Saturday, 30 April 2016

A MONTH OF SUNDAYS

 
Real estate agent Frank Mollard (Anthony LaPaglia) won't admit it, but he can't move on. Divorced but still attached, he can't sell a house in a property boom and much less connect with his teenage son. One night Frank gets a phone call from his mother. Nothing out of the ordinary apart from the fact that she died a year ago! —- IMDB: Written by David Bryson

This is not a great movie, but it is mildly entertaining and, in places, moving and real. La Puglia is excellent a Frank Mollard in a very nuanced role. The story is emotional, sensitive and simple with good character development. The humour is very dry and gentle with a soundtrack that is minimal. It was filmed in Adelaide, South Australia, and I enjoyed watching something that felt familiar. The Adelaide scenery is beautiful. The slow pace of A MONTH OF SUNDAYS won’t suit everyone but the themes are significant and worthy of reflection.

 

Thursday, 28 April 2016

YOUR GUIDE TO THIS WEEK'S NEW CINEMA RELEASES

Yet another superhero movie has arrived — but this one is apparently pretty good!

TOP PICK


In CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR political interference in the Avengers' activities causes a rift between former allies Captain America and Iron Man. If you like superhero movies, you’ll want to catch up on this one. Variety’s Justin Chang says, ‘This chronicle of an epic clash between two equally noble factions, led by Captain America and Iron Man, proves as remarkable for its dramatic coherence and thematic unity as for its dizzyingly inventive action sequences.’ It’s also showing in 3D. People **** | Critics ****


OTHERS TO SEE


Anthony LaPaglia stars in the gentle Australian comedy drama A MONTH OF SUNDAYS in which ‘Real estate agent Frank Mollard (Anthony LaPaglia) won't admit it, but he can't move on. Divorced but still attached, he can't sell a house in a property boom and much less connect with his teenage son. One night Frank gets a phone call from his mother. Nothing out of the ordinary apart from the fact that she died a year ago! (Written by David Bryson — IMDB). LaPaglia is excellent and John Clarke puts in an amusing turn. People ***1/2

MAYBE/MAYBE NOT


AN (SWEET BEAN) is a Japanese drama which tells the story of the manager of a pancake stall who finds himself confronted with an odd but sympathetic elderly woman looking for work. A taste of her homemade bean jelly convinces him to hire her, which starts a relationship that is about much more than just street food. This looks like a feel-good movie which Variety’s Guy Lodge describes as ‘… on the verge of flying away, however, Kawase rewards her audience with an unapologetically contrived but effectively eye-moistening surge of feeling.’ People ***1/2 ◎ Critics ***

TO AVOID


It is inevitable, with Mothers Day approaching, that there will be a movie about it. MOTHER’S DAY is it. In this one, three generations come together in the week leading up to Mother's Day. One reviewer has described this movie as ‘a perfect Mother's Day gift if you hate your mother’ (andynaik — IMDB). Give it a miss. People **1/2

That's it for this week. See you at the movies!

NOTE Movie summaries are adaptations of movie summary on IMDB. Opinions are mine unless credited. These updates are written from an Australian perspective so openings of the movies in cinemas may vary in other parts of the world.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

THE WITCH

A family in 1630s New England is torn apart by the forces of witchcraft, black magic and possession. —IMDB

Critics have been praising THE WITCH but, in my view, it is pretty average apart from the interesting fact that it is based on fairy tales, historical trials, and witchcraft of the 1600s. Much of the dialog is verbatim from records of the time. The screenplay is quite subtle so this is not a horror film as most contemporary ones are. The acting is good, particularly that of Anya Taylor-Joy who plays the part of Thomas who is accused of being a witch by her family. The soundtrack is silent a lot of the time but, when there is any music, it is eerie and screeching. The cinematography is dark, pale, washed out and depressing lending an oppressive atmosphere to the story in which there is constant unease and the feeling that “something” is going to happen. The ending is very bizarre and I assume is drawn from some of the fairytales of the time — very over-the-top. I think this movie is probably for those who want an arty horror mystery rather than those who like modern, slasher horror.


Thursday, 21 April 2016

YOUR GUIDE TO THIS WEEK'S NEW CINEMA RELEASES

Three new movies hit the screens this week — but two of them are in limited release.

