Friday, 13 September 2019

No. 82. (2019) The Good Boys. September 11th.

Film No. 82 (2019) Sept. 11th.  7:00 PM EVENT CINEMAS Innaloo.                        

"You can say f*ck in the trailer, but you can't watch yourselves. Now that's really F*cked up" (Producer Seth Rogan discusses ground rules in relation to promoting Good Boys with the three key young actors Jacob, Keith and Brody in a promotional trailer for the film).

An at times laugh out loud film for adults about kids, this is Good Boys and it's a film with a unique concept as its poster and promo trailer below would suggest. But then again if you're familiar with the antics on display in Superbad or Sausage Party then little in Good Boys will surprise; although it does have one unique idea which works. The risk the film takes relates to taking child actors delivering somewhat sophisticated dialogue in an adolescent setting. Max (Jacob Tremblay), Thor (Brady Noon) and Lucas (Keith L. Williams) are reaching that part of life when their tight friendship will change, a la Stand By Me. In a part Home Alone (Max's dad's drone saga), Superbad (overcoming sexual insecurity) premise the lads need to triumph thus securing a key coming of age performance indicator. Yes, you're right, nothing groundbreaking here but the method cuts new ground. It's all in the script and like Booksmart of a couple of months ago most of the characters are likable with plenty of redeeming features. 9GUMS.


Sunday, 8 September 2019

No. 81. (2019) The Keeper (Trautmann). September 3rd.

Film No 81 (2019) Sept. 3rd.  4:00 AM  LUNA PALACE Leederville. 

"You think you can play football and everything is forgiven? Have you forgotten that you robbed us of our youth?" (An angry Margaret speaks her mind after learning her father had recruited Bert into the village football team).

An endearing, if mainly cheesy, yarn about a German WW2 POW who became one of the greatest football goalkeepers the world has seen. This German/U.K. co-production is, in the main, a love story. Legend has it that Bert overcame much adversity as an ex-POW then was suddenly plucked from his camp near Manchester to play first, club football, then subsequently playing for one of the nation's premier teams, Manchester City. I knew nothing of Bert Trautmann, and found the simple way The Keeper unfolded using David Kross as the likeable lead made for terrific entertainment. U.K. character actor John Henshaw thrives as village coach Jack Friar, the architect responsible for plucking Trautmann from scrubbing prison latrines to goalkeeping on the local pitch. Freya Maver is perfect as the coach's daughter who falls for Trautmann then ultimately becomes the wind beneath his wings as they team up to overcome all that life throws at them. This includes prejudices, tragedy, pain, and ultimately enduring love. A ripping yarn most handsomely told. 9GUMS.



No. 80. (2019) Animals. August 31st.

Film No 80 (2019) August 31st.  10:45 AM  LUNA PALACE Leederville. 

Girls are tied to beds for two reasons:Sex and exorcisms. So which is it with you? (The opening lines of Animals, delivered by Tyler as she wanders into Laura's room, observes the predicament her housemate is in and thus makes her enquiry).

Accomplished Australian director Sophie Hyde (52 Tuesdays) takes to the international stage with this tale of friendship. Given the theme of the friendship of two early thirties women, built on boozy romps through and around the streets of Dublin, the slice of life drama is quite endearing. Hyde has an intelligent way of connecting her characters with her audience. Odd couple housemates Laura (Holliday Grainger) and Tyler (Alia Shawkat) seem not to have a care in the world as A grade party ANIMALS, that is until Laura becomes side-tracked emotionally (a couple of times). Does she "grow-up" and age gracefully? Where will life as Tyler's sidekick end? Is that fox she spies roaming the streets of Dublin a sign? Either way the themes of Animals must ring true to many young extroverts, (mainly extroverts) who must grapple with life after partying. And isn't that what film is all about? Pricking one's consciousness? Hyde along with writer Emma Jane Unsworth (screenplay and novel) have created a splendid small budget film. Although I still haven't worked out the significance of the fox! 10GUMS.


Friday, 30 August 2019

No. 79. (2019) Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood. August 27th.

Film No 79 (2019) August 27th.  1.30PM  PALACE CINEMAS Raine Square,  Perth City . 

