Little DeathsAnne Murphy
Composed of disturbingly sensual and terrifying short narratives, unified by the twin themes of sex and death.
Stories that usually only live in one's imagination emerge on to the screen. The quality production has a dreamlike quality. The narrative is more creative, more hedonistic, and a little more hysterical than everyday ordinary reality; needless to say it is more enjoyable too. There is more suggested than consummated on the screen, and risqué elements are implied rather than explicit. "Little Deaths" is deftly handled so the libidinous tone doesn't sink to lewd. Good Australian film making lives a little.
The Loved OnesAnne Murphy
When Brent turns down Lola's invitation to the prom, she concocts a wildly violent plan for revenge.
"The Loved Ones" take ingredients familiar to the horror genre, lonely country roads, self-conscious teenagers, power tools and a high school dance, and creatively serves them up in an inventive story. This movie is both frightening and funny, typically the comic moments are more frightening than fun. The recognisably Australian production is all the more macabre for having been achieved without shiny special effects, no gloss. It's crowned with shockingly good performances from actors we'll see more of. There's a haunting message that love hurts.
Made in DagenhamAnne Murphy
A dramatisation of the 1968 strike at the Ford Dagenham car plant, where female workers walked out in protest against pay discrimination.
A historically important, political story is related in "Made in Dagenham". The birthing of an important precedent comes alive on the screen with archetypal British humour as an uplifting offering. The demarcation lines are drawn, the bad guys mired in their dark plotting as the determination of the good gals to triumph builds. The film is nostalgic and true to the era, delightfully sentimental and humorous. If they can make good in Dagenham, we can make it anywhere.
4 Black SuitsAnne Murphy
Four men, down on their luck, are co-opted as pallbearers to walk carrying a man in his coffin from Athens to the village of Boeotia for burial motivated by the promise of rich rewards.
In the best Greek tradition, the journey this film takes is an odyssey of unexpected self discovery. There are a couple of elements that work particularly well - incredibly filmed, surreal scenes the players find themselves in, and the camaraderie that builds among the central characters, including the dead one. Enjoyable for an unconventional story that unfolds with an unexpectedly big heart. As the title suggests this is a well dressed comedy.
The events in a night, from dusk to dawn, at a roadside kebab caravan, Kantina.
People come and go throughout the night, what brings them to the canteen is a mystery - most don't drop in for the food. What does happen is a confusion of events and characters. Greek speakers in the audience will chuckle more than the non-Greek speakers, as the subtitles seem to lose something in translation. As the canteen's patrons muddled along throughout the disjointed storyline, it's no surprise the production quality suffered the same fate and was inconsistent from scene to scene. You'll be left hungry after visiting "Canteen".
Soul KitchenAnne Murphy
Zinos unknowingly disturbs the peace in his locals-only restaurant by hiring a more talented chef.
A motley collection of likable characters encounter some unlikely events. Scenes reveal darker forces at play and there's adversity to overcome along with unexpected romance whisked together with a slapstick sort of tone. These are good ingredients roughly chopped to make "Soul Kitchen" a rambunctious romp. However, most characters and some storylines are a little undercooked, and the film fails to connect on a meaningful level. This fare is easy to digest and pleasant enough without being truly satisfying for the soul.
Eat Pray LoveAnne Murphy
A married woman realizes how unhappy her marriage really is, and that her life needs to go in a different direction.
This movie is true to the book, only with the content trimmed back as is expected of best sellers translated for the screen. It's still big with over 2 hours of viewing. A personal story of discovery, with an angst ridden heroine, fantastic shot-on-location scenery, and the obligatory happy ending. "Eat Pray Love" is so eminently watchable you will even pardon the good looking actors for being so immaculately coiffed. Readers will embrace this girls own adventure and love.
France, 1950s. From the Quartier Latin to Saint-Tropez via New York, a young Parisienne becomes the icon of a whole generation.
