Friday, December 9, 2011

Sherlock Holmes 2

Sherlock Holmes: A game of shadows

Director: Guy Ritchie
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Jared Harris, Noomi Rapace, (the ubiquitous) Stephen Fry

In the sequel to Sherlock Holmes, the intrepid sleuth (Robert Downey Jr.) attempts to thwart the plans of the fiendish Prof. Moriarty (Jared Harris) with the aid of his old friend, Dr. Watson (Jude Law) and a mysterious Gypsy fortune teller called Sim (Noomi Rapace. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,). Bit ‘same old,’ but watchable for all that. The action is gripping and a treat to watch, thanks mainly to the work of production designer Sarah Greenwood and costume designer Jenny Beavan. Can Sherlock unlock the mystery and save Europe, well you need to see the movie to find out. Good performances though from the cast with Jared Harris particularly outstanding as the malevolent Professor Moriarty.

Puss in boots

Director: Chris Miller

Voices of: Antonio Banderas, Zach Galifianakis, Selma Hayek , Amy Sedaris, Billy Bob Thornton, Constance Marie

The spin off from Shrek, sees Puss (Antonio Banderas) a roving outlaw and thief. Criminal genius Humpty Dumpty's (Zach Galifianakis) betrayed the poor kitten and the wronged pussy is now looking for a way to clear his name. The script mixes the basic concept of Humpty Dumpty, Jack And The Beanstalk and Jack And Jill. Difficult to resist the frisky feline and Puss In Boots is a crisp 3 D move crammed with laughs for grown-ups and material for the kids. A must for all cat lovers of all ages.


The adventures of Tintin

Director: Steven Spielberg

Voices of: Jamie Bell, Daniel Craig, Andy Serkis, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kim Stengel

Tintin (Jamie Bell), the intrepid young reporter and his dog Snowy are on the trail again of another adventure. The story combines three of Hergé’s classic tales, The Crab with the Golden Claws, The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham’s Treasure. After buying a model ship at a flea market Tintin is made aware others are after the seemingly worthless replica. The villainous Ivanovich Sakharine (Daniel Craig) kidnaps Tintin and holds him captive on a ship captained by the inebriated Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis). Tintin and Snowy manage to rescue the captain from house arrest and join him in a quest to find an ancient treasure associated with the captain’s long departed ancestor Sir Francis Haddock. Aided and abetted by the Thompson Twins and others, the plot thickens in this convincing fantasy. Loaded with exotic make believe locales and graphics that are exquisite the action is nonstop with duels, high-speed vehicle chases and pirate raids. A joy to watch and a must for all Georges Remi fans and the fabulous Hergé’s Tintin.

Friday, December 2, 2011

autoluminescent: Rowland S Howard

Directors: Richard Lowenstein and Lynn-Maree Milburn

Rowland S Howard was a composer, guitarist, and singer who was a member of the post-punk band The Birthday Party with Nick Cave. This affectionate bioflic documents his life and times and follows the independent, Melbourne band from London to West Berlin. Acknowledged as one of the most significant independent guitarists, Rowland's personal life was sadly dogged by his heroin addiction but the movie gives a refreshingly honest insight into the artist’s miseries, and triumphs (including the falling out between Cave and Rowland). Plenty newsreel footage and revealing interviews with friends, family and colleagues, including Cave, Mick Harvey, Wim Wenders and Lydia Lunch. Autoluminescent will interest both Howard devotees and the merely curious.

The women on the 6th floor

Director: Philippe Le Guay

Cast: Fabrice Luchini, Natalia Verbeke, Sandrine Kiberlain, Carmen Maura, Lola Duenas

A class-conscious French comedy set in Paris in 1962. Conservative, middle aged stockbroker, Jean-Louis (Fabrice Luchini) lives in a spacious apartment with his fussy, nervous wife, Suzanne (Sandrine Kimberlain) and their two spoiled children. When their longtime family maid leaves, Jean-Louis hires a young Spanish replacement called Maria (Natalia Verbeke), who lives on the sixth floor with other Spanish immigrants. When by chance the fastidious financier discovers the women are living in restricted circumstances he tries to help them. Sensitized to something different in his behavior Suzanne assumes he is having an affair with a wealthy female client. Mildly amusing and something to see if you are in the mood.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A few best men

Director: Stephan Elliott

Starring: Rebel Wilson, Xavier Samuel, Olivia Newton

A lame and unfunny comedy about a groom and his three badly behaved best men. David ( Xavier Samuel) returns to London from an island vacation with a new Australian fiance, Mia (Laura Brent) and his three mates crackup. Feeling betrayed and abandoned, Tom (Kris Marshall), Graham (Kevin Bishop) and Luke (Tim Draxl), get into trouble all the way to Australia and beyond. Three men behaving badly gives ample opportunity for sheep jokes, smut and other body function wheezes, but little else.

Melancholia

Director: Lars von Trier

Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Alexander Skarsgård, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland), John Hurt, Charlotte Rampling.

Deep and meaningful well you will need to see it to make up your mind. A movie of two halves which starts off after the spectacular tableaux, which if you know the story summarizes it perfectly. Curtain rises and the setting is an all night wedding reception for Justine (Kirsten Dunst) and Michael (Alexander Skarsgård), which is being held at the palatial country estate owned by Justine’s level-headed sister Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and her wealthy husband John (Kiefer Sutherland), who is given to much grumbling about how much the affair is costing him. Clearly not all is well as Justine drifts aimlessly among her oddly behaved guests. The second part of the movie finds Justine now estranged and depressed living with Claire and John. The news a rouge planet called Melancholia has Claire consumed with impending doom and John, an amateur astronomer excited at the forthcoming the event. Justine’s trance-like calm is juxtaposed with Claire’s increasing anxiety. In the end what does it all matter? Good performances from a stellar cast and excellent photography but this is a movie for the curious only.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Albert Nobbs

Director: Rodrigo Garcia

Starring: Glenn Close, Janet McTeer, Mia Wasikowska, Aaron Johnson

The movie is adapted from a short story by Irish author George Moore, titled “The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs.” Set in Dublin, in 19th century Ireland, Albert Nobbs (Glen Close) is a woman passing as a man in order to work and survive. As the shy butler in a small hotel she has suppressed her real personality but her orderly existence is threatened one day by the arrival of a scrappy housepainter. Transpires she is another cross dresser played by Janet McTeer. The housepainter is housepainter is married which cause causes 'Albert' to re-assess her own life. Keen to woo one of the pretty housemaids, Helen (Mia Wasikowska), the relationship is further complicated because Helen is attracted to a handsome handyman (Aaron Johnson). This unusual love triangle is constrained by the lack of narrative but none the less overall good performances by the cast.

Arrietty

Director: Hiromasa Yonebayashi

English voicings: Saoirse Ronan, Mark Strong, Olivia Colman, Tom Holland, Phyllida Law, Geraldine McEwan

An animated film based on Mary Norton's 1950s Borrowers novels. This is the latest movie from Studio Ghibli (Japan) and is an exquisite blend of imaginative animation and good old-fashioned storytelling. Miniature people live like mice under the floorboards and survive by stealing (borrowing) leftovers from the human beans. Arrietty is a young teenager, curious learn more about the world around her. Against best advice ‘the borrower’ makes a friend of Sho, a sickly human boy. The growing friendship threatens her family's secret existence and Arrietty learns a thing or two about compatibility. Utterly charming, beautifully made and genuinely moving. Highly recommended.

The Iron Lady

Director: Phyllida Lloyd

Starring: Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent, Olivia Coleman, Richard E Grant

"What we think is what we become. And I think I am fine." The Iron Lady

A biopic about Margaret Thatcher (Meryl Streep), the longest serving British Prime Minister in the 20th century. Told in flashback, we see her rise from grocer’s daughter (Alexandra Roach) to Conservative MP, the nation’s supremo, then lonely old lady. The widowed Baroness Thatcher is now assailed by memories that tell her that her husband still lives and that she remains the prime minister reflects on her past life. Plenty archival footage to contextualize a rather sentimental narrative which unfortunately covers too wide a time span for much expose but there are some revealing glimpses into the Iron Lady, for all that. Credible performances throughout from the superb cast. Jim Broadbent is just outstanding as husband, Dennis (The Menace) Thatcher. Tipped for Oscars, I would hope personal hair and makeup designer; J. Roy Helland will be recognised. Thatcherites or otherwise this is worth a view.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Brave

Directors: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman
Voices: Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson, Sally Kinghom, Eilidh Fraser, Peigi Barker, Steven Cree, Steve Purcell, Callum O'Neill, Patrick Doyle, John Ratzenberger

This animated feature from Disney Pixar incorporates the most exquisite animation ever put to film. More narrative than recent Disney Pixar efforts, it captures a folkloric tale set in 10th century, Scotland. Princess Merida (Kelly Macdonald) is the raven-haired daughter of King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson). Her parents promise to marry her off to one of the sons to the kingdom’s three lords (Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson, Robbie Coltrane). Transpires the fellows are not exactly the best suitors and Merida is not quite ready for marriage. Her controlling mother insists she adhere to tradition and pick a husband, upholding the shaky truce between the lords in the process. Tempestuous Merida bolts to the woods in a fit of anger, and happens upon a witch (Julie Walters) who promises to change her fate. When the dust from the spell eventually settles, Merida discovers she has put everyone at risk, and even awoken the fabled demon bear that once terrorised their land and claimed her father’s leg. The young lady must make amends and what follows is slap-stickingly funny. The wild beauty of Scotland is lovingly rendered with a gorgeous palette of painterly colors and the voicings in particular are exceptional and pleasurable. The movie does contain some scary bit so do be warned with very young viewers, otherwise a delight.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Arthur Christmas

Director: Sarah Smith

Voiced by: James McAvoy (Arthur), Hugh Laurie (Steve), Bill Nighy (Grandsanta), Jim Broadbent (Santa), Imelda Staunton (Mrs. Santa), Ashley Jensen (Bryony), Marc Wootton (Peter), Laura Linney (North Pole Computer), Eva Longoria (Chief De Silva), Ramona Marquez (Gwen) and Michael Palin (Ernie Clicker).

