Joan Rivers: A Piece of WorkAnne Murphy
A documentary on the life and career of Joan Rivers, made as the comedian turns 75 years old.
It might be hard to believe that a documentary about Joan Rivers could bring forth a tear. Be prepared. Joan Rivers is portrayed as a complete and complex woman: funny, self deprecating, honest and moving. Watching confirms her bawdy and raunchy take-no-prisoners stage persona. The surprise is witnessing her vulnerability and the resulting scars she wears. Joan as a 'piece of work' reveals a heart as big as Manhattan with anxieties to match, and all she asks is that you laugh. A work of art.
Please GiveAnne Murphy
In New York City, a husband and wife butt heads with the granddaughters of the elderly woman who lives in apartment the couple owns.
Manhattan films about nothing should be a genre of their own. Equal parts smart drama-comedy and introspective reflection on the human condition, "Please Give" is grounded in the angst of reality and near perfect. This is a chick flick populated with grown-ups who are still growing up. The city dwellers dealing with the everyday while struggling with life's big issues like guilt and insecurity are imperfect as well as sharp and funny. Nothing to give just breathe it in.
Tomorrow, When the War BeganAnne Murphy
When their country is invaded and their families are taken, eight unlikely high school teenagers band together to fight.
If a hostile invasion were to occur it might play out just as it does in "Tomorrow, When the War Began". Action laden exploits are built on a gripping premise that stays just within the bounds of credibility. The interaction between the affable teenage characters is laden with coming of age insecurity as they try to work out what's happening and what to do. Tension is palpable as bewilderment develops into determination to survive. The gang rallies and the adventure begins...
The Kids Are All RightAnne Murphy
Nic and Jules had the perfect family, until they met the man who made it all possible.
Watching this grown-up drama is an engrossing experience. The central family with its two Mums is more normal than many more traditionally conventional families. The complex and real characters are mature until they do something impulsive or all too human in a wonderful reflection of modern family life. There are tensions, teenage angst, love, and a good deal of craziness in this refreshing comedy. Without preaching and never condescending, we're immersed in a new normal. The kids are alright and their Mums are too.
The Killer Inside MeAnne Murphy
A West Texas deputy sheriff is slowly unmasked as a psychotic killer.
Small town post-war America is faithfully captured and depicted in a way that almost elicits nostalgia, even for those of us who weren't there. "The Killer Inside Me" is dark and moody as well as stylish, as is the film-noir tradition. Watching the sociopathic protagonist committing a string of murders while maintaining his deception is profoundly disturbing. Sadistic elements of the story-line are intended to shock; the violence is brutal and administered with pre-meditated determination but most chilling is the demeanour of the murderer. There is not a flicker of remorse inside this killer.
Cairo TimeAnne Murphy
A romantic drama about a brief, unexpected love affair that catches two people off-guard.
Cairo creates a magnificent backdrop for this movie, the mood is exotic and the scenery is breathtaking. The pace in the summer heat is languid, and the already heavy atmosphere is laden with meaningful glances. Without meaning to give anything away, the previous sentences provide a full plot description, as not very much happens. "Cairo Time" is well produced and almost serves better as a travel documentary than a romantic drama, as charming as the love story is. Slow, subtle and lingering, it might stay around for a time.
Everlasting MomentsAnne Murphy
In a time of social change and unrest, a young working class woman wins a camera in a lottery.
"Everlasting Moments" is a captivating drama set at the turn of 20th century and told from the perspective of a woman of modest means. Beautifully captured by the camera, and produced in sepia tones, the movie is burnished with a historic patina. The central relationship is acutely observed as years pass, a wife beleaguered by her domestic situation and her oafish husband. Themes of resilience and acceptance are sympathetically related rather than viewed through a romantic lens. Lasting impressions.
Wheelchair-bound Christine makes a life changing journey to Lourdes, the iconic site of pilgrimage.
"Lourdes" is a subversive, almost tongue in cheek, exploration of theology, belief and miracles. A contemplative movie that, thanks to an underdeveloped narrative, leaves the audience to imagine what each sideways glance and eyebrow movement on the screen means. This story will appeal to believers and non believers as it captures both the devotion of a pilgrimage to Lourdes and the modern day commercialism of the same. Miracles are now commodities. It's hard to say what St. Bernadette would make of the contemporary Lourdes.