TOP PICK


Joel Edgerton pops up in another movie this week, the adventure drama sci-fi, MIDNIGHT SPECIAL in which a father and son go on the run, pursued by the government and a cult drawn to the child's special powers. According to Consequence of Sound’s Dan Caffrey, ‘Only in its final stretch does Midnight Special start to lose its distinct identity.’ Looks interesting. In limited release so check your cinema guides to find out where it is on. People ***1/2 | Critics ***1/2

OTHERS TO SEE


The French drama MARGUERITE is rating around the same as Midnight Special above. It’s set in ‘Paris, 1920s. Marguerite Dumont is a wealthy woman, lover of the music and the opera. She loves to sing for her friends, although she's not a good singer. Both her friends and her husband have kept her fantasy. The problem begins when she decides to perform in front of a real audience. (IMDB — Written by Andres Garza) It may be a challenge to watch because The Playlist’s Kimber Myers says that, ‘At 127 minutes, Giannoli's script feels overlong and a bit repetitive in its heroine's disastrous performances. Lucien, the critic who helps propel Marguerite and her story forward, disappears for a large chunk of the film, only to randomly appear toward the end. Other than these missteps, Marguerite is worth watching with a well-earned grimace, largely for Frot's pitch-perfect performance.’ People ***1/2 | Critics ***1/2

MAYBE/MAYBE NOT


EDDIE THE EAGLE is the story of Eddie Edwards, the notoriously tenacious British underdog ski jumper who charmed the world at the 1988 Winter Olympics. I went to see it at a prescreening where it was described as this year’s feel-good movie. Sadly, a large proportion of it is fictional and very cliched. TheWrap’s Alonso Duralde gets it right when he says that, ‘As cinema, it's an avalanche of feel-good clichés, but as an audience-pleasing machine, it relentlessly pursues its goal and will probably win over viewers who surrender to it.’ I’d agree. My review is coming soon. People ***1/2 | Critics **1/2

That's it for this week. See you at the movies!

NOTE Movie summaries are adaptations of movie summary on IMDB. Opinions are mine unless credited. These updates are written from an Australian perspective so openings of the movies in cinemas may vary in other parts of the world.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

JUNGLE BOOK

The man-cub Mowgli flees the jungle after a threat from the tiger Shere Khan. Guided by Bagheera the panther and the bear Baloo, Mowgli embarks on a journey of self-discovery, though he also meets creatures who don't have his best interests at heart. --IMDB

Absolutely brilliant. Quintessentially Disney but with a contemporary flavour. The entire movie is animated except for Mowgli wonderfully played by Neel Sethi. The CGI and animation are so realistic that you forget the forest and animals are not real - they look and feel totally authentic as if it's real life action. You've got to see it to believe it. The story is wonderfully rich and uplifting. The voicing of all the animals is perfect. There is gentle humour alongside some thrilling action sequences. There's a couple of well known songs but this movie is definitely not a musical (for which I'm grateful). THE JUNGLE BOOK is a must see in 3D in the cinema if at all possible. Totally engrossing. Don't miss it!


Sunday, 17 April 2016

LABYRINTH OF LIES

A story that exposes the conspiracy of prominent German institutions and government branches to cover up the crimes of Nazis during World War II. --IMDB


If you liked the movie Spotlight you will like LABYRINTH OF LIES. It's brilliant and moving. The acting is excellent and the story is compelling. Based in fact, there is some fictionalised elements which do not overshadow the central historical issues. Characters are developed well and the exquisite soundtrack complements the story. The directing is good even though the movie is, perhaps, a touch too long. Like Spotlight, the script is dialogue driven but riveting and suspenseful. An intelligent and striking film. (German with English subtitles)

 

NEW RELEASE DVD RECOMMENDATION - STAR WARS: EPISODE VII - THE FORCE AWAKENS

SUMMARY: Three decades after the defeat of the Galactic Empire, a new threat arises. The First Order attempts to rule the galaxy and only a ragtag group of heroes can stop them, along with the help of the Resistance. —IMDB

MY REVIEW: Very enjoyable. Great that the franchise has returned to the style and feel of the oldest trilogy (Episodes 4-6) with a combination of old characters and new. Daisy Ridley is perfect as Rey who takes a very prominent role in the story. Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Max Von Sydow all reappear and it's great to see them on screen again. The whole experience is quite nostalgic for those of us old enough to have seen the original three episodes so many years ago when they first hit cinema screens. The new director has done a great job and learned from what went wrong in the most recent three episodes. It's a very promising direction for this franchise and I'm looking forward to the next one - and I really want a BB-8 Droid! Make sure you see THE FORCE AWAKENS

 

Thursday, 14 April 2016

YOUR GUIDE TO THIS WEEK'S NEW CINEMA RELEASES

There's really only one movie release to get excited about seeing this week - THE JUNGLE BOOK.

