Saturday, September 29, 2012

Looper ★ ★ ★ ★


Australia: 27th October, 2012 USA: 28th September, 2012; UK: 28th October 2012
Other Countries: Release Dates


Time travel is a fascinating subject.  The "what ifs" play with your mind, like going back to alter your future and the subsequent consequences. The most exciting ideas they pose are the difficult moral questions. If you had the chance to kill Hitler as a child, would you? Could you stare into the eyes of an innocent child and pull the gun trigger?
Then there’s the question of knowing your own timeline.  How would you live your life if you knew you had thirty years to live; no more, no less? Your choices at say twenty-five may look rather foolish when you’re fifty-five. 
  ‘Looper’, a very original film from Director and screenwriter Rian Johnson poses these very questions in an intelligent and thought-provoking way.  When you read the synopsis for Looper it sounds incredibly confusing but in reality it’s a simple idea.  Time travel in 2074 is invented and outlawed but still used by the mob to remove targets whose bodies are difficult to hide. So they send back their victims thirty years to a designated spot at an exact time, hands tied and their heads covered in a sack.  Waiting for them is a Looper, like Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), to kill them instantly with a blunderbuss and then dispose of their body. 
Loopers are paid very well for their services and run by an underworld boss, Abe (Jeff Daniels).  The only downside of a Looper’s life is that eventually the mob will ‘close the loop’ on them.  They will send back the Looper’s self from the future to he killed by his thirty-year younger version, who will be paid handsomely, after which he retires to live the rest of his thirty years knowing one day his time will come. 
If you dare ‘let your loop run’, which means letting your older self get away, then you are in a whole load of trouble.  This is demonstrated in a particularly nasty sequence when a fellow Looper Seth (Paul Dano) is tortured, with his older self’s body instantly reflecting the impact of his younger self’s punishment.  Think healed limb severing and you have the picture.
When Joe’s older self (Bruce Willis) escapes execution by his younger self, we discover he is on a mission.  He must find the 2044 child version of a powerful gangster nicknamed ‘The Rainman’ in order to save the future, or at least his future.   This search brings younger Joe into contact with Sarah (Emily Blunt) living on a peaceful farm with her son Cid.  It seems all roads will lead to this farm and it is here that the future will be determined.
A couple of things will strike you in this film: Joseph Gordon Levitt, who plays the younger version of Bruce Willis’s Joe, look very alike, despite being very different.  In fact, it’s uncanny and you will keep marvelling at Gordon-Levitt’s Willis-like mannerisms.  Secondly the crazy flying car chases that you normally find in these sci-fi films are not the centrepiece of the story. 
   “I had written the younger part for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who, besides being my favorite actor, is also a good friend,” says Johnson.  “When the possibility of Bruce Willis to play the older Joe presented itself, I got so excited because Bruce is such a good actor and was so right for the part in so many ways.  It raised a problem, though, because they really look nothing like each other.  We had to find a way to bridge the gap, and the solution was two-fold.” 
“The first thing was makeup,” Johnson continues.  “Joseph Gordon-Levitt went through nearly three hours of makeup and prosthetics every single morning to adjust his nose, his upper lip and his lower lip.  There was no way we were going to make him look like a young Bruce Willis, but we decided we’d pick a couple of key features and alter them just enough to give the audience something to grab onto so they could decide to go with it.”
“The other part – 90 percent of it – is Joe’s performance,” says Johnson.  “It’s incredible to watch – he doesn’t imitate Bruce, he creates a character that feels like a younger Bruce.  He’s doing a very specific voice and he took on a lot of Bruce’s mannerisms.  Its great acting, and a pretty phenomenal thing to see come to life.”
‘Looper’ may not appeal to those who love their sci-fi action-packed.  There are thinking-man moments which require some patience.  But your patience will be rewarded with this haunting piece of cinema and storytelling which is certainly a cut above anything we’ve seen in recent time-line. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Review Round Up 16th September 2012


Too busy to read those long reviews?  Try our minis…  How should you spend your precious dollars when visiting the cinema?  Read on.