"So, is this your son? " (Al Pacino's Marvin Schwarz ironically asks Rick Dalton who this bloke at the bar is, the Brad Pitt, Cliff Booth).

"No, he's my stunt double, Cliff Booth." (Responds Dalton, without a single sense of embarrassment).


I'm a child of the sixties. I'm a devoted fan of Tarantino. I'm a believer that Jackie Brown is his smartest and most accomplished film. So it was going to be entirely probable Once Upon A Time ... in Hollywood was going to be thoroughly entertaining, enjoyable and an altogether fulfilling experience. And it was. My interpretation of OUTIH, Quentin's fantasy, will be different to many, and none of us will be wrong. This unique film-maker presents an homage to the 60's; via the year 1969, a year Tarantino quite obviously depicts as the turning point for different times ahead. 

Tarantino uses DiCaprio's Rick Dalton and more pointedly Pitt's Cliff Booth (Dalton's stunt double and personal assistant) as conduits through which to lather us in an era people of a younger generation may see as simply make believe. The fairytale factory was Hollywood. Dalton and Booth were both cowboys of a kind in that factory. Tarantino plays with us as scene after scene plays out randomly, and not necessarily with great continuity, but with dialogue which is never wasted. We meet interpretations of Steve McQueen (Damian Lewis), Charles Manson (Damon Herriman), Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) and Bruce Lee (Mike Moh) as Tarantino surmises what he thinks was going through their minds at the time.

Then there is the Tarantino commentary along the way - like riddles embedded into the narrative. Is Rick's smoking habit an ironic reference to The Marlboro Man? DiCaprio is noted for his dedication to method acting, Dalton gets a lesson from an unlikely source in a brilliant scene. Was T.V. even taken slightly seriously by Hollywood as he extracts scenes from The FBI and Combat? Tarantino is continually creating food for thought. Oh, and then there is his ultimate twist to bring the curtain down, beautifully played out.

Yes this is more than just my usual Sliver but for good reason; there is simply so much to digest. There has been a very mixed response to OUATIH. I'm part of the adoration team. I now have two favourite Tarantino films; Once Upon A Time In Hollywood and yes, Jackie Brown. 12GUMS




Thursday, 29 August 2019

No. 78. (2019) Angel of Mine. August 26th.

Film No 78 (2019) August 26th.  6:45 PM  LUNA PALACE Leederville. 

I had a little girl once. A little baby. She was in an accident. A fire. (Lizzie explains herself to the subject of her obsession, Lola).

A tightly scripted, well cast, psychological thriller with a twist that wasn't entirely surprising. Using a universal theme of character sanity against the odds, Kim Farrant, director of Strangerland, has delved back into a world of misconstrued view-points, culminating into an ending that satisfies to a point. Lizzie (Noomi Rapace) is on medication to dull the tragedy of 7 years previous which has made her unable to function normally from day to day. Claire (Yvonne Strahovski) meets Lizzie by chance and it's her daughter Lola (Annika Whiteley) that becomes the target of Lizzies obsession. Farrant cleverly uses close-ups, mainly of the slightly unhinged but beautiful Rapace to build a tension and to heighten our experience of Lizzie's delusion. We are hopeful, like her family supporting her, she can move on and allow time to heal her deep psychological wounds. There is a twist of course and while we are never quite sure how it will end, the twist is not totally surprising. 9GUMS.


Wednesday, 28 August 2019

No. 77. (2019) Amazing Grace. August 23rd.

Film No 77 (2019) August 23rd.  6:45 PM  LUNA PALACE Leederville. 

It's the closest thing to witnessing a miracle - just some cameras, a crowd and a voice touched by god. (Peter Travers of Rolling Stone magazine gives a snapshot of his impression of Amazing Grace).

This is a must see for Franklin fans who I imagine are entwined in the magic that gospel music brings to the world.

The film is not a biographical study of the legend, it's the culmination of a vision and a recording that took place in Los Angeles in 1972 when a 29 year old Franklin performed for her own Baptist congregation over two days culminating in the album Amazing Grace; her biggest selling album of all time. Why then has it taken 47 years to surface and have audiences spellbound by it's magnificence? Well the story goes that Sydney Pollack (Tootsie, Out of Africafilmed the event but was unable to edit it as the analogue soundtrack did not sync with the vision. How does that change things? Digital technology, that's what. So without further ado, please enjoy Amazing Grace. Sadly Aretha and Sydney, the stars behind the film's brilliance are no longer with us. This will serve as a magnificent tribute. 10GUMS.


