Sunday, 30 March 2014

Film No. 20 (2014) Our Heroes Died Tonight (French) March 28th.

Film No.20 (2014) March 28th. 4:30 LUNA SX Fremantle.

Our Heroes Died Tonight (French)

Sometimes a film, a small film, can really show the potential of a new film maker. Our Heroes shows flashes of brilliance but finally misses the mark because the other flashes are self indulgent. David Perrault weaves some magic with this film but ultimately misses the mark.

I say watch out for Perrault because he captures the finer points of film-noir with precision. His close-ups of characters we want to like but can't, are mesmerising. His clever use of character vs mask as two brothers reverse roles as wrestlers (show men) then collide emotionally, is clever. The film's focus changes depending on who resides over The Black mask; the antagonist.

What's this mask thing I hear you ask? Well it revolves around Victor (Denis Menochel) and Simon (Jean- Pierre Matins), brothers who wrestle for a living in the French world of sport. A time when wrestling "is god" and big business. The business is corrupt and the boys take their chances, they swap masks without authority and unfortunately, the bad guys find out.

Simple perhaps, but the undertones of violence, lost loves and finally treachery are profound but became muddled. The black and white texture was key to this noir experience but for me I needed a better reason for all that culminated in the final stanza. 6GUMS. 

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Film No. 19 (2014) The Finishers (French) March 24th.

Film No.19 (2014) March 24th. 6:30 LUNA SX Fremantle.

The Finishers (French)

When the French Film Festival comes to town, 48 films are on offer over nineteen days. In my case I try to catch three in that time. My task, which I choose to accept, is to find the film to suit my time and mood. Unfortunately The Finishers did not satisfy in the way I had hoped.

Don't get me wrong, this film "ticked many boxes" and played beautifully as it's "big heart" thumped, but like the bland burger, served in a sweet bun, the experience was soon forgotten and I wish I'd tasted something else.

The premise of an out of work father re-connecting with his wife and son after long stints of working away is worth anticipating; so now throw in the idea that the son is physically disabled and motivates his father to compete in an Ironman challenge while at the same time taking him along for the ride. Yes, it is both tantalising and exhausting but it lacks chemistry.

The locations (the south of France), many shot from the air, are spectacular. The performances are sweet but wooden and the ending is predictably warm hearted. So what's not to like? I think it's The Vibe ....... The Vibe your honour!   6GUMS.   

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Film No. 18 (2014) Short Term 12 March 19th.

Film No.18 (2014) March 19th. 7:30 UWA Somerville.

Short Term 12

One week on from the power depicted in The U.K's The Selfish Giant comes a film from The U.S. with a heart the "Giant" lacked; Short Term 12.

This well scripted, independent made film guides its audience through a foster care facility for at risk teenagers. At first we feel safe in the hands of Grace (Brie Larson), the formidable caretaker. She is the assured,confident "rock" that the kids rely on; that is until Jayden (Kaitlyn Dever) arrives.

Grace is that confident "rock" for a reason; she was one of the disaffected herself. Jayden's arrival pushes all the wrong buttons but there is hope throughout. John Galligher Jnr. takes a break from Newsroom (Jim) to play Mason, the "rock" Grace falls back onto like a comfortable beanbag.

Except for the lack of character development of two of Grace's co-workers, Short Term 12 offers film goers another valuable experience. A wholesome experience in the practice of compassionate thought. We can always do with some rehearsal in this aspect of life. 9GUMS

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Film No. 17 (2014) The Selfish Giant. March 12th.

Film No.17 (2014) March 12th. 7:30 UWA Somerville.

  The Selfish Giant

Director Clio Barnard must have been looking over the shoulder of Ken Loach when the opportunity prevailed. The Selfish Giant would attest to my theory; and thank god she does, because someone needs to fill Ken's shoes when he goes.

Socio realism is a term used to describe films like this gritty tragedy. Themes of family dysfunction, ADHD, exploitation spiraling regularly to anger prevail throughout but most affecting is the final five minutes where a character's need to show deep sorrow overwhelms all else.

