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.     

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

No. 66. (2019) International Falls. July 15th.

Film No 66 (2019) July 15th.  6:20 PM  LUNA PALACE Leederville. 

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

"But if you want to get to my level, you just get nice and mediocre". (Tim offers some advice to his new friend Dee about how to achieve fame as a stand-up comic).

International Falls is a beautifully scripted two handed human drama with a series of side characters who give the film the spice and flavour it deserves. Rachael Harris stars as Dee, a bored, devoted wife and mother of two who meets equally bored, third rate touring stand-up comedian Tim (Rob Huebel) during his stop-over in her home town of International Falls. Both feel trapped but there is a sweet tenderness in their connection. Stripped of self esteem because of circumstance Dee's ambitions to try stand-up are reignited by Tim's encouragement. And while Tim feels trapped in his never ending cycle of life, we get a sense his meeting with Dee further fills him with regret and a sense of lost opportunity. Actor/writer Thomas Ward's (Victor) script is funny and thoughtful. The freezing Fargo (which gets a reference) like backdrop and quirky bit part players give International Falls the perfect canvas to paint it's meaningful,thought provoking message. 10GUMS.         

No. 65. (2019) Locusts. July 14th.

Film No 65 (2019) July 14th.  6:30 PM  LUNA PALACE Leederville. 

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

"You're the only person who had a chance to get out of this place". (Izzy says it how it is through her eyes after one of the film's shock revelations).

A lively addition to the contemporary Australian desert western (Razorback, Mad Max I, II, III etc) sub genre without a blockbuster feel. First time writer, producer Angus Watts, along with seasoned director Heath Davis (Book Week), has devised a wonderfully atmospheric, tense desert drama. My issue is, while Tarantino pulls off tricked up, unlikely scenes with humour and a touch of the absurd, Locusts wants to be taken more seriously. Watts, only marginally, pulls it off. What do I mean? Well when the setting is a tiny desert tin-pot town like Serenity Crossing with a nightlife akin to Kings Cross on a Saturday night and turnover of thousands of dollars; it's a long bow if you know what I mean. Australian international stars Jessica McNamee (Izzy) and Ben Geurens (Ryan) have great chemistry as the former lovers who have to deal with more than just their fragile emotions in a town where greed, revenge and violence rules and they are caught in the middle, not knowing who to trust. Locusts is entertaining, silly and you'll feel like wiping grit from your eyes for days after the screen goes black!  7GUMS.         

Monday, 15 July 2019

No. 64. (2019) XY Chelsea. July 13th.

Film No 64 (2019) July 13th.  12:10 PM  LUNA PALACE Leederville. 

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

"I'm not the person people think I am". (Chelsea makes a profound statement to camera as she comes to terms with the hysteria stemming from her international notoriety).

A somewhat informative fly-on-the-wall doco which, while disjointed, gives a relatively insightful sense of the vulnerable person that is Chelsea Manning, the convicted traitor who leaked over 75,000 top secret documents to Wikileaks in 2010. Whether you agree with what Manning did is unimportant here. The theme of Tim Hawkin's debut feature documentary is less to do with the mechanics and effects of Manning's actions and more the naivety, resilience and ultimately the vulnerability of a person who genuinely had no idea of the repercussions of her actions. Understandably the criticisms leveled at XY relate to the superficiality of detail in its content. And while the often used drone vision of journalists and civilians shot and killed in Iraq is used, there is little expansion of the machinations and effects of this. If you're keen to learn more about a person most people have had some opinion of, then catch XY Chelsea to verify or change that view. You might be surprised.  8GUMS.


No. 63. (2019) A Bluebird in My Heart. July 12th.

Film No 63 (2019) July 12th.  6:20 PM  LUNA PALACE Leederville. 

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

"There are just some people you can't control. They won't change". (Danny explains his actions Clara based on his vast experience in a gritty world).

A small gold nugget of a film from combined French/Belgian origins but mostly spoken in English. Bluebird begins quietly, but there is a violent undertone as we meet Danny (Roland Moller), a reformed prisoner hoping for a quiet life; a clean break from his past. Nadia (Lubna Azabal) and daughter Clara smolderingly played by Lola Le Lann accept Danny's meagre means as he becomes a tenant in their old hotel. Danny is a loyal tennant and immediately feels a commitment to look out for his vulnerable landlords, particularly Clara. Yes, he is forced to become the type of guardian he was hoping to avoid becoming. Moller has a presence which makes us feel secure. He brings a vulnerability but at the same time power to a character Clint Eastwood mastered in his spaghetti western peak. Writer director Jeremie Guez adapted Bluebird from a novel The Dishwasher; an adaption which may well make him a sought after commodity. Seek out A Bluebird in My Heart it will be worth the hunt. 10GUMS.


