Thursday, July 31, 2014

Monthly Round-Up: July 2014 Viewing

One of my busiest months of the year for work, most of the films I watched this month were new releases, or work-related titles. Usually binged over the weekends. I also worked my way through most of Frank Herbert's masterful Dune, finished Season 7 Part 1 of Mad Men and the entire 1st Season of Broadchurch. Fantastic. 

Best New-To-Me Films (In Order of Preference) 

-------- Essential Viewing --------

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Matt Reeves, 2014)

Enemy (Denis Villeneuve, 2014)

Guardians of the Galaxy (James Gunn, 2014) - How fun was this? I was thoroughly entertained throughout James Gunn's strange, but welcomed unorthodox refresher, addition to the Marvel universe. The story resembles other Marvel adventures, and the villains are...villainous, but the spectacular and exciting action is handled very well, the humour is frequent, hilarious and quotable, and the the core band of misfits - Pratt, Saldana, Cooper, Diesel and Bautista - work together brilliantly. It is completely unexpected, but they all have their moments. Cooper is making a habit of being best in show (even if he never actually 'appears'). There are some really rough edges to these larrikins - drunken bar brawls and concepts passed as plans - and that's the winning formula. Terrific soundtrack, too. Some of the film's minor (and barely consequential) flaws have become clearer to me but I loved that this was a Star Wars/Firefly hybrid more than another Avengers. I wonder what would have happened if this came out when The Avengers did? It deserves the same applause.

Begin Again (John Carney, 2014) - Ruffalo-led films rarely go sour, and I'm slowly becoming a Knightley fan. Few films this year have entertained me more. Loved the music.

All This Mayhem (Eddie Martin, 2014) - Two natural talents, bros, the Barnes and Elias (Platoon reference) of skateboarding, make it big - but a heartbreaking squander and swift plummet is to follow. Covering 25 years, and full of shocking revelations, this is an exhilarating documentary about two young Melbourne guys who rise from Bogan-nothingness to world stardom. But that fame takes a tragic toll. Features the work of Chris King, the editor of Senna. The best Australian film of 2014 so far.

Venus in Fur (Roman Polanski, 2013)

Rudy (David Anspaugh, 1993) - The definitive 'get straight back up when you're knocked down' film. Inspiring story of a young man who took the road less taken.

-------- Essential Viewing --------

Monday, July 28, 2014

Trailer: Nightcrawler

Have you seen the trailer for the creepy looking Jake Gyllenhaal-starring Nightcrawler? Definitely going to be catching this one at TIFF in September.

New Releases (31/07/14)

In cinemas this week:  A Most Wanted Man, Lucy, These Final Hours, The Selfish Giant, The Keeper of Lost Causes and Some Velvet Morning. 

A Most Wanted Man - When a half-Chechen, half-Russian, brutally tortured immigrant turns up in Hamburg's Islamic community, laying claim to his father's ill-gotten fortune, both German and US security agencies take a close interest: as the clock ticks down and the stakes rise, the race is on to establish this most wanted man's true identity—oppressed victim or destruction-bent extremist? Stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, in one of his final screen roles, Rachel McAdams and Willem Dafoe.

Lucy - From La Femme Nikita and The Professional to The Fifth Element, writer/director Luc Besson has created some of the toughest, most memorable female action heroes in cinematic history. Now, Besson directs Scarlett Johansson in Lucy, an action-thriller that tracks a woman accidentally caught in a dark deal who turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic. Review by Matt Zoller Seitz at

These Final Hours - A self-obsessed young man makes his way to the party-to-end-all-parties on the last day on Earth, but ends up saving the life of a little girl searching for her father. Their relationship ultimately leads him on the path to redemption.

