Sunday, 22 June 2014

Film No. 44 (2014) Calvary June 21st.

Film No. 44 (2014) June 21st. 11:00 AM LUNA Leederville.


The Guard was one of my favourite films of 2011; so I keenly anticipated Calvary which opens in Australia this month. As with The Guard, Calvary teams together Brendan Gleeson and writer director John Michael McDonagh. After my preview viewing yesterday, Calvary will, without doubt, be on my favourite film list for 2014.

The common elements in both films relate to the sharp, dark dialogue set against a windswept coastal landscape, but that is where the similarities end. Calvary has a sharper focus as it deals with the most controversial issue in the churches' recent history, child abuse. And while the topic may cause potential viewers to avoid this film. I urge you, if you are fair minded and enjoy good films, see this one.

Father James (Brendan Gleeson) a widower, who has come to the church late in life is the "rock" on which this small community relies. He is the voice of reason and listens with intent to the insecurities of its inhabitants. A problem rears when his own vulnerabilities are revealed after he is set a mortal deadline in the film's opening scene. For the next 100 minutes we watch in anticipation as our thoughts are cleverly manipulated.

I'm reluctant to discuss the film further. I will however suggest you refuse to listen to any one who tries to explain the story of the film; also I urge you take little notice of the current promotional poster being distributed; it's misleading. Oh and I nearly forgot to mention Father James's daughter, Fiona (Kelly Reilly), she holds a key which makes for a brilliant ending; an ending which touched the heart of all who attended my screening.  11GUMS.   


Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Film No. 43 (2014) Tim's Vermeer June 15th.

Film No. 43 (2014) June 16th. 6:30 PM PARADISO Northbridge.

Tim's Vermeer

Watching Tim's Vermeer, I couldn't decide where my greatest fascination lay. Was it in the sheer persistence and dogged determination of Tim Jenison or was it in the deed that his persistence was channelled towards; the theory that a 17th century Dutch painter was less of an artist than history would have us believe?

Wealthy inventor and technologist Tim Jenison has a theory. He believes Vermeer "cheated" when he painted his perfect scenes. To prove his theory, this well made documentary, traces the 1,800 odd days (mid 2008 to early 2013)of Jenison re-creating Vermeer's world in a warehouse in San Antonio with a particular focus on Vermeer's The Music Lesson.

In 80 minutes we experience a microcosm of the challenges Jenison confronts to get to his end-point. It is here that the clever artistry of this doco is on show; we never feel as if anything relevant is missed. Every ounce of Jenison's sweat and determination is wrung out of the screen and dripped onto our collective laps'. But I couldn't help but feel I was watching a wealthy boy playing with new toys that only he and very few others could indulge in. 

Anyway, to answer my initial question, I think I was more fascinated with Vermeer and what he really got up to in the 17th century. But without Jenison's prodding I would never have even thought about an extraordinarily famous painter who painted in a manner more akin to colouring by numbers. Well that was Tim's theory.   8GUMS. 


Film No. 42 (2014) Ida June 15th.

Film No. 42 (2014) June 15th. 3:00 PM PARADISO Northbridge.


Ida is a grim film. It deals with grim subject matter. It is shot in black and white to give it a grim look and it left me with grim thoughts as I exited the cinema. And while thoughts of why I'd pay $13 for that experience are valid; I was glad I'd witnessed the plight of Anna (Agata Trzebuchowska), a young noviciate nun in 1960's Poland.

The simplicity with which Pawel Pawikowski shoots this film makes for a "no frills", "no fuss" story dealing with subject matter which requires our attention; subject matter which re-shapes the innocence of Anna as she finally meets her Aunt Wanda (Agata Kulesza)prior to taking her vows. 

Anna insists her Aunt Wanda take her on a journey to uncover her past. During this journey the simple life Anna has led is contrasted against the fractured existence of Wanda and their contrasting character traits  are powerfully portrayed against the stark, Polish landscape. 

It is rare to see scene after scene framed in a way to make us feel what Pawikowski wants us to feel. If his framing is wrong then the risk he has taken has not been worth it. In Ida, no scene is lost on its audience. The question is whether one needs to experience a grim film even if it is well made. I'll leave that for you to decide.   10GUMS  

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Film No. 41 (2014) The Two Faces of January June 9th.

Film No. 41 (2014) June 9th. 6:30 PM PARADISO Northbridge.

The Two Faces of January

If you love winding back time and feasting in the black and white "B" grade thrillers of the ilk where Humphrey Bogart plays the bag guy who double crosses some young "wet behind the ears" punk for the sake of a few bucks, then you are going to love The Two Faces of January in technicolor.

Admittedly the script is a little deeper than my initial description but director Hossein Amini has created a genre piece capturing three flawed characters, Chester (Viggo Mortensen), his wife Colette (Kirsten Dunst) and Rydal (Oscar Isaac)who meet by chance at The Parthenon, Athens in 1962. Rydal is mesmerised by the couple and becomes their guide as they explore the ruins of the ancient city. All is well until Chester's is faced with deeds of his past and fate turns their lives on a new and thrilling path.

This film has blemishes in the same way the "airport novel" it is adapted from and the era of film it is emulating have. It is my view that Amini is well aware of the film he has made; the blemishes are woven into the film for a reason. It's a film that may very well divide audiences.

The performances of Mortensen, Dunst and Isaac are excellent. Amini has a skill in bringing the right faces to his characters; who could forget Ryan Gosling in Drive. I was in the mood for Faces so I'm applauding; but don't take your eye off Chester's suitcase and please don't walk out before the "cheesy" ending.