Friday, December 14, 2012

Searching For Sugar Man

Director: Malik Bendjelloul

Singer-songwriter Sixto ‘Rodriguez’ was the Latin Bob Dylan and enjoyed immense popularity in the sixties but his two albums failed to sell well. As a consequence his record company dropped him and he would have been completely over looked had it not been for one curious situation. His bootleg album sold well in South Africa because his lyrics about life and activism caught on with the opponents of apartheid, and his haunting songs became massive hits. The documentary traces the origins of Rodriguez's career and music, and talks to the South Africans who were inspired by his music and labored to uncover what happened to the man. Stories of his on-stage suicide and the meandering money trail from his record sales help propel a singularly fascinating true-life tale that many of its participants still find difficult to believe.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger

Director: Woody Allen

Starring: Pauline Collins, Gemma Jones, Anthony Hopkins, Lucy Punch, Naomi Watts, Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin, Freida Pinto.

Cristal (Pauline Collins) is a professional charlatan who convinces the vulnerable Helena (Gemma Jones) she can foretell the future and explore her past lives. Helena is suicidal because her husband, Alfie (Anthony Hopkins), is having a thing with the much younger Charmaine (Lucy Punch). Sally (Naomi Watts), his daughter , tries in vain to make him see sense but is distracted with her own marital problems. Infatuated with her gallery-owner boss (Antonio Banderas), while her novelist/husband, Roy (Josh Brolin), has fallen for Dia (Freida Pinto), an alluring neighbour. Sounds complex enough for Woody Allen and is played out by ensemble cast of brilliant actors. The only thing missing is a touch of Woody Allen. Plenty to enjoy here but the movie is a sleeper.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Parental Guidance

Director: Andy Fickman

Starring: Billy Crystal, Bette Midler, Marisa Tomei, Tom Everett Scott

Artie (Billy Crystal) is the grandfather who is accustomed to calling the shots, but when he meets up with his three grandkids, then something has got to give. A feel good comedy for the holidays has Crystal matched with Bette Midler who plays his eager-to-please wife Diane. They are called to babysit when the parents (Marisa Tomei, and Tom Everett Scott) go away for work. Battle of the generations ensues as old school and 21st century kidz learn to compromise. Not quite so good as Uncle Buck but in the ball park. Good fun and expect some real belly laughs.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

SAMSARA

Director: Ron Fricke

Samsara (the ever turning wheel of life) is a cinematic experience to explore the themes of birth, life, death and rebirth and all to the accompaniment of stunning visuals and music. Shot over four years and across 26 countries, the film transcends through multiple cultures to sacred grounds, disaster sites, industrialized zones and natural wonders. The absence of a narrative with mesmerizing visuals combines with a musical score to present a “guided meditation” experience which if you are in the mood is most enjoyable. The spiritual sequel to Ron Fricke’s previous non-narrative travelogue Baraka (1992) will however leave you either refreshed and enlightened or spectacularly bored. I enjoyed it immensely.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Love Story

Director: Florian Habicht

Starring: Masha Yakovenko, Florian Habicht, Frank Habicht

A romantic comedy set in New York City from the avant-garde, Kiwi filmmaker Florian Habicht (Kaikohe Demolition and Land of the Long White Cloud). Delightfully quirky he manages to convince virtual strangers to play roles for the camera in a patchwork love story. Habicht sees a woman (Masha Yakovenko) walking on the streets holding a plate with a piece of cake on it and introduces himself. He persuades her to be part of his film. Script less the plot develops on the fly and with the help of his father (in real life) via Skype, cinematographer Maria Ines Manchego, and the extroverted denizens of New York City Habicht cobbles together a movie which is randomly nuts, hilarious and touchingly funny. Wonderfully absurd with a cool score this is well worth a watch.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

God Bless America

Director: Bobcat Goldthwait

Starring: Joel Murray, Mackenzie Brooke Smith, Tara Lynne Barr

A revenge comedy fantasy about a middle-aged divorcee, Frank (Joel Murray), who goes on a killing spree, joined by teenage malcontent, Roxy (Tara Lynne Barr). The concept is bold and black with occasional flashes of brilliance and shock value. However in light of recent events the movie’s appeal maybe somewhat lessened .

Sightseers

Director: Ben Wheatley

Starring: Alice Lowe, Steve Oram, Eileen Davies

A black comedy involving a bumbling Birmingham couple’s caravan tour through Yorkshire. Tina (Alice Lowe) and Chris (Steve Oram) set out for a adult holiday much to the consternation of Tina’s infirm mother, Carol (Eileen Davies). Soon the romantic getaway descends into black farce after Chris reveals his disturbing pathological impulse and Tina keen to pleasure her man unleashes her inner sadomasochism . Funny and perturbing the road movie is similar to Mike Leigh’s Nuts in May 91976) only more violent.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Liberal Arts

Director: Josh Radnor

Starring: Allison Janney, Elizabeth Olsen, Elizabeth Reaser, Josh Radnor, Michael Weston, Richard Jenkins, Zac Efron

A charming romantic film about ageing. Thirty something Jesse (Josh Radnor) meets and clicks with Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen), a 19 year old student when he goes to the retirement celebrations of his favourite college professor Peter Hoberg (Richard Jenkins). Meantime Jesse still has a crush on one of his old lecturers, an elegant older woman called Prof Judith Fairfield (Allison Janney); and Hoberg becomes irked when he realises Jesse is coming up to college regularly but not to see him. All the major characters are having issues with their age and stage in life but as relationships develop they all grow up one way or another. The movie is funny.

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Late Quartet

Director: Yaron Zilberman

Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken, Mark Ivanir, Catherine Keener

Not to be confused with The Quartet although they do explore similar themes. The Fugue is a famous chamber quartet from New York but on the eve of their 26th season cellist Peter Mitchell (Christopher Walken) informs his colleagues he suffering from Parkinson's disease and plans to retire. The other members of Quartet (Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, and Mark Ivanir) are devastated at the grim news. The stress begins to show as the group begin to implode. Slow moving and over talky this is pure arthouse. Good performances and excellent soundtrack.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Rise of the Guardians

Direction: Peter Ramsey

Voicing: North (aka Santa - Alec Baldwin), Tooth (aka Tooth Fairy - Isla Fisher), Easter Bunny (aka E. Astor Bunnymund -Hugh Jackman), Jack Frost (voiced by Chris Pine), and the silent but powerful Sandman.

What have the Tooth Fairy, Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny got in common? They are all part of the Immortal Guardians determined to stop the villainous, rotter Pitch (Jude Law) and his “night mares” (shadowy dark horse figures that gallop in the darkness) and their dastardly plot to rid the world of magic and hope. Will mischievious Jack Frost (voiced by Chris Pine) join the dark forces or become a goodie ? Well you need to see this movie to find out. Another 3 D Dream Works marvel and a heart warming and exciting animated feature it is. Will suit all believers in Santa.

Red Dawn

Director: Dan Bradley

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Josh Peck, Adriaane Palicki, Isobel Lucas, Connor Cruise, Jeffrey Dean Morgan

A remake of John Milius 1984 movie. Teenagers put up armed resistance to an occupying force which invades their community. Originally it was All American kids versus the Commies movie (hence the title) but nearly three decades on the enemy is the North Koreans. Vet, Jed Eckert (Chris Hemsworth) leads the freedom fighters called the Wolverines and with the help of Matt (Josh Peck), Toni (Adrianne Palicki), and Daryl (Connor Cruise), as they foight tooth and nail in this rooting, tooting shooting movie. Outgunned and outnumbered the young partisans from their wooded hideout take their best shot. So so.