Saturday, 24 August 2019

No. 76. (2019) Dogman. August 20th.

Film No. 76 (2019) Aug. 20th.  6:40 PM  PALACE CINEMAS  Northbridge. 

"I know he's a friend of yours. Whatever you do, don't trust a word he says" (Marcello's friend, the jeweller, warns him that his friendship with Simoncino could cause him harm).

Director Matteo Garrone (Gomorrah) loves this dour southern Italian coastal strip as a backdrop to his often "based on fact" tales of human fragility. Dogman tells the tale of a crime which reviled Italians in the 80's but as Garrone says, this film only used the story as its starting point. Marcello Fonte plays Marcello, a dog groomer and petty criminal living his life out of a dirty, damp shop in a stark unkempt town on the coast of Campania. A human wrecking ball, Simoncino, rules over the town but more particularly Marcello. We invest emotionally with Marcello in the hope he'll wrestle back his independence, but given his small stature and gentle nature, his challenge may be insurmountable. Fonte won the ultimate individual gong at Cannes for this role. Garrone is a filmmaker with an innate talent for bringing unique regional Italian stories to the world through the eyes of vulnerable characters. Dogman is raw, bold and brilliant. 11GUMS.          


Wednesday, 21 August 2019

No. 75. (2019) The Nightingale. August 17th.

Film No 75 (2019) August 17th.  11:00 AM  LUNA PALACE Leederville. 


Jennifer Kent follows up her internationally acclaimed, The Babadook, with a different kind of gripping cinematic experience. This time more unnerving because The Nightingale is based on an actual event in Australia's dark convict past. So let me begin by saying, as an Australian, I'm torn between pride and shame in reflecting on this dark tale. I'm proud that such a deeply affecting, brilliantly made and important film has been released to the world. I'm shamed by many of the scenes which have been researched and ratified as historic fact. Scenes which stain our past but also serve as a reminder that being better people is the key to our future. 

In short, Aisling Franciosi stars as convict, Claire, a young wife and mother, eeking out an existence as domestic help for one of the military officers of The Empire. Brutal things of heinous proportions leave her hellbent on revenge. She can't achieve this without the help of Billy (Baykali Ganambarr) a black tracker. It's the power of their partnership which  encapsulates Kent's message. I recommend The Nightingale to all rusted on film lovers and those looking for film with meaning, but some scenes will test your stamina. 11GUMS.   



Saturday, 17 August 2019

No. 74 (2019) Night Life. August 12th.

Film No 74 (2019) August. 12th.  1.20PM  LUNA SX  Fremantle.

"Oh, I'll use a trash can, there's hardly any trash in it, oh it kind of comfortable, better than a chair" (Molly, responds to being asked to take a seat by Katherine on a male dominated table where there is no place for her).

The Late Night promo poster is screaming out "I'm a slick, smart comedy with clipped, sharp scenes laced with dialogue to match and a soundtrack setting the ebb and flow of mood throughout". Well that's what you get, and maybe that is the cleverness of Late Night. A film about a writer's room established by a network specifically to write gags for their flagship late night host, Katherine Newbery (Emma Thompson) created by a lone writer Mindy Kaling who, significantly, plays the co-lead Molly Patel. Molly is the "token" woman assigned a seat at Newbery's writers room. Newbery's style is becoming stale on the late-night TV landscape. The network has a plan to replace their star. Newbery either fought or folded. I dare say you can guess the rest. Slick, smart, spicy drama which is soon forgotten. 8GUMS.  


Thursday, 15 August 2019

No. 73. (2019) Who You Think I am (Celle que vous croyez). August 11th.

Film No 73 (2019) August 11th.  6:40 PM  LUNA PALACE Leederville. 

"I can't keep helping you if you're lying". (Dr. Catherine Bormans wonders how she can possibly remain a tool in Claire's emotional recovery).

