Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Film No. 28 (2015) Dior and I April 25th.

Film No. 28 (2015) April 25th.  10.40 AM LUNA Leederville. 


He had just 8 weeks to create his first collection. ( The challenge faced by new creative director of Dior, Raf Simons)


Dior and I


I imagine the followers of fashion would move into excitement overload at the viewing of a documentary like Dior and I. The chance to peek behind the scenes at "the goings on" of a fashion house like Dior as the newly appointed Creative Director Raf Simons (who sounds remarkably like Roger Feferer) steers his fickle but talented "ship" towards a fashion launch, might even generate squeals of delight amongst the aficionados of fine garments and accessories.

While I'm not a disciple of fashion I did enjoy the wonderful sociological elements depicted in most scenes. We are to assume that the "I" in the title is Raf himself although he in no way gives a first person perspective (commentary) through the film. The camera follows him as he decides what the look will be for this globally anticipated launch. I assume from my readings, post film, that Raf is a "think out of the square" (minimalist)  director who works from inspiration rather then the more conventional sketch boards etc.

Given all of this background, I now understand why the documentary did not become a classic portrait of a leader dealing with the politics of the empire to gain supremacy. I'm sure there were scenes where friction must have occurred but writer director Frederic Tcheng focused on Raf's creative prowess. He transforms the exhibition house into a flower house inspired by Jeff Koon's giant flower puppy. He becomes inspired by artworks to transport their colours and designs into garments. But best of all he sells his employees his vision with unblinking confidence.

Then follows the angst and anxiety experienced by all of the players in the build up to the big event. It is then that we experience Raf at his most vulnerable. In 85 minutes he has won us over, we want him to succeed. I must mention Raf's "right hand man" Pieter Mulier, I'm not sure Raf would be quite as assured without him. I've seen documentaries which have had a greater impact on me but Dior and I was both entertaining and enlightening. 7GUMS     







Monday, 27 April 2015

Film No. 27 (2015) Trash April 22nd.

Film No. 27 (2015) April 22nd. 6:30 PM PARADISO Northbridge.

"Because it was right". (Rooney Mara's Olivia character sums up the reason for the persistence of the three boys).


Trash is a Brazilian film directed by Stephen Daldry (The Reader), written for the screen by Richard Curtis (Blackadder, Love Actually) from a novel by British young adult fiction author Andy Mulligan. It would seem Working Title production house has decided to dive into the muck of a Rio de Janeiro slum to recreate the "white knuckle" ride of three boys who take on corruption at the highest level. Can you imagine 3 boys of early high school age taking on the most powerful elements of Brazilian society? No, well that's why Trash is such a vibrant fairytale.

When Andy Mulligan wrote Trash he was nominated for a number of awards for Young Adult literature. Many of his critics believed those nominations should have been withdrawn because of the 
anti-social content and themes (drugs and muck). Mulligan and his publisher argued that he would not compromise the real hardships his young characters faced. The themes were important elements to the strength of the story.

It's interesting that the setting in the book is not specified and yet the film very specifically takes us to the grime of Rio and thus into the heart of Brazilian corruption. Anyway the premise of this story is simple. Three charismatic boys happen upon a wallet in the rubbish mounds they rely on for their existence. The contents of the wallet are keenly sought after by a corrupt policeman who is in the pocket of Brazil's most corrupt "godfather" Carlos. The boys remain one step ahead of hundreds of law enforcement officers hellbent on capturing our heroes.

There was a spate of Grisham novels which were tranformed into cinematic, white knuckle rides in the eighties and nineties. They became popular adult thrillers. Trash brings both an adult and adolescent audience to its narrative. Rafael (Rickson Tevez), Gardo (Luis Eduardo) and Rato (Gabriel Weinstein) find their way into our hearts quickly and easily through the magic of cinema, thus the unbelievability of it all is soon forgotten. The sharply edited Trash takes us on a very entertaining ride.  9GUMS.          

Friday, 17 April 2015

Film No. 26 (2015) Testament of Youth April 16th.

Film No. 26 (2015) April 16th. 6:30 PM PARADISO Northbridge.

"How many generations get a chance to be involved in something like that?" (Roland played by Kit Harington urges Vera to understand why he wishes to go to war).

Testament of Youth 


The memoir of the same title, written by Vera Brittain is a classic and the likely transposition of Brittain's story to screen has been spoken about for years. Those who have read the memoir and fallen in love with Brittain's words may be loathed to risk this cinematic adaptation. Unfortunately I have not read the memoir but my experience with this screen version has left me full of praise for the production and all who brought it to the big screen.


With just a week remaining before we commemorate the ANZACs who left our Australian and New Zealand shores to risk life and limb during World War I this film could not have pricked my emotions more. Testament of Youth takes us on an emotional roller-coaster of a ride through the raw emotions of war away from the battlefields. Vera is played with a subtle power by Alicia Vikander the exploration of the repercussions of war, through her eyes, will leave you emotionally drained by film's end.


