Iris - Movie Poster

Iris

2.5 Anne Murphy

A documentary about fashion icon Iris Apfel from legendary documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles.

The subject of "Iris" is the elderly and the eccentric... with a distinctive sense of style. Much is made of her age and that of her even more elderly husband, being over 80 years old somehow makes them curiosities. She is a voracious shopper who enjoys a lavish lifestyle, and one of the truly curious things about this woman is her ability to do little apart from shop for clothes and jewellery. Despite its frivolous nature this is a must see for fashionistas of all ages. It's all in the eye of the beholder.


Force of Destiny - Movie Poster

Force of Destiny

3.0 Anne Murphy

A journey of love on a transplant waiting list.

Inspired by the life experiences of the writer/director "Force of Destiny" poignantly shows the shock of receiving a dire medical diagnosis. Thankfully the movie resists overplaying the tragic aspects of facing death, capturing more a sense of the ordinary, which makes the viewing so interesting. The everyday goes on albeit with a heightened sense of grief. Emotions are held down by the characters, as they try to cope with an unthinkable future. While the tone is restrained and sombre, the impact is forceful.


Trainwreck - Movie Poster

Trainwreck

3.5 Anne Murphy

Having thought that monogamy was never possible, a commitment-phobic career woman may have to face her fears when she meets a good guy.

Sassy and laugh out loud funny, "Trainwreck" sets a new standard for modern rom-coms. More than the script, which is sharp and absolutely hilarious, it is the lead character, in particular who steals the show, and delights by deftly turning the tables on gender stereotypes. It is she who calls the shots with her romantic hook-ups. You forgive her sexism as she delivers a performance with an aura of innocence and crackling wit. This wreck is no accident.


Tangerines - Movie Poster

Tangerines

4.5 Anne Murphy

Civil war in Georgia 1990, an Estonian man has stayed behind to harvest his crops of tangerines.

An extraordinary movie set about a ruthless civil conflict. "Tangerines" stands out as a war drama for its focus on the humanity of the characters, from ruthless mercenaries to farmers. Brotherhood and hatred are thrown together by the situation and we start questioning what is gained by fighting. This is an anti-war film after all, and it becomes apparent to the audience as we watch the climax in horror, that guns and hatred are not the answer. Pithy, sour and sweet.


I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story - Movie Poster

I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story

2.5 Anne Murphy

Caroll Spinney has been Sesame Street's Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch since 1969; at 78-years-old, he has no intention of stopping.

What do you imagine the puppeteer who has spent more than forty years under a big yellow feathered costume is like? Apparently you need more than fine feathers to make a fine bird, and it helps to have a nice man in there somewhere. As the movie tells it, the nice man has a nice wife, nice kids, a nice job, and funky orange leggings. What else do you need to know? This bio-pic won't ruffle any feathers, he ain't no angry bird.


Love & Mercy - Movie Poster

Love & Mercy

4.0 Anne Murphy

In the 1960s, Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson struggles with emerging psychosis.

"Love and Mercy" delivers plenty of good vibrations, relationship fluctuations, and the odd drug induced hallucination and a subsequent oversupply of medications. The story behind the talent of the fresh faced band is riveting. Most impressive is the depiction of the creative process, it's not easy to show how songs are imagined brought to life. The performances are brilliant, even with the challenge of two different actors playing the younger and older versions of the central character. Surf's down and up.


Amy - Movie Poster

Amy

4.0 Anne Murphy

A documentary on the late singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse, who died of alcohol poisoning in 2011.

It is hard not to be curious about Amy Winehouse and her demise, but you can't help but feel a sense of irony watching this compelling portrait of a talent who didn't come to terms with fame. Does the doomed singer's story on the big screen subject her to even more public scrutiny? Film footage, drawn from public archives and family sources, is used to create an intimate and affecting story of a woman for whom love was a losing game.


Minions - Movie Poster

Minions

4.0 Anne Murphy

Minions are recruited by a super-villain who hatches a plot to take over the world.

The population of minions, rambunctious yellow characters, are seeking a dastardly villain to serve. It seems they're better at finding a leader than keeping them. On their extraordinary adventures they are good at getting into trouble and even better at slapstick play. Their antics are endearing, you can't help but be charmed by their gibberish language and their wide eyed innocence. Young audiences will be delighted by this winning formula, while older folk will be thoroughly amused. Mellow yellows, not at all despicable.


The Mafia Kills Only in Summer - Movie Poster

The Mafia Kills Only in Summer

3.0 Anne Murphy

Inspired by real events, this is a black comedy about 20 years of history of Sicily from 1970s to 1990s, mocking Mafia Bosses and restoring the generosity of the heroes of Antimafia.