Quartet

Director: Dustin Hoffman

Starring: Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins, Michael Gambon

If you have ever wondered where old performers go to spend their eventide years then wonder no more because Quartet has the answer. Based on a play by Ronald Harwood set in a plush retirement home for musicians, Beacham House faces financial ruin but the solution lies with the residents. For the once-celebrated operatic quartet has been reunited and if convinced to reform could save the day. To hilarious effect Jean (Maggie Smith), Reg (Tom Courtenay), ageing lecture Wilf (Billy Connolly) and the sweetly demented Sissy (Pauline Collins) all come together after years of separation for a reunion concert to celebrate Verdi's birthday. There are of course a lot of old scores to settle first (and I don’t mean music). Smashing performances from an all star cast and if you enjoyed the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel then this is for you. Directed by Dustin Hoffman with Michael Gambon as Cedric thrown on for good measure.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

American Mary

Director: Jen and Sylvia Soska

Starring: Katherine Isabelle, Tristan Risk , Twan Holliday Antonio Cupo , Jen and Sylvia Soska

Medical student, Mary Mason (Katharine Isabelle) wants to be a surgeon but when she realises she cannot afford she takes to stripping to continue her studies. When club owner Billy Barker (Antonio Cupo) discovers her background he offers her a bundle of cash to perform illegal surgery down in the basement. Mary is soon elbows deep in the murky community of extreme body modification. Evil brings its rewards but at what a cost. Written and directed by a pair of twin sisters from Vancouver, American Mary is easily one of the most fascinating horror stories since Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein. Katharine Isabelle is wonderful as the fascinating Bloody Mary but the movie is not for the faint hearted.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Robot & Frank

Director: Jake Schreier

Starring: Frank Langella, James Marsden, voice of Peter Sarsgaard, Susan Sarandon

A retired jewel thief (Frank Langella) is presented with a robot caregiver (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard) by his son (James Marsden). Wary at first the old man begins sereptiously to explore the robot’s abilities in lock-picking and safecracking. Under the watchful eyes of the local librarian (Susan Sarandon) the two plan a heist. The subject is not unfamiliar and similar in sentiment to Bicentennial Man (1999) but does have a contemporary feel with the potential for robotics and Alzheimer's disease. Funny and hopeful.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Intouchables

Directors: Olivier Nakache, Eric Toledano

Starring: François Cluzet, Omar Sy, Anne Le Ny, Audrey Fleurot

After millionaire Philippe (Francois Cluzet), is left a quadriplegic from a para-gliding accident and hires Driss (Omar Sy), a Senegalese parolee, as his carer. Despite their obvious differences the odd couple gels to hilarious effect. Driss is a free spirit and wastes no time in getting his employer out of the stuffy atmosphere in which he's been closeted, taking him out and about, getting him to smoke pot, introducing him to rock and roll. Based on a true story, this is a feel-good, odd couple comedy with terrific performances from Cluzet and Sy. See the movie before it gets an Oscar.

2 Days in New York

Director: Julie Delpy

Starring Julie Delpy, Chris Rock, Albert Delpy, Alexia Landeau, Alexandre Nahon, Kate Burton, Dylan Baker, Talen Ruth Riley, Owen Shipman, Malinda Williams.

The sequel to Two Days in Paris, Marion (Julie Delpy) is now raising the child of her ex-boyfriend while living with her new love Mingus (Chris Rock), and his death-obsessed daughter Willow (Talen Ruth Riley). Busy prepping a new gallery show (photographs of her ex lovers) her mischievous and recently widowed father (Albert Delpy) along with her exhibitionist sister (Alexia Landeau) descends on the couple's two-bedroom Manhattan apartment. Rose's current boyfriend, Manu (Alex Nahon), is Marion's former amour and becomes obsessed with Mingus. In the middle of this mayhem and just to underpin the farce the neurotic Marion decides to auction her soul "as a conceptual piece." at the show. Chaotic and caperish the movie is not unfunny but neither is it particularly memorable. Good performance from Chris Rock.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Dead Europe

Director: Tony Krawitz

Starring: Leslie’s Isaac , Kodi Smit-McPhee, William Zappa, Marton Csokas

Based on the novel by Christos Tsiolkas this is a tense and engaging account of uncovering family history laced with guilt and dark secrets. Isaac (Ewen Leslie) is an Australian photographer heading to Athens to exhibit his photography when his father (William Zappa ) dies in a car accident. Against his family’s wishes Isaac uses the trip to deliver his father’s ashes to his ancestral home. Trouble is when he arrives the locals think his family is cursed. On his travels Issac meets the mysterious teenager, Josef (Kodi Smit-McPhee) who asks him for help before disappearing. The tension of the film lies in Isaac’s internal journey from complacent observer to active participant. Deep tribal bigotry and religious prejudice ensues in this movie of contrast as narratives of past and present interweave. Not for the faint hearted.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Bachelorette

Director: Leslye Headland
Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, Lizzy Caplan, James Marsden, Adam Scott, Kyle Bornheimer

Bachelorette is about three high school chums, Regan (Kirsten Dunst), Gena (Lizzy Caplan) and Katie (Isla Fisher) who reunite for the wedding of Becky (Rebel Wilson). When Becky was at school she was overweight and was tagged Pig Face. The trio of biatches are superficial, bigoted and cruel and intent on painting the Big Apple red the night before Becky’s nuptials. The usual mishmash of groomsmen versus bridesmaids slapstick comedy with bullying overtones and a hint of the ribald. Seen it all before.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Master

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Laura Dern, Patty McCormack

After the Second World War ex sailor and drifter Freddie ‘The Master’ Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) is a rough bundle of nerves who meets Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman) as a stowaway. The mysterious Dodd is a charismatic founder of The Cause cult and quickly makes Freddie a convert. Slowly Freddie begins to question the cult which angers his mentor and loyal spouse, Peggy (Amy Adams). The story does rambles on but there are great performances from the cast with some powerful scenes. The audience is however often left to flounder at the meaning of it all. This odd movie is bold, challenging, and unique but not quite my cup of tea.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

You Will Be My Son (Tu Seras Mon Fils)

Director: Gilles Legrand
Starring: Niels Arestrup, Lorant Deutsch, Emmanuelle Béart, Patrick Chesnais, Nicolas Bridet

Ageing vintner Paul de Marseul (Niels Arestrup) is obsessed with passing his hard work onto posterity. Unfortunately a previous family history prevents Martin (Lorant Deutsch) his son, from being the likely recipient. Paul’s right-hand man François (a brilliant performance by Patrick Chesnais) who has been the mainstay of the vineyard’s success is dying of cancer and Martin believes he will take over. All portents future disaster. Paul dismisses Martin and sees Philippe (Nicolas Bridet), the son of François, as a better prospect to manage the vineyard on his father’s demise. What follows includes bitter disputes, revelations of family secrets, legal machinations, and even self-mutilation. This is a movie which lurches from drama to grim melodrama.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Frankenweenie

Director: Tim Burton
Starring the voices of : Winona Ryder, Catherine O'Hara, Martin Landau

From creative genius Tim Burton this is a heartwarming animation noir (that’s black and white) tale about a boy, Victor and his dog Sparky. When Sparky unexpectedly dies, young Victor harnesses the power of science to bring his best friend back to life. Like Frankenstein’s monster when a reanimated Sparky gets out, Victor's fellow students, teachers and the entire town all learn that getting a new "leash on life" can be monstrous. This stop-motion animated film, filmed in black and white and rendered in 3D. Tons of reference to the horror genre and listen out for Christopher Lee’s voice over for the movie Dracula.

