Fish TankAnne Murphy
Everything changes for 15 year old Mia when her mum brings home a new boyfriend.
"Fish Tank" is a coming of age movie set on a rundown English council estate. The characters are filled with equal measures of frustration, anger, longing and alcohol, without means to release the pressure. The decaying situation is played out with a credibility that leaves the audience unsurprised at the outcomes but gripped by the tension. With nowhere to go but down, the mood is deliberately oppressive. The tank is grimy, and breathing underwater almost impossible, but even so we glimpse gold on the scales of these fish.
The Secret in their EyesAnne Murphy
A man wants to solve a murder committed many years ago.
"The Secret in Their Eyes" is engrossing as a crime thriller and compelling as a cold case romance. The threads are seamlessly interwoven to create a movie going experience that lingers long after the credits roll. All eyes will be glued on the outstanding cast who fill out the interesting characters. This is a well crafted film that spans 25 years, moving from fear to love visiting every emotion in between. It's no secret that this is a knockout story to be seen with your own eyes.
I Love You TooAnne Murphy
All that is standing between them is four little words.
This movie plays as a series of barely funny comedy sketches staged atop an underdeveloped script. Situations set up to amuse fail to elicit a even a guffaw. "I Love You Too" struggles to establish credibility in the characters, painting them as shallow stereotypical caricatures. Without on-screen chemistry between the romantic leads, any rom com is a labour of love to endure; add sexism, age-ism, a fat joke and itâ€™s all a bit icky. It's hard to imagine an audience unsophisticated enough to appreciate the crass tone, many will not love this.
The White RibbonAnne Murphy
Strange events happen in a small village in the north of Germany during the years just before World War I, which seem to be ritual punishment.
"The White Ribbon" is visually mesmerising, artistically captured in black and white with a period detail that is meticulously reproduced, particularly in the costumes of the farming villagers. With its fascist undertones this film is a harrowing watch for all of its lengthy run time, and even then there is no reward of a conclusion or explanation. Austere, relentless, seething with hatred and cruelty, this is unforgiving viewing. The film evokes a sense of impending doom, with blue ribbon success.
The ConcertAnne Murphy
Thirty years ago, Andrei Simoniovich Filipov, the renowned conductor of the Bolshoi orchestra, was fired for hiring Jewish musicians.
"The Concert" is a wonderful, formulaic, crowd-pleaser. Of course, formulaic can be wonderful if you can forgive the sense of knowing what's going to happen before it unfolds. As the story builds, the many farcical sequences notwithstanding, there's a sense that something other than the music is being orchestrated. By the time the final concerto is played there is not a dry eye in the house. The magnificent crescendo plays shamelessly to our sentimentality yet it's still uplifting. Bravo.
Kebab ConnectionAnne Murphy
In Hamburg, Ibrahim "Ibo" Secmez wants to direct the first German kung-fu movie.
The story line is captivating and the comedy a little slapstick, but the combination creates enjoyable watching. "Kebab Connection" is a feel good teenage romance to sit back and enjoy, as it makes no demands. The main characters are from a migrant community, the actors are not Hollywood-styled and so credible they could be from your very own neighbourhood. Social tensions are threaded throughout the plot, and prejudices are aired in a comedic way with take-away food emphasising cultural themes. Don't go hungry, connect with this kebab.
Whisky with VodkaAnne Murphy
A renowned actor named Otto is the epitome of the problematic but beloved ladies man.
Movies about producing movies are always interesting, and "Whisky with Vodka" doesn't disappoint on that front. With lots of takes and re-takes as the talent misbehaves, this film within a film starts to take shape. Themes of aging are explored without connecting directly to the emotions involved, and the script plays more for gags than for soul searching. It suffers from not being more tightly edited, but perhaps there were too many anecdotes drawn from real life to squeeze into the plot. Amiable and spirited without a lasting hangover, it will be dissipated by the morning after.
Accidents HappenAnne Murphy
Billy Conway has become the de facto glue between his bitter mum, distant brother, and stoic dad.
Stories of tragedy that are constructed with humour, albeit dark or black humour, reflect life a little as we tend to live it, when hanging on and trying to cope. "Accidents Happen" shows how strong the bonds of family can be, how tough and at the same time how vulnerable family members are. The film is carefully crafted to evoke an earlier era and the audience is transported to a typical suburb somewhere where mishaps are the norm. Be warned, as the emotional punch packed by this movie happens to be no accident.
