Thursday, 30 January 2014

Film No. 9 (2014) Labor Day. Jan 30th.

Film No. 9 (2014) Jan 30. 6.45pm LUNA Paradiso Northbridge.

Labor Day


Kate Winslet has a reputation for being very particular about the roles she accepts. Often she'll go missing for months while she decides her next move. I'm thus surprised she took the lead as Adelle in this predictable, strange film.

Labor Day doesn't know if it is the coming of age story of Adelle's son Henry (brilliantly played by newcomer Gatlin Griffith) or an atmospheric social drama educating the audience in post natal depression. Given those observations, there is flashes of brilliance under both those headings. Then there is the Shawshank "type" skip through time, in the last five minutes, to secure a happy ending.

James Brolin as Frank turns up unexpectedly in Adelle and Henry's lives after he escapes custody while in hospital under armed guard. but all is not what it seems. The Labor Day week-end they spend together becomes the turning point in the way they'll approach their futures'.

I'm starting to sound like the bazaar background atmosphere to the film!   4GUMS.   

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

My January Collection

Welcome one and all to my world depicting a Sliver of Film.

What on earth do I mean by a Sliver of Film ?

Well it is like this ......... I watch upward of 90 films per year; I review a good many of those films via The ABC Regional broadcast zone Goldfields/Esperance Western Australia and on many occasions I'm asked what I said or thought of the film most recently viewed. At all times I give a quick summary and I enjoy sharing my views; it's nice to be asked. But come year's end, when it is time to look back and wallow in the bath of films I soaked in over the 365 days I need reminding. I cannot choose my top five or ten or even fifteen if I don't have a reminder. This blog will be my reminder; this blog will remind me how easy it would have been to stop people going to see SLIVER, that awful film with Sharon Stone who showed parts of herself we'd already "eyeballed" in Basic Instinct. Her script would have been better used to cover her bits than to be read. 

My reviews will be but a SLIVER of my impressions ... a sliver of information.

These are wine gums .... the sweet I most crave when at the movies. I'm mean when it comes to the distribution of these sweets, I do not issue them lightly. There are 12 in a packet; my film recommendation will be assessed by the wine gum ...... eg. a 12GUM rating will earn a film sweet praise. A film to rival Sliver, if ever there should be such a beast will earn a NEABL, the lowest possible rating of all; NOT EVEN A BOILED LOLLY.

So here we go ............ and feel free to share your views; I often "Miss The Point" !!

Film No. 1 (2014) Jan 2nd. 10.30am THE CYGNET Como.      

The Railway Man

This is a handsome film, like its actors (Firth & Kidman). A British story told with an American style. 

Firth's Lomax wrote a memoir of his "hell" on The Burma Railway during WWII; the key to his scribblings being the unexpected relationship he struck up with Patsy (Kidman), post war; allowing him to unlock his tormented mind and at the same time find love, understanding and a degree of tolerance.

All performances were excellent with a particular gong handed to Stellan Skarsgard (Finlay) Lomax's long time friend; a friend of the highest order. The scenes of the humid hell of the time were squirm worthy and convincing.  

It was interesting that Lomax read two drafts of the script before passing away in 2012, prior to the film's release but failed to recognize his children from his first marriage. It is said his daughter was miffed.

Never the less a story well told for screen.  7GUMS.

Film No. 2 (2014) Jan 2nd. 8.15pm CAMELOT Mosman Park.

About Time

When some one tells you that a film will depict time travel; one immediately thinks Science Fiction. Well that's what I thought when I was told of the premise for About Time.

Nothing could be more from the truth for this film. 

It is a film which uses the time travel idea as a vehicle to promote the message "live life for the day and enjoy every moment". It even drags a quote from Baz Luhrrmann's The Sunscreen song to make a point.

Richard Curtis produces some new ideas for this comic/dramatic story as the unlikely pairing of Rachel McAdams (Mary) and the red haired Domhnall Gleeson (Tim) work their infectious chemistry on screen; a few Sliding Doors moments occur to open their minds to the real world. 

And guess what ? Bill Nighy plays Bill Nighy, no surprise to anyone on that front; and no one does Bill better, as Tim's dad.

Pure entertainment with a message, an earnest massage. 6GUMS.

Film No. 3 (2014) Jan 7th. 4.15pm CAMELOT Millenium Fremantle

August Osage County

Tracy Letts writes for the stage in the US and pulls no punches when it comes to family matters. The good thing about this film is that Ms. Letts agreed to write the screenplay, so while I've not seen the play we can assume the dialogue is not compromised in translation.

The heavyweights of screen in the forms of Meryl Streep (the sickly mother, Violet) and Julia Roberts (the feisty daughter, Barbara) go head to head and in my book Roberts may have won on points. Their roles are similar for reasons that become obvious as the film wears on.

The Weston family is like so many a family; it is dysfunctional and complicated. The circumstances of the family gathering at the family home in Osage is to comfort their dying mother; a mother so bitter and twisted after the death of their father so recently.

There are skeletons and Letts rattles the bones.

I enjoyed the father - son relationship of Chris Cooper's Charlie and Benedict Cumerbatch's Little Charlie. A tick for Letts and her view of a strong male bond.