Beasts of the Southern Wild ★★★★

Opens in Australia:  13th September 2012
Other Countries:      Release Information


          This is one of those films that will grow on you long after your visit to the cinema.  I can quite honestly say you will learn things about human nature you didn’t care to know.  Yet, by the end of the film you will imagine that for just a moment you shared a magical experience.  The little girl is so extraordinary, as are all the actors, that it feels more like a reality show than a work of fiction.  Don’t go expecting a big, budget blockbuster.  It is film about life from the depths to the heights told with subtlety that makes this a work of art.


          In a forgotten but defiant bayou community cut off from the rest of the world by a sprawling levee, a six-year-old girl exists on the brink of orphanhood. Buoyed by her childish optimism and extraordinary imagination, she believes that the natural world is in balance with the universe until a fierce storm changes her reality. Desperate to repair the structure of her world in order to save her ailing father and sinking home, this tiny hero must learn to survive unstoppable catastrophes of epic proportions.

Finding Nemo 3D ½

Opens in Australia: 30th August 2012
Other Countries: Release Information


           I love all films Pixar.  And I know you have this at home on the DVD (all 1.99 million of you) and the kids and you have seen it many times.  However, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen it in 3D.  The colours and the depth are extraordinarily beautiful.  It is just as charming nine years later as it was in 2003 and well worth seeing on the big screen. Love, love, love it.  Did I mention that I love all films Pixar?  I did!  My memory isn’t what it used to be.


            Academy Award®-winning Best Animated Feature “Finding Nemo” returns to the big screen for the first time ever in thrilling Disney Digital 3D™. In this stunning underwater adventure, with memorable characters, humor and heartfelt emotion, “Finding Nemo” follows the comedic and momentous journey of an overly protective clownfish named Marlin (voice by Albert Brooks) and his son Nemo (voice by Alexander Gould)––who become separated in the Great Barrier Reef when Nemo is unexpectedly taken far from his ocean home and dumped into a fish tank in a dentist’s office. Buoyed by the companionship of Dory (voice by Ellen DeGeneres), a friendly-but-forgetful Pacific regal blue tang, Marlin embarks on a dangerous trek and finds himself the unlikely hero of an epic effort to rescue his son––who hatches a few daring plans of his own to return safely home.

Kath & Kimderella ()

Opens in Australia: 6th September 2012

            Kath and Kim are quite the phenomena.  At the special preview in Perth we were graced with the presence of Kath and Kim and the cinema did not have a spare seat.  What surprised me was that these two, who are around the fifty years mark, looked so good—must be the laughter.  No matter what I say, Kath and Kim fans are going to flock to this.  It’s not my type of humour but those around me were laughing their curly blonde-wigged heads off.


Fountain Lakes' foxy ladies return along with many other original characters as Kath Day-Knight and Kim Craig take an overseas trip to Italy and find themselves being the centre of their very own fairytale.

Arbitrage (★★★½)

Opens in Australia: 27th September 2012
Other Countries: Release Information


            This is one slick drama with an even slicker cast.  It reminds me greatly of a 2002 film which I loved called “Unfaithful”.  It also starred Richard Gere.   As each moment unfolds I held my breath thinking, surely he’s going to come unstuck here. But Gere’s character, Miller, is slipperier than a slimy fish—which is what he is, despite his charm and still-gorgeous looks.  Can money buy you everything?  That is the question asked and answered here.  If you love intelligent films and fine performances you will enjoy this one. 


