Monday, 26 November 2018

No. 103 (2018) Book Week Nov 19th.

Film No 102 (2018) Nov. 19th.  6:30 PM  LUNA PALACE Leederville . 

"It's also a sad time, as the mercurial Mr Cutler is finishing up with us at the end of the week." (The principal makes a morning announcement after another Cutler clanger unravels at school).

Young Australian film-maker Heath Davies gets inside the head of a frustrated author, come hugely inappropriate high school teacher, Nic Cutler (Alan Dukes). It's a comedy which has some funny moments, unfortunately it fails to live up to it's initial whimsical tone. I can't make up my mind if it is the fact that Cutler is so unlikable that I had no compassion for him, or that there are too many convenient, even lazy, plot diversions. The jokes get lamer and more inappropriate as the film progresses. The deal is, Cutler is told by his publisher that he has a week to improve as a person or there will be no book deal. The week is a disaster. The climax is not totally surprising, but the convenience of it all left me flat. Hats off to Davies for crowd funding an interesting, if not totally fulfilling comedy with a slightly irregular heart-beat. 7GUMS.


Sunday, 25 November 2018

No. 102 (2018) Collete Nov 18th.

Film No. 102 (2018) Nov. 18th.  4:00 AM  PALACE CINEMAS  Northbridge. 

"I have this remarkable idea. You could write for me. Those stories you told me last year." (Willy explaining his idea to his new wife, Collette, an idea he hoped would pull him from financial ruin).

Keira Knightly has polarised audiences over time with her sometimes ditsy performances, often in attractive, young female roles. Colette puts to rest any prejudices there may have been against Knightley. The real life tale of how Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (Knightley), the prodigiously talented writer, who through both naivety and loyalty agrees to publish the now famous Colette of Paris under the byline of husband Willy, comes to the screen. Willy (Dominic West) and Colette are quite the couple of their era. They bring to life their ambitions and fantasies in a tumultuous relationship which was the talk of the town (Paris) at the time. All the while most of Paris was reading their racy tales of fiction known as The Claudine novels, some of which reflected their own spicy life together. This is a fascinating cinema ride; an A grade costume drama accentuated by the performance of Knightley which may well attract Oscar attention. 10GUMS.                 


Saturday, 17 November 2018

No. 101 (2018) Wildlife Nov 13th.

Film No 101 (2018) Nov. 13th.  4:15 PM  LUNA PALACE Leederville . 

"Do you know what they call trees when the fire has gone by? They call them the standing dead, did you know that?" (Jeanette talks to Joe on one of their short road-trips into the forest range where husband Jerry is working as a rookie fireman).

I admit to regarding Richard Ford's book Wildlife as one of my favourites so it was with trepidation that I waited to see if Paul Dano's directorial debut might do the story proud. It did, and it does in spades. The rumour is that Ford told Dano, "Remember it is my book, so make your film". Dano has done that, but the story of an adolescent boy watching in the vain hope that his mum and dad would stay together and recreate their loving family triangle was all about "slow burn atmosphere". Ford would surely be chuffed with Dano's take on the Brinson Family. Australian actor Ed Oxenbould plays young Joe with just the right portion of naivety and Carey Mulligan works her magic as the slightly unhinged but always loving Jeanette. Wildlife is a treat, not to be missed in my view, but I come to this story with form. 11GUMS.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

No. 99 (2018) The Old Man And The Gun Nov 5th.

Film No 99 (2018) Nov. 5th.  6:30 PM  LUNA PALACE Windsor,  Nedlands . 

"The story is mostly true" (Titles that gradually fade from the screen prior to the opening scene).