Aardman Animations (makers of Wallace & Gromit) have teamed up with Sony Pictures Animation to produce the 3 D, Arthur Christmas. Arthur Christmas (James McAvoy), is the youngest of Poppa Santa’s (Jim Broadbent) sons. He is a bumbler and kept busy answering children’s letters. Older sibling and heir apparent Steve (Hugh Laurie) has co-ordinated the high-tech production and delivery system that enables Santa to meet the gift needs of the entire world in a single night. It’s Christmas Eve, and Steve is expecting Poppa Santa (Jim Broadbent) to retire once the last present is delivered. Trouble at mill just when everyone thinks all the kids have had their Christmas presents delivered it is realized one toy has been overlooked. Can Arthur and gnarly old Grandsanta (Bill Nighy) deliver it the old-fashioned way, to save Christmas? Well you need to see this movie to find out. Far too sophisticated for most toddlers perhaps, but will suit older kids, and there is plenty to keep the adults amused here too.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Toomelah

Director: Ivan Sen

Sarring: Daniel Connors, Christopher Edwards, Dean Daley-Jones, Buster Michael Connors

Set in an impoverished Australian Aboriginal community (Toomelah), this is a story about a 10 year old boy, Daniel (Daniel Connors) who strikes up a relationship with a drug dealer. Daniel is left to fend for himself with an absentee father Buster (Michael Connors), who is a drunkard and mother and old aunt who are negligent. He lives in rank poverty in a ramshackled house with no supervision. The boy has a talent for boxing but bored with his peers, seeks out a role model in the older Linden (Christopher Edwards), a local low-end drug dealer and hard man. Linden makes him part of his gang but when rival gangsta, Bruce (Dean Daley-Jones) returns from jail and threatens to take over a violent confrontation follows. Daniel is caught in the middle and finally has to take a decision which road he needs to follow. This is a coming of age movie set in the grim reality of living in poverty. Confronting, the movie is not without humour, but brutally honest and draws its acting talent from within the community.

Restless

Director: Gus Van Sant

Starring: Henry Hopper, Mia Wasikowska , Ryo Kase , Schuyler Fisk

Poinant love story between a haunted and death-obsessed teen, Enoch Brae (Henry Hopper) and his paramour, a terminally-ill beauty, Annabel Cotton (Mia Wasikowska). After Enoch was orphaned in a car crash, he was brought up with his aunt. His only friend is the ghost of a Japanese kamikaze pilot named Hiroshi (Ryo Kase). With the sense of morbid Enoch crashes funerals until at one day he meets the spritely Annabel Cotton (Mia Wasikowska). Annabel is suffering a terminal illness but the two young people start a loving courtship. Annabel’s sister, Elizabeth (Schuyler Fisk), is wary of Enoch’s motives. Good performances in this sweet and sour weepie.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Ages of Love (Manuale d’amore 3)

Director: Giovanni Veronesi

Starring: Robert De Niro, Carlo Verdone, Riccardo Scamarcio, Monica Bellucci, Michele Placido, Laura Chiatti, Donatella Finocchiaro, Valeria Solarino, Vittorio Emanuele Propizio, Marina Rocco

This is a romantic comedy involving a trilogy of vignettes of love stories connected by a taxi-driving Cupid (Emanuele Propizio). Set in Italy it explores the three ages of love (i.e. youth; maturity; and beyond). The first tale involves an ambitious lawyer Roberto (Riccardo Scamarcio) who wants to marry Sara (Valeria Solarino) until he is bewitched by Micol (Laura Chiatt) . Next we meet Fabio (Carlo Verdone) a married newscaster who is seduced by Eliana (Donatella Finocchiaro). Finally there is Adrian (Robert De Niro), an art professor from the US now living in Rome, who meets and courts his doorman’s daughter,Viola played by (the gorgeous) Monica Bellucci . Amusing and entertaining and a must for all who hanker to see Robert De Niro talking Italian.

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Tall Man

Director: Tony Krawitz

Based on the award-winning book by Chloe Hooper this is an Australian documentary about Cameron Doomadgee, (the tall man) from Palm Island Indigenous Community who was arrested for allegedly swearing at Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley and his police aide, in 2004. Doomadgee died soon after in custody from brutal injuries. Officially, the death of Doomadgee was as result of a fall following a brief confrontation with Hurley. When the news reached the Palm Islanders it sparked a violent riot. Hurley was eventually charged with the death of Doomadgee and become the first policeman in Australia to be charged in relation to a black death in custody. The documentary examines the coronial inquest that followed; the subsequent charging of Hurley for murder (who was acquitted); and the impact on the Doomadgee family and the Palm Island Indigenous Community as they struggle to understand what happened to their brother .This is a gripping and provocative film that exposes the complexities of Australia's racial politics.
Following traditional Aboriginal protocol of not naming the dead by their real names, Cameron Doomadgee was named Mulrunji after his death.

Harrowing, but not to be missed.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

We need to talk about Kevin

Director: Lynne Ramsay

Starring: John C. Reilly, Tilda Swinton, Ezra Miller, Ashley Gerasimovich

How responsible are parents for their children’s behavior? The movie explores this dilemma with Eva (Tilda Swinton), the ambitions mother who puts her career aside to give birth to Kevin (Jasper Newell (6 year old) and Ezra Miller (15 year old) ). From the very beginning the relationship between mother and son is difficult. When Kevin becomes a teenager he does something irrational and unforgiveable in the eyes of the entire community. Eva must grapple with her own feelings of grief and responsibility as she copes with hatred and recrimination. The film is an adaptation from the novel by Lionel Shriver and is atmospheric and beautifully shot. Great performances from the mesmerizing, Tilda Swinton and the rest of the cast including the soppy husband/father Franklin (John C. Reilly). More art house than mainstream, ‘We need to talk about Kevin’, is a real modern horror story.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Muppets

Director: James Bobin

Starring: The Muppets

Walter (voiced by Peter Linz) is the world's biggest Muppet fan, and when he discovers Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) wants to buy and knockdown the Muppet Theater in LA to drill for the oil, he and his friends Gary (Jason Segel) and Mary (Amy Adams) from Smalltown, USA, spring into action. The decide to stage The Greatest Muppet Telethon Ever and raise the $10 million needed to save the theater, Walter, Mary and Gary must help Kermit reunite the Muppets. As the years passed they have all gone their own way: Fozzie now performs with a Reno casino tribute band called the Moopets, Miss Piggy is a plus-size fashion editor at Vogue Paris, Animal is in a Santa Barbara clinic for anger management, and Gonzo is a high-powered plumbing magnate. Fun and game then in this new Muppet caper which includes twenty-one new musical numbers. Certainly appeal to fans of the old show and bound to win over (just what Disney wants) new tiny tot fans too.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bill Cunningham NEW YORK

Director: Richard Press

A touching documentary about fashion photographer, Bill J Cunningham. The 80 something snap shutter has for decades captured the fashions of the glitterati and ordinary New Yorkers chronicled in his columns for The New York Times. More than a fashion photographer, the socio-anthropologist braves the hazards of the streets of New York by cycling round the Big Apple, stopping frequently when an image strikes his eye. The film explores the life and times of the legendary eccentric. Worth a watch.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Santa's Apprentice

Director: Luc Vinciguerra

Featuring the voices of : Shane Jacobson, Magda Szubanski, Delta Goodrem, Georgie Parker, Max Cullen, Hugh Sheridan, Jack Versace

Santa (Shane Jacobson) needs to retire (reluctantly) and must find an apprentice. The criteria for Santa’s apprentice include an orphan by the name of Nicholas, who is pure of heart. Downunder there is a perfect match but Aussie orphan (Jack Versace) does have some issues to overcome which include a lack of self-confidence and fear of heights. Will Santa agree to step down, and help his apprentice take his place? Well you do need to see this movie to find out. A movie for kids the film follows Nicholas’ journey as he undergoes training on how to be the next Santa, showing the ins and outs and “back-end” processes of Santa and his crew during the Christmas season, from making the toys to delivery. Along the way the film deals with some serious issues that affect children, such as bullying. Santa’s apprentice is beautiful animated and family audiences will delight in this adorable story of an Aussie orphan that makes good as Saint Nick’s second in command. The movie is a French, Australian and Irish co-production. A must see film for Christmas.