The Selfish Giant - A contemporary fable about 13 year old Arbor (Conner Chapman) and his best friend Swifty (Shaun Thomas). Excluded from school and outsiders in their own neighborhood, the two boys meet Kitten (Sean Gilder), a local scrapdealer - the Selfish Giant. They begin collecting scrap metal for him using a horse and cart. Swifty has a natural gift with horses while Arbor emulates Kitten - keen to impress him and make some money. However, Kitten favors Swifty, leaving Arbor feeling hurt and excluded, driving a wedge between the boys. Arbor becomes increasingly greedy and exploitative, becoming more like Kitten. Tensions build, leading to a tragic event, which transforms them all. This is a fine film. With disconcerting realism writer/director Cleo Barnard offers a tragically bleak look at a dire living where scrap pilfering is an enterprise, and a source of hope. Great performances. ★★★1/2

The Keeper of Lost Causes - This is the first adaptation of the bestselling Department Q crime novels by Jussi Adler-Olsen. Carl Mørck (The Killing) is a disgraced detective who is reassigned to the newly created Department Q, a basement-bound job filing cold cases, and allocated a new assistant, Assad, a smart young Muslim cop. Always one to go against orders, Mørck throws them headlong into the mystery of a missing politician’s disappearance five years earlier. Believing the case to be unsolved, they embark on a dangerous journey that will lead them into the dark underworld of Copenhagen. Nicely shot and performed with a compelling enough mystery (for a while) - a psychologically battered homicide detective is relegated to sorting through cold cases when one ignites an obsession. Testimonies cue flashbacks, and we begin to piece the truth together. Then we are privileged to an untitled POV and from there it falters. Wraps up pretty quickly and easily too. Some tension, but disappointingly generic.

Some Velvet Morning - Fred (Stanley Tucci) arrives at the doorstep of his beautiful young mistress Velvet (Alice Eve) after four years apart, claiming to have finally left his wife. But when she rejects his attempts to rekindle their romance, his persistence evolves into obsession - and a dark history between the former lovers comes into focus. A return to form for writer/director Neil LaBute, Some Velvet Morning is an astutely written portrait of a very modern romance. 

Weekly Recommendation: These Final Hours is an audacious and authentic apocalyptic thriller that also manages to be distinctly ‘Australian’, connecting with the audience on a personal level. While I took a little while to come around - my first impressions were confusing - I now admire this film for how powerfully it affected me. The Selfish Giant is also worth a look for viewers interested in one of Britain's most celebrated new directors. This week I also intend to see A Most Wanted Man, for Mr Hoffman, and Lucy, for Ms Johansson.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Review: These Final Hours (Zak Hilditch, 2014)

After exiting the Sydney Premiere of Zak Hilditch’s These Final Hours, which has been on the festival circuit since the Melbourne International Film Festival last year (including a place in the Director’s Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival this year) I was overwhelmed by somewhat volatile emotion. It is difficult to explain, because my first reaction to the film was not a positive one. While the film never ceases to be compelling, I had issues with some of the filmmaking, there were continuity problems and an ending shot we have seen in another film this year. On top of that I didn’t particularly enjoy the experience. The anxiety and anger that took over me resulted in me attacking, as a reflex, some elements of the film that I didn’t care for. Without much justification. This confusing emotion subsided later in the night, as I thought more about the film, and I began to realize that this sort of strong reaction is rare. I had to figure out what it all meant.

These Final Hours is an audacious and authentic apocalyptic thriller, but it also manages to be distinctly ‘Australian’ and connects with the audience on a personal level, whether you relate to these characters or not. Their behaviour is concerningly plausible, and Hilditch has absolutely nailed the details of suburban mayhem that would ensue. This is a provocative film in that it says things about the ugliness of humanity that we don’t think about day-to-day, but we know is true. The scariest thing about this sort of situation is not so much the ‘threat’, but the hysteria and unpredictability of others.

Continue reading at Graffiti With Punctuation

Monday, July 21, 2014

New Releases (24/07/14)

In cinemas this week: Snowpiercer, Still Life, Hercules, Deliver Us From Evil, Devil's Knot, Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie and Once My Mother.