Two men, who don't realise they have just holidayed in the same place, at the same time, and with the same people, talk about their respective holidays over drinks.
The premise of "Hahaha" is quite amusing and the film is described as a comedy. It's a low budget effort with no fancy props or effects. Redolent of a lazy summer holiday, the pace is almost lethargic. However, the pace and simple presentation are problematic when watching becomes tedious and eye-lids heavy. Despite the cleverness of the plot told from different perspectives, the film relates a boring tale albeit in a picturesque setting. Hmmmmm...
Women Without MenAnne Murphy
Against the tumultuous backdrop of Iran's 1953 CIA-backed coup d'état, the destinies of four women converge in a beautiful orchard garden, where they find independence, solace and companionship.
The cinematography is extraordinary, creating a compelling story on the screen. The camera wanders and picks up magical images, mostly of women who would wish to live their lives differently. Each woman's tale is told with insight and appreciation for the individual; a feminist narrative with a political backdrop. Interest is held as the movie weaves through time and dream sequences, even as the plot lacks a little depth. There are men with the women, they're all but incidental.
A retiree battles to obtain his rightfully due pension.
The grainy uneven quality of this film could be interpreted as artistic or just plain grainy and uneven. This movie was black to the point of miserable. Rather than being entertaining, "Mammuth" is bizarre. Populated with lifeless and simple characters, it's also dull. Even if you 'get' the redemptive elements of the awkward road-trip, you can't help but resent the waste of your time spent watching these lives less lived. Honestly there is no poetry in sliced ham, but you'll have to sit through a screening to 'get' that reference. Only if you must.
Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy RescueAnne Murphy
Tinker Bell must team up with a rival fairy to keep their existence a secret from humans.
"Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue" assumes the target audience is unsophisticated. The tale lacks depth and interest, and the same can be said of the simple animation. It's hard to forgive this production for being so unimaginative. Also disquieting is the subtle stereotyping, not excused by knowing that the audience may not notice. Males come off second best and it's noted that the overweight one is dopey to boot. Cute, unremarkable fare with a run-of-the-mill storyline, it's the audience not the fairies who will need rescuing.
Welcome to the RileysAnne Murphy
On a business trip to New Orleans, a damaged man seeks salvation by caring for a wayward young woman.
The premise of the prostitute and the man who wants to save her is given a twist and a spin in "Welcome to the Rileys". Lost people, each burdened by their own history, find themselves by embarking on various journeys. Strong performances push the implausible just over the border into credible. This movie is rewarding on an emotional level without tugging too hard on any strings as the tale is traversed. Put out the welcome mat for the Rileys.
Me and Orson WellesAnne Murphy
A teenager is cast in the production of "Julius Caesar" directed by a young Orson Welles in 1937.
"Me and Orson Welles" is a coming of age drama within a convincing theatrical setting. The era is authentically replicated, and the characters so well drawn the audience is transported to thinking we're watching Orson Welles in his prime. The raging genius, ruthless manipulator, and ambitious actor and director are all credibly presented. Theatre life and backstage dramas within the chaos of the production process are all used to enthral, and it's crowned by romantic intrigue. This is a well directed movie that ends with applause.
The TrotskyAnne Murphy
Leon Bronstein is not your average Montreal West high school student.
"The Trotsky" delivers everything we love from the best Canadian films, an indie tone, clever adolescent characters and a quirky story-line. The movie asks if it is apathy or boredom that leaves high-schoolers without motivation or political interest. A likeable revolutionary geek awakens students from their indifference. He battles family issues and perceived fascism. The action is funny as the players rally to their socialist causes and budding romances with passion. Chuckling audiences might be encouraged to come out of the political Siberia and join a movement.
Air DollAnne Murphy
A life-size blow-up doll develops a soul and falls in love with a video store clerk.
Seen through the delightfully innocent eyes of a living doll, scenes are coloured with an appreciation for the everyday. We observe the realities and absurdities of modern day life where everything is eventually discarded and disposed of. "Air Doll" is laden with social comment about our lonely urban lifestyles and it prompts reflection along existential themes. It could have been rather heavy going but for the whimsical touch of the director, and there is as much magic as sadness in the messages. This 'doll' is a sweetie.
World's Greatest DadAnne Murphy
A comedy about a man who learns that the things you want most may not be the things that make you happy, and that being lonely is not necessarily the same as being alone.