Our idiot brother

Our Idiot Brother

Director: Jesse Peretz

Starring: Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer, Rashida Jones, Adam Scott, Steve Coogan, Kathryn Hahn, T.J. Miller, Shirley Knight, Matthew Mindler, Sterling K. Brown, Hugh Dancy, Janet Montgomery, Bob Stephenson, Peter Hermann
Ned (Paul Rudd ) is a young hippy type organic farmer that operates a stall in a New York farmer's market. Naïve to the extreme his innocence soon gets him into trouble and he is sent to jail. On release he goes for a family dinner and with he three weird sisters, Miranda (Elizabeth Banks), Natalie (Zooey Deschanel), and Liz (Emily Mortimer). Each sister has her own personal drama. Liz is married to documentary filmmaker Dylan (Steve Coogan); Ned gets a job working for him and discovers Dylan having an affair with his subject, a Russian ballerina. When this gets back to Liz, Ned gets the blame. Liz, who is in a solid relationship with Cindy (Rashida Jones), has a fling with a male artist (Hugh Dancy) and gets pregnant, the secret of which is entrusted to Ned. Natalie, who works for Vanity Fair magazine, uses Ned in a shady way to get some inside dirt for a big story. And so it goes Paul Rudd is charming as Ned, the laid-back title character. Not an out and out comedy, the laughs are consistent and occasionally outlandish, but more often, they arise out of recognizable family situations.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Higher Ground

Director: Vera Farmiga

Starring: Vera Farmiga, Taissa Farminga, Donna Murphy, John Hawkes

A spiritual drama based on Carolyn Briggs' "This Dark World." The movie follows the story of young Corinne (Taissa Farminga), brought up as Christian but sensitized after witnessing her parents’ breakup. When she is older (Vera Farmiga), she marries Ethan (Joshua Leonard). The couple live ordinary lives within the Christian sect and Corinne develops a close friendship with the eccentric and fun loving Annika (Dagmara Dominczyk). When tragedy befalls Annika and a near death experience involves their daughter Corinne’s faith is severely tested. The couple turn to the Bible to make sense of it all. Do the answers lie within? Well you will need to see the movie to find out. The lovely Vera Farmiga makes her directorial debut in this movie.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Hunter

Director: Daniel Nettheim

Starring: Willem Dafoe, Sam Neill

Based on the novel by Julia Leigh the movie takes place in Tasmania during the 1920’s. A solitary hunter is in pursuit of the illusive and possibly last remaining Tasmanian tiger (the thylacine) when he comes across a family of a man missing in the wilderness. All is not what it seems in this excellent mystery. Fabulous photography and great performances all round. Worth a watch.

Take Shelter

Director: Jeff Nichols

Starring: Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Tova Stewart, Shea Whigham, Katy Mixon,

Curtis (Michael Shannon) is a loving husband and father suddenly beset by schizophrenia. Together with his wife, Samantha (Jessica Chastain) and hearing-impaired daughter, Hannah (Tova Stewart), they live in rural Ohio. After a series of vivid nightmares he becomes obsessed with needing to protect his family from an imagined storm. Curtis takes out a massive loan, he can ill afford, and without consulting Samantha turns his backyard shelter into a huge and expensive bunker. Aware of familial schizophrenia, his mother (Kathy Baker) lives in an assisted-living center, Curtis tries to seek help, but as his anxieties are internalized his behaviour becomes progressively strange. When the hallucinations start to invade his waking life terrifying consequences follow. Technically a very good movie which tackles the emotive subject of mental health. Supremely acted and whilst not an enjoyable watch, well worth seeing. Not really for the faint hearted but the cinematography of Adam Stone is superb.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

What's your number?

Director: Mark Mylod

Starring: Anna Faris, Chris Evans, Ari Graynor

When Boston marketing analyst and spinster, Ally Darling (Anna Faris) discovers her 20th beau is a dud she resorts to creative accounting. With the help of her hunky, neighbour, (rather obvious true love), Colin (Chris Evans), she backtracks through her weirdly assorted exes in the hope they may yet prove to be her Mr Right. The movie tries to cover too many storylines in the process and is at best, a very mediocre comedy which is as predictable as it is boring.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Norwegian Wood

Director: Tran Anh Hung

Starring: Rinko Kikuchi, Kenichi Matsuyama, Kengo Kora

Based on Haruki Murakami's acclaimed novel Norwegian Wood the movie deals with extreme teen angst and erotic tragedy. After hearing the Beatles' "Norwegian Wood" Watanabe (Kenichi Matsuyama) reflects back to his student days in late 1960s in Tokyo. A sad time for him as he was dealing with bereavement after his best friend Kiziku committed suicide. Watanabe, is girl shy but through their shared grief forges a strong emotional bond with Kizuku's girlfriend, the delicate, Naoko (Rinko Kikuchi). What might have been never quite comes to pass as their lives move on and Watanabe meets Midori (Kiko Mizuhara). A beautifully shot movie which sadly lacks engagement. Suit the romantics and has an enjoyable musical score by Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead).

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Just for kicks


God save my shoes

Director: Julie Benasra

The documentary explores the complex and often fascinating world of women and their relationship to their footwear. The originall idea came from for the film’s producer Thierry Daher ( “Just For Kicks” a history of sneakers through hip hop) who thought a psycho-social profile of woemn and their shoes would also be interesting. Thierry invited Julie to direct it and she travelled the world interviewing shoe lovers, designers and experts (but not me ?). On screen interviews include Elizabeth Semmelhak (curator at the Bata Museum), shoe designer, Christian Louboutin, shoe collector, Beth Shak, and burlesque dancer Dita Von Teese, among others. Interesting insight into the shoe psychology.

Cave of forgotten dreams

Director: Werner Herzog

Chauvet Cave in South France was discovered in 1994 and is the home to the oldest rock paintings and archeological marvels in world. This is the first time a filmmaker has had the chance to film inside the limestone cave and interview the archeologists, art historians and other scientists and academics who have been studying the cave. The movie is in 3 D and narrated by the director. On screen is always fascinating but does meander from time to time.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Smurfs

Director: Raja Gosnell

Starring: Hank Azaria, Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays, Tim Gunn with voices of Anton Yelchin (Clumsy), Jonathan Winters (Papa), Katy Perry (Smurfette), Alan Cumming (Gutsy), Fred Armisen (Brainy) and George Lopez (Grouchy).

A half-animated 3-D movie feature starring “The Smurfs” is made more for adults but young ones will enjoy it too. The plot involves a group of Smurfs sucked through a wormhole into modern New York City after trying to escape the clutches of their nemesis and evil wizard Gargamel (voiced by Hank Azaria). Our blue heroes are befriended by a young couple Patrick and Grace Winslow (Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays) and in hot pursuit is Garamel and his demon cat, Azreal . Worth a swizz.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Director: Wayne Wang

Starring: Gianna Jun , Bingbing Li, Wu Jiang , Hugh Jackman

A beautifully made movie set in Shanghai and based on Lisa See's 1995 novel. It tells the story of two seven-year-old girls, Snow Flower (Gianna Yun) and Lily (Bingbing Li) who on the 19th century are matched as laotong ("old sames") , and bound together for eternity. Furtively they communicate by taking turns writing in a secret language (nu shu), between the folds of a white silk fan. In a parallel story in present day Shanghai, the laotong's descendants, Nina (Bingbing Li) and Sophia (Gianna Yun), struggle to maintain the intimacy of their own childhood friendship in the face of demanding careers, complicated love lives, and a relentlessly evolving Shanghai. Just as Snowflower and Lily faced footbinding, so too Nina and Sophia contend with the constraints of modern life. Drawing on the lessons of the past, the two modern women must understand the story of their ancestral connection, hidden from them in the folds of the antique white silk fan, or risk losing one another forever. Rather slow and complicated to follow but a joy to watch.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The eye of the storm

The eye of the storm
Director: Fred Schepisi
Starring: Judy Davis, Geoffrey Rush, Charlotte Rampling
Filmed adaptation of the 1973, Patrick White novel, the movie follows the last days of aging socialite Elizabeth Hunter(Charlotte Rampling) lying dying while her spoiled children; (Sir) Basil(Geoffrey Rush), playboy actor; and Dorothy (Judy Davis) the Princess de Lascabanes, pick over their inheritance. As the fading star drifts in and out of lucidity, she torments her cash-strapped offspring, handing out jewels and her prized possessions to her nurses and attentive household staff as she continues to live extravagantly. The prodigal children find their mother as difficult in her final hours as she was in good health. All of which is compounded by the familiar pretensions and vulgarities of Australian society that drove the pair from Sydney in the first place. This is an actor’s film and one that will interest fans of Australiana. Performances are very good but the movie does drag on in places.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Whistleblower

Director: Larysa Kondracki

Starring: Kathryn Bolkovac, David Strathairn, Vanessa Redgrave, Alexandru Potocean

Based on a true story, the movie is a harrowing tale of corporate-sanctioned sex trafficking. Troubled, Rachel Weisz (Kathryn Bolkovac) is an American peacekeeper in Bosnia during the late '90s. After she helps a Muslim woman prosecute her husband for spousal abuse she is put in charge of the U.N.'s gender affairs office. Bolkovac uncovers evidence foreign girls are being used as S&M sex slaves after she is asked to help the local police. Bolkovac then uncovers evidence foreign girls are being used as S&M sex slaves. More problems follow as she comes up against local gangsters, international bureaucrats and the multinational defense contractor that signs her paycheck. She finds allies in Madeleine Rees (Vanessa Redgrave), head of the U.N. Human Rights Commission, and Jan Van Der Velde (David Strathairn), an internal-affairs investigator. But corruption is everywhere. Could be better but worth a watch anyway.