Another of Robert Redford's projects. He bought the rights to Bill Bryson's A Walk In The Woods then insisted he played the lead role fitting of someone much younger, here Redford plays out the escapades of real life bank robber Forrest Tucker; and it's altogether quite charming. Right down to the same title fonts as those of Butch Cassidy, Redford delivers the story of America's most charming thief with aplomb. The story is based on an article of the same name by David Gran of The New Yorker, so there is an element of myth about Tucker and his nomadic wanderings. His scenes with Jewel (Sissy Spacek), his lover in later life, are mini acting master-classes adding to the films charm. If this is Redford's last screen performance then he certainly goes out on his own terms. 9GUMS


Monday, 12 November 2018

No. 100 (2018) Spitfire Nov 6th.

Film No 100 (2018) Nov. 6th.  1.30PM  LUNA SX Fremantle . 

"You can't fly a Spitfire and forget about it. It stays with you for ever, it stays with you for ever" (95 year old Battle of Britain veteran Geoff Whellum reflects on his experiences flying Spitfires during WWII).

Spitfire is a well balanced tale exemplifying why this small aeroplane, developed for war in the late 30's, became the darling
of a nation. Before the last of the veterans have disappeared we get to hear of their experiences. In the case of Geoff Wellum it's in the nick of time (Wellum passed away in July 2018). Considering The Hurricane shouldered most of the burden of warfare during The Battle of Britain, the Spitfire is fractionally over glorified, but the R.J. Michell's designed plane did have a better attrition rate due to it's higher performance. The fact twenty four versions (marks) were developed only went to prove the proficiency of its design. Stories of the number of women who flew Spitfires during transfer operations, and the thanks Malta offers for saving the island from complete obliteration, highlight the the documentary's rich content. As far as tributes go, Spitfire has a clean take-off and lands smoothly. 10GUMS.


Sunday, 11 November 2018

No. 98 (2018) A Star Is Born Nov 3rd.

Film No. 98 (2018) November 3rd.  6:30 PM EVENT Cinemas Innaloo.                        

"Almost every single person has told me they like the way I sounded but that they didn't like the way I looked." (Ally describes why she doesn't feel comfortable singing her own songs).

So what is the best version? For me it is still Kris and Barbara's take on this crowd pleasing screen story. But let's face it, I was in my twenties, a most impressionaable time for a weepy of this ilk. In 42 years time, today's 20 year olds are going to say Cooper and Gaga were the best no doubt. But let me say from the outset Lady Gaga steals this version in mesmerising fashion. No fan of this wonderful songstress will miss her performance but to watch her act with hardly a credit to her name (some episodes of American Horror Story) may align her to Cher's (Mask, Moonstruck, Silkwood) breakthrough roles from the 80's. Hats off to Cooper though, he has directed a wonderful crowd pleaser. To dedicate six months to mastering voice, guitar and piano is a risk; the fruits of his labour are on show and highlight his talent. 9GUMS.


Tuesday, 6 November 2018

No. 97 (2018) The Children Act Oct 31st.

Film No 97 (2018) Oct. 31st.  6.45PM  PALACE CINEMAS Paradiso,  Northbridge . 

"The child's welfare will be the courts paramount consideration, life is more precious than dignity." (Judge Fiona Maye sums up her feelings for a case she presides over).

The stories by Ian McEwan, (Atonement, On Chesil Beach) have become popular fodder for the big screen in recent years. The Children Act, like Chesil, is written for the screen by McEwan without assistance; I'm not convinced he's a natural screenplay writer. Fiona Maye (Emma Thompson) is a high court judge. She decides on issues of morality which more often than not makes headlines. Her workload impedes on her home life. Husband Jack (Stanley Tucci) feels alienated and wants more from life. A case involving a teenager Adam (Fionn Whitehead) and his right to refuse a blood transfusion due to religious beliefs brings this drama to the screen. Thompson is in a class of her own. I just wasn't convinced the chemistry (script & character) between the three leads elevated the cinema experience to the level McEwan created in his novel. Given the reviews, my view would seem to be in the minority. 8GUMS.


Monday, 5 November 2018

No. 95 (2018) Journey's End October 30th.

Film No 95 (2018) Oct. 28th.  6.30PM  PALACE CINEMAS Raine Square,  Perth City . 