Dredd 3D

Director: Pete Travis
Starring: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey

A seventeen years (17) hiatus since we last saw Judge Dredd (Sylvester Stallone), so it is a welcome return to the Judge and all the more so, since this is quite a good movie. Should be lapped up by fans of the genre although there is nothing new but the storyline is strong, well scripted and good performances throughout. A buddy movie set in a post apocalyptic America. Mega City runs from Boston to Washington DC and is ruled by criminals. The only force of order is the "Judges" who possess the combined powers of judge, jury and instant executioner. Revered throughout is Dredd (played by Karl Urban as a cross between Christian Bale's Batman and Clint Eastwood's Man With No Name). His latest challenged is ridding the city of a new scourge -- a dangerous drug epidemic that has users of "Slo-Mo" experiencing reality at a fraction of its normal speed. Dredd is assigned a rookie called Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), who has powerful psychic abilities thanks to a genetic mutation. The action takes place in the notorious local of a 200 story vertical slum controlled by madam and drug lord, Ma-Ma (Lena Headey). Filmed in 3D with stunning slow motion photography sequences, the film returns the celebrated character to the dark, visceral incarnation from John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra's revered comic strip. A must for all Dredd-heads.

Housos VS Authority

Director: Paul Fenech
Starring: Paul Fenech, Jason (Jabba) Davis, Elle Dawe, Kevin Taumata.

Think Kath on Kim on speed (hash, smack, crack and whatever else you can lay your hands on) and you in the close vicinity. The Sunnyvale crew of Frankie (Paul Fenech), Shazza (Elle Dawe), Dazza (Jason "Jabba" Davis) and their mates are all back this time on a quest to sprinkle Shazza's mum’s ashes on top of Ayers Rock . Bound to offend finer feelings, flaunt political correctness, and challenge authority, and all in one movie. Based on Paul Fenech’s , SBS black satire set in a fictitious suburb of Western Sydney the movie involves themes of ethnicity and stereotypes, cars, sex, illicit drugs, and violence all of which combine to produce a mean-spirited dark humour. Look out for cameos from Amanda Keller, Angry Anderson, and Melissa Tkautz (Sam Kekovich’s Barbie Girl). A second TV series is planned to follow in 2013.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

LORE

Director: Cate Shortland

Starring: Saskia Rosendahl, Hans-Jochen Wagner, Ursina Lardi, Kai Malina, Ursina Lardi, Nele Trebs

A slow moving story about the loss of innocence set in Germany post Holocaust. It follows the lives of a family of children struggling in the wake of WWII to comprehend what just happened. Based on Rachel Seiffert’s novel, The Dark Room the story is told through the eyes of a teenage girl, Hannelore (Saskia Rosendahl) and her younger siblings Liesel (Nele Trebs), twin boys Jurgen (Mika Seidel), Gunther (Andre Frid) and babe-in-arms Peter. The children’s father is an S.S. officer (Hans-Jochen Wagner) who is arrested and as her Hitler-revering mother (Ursina Lardi) surrenders Lore is told to take her siblings to their grandmother in Hamburg. It is a 500-mile trek across a country in chaos. The group confronts death, deprivation but survive with the help of a young Jewish refugee Thomas (Kai-Peter Malina). Lore’s deeply instilled distrust of Jews makes for an ambivalent relationship between the maturing teenagers as Lore taxes to deal with the consequences of Nazi exploits, her parents’ accountability, and her own prejudices. English subtitles and pure arthouse.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid 3 : Dog Days

Director: David Bowers

Starring: Zachary Gordon, Steve Zahn, Robert Capron, Peyton List, Devon Bostick

Based on Jeff Kinney's popular illustrated novels this is the third in the series of the franchise "Diary of a Wimpy Kid." Dog Days again sees pre teen Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon,) persuing girls whilst trying to keep his dad (Steve Zahn) off his back. Same old same old with best friend, Rowley (Robert Capron), Holly Hills (Peyton List), his schoolgirl crush, and his older sibling and nemesis Rodrick (Devon Bostick ) . Good performances from the cast with clever use of the rudimentary stick-figures to knit the narrative together. What you get is what you see here.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Moonrise Kingdom

Director: Wes Anderson

Starring: Frances McDormand, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Kara Hayward, Jared Gilman, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray

Two young children Suzy (Kara Hayward) and Sam (Jared Gilman) are misunderstood by the adults in his or her life and make a pact to run away together. This sets off a hectic search during a hurricane in the summer of 1965. Sue’s parents played by Bill Murray and Frances McDormand are too busy to care about each other let alone Suzy; and Sam is an orphan cast out by his faster parents. A sweetly compassionate tale of troubled kids and young love is all the more enjoyable with great support from Ed Norton (Ward) as the chain-smoking leader of Sam's Khaki Scout troop. Bruce Willis as the town's lonely, well-meaning sheriff. Tilda Swinton as an officious bureaucrat and Bob Balaban is an elfin narrator. Sam and Suzy confront death, abandonment and burgeoning sexuality in very real terms but the lyrical blend of wit, whimsy and woe makes ths a joy to watch.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wunderkinder

Director: Marcus Rosenmüller

Starring: Imogen Burrell, Elin Kolev, Mathilda Adamik, Gudrun Landgrebe, Catherine H. Flemming, Kai Wiesinger, Konstantin Wecker

A moving and absorbing drama set in the village of Poltava in central Ukraine during 1941 just as the Germans invade Russia. Told in flashback the Jewish children Larissa Brodsky (Imogen Burrell) and Abrascha Kaplan (Elin Kolev) form a pact with Hanna Reich (Mathilda Adamik), the daughter of a wealthy German brewer. Abrascha is a gifted violist, Larissa plays the piano and Hanna plays the violin, and all share the same teacher, Irina (Gudrun Landgrebe), who is Jewish. Hanna’s mother Helga (Catherine H. Flemming) disapproves of fraternizing with the Jewish children but her father Max (Kai Wiesinger) is more enlightened. Initially because of the close connection of their children ( Wunderkinder0, the two Jewish families bravely provide shelter for the Reich family but when the Nazis reach Poltava and begin deporting Jews, Max Reich tries to save as many as he can. Good performances including a chilling portrayal of SS Colonel Schartow by Konstantin Wecker who forces the two Jewish kids literally play for their lives. Excellent score in this movie dedicated to the 1.5 million Jewish children who died in the Holocaust.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Campaign

Director: Jay Roach

Starring: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, John Lithgo, Dan Akroyd, Dylan McDermott

Long-term US congressman and rake, Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) has outstayed his worth according to a pair of ultra-wealthy CEOs (John Lithgow and Dan Akroyd) who plot to put up a rival candidate and gain influence over their North Carolina district. They choose the naïve Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis), director of the local Tourism Center, who appears the unlikeliest possible choice but, with the help of a sinister campaign manager (Dylan McDermott) and his family's political connections. Despite all the odds he soon becomes a contender who gives the charismatic Cam plenty to worry about. As the Election Day approaches the rivals are locked in a dead heat so time for dirty tricks which provides the bulk of slap stick comedy in this mildly satirical farce. Sure to be a success in the election year (US), and a perfect vehicle for Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis but not the hilarious movie you might expect. (I am not a fan of Will Ferrell).