Project Nim

Director: James Marsh

Nim Chimpsky is a young chimp taken from its mother's arms and spirited from a primate compound in Oklahoma to the Upper West Side of Manhattan. There he will be raised like a human baby. The experiment was done in the name of quasi research under the direction of Professor Herbert Terrace, Columbia University. Eventually the entire experiment was abandoned when Nim became too powerful and was eventually dumped in a chimpanzee enclosure. Marsh’s masterful documentary spins a harrowing tale of human arrogance that eventually gives way to out and out cruelty. This is an absorbing, and agonizing documentary about ambition, lust and heedless anthropomorphism and records suffering and manipulation so extreme that description can barely do them justice. Not for the faint hearted and a timely reminder if human can do this to a chimp whay could they do to you and me. Chilling.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

13 Assassins

Director: Takashi Miike

Starring: Goro Inagaki, Koji Yakusho

A remake of a 1963 film, "13 Assassins" set in the mid-19th century Feudal Japan. 13 samurai warriors pit their wit and fighting talent against the sadistic Lord Naritsugu (Goro Inagaki) and his loyal forces. What you get is the most brutal, physical, artistic and exhaustive fight sequences ever choreographed on film. Set in in 1844, tyrant Naritsugu abuses the powers that come with advising the Shogun. Realizing something must be done to end this oppressor’s reign, veteran samurai Shinzaemon (Koji Yakusho) recruits 12 warriors of different backgrounds and plots a political assassination. Look out for or be warned of the film’s awe-inspiring violent climax.


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Red Dog

Director: Kriv Stenders
Starring: Koko, Rachael Taylor, Josh Lucas, Luke Ford, John Batchelor, Arthur Angel, Rohan Nichol, Noah Taylor.

An affable Australian comedy based on a the novel by Louis de Bernieres celebrating the life and times of the famed four- legged Pilbara, Kelpie, dog (Koko), who unites an entire community of lonely miners. When trucker Tom (Luke Ford) arrives in the desolate town of Dampier (West Australia), he stops for a ‘coldy’ in the local pub. The locals seize the opportunity to recount the story of Red Dog, who befriended the community and became something of a local legend. Loved by everyone, but answerable to no one, Red Dog eventually finds his master in bus driver John (Josh Lucas), a nomadic American who also has trouble settling in the one place. John decides to stick around after the arrival of Nancy (Rachel Taylor), the saucy secretary who inevitably becomes his paramour. The movie’s emotional core is about disparate people coming together to create a community of their own. Très Australian. The screenplay by Daniel Taplitz is unashamedly sentimental so take a box of paper hankies to this movie.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Beginners

Director: Mike Mills

Starring: Christopher Plummer, Ewan McGregor, Mary Page Keller, Mélanie Laurent

This is a sad but funny movie with profound human interest. Oliver (Ewan McGregor) is a lonely graphic designer who has recently lost his father, Hal (Christopher Plummer). In reflective mood whilst cleaning out his father’s effects, Oliver ponders his childhood memories of his departed mother, Georgia (Mary Page Keller) and father. After the demise of his mother five years previously, Hal aged 75, revealed to his son, he was gay and always had been. Now content to live life to the full Hal takes on an open relationship with a young lover, Andy (Goran Visnjic). Oliver’s life is empty and in the absence of true love seeks the companionship of Arthur, his father’s Jack Russell, until he meets the French actress, Anna (Mélanie Laurent). Will Oliver find the companionship he now desperately seeks? Well you need to see the movie to find out but you certainly will not be disappointed in this independent movie (tipped for Oscar success).

Sunday, July 31, 2011

POM Wonderful Presents:The greatest movie ever sold

Director: Morgan Spurlock

Starring: Morgan Spurlock, Ralph Nader

Amusing documentary about product placement in television and movies. Entertaining expose about the insidious way corporations push their products into the creative process but Spurlock avoids exploring the more interesting elements which lurks behind. The irony of the film is it was funded by product placement sponsorship. The film not only exposes the level of corporate control in creative endeavors, but also broadens its scope to explore a wide swath of marketing tactics and the psychology that underlies them. Brief appearances by Noam Chomsky and Ralph Nader lend it a frisson of cultural and intellectual weight. If you enjoyed Michael Moore’s “Super size me ,” then this is bound to appeal.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Pina

Director: Wim Wenders

A feature length documentary tribute to the late German choreographer, Pina Bausch using the testimony of her collaborators, filmed in 3 D. Pina's work is vividly brought to life with some wonderful dance vignettes and surreal pieces. Will definitely suit dance enthusiast but not the best of documentaries..

Friday, July 22, 2011

Submarine

Director: Richard Ayoade

Starring: Craig Roberts, Sally Hawkins, Paddy Considine, Yasmin Paige.

Based on Joe Dunthorne’s coming-of-age novel and set in the Welsh seaside town of Swansea, Submarine tells the tale of precocious teenager Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts), who is determined to lose his virginity and save his parents' marriage before his next birthday. Oliver imagines his mother (Sally Hawkins) may be having an affair with an old flame, Graham (Paddy Considine) and the 15 year old is determined to do something about it. Meanwhile the youth keeps a journal which is scrupulously monitored by Jordana (Yasmin Paige), his domineering school class paramour. Starts off quite funny but the longer the movie the more melancholic it becomes, but the music is not bad.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Guard

Director: John Michael McDonagh

Starring: Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle, Rory Keenan, Mark Strong.

Simple plot here. After a body turns up in rural Ireland (County Galway)it appears to be the handy work of organized crime. American FBI agent, Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle) is called in to work with the local constabulary. Sergeant Gerry Boyle (Brendan Gleeson) and his young Garda, colleague, Aidan McBride (Rory Keenan) are drawn into a larger “international drug smuggling” investigation. A host of amusing Irish characters including Boyle’s angelic mum (Fionnula Flanagan) makes for an amusing wheeze.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Conspirator

Director: Robert Redford

Stars: James McAvoy, Robin Wright, Kevin Kline, Tom Wilkinson

An intriguing story about the aftermath of the assassination of President Lincoln. James McAvoy stars as Frederick Aitkin, a Union war hero and young lawyer, who reluctantly defends a woman, Mary Surratt (Robin Wright), accused of conspiring in the assassination. Based on real events the courtroom drama reveals John Wilkes Booth (Toby Kebbel), was no lone wolf, but part of a wider conspiracy to topple the government. The movie is directed by Robert Redford and features a strong cast but turns out not quite as dynamic as it could have been. Despite this it may be one to watch more than once.


Friday, July 15, 2011

The Beaver

Director: Jodie Foster

Starring: Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Anton Yelchin, Jennifer Lawrence

A quirky drama about an emotionally unstable man, who can communicate with others only with the help of a beaver puppet. Walter (Mel Gibson) struggles with depression but finds using a hand puppet (the Beaver) he can cope with his deep melancholy. When his wife, Meredith (Jodie Foster), walks out with their two sons Walter hits the bottle and he struggles with suicidal impulses. Then when all is black he discovers a tatty old hand puppet that becomes his redemption. The story wavers rather but the parts are well acted as the movie steers towards a powerful and surprisingly moving end. Not the greatest movie of all time but certainly worth a watch.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Big Mama's Boy

Director: Franco di Chiera

Starring: Frank Lotito, Carmelina Di Gugliemo, Holly Valance.

An Australian comedy which relies on ethnic stereotypes for its humour. Set in Melbourne’s suburbs, 30 some-thing real estate agent, Rocco Pileggi (Frank Lotito) struggles to choose between the love of his life, Katie (Holly Valance) and his doting, over-protective Italian mother, Teresa (Carmelina Di Guglielmo). This movie lacks wit, charm and intelligence.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil

Director: Eli Craig, Morgan Jurgenson

Starring: Tyler Labine, Alan Tudyk, Katrina Bowden, Jesse Moss, Philip Granger

A horror movie with a difference. Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) are two country bumpkins who decide to renovate an old holiday cottage in the hills. There they run into a bunch of vacationing teenagers but all attempts to make friends is hampered because the kids are scared off by Dale's nervous demeanor and his unfortunate choice of a sickle as a fashion accessory. When Allison (Katrina Bowden) falls into the lake where Tucker and Dale are fishing, the duo nobly rescue her but her friends wrongly assume foul deeds are afoot. The situation escalates and a series of grisly murders follows but are the two bumpkins to blame. Well you need to see the movie to discover all. All the normal conventions of the horror genre are here in this entertaining tongue in cheek comedy.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Illusionist (L'illusionniste)

The Illusionist is an animated feature set in the late 50s when show business is changing and Tatischeff, a fading French magician and illusionist finds himself one of a dying breed of stage entertainers. Forced to accept increasingly obscure venues, he ends up performing in a village pub off the west coast of Scotland. There he encounters Alice, an innocent young girl, who thinks his tricks are real magic. The two lonely strangers quickly bond and Alice follows him to Edinburgh. Their relationship is chaste and they fall into a father and daughter relationship and Alice keeps their home at a boarding house for vaudevillians. Flattered by her devotion the Illusionist continues to reward Alice with increasingly lavish gifts he has 'conjured' into existence. Desperate not to disappoint her, he cannot bring himself to reveal that magic does not exist and that he is driving himself to ruin working all night jobs to buy her gifts. When Alice eventually falls in love with a younger man she moves on with her life, and The Illusionist now untangled from his own web of deceit, resumes his life as a much wiser man. The movie was based on a Jacques Tati script and was adapted by Sylvain Chomet. The movie has exquisite images mixed with poignant humor which echoes of cinema history and a sense of having watched genuine magic. Worth the watch.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Beautiful Lies (De Vrais Mensonges)

Director: Pierre Salvadori

Starring: Audrey Tautou, Nathalie Baye, Sami Bouajila, Stephanie Lagarde, Judith Chemla, Cecile Boland, Didier Brice, Daniel Duval.