"World's Greatest Dad" is uncomfortable viewing centered on an unlikable teenage misfit and his apologetic, underachieving Dad. This movie is so dark it's pitch black, not to mention creepy - a parent's nightmare. Low key but high impact viewing that will stay with you. The messages about popularity and hollow celebrity will skulk at the back of your mind even if you are the world's greatest someone.
Suzanne is a well to do married woman and mother in the south of France.
"Leaving" is a sensual summertime love story set to the lazy sound of crickets, where passion is taken to the brink of histrionics in this ardent tale of an illicit romance. The realism of the story is first apparent in the soundtrack which consists mostly of the amplified background noises of the everyday. Whatever your moral stance, the strong performances allow audience members to be swept up, embraced in the fervour, held by the story, and then left panting. No leaving early.
Knight and DayAnne Murphy
June Havens finds her everyday life tangled with that of a secret agent who has realised he isn't supposed to survive his latest mission.
"Knight and Day" is as much video game in style as it is action movie, and it's pure high-energy entertainment. While they have fun and resist taking themselves too seriously, the big name leads are compelling with their on-screen chemistry. The pace doesn't let up, with exhilarating chase after chase. There's a captivating mix of comedy, romance and an upbeat soundtrack in this fabulous Hollywood fare that holds attention throughout. Fun viewing day or night.
The HedgehogAnne Murphy
Paloma is a serious, but deeply bored 11 year old, who decides to kill herself on her twelfth birthday.
"The Hedgehog" is a melancholic and elegantly understated character study, artistically crafted and entrancing. The film's direction is deft, uncovering a very moving exploration of the human condition beneath a simple tale. The story is focused on three intelligently drawn characters with rich inner lives in which they insulate themselves from the world outside. The performances of the lead roles are without fault, balancing humorous, absurd, and enigmatic characteristics. We see both the prickles on the outside and the warm hearted inside of a hedgehog.
Exit Through The Gift ShopAnne Murphy
The story of how an eccentric French shop keeper and amateur film maker attempted to locate and befriend Banksy.
Is "Exit Through the Gift Shop" documentary or mockumentary? Cleverly constructed and provocative, the film is absorbing as 'documentary', but the tongue-in cheek acerbic tone deftly tilts the balance back to 'mockumentary'. This creatively told story manages to be both an homage to street art and, at the same time, a caustic commentary on the mainstream art world - cynical to say the least. Viva la revolution, as long as you do the required thing and exit through the gift shop.
Every Jack has a JillAnne Murphy
Jack is encouraged to take the romantic Paris vacation he won, despite just being dumped by his girlfriend.
Despite the odd title, "Every Jack has a Jill" is a thoroughly enjoyable romantic comedy. The genre dictates the happy outcome so the ending is no surprise. Apart from the conclusion the rest of the story is delightfully unpredictable with a cast of eccentric characters. See this movie to enjoy a warm hearted story which has all the quirky and charming elements required to weave an endearing spell.
I Am LoveAnne Murphy
A tragic love story set at the turn of the millennium in Milan.
The screen images are aesthetically composed and structured with an eye for the pleasing in this most stylish of movies. Sadly, the hand-held camera swirls to a point of disorientation at times. Fortunately the movie is grounded by the compelling performances of the cast. "I Am Love" throbs with tempestuous passion that becomes overwrought. Lust runs amok, building to a frantic conclusion as the film is lifted to its climax by the operatic score; and the viewer left exhausted by the experience. Love it.
Lou, a young girl, develops affection for the grandfather she'd never previously met when he comes to live with her and her mother and sisters.
All of the action in this beautifully crafted movie happens within the emotional relationships of the characters. The plot is a little underdeveloped, and there's no crescendo or culmination of action, just day to day experiences of the central family. There's plenty to hold the interest of the audience - the moody and realistic performances of the cast, the Australian landscape, the soundtrack - if only there was a dramatic climax. "Lou" is lovely but could have blossomed into more.
Mother and ChildAnne Murphy
A drama centred around three women: A 50-year-old woman, the daughter she gave up for adoption 35 years ago and a woman looking to adopt a child of her own.
The relationship between mother and daughter is a rich emotional territory that "Mother and Child" wades right into. The brittle, flawed women wading through their lives and dreams will touch your heart, and then wring it out, as strands of the different characters' stories entwine. The actors give great performances in vulnerable and dysfunctional roles that variously thaw and freeze. Take your Mummy and remember your tissues.