Holy Motors

Director: Leos Carax

Starring: Dennis Levant, Kylie Minogue, Eva Mendes, Edith Scob, Michel Piccoli

A beautifully shot fantasy about the amorphous Monsieur Oscar (Denis Levant), a shadowy figure who journeys from one alter ego to another. A captain of industry, an assassin, beggar, monster and family man this human enigma effortless shifts from identity to identity as we witness a series of encounters with Levant playing a different person (or creature) in each. The movie lends itself to various interpretations and the audience is left to ponder on the true meaning of the Iliad. A film tucked with surprise and visual spectacle which demonstrates the magic of cinema and the thrill of performance. Look out for Kylie Minogue who comes on two-thirds of the way through and sings a sad song to a former lover (Levant again) before throwing herself off the top of a Paris hotel. Enough said. Sure to be an art house classic.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Skyfall

Director: Sam Mendes Starring: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Berenice Lim Marlohe, Ben Whishaw, Albert Finney, Rory Kinnear, Ola Rapace

Daniel Craig completes his hat trick in the new Bond extravaganza Skyfall. A dramatically gripping move (arguably the best to date), there is all the usual outlandish action scenes, glittering settings and larger-than-life characters. However the difference is our super hero is faced with the realities of modern life and battles the world of shadowy terrorists and cyber warfare. Spooks on the big screen. All change at London Head Quarters after Bond has been reported missing in action. M (Dame Judy Dench) is now under pressure from intelligence and security committee chairman Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) and the organization is thrown into further chaos when the new London headquarters of MI6 explodes in a terrorist attack. Systematically undercover British agents are beginning killed and just as all seems lost Bond like Lazarus, reappears but first he has to win the confidence of M before setting out to combat his new nemesis and former agent, Silva (Javier Bardem). Along the globetrotting way our intrepid wise cracking hero meets Severine, (Berenice Lim Marlohe), a new Q (Ben Whishaw) and the gorgeous Eve (Naomie Harris). This is an accomplished action movie which allows the Bond character more psychological complexity and stronger emotional beats. In the tradition of the old Bond movies there is a mouth watering introduction and a moving and highly satisfying ending which tees up the ball for the next adventure. Fantastic cinematography complemented with a brilliant sound track. Bond is back.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bully

Director: Lee Hirsch

Bully is a social documentary which examines bullying with the focus on the receivers of badgering. A series of cases is reported including Alex, 12, who is punched and ridiculed without remorse, while school administrators tell his parents that "boys will be boys." Kelby, 16, is an athlete who comes out as gay, only to face being ostracized and run down by a car. Ja'Meya, 14, is so traumatized that she takes a gun onto her school bus to scare off bullies and faces 22 felony charges, and there is more. This is confronting stuff and should be a compulsive part of high school curriculum. Man’s inhumanity to man is a sad indictment on modern society but all too true in schools around the world as witnessed in this informed documentary.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Sapphires

Director: Wayne Blair

Starring: Chris O’Dowd, Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, Shari Sebbens, Miranda Tapsell, Tory Kittles, Judith Lucy.

Musical comedy loosely adapted from the true story of four women of the Yorta Yorta clan who sang together in the late 60s and 70s; and based on the stage play The Sapphires. Set in the late 1960s Australia the narrative follows four Aboriginal women, looking to follow their dreams and become music stars. The girls enter a talent show in a local rundown pub owned by a racist owner (Judith Lucy) who has no intention of giving the small prize to a group of Aboriginals. Enter, Dave (Chris O’Dowd), a would be music manage, impressed with their performance sees the potential to make them soul singers. Despite his scruffy appearance and lack of experience Julie (Jessica Mauboy), Gail (Deborah Mailman), Kay (Shari Sebbens) and Cynthia (Miranda Tapsell) are quick on the uptake. The group signs up to boost morale and perform in front of the troops in Vietnam. The transition is a test to the girls and their backgrounds but eventually they become The (fabulous) Sapphires. Similar to The Commitments, but no less enjoyable this is a feel good movie with some super music and good performances from the cast.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Jackpot

Director: Magnus Marten

Starring: Kyrre Hellum, Henrik Mestad, Arthur Berning, Mads Ousdal, Andreas Cappelen

Black comedy come thriller set on the Norwegian-Swedish border and based on a book by Jo Nesbø (Headhunters). Four dimwitted crooks turn on one another after a lucrative win on the football pools. Told in flashbacks Oscar (Kyrre Hellum), the lone survivor of a shoot out in a Swedish roadhouse/strip-cub, explains to detective Solor (Henrik Mestad) how he emerged unscathed, from beneath a fat, dead stripper. A gruesome tale of greed with dismemberment and disposal the order of the day. Casually violent and corpse-littered this may appeal to fans of Scandanavian crime stories but it certainly not the best example brought to celluloid.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

In Darkness

Director: Agnieszka Holland

Starring: Robert Wieckiewicz, Benno Furmann, Agnieszka Grochowska, Maria Schrader, Herbert Knaup, Kinga Preis, Krzysztof Skonieczny, Julia Kijowska, Marcin Bosak, Jerzy Walczak, Michal Zurawski.

Based on the book "In the Sewers of Lvov" by Robert Marshall this is a harrowing Holocaust survival story set Nazi Concentration Camp. Hiding in the sewers of Nazi-occupied Lvov, in eastern Poland, a group of Jews rely on a local thief, Leopold Socha (Robert Wieckiewicz), to feed and protect them. The former sewer inspector-turned-scavenger wartime profiteer risks his life outwitting the Nazi captors for profit. Along with his accomplice Szczepek (Krzysztof Skonieczny), they break into abandoned buildings, and loot whatever valuables they can find. The group confined to live in the claustrophobic sewers consist of con men, cheats and tight-fisted business owners who constantly fight and argue among themselves. Rather long but there is a tense finale in which a sudden rainstorm turns the sewers into a death trap and all else is revealed. "In Darkness" is a powerful film about those who refuse to yield, either to certain death or to complicity with evil.

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Door

Director: István Szabó
Starring: Helen Mirren, Martina Gedeck, Károly Eperjes, Gábor Koncz, Enikö Börcsök, Mari Nagy, Ági Szirtes, Péter Andorai

Based on the semi-autobiographical 1987 Hungarian novel by Magda Szabó, the period drama tells of an unusual relationship between a well-to-do novelist (Martina Gedeck) and her graceless, elderly cleaner, Emerence (Helen Mirren). The latter has had a traumatic life which she has successfully kept a secret until a dramatic event in the writer's life prompts her share her past with unpredictable consequences. Set in 1960s in Hungary bourgeois, the much respected and rather eccentric, Emerence lives alone in a small house but has never let anyone beyond her front door (the ‘Door’ of the title). When the final revelations as to what lies behind the door come they are intriguing, but perhaps never as dramatic or moving as they should be, mainly because the film never really sets up drama of the relationship between the two women to its full effect. Despite this there are good performances from the cast with exceptional cinematography. Pure arthouse.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Hysteria

Director: Tanya Wexler
Starring: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Hugh Dancy, Jonathan Pryce, Felicity Jones, Rupert Everett

A romantic comedy centered around the development of the electromagnetic vibrator during the late Victorian era. Doctor Robert Dalrymple (Jonathan Pryce), is a specialist in treating women with "hysterica” in a most unorthodox way. Dr Mortimer Granville (Hugh Dancy) is an idealistic, forward-thinking medic who drifts from job to job mainly due to his skepticism and out-spokenness. He joins Dalrymple’s private practice and falls for his employer’s daughters the demure Emily (Felicity Jones) and the "volatile suffragette" Charlotte (Maggie Gyllenhaal). Keen to develop his medical experitse Granville perfects manual "vulvar massage," but the popularity of the treatment leaves him with painful carpel tunnel syndrome and its up to his gadget-loving best friend (Rupert Everett) to help ease matters with a new invention. What might have been a jolly good romp ends up rather a damp squib. Mildly amusing

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Happy Event (Un heureux evenement)

Director: Rémi Bezançon
Starring: Louise Bourgoin, Pio Marmaï, Josiane Balasko, Thierry Frémont. Category III

A whirlwind romance between TV presenter, Barbara (Bourgoin) and shop assistant, Nicolas (Pio Marmai) follows a chance encounter at a video store. In the midst of their infatuation, Barbara falls pregnant and as they wait for the happy event their perfect relationship begins to fall apart. A humorous and thought-provoking dramedy told in two parts. The real ordeal begins with the new arrival and the resultant strain it puts on the protagonists’ relationship. Sure to bring both laughter and tears.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Once upon a time in Anatolia

Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Starring: Yilmaz Erdogan, Firat Tanis, Taner Birsel, Ahmet Mumtaz Taylan, Muhammet Uzuner

Moody road trip come detective movie set in the Turkish Steppes. A murder of a local man has been committed and the body buried somewhere in the vast fields of the Anatolian countryside. The killers (Firat Tanis and Burham Yildiz) lead a convoy featuring a police chief (Yillmaz Erdogan), town doctor (Muhament Uzner) and prosecutor (Taner Birsel) to where the body is buried. Packed into three cars the group search field after field but to no avail and as the night draws on, tensions escalate, and individual stories slowly emerge from the weary small talk of the men. Nothing here is simple, and when the body is found, the real questions begin. Fabulous cinematography by Gokhan Tiryaki in this pot boiler. Long but worth the wait.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The King is Dead!

