Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Review Round Up 27th November 2013


This week the Perth Lottery West Film Festival opens for the summer with Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing. Until April, Perth folk will be lucky enough to catch some fabulous, quality films in breathtaking outdoor cinema surroundings. You can drink wine, eat yummy food and feel so very avant-garde. If you live overseas, it’s worth coming here just for this.
Two other good movies open this week as well. Horror fans, the very good remake of Carrie is here. Apocalyptic fans… How I Live Now is for you as a very dark take of a future war.

(My movie Pick of the week)
Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing ★★★★ ½

                                        Somerville 25 Nov-1 Dec, 8pm   Joondalup Pines 3-8 Dec, 8pm
Other Countries:   Release Information

First, let me share that if you are in Perth, Western Australia you need to attend one of Lottery West Festival films at Somerville or Joondalup Pines. It is simply stunning sitting there amongst the pine trees.

Allow me to fill you in if you are not a geek fan of Joss Whedon’s work.  He’s the director and writer who brought us the record-breaking Marvel’s The Avengers, the highly fun Cabin in the Woods, cult-hit Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the current TV series my son loves, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
So, you just wouldn’t take him for the kind of guy to delve into Shakespeare.  But delve he does in a highly unique take. In fact, the film was shot in the director’s own home in 12 days, in the time between the conclusion of principal photography on Marvel’s The Avengers and his director’s cut of the film. 
I just marvel that over four hundred years later we are still laughing at this comedy and the relevance it still maintains. It’s been modernised and shot in black and white and I laughed more in this than most of the romantic comedies I’ve seen this year. It’s a treat and one I hope to enjoy again in the wonderful surroundings at either Somerville or Joondalup Pines.  Bravo to Lottery West Film Festival for choosing this film as their opening film for the season.  It is perfect.  If you miss this, you are missing something special.

As clear and light as a California wine, Shakespeare’s most sparkling dialogue meets its match in Whedon. 
Joss Whedon, cultural icon and director of The Avengers and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, brings his signature style and an infinitely sexy ensemble cast to this wildly fresh reinterpretation of Shakespeare’s most playful comedy. Moving from slapstick to calamity and back with dizzying speed, the screen crackles with a charmingly wayward energy that recalls the classic romantic sparring of the studio era. Will love prevail?

How I Live Now ★★★★ 

Opens in Australia:     28th November, 2013
Other Countries:          Release Information
Perth, Australia:           See at Luna Cinemas

        How I Live Now is the adult version of all these YA dystopian films arriving en masse to the cinema screens ever since Twilight revealed teens like to watch teenagers in fantasy/sci-fi stories translated from books.
        It’s hard-hitting, emotionally draining and grim, and even though there is a teen love story, it’s meshed between the horrors of a future WW3. When I say horror think Nazi films horror.
And therein lays its problem. It’s going to struggle to find an audience. Adults will find it difficult to identify with the teen love story and teens won’t enjoy the exposure to the terrible drama surrounding the children. There are some scenes that left my friend and I quite devastated.
       The feelings at our media screening were very mixed.  A few of us enjoyed it—well not enjoyed, but found it interesting and absorbing—while others thought the story was problematic and couldn’t identify with the lead Daisy (Saoirse Ronan). But director, Kevin McDonald (Last King of Scotland, State of Play) isn’t known for pulling punches, and he doesn’t here either. In a way, I am grateful for that. It’s good to watch non-homogenised stories sometimes. Go see this knowing it’s going to punch you in the emotional chest. And don’t take your tweens. It’s not that kind of love story.
        Set in the near-future UK, Ronan plays Daisy, an American teenager sent to stay with relatives in the English countryside. Initially withdrawn and alienated, she begins to warm up to her charming surroundings, and strikes up a romance with the handsome Edmund (George MacKay). But on the fringes of their idyllic summer days are tense news reports of an escalating conflict in Europe. As the UK falls into a violent, chaotic military state, Daisy finds herself hiding and fighting to survive. (c) Magnolia