             On the eve of his 60th birthday, New York hedge-fund magnate Robert Miller (Richard Gere) is the portrait of success in American business and family life. But behind the gilded walls of his mansion, Miller is in over his head, desperately trying to complete the sale of his trading empire to a major bank before the depths of his fraud are revealed. Struggling to conceal his duplicity from loyal wife Ellen (Susan Sarandon) and brilliant daughter and heir-apparent Brooke (Brit Marling), Miller’s also balancing an affair with French art-dealer Julie Côte (Laetitia Casta).  Just as he’s about to unload his troubled empire, an unexpected bloody error forces him to juggle family, business, and crime with the aid of Jimmy Grant (Nate Parker), a face from Miller’s past. One wrong turn ignites the suspicions of NYPD Detective Michael Bryer (Tim Roth), who will stop at nothing in his pursuits. Running on borrowed time, Miller is forced to confront the limits of even his own moral duplicity. Will he make it out before the bubble bursts?

What have you seen this week?  Did you find our comments helpful or do you disagree?  Share your thoughts with us. 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Expendables 2 ★ ★ ★

Release Dates

Australia:  30th August, 2012; USA 17th August, 2012; UK16th October 2012
Other Countries: Release Dates

Ex-action star and ex-Californian Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character, Trench, fills the screen, and utters the words, “I’m back”.   And, yes they are people.  Hollywood action stars don’t retire any more, they just get parts in ‘The Expendables’ where they can lampoon their previous career, have a laugh and remind cinemagoers who they once were. 
Who would have thought two years ago that the first, ‘The Expendables’, with a flimsy plot, a bunch of old action stars and reasonably small budget,  would become a box office hit, going on to make $US274 million worldwide? Probably only Sly Stallone since ‘The Expendables 2’ was on the drawing board even before the first one was released.
We should learn to never underestimate Stallone, with all his faults (and I’m referring to acting here) he somehow knows how to turn what shouldn’t work into a success. Never one to hop off the train he’s shoved into motion a number two was always going to happen.
This time the team of wrinkly, but surprisingly buff action heroes, of Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Gunner (Dolph Lundgren), Hale Caesar (Terry Crews), Toll Road (Randy Couture) is joined by newcomers, Billy the Kid (Liam Hemsworth), an ex-army sniper and Maggie (Nan Yu), a combat proficient, computer whiz.  Church (Bruce Willis), who we are really uncertain is a good or a bad guy, sends Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) and the gang to recover a package from a crashed plane in Bulgaria. 
There they encounter the very nasty, Jean Vilain, (Jean-Claude Van Damme).  During this meeting, amidst much chest beating, something goes wrong (I can’t say what or it will ruin the surprise) which turns the retrieval of the package from Vilain into a very personal vendetta for the group. 
Along the way, you will join the audience in solid laughter as each new action hero arrives on the scene, their characters written so that you will find yourself muttering the titles of eighties films and wracking your brain to remember which character had once said THAT line.
Of crafting the team of old-school mercenaries loved by audiences worldwide, Stallone has said that he was originally inspired by classic action films like The Dirty Dozen, The Wild Bunch and Dogs of War – movies that were defined by hard-hitting action and by tough yet sympathetic characters, “These guys harken back to a time when our heroes were flesh & blood. They didn't have any extraordinary abilities other than the desire to survive and to be victorious, even at the expense of their own lives. There's something that is relatable about that.”
As expected, ‘The Expendables 2’ delivers much knuckle crunching fights, machine gun shooting and kick-boxing action and if you don’t find yourself laughing then it will only be because you are too young to take this trip down memory lane.  You will lose count of the dead bodies and the myriad of ways they die but that’s okay because you are not meant to remember this movie for long.  I couldn’t repeat the plot of the first one if you threatened my life with a tank.
Stallone reflects on the film, “Maybe it’s the beginning of a revival. Or, maybe it’s the end of an era. But one thing is for sure; we’ll never see this again. To get all of us together at one time is a minor miracle. It’s never happened before and it will never happen again.”
‘The Expendables 2’ provides enough tongue-in-cheek fun, action and nostalgia to score another box office hit and I seriously doubt ‘The Expendables’ “will never happen again.”  I imagine there is a script already sitting in Sly’s out tray and a few emails to buddies, beginning with, “I’m back.  If you’re not busy...”