Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Nebraska

Director: Alexander Payne

Starring: Bruce Dern, June Squibb, Will Forte, Stacy Keach

Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) is an old man with a dream of winning a fortune. Time is running out so after receving a letter telling him he may have won a lump sum he goes on a road trip to Lincoln, Nebraska to tell his estranged family he is a millionaire. His wife Kate (June Squibb) is sure Woody is mad and son David (Will Forte), an unambitious hi-fi salesman is left to drive Woody to Lincoln. When Woody’s old business partner Ed Pegram (Stacy Keach) demands some of the money things start to heat up. Shot in black and white this is a very funny film which explores missed opportunities and family relationships.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Tracks

Director: John Curran

Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Adam Driver, Rolley Mintuma, John Flaus, Robert Coleby

This is a dramatization of Robyn Davidson’s remarkable journey across 1,700 miles of Australian desert in 1977. The Camel lady (Mia Wasikowska) bravely took four camels and a black dog from Alice Springs through an arduous journey across inhospitable terrain to the Indian Ocean. Her exploits are often resentfully caught by photographer, Rick Smolan (Adam Driver) who documents her journey for National Geographic magazine. Mr. Eddie (Rolley Mintuma), an Aboriginal elder guides her across a stretch of country dotted with sacred sites. The brilliant cinematography by Mandy Walker will also have you reaching for a thirst quenching drink in this fabulous travelogue movie of a liberated young women trying to resolve inner issues. Worth a watch.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Book Thief

Director: Brian Percival

Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Sophie Nélisse, Ben Schnetzer, Nico Liersch, Joachim Paul Assböck, Kirsten Block, Sandra Nedeleff

Based on the award-winning novel by Australian author Markus Zusak the drama is set in Nazi Germany during the war and follows young Liesel (Sophie Nélisse) and her relationships with her foster parents Hans (Geoffrey Rush) and Rosa (Emily Watson) Hubermann; Max, (Ben Schnetzer), the Jewish man who hides in their home and Rudy (Nico Liersch) the little boy next door. Liesel develops a love affair with words and feeds her thirst by stealing books from the loca Burgemeister and reading them to Max. A beautiful story superbly brought to the screen with some sublime moments which make up for any discordant elements in the film. Good performances all round although it is a bit long and take a box of hankies.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Dallas Buyers Club

Director: Jean-Marc Vallée

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Jennifer Garner, Denis O’Hare

In 1985 when rodeo roustabout Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) is told he has HIV Aids and 30 days left to live he refuses to accept medical opinion. Instead the roughneck decides to fight not only the stigma but also the medical and pharmaceutical companies that controlled effective medications. He goes to Mexico and with the help of unlicensed Dr Vass (Griffin Dunn) acquires pharmacy not available in the US. He smuggles this over the border and starts supplying to AID victims. Reluctantly he overcomes his own homophobia and befriends Rayon (Jared Leto) a transvestite and fellow sufferer and together they start a successful business called the Dallas Buyer's Club providing experimental drugs to "help" others suffering. This is a hard hitting drama tinged with humour and takes a look at the world in the early days of the AIDS epidemic. Great performances from the cast in a movie well worth seeing.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

12 Years A Slave

Director: Steve McQueen

Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Sarah Paulson, Alfre Woodard, Paul Dano, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyong'o

Based on a true story , Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) was a free African American man living in Saratoga in 1841 when he is kidnapped by travelling charlatans and sold into slavery. For the next twelve miserable years he lives as a slave in the Southern States and endures complete degredation. Great performances from the cast in a slow moving narrative graphically illustrated with brutality . Arguably contexturally based and accurate but designed to shock. Not for the faint hearted. Much as I wanted to enjoy the film, I didn’t.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

August: Osage Country

Director: John Wells

Starring: Julia Roberts, Abigail Breslin, Sam Shepard, Meryl Streep, Misty Upham, Margo Martindale, Chris Cooper, Benedict Cumberbatch, Julianne Nicholson, Juliette Lewis, Dermot Mulroney, Ewan McGregor

A cinematic adaptation of Tracy Letts' 2007 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama about a dysfunctional Oklahoma family. Violet Weston (Meryl Streep) is the matriarch of a family of secrets all of which spill out venomously in the aftermath of a family funeral. After the death of her husband, Beverly (Sam Shepard), the close family gather for the funeral and the monstrous Violet lets rip matched ably by her eldest daughter Barbara (Julia Roberts). Great performances all round in a movie full of fights, insults, and sadistic parent-child mind games. Recommend seeing it but (imo) August: Osage County is best suited for the stage.