A comic yet powerful depiction of the dark criminal forces which pervaded the everyday life of one boy as he grew up. Relating history of the mafia through fiction, with a satirical spin is satisfyingly original and enjoyable even with the annoying narration. A surprisingly affecting movie for the homage it pays to officials who died trying to bring the good fellas to justice. Killing in all seasons.


Wild Tales - Movie Poster

Wild Tales

3.5 Anne Murphy

Six short stories involving distressed people.

While we're told revenge is a dish best served cold, in this anthology of short stories we get to watch raging tempers and murderous passions unleashed. Each vignette is more outrageous than the one before, though surprisingly all are still believable, even when viewed from our less hot-tempered everyday world. Maybe we do live too close to the edge and it takes only a little to have exasperation explode into something uncontrolled and unpredictable. Wild and witty with dire consequences.


Banksy Does New York - Movie Poster

Banksy Does New York

3.5 Anne Murphy

Documentary chronicling the famed street artist's "31 works of art in 31 days" in New York City.

"Banksy does New York" is lively and interesting, but stumbles a little when it shows tweets on the screen. Using social media to evidence the excitement and hype surrounding the artist's self-proclaimed residency in New York, works better in some forms than others. Even so this documentary is thought provoking, continually asking "who is the artist?" and "what is art?" There is no question however this enigmatic artist is smart, political, and satirical. It's Banksy doing what Banksy does.


While We're Young - Movie Poster

While We're Young

3.5 Anne Murphy

A couple's career and marriage are overturned when a disarming young couple enters their lives.

A comic film with a sharp satirical edge, "While We're Young" takes a critical look at narcissism and self-obsession. In a sophisticated and adult way the story addresses the parts of us, which don't want to grow up. It is refreshing to see a mocking sort of message delivered without sarcasm, a welcome change from other more screwball offerings. The intergenerational humour allows us to recognise ourselves, whatever our age. Nobody wants to be middle aged, not while we're (feeling) young.


Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter - Movie Poster

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter

5.0 Anne Murphy

A jaded Japanese woman discovers a hidden copy of the movie Fargo (1996) on VHS, believing it to be a treasure map indicating the location of a large case of money.

“Kumiko” is a small miracle, a tale of one woman’s determined and almost mythic quest to realise her dream. The central character is one who inspires legends, an introverted sort of misfit dedicated to her impossible quest. The scenic backdrop is nothing short of breathtaking, thanks to the stunning cinematography. Like any good fable there are many sub-texts and moral messages subtly delivered. And like any good treasure worth digging for, this film is pure gold.


X + Y - Movie Poster

X + Y

3.5 Anne Murphy

A socially awkward teenage math prodigy finds new confidence and new friendships when he lands a spot on the British squad at the International Mathematics Olympiad.

A tender and affecting film about a type of genius, which comes with seeing the world in a different way. "X + Y" works on all levels thanks to an endearing cast of various misfits, none of whom can solve their own problems. The calculations are interesting but impenetrable for the average viewer. The real joy is in the discovery of something more important than mathematics. Whether you find the plot formulaic or not, it adds up.


Infinitely Polar Bear - Movie Poster

Infinitely Polar Bear

3.0 Anne Murphy

A manic-depressive mess of a father tries to win back his wife by attempting to take full responsibility of their two young, spirited daughters, who don't make the overwhelming task any easier.

This is a goofy, amiable story based on the experiences of the writer and director. The central family make the most of their chaotic home life and there are plenty of funny moments. As enjoyable as "Infinitely Polar Bear" is, you may be left asking 'so what?'. This movie is superficial and bordering on trite, complete with a happy ending. Limited but bearable.


Cinderella - Movie Poster

Cinderella

4.0 Anne Murphy

When her father unexpectedly passes away, young Ella finds herself at the mercy of her cruel stepmother and her daughters.

This version of the classic fairy tale "Cinderella" is simply spellbinding and will enchant a new generation of little people, especially those who love dress ups. A thoroughly modern angle is that a young woman is most desired for her kindness and inner beauty. The movie brims with visible beauty too. There are spectacular magical effects, stunning vistas of the mythical kingdom, and watch for a star turn by the fairy good mother. Here's to happily ever after.


Top Five - Movie Poster

Top Five

2.0 Anne Murphy

A comedian tries to make it as a serious actor when his reality-TV star fiancée talks him into broadcasting their wedding on her TV show.