"Sagan" is an interesting biography if a little episodic. This happened then that happened, got married, wrote another book, fell in love again; get the picture? This long movie covers an eventful life well lived at the expense of depth or connection. Beautifully filmed and well acted but a series of events even in an interesting person's life, leaves the audience longing for a stronger narrative. The paradox is unforgivable, especially when the central character is a writer.
The HousemaidAnne Murphy
A man's affair with his family's housemaid leads to a dark consequences.
"The Housemaid" is an erotically charged study of the ruthless politics of gender and social position. Money provides the wherewithal to dispense with morality and it is replaced with malice so calculated it's breathtaking. Power is potently portrayed. The onscreen representation of the central family's elaborate lifestyle is lavish and visually opulent. The dark suspense builds and culminates in an ending that is disquieting and memorable, with an odd epilogue tacked on the end as a jarringly surreal close. Well maid, right up to the superfluous flourish of the finish.
The Man Who Will ComeAnne Murphy
In the winter of 1943, Italian peasant families in an Italian village carry on with life while Nazi soldiers seek to wreak revenge on partisan fighters.
Apparently "The Man Who Will Come" is based on historic events, unfortunately that is not learned in the cinema watching the film. The film is lightly narrated leaving the viewer to piece together the story. We're not helped by the sparse dialogue or the fact that much of the action is viewed through the eyes of a child. The war atrocities depicted as the story builds are truly horrifying, stupefying the audience. Shame on mankind, whoever it is we're waiting for.
Ten WintersAnne Murphy
Timing is everything as friends who are drawn to each other miss opportunities to become a couple but keep connecting by chance during a decade.
Winter in Venice looks cold, the back drops are frosty, a stark contrast to the central characters who are warm and real. There is a good deal of restraint exercised, and love-lorn resignation experienced, by the friends as they fail to connect romantically over the ten year period covered by the movie. The unrequited attraction of the couple is understated and compelling to watch as each year passes and fate conspires to keep them apart. "Ten Winters" is one great story.
Marriage and other DisastersAnne Murphy
Disillusioned with romance, an unmarried woman finds herself organising her sister's wedding.
"Marriage and other Disasters" has all the elements of a romantic comedy, and then some. There is the likeable cast playing mismatched couples, then there are the requisite independent and romantically available parties, the ubiquitous hopeful parents, the comical disaster-dates, the looming wedding and a certain depth that's often lacking in the genre. This movie is also intelligent, with a sassy savvy woman in the lead, it's delightfully laced with irony and served with breathtaking Italian scenery. Look elsewhere for disasters.
The TreeAnne Murphy
Fate strikes taking the father of a family of four and leaving his daughter convinced that her dad still lives in the giant fig tree growing near their house.
There is a tension between holding on and letting go, mourning and living that's central to the plot. The idea behind the story is imaginative and unfortunately the movie lacks depth on the screen as does the dialogue that fails to hold interest. Even the characters at their best are blandly stereotypical. Thankfully the Australian countryside is magnificent, as is the titular tree. It just doesn't take root.
Draqulia - Italy TremblesAnne Murphy
An investigation on the management of 2009 L'Aquila earthquake by the Berlusconi government.
"Draquila" is a political documentary using satire to present an astounding story of corruption and mismanagement. The film airs few voices other than that of the comical narrator, giving the impression of a potentially lopsided view. Too much is made of mocking the Prime Minister, and the nuances of the bureaucratic lampooning are a little lost on an audience outside of Italy. It becomes a little tiresome rather than rallying support for the people still homeless after the earthquake or exposing the ongoing calamity of government. Audiences tremble rather than quake.
La Nostra VitaAnne Murphy
When tragedy befalls a construction worker he leans on his boss to give him his own site to supervise.
"La Nostra Vita" shows a slice of life for a hard working and honest man in present day Italy. Everyday struggles to navigate dilemmas involving ethics, family and friends a system where corruption is rife and how difficult it can be to do the right thing. Filmed with a hand held camera, the choppiness of the screen images highlight the topical edginess of the story-line. The audience is propelled from moment to moment as the odds stack up against the lead good-guy. Astute, perceptive film making.