"He's led the company through all sorts of rotten times, it's been a big strain on the man." (Osborne makes Raleigh aware of the change he may notice in his friend Stanhope).

Many good movies start as a novel before being adapted to the stage then filmed for the screen. Journey's End is a case in point and while I have not indulged in either the book or the play, the cinema retell is brilliantly powerful. I'm only sorry I didn't save my viewing till Remembrance Day. Hopefully it will become an annual tribute film for the millions of lives lost between 1914 - 1918. Sam Claflin as Cpt Stanhope and Paul Bettany as the stolid Lt Osborne lead a platoon who are rostered to the frontline just prior to a german push. Journey's End, using mainly the chemistry Stanhope displays with his company, will quite simply take you into the mud and the grime of the trenches, insist you experience the sheer fear and bravery of men about to die, or if they survive, return to their loved ones a mere shell of the men they once were. 10GUMS.    


No. 94 (2018) Sometimes, Always Never October 30th.

Film No 94 (2018) Oct. 28th.  1.45PM  PALACE CINEMAS Raine Square,  Perth City . 

"When ever you make a decision, what ever you choose, there's another universe somewhere where you've made the opposite choice." (Alan philosophises with Pete on one of their road trips).

I loved this film but how can I love a film like Sometimes Always Never but not be totally sure I understood it? I suppose because of the comic, free-wheeling nature by which the script depicts its characters so coherently and with such entertainment. Alan (Bill Nighy) could be the perfect scrabble letter in a complicated game but it's son Peter (Sam Riley), keen to salvage a relationship with his pre-occupied father (Nighy) who holds the triple letter X. The theme revolves around repatriation and the need for a son (Peter) to move on, but only after he mends the rickety fence that is his love for his father. Frank Cottrell Boyce's (Hilary and Jackie) script is smart, witty and insightful. This quirky film, while not perfect, is delightfully amusing with lots to say - I've got it pretty well pegged, I think! 9GUMS.


Sunday, 4 November 2018

No. 93 (2018) Jirga October 28th.

Film No 93 (2018) Oct. 28th.  4:50 PM  LUNA PALACE Leederville . 

"It's impossible what you want to do. They'll kill you" (Mike's Kabul contact issues advice he knows Mike will never heed).

Jirga is a fine example of highly engaging, minimalist film making. Listening to writer/ director Ben Gilmours story about how he got Jirga to the screen is a story in itself. Sam Smith underplays repentant ex-fighter Mike Wheeler to perfection, as a single camera follows his attempt to return, 3 years later, to the Afghan village and the family he wishes to confess his sins to. We travel with Mike across the harsh but beautiful landscape with first, his driver (Sher Alam Miskeen Ustad) then into the hands of the Taliban. It's a gritty adventure, literally, one can nearly smell Afghanistan's dust. Shot on one hand-held Digi-cam, reinforced by a script driven by visuals more than dialogue, Jirga tries to be nothing more than an underplayed adventure with a beating heart. Smith may well be on the precipice of a bright future. 8GUMS



Thursday, 1 November 2018

No. 96 (2018) Hendi & Hormoz (Iranian Film Fest. Luna Cinemas Perth) Oct 30th.

Film No 96 (2018) Oct. 30th.  1:00 AM Private Preview Screening @ Home via Vimeo link . 

"At school, do not talk to anyone about what is going on between you and your husband".(Hendi's mother issues some advice of a social nature to her daughter).

Yet another film from Iran's rich film landscape. Hendi & Hormoz had me hoping against all hope that this young couple could make it in the harsh world unfolding before them. Thirteen year old Hendi is married off to sixteen year old Hormoz in their little coastal industrial village. They are a sweet, playful couple who deserve to live as teenagers, without the complication of a forced marriage. Hormoz wants to be a provider but doors are continually slammed in his face. Then when their responsibilities escalate Hormos makes a decision which has us all holding our breath in the vain hope that the couple will prevail. It's a wonderful window into the art world of a country whose government is so strict about what can be produced. 9GUMS.