The phrases 'intermittently funny', 'crass' and 'predictable' are all that's needed to sum up "Top Five" and then words fail. If only words had failed the writer, director, and lead actor.


Love is Strange - Movie Poster

Love is Strange

4.0 Anne Murphy

After Ben and George get married, George is fired from his teaching post, forcing them to stay with friends separately while they sell their place and look for cheaper housing.

"Love is Strange" is an unforgettable story of commitment to another that is deep, honest, and real... and there's nothing strange about that. Circumstances test wider family relationships and push them to the limits, and it's emotion rather than action that is key to this story's success. The chemistry between the lead couple is loaded with genuine affection; they deliver unhurried performances that will touch your heart. Life is strange and love is true.


Inherent Vice - Movie Poster

Inherent Vice

4.5 Anne Murphy

In 1970, drug-fueled Los Angeles detective Larry "Doc" Sportello investigates the disappearance of a former girlfriend.

"Inherent Vice" is a pleasure to watch, a perfect antidote to straight monochromatic movies. Maybe it could be a little shorter and certainly the story threads could be more coherent - some will consider those points as flaws while others will sink into their seats and revel in the ride. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts with the actors' flawless performances matched only by a superb soundtrack. Nice vice.


Still Alice - Movie Poster

Still Alice

4.5 Anne Murphy

A linguistics professor and her family find their bonds tested when she is diagnosed with Early-onset Alzheimer's Disease.

For all of its compassion and sensitivity "Still Alice" is, in part, a horror story. Anyone who has experienced the deterioration of somebody close with any form of dementia will recognise this woman’s descent into confusion and the possibility that the same could happen to any of us. It is a heartbreaking tale to watch, thanks to the talented cast who make each scene believable, and of course there is no chance of a happy ending. Still only a shell of Alice.


What We Did on Our Holiday - Movie Poster

What We Did on Our Holiday

3.0 Anne Murphy

Explores the meaning of life and suggests how best to live and love.

While the story is all about celebrating granddad on his birthday, it's his three young grandchildren who steal almost every scene; they are as sassy as they are beguiling. The kids have access to greater intelligence, both rational and emotional, than the adults. The grownups have dibs on inappropriate outbursts, and you have to wonder if you're laughing at them, or with them? Viewing this likable movie may prompt self-reflection and if not you'll have lots of charming holiday images. Now what to do with the rest of our lives?


Boyhood - Movie Poster

Boyhood

4.5 Anne Murphy

A ground-breaking story of growing up as seen through the eyes of a boy named Mason who grows up on screen before our eyes.

"Boyhood" is an epic cinematic feat, filmed over 12 years with a viewing time spanning a few hours. For all of its sweeping scope, this movie is about the small episodes that make up an ordinary life as it is lived. There's no big plot or narrative, the everyday can be unremarkable, the tone easy going and understated. A lot of ground is covered, and watching is memorable for the emotional intimacy achieved on screen. All boy no hoody.


Wild - Movie Poster

Wild

3.5 Anne Murphy

After her marriage crumbles and the death of her mother, Cheryl Strayed tries to put her past behind her and hikes more than a thousand miles along the Pacific Crest Trail, alone.

"Wild" brings an uplifting memoir about seeking redemption through physical challenges from the page to the screen, and is true to original text. While managing to traverse a full gamut of emotion, there are funny and even uplifting moments. It’s impossible to say if it is the walker or the rugged walk that most impresses, and even harder to resist the urge to pull on your hiking boots. Wild thing might make your heart sing.


Maps to the Stars - Movie Poster

Maps to the Stars

3.5 Anne Murphy

A tour into the heart of a Hollywood family chasing celebrity and the relentless ghosts of their pasts.

"Maps to the Stars" is a disturbing social satire that is also an absorbing study of human character, if you can bear to watch it. The bleak yet original story is gripping for the way it gradually unfolds without revealing what happens next. It's involving thanks to the strong cast who bring the reprehensible, self-absorbed characters to life. Everyone has self-destructive tendencies but the desperate violence they wreak on each other is what's most jaw-dropping. A dark night in Tinseltown.


Into the Woods - Movie Poster

Into the Woods

2.0 Anne Murphy

A witch conspires to teach important lessons to various characters of popular children's stories including Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel.

Though the musical score is enchanting and performances from the cast magical, "Into the Woods" doesn't deliver. We venture out with plenty of charm, colour, and costumes, but somewhere before halfway the story is lost. The glamour of the production doesn't compensate for an overly long and muddled plot. Sad but true that we can't see the woods for the trees in this confused offering. Get outta there.