Carrie ★★★ ½ stars

Opens in Australia: 28th November, 2013
Other Countries:          Release Information

Carrie is a disturbing, horror film.  Pretty nasty, actually. Lots of blood, too.  So, if you like that sort of thing, you will like this. The reviewers didn’t like it very much. In fact, I think every one of them has written that it’s a pale imitation of the original 1976 Brian De Palma classic telling of Stephen King’s first book.  But, let’s keep in mind that this 2013 version is aimed at a teen audience whose parents or even grandparents were the ones screaming in ’76 when Sissy Spacek copped the bucket of pig’s blood. So, I don’t really think they care which one was better. They will probably never see the original and why shouldn’t they get to enjoy a little pig’s blood for their generation.  It would also work well for an “anti-bullying” campaign.
There are some rather harrowing scenes and my friend (who was hugely eager to come along) had to cover her eyes for a bit until I told her it was safe to look again.  Sorry, I can’t remember the scene as I was too amused by her to pay attention.
Chloe Grace Moretz does a good job as the odd-girl-out Carrie. She is a talent to watch. Julianne Moore, sporting very bad hair, slightly overplays her crazy Mom, but it is Carrie so we shall forgive her. All in all if you are looking for a forgettable but well executed one trick horror film this is it

Carrie White (Chloë Grace Moretz) is a shy girl outcast by her peers and sheltered by her deeply religious mother (Julianne Moore), who unleashes telekinetic terror on her small town after being pushed too far at her senior prom. Based on the best-selling novel by Stephen King.

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

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Hunger Games: Catching Fire ★★★ ½

Hunger Games: Catching fire feeds the multitude

Opens in Australia: 21st November, 2013
UK: 21st November 2013 
USA: 22nd November 2013

Other Countries: Release Information

   Okay everybody you can stop salivating and wishing the time away. Hunger Games: Catching Fire has arrived with a bang.  It topped the box office in Australia, ahead of its release in the USA with a staggering 65% increase from the first film’s result and the second biggest opening day for 2013 behind Iron Man 3.
Fans of Suzanne Collin’s dystopian series will not be disappointed. It follows the book closely, covering the politics and the lives of the love triangle of Katniss, Peeta and Gale. Directed by Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend, Constantine, Water for Elephants), reviewers and audiences are claiming it is better than the first film. The last book of the trilogy has been split into two films and will also be directed by Lawrence.
After winning the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) return to District 12 as victors.  Part of their job is to participate in the propaganda surrounding the Hunger Games, embarking on tours of the other Districts (think an Olympics homecoming but with a dour crowd).  Peeta and Katniss, who used the ruse of “being in love” to avoid being killed at the games, must continue to perpetrate the lie. On a visit to District 11, (young Rue’s district who was Katniss’ murdered friend in the first games) Katniss and Peter make the mistake of going off script and speaking from the heart. This incites the crowd to demonstrate their “hope” by whistling the notes Katniss used to contact Rue in the games, along with a three finger salute. As they travel through the districts the unrest continues, with the salute and the whistle its trademark.
With Katniss as its figurehead, President Snow (Donald Sutherland) views this demonstration of solidarity and hope as a threat to the supremacy of Pan Am. He devises a plan with the new gamesmaker Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) to create a special games for the Quarter Quell (75 years of Hunger Games). The tributes will be chosen from the victors this time. Just when it seems Katniss will finally have a chance to be with Gale(Liam Hemsworth), she and other angry victors must return to an even more dangerous arena.

Stanley Tucci is a knockout as commentator Caesar Flickerman.  Elizabeth Banks is again fabulous as Effie Trinkett.  All the team are still there: Wood Harrelson as Haymitch, Lenny Kravitz as Cinna, Toby Jones as Claudius Templesmith along with new tributes.
It’s a dark drama, and even though an enjoyable watch, the first half of the film covering the politics does drag until the games begin. When they do, they pack a wallop with real edge of your seat thrills (if you call watching young people kill innocent others thrilling). Just like the first, it ends with the promise of the next film. These films are box office gold. The producers will certainly not be going hungry.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Film Review Round Up 16th November 2013

It’s the good, the bad and the ugly this week.  Enough Said is a cute one, Fifth Estate the badly done Assange story, and ugly, well that would be Jackass presents Bad Grandpa. Who knew I would be laughing at fart jokes this week, but hey it surprised me.