Snowpiercer - The much-discussed sci-fi epic from director Bong Joon Ho (The Host, Mother). The film is set in the year 2031, and the world is a frozen and uninhabitable. Seventeen years earlier measures were taken to stop global warming, but the experiment was a disaster, killing everything in the process. Those lucky enough to survive boarded the giant rattling ark called the Snowpiercer, a train that circumnavigates the globe over the course of exactly one year. We are first introduced to those living in the back of the train, the lowest class. They sleep cramped together, their hygiene is appalling, their only source of food is a manufactured protein block distributed once per day, they are beaten and mistreated by the train’s guards and have been deprived everything that the upper class forward carriages consume in lavish excess. Amongst these tail-dwellers are Curtis (Chris Evans), Edgar (Jamie Bell), Gilliam (William Hurt) and Tanya (Octavia Spencer), and they are desperate to shake up the world order. Continue reading at Graffiti With Punctuation.

Still Life - For over 22 years, life for the unassuming John May (an indelible performance from the extraordinary Eddie Marsan) has been his work for the local council in South London, finding the next of kin for those in his community who have passed away alone. But in this age of ‘efficiency’, John’s meticulousness and care is no longer deemed necessary, and he is abruptly made redundant. John is left with one assignment: a search for the relatives of an elderly neighbour, Billy Stoke.
As he journeys beyond London to piece together Billy’s past, John uncovers a life of mischief, misadventure, love and regret, most of all for an abandoned daughter, Kelly (Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey) whom John manages to locate. These two insular people are naturally drawn to each other, and as friendship blossoms, John’s outlook opens imperceptibly to life’s possibilities. Still Life is a resonant and universal celebration of dignity, community values and human connection, and ultimately, all that life is worth living for. If you can forgive a late blunder, you will love Still Life. It is delicate, beautiful, attentive and perfectly paced. Marsan is amazing. Incredibly sad, though. I don't cry often in films but I was tested here. ★★1/2

Hercules - Both man and myth, Hercules (Dwayne Johnson) leads a band of mercenaries to help end a bloody civil war in the land of Thrace and return the rightful king to his throne. A tormented soul from birth, Hercules has the strength of a God but feels the suffering of a human. Unimaginable villains will test the mythical power of Hercules in director Brett Ratner’s take on the epic action hero.

Deliver Us From Evil - New York police officer Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana), struggling with his own personal issues, begins investigating a series of disturbing and inexplicable crimes. He joins forces with an unconventional priest (Edgar Ramirez), schooled in the rituals of exorcism, to combat the frightening and demonic possessions that are terrorizing their city. Based upon the book, which details Sarchie's bone-chilling real-life cases.

Once My Mother - When Australian filmmaker Sophia Turkiewicz was seven years old, her Polish mother, Helen, abandoned her in an Adelaide orphanage. Sophia never forgot this maternal act of betrayal. Now in middle age, as Sophia examines her troubled relationship with Helen, she discovers the story behind Helen's miraculous wartime escape from a Siberian gulag, her subsequent survival against the odds and the truth about an historic betrayal involving Stalin and the Allies. With Helen sliding into dementia, Sophia must confront her own demons. Did she ever truly know this woman who became her mother? Does she have it in her heart to forgive her? And is it too late?

Devil's Knot - In 1993 West Memphis, Arkansas was rocked by the brutal murder of three eight year old boys. The police very quickly accused three teenagers, claiming they had killed the children as part of a satanic ritual. Devil's Knot chronicles this harrowing true story from the perspective of one of the mothers, Pam Hobbs (Witherspoon) and the investigator for the accused boys’ defense team, Ron Lax (Firth). Whilst the parents and the community struggle to cope with the heinous nature of this crime and call out for those responsible to be brought to justice, Lax discovers that the prosecutorial case is based entirely on circumstantial evidence and prejudicial assumptions about the accused teenagers’ love of goth culture and heavy metal music.