Director: Rolf de Heer

Starring: Dan Wyllie, Bojana Novakovic, Gary Waddell, Luke Ford, Anthony Hayes

This is a suburban dark comedy with Max (Dan Wyllie) and Therese (Bojana Novakovic) who have just bought a new house. On one side is the perfect neighbours and on the other, a ne'er -do-well who lives in a rundown hovel. King (Gary Waddell) is a simple man and Max and Therese suspect is a drug addict. He friends Shrek (Luke Ford) and Escobar (Anthony Hayes) are regular visitors and regularly party to the early hours. No matter the polite reasoning all seems to fail until eventually the likeable Max and Therese take matters into their own hands. Good performances throughout in this little Australian movie and well worth a watch.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Three Stooges

Directors : Bobby and Peter Farrelly
Starring: Sean Hayes, Will Sasso, Chris Diamantopoulos, Jane Lynch, Kate Upton, Larry David, Sofia Vergara, Kirby Heyborne

Reprise of the old Three Stooges movies set in the present. Larry Fine (Sean Hayes), Curly Howard (Will Sasso) , and Moe Howard (Chris Diamantopoulos ) are back and twenty-five years after leaving the orphanage they find their home under threat of foreclosure. With the usual slapstick mayhem the trio and nuns set out to right wrongs as only they can against the villainous Lydia (Sofia Vergara). A sub plot of two along the way including a brief reconnoiters with reality TV show, Jersey Shore. However in the end this is a mixed bag comedy which may only appeal the aficionados.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Where do we go now?

Director: Nadine Labaki
Starring: Nadine Labaki, Claude Baz Moussawbaa, Julien Farhat, Antoinette Noufaily

A bitter sweet comedy in a small Lebanese village where Muslims and Christians live in harmony. When tensions begin to rise in the region and old wounds soon to be rekindled the women decide to keep their men from finding out about the violent skirmishes that rage nearby. They hire a troupe of skimpily-clad Ukrainian dancers and bake hash-bread in an attempt to keep their men preoccupied . Then reality takes hold and a young man is killed. Worth a watch.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Polisse

Director: Maïwenn le Besco
Starring: Maïwenn Le Besco , Frederic Pierrot, Joeystarr, Marina Fois, Emmanuell Bercot, Karin Viard

Life behind-the-scenes at a Child Protection Unit in Paris. Maïwenn (Maïwenn Le Besco ) is a photojournalist on a Ministry of the Interior assignment who flits between cases in this doco-styled drama that aims to highlight both the horrendous tasks these officers must deal with as well as their general ineptness at carrying them out. The team is led by Baloo (Frederic Pierrot), who must deal with bureaucratic pressure from above and insubordination from below. His most ardent officer is Fred (Joeystarr), an immigrant whose passion for children's welfare turns too personal and forcefully deviates from the interrogation protocol. Iris (Marina Fois) is a hard-hearted pro who maintains a chilly distance from her cases. He partner Nadine (Karin Viard) is a divorcee who can’t admit to her colleague that she’s still madly in love with her cheating ex-husband. The language and detail is raw, as to be expected from a film that follows the investigation of crimes against children. Many of the anecdotes were based on real cases. The end of the movie is not for the faint hearted.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Take this waltz

Director: Sarah Polley

Starring: Seth Rogen, Michelle Williams, Luke Kirby, Sarah Silverman

A slow moving love story involving three people. Margot (Michelle Williams) is in love with her cookbook author husband Lou (Rogen), and lives happily in a Toronto townhouse. The she goes to Nova Scotia on a work trip and has a brief flirtatious relationship with Daniel (Luke Kirby) a handsome artist, who it transpires lives close by. They share cab ride back from the airport and realize something significant has happened between them. Margot tries to avoid contact but is drawn to her new paramour. Over the hot summer, Margot and Daniel keep finding ways to bump into each other, stealing moments together to dance around their mutual attraction without ever acting on it. Torn between her genuine feelings of love for Lou and her schoolgirl crush for Daniel the more she tries to suppress her feelings the more erotic they become. The title comes from a Leonard Cohen song heard when the inevitable finally happens between Margot and Daniel. Good performances from the cast.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Marley The Definitive Story

Director: Kevin Macdonald
Featuring: Bob Marley, Ziggy Marley, Chris Blackwell, Cindy Breakespeare, Lee Perry, Danny Sims, Allan Cole, Rita Marley, Lee Jaffe, Constance Marley.

A thorough (2 hours plus) look at the life and music of reggae icon and Jamaican legend, Bob Marley. Plenty music to illustrate the biography of this 20th century hero. Masterfully collated archival footage and still photos provide insight into the life of a mixed race boy that began in the mountain village of St Ann in the Jamaican hinterland, conquered the world of music, yet ended tragically in the US when he was only 36. The movie’s best moments come from the touching account of friends and extended family highlighting the essence of a quiet Rastafarian whose life-long commitment to optimism and faith resonated with millions. Worth waiting for the closing-credits alone.



Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The cabin in the woods

Director: Drew Goddard

Starring: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams

Horror film involving five college students Dana (Kristen Connolly), Curt (Chris Hemsworth), Jules (Anna Hutchison), Marty (Fran Kranz), and Holden (Jesse Williams) who innocently attempt to enjoy a vacation at a remote cabin in the woods. Unbeknown to them they are being watched by technicians in a sophisticated industrial facility. Like guinea pigs in a laboratory experiment the innocents are part of a dastardly plan. Loaded with all sorts of references and in-jokes for horror buffs, this is Big Brother meets the Evil Dead and what follows is not pretty but will suit fans of the torture porn horror genre. A big yawn from me.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Le Chef (Comme un chef)

Director: Daniel Cohen

Starring: Jean Réno, Michaël Youn, Raphaëlle Agogué

An odd-couple comedy set in the restaurant kitchen of Le Cargo Lagarde. Alexandre Lagarde (Jean Réno) is the chef keeping the multi-starred bistro afloat but when the owner insists on cost cutting and updating the menu then the comedy begins. Lagarde’s reputation as Master Chef is dependent on the restaurant keeping its Michelin star. Enter Jacky Bonnot (Michaël Youn) the maverick sous-chef with aspirations but keeps getting fired from kitchens. The dynamic duo must compromise in preparation for a visit from the critics. If a good laugh is on your menu then this is an enjoyable French Comedy.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Anton Chekov's The Duel

Director: Dover Kosashvili
Starring: Andrew Scott, Fiona Glascott, Niall Buggy, Mislav Cavajda, Tobias Menzies