(My movie Pick of the week)
Enough Said ★★★ ½
Opens in Australia:      14th November, 2013
Other Countries:          Release Information
Perth, Australia:                   See at Luna Cinemas

This is a pretty cute film.  I like the setup and it’s rather prophetic in that the character, Eva, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, keeps hassling the love interest Albert (James Gandolfini) about his weight. As we know, sadly, Gandolfini died this year from a heart attack.  I am struggling to say a lot about Enough Said, though, because it’s a film like most of these indie romantic comedies… the acting is wonderful, its good, not great, you won’t hate it, you won’t love it. You probably won’t even remember it in a year.
After I saw it, it created the question for me: Should film going patrons pay the same price for this film, that clearly didn’t cost much to make, as Thor The Dark World costing hundreds of millions? I don’t think so.  And that’s why indie films like Enough Said will come and go with few people seeing them, which is a shame because they deserve their audience but that audience should be charged accordingly.

Directed by Nicole Holofcener, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, James Gandolfini (in one of his final film roles), Catherine Keener & Toni Collette.
A divorced and single parent, Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) spends her days enjoying work as a masseuse but dreading her daughter's impending departure for college. While at a party she meets Albert (James Gandolfini) - a sweet, funny and like-minded man also facing an empty nest. As their romance blossoms, Eva befriends Marianne (Catherine Keener), her new massage client. Marianne is a beautiful poet who seems "almost perfect" except for one prominent quality: she spends much of her time complaining about her ex-husband’s annoying habits. Suddenly it all comes together as Eva realizes that Albert is Marianne’s ex and finds herself doubting her own relationship with Albert as she learns the “truth” about him from Marianne!

Jackass presents Bad Grandpa ★★★ ½ stars
Opens in Australia:   14th November, 2013
Other Countries:          Release Information

How can “so wrong” be so right. My first thought when I received the invite to Bad Grandpa was, Nope, not my cup of tea, but I’ve a teenage boy and I thought, maybe he would like it.  So, I relented and toodled off to the preview expecting to bemoan a waste of time while I sat through stupid antics by idiotic people. Well, wasn’t I surprised?  It is very funny, although some of the gags didn’t hit home as much as the filmmakers thought they might.  Included are a couple of scenes so funny your stomach will hurt.  The audience with us laughed uproariously throughout.  If you are Jackass fan add an extra star to my review. Overall, not bad Mr Knoxville.  I am still not a Jackass fan but Grandpa isn’t so bad.

86 year-old Irving Zisman is on a journey across America with the most unlikely companion, his 8 year-old Grandson Billy in "Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa." This October, the signature Jackass character Irving Zisman (Johnny Knoxville) and Billy (Jackson Nicoll) will take movie audiences along for the most insane hidden camera road trip ever captured on camera. Along the way Irving will introduce the young and impressionable Billy to people, places and situations that give new meaning to the  term childrearing. The duo will encounter male strippers, disgruntled child beauty pageant contestants (and their equally disgruntled mothers), funeral home mourners, biker bar patrons and a whole lot of unsuspecting citizens. (c) Paramount

The Fifth Estate ★★ ½
Opens in Australia:      14th November, 2013
Other Countries:          Release Information