TOP PICK

In the THE JUNGLE BOOK the man-cub Mowgli flees the jungle after a threat from the tiger Shere Khan. Guided by Bagheera the panther and the bear Baloo, Mowgli embarks on a journey of self-discovery, though he also meets creatures who don't have his best interests at heart. Based on the books by Rudyard Kipling, THE JUNGLE BOOK is an absolute must-see in 3D! I'll post my review soon but I give it *****! Village Voice's Bilge Ebiri says, 'If only all blockbusters could be this exciting, engrossing, and beautiful.' I agree. What a superb viewing experience. Watch out for my more detailed review coming very soon. People **** | Critics ***1/2

MAYBE/MAYBE NOT

The documentary WIDE OPEN SKY follows the heart-warming story of an outback Australian children's choir. Chronicling their journey from auditions to end-of-year concert, the trials of trying to run a children's choir in a remote and disadvantaged region are revealed. Here, sport is king and music education is non-existent. Despite this, choir mistress Michelle has high expectations. She wants to teach the children contemporary, original, demanding music. It becomes clear for the children to believe in themselves, they all need someone who believes in them. Set against a landscape of devastating beauty, Wide Open Sky is a moving portrait of the fragile world of possibility that is childhood and reminds us why no child, anywhere, should grow up without music. WIDE OPEN SKY won Best Documentary at the Sydney Film Festival last year and, given its setting of rural and remote Australia, I'd suggest seeing this one on the big screen for the cinematography. People ****

ALLEGIANT, the next instalment in the Divergent series, looks like it's on the way downhill in terms of popularity. In this episode, after the earth-shattering revelations of Insurgent, Tris must escape with Four beyond the wall that encircles Chicago, to finally discover the shocking truth of the world around them. Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips describes it this way: 'It's a pretty dull picture, I must say, because it's my duty to say it. And it's a pretty dull picture, I must say, because something about its particular grade of dullness may cause memory loss.' People *** | Critics *1/2

TO AVOID

Finally, one to avoid. In THE BOSS, Melissa McCarthy plays a titan of industry who is sent to prison after she's caught insider trading. When she emerges ready to rebrand herself as America's latest sweetheart, not everyone she screwed over is so quick to forgive and forget. The Hollywood Reporter's Frank Scheck suggests that, 'Its paper-thin characterizations, hackneyed plotting and overdependence on viciously profane humor put this effort more in the minor league of Tammy, McCarthy's previous collaboration with her director/co-screenwriter husband Ben Falcone, than her truly inspired work with Paul Feig on Bridesmaids and Spy.' People **1/2 | Critics **

That's it for this week. See you at the movies!

NOTE Movie summaries are adaptations of movie summary on IMDB. Opinions are mine unless credited. These updates are written from an Australian perspective so openings of the movies in cinemas may vary in other parts of the world.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

LONDON HAS FALLEN

In London for the Prime Minister's funeral, Mike Banning discovers a plot to assassinate all the attending world leaders. — IMDB

If you saw Olympus Has Fallen you’ll know what to expect from LONDON HAS FALLEN. It’s essentially the same plot structure but in a different location. It’s all pretty standard, cliched, unbelievable, macho action. Light, mindless entertainment.


Monday, 11 April 2016

SHERPA

A fight on Everest? It seemed incredible. But in 2013 news channels around the world reported an ugly brawl at 21,000ft as European climbers fled a mob of angry Sherpas. In 1953, New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay had reached the summit in a spirit of co-operation and brave optimism. Now climbers and Sherpas were trading insults - even blows. What had happened to the happy, smiling Sherpas and their dedication in getting foreigners to the top of the mountain they hold so sacred? Determined to explore what was going on, the filmmakers set out to make a film of the 2014 Everest climbing season, from the Sherpas' point of view. Instead, they captured a tragedy that would change Everest forever. At 6.45am on 18th April, 2014, a 14,000 ton block of ice crashed down onto the climbing route through the Khumbu Icefall, killing 16 Sherpas. It was the worst tragedy in the history of Everest. The disaster provoked a drastic reappraisal about the role of the Sherpas in the Everest industry. SHERPA, tells the story of how, in the face of fierce opposition, the Sherpas united in grief and anger to reclaim the mountain they call Chomolungma. --IMDB

An excellent documentary. I learned so much about the meaning of Everest for the Sherpas and the culture and fascination surrounding it and its history. The story is very moving and, at times, provocative. The way that the movie has been constructed from many hours of footage collected at the time is very impressive. If you are interested in Everest -- it's culture and history and, in particular, what this means for the Sherpas, it is worth a trip to see at the cinema.

 

Sunday, 10 April 2016

RAMS (Hrútar)

In a remote Icelandic farming valley, two brothers who haven't spoken in 40 years have to come together in order to save what's dearest to them - their sheep. —IMDB

A very gentle, moving story that has a touch of natural quirkiness. The acting is excellent with good character development. The soundtrack is very soft organ and squeezebox music that perfectly fits the Iceland landscapes. The cinematography is beautiful and the pacing of the story is perfect. A touch more humour would have been good. RAMS is set in a very isolated part of the world and, while set in a small farming village, its themes are most definitely universal. A stunningly surprising ending makes this haunting viewing.