Our journey is with Arbor and Swifty; first time actors who work the back streets of Bradford instead of attending school. Swifty is soft and gentle with a passion for animals but more particularly horses. Arbor is hard and uncompromising and has a hold over Swifty. They are exploited in their quest for scrap iron and copper cable.

The hopeless dreams build around this bleak landscape play with our comfortable, middle class minds. Finally we gasp, collectively during a scene which unfortunately verifies our predictions. And then there is that final five minutes. I left feeling optimistic, convinced that "this could be the making of Arbor". I fear I was in a minority.   9GUMS.     

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Film No. 16 (2014) 20 Feet from Stardom. March 7th.

Film No.16 (2014) March 7th. 4:00 PM Download at Home.

  20 Feet from Stardom


Arguably there was only one "out of the box" winner at this years' Academy Awards presentation. A surprise considering this was tipped to be one of the more unpredictable ceremonies. 20 Feet From Stardom won Best Feature Documentary to a rousing reception.

This film is insightful; infectious even. The biggest names in show biz line up to regale the talents of these back up singers. We meet the likes of Lisa Fischer, Darlene Love, Merry Clayton to name a few; their star shines in this wonderfully crafted film.

Sting, Jagger, Springsteen all glow as they praise the performers who stitch their voices into the sounds which have become so famous. Lou Reed sums up the plight of these coloured girls as they go "doo de doo de doo" all the time alerting us to the unsung heroes of song.

The best documentaries fill us with the joy of "the human spirit". This award winner does just that. Perhaps 12 Years a Slave set the theme for the Academy this year; if that were the case then 20 Feet was a shoo in! 9GUMS.    

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Film No.15 (2014) The Monuments Men. March 5th.

Film No.15 (2014) March 5th. 6:30 PM VMAX Innaloo.

  The Monuments Men

The story behind The "real" Monuments Men is both fascinating and complicated. Thus, it is a shame this George Clooney "project" film is simplistic and ill scripted.
Clooney is renown for the money he pours into his projects. To scrimp on researchers and script writers has lead this be forgettable and underwhelming. He would not have wanted this for such an important story. The story of a few men recovering artistic masterpieces for the preservation of modern history.
I recall Goodnight and Good Luck, an earlier Clooney project film. This too was an important story; a story well told. Contrastingly Monuments , of blockbuster proportions, is not helped by its mind numbing soundtrack to help us feel what we couldn't feel for ourselves.

I have been scathing, but only through disappointment. For many this film will fill an entertainment gap. It is big and it is pretty. A bit like George himself; he along with Damon, Murray, Goodman and Blanchete are good but the script "screams" for their brilliance.   5GUMS 



Sunday, 2 March 2014

Film No. 14 (2014) Bright Days Ahead (French) March 2nd.

Film No.14 (2014) March 2nd. 10:30 AM PARADISO Northbridge.


Bright Days Ahead (French)

An invite to the preview film to launch Perth's French Film Festival is always exciting. Puzzling enough however was the choice; Bright Days Ahead. It was a "small" well made, light dramatic comedy with a tight script but it lacked the hallmarks of a good film; it was more an interesting film. A surprising choice to launch a festival.

Caroline (Fanny Ardant) is 60 and looking to relieve her anticipated boredom after her working life is suddenly cut short. She attends a self help school BDA, a gift from her daughter. The handsome Computer teacher Julien seduces Caroline and so "self help" takes on a new meaning. The seduction is believable (Fanny is one very handsome performer) but the escalation of the affair is not.

Caroline's marriage to Philippe (Patrick Chesnais), is healthy and full of humour and friends. While it is possible that an insecure woman of Caraoline's ilk would risk all for a torrid affair but we have to believe it; this film did little to convince me.

My theory on why BDA is mediocre; Director Marion Vernoux tried for a film with substance including a life lesson or two but failed to meet script demands and preferred lighthearted exchanges between characters.   5GUMS