Weekly Recommendation: This is the second Hercules film to screen in cinemas in 2014. Can you believe that? The Rock is an entertaining performer, but there is no way I am watching that. If there is one limited release film you should try everything to see - Dendy Newtown screen it here in Sydney, Nova in Melbourne - it is Snowpiercer. It is unlike anything you have ever seen. Still Life is another limited release - Palace Norton Street are screening it - with the potential to change the way you live your life. I am going to be checking out Deliver Us From Evil this week because I enjoyed Scott Derrickson's last film, Sinister. Reviews have not been favourable, however. Once My Mother sounds pretty powerful too.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

July Mini-reviews: Enemy and The Immigrant

Enemy - The second straight collaboration (with Prisoners) between Denis Villeneuve (Incendies, Polytechnique) and the great Jake Gyllenhaal couldn't be more different from the other. This one is a mind fuck that is impossible to forget. As stylish as we have come to expect Villeneuve's films Enemy has a distinctly sickly look about it; a beige-golden colour-palette that suggests there is something sinister about the world we find ourselves in and not quite right about the character we start following - a dissatisfied, disheveled-looking and emotionally withdrawn history teacher with some unusual primal urges (Gyllenhaal). His days are stuck on repeat, and Villeneuve does a masterful job of conveying this. Then, watching a film late one night he sees himself. An extra who looks exactly like him. It isn't his imagination. He exists. He decides to track this man (also Gyllenhaal) down, and discovers that the only thing they have in common is their appearance. An analysis of the paranoia and confusion that couples such a situation - and the fallout of their 'meeting' on both of their lives - is satisfying enough, but this film is about something else entirely. Villeneuve doesn't give the audience any help along the way, offering up some terrifying images and never relinquishing the suspense. This is Gyllenhaal's film, and perhaps his career-best work, but Melanie Laurent and Sarah Gadon are excellent too. While I certainly didn't put the pieces together on this lone viewing, reflecting on the film with this 'theory' in mind, wow, it all makes sense. ★★★★1/2

The Immigrant I really liked James Gray's latest film - he also directed the excellent We Own The Night and Two Lovers - but I can't quite place what it was lacking for me. Some of the developments were predictable, and I wonder why I didn't feel emotionally involved for quite a while, considering the tragic story. Ewa (Marion Cotillard) and her sister Magda have sailed from native Poland to New York in search of the American Dream. After her sister remains quarantined on Ellis Island, Ewa finds herself working for Bruno (Joaquin Phoenix) and forced into a life of prostitution. In order to rescue her sister, she works (and suffers) hoping that she will earn enough money for them to leave together. It is well acted (but that is no surprise), gorgeously photographed (it reminded me of the young Vito scenes in The Godfather Part II) and there is subtle complexity to the fusion of narrative arc and theme, and both intricacy and scope in the re-creation of 1920's New York. Both core characters grapple with the guilt of their morally-questionable actions - ultimately necessary to survive - and their reliance on each other in a desperate time when a single act of decency can change someone's life. Bruno admitting his selfishness, and acknowledging what Ewa has selflessly sacrificed is an immensely powerful moment, of which there are several in the film's superior final act. It has been said already, but the final shot is incredible. ★★1/2

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Review: Venus In Fur (Roman Polanski, 2013)

Directed by Roman Polanski (Chinatown, The Pianist, Carnage), and co-written by Polanski and American playwright David Ives, this film adaptationis based on Ives’ own Broadway play, which itself is inspired by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s classic 1870 erotic novel Venus in Furs. If this sounds like a lot of adaptations, I assure you there are more to come here.