This French story emanating from the novel by Camille Laurens of the same name doesn't quite live up the literary thrill of the best seller. It is often the case, but the film is definitely an excellent interpretation of teacher Claire Millaud (Juliette Binoche) playing the "catfish" game on-line as 24 year old Clara; a game she is never in completely controls, or so we are lead to believe. But then again, through clues dropped along the way, just maybe she has a much greater adenda. Claire has been abandoned by her husband for a younger woman and most of her feelings and actions are fully disclosed to her psycho-therapist Dr. Bormans (Nicole Garcia). The significance of this relationship is blurred in the beginning and while the interchange has more gravity later, the film version doesn't quite match the thrill depicted in the pages of the best-seller. Binoche and Garcia carry the film and team to make Who You Think I am well worth a visit to the cinema.  8GUMS.


Friday, 9 August 2019

No. 72. (2019) Stieg Larsson: The Man Who Played With Fire Aug. 6th.

Film No. 72 (2019) Aug. 6th.  6:20 PM  PALACE CINEMAS  Northbridge. 

Part of The Scandinavian Film Festival presented by Palace Cinemas; Perth chapter July 17th til Aug. 7th.

"Stieg's view was that they (Neo-nazis) should be dragged into the daylight, put under the microscope and exposed." (A Stieg sympathiser describes why Larsson was so hellbent on revealing how Swedish society should respond to right-wing extremists).

Without this documentary, profiling the amazing adult life of humanist Stieg Larsson, I might have maintained my deluded impression that the author of The Millenium-trilogy led some form of playboy life paralleling the rollicking ride depicted in his novels. Not so, Henrik Georgsson, better known for his work in Scandi T.V. production (Bron Broen, Wallander) gives his audience an insight into the manic life, or better still, manic lifestyle of Larsson. Using minimalist docu-drama snippets with interview outtakes of the people closest to him we learn of the lengths Larsson went to inform his fellow Swedes of the dangers posed to Swedish society by Neo-nazists. Larsson wrote (360 page version of Girls With The Dragon Tattoo) to relieve the stress of his everyday vigil. With initial "prodding" from his partner he pounded out the three best-sellers with more in mind, and then died suddenly. Not surprising, considering his lifestyle. Like so many prodigious talents who die before their time, Larsson is a legend in the realms of Ian Fleming but without the playboy tag. 9GUMS.




Saturday, 3 August 2019

No. 71. (2019) Deigo Maradona. July 29th.

Film No 71 (2019) July 29th.  6:40 PM  LUNA PALACE Leederville. 

"For me a football is a most beautiful toy. It was my salvation". (The great man describes his feelings).

Much like Amy Winehouse in the captivating Amy, Diego Maradona is immortalized by Asif Kapadia, impartially, in a warts and all portrait. In true Kapadia style audiences are treated to unique (some never before seen) footage from Maradona's family, zoomed enhanced football action, and a plethora of candid footage of Maradona in varying social and door-stop situations. Football fanatics will relish the chronological editing tracing Diego's dirt poor upbringing, his prodigious talent, the forced move from Spain (Barcellona) to Italy (Napoli), then becoming a god in the southern italian city. It's his italian connection that shaped his life, for better, then worse. His legendary World Cup performances are layered throughout with the 1990 campaign having significant ramifications on his life. Kapadia has a special way of catching fractured stars in a heartfelt manner but without a voiceover or cliche in sight. Audiences, especially fans or fanatics, will walk away knowing how the enigma that is Diego Maradona became a legend. 10GUMS.   


Monday, 29 July 2019

No. 69. (2019) Camino Skies. July 22nd.

Film No 69 (2019) July 22nd.  6:30 PM  LUNA PALACE Leederville. 

"The beauty of being in a group is, we do look after each other; it's hard but we can do it together". (Cheryl declares a plus for the power of walking over 500 miles along the trail that is The Camino).

An easy to watch (so long as you are not the one walking) doco about a group of Australian and New Zealand travellers hellbent, for different reasons to walk the path of the pilgrims along the Camino trail in Spain. It was made as a small New Zealand production for an Antipodean audience, but because of the touching personal stories (in particular, Julie dealing with her immense grief and 80 year old Susan proving to herself that arthritis won't control her) the film has gained a worldwide following. Then there is Terry, the father-in-law of Mark (also dealing with grief) who is quite simply a "bloody good bloke". Cheryl has baggage but we're not entirely clear why she walks; she is however fun to be around. There are tense moments, as all grapple with their ability to continue but they have each other; the invisible force. All the walkers are good people and this cinema experience leaves us with a warm sense of achievement, even if our contribution has been passive. 9GUMS.    