This film does not overload its audience with melodrama or confusing subplots. Put simply, we meet Vera, her brother Edward (Taron Egerton) and his school mates Victor (Colin Morgan) and Roland. They are young, intelligent and encourage each other to reach for the stars. The feisty Vera wants to write and she bustles her way to begin her studies at Oxford. Her love for Roland evolves but the war intervenes. Only Vera seems scared for her three musketeers. To the young men it is an adventure of a lifetime. And so the film takes us on their heart wrenching journey.


There is some melodrama when it comes to Vera's exploits as a nurse working behind the lines in France. There are a couple of clunky scenes which are too far fetched to warrant inclusion, so maybe director James Kent (Marchlands and Inside Men), known more for his television work, didn't trust his instincts. On second thoughts there is just a little more melodrama than I can usually bare but, for me, it worked. Testament of Youth caught me at the right moment.  10GUMS 





Film No. 25 (2015) Boychoir April 15th.

Film No. 25 (2015) April 15th. 6:30 PM THE WINDSOR Nedlands.

"Are we an academy or are we on some weird cat rescue mission" (Drake played by Eddie Izzard asks Master Carvelle if he is compromising the standing of The Boychoir academy)  


Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed Boychoir. It's just I wasn't sure which key character, director Francois Girard wanted us to focus on or was it meant to be an insightful look at a series of relationships culminating in the unstoppable force (Stet played by Garrett Wareing) meeting the immovable object (Dustin Hoffman's Master Carvelle). But undoubtedly the most stunning facet to the film is the quality of the sound of the boys, even if much was lip synced.

The trailer suggested a hybrid of a film, taking Billy Elliott and mixing a young boy's trials and tribulations with a touch of Whiplash. Boychoir is not like either of these very successful films and definitely will not emulate their successes. Stet is rebellious because of his tough upbringing but precociously talented; a gifted singer. There are many subplots which are never fully developed but we always know that the unfortunate Stet will eventually shine.

The heart warming qualities which are woven throughout revolve around the adult characters who believe in our boy Stet. Debra Winger is excellent as Ms Steel, Stet's first school principal who moves mountains to bring the Boychoir troupe to her humble school. Then there is Wooly (Kevin McHale) his Academy teacher who goes into bat for Stet regularly, usually with Master Carvelle who has nothing but reservations. Kathy Bates as the Head of the academy is also on hand, giving a warm, friendly aunt persona. 

For me however there was a clutter of key characters and like a tasty meal it didn't totally satisfy. Hoffman and Wareing were good individually but their chemistry on screen didn't quite capture the required feel. This film will do well in  suburban cinemas providing a fantastic platform for baby boomer and family outings. It's just a shame it didn't reach the pitch that some of the boys did.  7GUMS  

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Film No. 24 (2015) The Age of Adeline April 14th.

Film No. 24 (2015) April 14th. 6:30 PM VMAX Innaloo.

"My character Adeline, she was born in 1908, she gets into to a car accident and she never ages again" (Blake Lively describes her character in a promotional trailer leading up to the release of the film).

The Age of Adeline

Blake Lively's description of her role is as simplistic as the film itself. It is important to warn prospective popcorn munchers enthused by the prospect of The Age of Adeline that you will not be required to think too deeply during your cinema experience. At times your mind might wander into prediction mode but only if you care for Lively's character.

To begin,the omnisicient narrator(Hugh Ross)talks us through the fairytale of how Adeline had a car accident in 1908 just as the Earth lined up with Saturn which in turn tilted just as the man in the moon blinked. Well, not really, but because of extraordinary circumstances Adeline is rendered immortal at the age of 29. 

  With the premise set, most of the love story unfolds in modern day New York and its surrounds and we learn through flashback of Adeline's past. Her true angst comes from her secret being known only by her aging daughter Flemming (Ellen Burstyn) and the fact that she has to keep moving on. And of course there have been lost loves.

The thing that surprises me most about The Age of Adeline is that it has been released for cinema. It has all the hallmarks of an HBO tele-movie. With a couple of subtle adjustments it would do good business in home cinemas in the lead up to Christmas. Perhaps distributors feel that Harrison Ford playing the prospective father-in-law displaying some of his best Fugitive facial expressions might strike a chord. Adeline is very inoffensive so don't be offended by the price of your cinema ticket. 5GUMS


Saturday, 4 April 2015

Film No. 23 (2015) A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night April 4th.

Film No. 23 (2015) April 4th.  7.45 PM LUNA OUTDOOR Leederville. 


Tag Line: First Ever Iranian Vampire Western.