English-language adaptation of Chekhov's novella about love and lassitude set in 19th century Caucasus. Russian bureaucrat, Laevsky (Andrew Scott) has run off with Nadya ( Fiona Glascott), another man's wife, hoping to start a new life. Instead he spends all his time drinking and playing cards with the local low life. Now out of love with Nadya he fails to tell her she has become a widow for fear of her wanting him to marry her. Bored and neglected the flirtatious Nadya teases the local men including the desperate police captain Kirilin (Mislav Cavajda). When Laevsky discovers a sexual tryst in desperation he confides in his friend the doctor, Samoylenko (Niall Buggy), about the best way to extricate himself from a relationship with a woman he says he no longer loves. All of the above is being watched dispassionately by the zoologist Von Koren (Tobias Menzies), who is eventually compelled to challenge the dispicable Laevsky to the titular duel with unforeseen consequences. Strikingly shot but too wordy even for Chekov.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Dictator

Director: Larry Charles
Syarring: Sacha Baron Cohen, Anna Faris, Fred Melamed, Sir Ben Kingsley, Adeel Akhtar, John C Reilly, Kevin Corrigan, Kathryn Hahn

Admiral General Aladeen (Sacha Baron Cohen ) rules the North African country of Wadiya which is oil rich. Whilst in New York to address the United Nations there is an unsuccessful attempt of the dictator’s life masterminded by his right-hand man, Uncle Tamir (Ben Kingsley) who plans to sell the country’s oil to the West. In fear of his life and friendless he shaves off his beard and goes to ground as Allison Burgers aided by a spunky feminist, Zoey (Anna Faris). Meantime there is a simpleton body double intent on signing a contract that will make Wadiya a democracy. Can Aladeen stay alive long enough to stop this, well you will need to see the movie to find out. This is a very funny farce in a Cohen cringe worthy way. Completely non-pc and sure to offend everyone but I would defy anyone not to find to a belly laugh in it somewhere. If you liked the previous movies then this is considered to be Cohen’s best effort to date. Keep your eyes peeled for the star cameos.

Careless Love

Director: John Duigan

Starring: Peter O'Brien, Nammi Le, David Field, Andrew Hazzard, Hugo Johnstone-Burt, Penny McNamee, Ivy Mak

Linh (Nammi Le) is from Vietnam studying social anthropology at an Australian university in Sydney. When her father is retrenched she clandestinely works as a part-time escort to help payment with the family mortgage. By night Linh and her Thai co-worker, Mint (Ivy Mak), are driven from job to job by Dion (David Field), a genial character who briefs them on the tastes and expectations of each client and remains nearby in case there's trouble. One of her favourite regulars is an American called Luke (Peter O'Brien) who despite being a ruthless dealer is kind and considerable to her. Whilst she manages to keep her two lives separate when she meets and falls for a fellow student, Jack (Andrew Hazzard), her worlds collide and she must deal with the emotional chaos that follows. Low budget but well shot, performances are generally average in rather exploitative movie.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Craig Lahiff's Swerve

Director: Craig Lahiff

Starring: Jason Clarke, Emma Booth, David Lyons, Travis McMahon, Vince Colosimo, Robert Mammone, Chris Haywood, Roy Billing, Greg Stone.

A thriller set in rural Australia. Ex soldier Colin (David Lyons) comes across an accident in the desert on his way to Broken Hill. He finds a suitcase full of money which is next to one car with an apparent dead occupant and proceeds to take the driver of the other car, blonde and distressed Jina (Emma Booth), back to her house just outside of Neverest. Unbeknown to Colin the suitcase contains drug money from a deal that went wrong and Jina was the cause the accident when the deceased driver swerved (hence the title) to miss her on his hasty retreat from a dodgy deal. Colin hands in the case to the local policemen, Frank (Jason Clarke), never realizing Frank is Jina’s husband. They offer him hospitality while his car is being repaired but Colin soon finds out a sinister undercurrent to their relationship. The couple meantime regards the contents of the suitcase as a saving grace to their troubles but someone violent is looking to reclaim his cash with menaces. Some highs and lows in this movie but the killer blow is the film noir style pot-boiler lacks strong characterization. Pity cause the cinematography is good and shot around the rocky, heat-baked Flinders Ranges in South Australia.

God Save My Shoes on iTunes



God Save My Shoes (Unrated)by Julie Benasra. God Save My Shoes is the first documentary to explore the intimate relationship that ties women to their shoes. To understand why shoes are the most addictive and seductive fashion accessory, God Save my Shoes journeyed into women's psyches and closets, examining the psychological, sociocultural, and erotic significance of shoes. The quest to decipher why shoes trigger such passion among most women (and quite a few men) took the production to New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Toronto, Milan, and Florence to interview all those who play a role in the global shoe phenomenon: extreme shoe-lovers and everyday women, fashion historians and editors, psychologists, sex experts, as well as shoe fetishists… Witty, glamorous, insightful and sassy, this film brings an offbeat and captivating answer to the universal relationship between women and their shoes. (Includes French with English Subtitles)

Open iTunes to preview, buy, and download this movie.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Declaration of War

Directed : Valérie Donzelli
Starring : César Desseix, Valérie Donzelli, Jérémie Elkaïm, Gabriel Elkaïm, Brigitte Sy, Elina Lowensohn, Michèle Moretti, Philippe Laudenbach, Bastien Bouillon, Béatrice de Staël , Anne Le Ny, Frédéric Pierrot and Elisabeth Dion.

Based on a true story this is a bitter-sweet movie about dealing with a family tragedy and how illness can dominate the life of caregivers. Juliette (Valerie Donzelli) and Romeo (Jérémie Elkaïm) discover their toddler Adam (César Desseix) requires surgery because he has a dangerous tumor pressing upon his brain stem. Their ordinary lives are put on hold. Nothing has prepared them for this and despite strong support the couple become more desperate eventually losing their jobs and eventually having to sell their apartment and move into quarters for parents at the hospital. Despite the trials and tribulations which follow eventually there is light at the end of the tunnel. Good performances in this inspiring story of two people who transform fear into action.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

God Save My Shoes

Director: Julie Benasra

“Fuck – I just had to have them!”

This documentary is a beautiful expose of shoes and the people who love them. Taken from the perspective of many shoefiles from across the globe the movie gives fascinating sociological insights into the allure of fashion accessories and how much they mean to their owners. Shoe addiction is commonly dismissed as a petty aberration but the fashion shoe business is massive and exists because customers have a weakness for expensive footwear. No one is sure what the attraction is but it does exist and this documentary explores the phenomenon in an informed and entertaining way. Love it, and if Ferragamo’s and Manolo Blahnik’s are in your mind, then this is a must see doco.



Much anticpated God Save My Shoes DVD, documentary about women and shoes, will release in the US and Canada on May 8th. The film will be available across more than 30 VOD and pay-per-view platforms including Time Warner Cable, iTunes and Dish Networks. The complete list of VOD partners will be available on God Save My Shoes website . A special edition of the DVD, including the feature film and over 30 minutes of select interviews and behind-the-scenes footage, is also available exclusively from the God Save My Shoes website on May 8th. For each DVD sold Soles4Souls will donate a pair of shoes to someone in need. To celebrate the release, everyone who joins the God Save Shoes e-mailing list from the website, will receive an electronic goodie bag containing the film’s official soundtrack, various images and wallpapers for your mobile, and a 20% discount to purchase the DVD.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Café de Flore

Director: Jean-Marc Vallée

Starring: Kevin Parent, Hélène Florent, Vanessa Paradis

Two stories 42 years apart intertwine. Celebrity DJ Antoine (Kevin Parent) lives in Montreal and has recently left his wife Carole (Hélène Florent) and set up a home with their two children and his new girlfriend, Rose (Evelyne Brochu). Meantime in Paris Jacqueline (Vanessa Paradis) struggles to raise her Down’s Syndrome son, Laurent (Marin Gerrier) in 1969, after her husband has walked out on them. When Laurent falls in love- with classmate Véro (Alice Dubois), who also has Down Syndrome, Jacqueline realizes with shock and anger that she is jealous of them. The association between the stories is both Antoine’s and Laurent love the eponymous song, “Café de Flore, ” which transports when they hear it them to a blissful state. The movie is told in non-chronological order, with flashbacks within flashbacks and a narrative constantly jumping back and forth across decades. Recurring images feature strongly and by the end of the movie (should you wait) the entire lives and histories of the characters gradually come together. Confused? Yes you will be in this emotional hotchpotch of love.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Get the Gringo

