Thursday, 30 May 2019

No. 48 (2019) Styx. May 24th.

Film No 48 (2019) May 24th.  7:00 PM Private Preview Screening @ Home via Vimeo link . 

German Film Festival through Palace Cinemas (Paradiso, Northbridge Perth Western Australia)   May 28th to June 12th. 

"Mayday, Mayday, Mayday, many people are in serious danger with their lives, do you read me?(Reike radios for help as she floats not 400M from a stricken vessel over-crowded with desperate refugees).

Directed by Wolfgang Fisher (What You Don't See), Styx follows a paramedic, Reike (Suzanne Wolff), as she embarks on a solo sail south to Ascension Island from her native Gibraltar. Her life on deck, battling winds and storms becomes a minor concern compared to what happens next, as she stumbles upon a wrecked fishing trawler overflowing with refugees. Her cries for help via two-way radio are  met with silence, leaving her to deal with the dilemma of what to do next.

The strength, or better still, the power of nature, holds firm in Styx, illustrated through Reike's adventure to Darwin's "artificial jungle" and the lawless land of the sea. Or maybe it's the strength of human nature - how much one will put on the line to save the lives of vulnerable, innocent people.

Wolff is convincing here. Paramedics are skilled in saving the lives of people and saving those lives with haste. Suddenly faced with a lack of urgency, through no fault of her own, Reike becomes increasingly tense and upset at the indifference shown by the "rest of the world". The strength of her performance leaves us in no doubt where Wolff wants our compassion's lie.

The naturalistic approach creates real atmosphere. The use of diegetic sound allows Fisher to convey an isolation and helplessness that puts us on board with Reike. We exist in this dire situation with our hero.

Finally, Styx is aptly named; ocean cleaving a division between her safe and secure world and that of the uncertain fate of the refugees is the perfect metaphor. Whether she decides to cross that division is a decision that only she can make. 8GUMS. by guest reviewer Paris Doick.



Wednesday, 29 May 2019

No. 49 (2019) Thunder Road. May 28th.

Film No 49 (2019) May 28th.  4:45 PM  LUNA PALACE Leederville. 

"Honey, Honey, I'm really not going to be good at this stuff". (Jim confesses to daughter Crystal that he's not going to be able to match her dexterity and speed when it comes to the hand game she instigates).

This award winning small, independent masterpiece deserves to be experienced by those film goers looking for a new cinematic challenge. To watch a good man, in this case, officer Jim Arnaud, disintegrate emotionally as the weight of life becomes overwhelming, is extremely uncomfortable and challenging. We meet Jim (Jim Cummings) as the camera, oh so slowly (12 minutes), draws to a close-up of a grieving son eulogising his recently deceased mother. And boy, does this eulogy take unpredictable twists, twists that set a pattern for the rest of Thunder Road (the title of Bruce Springsteen's song made reference to by Jim as being his mother's favourite song). Jim is a decorated cop, his marriage has failed and his access to his astute beyond her years daughter Crystal (Kendal Farr) is being threatened. As a cop Jim has control, in life he is losing grip. We hold great fears for Jim as each dialogue driven scene takes him closer to the edge. So what does happen as he approaches breaking point? I can't tell you that! All hail Jim Cummings, director, producer and star of Thunder Road. This small film packs a powerful punch. I suggest you also read the lyrics of Thunder Road soon after this cinema experience. Maybe that's the biggest insight we get into the mind of Officer Jim. Or maybe it's the brilliant hand-game scenes he plays out with daughter Crystal!  11GUMS. 


No. 47 (2019) Top End Wedding. May 24th.

Film No 47 (2019) May 24th.  6.15PM  PALACE CINEMAS Raine Square,  Perth City . 

"I've always been able to see it. Both my parents walking me down the isle. I can't get married if my mum isn't here." (Miranda explains to Ned why the wedding can't go ahead before Daffy is found).

