Sunday, February 23, 2014

Film Review Round Up 23rd Feb 2014

A fabulous indie production is out this week: Nebraska. I know there will be some that will wonder why it’s loved so much but I think the majority will see what I see. It’s a quiet piece but it says so much in that space. Action fans will be happy for Lone Survivor and there are a couple of others I just didn’t love: Le Weekend and Winter’s Tale.  But it’s a good mix for film fans.  For Perth folk, starting on Monday at Somerville is a little gem of an Australian ghost documentary that really suits the outdoor environment. Get along there while the weather is so warm and wonderful.

(My movie Pick of the week)

Nebraska ★★★★★ 

Opens in Australia: 20th February 2014
USA: 24th January 2014    UK: 6th December 2013 
Other Countries: Release Information
Perth, Australia:         See at Luna Cinemas


MY THOUGHTS
This film is Smart and Smarter. It’s a road trip tale of a Father and a son who come to understand each other just a little more on a journey. But that is director Alexander Payne’s nuance; his characters don’t enjoy a wide arc of discovery. But, isn’t that more true to life than the revelations that most films offer with characters wildly altered in their viewpoint. Most people don’t change; they just become more accepting or a touch wiser.
Payne’s masterpiece Nebraska is witty, fun and so deep that a week later I’m still thinking on it. It’s been nominated for six academy awards including best picture, director and screenplay, and deservedly so. It’s a pity that Matthew McConaughey is so damn good in The Dallas Buyer’s Club or I’d give the best actor award to Bruce Dern. See it, revel in it. Screenplays and characters don’t get much better than this.
   
STUDIO BLURB
Director Alexander Payne (Sideways, The Descendants) takes the helm for this black and white road trip drama starring Bruce Dern as a tempestuous Missouri father who's convinced he's won a million dollar magazine sweepstakes, and Will Forte as the son who grudgingly agrees to drive him to Nebraska to claim his winnings. Bob Odenkirk and Stacy Keach costar. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

Winter’s Tale ★★
Opens in Australia: 13th February 2014
USA: 14th February 2014    UK: 21st February 2014
Other Countries:          Release Information

MY THOUGHTS
The tag line for this is “Believe in miracles this Valentine’s day.” I think the producers are hoping for a miracle:  that this dull, unimaginative, half-finished romance, fantasy drama misshapen mess will recover its productions costs.  I fear there will be no miracles.  Russell Crowe does a good job playing a demon, actually. Will Smith is terrible as Satan (that guy really just reads his lines) and someone in production decided if we turn the music up loud, often, and make the sound effects even louder, then it will cover up that we don’t have much of a story.  It poses questions on the interconnection of lives through time and then provides no answers. Fail.
I believe it’s from a 1983 book. I am sure the book is better. And this better be the last Colin Farrell film where he wears suspenders, or he’s going to be typecast. No miracle here, unless you’re an insomniac it may help.

STUDIO BLURB
Set in a mythic New York City and spanning more than a century, "Winter's Tale" is a story of miracles, crossed destinies, and the age-old battle between good and evil. Peter Lake (Farrell) is a master thief, who never expected to have his own heart stolen by the beautiful Beverly Penn (Brown Findlay).  But their love is star-crossed: she burns with a deadly form of consumption, and Peter has been marked for a much more violent death by his one-time mentor, the demonic Pearly Soames (Crowe).  Peter desperately tries to save his one true love, across time, against the forces of darkness, even as Pearly does everything in his power to take him down—winner take all and loser be damned. What Peter needs is a miracle, but only time will tell if he can find one. (c) Warner Bros

Le Weekend★★½  

Opens in Australia: 20th February 2014
USA: 14th March 2014    UK: 11th October 2013 
Other Countries:          Release Information
Perth, Australia:         See at Luna Cinemas


MY THOUGHTS
I like the acting in this and the concept.  And there are a couple of monologues and dialogues delivered by Jim Broadbent and Lindsey Duncan that are sublimely brilliant. But that doesn’t make up for it being a really weird film that can’t decide what it wants to be.
A comedy? No, it’s not that funny. A romance? No, decidedly anti-romance. Commentary on relationships? Only if you’re a cynic. Not only that, it has a real mood of misery and hopelessness.  See it at your own risk. I think it’s better to wait for the DVD where you’ll be able to turn it off after you’ve decided you’ve had enough of it, which was around the thirty minute mark for me. I almost walked out, but my penchant for sitting in the middle of a row meant I’d disturb everyone, so I stayed. Now I need a le weekend away to recover.
   