An edgy social drama with a heart and soul  7GUMS 

Film No. 4 (2014) Jan 15th. 8.15pm FENWICK Cinemas Esperance

Saving Mr. Banks


It was interesting to learn that while the idea for this script was rendered useless until Disney gave it "the nod" that when the all clear was given, the proviso was, that the film had to be a Disney Production. Maybe that is not surprising but I think the film suffers because of it.

The story of how P.L. Travers agrees to allowing Walt Disney to use her writings to convert Mary Poppins to the silver screen is intriguing considering the pomposity of the woman. Emma Thompson is outstanding as Travers but the film has a Disney quality that just didn't suit this story.

My major disappointment, however, was how minor a character Aunt Ellie (Rachel Griffiths)was, considering she was the foundation for the M.P. character. Not to worry, Colin Farrell is brilliant, if not slightly unrecognizable as P.L's father. 

The Tom Hanks makeover of Walt smelt too much of a lavender soap I once used as a child. Maybe that is why the U.K. audience it was made for have snubbed this slick film.  5GUMS 

Film No. 5 (2014) Jan 17th. 4.30pm LUNA SX Cinema Fremantle

Inside Llewyn Davis


So the Coen Brothers are back to play with our minds. And don't you just love that?

I'm still working out how the repeated cat scene in one of the closing takes is an important measure as to how much Llewyn (Oscar Isaac) has learnt from his previous misfortunes; the misfortunes we witnessed during the 100 minutes prior. Or maybe I've just missed the point.

Every "take" of interesting but often dark music is played live, not as a sound track and it is mesmerizing. The dark, central character so brilliantly played by Isaac is never lovable but is always captivating. The subtlety of the Coens' is never more prevalent than with the introduction of Carey Mulligan's Jean, an ex lover; we trust her judgement and she is openly hostile towards Davis, often.

Llewyn is based loosely on a folk singer of influence who played in dark places in Greenwich Village during the sixties. Dave Van Ronk influenced the likes of Dylan, so the story goes. It would seem Van Ronk did not experience the same success; but the Coens' have unearthed yet another character to help us to continue to solve some of life's puzzles. And I love that!   11GUMS

Film No. 6 (2014) Jan 19th. 8.00pm SOMERVILLE Outdoor UWA

12 Years A Slave 


This will likely win Oscar, Best Pic award 2014. Not because I think it should but because the earnestness with which this film is made suits the Academy style of voting when it comes to best pic.

Steve McQueen has made his slickest film; the story of how Solomon Northup was abducted and sold into slavery in the mid 1800's. The fact that it is a story depicting one man's nightmare; a nightmare so many Americans knew little about, will add to the weight of the accolades bestowed upon it.

I was looking for a grittier approach from McQueen. While the violence was heart wrenching especially when dished out by the loopy Epps (Michael Fassbender)there was a sense of disbelief as we watched yet another close-up of a shocked Solomon (Chiwetel Ejiofor). This is not to say I wanted grittier violence; it was the film I wanted to become more involved in. 

It should, however, probably be on your must see list; even if it is just to see if my prediction fits with yours.   8GUMS

Film No. 7 (2014) Jan 25. 11.00am LUNA Leederville.

Dallas Buyers Club

So many films in recent months have depicted events or people who studios' believe will bring silver screen gold; 12 Years, Captain, Mr. Banks, Philomena to name but a few. The most intriguing of all, for me, is Dallas Buyers Club, if not for the 80's story of Ron Woodroof's plight, then for the magnificence of Matthew McConaughey.

Legend has it that McConaughey dropped 25kg then fluctuated another 10kg during the filming of DBC. There is little need to question any stories you might have heard; his transformation happens before your eyes. And while there is the physical aspect to his work he shows real passion for his character's plight.

We learn early on that Woodroof has days to live so after riding out the initial shock he must find a way to extend his life. This is where we grow to understand this fractured man, unfortunately in a slightly cumbersome manner. It is the film that doesn't quite let the key relationships build. Jennifer Garner's Eve, his doctor, is an example unfulfilled potential. 

AIDS is a little talked about health issue in 2014; Dallas Buyers Club will spark awareness of a time in history but it will be McConaughey's performance, already awarded a Golden Globe, which will be remembered.   7GUMS.

Film No. 8 (2014) Jan 27. 11.00am LUNA SX Fremantle.



The premise that we could fall in love with a voice forming a common connection via conversation over time is interesting; it's a premise that Spike Jonze explores in Her. 

It is a bold film, full of ideas and one which provides further thought well beyond the closing titles.

The voice of Scarlett Johansson as Samantha is key to the believability we must hold for Theodore's (Joaquin Phoenix) fragile character. Theodore is alone and fractured as he latches onto a newly developed operating system (Samantha) which provides him with more than just organizational help.

Amy Adams, excels, in a quiet but gentle manner and Rooney Mara shows an edgier side to her repertoire as Theodore's ex-wife.

I still haven't figured why the colour orange dominated so many frames. Perhaps there is a Coen Brothers esque puzzle between the layers of this stylish film. 8GUMS.