Be warned for fans of the Room will rock up to the showing, dressed as their favorite characters, throw plastic spoons at the screen (a reference to unexplained framed photos of cutlery often seen in the background), Some will mimic the characters and throw and catch a ball and everyone throughout the movie calls out insulting comments and criticisms about the quality of the film.



Who would want to miss that?




Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ghost Writer

Director: Roman Polanski
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Kim Cattrall, Olivia Williams

A contemporary, thriller written by Robert Harris (Fatherland, and Enigma) and directed by Roman Polanski. The story involves Ex Prime Minister, Adam Lang (Pierce Bronson) who wants to capitalise on his situation and have his memoirs written but his advisor and writer is tragically killed in an accident. Keen to complete the works in a timely fashion the publishers engage a virtual unknown ghost writer (Ewan McGregor) to clean up the autobiography of former British Prime. Plucked from obscurity the McEwan character is promised fame and fortune and flown to an oceanfront retreat on an island off the U.S. Eastern seaboard. There Adam Land his wife are in residence with a small team including the ex- prime minister’s attractive assistant, Amelia Bly (Kim Cattrall aka Samantha Jones of S&TC ). No sooner has the Ghost arrived when a major controversy breaks concerning the former PM who is accused of being a war criminal. Now under the watchful eye of the world’s press the Ghost begins to uncover clues suggesting his predecessor may have been murdered after he stumbled on a dark secret of political skullduggery. Will the same thing happen to the McEwan character or will he survive ? Well you need to go to the movie to find that out – but this is a good suspenseful thriller well told and resonates with topical themes. The moral to the movie seems to be “history is decided by whoever stays alive to write it.” Good characterisations in this watchable movie with stellar performances from McGregor and Brosnan. But it is Olivia Williams playing the ex PM’s wife gets the five stars for her performance. A better effort from Polanski and more like his better work (China Town and Rosemary’s Baby). If you enjoyed Shutter Island you will want to see The Ghost Writer.


Monday, July 5, 2010

Me and Orson Wells

Director: Richard Linklater (Fast Food Nation)

Starring: Christian McKay; Zac Elfron (High School Musical ), Claire Danes.

Rather a sterile but accurate bio-flick with one redeeming feature, Christian McKay performance as Orson Wells is impressive. Based on a book by Robert Kaplow the narrative follows the adventures of aspiring 17 year old actor, Richard Samuels (played by Zac Elfron). His forwardness gets him an invite to join the Mercury Theatre production of Julius Caesar in 1937. There he has a (non paying) small part and comes under the Svengali control of Orson Wells as he learns his craft with Joseph Cotten (James Tupper) and producer John Houseman (the great Eddie Marsan), during the Wellsian chaos that prevails behind the curtains. The most remarkable aspect of the movie is in the glimpses we are privy to i.e.the opening-night performance of Julius Caesar.

The sub plot involves a romantic association with the ambitious office manager, played by Sonja Jones Claire Danes.

The irony is not lost with the casting of McKay and Elfron. Both young talents and like the parts they play, so different.

A must for all Wells fans.



Every Jack has a Jill (Jusqu'à Toi)

Writer and Director: Jennifer Devoldere

Starring: Melanie Laurent, Justin Bartha .

Chloe (Melanie Laurent - Inglourious Basterds) is a 26-year-old Parisienne who lives in a world of anxieties, defences and missed opportunities. She is completely insensitive to the possibility that others may possess feelings just as refined as her own and seeks solace with her neighbours, Myriam (Valerie Benguigui) and Didier (Yvon Back). Her other most significant adult relationships revolved around the characters she meets at her local DVDs rental store. All this changes when there is a luggage mix-up at the airport. Chloe becomes fascinated with the contents of a stranger’s suitcase and fantasises about its owner. In the tradition of French Farce, she is wrong. The owner Jack, Chloé (The Hangover) is a young American on the rebound and visiting Paris for the first time. His friend, Rufus (Billy Boyd – Lord of the Rings), is a pithy Scot. Added comedy comes from the manager of Jack's hotel (played by the French veteran actor, Maurice Benichou) who is every bit the ‘Manuel’ of the Parisians hospitality industry. Jack is also befriended by an English couple staying at his hotel who persuades him to take the Da Vinci Code tour with them.

A light romantic comedy (sic. been done before and better).



Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Runaways

Writer and Director: Floria Sigismondi

Starring; Kristen Stewart, Dakota Fanning and Michael Shannon

This is a bio-pic of the 70s all girl rock group, The Runaways. Very much in the sex drugs and rock’n’roll tell all vein and is based loosely around the memoir of Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning - The Secret Life of Bees). The movie does its best as 'kiss and tell' of the period but is somewhat sanitised. (sic. I prefer Sid and Nancy). Kirsten Stewart (Twilight Saga) plays the enigmatic Joan Jet and both young actresses give credible performances as they stride more toward adult roles. Who steals the show (for me) is Michael Shannon who plays slime ball manager, Kim Fowley. A dream part if there ever was one. In real life Fowley was a shadowy cult figure and every bit a match for Malcolm McLaren and his ilk. The movie has two parts i.e. the rise then the decline. The second part is more of a cinematic experience and hence more interesting. The bittersweet story is predictable and joins a long line of similar bubblegum flicks. Joan Jett was one of the executive producers for the film but Jackie Fox declined to be involved in the project.




Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Waiting City

The Waiting City

Middle class Australian couple (Radha Mitchell and Joel Edgerton) travel to Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta) to adopt an infant from a city orphanage. On arrival they discover the adoption arrangements have still to be finalised. Filling in time and caught in the mystique of the city they begin a spiritual awakening. Forced to confront their differences and concealed deep secrets the couple ultimately rediscover themselves and belief in life’s possibilities. The movie plot is not unlike Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now (1973), although much less intriguing. A reasonable weepy although I am not sure about the casting of Joel Edgerton.
Written and directed by Claire McCarthy and cinematography by Denson Baker. The film accurately captures the atmosphere of the city slums.






The Waiting City - Official Trailer from The Waiting City on Vimeo.