A farce (what else?), featuring two of France's most beloved actresses, Nathalie Baye and Audrey Tautou. The story tells of a young, provincial hairdresser, Emilie (Audrey Tautou) who desperately wants to help her love-starved mother, Maddy (Nathalie Baye). When Emilie receives a beautifully written anonymous love letter [from her estranged maintenance man, Jean (Sami Bouajila)] she sees a perfect opportunity to make her mother smile again. Emilie copies the letter and sends it to her mother who is overjoyed to receive it and all the more determined to find the author of the letter. Complications ensue (of course) when Maddy expects more letters (which then need to be written by Émilie less eloquently). Chaos prevails when Jean is entrusted to post one of the anonymous letters by Émilie, but instead decides to deliver it in person. Good performances throughout in this feel good chick flick farce.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Mr Popper's Penguins

Director: Mark Waters (VIII)

Cast: Jim Carrey, Carla Gugino, Angela Lansbury.

One for the younger kids and based on the 1938 novel by Richard and Florence Atwater of the same name, Tom Popper (Jim Cary) , is a ruthless New York City property developer who is given an ultimatum by his bosses to get the owners of Central Park's Tavern On The Green to sell up or he will never became a partner of the firm. Out of the blue Tom receives a parcel from his late world-travelling father, a souvenir from Antarctica, - a real, live penguin. Despite attempts to rid himself of the penguin others arrive on his doorstep. Soon they take over his life as he adapts his luxury apartment accommodate his new friends the birds help him understand the importance of family. Good vehicle for Carey’ talents and a movie definitely made for kids.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The tree of life

Writer and Director: Terrence Malick

Starring: Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain, Sean Penn, Fiona Shaw, Hunter McCracken

This is a bit of indulgence from director, Terrence Malick (Badlands) in a movie which examines father and son relationships. Jack O’Brian (Sean Penn) reflects on his love-hate relationship with his stern father (Brad Pitt), younger siblings and the after-effects of childhood tragedy. Jessica Chastain plays the boys’ nurturing mother and someone he wants to protect. Good performances from all the cast and particularly Hunter McCracken, who plays young Jack. But the mixture of wide vistas and extreme close-ups strung together by a disembodied narration did little for me.

Mozart’s Sister Nannerl, La Soeur De Mozart (Mozart's Sister)

Director: René Féret

Starring: David Moreau, Marie Féret, Delphine Chuillot, Clovis Fouin

What goes on tour stays on tour, this is an everyday story of the family, Mozart. Under the directed by an obsessed stage father, Léopold Mozart (Marc Barbé) and nurtured by mother Anna Maria (Delphine Chuillot) the family Mozart tour Europe following the patronage of the wealthy in the 18th century. Young Wolfgang Mozart (David Moreau) had an older sister Maria Anna "Nannerl" Mozart (Marie Féret) who plays harpsichord accompaniment for her protégé brother. Despite being a gifted musician, Nannerl must accept the 18th century convention from becoming a principal violinist and composer. This is a source of frustration to Nannerl but a chance meeting with Louise de France (Lisa Féret) daughter of King Louis XV, sees the girls become close friends. Louise entrusts a love letter to Nannerl to deliver to Hugues le Tourneur (Arthur Tos), when she visits the King’s Court in Versailles. There she meets the King’s son, the Dauphin (Clovis Fouin), who was recently widowed. Struck by her virtuoso he encourages her to compose and secretly commissions a chamber orchestra to perform her work, inviting her to play first violin. Conforming to the prevailing protocol, she’s forced to disguise herself as a male on these occasions. An unfulfilled love affair ensues with a plot not that far removed from Mozart opera. The movie is beautifully shot by Benjamin Echazarreta with some of the scenes filmed at the Palace at Versailles, which adds greatly to the film's sense of place and time. A balance of fact and fiction definately one for music lovers.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Special Treatment (Sans queue ni tête)

Director: Jeanne Labrune

Starring: Isabelle Huppert, Sabila Moussadek, Bouli Lanners

Alice Bergerac (Isabelle Huppert) is an aging high class prostitute who specializes in role playing routines for her clients. After a violent episode she is forced to leave her apartment and move in with friend Juliette (Sabila Moussadek). Alice now contemplates changing her life style and seeks the help from a psychiatrist. Eventually she meets Xavier Demestre (Bouli Lanners), a disillusioned psychoanalyst. They share one love, object d’art. The film gradually brings together and rhymes the skills and experiences of two very different disenchanted individuals. Despite good performances by the leads and strong support the movie is rather a bit of a non-event and what might have been a hilarious comedy is played straight and suffers as a consequence.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Julia's Eyes (Los ojos de Julia)

Director: Guillem Morales

Starring: Belen Rueda, and Lluís Homar

Hearts pounding, edge of seat, psychological thriller, come horror film produced by Guillermo del Toro. What sets out with all the makings of a grade-A chiller flickers into B movie clichés but is still watchable. When her blind sister dies in mysterious circumstances, Julia (Belen Rueda) decides to investigate. The task is made harder by a condition that is gradually taking away her eyesight. The more she tries to make sense of her sister’s tragic demise the more strange things start happening. The plot is convoluted and along the way we meet a myriad of odd characters, including the suspiciously controlling husband (Lluis Homar), the lecherous neighbor, Blasco (Boris Ruiz) and his reclusive daughter Lia (Andrea Hermosa); as well as Soledad (Julia Gutiérrez Caba), the cat-loving blind lady next door. Belen Rueda is formidable in the demanding role of Julia but the movie is not as good as Wait until dark or Rosemary’s Baby. Still worth a watch.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Oranges and sunshine

Director: Jim Loach

Starring: Emily Watson, Hugo Weaving, David Wenham

Margaret Humphreys (Emily Watson) is a social worker from Nottingham who uncovers the scandal of the thousands of British children in care deported to Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Rhodesia. The children were promised oranges and sunshine and put in boarding institutions, treated like slaves and abused in every possible way. Not all the kids were orphans although they were told they were. Oranges and Sunshine is a detective movie with Humphreys reluctantly dragged into discovering the full horror of the legal practice of human trafficking. Scarcely any record was kept of the enforced deportation, nor the atrocious fate many of the hapless emigrants fell into at the hands of the Christian Brothers and their organisations. This is a moving movie told through the eyes of two deportees, Jack (Hugo Weaving) a traumatised veteran; and Len (David Wenham) a more aggressive younger man. Oranges and Sunshine is not a feel good movie by any manner but does describe a terrible thing, and the very small efforts that were done to make a small part of the terribleness right. A must see movie.

The Trip

Director: Michael Winterbottom

Starring: Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon , and Margo Stilley

A road movie set in the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales. Steve (Steve Coogan) is hired by the Observer to review the fine dining establishments in the North of England and intends to take his girlfriend, Mischa (Margo Stilley). When she opts out, he eventually invites Rob (Rob Brydon, a fellow actor) Steve's assignment consists of reviewing six different restaurants and the two actors while away the hours on the road with a private impersonation competition to hilarious effect. Overlong perhaps, but funny anyway and certainly worth a watch

Little White Lies

Director: Guillaume Canet

Starring: Marion Cotillard, François Cluzet, Benoît Magimel, Laurent Lafitte, and Gilles Lellouche

Every year a close nit group of thirty-something friends summer together in a holiday beach house. This year due to a serious accident one of their number, Ludo (Jean Dujardin), is in hospital. They decide to holiday without him and gradually the truth will out about their individual relationships. As the secrets are revealed it threatens their holiday. A black comedy with sharp character observations which is well acted but rather overlong.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Blame

Director: Michael Henry

Starring: Damian de Montemas, Sophie Lowe, Kestie Morassi, Simon Stone, Mark Winter, and Ashley Zukerman


Another adult thriller/horror movie from Australia. Bernard (Damian de Montemas), a music teacher who has recently had a relationship with one of his female students. After she commits suicide a group of her friends (ex students), including her brother and boyfriend, believe he is responsible. They decide to seek revenge and break into his secluded home after the funeral. They overcome him before force-feeding him sleeping tablets. Left to die and look-like a suicide, they realize sometime after they have left an incrimination phone. The group returns expecting to find a dead body but to their surprise there is no sign of Bernard. A convoluted plot ensues and we are left to wonder if Bernard is really guilty, and is the group that innocent of blame Well you need to see the movie to find out and look out for a neat twist at the end. Filmed in the beautiful Darling Ranges region of Western Australia, the movie is definitely worth a watch.

I love you Phillip Morris

Director: Glenn Ficarra and John Requa

Starring: Jim Carrey, Ewan McGregor and Leslie Mann

I for one do not care for Jim Carey as an actor, albeit I accept he is extremely talented. I Love You Phillip Morris, which is based on a true story, is perhaps the best vehicle he has had to demonstrate his abilities. Steven Russell (Jim Carey) is rather a mixed up cokie who once he discovers he is adopted starts creating a new reality. He becomes a police officer marries Debbie (Leslie Mann) and they have two children. Steven is Mr Respectable until a traumatic event leaves him questioning who he really is. Russell comes to the conclusion he is gay, abandons his wife and children and moves to Florida. There he operates as a con man until he is caught and put in jail. Steven meets and falls for a fellow convict, Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor). The movie details the ups and downs of their tumultuous relationship, as Steven, now masquerading as a lawyer, and falls fowl of the law yet again. How it all ends up? Well you will need to go to see the movie.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sleeping beauty

Director: Julia Leigh

Starring: Emily Browning, Michael Dorman, Mirrah Foulkes and Rachael Blake.