  A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night


I wonder if this could also be tagged as Iran's first ever world cult film. I'm sure there are plenty of wonderful local films with cult status within Iran but I don't know of one that has grabbed so many followers world wide. One needs to see the texture of the images and sounds to understand my suggested tag. 


Shot in HD black and white to a narrative as simple as the premise of Clint Eastwood walking into a "tinpot" town where much spaghetti will be served. Just like Clint would wander in as the nameless man, Sheila Vand cruises the streets of Bad City as The Girl. No ordinary girl because if an unsavoury person needs to be removed from BC's streets then she sees to it, in classic vampire style.


Oh and there is a love story. We're not quite sure if The Girl preordains the meeting she has with Arash (Arash Marandi) but they cross paths very conveniently. We are relieved for Arash because he needs a break from both his demanding father and his father's nasty drug dealer, Saeed (Dominic Rains).


Shot in southern California and spoken in Farsi, A Girl has so many US noir influences it could become tiresome (but doesn't). Ana Lily Amirpour has take just the right amount of Jarmusch, Tarantino, Eastwood and even Hawkes and come up with a most interesting, textured film. The backdrop of Bad City depicted industry, the oil industry. Blood seemed to flow as easily from the necks of its inhabitants as the oil from the oilfields. Interesting. 8GUMS         





Film No. 22 (2015) Pheonix April 2nd.

Film No. 22 (2015) April 2nd.  7.30 PM SOMERVILLE U.W.A. Nedlands.




Imagine yourself explaining the plot for an excellent film you have just watched. Your explanation goes something like this. "There's this girl and she has suffered facial injuries from her time in a German concentration camp. The injuries are so severe that her face needs to be re-constructed. She is given a choice as to how she might like to look. She chooses to look like her former self. Once the bandages are removed she seeks to find her husband, who presumes she is dead. She finds him and he doesn't recognize her, but seeing she looks very like his former wife, he comes up with a plan for her to impersonate said wife so that he can receive her inheritance.


My explanation of the plot is simplistic but that is the crux. I assume you might be thinking about how impossible such a plot could be. I watched this film without reading any reviews or summaries and I'm so glad I did. An inkling of the implausibility of the plot may have stopped me buying tickets to Phoenix. That would have been a shame because it is a film full of mystery and intrigue.


Christian Petzold is an excellent German film maker who has input in all aspects of his projects from the screenplay through to editing. His last film, Barbara, placed a strong-willed woman in the precarious position of trying to exit East Germany in the mid eighties. Nina Hoss played the lead as she does in Phoenix. Nelly like Barbara is desperate but this time we never quite know what she is thinking; and therein lies the mystery. 


We hope the choices she makes earn her a better life. She deserves it after all she has suffered. Like Barbara,  Nina is a good woman but vulnerable. This film is a beautifully shot period piece (1946 ish) with a premise paralleling a fairy story. But like every good fairy story it's the message that counts. The ending is also important and for me, the ending to Phoenix is brilliant. 8GUMS.



Thursday, 2 April 2015

Film No. 21 (2015) That Sugar Film March 30th.

Film No. 21 (2015) March 30th. 5:00 PM LUNA SX Fremantle.

The Quote: "People on this planet are growing sicker every day. And many scientists now believe that fructose has a role to play". (Steven Fry describing his understanding of the damages that sugar is causing to the world's population).

That Sugar Film

I'm predicting that this cheaply made documentary feature may well be Australia's most popular film both here and overseas in 2015. While The Babadook certainly achieved the latter accolade it was avoided by the locals in 2014. My hope is that, That Sugar Film will be viewed by many Australians because there is information that may make people's blood boil, either that or it may make their teeth fall out.

In the same way that Morgan Spurlock made Super Size Me, Damon Gameau puts himself to the test by consuming the equivalent of 40 teaspoons of sugar per day for eight weeks. During this time he has various health experts monitoring the effects of this sugar consumption on his body. The foods he consumes are the foods we might mistake as having wholesome health qualities. He self monitors and is very articulate as he discusses the changes taking place both internally and externally. 

The highlight for me however is the clever way Gameau balances scientific information with home and family life and travel as he journeys to a remote aboriginal community and then to the US to mix it with the biggest and the best sugar consumers in the world. Cinema in the digital age allows a film like this to play with graphics and dimension. If there was some dry information to be conveyed it was portrayed creatively. Talking heads appeared on labels and Gameau was often shrunk so he might venture into a body.

That Sugar Film will make me think twice about some of the things I eat. If it helps me to reduce a small percentage of my sugar intake, I'm sure there will be some benefit for me. Perhaps if I think about the film on a regular basis I'll have slipped into a new eating habit thus the benefits will be long term. I can only hope. Gameau has created a thoughtful, intelligent, clever and important film. See it just to learn something new about the world world we live in. 9GUMS.