Friday, 26 July 2019

No. 70. (2019) Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan. July 25th.

Film No 70 (2019) July. 25th.  6:30 PM  LUNA PALACE Windsor, Nedlands . 

"There are a thousand ways to die in a war zone. You have to trust the man beside you and he has to trust you." (The oily voiced overlay as part of the film's promotional out-takes).

Danger Close is quite simply a tribute film. And perhaps being an Australian I'm biased, but Danger Close is a brilliant commemorative cinema contribution of an event depicting bravery in a war that should never have occured in the first place. Put simply, the battle lasted three and a half hours. D Company, made up of 3 platoons (108 soldiers) were outnumbered by the North Vietnamese 20/1 in the rubber plantation known as Long Tan. 18 soldiers were killed, the worst loss of Australian and New Zealand forces in one battle in the Vietnam conflict. But be warned, Danger Close spends little time developing relationships, its strength lies in the meticulous detail in which the battle unfolds. The film doesn't touch on the bravery shown by the Vietnamese soldiers, perhaps there could have been a more human face to their acts of bravery. That is my only criticism. Recreative, tribute films take a risk, they may fail to deliver the accolade they set out to achieve. Danger Close is a fine tribute feature film.  10GUMS.



Tuesday, 23 July 2019

No. 68. (2019) Chained for Life. July 17th.

Film No 68 (2019) July 17th.  6:20 PM  LUNA PALACE Leederville. 

Luna Revelation film Festival Perth Western Australia July 4th - 17th.

"There are some bold casting choices in this film, do you have any reservations about it?". (Sarah alerts Mabel to the fact that as a movie starlet she needs to know the cast surrounding her do not possess classic movie good-looks).

Writer/Director Aaron Schimberg (Go Down Death) has much to say in this film within a film about beauty and the overrated currency it holds in a film industry reluctant to take risks when it comes to casting. Chained for Life is a clever film, Schimberg never preaches or shouts his message and many of the scenes play out theatrically. An old, derelict hospital is the set for a horror film. Experimental surgery is carried out on the deformed to correct their afflictions. It's a B grade premise. There is one beauty, Mabel (Jess Weixler), amongst the patients. As a B grade performer, she is blind. As a normal human being behind camera she becomes attracted to Rosenthall (Adam Pearson) a man with type 1 neurofibromatosis, a facial disfigurement. He is gentle, caring and open with her about his dreams, dreams he'll never be able to fulfill. There is an experimental feel to Chained, but there is method to Schimberg's ambitions here. Every scene has  meaning and I was never certain if I was in the film of the film, or quite simply, the film itself! If that's confusing then seek out Chained for Life, you'll then know exactly what I mean.  10GUMS.


No. 67. (2019) The Eyes of Orson Wells. July 16th.

Film No 67 (2019) July 16th.  6:30 PM  LUNA PALACE Leederville. 

Luna Revelation film Festival Perth Western Australia July 4th - 17th.

"Your films are sketchbooks, you thought with lines and shapes". (An introductory commentary by Mark Cousins after opening a box of never before seen drawings by Orson Welles).

Belfast born film historian and documentary filmmaker Mark Cousins is back to his lyrical best here with The Eyes of Orson Welles. For those who gained a fast track adventure into the history of cinema via his brilliantly devised episodic The Story of Film: An Odyssey, this unique journey into one of cinema's greatest filmmakers is a must see. With such a vast body of work (Welles) to cover, Cousins begins by taking us, through his eyes, to a vault where he opens the lid of a foam box which contains never before seen drawings, paintings and etchings by Welles. From here Cousins surmises what Welles was thinking and creating, in chapter form, all the while dissecting his films in conjunction with his artwork. At the same time we get a biographical journey giving context to a master. Could the creative genius of Welles be compared to Da Vinci in the fullness of time? Cousins would certainly put a case for Orson. And while The Eyes Of is unique in its content there were moments of repetition; fifteen minutes of editing may have helped. 9GUMS.