Saturday, 13 July 2019

No. 62. (2019) Yesterday. July 11th.

Film No 61 (2019) July 11th.  6.00PM  PALACE CINEMAS Raine Square,  Perth City . 

"I didn't write it, Paul McCartney wrote it; The Beatles." (Jack responds to Ellie after his informal rendition of Yesterday; she asked when Jack wrote it).

This British, unashamed (in the vein of Notting Hill), crowd pleaser isn't quite as pleasing as it might be, but it's fun, inoffensive, has the odd laugh out-loud moment and a twist you won't see coming, which all in all makes for an entertaining, feel-good experience. Anyone who's been to the movies lately will have seen the trailer so will know the premise, which is clever-ish. Fortunately only 50% of the best lines are previewed. Himesh Patel is Jack Malik the wanna-be singer songwriter who does brilliantly with the covers and is a moderately talented actor. Lily James is perfect as Ellie and Joel Fry could have been better used as Rocky. There is nothing on show which doesn't end the way we are manipulated to expect, but it's the twist, the key to the manipulation, that is smart and thought provoking. Oh, and did I mention the music? The classics, reproduced through a cinema sound system are superb and key to the real reason crowds are flocking. 8GUMS.      


No. 61. (2019) The Great Buster. July 9th.

Film No 61 (2019) July 9th.  2:00 PM  LUNA PALACE Leederville. 

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

"For Keaton, cinema was important. It was jokes that worked because of the movie cambre". (Quentin Tarantino pays tribute, as part of the commentary, to one of his cinema heroes).

This insightful documentary directed by the prolific Peter Bogdanovich is a wonderfully thorough tribute to a comic genius who rivaled Chaplin for pathos and timing. Bogdanovich has created a wonderful documentary giving audiences a thorough understanding of the son, the man, the husband, the father, the comedian, the stuntman, the inventor, the studio executive and quite simply the legend. Buster began life in a showbiz family and was stealing scenes on stage from age four. The montage of interviews from friend Dick Van Dyke, to stunt-mad Johnny Knoxville, to film historian Werner Herzog adds dimension to the influence Keaton had on their personal journeys and the cinema landscape in general. We're taken from his beginnings in the silent era on a journey through his inventiveness in setting up a 4 second, often dangerous, visual gag to his sometimes painful transition to sound features and then to his mastering of all forms of entertainment; including serious performances. The Great Buster is a delight. 10GUMS.      

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

No. 60. (2019) Metal Heart. July 7th.

Film No 60 (2019) July 7th.  2:10 PM  LUNA PALACE Leederville. 

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

"There is nothing wrong with her except for being totally self absorbed". (Chantel assures her mother she and her sister will be fine all the while admiring herself applying lashings of make-up in front of a mirror).

A light, froth and bubble coming of age Dramady funded by the Irish Cine Board takes us into the lives of sisters (fraternal twins) Emma (Jordanne Jones) and Chantal (Leah McNamara). The ninety minutes plays out over the summer break immediately after graduation. Mum (Yasmaine Akram) and dad (Dylan Moran) leave the often squabbling sisters to their own devices. While Metal Heart is not totally formulaic, as Emma falls for a charismatic, slightly dodgy neighbour, Dan (Moe Dunford) she is being being pined for by school buddy and fellow band aspirant Gary (Sean Doyle). The music, annoyingly for me, set the mood for how we are meant to feel. Seeing understated films throwing light on smaller regional cultures is refreshing in itself. The cast provides the freshness that Metal Heart exudes. A crew of young Irish up and comers who fill the screen with clean cut vibrance and energy; but remember it's light in nature and totally inoffensive.  7GUMS


Sunday, 7 July 2019

No. 59. (2019) Midnight Family. July 6th.

Film No 59 (2019) July 6th.  6:20 PM  LUNA PALACE Leederville. 

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


"We'll beat them because they turned back there". (The commentary from a brother as they rush to a scene in the hope of beating another ambulance in competition for the job).