Get the Gringo Director: Adrian Grunberg Starring: Mel Gibson, Kevin Hernandez, Daniel Gimenez Cacho, Dolores Heredia, Peter Gerety, Peter Stormare, Jesus Ochoa, Roberto Sosa, Bob Gunton, Patrick Bauchau, Tenoch Huerta Mejia, Scott Cohen, Dean Norris, Fernando Becerril Driver (Mel Gibson) is a professional criminal who lands himself in "El Pueblito," the most notorious Mexican prison. Apprehended after a mad dash car chase through the desert dressed in a clown face and loaded with cash the Mexican authorities decide to keep the Gringo to the consternation of the US Marshals. In the over crowed cess pit, Driver survives by keeping his head down and befriending a tough 10-year-old urchin (Kevin Hernandez). The boy is incarcerated with his mother (Dolores Heredia) and singularly determined to take revenge on the man who killed his father. Meantime the prison's insidious overlord, Javi (Daniel Gimenez Cacho) has designs of the young lad as a liver donor for transplant. Just about what you can expect form a Mel Gibson movie and certainly not for the squeamish, but will definitely suit the action junkies. Think Sam Peckinpah and Midnight Express meets the Shawshank Redemption and you are about there. I like Mel Gibson and would certainly recommend this one.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Step up revolution

Director: Scott Speer

Starring: Kathryn McCormick, Ryan Guzman, Stephen Boss, Cleopatra Coleman, Misha Hamilton, Peter Gallagher

The fourth installment in the "Step Up" film series taps into the dance "flash mob" phenomenon. Set in Miami, Emily (Kathryn McCormick), the daughter of a wealthy businessman has aspirations of becoming a professional dancer, but soon falls in love with Sean (Ryan Guzman), a young man who leads a dance crew (the MOB )in elaborate, cutting-edge flash mobs. As the MOB, work hard towards a major sponsorship, Emily's father threatens to develop the MOB's historic neighborhood and displace thousands of people, the dancers need to turn their performance art into protest art, and risk losing their dreams to fight for a greater cause. Stirring stuff and set to a good score. Reminded me of the Young Ones (1961) with Cliff Richard and Rent for teenyboppers. Strictly for fans of dancing.

Irvine Welsh's Ecstasy

Director: Rob Heydon

Starring: Adam Sinclair, Kristin Kreuk , Billy Boyd

Based on Irvine Welsh’s Ecstacy novel, this Canadian/Scottish movie is an exploration of the drug Ecstasy and the hard-hitting realities of artificial love. Sadly, unlike Trainspotting and Acid House this movie is shite (drab to the extreme). All the more so, because the accents are awful, characterizations poor, plot thin and generally a complete absence of dark humour (a particular strength of Welsh's writing). Oh yes, and the music is unremarkable. Great pity because had they done it better it could have been a retro classic. Lloyd Buist (Adam Sinclair) is an ecstasy drug dealer who likes to party and live life fast and on the edge. Living a glamorous lifestyle on the back of pills mean dealing directly with bad people and crime lord, Solo (Carlo Rota) threatens Lloyd with menace to pay off his debts. Into the mix is thrown Heather (Kristin Kreuk), a fragile innocent who holds her own secrets and Lloyd’s father Jim (Stephen McHattie) coping with depression. Will the anti heroe’s love for Heather be enough to overcome his addiction. Well unfortunately, you will need to see the movie to find out. As they say in Quebec, ‘Aucuns points.’

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wish you were here

Director: Kieran Darcy-Smith

Starring: Joel Edgerton, Felicity Price, Kieran Darcy-Smith, Teresa Palmer

Dave Flannery (Joel Edgerton ) is on a holiday in Cambodia with his Alice (Felicity Price), and sister -in-law sister Steph (Teresa Palmer) and her new boyfriend, Jeremy (Kieran Darcy-Smith), when Jeremy goes missing after a wild party. When the authorities fail to turn up any leads, the group returns to Australia and attempt to resume their daily routines. When Alice discovers Dave and Steph had a drunken tryst, she and her husband quickly grow apart, and all three of their lives start to unravel. Dave’s behavior continues to grow increasingly strange and secretive and the mystery of the last night in Cambodia threatens to destroy their marriage before they can begin reconciliation. Good performances from the cast in this slow-burn plot thriller with twists and turns. Despite being worth a watch the ending is rather predictable.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Way

Director: Emilio Estevez

Starring: Martin Sheen, Debra Kara Unger, Yorick van Wageningen, James Nesbitt

When successful optomtrist (Martin Sheen) learns of his son's death he somewhat begrudgingly flies to Spain to attend to matters. In an attempt to try to reconcile matters he decides to complete the pilgrimage to Camino de Santiago de Compostela, On the life changing journey he meets and shares adventures with a trio of bruised fruits. A sort of Golden Pond meets Canterbury Tales but to its credit the movie is warm and full of empathy. Good performances but rather over long at two hours.

Black & White & Sex

Director: John Winter Starring: Katherine Hicks, Anya Beresdorf, Valerie Bader, Roxane Wilson, Michelle Vergara Moore, Dina Panozzo, Saskia Burmeister, Maia Thomas Filmed in black and white, a sex worker called Angie (played by eight actors) is engaged to be interviewed by a faceless man and filmmaker (Matthew Holmes). Quizzed on camera with a small crew, the pair explore the life and times of a whore with everything from notions of self-respect to the dirty details. As the conversation takes odd twists and turns the power dynamic shifts and insecurities and motivations are slowly extracted to reveal a feisty, strong-willed character expertly fleshed out by the brilliant cast. Confronting at times the quality of the dialogue is superb, througout. The movie is shot on a single set with multi-cameras and minimalist soundscape. An interesting and original Australian movie which is absolutley first-rate.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

This must be the place

Director: Paolo Sorrentino

Starring: Sean Penn, Kerry Condon, Harry Dean Stanton

Cheyenne (Sean Penn) was once a Goth rock star with a frail voice and slow walk. He is in decline after his music drove a few young people to suicide and lives with his long-suffering wife (Frances McDormand) in guilty retirement in an elaborate Dublin mansion. At his father’s funeral he finds out his dad, a Holocaust survivor, was on the hunt for a Nazi war criminal and decides to pick up on the trail. The news gives the rocker new meaning and the unlikely sleuth goes undercover to out the Nazi. What follows is a series of bazaar encounters as Cheyenne seeks the truth. Shot in Dublin and North America this is a bewilderly movie destined for cult status. Wait till it comes to an art house cinema near you and dress up like Cheyenne and you might even enjoy it.