The EclipseAnne Murphy
In a seaside Irish town, a widower sparks with a visiting horror novelist while he also begins to believe he is seeing ghosts.
There's a dose of horror, a hint of romance, a touch of drama, some grieving, and a lot of mystery as we wonder where the plot of this film went. "The Eclipse" begs for a stronger narrative thread as the story plays out as a mish-mash of underdeveloped elements. The moody and uneven Irish coast is scenically captured as a backdrop, however moody and uneven are only gratifying when delivered by nature, not the director. An eclipse of coherence.
Map of the Sounds of TokyoAnne Murphy
A dramatic thriller that centres on a fish-market employee who doubles as a contract killer.
"Map of the Sounds of Tokyo" delivers edgy views of Tokyo, with interesting landscapes you are unlikely to view as a tourist. The movie title bears no relation to the scenes and story - it could be lost in translation. At its core this is a love story, or story of physical yearnings over romantic love. Whatever the level, there is a strong and credible connection between two unlikely characters, each a little lost in their own world. A stylish movie with lots of Tokyo, but no map and no sounds.
A Good ManAnne Murphy
A law school professor witnesses his colleague, friend and mentor murder his own wife.
"A Good Man" is a murder mystery with a twist, and makes for gripping viewing as the tension and angst builds. Although we know what happened and 'who done it', the audience are kept on the edge of their seats as the plot unfolds and develops. The dark and moody production evokes the film noire era in this contemporary setting. The pace is slow - being almost real time - which eases the tension almost as it is built; even so, this is a good film.
A mother desperately searches for the killer that framed her son for an horrific murder.
"Mother" is a suspenseful thriller filmed with an eye for the comedic realities of serious situations. There's plenty of intrigue within a small Korean town, and a dark mood is masterfully painted onto the screen. The story is riveting to watch and delivered with faultless performances; the emotional elements are strong and powerfully expressed. As the gripping story-line is unfurled and the truth behind the crime is revealed, you can't help but admire just how well crafted this film is. A testament to the remarkable tenacity of maternal love.
Bilal, a 17 year old Kurdish boy from Iraq sets off to England to see his love who lives there.
"Welcome" is an authentic exploration of a divisive social issue of our time. The device of narrowing the focus from exiles and asylum seekers to one man allows sensitivity to infiltrate the story, and attitudes of caring emerge from unlikely sources. The movie is grounded with a heartbreaking love story at the core. Strong performances hold the production together, keeping it from showing undue concern in a bleeding heart fashion. Always welcome are extraordinary, powerfully emotional, and well directed films about unwelcome immigrants.
A man and his friends come up with an original plan to destroy two big weapons manufacturers.
The campaign against some big bad guys that's mounted by a group of comical misfits is as inventive as it is enchanting, largely due to the truly marvellous production design. "Micmacs" is a visual feast, and the resourceful inventions created from recycled junk are captivating, all of which covers for a plot that's a little thin. Part fairy-tale, part comic book, this movie is zany, whimsical and totally engaging. Ponder the underlying social comment about arms use later and enjoy the quirky on-screen antics today.
The Last StationAnne Murphy
A historical drama that illustrates Russian author Leo Tolstoy's struggle to balance fame and wealth with his commitment to a life devoid of material things.
Anchored with a passionate but philosophically-conflicted relationship between a husband and wife, "The Last Station" is a sweeping period piece that manages not to overwhelm with historical trappings. The a story is engrossing where, given the subject, it could have been rather dour. The players resist melodrama; there's an almost capricious tone that makes this film a pleasure to watch. It's not revealing too much to say the last station is the end of line.
Eating Out: All You Can EatAnne Murphy
Tiffani and her friend Casey try to lure the gorgeous Zack with a phony online profile using the image of Tiffani's buff ex, Ryan... which works fine until the real Ryan shows up.
"Eating Out 3" is the latest installment in a trilogy following the romps of a group of characters through some raunchy situations and hook-ups. The style is almost cartoonish, with beefcake leads who spend little time with their shirts on, and their daffy female friends. This movie looks like it was made on a shoestring budget without extravagant sets or staging. If you like trashy, with some decent one-liners, try dining here.
The Girl with the Dragon TattooAnne Murphy
Swedish thriller based on Stieg Larsson's novel about a journalist and a young female hacker.