Within the film, Thomas (Mathieu Amalric), a writer-director of a new adaptation of the novel, finds himself involved in an elaborate audition with an intoxicatingly sexy, aggressively energetic and unrelentingly persistent actress (Emmanuelle Seigner) who shares a name, Vanda, with his lead female character. After surviving the storm outside and arriving wet and disheveled well after Thomas has seen his last audition, she convinces Thomas to give her a chance and read with her. To his surprise she not only shows great understanding of the script and the intricacies of the character but has also brought along her own costumes and props.

Continue reading at Graffiti With Punctuation

Monday, July 14, 2014

Review: Snowpiercer (Bong Joon-ho, 2014)

Snowpiercer is Korean genius Bong Joon-Ho’s first English language feature – he directed Memories of Murder, The Host and Mother – and it is based on Jacques Lob’s graphic novel Le Transperceneige. Bong wrote the screenplay along with Kelly Masterson (Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead), and the result is as spectacularly ambitious, thought provoking and entertaining a science fiction entry as Bong’s esteemed credentials promise.

The film is set in the year 2031, and the world is a frozen and uninhabitable. Seventeen years earlier measures were taken to stop global warming, but the experiment was a disaster, killing everything in the process. Those lucky enough to survive boarded the giant rattling ark called the Snowpiercer, a train that circumnavigates the globe over the course of exactly one year.

We are first introduced to those living in the back of the train, the lowest class. They sleep cramped together, their hygiene is appalling, their only source of food is a manufactured protein block distributed once per day, they are beaten and mistreated by the train’s guards and have been deprived everything that the upper class forward carriages consume in lavish excess. Amongst these tail-dwellers are Curtis (Chris Evans), Edgar (Jamie Bell), Gilliam (William Hurt) and Tanya (Octavia Spencer), and they are desperate to shake up the world order.

Continue reading at Graffiti With Punctuation

New Releases (17/07/14)

In cinemas this week: Sex Tape, Charlie's Country, Venus in Fur, All This Mayhem, Words and Pictures.

Sex Tape - Jay (Jason Segel) and Annie (Cameron Diaz) are a married couple still very much in love, but ten years and two kids have cooled the passion. To get it back, they decide - why not? - to make a video of themselves trying out every position in THE JOY OF SEX in one marathon three-hour session. It seems like a great idea, until they discover that their most private video has gone public. In a panic, they begin a wild night of adventure - tracking down leads, roping in friends, duping Annie's boss - all to reclaim their video, their reputation, their sanity, and, most importantly, their marriage.

Charlie's CountryWritten by Rolf de Heer and David Gulpilil as a collaborative project, CHARLIE’S COUNTRY stars Gulpilil as blackfella Charlie, who is getting older, and is out of sorts. The government’s intervention is making life more difficult on his remote community, what with the proper policing of whitefella laws that don't generally make much sense, and Charlie's kin seeming more interested in going along with things than doing anything about it. So Charlie takes off, to live the old way, but in doing so sets off a chain of events in his life that has him return to his community chastened, and somewhat the wiser.

Venus in Fur - Based on the Tony Award-winning Broadway play by David Ives, which itself was based on Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's groundbreaking novella, VENUS IN FUR is the latest film from master filmmaker Roman Polanski. Alone in a Paris theater after a long day of auditioning actresses for his new play, writer-director Thomas (Amalric) complains that no actress he's seen has what it takes to play the lead female character: a woman who enters into an agreement with her male counterpart to dominate him as her slave. Thomas is about to leave the theater when actress Vanda (Seigner) bursts in, a whirlwind of erratic - and, it turns out, erotic - energy. At first she seems to embody everything Thomas has been lamenting. She is pushy, foul-mouthed, desperate and ill-prepared - or so it seems. When Thomas finally, reluctantly, agrees to let her try out for the part, he is stunned and captivated by her transformation. Not only is Vanda a perfect fit but she apparently has researched the role exhaustively, learned her lines by heart and even bought her own props. The likeness proves to be much more than skin-deep. An analytical and interpretative performance adaptation of a playwright's adaptation of a 19th century erotic novel with contemporary commentary on relationships and gender politics. There really is a lot going on, but it sure is sexy. Brilliantly performed by Seigner and Amalric, this all takes place in a lone empty theatre on a stormy night. Polanski still has it. ★★★