Friday, March 16, 2012

Salmon fishing in the Yemen

Director: Lasse Hallstrom

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Amr Waked , Kristin Scott Thomas, Emily Blunt, Catherine Steadman, Tom Beard, Tom Mison

A gentle romantic dramedy based on Paul Torday’s 2006 novel of the same name. A wealthy sheikh (Amr Waked) comes up with an implausible scheme to bring salmon fishing to the Yemen and the British prime minister jumps on the idea as a ploy to distract public interest from the nasty business in the Middle East. Dr. Alfred Jones (Ewan McGregor) is a fisheries expert working for the British government and the sheikh’s British representative, Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (Emily Blunt), cajoles Alfred into helping. The prospect of exporting 1000s of live salmon to the Middle East causes uproar with British fishermen and at the last minute farmed salmon are substituted but will they adapt to their new local. You need to see the movie to find out. Meantime Jones and his wife (Catherine Steadman) are drifting apart, and Harriet’s beau (Tom Mison) has just been deployed to Afghanistan, so naturally what follows is a love story of sorts. Good performance (as always) from Kristin Scott Thomas as Patricia Maxwell, the press secretary for the British Prime Minister. This is a feel good movie which is mildly amusing, but little else.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

A motley bunch of grey-mads abandon the austerity of the UK for the promise of Shangri-La in a luxurious hotel for retirees in India. The only trouble is not all is as advertised. In spite of the hardships, everybody in this sentimental farce finds themselves falling for the hotel and the country with old loves rekindled, new friendships formed and prejudices broken down. Superb performances from a sterling cast the movie is a joy to watch from beginning to end. Based on Deborah Moggach’s These Foolish Things , The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel carries a very important message that it is never too late. Well worth a view.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Dangerous Method

Director: David Cronenberg

Starring: Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender, Sarah Gadon, Vincent Cassel

This is a dramatised account of the friendship between Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen ) and his brilliant protégé, Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) and its ultimate undoing by a brilliant female patient-student, Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley), who came between them. It is a complex story told through a series of conversations, treatment sessions and exchanged letters. A Dangerous Method has been adapted from John Kerr’s book by Christopher ‘Dangerous Liaisons’ Hampton, who originally turned it into a play called The Talking Cure. The dense and wordy screenplay provides the main actors with meaty roles. Bit wordy but undoubtedly appeal to the art house crowd.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

La Délicatesse (delicacy or sensitivity)

Directors: David and Stephane Foenkinos Cast: Audrey Tautou, Francois Damiens, Bruno Todescini, Melanie Bernier, Josephine de Meaux, Pio Marmai Based on David Foenkinos’ bestselling novel this is a romantic comedy which never really gets beyond being boring Audrey Tautou and Francois Damiens, do their best with a threadbare plot about two 30-somethings who fall into an improbable and ultimately deep-seated romance. A grieving young widow, Nathalie (Audrey Tautou) and her (timid man) Swedish-born colleague, Markus (Francois Damiens), wind up forming an unlikely couple in La Delicatesse. Despite some reasonable on-screen chemistry the characters remain altogether impassive, hinting at deeper feelings but never revealing themselves in an intriguing or appealing way. Fans of Audrey Tautou will enjoy this but otherwise its a bit of a yawn.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Margin Call

Director: JC Chandor

Starring: Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Zachary Quinto, Penn Badgley, Simon Baker , Mary McDonnell, Demi Moore, Stanley Tucci

A tense white-collar drama about morality in a Wall Street investment firm set during the meltdown. The trading firm are in damage control as top executives Seth Bregman (Paul Bettany), Sam Rogers (Kevin Spacey) and John Tuld, CEO (Jeremy Irons), lead an all-night crisis meeting to decide on ruthless measures to preserve their personal wealth. Faced with an 80% lay off of the company's workforce, the chief casualty is top risk analyst Eric Dale (Stanley Tucci). Dale's whip-smart protégé, Peter Sullivan (Zachary Quinto) is given top secret research revealing due to the toxic of the firm’s assets, it is more than likely the investment firm is in imminent danger of bankruptcy. Despite a wordy script there are good performances, particularly from Spacey as the most tormented executive, in this study of greed and opportunism highlighting the ease in which principled employees are swayed to engage in unprincipled acts before others do it to them. Worth a view.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Carnage

Director: Roman Polanski

Starring: Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, Christoph Waltz, Kate Winslet

A brisk and bracing four-handed comedy about two Brooklyn, N.Y., bourgeois couples: Nancy and Alan (Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz) and Penelope and Michael (Jodie Foster and John C Reilly) , who get-together in a luxurious Manhattan condo to sort out a playground fight between their children. The meeting quickly descends into near-savagery as the characters are exposed by events and we soon discover politeness is but a thin veneer. Based on Yasmina Reza’s stage hit “God of Carnage,” the movie is a wicked comedy brilliantly shot and executed. Try not to miss the tiny but important coda that happens behind the closing credits.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Man on a ledge

Director: Asger Leth

Starring: Ed Harris, Sam Worthington, Elizabeth Banks, Jamie Bell, Genesis Rodriguez, Ed Burns

A complex edge-of-seat thriller, part psychological pot boiler, and part heist movie, it is full of tension with a clever script that creates an intricate web of deceit comprising elements that include grand theft, corrupt cops, revenge and redemption. Drama, action, relationships and humour are all within. Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) is an ex-cop and wanted fugitive who climbs out onto the ledge of New York's Roosevelt Hotel, 21 stories above Madison Avenue. He appears to want to end it all and calls for the recently disgraced New York Police Department negotiator Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks). Reluctant at first the police eventually concur but when she tries to talk him down, the negotiator realizes Cassidy might have a powerful ulterior motive. Worthington holds the film together beautifully, while Banks gives one of her best recent performances as the troubled police negotiator who is asked to make a leap of a judgment call. The movie is a ripping yarn with never a dull moment and worth watching to the last reel.

Shame

Director: Steve McQueen

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan, James Badge Dale, Nicole Beharie.

A film about sex addiction and set in modern New York. Professional Brandon (Michael Fassbender) is addicted to casual sex, prostitutes and porn but thinks he is a normal guy with a robust sexual appetite. The unexpected arrival of his damaged sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan) forces him to realise that he might have a problem. This is a provocative and compelling film, which is beautifully acted and emotionally revealing. Not for the fainthearted.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Nosferatu (1922)

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier , Spy

Director: Tomas Alfredson

Starring: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Mark Strong, Ciarán Hinds, John Hurt, Benedict Cumberbatch

This is a Hollywood version of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy adapted from John le Carré‘s novel. The 1979 seven-part BBC series is a more faithful version of the book, but the movie is good and well worth seeing on the big screen. A complicated plot which does require your full attention so may not suit the back-seat neckers and popcorn munchers but great viewing none the less. Set during the Cold War in 1973, the head of the British, MI6, Control (John Hurt) is convinced there is a Russian mole at the top of the secret committee (the Circus). Before an internal investigation can get underway, Control and his right-hand man George Smiley (Gary Oldman) are disgraced and given early retirement . After Control dies, Smiley is recalled to find the mole. The more he uncovers the more complex things become. A well told story full of clues which needs your full attention but the effort is well compensated. Impeccable performances from Gary Oldman and the rest of the cast, this is undoubtedly, one of the best movies of 2012. Great characterization and definitely not to be missed.

The Artist

Director: Michel Hazanavicius

Starring: Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller

This is a playful and lightly melancholic tale about Hollywood’s silent movie days. Set in the era when talkies were just beginning , George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is a silent star of the silver screen. Vain is an athletic star that specializes in swashbuckling romantic adventures but also has an eye for the girls. At the premier of his latest movie, the married star takes a fancy to a pretty girl in the crowd, Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo). George decides to give her a break with a small role in the forth coming Valentin silent production. The luddite, Valentin rejects the threat of talkies and despite encouragement from the Studios boss Al Zimmer (John Goodman), the actor continues in his doomed venture. Valentin’s failure is complete after his long suffering wife, (Penelope Ann Miller) leaves him and the stock market crashes. In deep despair trashes his personal effects and sets fire to the prints of his films. Overcome by the flames Valentine is eventually saved by his performing dog. All this at a time when Peppy Miller’s infectious youthful appeal rockets her to stardom. Will she abandon her defeated benefactor in his hour of need ? Well you need to see the movie to find out. Exquisitely made with winning performances this is a silent movie worth seeing.