An unashamedly feel-good romp showcasing the great Australian north with all its gentle people and blazingly stunning landscape. And while I enjoyed the spectacle, as any proud Australian would, I'm worried that the script is so shallow, distributors may struggle to find the international audience that Top End Wedding deserves. Lauren (Miranda Tapsell) and Ned (Gwilym Lee) form the perfect blend of multicultural chemistry, so we are sold early on with Ned's proposal. Because of Miranda's traditional Northern Australian roots a wedding in Darwin makes sense. The fly in the ointment however is the fact that Miranda's mother Daffy,(Ursula Yovich) has gone missing (midlife crisis). The bulk of Top End is then devoted to finding Daffy in time for the wedding. So begins the travelogue with minimal storyline. Top End Wedding, like Ned and Miranda, is uncomplicated, never pretentious and has roles with bite for Kerry Fox and Tracy Mann. There's a lot to like, I hope it's seen all over the world. 7GUMS.          

Sunday, 26 May 2019

No. 46 (2019) Red Joan. May 20th.

Film No 46 (2019) May. 20th.  6:30 PM  LUNA PALACE Windsor, Nedlands . 

"They think you might be part of some Cambridge spy ring, is that true mother?" (Son Nick asks his mother the question based on rumours he's hearing in the halls of parliament).

The story of real life spy Melita Norwood is the inspiration for this retell of a novel by Jennie Rooney, profiling fictional spy Joan Stanley. If that sounds confusing then perhaps it's the reason Red Joan has received such lukewarm reviews. I'm less of a critic. The novel is a rollicking love story, and so the film mimics the essence of its tale. Told in flashback after Joan's (Judi Dench) arrest, going back to introduce a young, bright scientist Joan (Sophie Cookson) playing her role as a naive, reluctant activist in the development of the atomic bomb. The real Norwood assisted Klaus Fuchs to share top secret documents with Russia related to A/Bomb development post WWII. History suggests their deeds lead to a greater chance of a longer period of future peace. The film uses those historical levers to strengthen our feelings for the vulnerable Joan. Her relationship with eminent lawyer-son Nick (Ben Miles) and the test of their once loving relationship adds to the fictional slant. It's an entertaining romp, not to be taken too seriously, and motivation to research then get an insight into the very mysterious real life Norwood. 8GUMS.


Saturday, 25 May 2019

No. 45 (2019) Acute Misfortune. May 19th.

Film No 45 (2019) May 19th.  4:10 PM  LUNA PALACE Leederville. 

"Everything moves towards its end, mate. This is the only profession in the world where your employer wants you to die". (Cullen reels off another of his unhinged philosophies to Erik, as he begins to paint his portrait).    

This uncomfortable retell, depicting Australian artist Adam Cullen's insistence that a biography be written about his life, on his terms, by a young naive journalist, Erik Jensen, is compelling. Actor Thomas M Wright (Sweet Country) directs his first feature and the results are stunning. Cullen, brilliantly played by Daniel Henshall (Snowtown), is best described as unhinged. Jensen, beautifully portrayed by Toby Wallace, is caught in Cullen's narcissistic "headlights". We're never sure if it's in pursuit of the story or because of Cullen's hypnotic aura. Did his elevation to artistic immortality through winning The Archibald Prize, (Australia's most prestigious portrait award) in 2000, ignite a self destructive fuse within a man whose contempt for himself and others was destined to lead to a bad end? Watch and learn, but be warned, Misfortune is stunning but it's not pretty! 10GUMS.



Thursday, 23 May 2019

No. 43 (2019) Avengers: Endgame. May 6th.

Film No. 43 (2019) May 6th.  6:00 PM EVENT CINEMAS Innaloo.                        

"I keep telling everyone to move on. Some do but not us. We will. We'll do whatever it takes" (Steve Rogers, Captain America, deals out his monologue to fellow super-heros in the hope of convincing them they are obliged to save the world standing shoulder to shoulder).

Avengers: Endgame says it all. This is the summary of all it's parts and in many ways, while 3 hours is the limit to most people's cinema viewing patience, the devotees were screaming for more by the time the screen went black. Other than the original Iron Man, the first Spiderman and Deadpool 1 & 2, this represents the limit to my catalogue, thus I feel in no way qualified to review this exclamation mark to the Marvel franchise. Speaking to the brethren who've seen all 22 from the Marvel Comic Universe beginning with Ironman in 2008 convinces me that Endgame is a classic and is definitely never to be completely appreciated without seeing at least half from the stable. Nevertheless I did participate, I did enjoy it but my enjoyment came less from the spiritual culmination but more from the performances of the who's who on the big screen over the last 50 years. Nearly every scene has a cameo of sorts. Oh, and it made me realize how little I'd seen of Robert Downey Jr in recent years. He's brilliant as Tony Stark, the original of all the characters, and the stand on which MCU could reliably hang its lavish capes!  9GUMS (12GUMS from every devotee I have spoke to).