"Sleeping Beauty" in the title, refers to the sexual practice where a girl is drugged so old men can take sexual advantage. The one caveat is there is to be no sexual penetration. Cash strapped Lucy (Emily Browning), is a college student who resorts to becoming a "Sleeping Beauty" to make ends meet. Under the watchful eye of her Madame (Rachael Blake) a series of encounters unfoldThe movie is narrative-less and boring camera works of Geoffrey Simpson, but otherwise not my cup of tea.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Of Gods and Men

Director: Xavier Beauvois
Starring: Michael Lonsdale, Lambert Wilson

When a group of French (Trappist) monks living in Algeria come under threat of grave danger it divides their community. Some want to help the villagers they are pledged to serve, whereas others do not want to become martyrs. The movie examines ways men of faith deal with the crisis and the uneasy relationship between deep faith and a turbulent world. Set in 1996 the movie takes place when militant Islamist elements insisted all foreigners leave Algeria. The pious monks live a simple life devoted to God and keep honeybees to sell honey at the local market. All this is now under threat after a woman is stabbed for not wearing a veil in public and other deaths follow. Alarm for their safety mounts and the Algerian authorities advise the monks to leave or receive protection from the army. In accord with the locals and despite escalating violence the monks vote to stick it out. As the inevitable approaches they listen to Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake’ resigned in their fate. The movie is rather slow but has good performances by the cast. Lambert Wilson (Christian), Jacques Herlin (Amédée), and Michael Lonsdale (Luc) are particularly outstanding. In terms of characterization this movie is easily on a par with Sidney Lumet’s Twelve Angry Men and Frank Pierson’s Conspiracy. Compelling viewing.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Here I am

Director: Beck Cole

Starring: Shai Pittman, Marcia Langton, and Vanessa Worrall

The movie is set in inner-city Adelaide (South Australia) and tells the story of Aboriginal prison parolee, Karen (Shai Pittman) who battles to get her life back on track. Released with nowhere to go and no visible means of support she goes to the cheap motel her mother Louis (Marcia Langton) is a cleaner. She accepts overnight accommodation at the hotel in exchange for passionless sex with a stranger. When her mother discovers what Karen has done she sends her packing. Karen takes a tiny room in Temple House women’s refuge, fifteen kilometres away in Port Adelaide.There she meets the warden, Big Red (Vanessa Worrall) and the rest of the residents of the house. Her driving ambition is to restore stability to her life, so she can regain custody of her infant daughter Rosie (Quinaiha Scott). Despite the support she has from her new found friends Karen needs to expand her skill base to support herself and child, but the bigger challenge will be to convince the child’s guardian, Lois of her new intention. A harrowing movie which is in the main well acted and complemented with a good contemporary film score.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Get Low

Director: Aaron Schneider

Starring: Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, Lucas Black, Bill Cobbs and Sissy Spacek

A clever and wonderfully acted little drama come love story set in the backwoods of North America, circa 1936. Felix Bush (Duvall) is a backwoodsman recluse of whom the locals despise and fear. Stories abound why he has lived 40years in isolation but no one is quite sure how and why it came to pass. One day Felix asks the local undertaker, (Bill Murray) to prepare his funeral. His one unusual request and wants a wake held while he is still alive. The hermit invites everyone who has a story to share about him and puts his property up in a lottery to attract a wide interest. There is a mystery to be solved concerning a local woman named, Mattie Darrow (Sissy Spacek) and the Rev. Charlie Jackson (Bill Cobbs) may be the only man alive who knows what happened on that dark night of a farmhouse fire. Delightful movie exquisitely shot and with a good score. Bring your hankies.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Water for elephants

Director: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon, and Christoph Waltz

The movie is an adaptation of Sara Gruen's bestselling novel and is set during America’s Great Depression. Veterinary student, Jacob (Robert Pattinson) suffers a breakdown when his parents are tragically killed in a car accident in 1931. He literally runs away and joins a circus, where he becomes the vet. Jacob falls for the glamorous Marlena (Reese Witherspoon), wife of the circus owner, August (Christoph Waltz) and a clandestine love affair ensues. All at a time when Jacob helps the circus to box office success with his work on their new star, the elephant, Rosie. This is an excellent adaptation of the novel with strong characterizations and well written screenplay. Good performances from the three main characters make this matinee romance, well balanced and a real joy to watch. Rodrigo Preto's camerawork is par excellent.

The Round Up (La Rafle)

Director and writer: Rose Bosch
Starring: Jean Reno, Melanie Laurent, Gad Elmaleh, Raphaelle Agogue, Hugo Leverdez, Anne Brochet, Sylvie Testud

During the Second World War, under the occupation of the Nazis, the French police and officials arrested over 13,000 Jews living in Paris and held them in detention at the Vél’ d’Hiv, indoor bicycle track. Crammed into a stadium they were systematically humiliated, beaten, and starved. Most were eventually sent to the death camps in Poland. This is a dark passage of French history which still promotes controversy. The drama unfolds when the Weismann family, Shmuel and Sura (Gad Elmaleh, Raphaelle Agogue) and their son Jo (Hugo Leverdez), are caught up in a police raid on a Jewish quarter. Once imprisoned at the Velodrome they meet Dr , David Sheinbaum (Jean Reno), who struggles to minister to the deportees' needs, and a non-Jewish nurse, Annette Monod (Melanie Laurent) who accompanies them in their transit camp ordeal. Based in the main on actual characters this is a harrowing tale. The movie does not quite however match up to the excellent Sarah's Key (Elle s'appelait Sarah) which deals with the same subject.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Oceans

Directors: Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud

Narrator: Pierce Brosnan

A French documentary released under the DisneyNature label. The film is narrated by Pierce Brosnan and contains breathtaking cinematography but little else. The narration fails to fill in the key elements which would enlighten the audience more as the movie aimlessly meanders vaguely from one body of water to the next. A haphazard and random dip into the seas in search of oddities which sadly has the cumulative effect of profound monotony but this one will suit all those who love nature documentaries. Already on DVD in the US.

Monday, April 18, 2011

William and Kate: The Movie

Director: Mark Rosman

Starring: Justin Hanlon, Nico Evers-Swindell, Camilla Luddington, Mary Elise Haydon, Mary Elise Haydon and Ben Cross

This is the fictionalised love story of Prince William (Nico Evers-Swindell ) and Kate Middleton (Camilla Luddington) made by Lifetime for the US cable network. Shot not on location but in the US with all the obvious boo boos clearly in view. The actors do a passable job with the limited script. Accuracy is clearly not a number one priority in this movie but look out for Ben Cross playing Prince Charles. A must for all collectors of Royal bric-a-brac but otherwise, cheesy, sentimental slush.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Snowtown

Director: Justin Kurzel

Starring: Lucas Pittaway, Louise Harris, Daniel Henshall

Based on the true story of the Bodies in Barrels murders, this is a grisly film about a grisly subject. What appears is a pitiless portrait of a psychopath and this is a hard movie to watch. The story is one of corruption of innocence involving 16 year old Jamie Vlassakis (Lucas Pittaway), drawn into a world of criminal violence by older men. Jamie comes from a dysfunctional family and has been abused all his life when he falls under the spell of charismatic John Bunting (played brilliantly by, Daniel Hanshall) who takes up with Jamie's mum, Elizabeth (Louise Harris). Bunting is the epitome of evil and he and his gang go on a rampage of torture and murder. Soon the hapless Jamie is luring helpless victims to their death. Most of the violence is off screen (thankfully), but otherwise there is enough graphic menace to make the movie uncomfortable to watch. Snowtown was made on a low budget, with a cast of non-actors drawn from Adelaide's northern suburbs. Not for the faint hearted but may appeal to these who liked Rowan Woods' The Boys, although it is not so good. Unnerving.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Tempest

Director: Julie Taymor

Starring; Dame Helen Mirren, Ben Whishaw, Chris Cooper, Alan Cumming,
Russell Brand, Alfred Molina, and David Strathairn

Those familiar with the Shakespeare’ play will recognize the plot with one major difference Prospero has become Prospera (the resplendent, Helen Mirren) the ousted Milanese noblewoman practicing the dark arts on a Mediterranean island. There she is kept company by Caliban (Djimon Hounsou), the brutish drudge, her spirit slave Ariel (Ben Whishaw), and beautiful daughter, Miranda (Felicity Jones). Hell-bent on revenge and return from exile, she conjures up a storm (the Tempest) which causes a shipwreck. On board is Prospera’s villainous brother, the current Duke, Antonio (Chris Cooper), and his venemous cohort Sebastian (Alan Cumming) as well as King Alozo (David Strathairn). Other crew members include the clowns, Trinculo (Russell Brand ) and Stephan (Alfred Molina) for a bit of comic relief. The movie does not lack special effects nor excellent cinema photography but this all seems out of place in a Shakespeare play where, ‘words are the thing, to catch attention of the audience.’ A bit of a mismatch, I fear and not for the purists.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mrs Carey's Concert

Director: Bob Connolly and Sophie Raymond

Starring: Teachers and students of the Methodist Ladies College in Burwood, Sydney

Mrs (Karen) Carey is the Director of Music at an inner-Sydney church-run private school offering music scholarships to the best and brightest. She established a biannual concert at the Sydney Opera House which involves the entire school. As part of the curriculum, students are required to participate in the event. Not all of the students however look forward to this but are none-the-less swept along anyway with Mrs Carey’s, personality, drive, and enthusiasm. The classical repertoire is demanding and a real battle of wills ensues as we observe the 18 months leading up to the big event. A true coming of age metamorphosis is captured in this lovingly crafted documentary which is a superb piece of work from one of Australia’s finest documentary maker. Compulsive viewing.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Brighton Rock

Director: Rowan Joffe

Starring: Andrea Riseborough, Andy Serkis, Helen Mirren, John Hurt, Phil Davis, Sam Riley

Based on Graham Greene’s novel this is a remake of the of the Boulting Brothers' movie of the same name which starred Sir Richard Attenborough. Now set in 1964 in Brighton to the background of pitch battles between mods and rockers, the moral tale of vicious thug, Pinkie Brown and his nasty gang is told. The ambitious teenage, hoodlum played by Sam Riley wishes to replace local crime boss, Colleoni, (Andy Serkis), a resident in the seafront, Continental hotel. Pinkie has an Achilles heel however following the murder of a rival villain. He needs to retrieve condemning evidence to save himself, and the naïve waitress, Rose (Andrea Riseborough) holds the key. The guttersnipe decides rather than menace her, he will marry her to prevent Rose from giving evidence against him in any future murder trial. The café manageress and tart with a heart of gold, Ida (Helen Mirren) makes it her business to bring Pinkie to book but so too does mob boss, Colleoni have Pinkie’s card marked. Just who comes out on top? Well you will need to see the movie to find out. However not for lovers of the original novel nor movie for that matter.


