Eat Pray Love - Movie Poster

Eat Pray Love

3.0 Anne 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.


Sagan - Movie Poster

Sagan

3.0 Anne Murphy

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 Man Who Will Come - Movie Poster

The Man Who Will Come

3.0 Anne 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.


The Housemaid - Movie Poster

The Housemaid

3.5 Anne 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.


Ten Winters - Movie Poster

Ten Winters

4.0 Anne 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.


The Tree - Movie Poster

The Tree

2.5 Anne 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.


Marriage and other Disasters - Movie Poster

Marriage and other Disasters

3.5 Anne 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.


Draqulia - Italy Trembles - Movie Poster

Draqulia - Italy Trembles

3.0 Anne 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 Vita - Movie Poster

La Nostra Vita

3.5 Anne 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.


The First Beautiful Thing - Movie Poster

The First Beautiful Thing

4.5 Anne Murphy

A misanthropic professor returns to his hometown to assist his dying mother.

A mother's life is recounted through the memories of her son, and the present viewed through his eyes. "The First Beautiful Thing" is about the everyday frustrations of family, the people closest to us who we never quite forgive for being themselves. The acting is engaging, warm, and vulnerable, as characters are authentically portrayed in this humorous and at times very moving story. The film moves seamlessly between past and the present, the scenes coloured with familial warmth. A truly beautiful thing.


I'm Still Here - Movie Poster

I'm Still Here

3.5 Anne Murphy

A documentary on Joaquin Phoenix's transition from the acting world to a career as an aspiring rapper.

A documentary that gives the both the subject and the director writing credits, is perhaps not a documentary. "I'm Still Here" is as audacious as it is reckless, or perhaps a better description for the film and its star is wrecked. We see an actor seemingly discard his script and don his vulnerability, wearing it on the outside, unkempt and tormented. The Hollywood industry laughs and so does the public, at a stumbling mumbling freak. The point, no doubt, is to see who has the last laugh.


Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work - Movie Poster

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work

3.5 Anne 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 Give - Movie Poster

Please Give

5.0 Anne 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 Began - Movie Poster

Tomorrow, When the War Began

4.5 Anne 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 Right - Movie Poster

The Kids Are All Right

4.0 Anne 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 Me - Movie Poster

The Killer Inside Me

4.0 Anne 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 Time - Movie Poster

Cairo Time

3.0 Anne 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 Moments - Movie Poster

Everlasting Moments

4.0 Anne 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.


Lourdes - Movie Poster

Lourdes

3.5 Anne Murphy

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.


Hahaha - Movie Poster

Hahaha

1.5 Anne Murphy

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 Men - Movie Poster

Women Without Men

3.5 Anne 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.


Mammuth - Movie Poster

Mammuth

1.5 Anne Murphy

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 Rescue - Movie Poster

Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue

2.0 Anne 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 Rileys - Movie Poster

Welcome to the Rileys

3.0 Anne 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 Welles - Movie Poster

Me and Orson Welles

3.5 Anne 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.