All This Mayhem (actually released last week, very limited screens) - Tells the story of brothers Tas and Ben Pappas, two boys from Melbourne who took the skateboarding world by storm, defeating Tony Hawk and crowned International World Champions within a year. Skateboarding came naturally to the Pappas brothers, but success was a different story. In this unflinching, never-before-seen account we witness the dark consequences of Tas and Ben’s rapid success, their intense fraternal bond and their journey from the pinnacle of their sport into a downward spiral of self-destruction. From the makers of award-winning documentaries Exit Through the Gift Shop and Senna and featuring fascinating interviews, first person accounts and archival footage, All This Mayhem is a searing account of what happens when raw talent and extreme personalities collide and tells of a tragedy too incredible to believe. Review by Tom Clift, Concrete Playground.

Words and Pictures - Stars the engaging duo of Juliette Binoche and Clive Owen working together on-screen for the first time. Prep school English teacher Jack Marcus (Owen) laments his students' obsession with social media and good grades rather than engaging with the power of the written word. A one-time literary star, Jack has not published in years filling his spare time with drink versus the art of language. He meets his match in Dina Delsanto (Binoche) - an abstract painter and new teacher on campus, who was once celebrated for her art. From the start, the two flirt and provoke each other with equal relish. 

Weekly recommendation: I have heard terrific things about Senna-esque skateboarding documentary All This Mayhem and Roman Polaski's Venus in Fur is one of the sexiest films I have seen this year. I am also very much looking forward to seeing Rolf De Heer's Cannes winner, Charlie's Country, starring the great David Gulpilil. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

2014 Melbourne International Film Festival Guide

This week the program for the 2014 Melbourne Film Festival, running from the 31st July to the 17th August, was announced. Opening the festival is the new film from the Spierig Brothers, Predestination, starring Ethan Hawke and Sarah Snook. The Closing Night film is Felony, directed by Matthew Saville and starring Joel Edgerton, Jai Courtney and Melissa George.

At the link are 12 titles screening at MIFF that I can highly recommend catching, and if I were attending MIFF for a substantial period of time 18 films I would endeavour to squeeze into my schedule.

Continue reading at Graffiti With Punctuation

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Review: The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared (Felix Herngren, 2013)

After another meeting with the bizarre brand of Scandinavian 'black' humour I am still not sure if it is to my tastes. The wonderfully weird 'Of Horses and Men' from Iceland is one of the funniest films I have seen this year, but I wasn't so fond of revenge thriller-comedy 'In Order of Disappearance'.

Despite feeling a bit 'throw everything at an audience and see what sticks' Felix Herngren's mad, unpredictable adaptation of Jonas Jonasson's novel of the same name remains engaging and entertaining throughout. No doubt a massive hit in Sweden, this well-funded venture possesses more than enough madcap energy to have mischievous novelty appeal outside of Scandinavia. There are stretches where the laughs dry up considerably and some of the humour is uncomfortably inappropriate, but its escalating incidents are eventually tied together in an oddly satisfying way.

Centenarian Allan Karlsson (Robert Gustafsson, whose make-up and prosthetics bears him a striking resemblance to Johnny Knoxville’s 'Bad Grandpa') elects to avoid his 100th birthday party by escaping his retirement home and seeking an adventure like the ones he has experienced in his younger days. Allan's journey, in the simplest terms, involves him gaining possession of a biker gang's $50 million dollars and acquiring several equally-strange comrades (some willing, some not) as he goes on the run and attempts to avoid the gang’s desperate attempts to reclaim. Even at 100 he's still quite sharp and his taste for chaos hasn't left him. Involved is a former circus elephant, the typical dunderheaded villains, a hapless detective trailing the case, people dying in horrific ways, lots of drinking and an immeasurable amount of misunderstandings.