Central to "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is a riveting and complex story that is pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle, as investigations progress and secrets are revealed. Intrigue is carried by the solid cast of characters especially thorough the more sadistic and violent scenes. The cold Swedish countryside provides an appropriate backdrop for those grim and confronting elements of the tale, and the result is gripping. A thoroughly modern take on the classic thriller, complete with a fearless super sleuth; she's the one with the tattoo...
Hollywood je t'aimeAnne Murphy
A gay Parisian shows up in Hollywood at Christmas time, ready for his close-up.
A not so classic take on the Hollywood experience where every actor is a waiter and vice-versa. While the central Frenchman starts out as a "Dorothy" type of tourist transported to a strange land, he soon links up with a colourful band of supporters. Los Angeles is shown as unglamorous and seedy, yet in this movie the city is loved only for the diversity of the big-hearted characters encountered while trekking its yellow brick road. Je t'aime adventures in Hollywood, where prudes will need to stay home.
A drama centred around three high school seniors - an aspiring actress, her misfit best friend, and a loner - who become engaged in an intimate and complicated relationship.
This coming of age movie covers all the social awkwardness of teenagers discovering themselves as friends and lovers. Dollops of naivety and maturity are stirred in to create realistic and likable characters that are topped up with a measure of angst and balanced out with charm. The storyline of "Dare" takes its characters through new experiences and interesting predicaments. It's a little bent yet nonetheless could cross over to a mainstream audience. Dare to be different.
An indictment of closeted politicians who lobby for anti-gay legislation in the U.S.
This is a fascinating consciousness-raising documentary presented through interviews and film clips. The movie is a compelling compilation of vignettes that are on public record. The filmmaker relentlessly exposes the hypocrisy of closeted politicians who vote against the civil rights of the gay and lesbian community. In doing so, the constituencies whose prejudices are pandered to are also shamed. The ethical quagmire isn't navigated with a strictly even hand but with a sense of injustice and anger. The situation is indeed outrageous.
Five Minutes of HeavenAnne Murphy
The story of former UVF member Alistair Little. Twenty-five years after Little killed Joe Griffen's brother, the media arrange an auspicious meeting between the two.
"Five Minutes of Heaven" looks back at crimes committed as acts of civil war, exploring important themes of hatred and forgiveness. It's an uneven production that stumbles through some very stagy and clumsy scenes, though is fortunately redeemed by a powerful and unexpected climax. This movie is uncomfortable viewing about the lingering impacts of violence and living with indelible memories that prevent healing. Hard to glimpse heaven from hell.
A young man comforts his older brother's wife and children after he goes missing in Afghanistan.
"Brothers" is as compelling as it is emotional, a powerful combination. As the title suggests, the focus is our most important relationships, the ones with family. The story navigates some difficult political and ethical terrain and is all the better for doing so without judgement. The audience is treated as intelligent, and almost everything is pared back except the strong performance from the entire cast. The overall tone and simple background setting are downplayed for realism, and the lingering memories are heart wrenching. He ain't heavy...
You'll Miss MeAnne Murphy
The lives of six people converge briefly at an airport, where arrivals and departures are the norm.
"You'll Miss Me" is composed of a delightful series of vignettes that deftly intersect and overlap, exploring loves lost and found. The movie delves into the emotions of people with vastly different lives, the laughs laced with feelings. The production has a warm hearted feel, perhaps only possible because it's French - it's certainly not as theatrical as the English ensemble pieces it is so reminiscent of. Try not to miss this one.
The Men Who Stare at GoatsAnne Murphy
A reporter in Iraq might just have the story of a lifetime when he meets a former member of the U.S. Army's New Earth Army, a unit that employs paranormal powers in their missions.
"The Men Who Stare at Goats" is goofy and amicably humoured, yet it's disappointing and insufficiently acerbic considering the military parody it aspires to be. The good natured cast are excellent although it's a shame one of them isn't a goatherd as this movie is a little free range. The story is funny enough, but the plot wanders pointlessly, leaving the audience glassy eyed and staring.
The Blind SideAnne Murphy
The story of Michael Oher, a homeless and traumatized boy who became an All American football player and first round NFL draft pick with the help of a caring woman and her family.
"The Blind Side" has quite a plot, all true, all fairy-tale and all feel-good. With a remarkable story to tell, the film is not unnecessarily cheapened by sentiment. It is related in a down to earth manner that could be described as understated, marred only by the cloying musical score which is definitely overplayed. This pragmatic movie is delivered with faultless performances from the cast, and it is surprisingly moving to watch. Be blindsided.