Mad Bastards

Director: Brendan Fletcher

Starring: Dean Daley-Jones, Lucas Yeeda, Greg Tait, and Douglas Macale

A father and son movie. TJ (Dean Daley-Jones), is a street tough Aboriginal going nowhere and his son, Bullet (Lucas Yeeda), a wild teenager in an Aboriginal-led rehab camp. The pair has never met but TJ decides the time has come. The journey is a revelation and along the way we meet a bunch of characters including the gentle Uncle Black (Douglas Macale)who encourages TJ to voice his inner feelings. However TJ’s violent reputation precedes him and local lawman Texas (Greg Tait) is not about to let an outsider cause trouble. What happens when father meets son, well you need to see Mad Bastards to find out. You will not be disappointed. Mad Bastards is beautifully shot in Western Australia’s Kimberley region and the movie was cast of non-professional actors. All of which makes for a good movie.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Paul

Paul

Director: Greg Mottola

Starring: Simon Pegg and Nick Frost

Si-Fi road movie with Graeme (Simon Pegg) and Clive (Nick Frost) playing English nerds on a wacky road trip from San Diego Comic-Con through the great UFO locations of the American Southwest. Along the way, they meet a wisecrackin' alien Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen) who need a needs a ride to a rendezvous point because it's time for him to leave our planet and head home. In hasty pursuit are government agents Jason Bateman, Joe Lo Truglio and Bill Hader. Full of quirky characters the best of which (for me) was Kristen Wiig who plays a one-eyed creationist whose mind is blown by Paul's existence. The movie has some comedic moments and the special effects are pretty good too but it is not Oscar material. (Despite a cameo from Sigourney Weaver.) Scripted by Pegg and Frost, in retrospect it may not be their best works but Paul will certainly appeal to their fans and with so many references Sc—Fi, a must for all Trekkies and co.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Murundak* - songs of freedom

Written & Directed by Natasha Gadd & Rhys Graham

A feature documentary of Aboriginal protest music. The Black Arm Band takes to the road with their songs of resistance and freedom. Filmed from the concert halls of the Sydney Opera House to remote Aboriginal communities of the Northern Territory, on show is the very best of Indigenous talent singing up the country’s troubled past through their stories of sorrow, anger and hope. This histo-documentary charts the Aboriginal protest movement from its inception in the late 70s to the present time. Beautifully filmed the movie not only informs and entertains but also enlightens the audience to the power of story-telling and the richness of indigenous culture. A must for all Australians and delight for lovers of cultural music, everywhere.
*In the Woirurrung language, 'murundak'  means ‘alive’


'murundak - songs of freedom' - Official Trailer from Daybreak Films on Vimeo.

Murundak Songs of Freedom

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Incendies

Director: Denis Villeneuve
Starring: Melissa Desormeaux-Poulin, Maxim Gaudette, Remy Girard

Adult twins Jeanne (Melissa Desormeaux-Poulin) and Simon (Maxim Gaudette) arrive at the office of Jean Lebel (Remy Girard), a notary for the reading of their mother’s will, Nawal Marwan (Lubna Azabal). Her instructions are simple: to deliver two sealed letters, one to their father they thought was dead, and the other to a brother they did not know they had. Nawal also wants to be buried naked, no prayers, and face down (away from the world). Jeanne takes up the final tasks but brother Simon decides not to accompany her to the Middle East. The intriguing history of young Nawal is told in flashbacks as Jeanne discovers the family secrets played out against the Christian Muslim conflict. The film is based on a play by Lebanon-born writer Wajdi Mouawad and conveys the dehumanization of civil war, the horror of genocide, and the scourge of unbridled violence that rapes the lives of innocents. Great performances all round.

Never let me go

Director: Mark Romanek

Starring: Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield and Keira Knightley

Based upon Kazuo Ishiguro novel of the same name. Wise, Kathy H. (Carey Mulligan), shy, Tommy (Andrew Garfield), and curious, Ruth (Keira Knightley), are three friends who spent their formative years at Hailsham boarding school for special children. Twelve years later, In narration Kathy reflects on their formative years. It soon becomes apparent not all was what it seems in this sci-fi drama. A powerful tale of propaganda and conditioning full of red herrings the film is endearing enough if not rather predictable. Good performances from Carey Mulligan and Andrew ¬Garfield as two clones who love each other but are kept apart through the selfishness and allure of Ruth (Keira Knightley).

Friday, March 4, 2011

My afternoons with Margueritte (La tête en friche)

Director: Jean Becker

Starring: Gérard Depardieu, Gisèle Casadesus, and Sophie Guillemin
Small town bruised fruit; Germain (Gérard Depardieu) finds an unlikely friendship with a 95-year-old Marguerite ( Gisèle Casadesus), and former international civil servant. The dungaree-wearing simpleton was abused by his cruel mother and belittled by his teacher. The odd job man is barely literate and the figure of fun at the local bistro. Germain does have a steadfast girlfriend (the gorgeous, Sophie Guillemin), and through the touching friendship with Marguerite based on the love of books, she transforms Germain’ life. This is a charming, sentimental (rather sugary), and well-acted movie.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Waiting for Superman

Director and Writer: David Guggenheim

A bone chilling documentary about the poor quality of public schools in the US. The documentary highlights the falling standards and adverse effects of over protection of bad teachers by professional organizations such as American Federation of Teachers. The documentary poses serious questions about what has gone wrong and the ramifications of an inferior school education in US. The "Superman" in the title is the person who will fix the broken American educational system. Could be better.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Unknown

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

Starring: Liam Neeson, January Jones, Aidan Quinn, Diane Kruger, and Bruno Ganz

Based on the Didier van Cauwelaert novel, Out of My Head, the movie follows pretty well trodden path. Reminiscent of Frantic and Taken, but has some edge of the seat moments. Good dramatic use of sound with some very fine photography by Flavio Labiano, especially with the taxi accident. Dr Martin Harris (Liam Neeson), arrives in Berlin with his wife Elizabeth (January Jones) to give a paper at a biotech conference. He accidently leaves his briefcase at the airport and when he tries to retrieve it an accident ensues leaving Martin half-drowned and three-quarters amnesiac. He awakens from a four-day coma only to discover his wife is living it up with a another man (Aidan Quinn) who claims to be her husband. Martin's misery continues when two unknown assassins try whacking him whenever he gets close to remembering anything important. Sound familiar ? Well of course it is but a crack good yearn deserves a retelling. Look out for Swiss veteran actor, Bruno Ganz playing the gumshoe and former member of the East German secret police.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Angèle et Tony

Director: Alix Delaporte

Cast: Clotilde Hesme, Grégory Gadebois, Evelyne Didi, and Jérôme Huguet

Odd couple romance involving Angèle (Clotilde Hesme), a fierce young woman with a criminal past and Tony (Grégory Gadebois), a sensitive coarse fisherman from a fishing village in Normandy. Angèle dates random strangers and when she meets Tony they begin a relationship although cagey at first, soon blossoms. Eager to leave her parole hostel, she accepts an offer from Tony to work alongside his formidable mother, Myriam (Evelyne Didi), selling what he catches from a quayside stall. Taking up residence with the family on the Normandy coast, she is gradually accepted into the fishing community, while at the same time battling to play a bigger role in the life of her estranged son, Yohan. Will all work out well? See the movie to find out and apart from a few red herrings in the plot the overall performances in this garlic shanty love story are très bon.

Biutiful

Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Starring: Javier Bardem, Maricel Alvarez

Barcelona villain, Uxbal (Javier Bardem) is a family man who despite his shady dealings is a loving and dedicated parent. Faced with his own mortality when diagnosed with cancer his world begins to unravel. Separated from his wife (Maricel Alvarez), who suffers bipolar with violent mood swings, who can he turn too? This is a dark, humourless movie of one man's descent into misery. Javier Bardem's performance is arresting but the movie Biutiful, is less so. The film is in Spanish with English subtitles.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

Director: Daniel Alfredson

Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist

The final installment of the trio of films based on Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo ; and The Girl Who Played With Fire). This movie ties up all the loose ends but little else. Disappointing Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) and Mikael ‘Mika’ Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) spend very little time on screen together plus the deluge of subtitles about which of the older male characters is after who and why becomes rather tiresome. Still should suit fans.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Baciami Ancora (Kiss me again)

Director: Gabriele Muccino

Starring: Vittoria Puccini, Sara Girolami, Pierfrancesco Favino,and Daniela Piazza.

This is the (long awaited) sequel to The Last Kiss (l’ultimo bacio). The action is set a decade after the first film and we see the same characters deal with their various midlife crises. The movie is without witticism or self-deprecating humor. Rather a same old same old, only they are getting old. Suit the dedicated Gabriele Muccino fan.

Barney's Version

Director: Richard J. Lewis

Starring: Paul Giamatti , Scott Speedman , Rosamund Pike , Dustin Hoffman, Minnie Driver, and Bruce Greenwood.