Stitched into this is a recap of Allan's life from his birth to the present, accompanied by his amusing voice-over. It is a baffling, satirical Forest Gump-esque comedy of errors that sees the explosives-obsessed Allan riding the wave of the 20th Century, drinking his way into the friendship and trust of more than one Great Dictator, and playing an evidently important role in shaping the world he still survives. It is these chapters that are the most tonally outrageous, and the least successful.

If you're looking for something bonkers and completely different, and I guess it all depends on whether the Scandinavians are your jam, The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared is worth a look.

My Rating: ★★

Friday, July 11, 2014

Review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Matt Reeves, 2014)

Directed by Matt Reeves (Cloverfield and Let Me In), Dawn of the Planet of the Apes takes 20th Century Fox’s reboot of the original series to an intelligent and ambitious new level. Rupert Wyatt’s unexpectedly excellent 2011 Rise of the Planet of the Apes introduced audiences to the miraculous Caesar (an extraordinarily emotional motion-capture performance from Andy Serkis), delved into themes of nurture versus nature and became a largely-silent prison uprising and coordinated revolution full of exciting action set pieces and one of the most shocking revelations in the last few years of cinema.

The much darker Dawn feels completely different, the now post-apocalyptic San Francisco setting playing a role in this. It is an intimate, complex character-driven sci-fi/war hybrid that offers a relentless barrage of intense, unpredictable and deeply affecting moments of moral conflict, and an astounding fusion of visual effects and choreographed battle sequences. Incredibly, the epic Dawn improves upon Rise in almost every capacity, offering thought-provoking commentary on humanity and the differences that may bring opponents to war – despite the mutual desire for peace – amidst unfathomably consistent tension and aesthetic spectacle.

Continue reading at Graffiti With Punctuation.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

New Releases 10/07/14

In cinemas this week: just two - Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and The Lunchbox. 

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes - A growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar is threatened by a band of human survivors of the devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier. They reach a fragile peace, but it proves short-lived, as both sides are brought to the brink of a war that will determine who will emerge as Earth's dominant species. Review by Blake Howard, Graffiti With Punctuation.

The Lunchbox - Middle class housewife Ila is trying once again to add some spice to her marriage, this time through her cooking. She desperately hopes that this new recipe will finally arouse some kind of reaction from her neglectful husband. She prepares a special lunchbox to be delivered to him at work, but, unbeknownst to her, it is mistakenly delivered to another office worker, Saajan, a lonely man on the verge of retirement. Curious about the lack of reaction from her husband, Ila puts a little note in the following day's lunchbox, in the hopes of getting to the bottom of the mystery. This begins a series of lunchbox notes between Saajan and Ila, and the mere comfort of communicating with a stranger anonymously soon evolves into an unexpected friendship. Gradually, their notes become little confessions about their loneliness, memories, regrets, fears, and even small joys. They each discover a new sense of self and find an anchor to hold on to in the big city of Mumbai that so often crushes hopes and dreams. Still strangers physically, Ila and Saajan become lost in a virtual relationship that could jeopardize both their realities.

Weekly Recommendation: I really enjoyed The Lunchbox, a pleasant Indian romantic drama that celebrates the role that chance plays in our lives, but you should make every effort to see Dawn. It is an intense, shocking and affecting sci-fi/war hybrid with astounding effects. It improves upon the already excellent Rise in pretty much every capacity. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Fairytales and Film: Idle Wrath Films' Crowdfunding Campaign Launch Party

