Monday, April 29, 2013

The Place Beyond the Pines

Director: Derek Cianfrance

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Ray Liotta, Rose Byrne, Harris Yulin, DeHaan, Emory Cohen

A contemporary morality tale with Luke (Ryan Gosling) a motorcycle stunt rider who discovers he has a baby son Jason from a fling with Romina (Eva Mendez). He decides to take responsibilty for his son as Romina moves in with a new man, Kofi (Mahershala Ali). After a chance meeting with Robin (Ben Mendelsohn) an ex bank manager Luke and he plan a series of bank heists. All goes to plan then on one fateful robbery, Luke is pursued by policeman Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper) with both deadly and unexpected results. Not an easy film to follow with loads of camera close ups and tracking, plus the on screen presence of lit cigarettes is both needless and irritating. Good performances from the cast but little else apart from the bike scenes, that is.

Friday, April 19, 2013

A Place For Me

Director: Josh Boone

Starring: Greg Kinnear, Lily Collins, Nat Wolff, Jennifer Connolly, Logan Lerman, Liana Liberato

Weepy that will have you laughing and crying either way take a box of tissues. Bill (Greg Kinnear) has recently divorced from Erica (Jennifer Connolly) and is trying to cope. Once a gifted novelist he encouraged his two teenage children, Sam (Lily Collins) and Rusty (Nat Wolff) to write and the film opens on the eve of Sam's first novel being published. The kids find their domestic situation difficult and see their father as a sad loser. Bill meantime mops for the departed Erica and consoles himself with a casual relationship. Then in a coming of age moment Cupid touches the lives of Sam and Rusty. Good performances in this wide screen soap opera.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Spring Breakers

Director: Harmony Korine

Starring: James Franco, Selena Gomez , Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine

Coming of age nonsense this time involving four raunchy college girls on an ‘anything goes’ Florida holiday. Faith (Selena Gomez) , Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Brit (Ashley Benson) and Cotty(Rachel Korine) steal money for the bash then run foul of the law only to be saved by the Machiavellian, Alien (hammed by James Franco). He has a devious and deadly plan which involves the unsuspecting bikini clad revelers. Through the mayhem and debauchery which follows we discover not all that’s bad is bad etc. Not quite the puerile sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll saga you might hope for but will no doubt have appeal to the Gen Y crowd. Mesmerizing score by Cliff Martinez and electronica artist Skillrex.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Promised Land

Director: Gus Van Sant

Starring: Frances McDormand, Hal Holbrook, John Krasinski, Rosemarie DeWitt

Fracking is an emotive subject and forms the central pivot of Promised Land. An issue driven drama set in a complex social situation and with rather a verbose script. The movie is a metaphor for the battle between dependence upon foreign oil and domestic natural gas and simply put militarism abroad and poverty at home. Naïve but likable sales executive Steve Butler (Damon) and his business partner Sue Thomason (Frances McDormand) go to a depressed Pennsylvania town to purchase drilling rights from farmers for the purpose of fracking. They charm the pants off everyone in the process but is their quest really righteous. Local retired teacher Frank Yates (Hal Holbrook) and environmental activist Dustin Noble (Krasinski) challenge the safety of the gas extraction process (fracking) and the battle begins with some unexpected turns. What starts well as a political story ends as a personal morality tale in the standard Hollywood style and that is regrettable. Good all round performances from the cast.

Saturday, April 6, 2013


Director: Morgan O’Neill (Solo, upcoming feature The Factory) and Ben Nott

Starring: Myles Pollard, Xavier Samuel, Sam Worthington, Lesley-Ann Brandt, Robyn Malcolm, Steve Bastoni, Aaron Glenane

Set in the 70s in Western Australia, the Kelly Brothers, Andy (Myles Pollard) and Jimmy (Xavier Samuel) are surfies and know how to shape the perfect board. They decide to start a backyard surf gear business and sell their unique surf gear out of the back of a van. All goes well until Jimmy gets mixed up with a local bikies. How they survive to become a global business in the nub of the narrative. The film features breathtaking WA South West locations with adrenalin-pumping surf scenes. Highly recommend.

Warm Bodies

Director: Jonathan Levine

Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, John Malkovich, Dave Franco, Rob Corddry

Adopted from Isacc Marion’s novel of the same name the movie is set sometime time in the future when much of the world’s population have turned into zombies. R (Nicolas Hoult) is a lost soul who meets and falls in love with Julie (Teresa Palmer), a human survivor of the zombie carnage. Although R has long forgotten his human name his new feelings kindle long lost human traits. There are some nice touches such as, the film is shot in luminous shades of grey and due to the zombie characters lack of vocabulary the couple communicate via vinyl records and experience flashbacks in a sort of Instagram-filtered glow. This unlikely version of beauty and the beast combines the excess of the zombie genre with the conventions of a boy meet girl romance, but there is never really a dull. Amor Vincit Omnia.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

First Position

Manet: Portraying life

Director: Phil Grabsky and Ben Harding

A movie of a Manet exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts which features over 50 portraits and related works. Annotated throughout by experts, Manet: portraying life celebrates the father of modern painting. Intercut with additional interviews and segments that detail the artist’s life, visit his hometown as well as revealing how exhibitions of this kind come together this is a very interesting documentary. Those who know little about Manet will find a more than useful introduction to the man and his art. If you cannot attend in person then tis is truly the next best thing.