      I found this a very dull version of the Julian Assange story.  In fact, I am uncertain whether I want to know more about this man. I’ve seen several films this year about him, and nobody seems to have pinned down what he is really about.  “Damages” scriptwriters quite blatantly used Assange as a basis for their main antagonist in their last season. He comes across as a creep who cares about nobody.  In this one, the writers offer a line suggesting he has Asperger’s.   Yes Benedict Cumberbatch is good as Assange in a creepy sort of way, but by the end of the film I felt like I’d seen a very shallow take on a man who must be, in reality, a complicated, layered human being. This is a very unsatisfying and one dimensional film that has a couple of exciting bits and that’s it. 
Triggering our age of high-stakes secrecy, explosive news leaks and the trafficking of classified information, WikiLeaks forever changed the game. Now, in a dramatic thriller based on real events, "The Fifth Estate" reveals the quest to expose the deceptions and corruptions of power that turned an Internet upstart into the 21st century's most fiercely debated organization. The story begins as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his colleague Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Brühl) team up to become underground watchdogs of the privileged and powerful. On a shoestring, they create a platform that allows whistleblowers to anonymously leak covert data, shining a light on the dark recesses of government secrets and corporate crimes. Soon, they are breaking more hard news than the world's most legendary media organizations combined. But when Assange and Berg gain access to the biggest trove of confidential intelligence documents in U.S. history, they battle each other and a defining question of our time: what are the costs of keeping secrets in a free society-and what are the costs of exposing them?"(c) Disney

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

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Film Review Roundup 9th November 2013


A couple of true life films this week which I think will be touted in the awards season that is just around the corner.  The Butler will please most and Fruitvale Station, though a small indie film, packs a punch.  And then there’s The Counselor. What can I say, except it will be at the bottom of my worst list. I hated it. Don’t see it.  It only encourages these crazy people to keep making dribble like this.  It will hurt your eyeballs and put images in your mind that you don’t want there.
(My movie Pick of the week)

The Butler ★★★★ 

Opens in Australia: 31st October, 2013
Other Countries:          Release Information
Perth, Australia:        See at Luna Cinemas

       The Butler is an enjoyable story of an ordinary man in a remarkable position to witness history as butler to the presidents of the United States. What is remarkable is that this humble man also influences history by just being himself. I found Oprah’s portrayal of Cecil Gaines wife a little shaky in the beginning. Once she gets her teeth into the role though, she really gives a winning performance.  Its an awards season film. And rightly so, nominations for Forest Whittaker’s portrayal will be well deserved.  If you enjoy true story dramas this one is well worth seeing. And yes, that is Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan and it’s a fabulous cameo.
        Based on a true story, Lee Daniels (Precious) directs a stellar ensemble cast who between them have garnered 18 Academy Award nominations, including Forest Whittaker, Oprah Winfrey, Jane Fonda, John Cusack, Robin Williams, Alan Rickman, James Marsden, Live Schreiber and Melissa Leo.
        For three decades, Cecil Gaines (Academy Award Winner Forest Whitaker) served as the chief butler for eight consecutive US presidents, including Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. Working intimately with these world leaders at the White House, from his unique vantage point Cecil Gaines witnessed radical transformations in American history through the civil rights movement to the Vietnam and the Cold War - and how those changes affected his life and family.

The Counselor -117stars (the running time that it took from my life) 

Opens in Australia: 7th November, 2013
Other Countries:          Release Information

The Counselor is an unmitigated disaster, and I don’t say that lightly. I respect every person involved but, together, what the hell have they done? It’s easily the worst, most pretentious thing I have seen in several years. Don’t blame the cast. They tried hard. Blame the crazy, sometimes genius, revered author Cormac McCarthy (The Road) who wrote the incredibly ridiculous screenplay. Why Ridley Scott allowed his name to be attached to this may come out in interviews later.
Maybe they are friends. Maybe they are simply dirty old men who frequent sex joints together because the entire film seems to be about discussing sex while demonstrating the most bizarre ways you can indulge in it. Even though its full of sex talk, trust me there is nothing titillating in this one, just plain ugly thoughts. I will forever be emotionally scarred by the vision of Cameron Diaz on the windscreen of a car supposedly having sex with it (much to the horror of Javier Badem’s character and the audience I suspect).
At this point in a review I usually give you a short outline of the story but, sorry folks, there is no story—just an onslaught of long monologues delivered by A-list actors who were probably thinking, What the hell am I doing here?
It makes no sense, is horribly miscast, costumed by someone who mistakenly thinks they know how drug people dress (in poor taste, apparently, despite their wealth), and it makes no attempt to tell a story. Cormac McCarthy should never be let near a screenplay again. If this is what Ridley thinks is entertainment, then I hope his film rights lapse to my friend Hugh Howey’s brilliant Wool trilogy.
Don’t go near a cinema where it is showing. Don’t tell yourself, but it has my favorite actors. (You won’t be happy at how unattractive and dopey they made Brad Pitt or what they did to Javier Badem’s hair.) Don’t even rent it on DVD. If you want to watch a great drama about drug cartels, watch re-runs of Breaking Bad. I want my 117 minutes back (and why I gave a minus star for every minute I was stuck enduring it). I will never look at a windscreen the same way again and that is just not right.
Legendary filmmaker Ridley Scott and Pulitzer Prize winning author Cormac McCarthy (No Country for Old Men) have joined forces in the motion picture thriller THE COUNSELOR, starring Michael Fassbender, Penélope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem, and Brad Pitt. McCarthy, making his screenwriting debut and Scott interweave the author's characteristic wit and dark humor with a nightmarish scenario, in which a respected lawyer's one-time dalliance with an illegal business deal spirals out of control. (c) Official Site


