A juvenile offender with psychopathic tendencies is released from detention and hooks up with a twisted young girl, while a semi-retired cop dogs their tracks.
An unhinged murderer, a hackneyed lieutenant, and a troubled teenager from a damaged background play out this crime thriller. Reasonable watching descends into cliché as it becomes hard to pick which of the characters is the more stereotyped. Suspense is defused by moments corny enough to elicit laughter. Predictably, neither callousness nor tenderness delivers redemption, not for the players, and not for the film.
A sailor returns to the steppes of Kazakhstan with a dream of a simple existence as a shepherd. He discovers love in the life he lives rather, than the love of his life.
"Tulpan" is a story mostly shown in real time. The director uses no special effects, and the unorchestrated soundtrack is composed of the everyday cacophony of life in a crowded yurt, accompanied by the rush of violent windstorms. There are actors, of course, but the most heart-rending scenes are played out by a sheep and a camel. The simple yet tenacious characters save this delightful drama from being pure documentary.
A young man earns the trust of the owner of a string of fast food outlets, and the attention of the entrepreneur's restless wife. Their liaisons form a classic love triangle.
"Jerichow" is quintessential film noir, balancing the vintage ingredients of lust, betrayal, and suspicion. The scheming characters are restrained and edgy, each wary of one another and careful not to reveal too much. The rural backdrop is similarly subdued with shadows to provide cover for the deceptions. Edge-of-the-seat-tension gradually builds to culminate in a final dramatic twist which while anticipated, is not obvious.
Mary and MaxAnne Murphy
A tale of friendship between two unlikely pen pals.
This meticulously constructed claymation is a mostly sombre film for older audiences. The characters and their surrounds are faultlessly observed, giving rise to frequent humorous moments, lifting the tone from what may have otherwise been despairingly gloomy. The predominantly monochromatic landscape serves to reinforce the serious nature of the themes of loneliness and mental illness. The movie is so finely balanced that ultimately the desperate is also oddly endearing.
Inspired by real events, a young Spanish girl is gracious in accepting her imminent death from an aggressive cancer while she is preoccupied with daydreams about a boy from theatre group.
This extraordinary film is both a pleasure to watch, and yet difficult viewing; most disquieting is the way in which the religiously devout are overtly mocked for their piety and fervent belief. Camino is a well crafted movie; particularly notable are the fantasy dream sequences used to escape dark realities and pursue faith in love; an emotional drama overpowering in its intensity.
The Other SideAnne Murphy
A drag queen returns, bereft, to the village and family he left 17 years ago.
The film has a rhythmic heartbeat as it traverses the delicate territories of love lost and dreams unfulfilled. It is possible to come home and still be on the other side, the other side of understanding and the other side of reconciliation. The landscape of relationship is tenderly navigated and the unrequited yearning of each character is faultlessly depicted. Watching "The Other Side" is like being subjected to open heart surgery with deft and precise incisions that lay bare the most vulnerable of places.
Easy VirtueAnne Murphy
An Englishman marries a glamorous American. When he brings her home to meet the parents, she arrives like a blast from the future - blowing their entrenched stuffiness out the window.
Set on a magnificent English country estate just after the First World War, this archetypal comedy of manners counterbalances predictable stereotypes with effervescent dialogue, and the result is captivating. Battle lines are drawn up and spirited repartee is fired between the pretentious and the sassy. The movie's salacious undertone is irresistible, particularly as the niceties don't mask the loathing. Virtue versus vice, and vice versa.
Fashion VictimsAnne Murphy
A travelling salesman loses his licence and gives his reluctant son no option but to accompany him on his sales round to women's fashion stores.
The plot is lively in this comic coming-of-age movie where the old must make way for the new, and the father has more growing up to do than his son. Grounding the fabulously theatrical characters are interpersonal relationships and frustrations with one another that evoke empathy. Parts of small town life in Germany look a little dated, but the overall effect is quirky and entertaining, and that's never out of fashion.
Dog TagsAnne Murphy
Two displaced and unconventional men discovering what it is to be sons, fathers, and lovers.
This could have been a road movie, if only the car had been more reliable. Geographically, not a lot of distance is covered in small town USA. It is a different story emotionally, however, as the two central characters encounter each other while each is traversing his respective family landscape. The restrained style of the film lends cohesion to a sequence of unlikely events shared by this improbable pair, as they seek to discover themselves. Identity has infinite possibilities once the dog tags are discarded.
A group of good looking Israeli men hang out at the same library, bar, and beds.
The physical encounters that make up the greater part of this movie are frequent and torrid. There is more heavy breathing than dialogue, and the storyline feels underdeveloped as a result. Desire and sex are not confused with love, and it's all a little cold as a result. Odd that with such pumping action, emotions are so understated. There is no deceit, an absence of jealousy; the characters are as cool as they're hot. "Antarctica" - little wonder the ice caps are melting.
Dolls and AngelsAnne Murphy
Chririne and Lya are sisters growing into womanhood, who need to escape their abusive father and tense family situation.
Survival in the projects on the outskirts of Paris necessitates navigating the dark shadows of the glamorous city of love. This movie's raw tone is at times hard to watch, depicting love as having many forms of expression, including physical violence. The characters are either so strong (all of the women) or so obnoxious (most of the men) that it's hard to connect with them. The angels become dolls to survive - wooden caricatures more typical of puppets.
A Pain in the AssAnne Murphy
An unlikely friendship develops between a hitman and a suicidal guy who have both checked into the same hotel for different reasons.
The latest episode in the life of Francois Pignon, for some, this film may be a laugh-out-loud slapstick comedy. However, if farcical screwball is not your bag, then this movie could be seriously unfunny. The situations are 'black' and the delivery is heavy-handed. Rather than the satirical wit we expect of Monsieur Pignon, laughs are sought from situations such as suicide, divorce, and incompetent medical specialists. Funny? More like a pain in the ass.
Marcelline has the lead role in Turgenev's "A Month in the Country" and is in rehearsal for the stage production while rendezvousing with her real and imagined mid-life crisis.
This is a charming dramatic comedy about arriving at a certain life stage unfulfilled by the journey and irrevocably aging. Time ticks to an off-beat rhythm as players and characters collide, even the director's metronome can't restore a more even beat for members of the cast. It's the off-stage drama that is most engaging, where emotions are held in check only to emerge in theatrically inappropriate ways. Encore.
Based on the life of French painter Séraphine de Senlis.
Séraphine's paintings reflect both her simplicity and her deep commune with nature. The artist's life is appropriately rendered with compelling images of rural life in the French village of Senlis before World War 2. Although visually delightful, the characters and story are sketched without sufficient dimension to enthral the viewer. The aesthetic experience would be enhanced by a stronger narrative dimension.