Rightfully so, the awards have flowed for this dramatic and WTF feature documentary. I say WTF because I had no idea the the dense urban sprawl of Mexico City (9 million) had less than 45 government provided ambulances and the shortfall, which is great, is made up for by private emergency vehicles. There is a compliance checklist they must meet and it's not easy to do so. Our fly on the wall ride with the Ochoa family (shot by director Luke Lorentzen) gives an insight into what people will do to eke out an existence for such little return over such long hours in a sometimes dangerous world of high emotion. Film goers with a fascination for watching cinema depicting "how the other half lives" shouldn't miss Midnight Family. Oh and the lead  performer here is the 17 year old son, Juan. A born leader who drives like a demon and negotiates like a Wall Street trader; one wonders if this small under performing enterprise would survive without his charismatic skills. 10GUMS. 


Saturday, 6 July 2019

No. 58. (2019) A White, White Day July 3rd.

Film No. 58 (2019) July 3rd.  6:45 PM  PALACE CINEMAS  Northbridge. 

Preview evening for The Scandinavian Film Festival presented by Palace Cinemas; Perth chapter July 17th till Aug. 7th.

"Provocative, raw, gruelling, brutal with love and trust as the underlying feature." (Promotional overview released by distributors).

This compelling Icelandic drama is the most intriguing film I've seen in 2019. The title comes from an Icelandic saying relating to days when one can't distinguish the sky from earth and the dead can speak. Sounds spooky but the film is about grief, the grief of Ingimundur (Ingvar Sigurdsson) and the bad things that emotion can spark in a man. The opening ten minutes depicting a major car accident and then numerous static, still shots of a rural building standing stoically as every weather condition envelopes the surrounds in timelapse had me compelled immediately. We soon learn that the car accident took the life of Ingimundur's wife. This introspective policeman is raging internally with grief. His one saving grace is granddaughter Salka, brilliantly played by Ida Mekkin. But can Salka cure the concoction of jealousy and vengeance bubbling in someone she trusts in the purest sense? There is a whole lot more (the rolling rock scene) to White, White than the bare narrative. Like the drama series Trapped, the stark, cold landscape makes for a perfect backdrop to this powerhouse drama. 10GUMS.


Friday, 5 July 2019

No. 57. (2019) Burning June 30th.

Film No 57 (2019) June 30th.  3:35 PM  CINEMA NOVA Carlton, Melbourne.  

"To me ..... the world is a mystery". (Lee expresses his reflections on life to Shin, his future lover). 

Burning, pardon the pun, slowly burns its way to a power-house climax while burning a hole in ones consciousness and senses alike. Major contributors to the South Korean cinematic landscape in recent months, Parasite and Burning, have used class divide, in very different ways to tell stories of people making their varied way in the world. Lee Jong-su (Ah-in Yoo) is a quiet, introspective young man, he runs the family's meagre rural property. His father is in trouble with the law over anger issues. Lee seems lost but then he finds love with the charismatic Shin Hea-mi (Jong-seo Jun). Shin askes Lee to take care of her tiny, tiny flat in the city while she travels to Africa. On her return Shin is accompanied by Ben (Steven Yeun), a rich and mysterious young man. Suddenly this shy country boy has to deal with a gambit of emotions from confusion to jealousy then ultimately suspicion; two's company three's a crowd turns to something far more sinister. The burning will continue in your mind days after the screen goes black.  11GUMS.    


Tuesday, 2 July 2019

No. 56. (2019) Booksmart June 24th.

Film No 56 (2019) June 24th.  6:30 PM  LUNA PALACE Leederville. 

"Irresponsible people who partied also got into good colleges". (Molly explains to Amy why they need to get out and party).

Another teen graduation/coming of age comedy from a high school campus of an everyday, crazy high school. Heard it all before? Well, if you like the genre but have grown tired of the usual guff, Booksmart offers something different. Actor Olivia Wilde directs her young cast, mainly, Beanie Feldstein as Molly and Kaitlyn Dever as Amy in such a self effacing way audience and cast alike laugh along from one refreshing scene to another. Our girls are nerds, but well respected nerds who come to the realisation they missed the boat on the partying front. Especially seeing their madcap mates had achieved their goals both academically and recreationally without too much sacrifice (not to be confused with role modelling). Their night on the town (the body of the film) follows them as they try to make up for all they missed out on. The animation scene captures the freshness Booksmart has on offer, it's both surprising and hilarious. This is a masterclass in a tired genre. 11GUMS.