Wednesday, 15 May 2019

No. 44 (2019) 25 K/H. May 14th.

Film No. 44 (2019) May 14th.  6:45 PM  PALACE CINEMAS  Northbridge. 

Preview evening for The German Film Festival presented by Palace Cinemas; Perth chapter May 28th till June 11th.

"All he would ask is, 'have you heard from Christian?' 'He's a good boy Christian' - and we never heard from Christian." (Georg tells his brother of their father's questions close to his death).

This German road movie covers all the tried and tested themes we've grown to love in the genre, with aplomb. Brothers Christian, (Lars Eidinger) an international financier and Georg, (Bjarne Madel) a local carpenter, were once close childhood buddies,but haven't been in contact in years. They are drawn back together by their father's funeral in hometown, Gengenbach nestled within the Black Forest of south western Germany. The brothers find a creed they wrote as teenagers, decreeing they'd travel by moped (25k/m max speed) across Germany ending their journey in the north by peeing into the Baltic Sea. Okay, so other than the slow moving moped as a metaphor for ratcheting back the speed of modern life, it's the chemistry Madel and Eidinger exude in a very entertaining two hours which seals the deal. Internationally acclaimed The Intouchables (2011) comes to mind in paralleling this heartfelt, buddy drama; both are headlined by charismatic lead performances. A film full of laughter, tears, challenges and arguably the best ping pong contest depicted on screen, is the highly entertaining 25k/h.  10GUMS.       


Saturday, 4 May 2019

No. 42 (2019) Little Woods. May 4th.

Film No 42 (2019) May 4th.  11:00 AM  LUNA PALACE Leederville. 

"Trust me, if you tried to sell the house, you'd pay us to keep it". (Ollie puts to her bank executive the realities of what her house is worth, and how best to do a deal so she can continue to live in it).

In the vein of the brilliant American Honey, Little Woods takes us to the fringes of U.S. society where the young working underclass struggle to achieve their smallest dream. First time feature director also writes Nia Da Costa this film of power, depicting sisters Ollie (Tessa Thompson) and Deb (Lily James) eeking out a life in oil rich South Dakota  using technology (flip phones)they can afford and thus giving this contemporary film a 2008 feel (high GFC era). Ollie is street wise and capable, while Deb is a battling mum working tables in a diner, knowing that although she loves loser Ian (James Badge Dale), their relationship is irredeemable. It's the power of the sisters' compassion and loyalty for one another, while they set out to overcome challenges the lower middle class would regard as speed bumps which carries this movie. Winning small battles to have a better life, whilst maintaining tension, and ultimately leaving hope, forms the magic of Little Woods. Tessa Thompson (Creed & Sorry To Bother You) takes one more step to stardom here. 10GUMS.              

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

No. 41 (2019) All Is True. April 29th.

Film No 41 (2019) April. 29th.  6:30 PM  LUNA PALACE Windsor,  Nedlands . 

"I lived so long in an imaginary world I think I've lost sight of what is real" (Shakespeare answers his daughters question as to why he is no longer writing).

Not to everyone's tastes but nevertheless, clever, a visual feast and imaginative to the core. Ben Elton (writer) and Kenneth Branagh (lead actor/director) combine to rake over the coals of William Shakespeare's retirement years, and let it be told they were year's too few (1613 - 1616). There has been conjecture about Shakespeare's final years after his beloved Globe Theatre burnt to the ground and he returned to the family home in Stratford. How truly neglectful of his family was The Bard? How would wife Anne and daughters Suzanna and Judith react to his presence? What family secret would be unearthed to shake the psych of the world's greatest writer? Much of All Is True is conjecture but there is no better student of Shakespeare than Elton. Then there is the electric scene matching Branagh and McKellen which can best be described as a masterclass. 10GUMS.