Thursday, 26 May 2016

Film No. 32 (2016) Hunt for the Wilder People May 14th.

Film No. 32 (2016) May 14th.  10.45 AM LUNA Leederville. 

"Hector Faulkner and Ricky Baker have been missing now for six weeks. Faulkner is Cauc asian. Well they got that wrong because you are obviously white". (Ricky (Julian Dennison) reads a news article to his "uncle" Hector while they are "on the run").

From the Barry Crump novel with the odd title Wild Pork and Watercress comes the highly entertaining Taika Waititi film Hunt for the Wilderpeople. This unique film will woo crowds of all ages I'm sure because of the wonderful way serious subject matters are treated so tenderly but still make us laugh uproariously. This is no mean feat, you have to see the film to appreciate Waititi's technique.

Ricky Baker is a bad boy. He's not loved, is a ward of the state and needs to be found foster parents willing to take him or he's off to juvenile detention. It's here that the film wins us over in one scene. Paula (Rachel House)  and Officer Andy (Oscar Knightly) arrive at Hector (Sam Neill)and Bella (Rima Te Wiata) Faulkner's  secluded farm somewhere in the New Zealand wilderness. Their cargo is Ricky Baker and we quickly see that both Bella and Paula form unique relationships with Ricky which have us chuckling immediately.

We spend time with Ricky as he gradually softens and adapts to Bella's hospitality, while gradually warming to an indignant Hector. Then the rhythm of The Wilderpeople stalls briefly for good reason. There is a change of circumstance and grumpy Hector and Ricky are thrown together to quite unrealistically fend for themselves for a good deal of time in the surrounding, wild bush-land. If not for the exquisite establishment scenes and wonderful script, the whole silly scenario would have fizzled out before our eyes.

I enjoyed Boy (2010), another of Waititi's poignant films. He has a knack of bringing warmth to the hearts of his audiences through the eyes of an unloved boy with an abundance of charisma and love to give. The Hunt for the Wilderpeople is less serious than Boy but is just as thought provoking. There is hardly a performance out of place with the delightful Waititi himself appearing as a priest in a scene fit for a Monty Python sketch. 11GUMS.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Film No. 31 (2016) La Playa De Los Ahogados (Death of a Fisherman) May 10th.

Film No. 31 (2016) May 10th.  6.30 PM LUNA Paradiso, Northbridge. 

"One misty dawn, in a quiet fishing port in northwest Spain, the body of a sailor washes up in the harbour." (The english promotional prelude to La Playa De Los Ahogados displayed outside a Perth cinema).

I was interested to learn that the translation to English of the title of this Spanish crime drama is The Beach of the Drowned and yet the film is advertised as The Death of a Fisherman in the Australian festival booklet of 2016. I mention this observation because the original English translation seems so much more intriguing as a title, I wonder why there was ever a re-interpretation. 

Meanwhile back in the fishing village of Galicia the body of a fisherman has washed up on the shore. Soon we are led through the mystery and intrigue of what secrets have been held in this quiet village by the charismatic Leo Caldas, the local detective. A man who knows the locals but has a lot to learn about an incident which occurred on the seas out from the village some years past.

The story is well told. We are intrigued as the mystery unfolds layer by layer, never losing momentum as the twists and turns are revealed then unraveled. Cinematic crime stories are so often competing against each other for a wider audience that they resort to shock and gore tactics to secure our attention. La Playa gently leads us along a plank of gentle story telling with just a touch of spiritual intrigue and a smattering of bad people.

The Death of a Fisherman could easily have been a pilot for a neat T.V. series,( You know the series I'm talking about. Each story is packaged around a likable detective living in his native village where crimes, usually murders, are committed weekly, each with its own twists and eccentric characters) maybe it was. I'm not familiar with the Spanish film and T.V. industry but I'm glad I had time for The Beach of the Drowned. Well that's what I'm calling it.  9GUMS.           

Film No. 30 (2016) The Meddler May 5th.

Film No. 30 (2016) May 5th.  6.30 PM LUNA WINDSOR Nedlands.

"What you have to do is have him tip you upside down, that's what Joe and I did to conceive Lori." (Marnie (Susan Sarandon) issues advice to a prospective mum at a baby shower).

For startersThe Meddler is an odd title for a film which never gives the impression Marnie meddles in much at all. Slightly inappropriate might have been a better description of Sarandon's persona but Marnie is always likable if not fractionally frustrating. Perhaps I see a meddler as having negative connotations because Marnie is never anything more than fractionally annoying and slightly inappropriate.

Slightly likable is also how I'd best describe The Meddler. The film never really demands our attention due mainly to the lack of chemistry between mother (Sarandon) and daughter Lori (Rose Byrne). Perhaps there is no better example of the miss-fire than when Zipper (J.K. Simmons) emerges as Marnie's love interest and we suddenly feel what screen chemistry is all about.

Marnie is new to widowhood but is never a sad sack about it all. A devoted wife and mother who we assume lived a kept life by a successful husband in New York. We assume we are going to witness Marnie build a stronger  bond with Lori as she gradually realizes that offering strong opinions and dropping in unannounced is wearing thin with her daughter. Why this wasn't resolved long ago is never explained, although the death of their husband/father may be relevant.

The issue is, The Meddler never hits the mark. The key relationship (mother and daughter) is trumped by the appearance of Zipper as widow meets new man late in the film. Via the Sarandon / Simmons' chemistry we realize an opportunity to hook into the film has been lost. Too late she wrote. The Meddler is okay at times, it will find an audience.  7GUMS.  


Sunday, 8 May 2016

Film No. 29 (2016) Bastille Day. May 3rd.

Film No. 29 (2016) May 3rd.  6.45 PM GREATER UNION Innaloo.


"Are there any jobs in the CIA I could do?" (Michael (Richard Madden) asked Sean (Idris Alba) flippantly, as if there was the opportunity of a career change, during the film's final scene).


The word is, Idris Alba is one of three actors vying to be the next James Bond, with Tom Hardy and Tom Hiddleston being the other front runners for the 007 gig. Well I'd say Hiddleston's work in The Night Manager is a slightly better addition to his CV than Alba's performance in Bastille Day. But that's not to say Bastille Day is disappointing, far from it, B D is a lively addition to The popcorn lovers repertoire.

Bastille Day joins the stable of the unlikely buddy team-up flick. But this time the method by which Briar (Edris Elba) acquires his offsider is a little more sophisticated than in the days of Lethal Weapon or 48 Hours. Michael (Richard Madden) is a pickpocket of  A League quality who inadvertently snatches a terrorist made bomb concealed in a shopping bag. Briar is the maverick CIA agent working in foreign territory who is the first to find Michael and then teams up with him and it's a case of them against the baddies of Paris.

So there is the usual tension as our heroes chase down the source of the impending mayhem but there's a distance between the unlikely pursuers caused by mutual lack of trust. Most situations are beyond belief but the twists occur with precise timing and the one-liners flow with the right chemistry. Run of the mill, in a contemporary setting but with well timed tension with just enough twists is the best way to describe Bastille Day.

Idris does what he does best (with an American accent) although compared to the wooden performances of Madden and CIA boss Karen Dacre (Kelly Reilly) he's made to look better than he perhaps is. Bastille Day will please many a crowd but Edris will be hoping this addition may clinch something bigger, even Bond perhaps!  8GUMS.