Based on Mordechai Richler's novel of the same name. The main character is Barney Panofsky’s (Paul Giamatti) is a producer of a long-running soap opera in Montreal. He is cranky, condescending and self-loathing, and at the same time worldly, perceptive and charming. When Barney’s worn enemy publishes a tell-all book that uncovers many of the more sordid details of Barney’s past life. This unsettles him. The book includes reference to his failed marriages, some shady entrepreneurial ventures, and the mysterious, unsolved disappearance of best friend and drug addict, Boogie (Scott Speedman). The grumpy old man reflects on his tumultuous life. The movie is a dark, comedic, love story, which relies on flashbacks. Villain or Saint? Well you will need to see the movie to find out. Good performances.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Griff the Invisible

Writer and Director: Leon Ford

Starring: Ryan Kwanten , Patrick Brammall, and Maeve Dermody

An Australian romantic comedy set in Melbourne. Griff (Ryan Kwanten) is a nerdy customer-liaison officer in a shipping company who thinks he's an invisible superhero. Bullied at work at night he roams the streets of in a rubber suit scanning the neighborhood for criminals to sort out. His brother Tim (Patrick Brammall) is increasingly concerned by Griff's eccentric behaviour, and tries to draw him back into the 'real world'. He introduces his paramour, Melody (Maeve Dermody) to Griff . A bit of a space cadet herself Melody falls for Griff the Invisible and as Griff is forced to face up to realities Melody is left to rescue Griff the Invisible. A mildly amusing low budget movie.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Conviction

Director: Tony Goldwyn

Starring: Hilary Swank, Kenny Waters, Melissa Leo, Minnie Driver and Peter Gallagher)

Based on a true story the movie tells of a man, Kenny Waters (Sam Rockwell) who was wrongly imprisoned for murder in 1983. Convicted on circumstantial evidence, new DNA technology throws him a lifeline, a decade later. Kenny’s sister, Betty Anne (Hillary Swank) is so convinced of his innocence she reads law in a desperate bid to reverse the guilty verdict. She and law school friend Abra Rice (Minnie Driver), bring the case to the attention of attorney Barry Scheck (Peter Gallagher) from a non-profit organisation set up to help wrongly convicted people overturn their sentences. Together the girls overcome every barrier in this Jack the Giant killer court room drama. If you enjoyed Erin Brockovich and A Civil Action, then you are sure to lap up Conviction.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Justin Bieber: Never Say Never

Director: Jon M. Chu

Starring: Justin Bieber

An engaging back-story captures Justin Bieber's meteoric rise from YouTube clips to super stardom. Fly on the wall stuff we see the preparations for the Madison Square Garden concert and we follow the teeny bopper and his sizeable entourage as they face a series of issues on the way to the show. Using achieve footage from his childhood in Canada to showcase his early musical talents, we then hear from a series of show people and fans what makes him so special. This is complete with 3D footage from his lavish stage shows. Sanitized and over-long film that definitely needs some editing but that will be insignificant to his millions of fans.

Friday, February 4, 2011

127 Hours

Director: Danny Boyle

Starring: James Franco, Lizzy Caplan, Kate Mara, Amber Tamblyn, and Clémence Poésy

This movie is definatley not for me. I am claustrophobic and still recovering from the tunnel scene in the Great Escape. 127 Hours is based on the true life experience of 28 year old, outdoorsman Aron Ralston who was forced to amputate his right arm with a dull pocket knife after it was pinned against a canyon wall by a boulder in Blue John Canyon, Utah. The film’s title refers to the amount of time he spent stuck in the that crevice, with little food or water, enduring freezing cold nights and the growing realization that, because no one was coming to rescue him, the only way to survive was to literally lose part of himself. To me the movie holds horrors on the scale of The Exorcist, but I was also fascinated with the staggering cinematography (Enrique Chediak and Anthony Dod Mantle), humour and excellent acting. James Franco is exquisite as the Aron Ralston character. "127 Hours" is a worthwhile movie and remarkably uplifting, floating along on gorgeous undercurrents of second chances and raw determination and a lust for life. It is also harrowing and not recommended for those who are uncomfortable in confined spaces. A true horror flick.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wasted on the young

Director: Ben C. Lucas

Starring: Alex Russell, Oliver Ackland, and Adelaide Clemens

Another high school drama, this time step-brothers Darren (Oliver Ackland) and Zack (Alex Russell) have little in common and when Zack and his clique drug and rape Darren’s sweetheart, Xandrie (Adelaide Clemens), film explores the aftermath. Revenge by computer may have mass appeal to the (wasted) young but came over as a nasty movie crammed with cinema clichés as old as Hollywood. OTT and brimming with crass over-indulgence. The sex-obsessed, drink-and-drugs-fuelled story of school and internet bullying did not make a pleasant film going experience. But then again I am an old man.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Rabbit Hole

Director: John Cameron Mitchell.

Starring: Dianne Wiest, Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, Miles Teller, Sandra Oh, Stephen Mailer, and Giancarlo Esposito

This is a sad tale which deals with the aftermath of an unspeakable tragedy. The equilibrium of the lives of Becca (Nicole Kidman) and Howie (Aaron Eckhart) is smashed with the death of their beautiful, four year old son, Danny. Killed accidentally by a car driven by teenager Jason (Miles Teller) the couple become more and more preoccupied with grief. Based on the David Lindsay-Abaire's Pulitzer prize-winning play it works better on stage and despite good performances from Kidman and co., it fails as a movie. A real weepie which is very intense at times.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Inside Job

Director: Charles Ferguson

Narrated by Matt Damon.

A documentary which clearly deconstructs how American/Western economy got to the state it is in may not at first appeal to the discerning cinema goer. But this is a movie you must see. The film paints a depressing picture of the banking world run wild in an atmosphere where money brokers are answerable only to themselves, while also shaping government policies and the teaching of economics in our universities. The film does a splendid job of dismantling the whole system, in large part by letting participants in that system speak for themselves. The cast of characters features those engaging in behavior considered by many to be criminal. Highlighted are the politicians who cared more about their next election than evidence that their policies and a lack of regulatory enforcement in the financial sector was leading to disaster. Not a pretty picture but a damned good documentary.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tamara Drewe

Directed: Stephen Frears (‘The Queen”’,‘Dangerous Liaisons’, and ‘High Fidelity’)

Starring: Gemma Arterton, Luke Evans, Roger Allam, and Tamsin Greig

A bright and bouncy comedy set in rural England and based on the comic strip come novel by Posy Simmonds. The movie has the disjointed, episodic feel of a serialized story condensed into a feature film. Ugly duckling, Tamara Drewe (Gemma Arterton) grew up in a Dorset village and was memorable only for her wicked humour and large nose. As a teenager she fled to London and ten years later is back to sort out family affairs. Tamara is now a successful rock journalist and after cosmetic surgery to her proboscis, stunningly attractive. She hires an old flame and beefcake, Andy Cobb (Luke Evans) to renovate her home. Meantime the antenna of local aging lothario and crime novelist Nicholas Hardiment (Roger Allam) is alerted to a new skirt in town. He lives with his wife Beth (Tamsin Greig), who runs a retreat for writer called Stonefield Farm. Nicholas catches the eye of Ms Drew but the story takes a turn when Tamara meets and falls for rock drummer Ben Sergeant (Dominic Cooper) who is being stalked by two local groups Jody (Jessica Barden) and Casey (Charlotte Christie). When Tamara becomes engaged to Ben things turn nasty. Academic Glen McCreavy (Bill Camp) is one of the guests at Stonefield trying to write a thesis on Thomas Hardy. He suspends his writing as he becomes more intrigued with the ongoing passion plays of Stonefield. What happens? Well you will need to go and see Tamara Drew and be amused.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Fighter

Director: David O. Russell

Starring:Mark Wahlberg,Christian Bale, Melissa Leo, and Amy Adams

Been a sucker for boxing movies ever since I saw Kirk Douglas in Champion (1949). This is another burly tale of an underdog pugilist, light welterweight Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg), overtaking the impossible . Based on the real life character, ‘Irish’ Micky Ward Mark Wahlberg convincingly plays the young boxer whose career is about to nosedive. Ably assisted on screen and in the narrative by his mother, (Alice) and manager (Melissa Leo); and his half brother and crack cocaine addict, Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale) as his trainer. Eklund was a successful boxer who is hoping to return to the ring and despite his drug problem. Alice secretly favours Dicky over “Irish’ Micky and is set up in a mismatched fight which he loses. Humiliated he retreats from boxing with an old flame Charlene Fleming (Amy Adams), a former college athlete who dropped out and became a bartender. Keen to keep the Micky fighting the family set up another match and contrive to prevent the boxer from changing camps. Eventually Micky is lured back into boxing by his father, who believes Alice and his stepson Dicky are bad influences. Despite all the odds, he moves up the welterweight ranks until he gets to the championship bout. Director Russell and his superb cast manage to avoid the usual boxing movie clichés to make the story resonate beyond the standard confines of the genre. Well worth seeing.





Blue Valentine

Director: Derek Cianfrance

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams, Mike Vogel, John Doman, and Faith Wladyka

Stout performances throughout but this is not a movie for the faint hearted nor the romantic. Blue Valentine is an agonizing film, a raw, soul-shattering dissection of the end of a marriage. Cindy (Michelle Williams) and Dean (Ryan Gosling) spend a grueling 24hours making one last attempt to salvage their marriage. Director Derek Cianfrance's film is an emotionally bracing, startlingly honest look at what a difference just a few years can make in two lives that have been joined together. The film is cleverly split between past and present.