Presented in association with Mr. Falcons weekly cult TV show night and Idle Wrath films (with shorts from Kino Sydney), this evening is part celebration of fairytale and mythology inspired short films by local filmmakers and part crowd-funding campaign launch. Idle Wrath films was set up by Jason Ide and Suzanne Rath in March 2014, and they're currently in pre-production on a 15 minute short, 'Fairy Fort,' which tells the story of a young girl who discovers sinister mythical creatures hiding in the woods on her grandfather's property. 'Fairy Fort' will be shot in September 2014 in Kurrajong and features local cast and crew. Completion is aimed for the end of 2014, to allow for an international film festival run in 2015. As part of the crowd-funding campaign, Idle Wrath Films are offering a host of benefits, including limited edition posters designed by artist Phil Soliman, time on set, screenwriting, editing and filmmaking advice and more! Their goal is to create a community of film, fairytale and mythology lovers who will help them make an amazing film.

The event will take place from 6.30pm at Mr Falcon's, 92 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe, NSW 2037 on this coming Monday, the 14th July. Get in early, as there are giveaways, a bar tab and short film screenings from local filmmakers. From 7.30 there is a screening of True Detective and free pizza.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

New Releases 03/07/14

In cinemas this week: Calvary, Belle and Sebastian, Tim's Vermeer, Rio 2 and Jersey Boys.

Calvary - Father James (Brendan Gleeson) is a good priest who is faced with sinister and troubling circumstances brought about by a mysterious member of his parish. Although he continues to comfort his own fragile daughter (Kelly Reilly) and reach out to help members of his church with their various scurrilous moral - and often comic - problems, he feels sinister and troubling forces closing in, and begins to wonder if he will have the courage to face his own personal Calvary.

Belle and Sebastian - Based on the much-loved 1965 children’s book which was later adapted into a popular French TV series. Set high in the French Alps during the Second World War, it is the timeless tale of a boy and his dog. Six year old Sebastian lives on the mountainside with a kindly but gruff caretaker and no real family of his own. As such he is left to his own devices and is often found roaming the countryside. Belle is a wild mountain dog who has escaped from her cruel owner. The villagers have mistaken her for a “beast” that has been killing their sheep. When Sebastian first crosses paths with Belle he must keep their friendship a secret and the two of them form an unshakeable bond. Their adventures take them through the mountains and ultimately they become pivotal in the successful escape of refugees fleeing Nazi Germany for the safety of Switzerland.

Tim's Vermeer - Tim Jenison, a Texas based inventor, attempts to solve one of the greatest mysteries in all art: How did 17th century Dutch master Johannes Vermeer ("Girl with a Pearl Earring") manage to paint so photo-realistically - 150 years before the invention of photography? The epic research project Jenison embarks on to test his theory is as extraordinary as what he discovers. Spanning a decade, Jenison's adventure takes him to Delft, Holland, where Vermeer painted his masterpieces on a pilgrimage to the North coast of Yorkshire to meet artist David Hockney and eventually to Buckingham Palace, to see the Queen's Vermeer.

Rio 2 - It's a jungle out there for Blu, Jewel and their three kids in RIO 2, after they're hurtled from that magical city to the wilds of the Amazon. As Blu tries to fit in, he goes beak-to-beak with the vengeful Nigel, and meets the most fearsome adversary of all - his father-in-law.

Jersey Boys - The story of the rise of the music group The Four Seasons, with a special focus on their lead singer, Frankie Valli (John Lloyd Young) the small kid with the big falsetto. In addition to following the group’s coming of age as performers, the core of the show displays how an allegiance to a code of honor learned on the streets of their native New Jersey got them through a multitude of challenges: gambling debts, Mafia threats and family disasters.

Weekly Recommendation: Set in the spectacular French Alps the touching Belle and Sebastian is a great choice for the families in the school holidays, while Calvary is a tense, riveting, and deeply affecting Irish drama that will leave many viewers shaken. Tim's Vermeer is a lot of fun; a documentary about a man who took on centuries of art theory and created something truly extraordinary. Rio 2 and Jersey Boys I am personally not going to bother with, but they will no doubt have an audience and likely will be the top grossing films this week.