Opens in Australia: 7th November, 2013
Other Countries:          Release Information
Perth, Australia:        See at Luna Cinemas

There is something special about this story of a true shocking incident that shone through for me. However, my husband was left bored and wondering what all the fuss was about.  What I liked was the character portrayals and the way the filmmaker caused you to care about Oscar, through following him through the last few days of his life. When the inevitable shocking scene of the shooting occurs you feel it in your gut.  Not many films do that to you.  This is awards season, so I expect to see this one pop up in a few categories. However, I am not certain it is for everyone. I think many people will wonder “what’s so good about this?” while others will be like me, deeply moved and angered.
Winner of both the Grand Jury Prize for dramatic feature and the Audience Award for U.S. dramatic film at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, director Ryan Coogler's FRUITVALE STATION follows the true story of Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan), a 22-year-old Bay Area resident who wakes up on the morning of December 31, 2008 and feels something in the air. Not sure what it is, he takes it as a sign to get a head start on his resolutions: being a better son to his mother (Octavia Spencer), whose birthday falls on New Year's Eve, being a better partner to his girlfriend Sophina (Melonie Diaz), who he hasn't been completely honest with as of late, and being a better father to Tatiana (Ariana Neal), their beautiful four year-old daughter. Crossing paths with friends, family, and strangers, Oscar starts out well, but as the day goes on, he realizes that change is not going to come easily. His resolve takes a tragic turn, however, when BART officers shoot him in cold blood at the Fruitvale subway stop on New Year's Day. Oscar's life and tragic death would shake the Bay Area - and the entire nation - to its very core. (c) Weinstein

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

Monday, November 4, 2013

Perth Film Fans... Win tickets to JACKASS PRESENTS BAD GRANDPA


5 Double passes
to the exclusive preview screening of

To celebrate the release of JACKASS PRESENTS BAD GRANDPA

An Adventure in Film, together with Paramount Pictures, is offering you the chance to win 1 of 5 double passes to the preview.  Simply fill in your details below for your chance to win!


Wednesday 13 November
Reading Cinemas, Belmont, PERTH

Twitter           #BadGrandpaMovie

Competition closes Midnight WA Time Saturday, 9th October
Winners will be notified by email by Monday 11th October

          86 year-old Irving Zisman is on a journey across America with the most unlikely companion, his 8 year-old Grandson Billy in "Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa”. This November, the signature Jackass character Irving Zisman (Johnny Knoxville) and Billy (Jackson Nicholl) will take movie audiences along for the most insane hidden camera road trip ever captured on camera. Along the way Irving will introduce the young and impressionable Billy to people, places and situations that give new meaning to the term childrearing. The duo will encounter male strippers, disgruntled child beauty pageant contestants (and their equally disgruntled mothers), funeral home mourners, biker bar patrons and a whole lot of unsuspecting citizens. Real people in unreal situations, making for one really messed up comedy.