Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Gasland

Writter & Director: Josh Fox

Another hard hitting documentary in the style of “What have they done to the electric car?” by Josh Fox. He sets out to examine the background to $100,000 offer for drilling rights to his family’s 16-acre homestead in the Catskill Mountains of Pennsylvania. Apparently under the family home there is an “ocean of natural gas.” Until now “fracking” a process described as extracting underground natural gas using a mixture of water, sand, and chemicals in hydraulic fracturing was uneconomical. Now all this has changed, and rural settings right across the US are being exploited. Former Vice President, Dick Cheney’s company sells the fracking technology. Enough said. Fox sets out across 24 states to investigate for himself how landowners have fared when they sold their drilling rights and been exposed the real health risks as a result of “fracking.” Allegedly among the 500 probable chemicals used in the process some are banned carcinogens. Major concerns are already expressed as to the impact of “fracking” on drinking water supplies to major US cities. Although Fox is stonewalled by companies and official bureaucracy he skillfully manages to draw out the truth. Not so much entertaining as really frightening. Worth a look.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Winter’s Bone

Director: Debra Granik

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes, Lauren Sweetser, Kevin Breznahan,and Isaiah Stone

Based on Daniel Woodrell’s novel the movie is set in the Ozark Mountains and tells the story of Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) who sets out on a dangerous journey to track down her bail-jumping father. To secure his bond he used the family home and failure to appear in court will mean repossession of the family home with the dependant family left to fend for themselves in the bitter Ozark woods. Against threats of retribution and violence the 17 year old slowly uncovers the truth behind her father’s disappearance. The movie sets out to explore the closed society of America’s rural poor, their insular and loyal attitudes, and what lies behind. Good sound performances from Jennifer Lawrence, and John Hawkes (Teardrop).

I’m still here

Directed by: Casey Affleck
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix

A documentary detailing Joaquin Phoenix’s dramatic descent into madness, or is it? Written by Casey Affleck and Joaquin Phoenix it does leave you in some doubt. Either way, Joaquin Phoenix puts in an elaborate, ballsy performance in which he confronts the media and entertainment industry with a warts and all bio of the screen actor committed to share the ‘behind the facade’ of celebrity. No wholes barred I am afraid but unfortunately it might have worked better had it included likable characters. Ricky Gervais has shown this works with comedies like Extras; and Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borak, but not here, I fear. Joaquin Phoenix(the character) is both a degenerate and unlikeable. This is bold cinema but only time will tell whether it is brilliant cinema.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Chloe

Director: Atom Egoyan
Starring: Julianne Moore, Liam Neeson, and Amanda Seyfried

A remake or reinterpretation of the French film “Nathalie,” (2003). Directed by Adam Egoyan the melodrama unfolds when loveless, Catherine Stewart (Julianne Moore) suspects her husband, David (Liam Neeson) of infidelity. Driven by jealousy she engages, Chloe (Amanda Seyfried), a high class prostitute, to tempt him and report back. Chloe’s meticulously detailed, voyeuristic reports transfix Catherine who finds herself sexually awakened. What transpires has devastating consequences to the whole family. Good performances all round in this slow moving, creepy, erotic tale. Script by Erin Cressida Wilson.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

South Solitary

Director: Shirley Barrett (Love Serenade)
Starring: Miranda Otto, Barry Otto, Marton Csokas, Rohan Nichol, and Essie Davis.

Set on a windswept isolated island (South Solitary) in 1927 George Wadsworth, (Barry Otto - Cosi) is the new lighthouse keeper. His companion is his niece, thirty-something, Meredith Appleton, (Miranda Otto) who is on the rebound. They share the island with Harry (Rohan Nichol) a light house assistant who is resentful for being passed over for the job and his colleague Jack Fleet (Marton Csokas) who is barely coping with post traumatic stress disorder from the Great War. The atmosphere is tense and all the more so because the previous lighthouse keeper shot himself. Time lies heavily on the lighthouse because ships are rare in the area due to the lighthouse’s unreliability. Under the thumb of her uncle Meredith acts as his housekeeper and tries to befriend Harry's wife, the unwelcoming Alma, (Essie Davis), and their 9-year-old daughter, Nettie, (Annie Martin). Nettie is a foul mouthed child with a scab collection and a crush on Jack. Inevitably a romance blossoms between Meredith and Jack as the characters are thrown together. This is a well shot movie with an affecting score and overall good performances. There is a fair degree of black humour which maintains your interests but it does tend to drag here and there.