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.