Saturday, 9 April 2016

NEW RELEASE DVD RECOMMENDATION - CREED

SUMMARY: A The former World Heavyweight Champion Rocky Balboa serves as a trainer and mentor to Adonis Johnson, the son of his late friend and former rival Apollo Creed. —IMDB

MY REVIEW: A pretty formulaic boxing movie with a punchy soundtrack that spins off from the Rocky series. Most of it is predictable — but not entirely. One particular moment in the story was unexpected — but I can’t tell you which one without spoiling the plot. The problem with boxing movies is that they seem to rely quite heavily on the boxers training - and there’s only so much of the training you can watch without getting bored. While CREED might be an adequate movie, it doesn’t reach the creativity of the recent Southpaw starring Jake Gyllenhaal. Sylvester Stallone is pretty good and exceeded my expectations. If you really like watching realistic boxing, then maybe give it a go. As a continuation of the Rocky franchise, it’s ok.


Friday, 8 April 2016

YOUR GUIDE TO THIS WEEK'S NEW CINEMA RELEASES

It’s rare that a documentary is the top pick at the cinemas, but this week we have one…

TOP PICK


Michael Moore is back on screen again with WHERE TO INVADE NEXT in which, to learn what the USA can learn from other nations, he playfully "invades" them to see what they have to offer. Michael Moore documentaries are usually fun, if often biased. And like many of his documentaries, people are divided in their opinion. So, for example, Entertainment Weekly’s Chris Nashawaty says that, ‘Where to Invade Next is so heartfelt and sincere, it's tempting to say that Moore's mellowed with age. But beneath its innocent-abroad optimism, the film has a stinging truth that's hard to ignore.’ At the other end of the spectrum we have Hitfix’s Drew McWeeny describing ‘The pacing on this one [as] flaccid, and while I think he has some interesting points to make, the framing device to the film is a total bust.’ Must check it out! People ***1/2 | Critics ***

OTHERS TO SEE


I’ve heard a lot about RAMS, an Icelandic drama (with a touch of comedy). It all takes place in a remote Icelandic farming valley, where two brothers who haven't spoken in 40 years have to come together in order to save what's dearest to them - their sheep. In this one, the sheep are actually accredited as actors!  Not baaaaaad. It’s receiving lots of accolades. It’s in limited release. People ***1/2

MAYBE/MAYBE NOT


As two evil sisters prepare to conquer the land, two renegades, Eric the Huntsman, who previously aided Snow White in defeating Ravenna, and his forbidden lover, Sara, set out to stop them. That’s the premise of HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR. Looks like it is popular but not with the critics. People *** | Critics *1/2

That's it for this week. See you at the movies!

NOTE Movie summaries are adaptations of movie summary on IMDB. Opinions are mine unless credited. These updates are written from an Australian perspective so openings of the movies in cinemas may vary in other parts of the world.

Friday, 1 April 2016

YOUR GUIDE TO THIS WEEK'S NEW CINEMA RELEASES

Just two new movies this week... a documentary and a German historical drama.

TOP PICK

A fight on Everest? It seemed incredible. But in 2013 news channels around the world reported an ugly brawl at 21,000ft as European climbers fled a mob of angry Sherpas. In 1953, New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay had reached the summit in a spirit of co-operation and brave optimism. Now climbers and Sherpas were trading insults - even blows. What had happened to the happy, smiling Sherpas and their dedication in getting foreigners to the top of the mountain they hold so sacred? Determined to explore what was going on, the filmmakers set out to make a film of the 2014 Everest climbing season, from the Sherpas' point of view. Instead, they captured a tragedy that would change Everest forever. At 6.45am on 18th April, 2014, a 14,000 ton block of ice crashed down onto the climbing route through the Khumbu Icefall, killing 16 Sherpas. It was the worst tragedy in the history of Everest. The disaster provoked a drastic reappraisal about the role of the Sherpas in the Everest industry. SHERPA, tells the story of how, in the face of fierce opposition, the Sherpas united in grief and anger to reclaim the mountain they call Chomolungma. The New York Times's Ken Jaworowski describes it as, 'An exceptionally absorbing documentary.' I saw it today -- it's very good. My review coming soon. People **** | Critics ****1/2

OTHERS TO SEE

LABYRINTH OF LIES is a story that exposes the conspiracy of prominent German institutions and government branches to cover up the crimes of Nazis during World War II. Slant Magazine's Oleg Ivanov says, 'It only scratches the surface of the mass psychological wounds and trauma that the trials unleashed on the Germany psyche.' I can't find it showing near me so it must be in limited release. Critics ***

That's it for this week. See you at the movies!

NOTE Movie summaries are adaptations of movie summary on IMDB. Opinions are mine unless credited. These updates are written from an Australian perspective so openings of the movies in cinemas may vary in other parts of the world.