STUDIO BLURB
In Mr. Michell's magically buoyant and bittersweet film, Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan play a long-married couple who revisit Paris for a long weekend for the first time since their honeymoon, in hopes of rekindling their relationship-or, perhaps, to bring it to an end. Diffident, wistful Nick (Broadbent) and demanding, take-charge Meg (Duncan) careen from harmony to disharmony to resignation and back again as they take stock and grapple with love, loss, regret and, disappointment, in their own very English way. When Meg and Nick run into their insufferably successful old friend Morgan, an American academic superstar with a fancy Parisian address played with pure delight by Jeff Goldblum, their squabbles rise to a register that's both emotionally rich and very funny. (c) Music Box

LONE SURVIVOR ★★★★

Opens in Australia: 20th February 2014
USA: 10th January 2014    UK: 31st January 2014
Other Countries:          Release Information
Perth, Australia:         See at Luna Cinemas


OUR THOUGHTS
This film is based on The New York Times bestselling memoir novel of the same name. It’s action from the get-go telling the hellish tale of four Navy SEALs on a mission to take out several valuable al-Qaeda operatives in the mountains of Afghanistan.
The 2005 “Operation Redwing” goes horribly wrong when the men are discovered and upon trying to escape end up surrounded and pursued by Taliban who seem to have an endless supply of ammunition and armaments.  The SEALS are outnumbered, outgunned and in unfamiliar territory. Mark Wahlberg stars as Marcus Luttrell, the author of the first-person memoir.  His fellow team members, (portrayed by Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch and Ben Foster) display incredible skill and courage as they fight to outwit their pursuers and survive. 
Action fans this is the film for you. Some of the scenes will have you cringing with the violence and the pain the men are feeling as they scramble all over the mountain.  There were multiple groans from our audience of reviewers as bodies tumbled down embankments. My only complaint is that the title gives away the ending (no letters please, I know that’s the title of the book—just sayin’).  As a military thrillers go, it’s one of the best, due to breakneck pacing by Director Peter Berg (Battleship, Hancock, Friday Night Lights) and a compelling performance by Wahlberg.

STUDIO BLURB
Based on The New York Times bestselling true story of heroism, courage and survival, Lone Survivor tells the incredible tale of four Navy SEALs on a covert mission to neutralize a high-level al-Qaeda operative. When they are ambushed by the enemy in the mountains of Afghanistan, they face an impossible moral decision, the small band is isolated from help and surrounded by a much larger force of Taliban ready for war.  As they confront unthinkable odds together, the four men find reserves of strength and resilience as they stay in the fight to the finish.
Mark Wahlberg stars as Marcus Luttrell, the author of the first-person memoir “Lone Survivor,” whose book has become a motivational resource for its lessons on how the power of the human spirit is tested when we are pushed beyond our mental and physical limits.  Starring alongside Wahlberg as the other members of the SEAL team are Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch and Ben Foster.
Lone Survivor is written and directed by Peter Berg, who again crafts a striking portrait of the unbreakable bonds between men that he first explored in Friday Night Lights. 

LOTTERY WEST FILMS

The Darkside ★★★ ½ Australia
Somerville:                  24th Feb-2nd March 8pm, doors open 6pm
Join Warwick Thornton for an introduction and Q&A on Mon 24 Feb.

OUR THOUGHTS
They told us that The Darkside was scary. My pal who doesn’t do scary well was freaking out. In the end it wasn’t really frightening but it was very interesting. It’s a documentary of modern ghost stories from our indigenous culture in Australia.  The tales are told directly to the camera as they would have been told in the true manner of storytelling, by voice.  Well-known actors tell the stories as if they are the real people just talking to the camera with striking cinematography around them.
What lowered its star ranking for me and was a gripe for many of the reviewers who were at the small screening were the totally unnecessary subtitles. I hope that was just on our print because it doesn’t need them, and it’s very distracting. 
Some of the stories are ho-hum, however some just drag you in and you are totally immersed despite none of them being portrayed visually except for the actor speaking. The more I think about this endeavor, the more I like it. It’s experimental and different and surprisingly immersive. Best place that you could ever see it, is at the outdoor venue of Somerville or Joondalup Pines. Treat yourself.

STUDIO BLURB

Ghost stories abound in Australia’s Indigenous culture, and The Darkside invites you fireside to hear these haunting perspectives on the afterlife. Director Warwick Thornton (Samson & Delilah) has assembled a collection of touching and absurd ghost tales from across the country, and by harnessing the story telling talents of some of Australia’s most cherished actors (including Aaron Pedersen, Deborah Mailman and Claudia Karvan), presents a mesmerising showcase of life-defining moments, that speak of family and how we cope with change.