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


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).