Saturday, 17 October 2015

Film No. 73 (2015) UnIndian. October 12th.

Film No. 73 (2015) October 12th.  6.45 PM READING Cinemas Belmont. 

"Do not underestimate the Indian Community Network" (Will's mate Shamir warns him of the rate at which news of his prospective romance may spread).

After watching UNindian I was reminded of those kids programs we watch again later in life hoping that they may be just as magical as we remember them. You know, that time in your life where your tastes are unsophisticated and a simple fairy tale formula with dialogue you didn't have to think about got you in! Oh, and don't forget there was always a happy ending.

The thing is, UNindian is aimed at more than just a juvenile audience. It is aimed …… well to tell you the truth I'm unsure where it is aimed. Brett Lee is bigger than The Sydney Harbour Bridge in the vast land of India, popularity wise. All famous cricketers are treated like movie stars there, so quite obviously the producers have taken a risk by assuming the people of the sub continent will rush to cinemas to watch their hero. I'm not sure what proportion of the public there can afford to go to the cinema.

Good Luck I say. Hugh Jackman has a big following in Asia. I'm thinking it might be a smart move for the Australian Cricket Board to ask him to open the bowling for Australia in the Boxing Day test, thus sacrificing ability for popularity, sell the TV rights to China and watch the money flow in. I wonder, however, if cricketers might shake their heads knowing an impostor has stepped into their territory. There would be an uprising, I suspect. 

Anyway UNindian is a sweet romance. There are some highly competent actors on show from Arka Das and Adam Dunn who play Lee's mates to Tannishtha Chatterjee who is quite charming as Meera. There is Bollywood colour and rhythm vibrating throughout and the Sydney backdrop is of travelogue quality. Just leave all your troubles in the foyer and let the harmless narrative wash over you. And yes, Lee has the look of a star but remember he's a professional cricketer and commentator not an actor. 4GUMS.   


Film No. 72 (2015) The Lobster. October 10th.

Film No. 72 (2015) October 10th.  10.45 AM LUNA Leederville. 

"A Lobster is an excellent choice" (The response from The Hotel Manager once David had made his choice).


Imagine that the world has changed. It is no longer an option to be single anymore. You need to be placed in a sterilized environment with strict rules and time limits so that you might find a partner (criteria being; you both have one common trait) otherwise you'd be transformed into an animal of your choosing. Well that's what is on offer as you settle into this bizarre metaphor for some aspect to societal structure called The Lobster.

The first 30 minutes of The Lobster had me desperately trying to categorize it. An elongated Monty Python skit was one thought then I was reminded of PT Anderson's darkest work, Magnolia in particular. I guarantee you that for days afterwards, The Lobster will have you thinking about what it means to live in a restricted society where natural instincts are controlled or there are dire consequences.

The cinema of the absurd is not a catagory with a long list of entrants it's a genre usually played out on stage in the theatre. So when we open with a single, unwavering shot of a woman (in close up) driving through a dreary rural landscape, blankly staring through a rain splattered windscreen, then suddenly stopping her car, getting out and carrying out what seems to be a very cruel act, we know we are in for a film to test our conventional views.

To the pure cinema fanatic who craves new experiences on the flickering screen you must see The Lobster. Colin Farrell as David will take you on this journey. A journey where deadpan dialogue  seems so empty but means so much. Rachel Weisz and the emerging Ben Whishaw are nameless characters who are keys to us understanding more about David and his plight. Oh and I missed it in the credits but I'm certain it was mentioned that no animals were harmed while making this film. 9GUMS.     

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Film No. 71 (2015) What a Beautiful Surprise. 5th October.

Film No. 71 (2015) October 5th.  6.30 PM LUNA Paradiso, Northbridge. 

"On first impressions she's the perfect woman ..... but does the perfect woman truly exist?" (a promotional caption for the film's English audience).

No wonder Hollywood is so keen to extract the core of an oddball French or Italian comedy then transpose it into a blockbuster of meteoric proportions. They don't have to create a new idea. The Europeans have done it for them. But rarely is it done as well, especially in this digital age where small cameras capture sharp images for a fraction of the price of a blockbuster project. Ma Cha Bella Sorpresa is all its title suggests, it is a wonderful surprise.

So what new is presented by Sorpresa? The idea is not new, the twist on Guido and how he deals with his mid-life crisis however is unique. The method film maker and writer Alessandro Genovesi uses to take us on Guido's misguided adventure is clever and well paced. 

Guido (Claudio Bisio) is a good man. Too good it would seem. His teaching techniques are off beat but his students love him. How romantic he is, is legendary. So he is deeply shocked to learn his live in girlfriend is leaving him for another man and a Belgian at that. Guido retreats into a world of his own, oblivious to the beautiful widow next door who has her eye on him and  who may be just the perfect fit. The issue is, another beautiful girl next door has literally walked into his apartment and his life and she may just be too good to be true.

It's the off beat characters integral to Guido's life that colour this hilarious film. His school buddy, a knock about Physical Education teacher adds humour to the plot but it's his parents (Ornella Vanoni and Bruno Cockpit) who threaten to steal the show. Their contrasting methods of supporting their son brings the legitimate hilarity to Sorpresa. If you have enjoyed Napoli (Naples) in your travels and you are partial to a light, clever comedy then don't miss Ma Che Bella Sorpresa. Come to think of it, it doesn't even matter if you've never visited Napoli. 9GUMS.         


Film No. 70 (2015) Oddball. September 30th.

Film No. 70 (2015) September 30th.  2.40 PM FENWICK 3 Cinemas Esperance.

"Dad, the penguins are almost gone, if we are below ten next month then the council are shutting us down" (states Swampy Marsh's daughter in reaction to the Warnambool City council order).

In the vein of a Walt Disney yarn comes the uninhibited Oddball. Walt would have been proud of the way director Stuart McDonald recreated a story based on a true event. In a simple film full of  corny ingredients which tries to do nothing more than  entertain kids from 4 to 11 years of age. And no, I'm not from this age range but I can appreciate "corny" done well.

Oddball opens with the caption "This is a fairy tale that really happened". The "really happened" tag refers to chicken farmer Swampy Marsh (Shane Jacobson) of Warrnambool and how he, along with his cute grand daughter Olivia (Coco Jack Gillies) saved the rapidly diminishing penguin population of Middle Island by training a shaggy maremma sheep dog named Oddball to chase away the real baddies, the foxes.

It's not altogether as simple as that because there needs to be tension if a good story is to be told. This comes when we learn that Olivia's mum, Emily (Sarah Snook) is a wildlife officer hellbent on saving the said penguins' sanctuary. She's given a deadline. If the penguin numbers continue to diminish then the sanctuary will be closed. This would mean an end to the penguins in the area and the end of her job. Then there is the fact Oddball is on a short leash (no pun intended). His undisciplined behavior has the whole town on edge, so it's three strikes and out for him - unless he improves his ways. Dog Catcher (Frank Woodley) gets to take him into custody.

Jacobson is excellent as big, cuddly Swampy. Snook is showing how talented she is, never overplaying any role she takes on. But most importantly many of the mums, grand mums and kids in the audience at my viewing stayed on to watch the titles roll. Not to see if they knew someone involved but because they wanted more. Oddball is corny but when its target audience reacts this way, then it must be a winner. 8GUMS.