The Best OfferAnne Murphy
A story centered on an eccentric art auctioneer and his obsession with an heiress/collector.
Movies are rarely as alluring as this mystery crime story. Not only is the clever story well told, but it's artistically portrayed on the screen, a combination that ensures it is a pleasure to watch. There's a sophisticated mix of obsession and passion; emotions often associated with art and the people who inhabit the rarified atmospheres of galleries and auction houses. The premise is intriguing enough to hold interest right up until the credits, even if you manage to anticipate the outcome. No further bidding required.
After India's father dies, her Uncle Charlie, who she never knew existed, comes to live with her and her unstable mother.
In a movie fraught with dichotomies, a mother and daughter vie for the attention mysterious uncle who is both sinister and smooth. The film is as stylish as the story is twisted. Unfortunately, the more macabre the plot becomes, the more predictable the next development is. The initially promising premise reveals itself as shallow. "Stoker" is visually stunning, almost gothic in style as is hinted at in the title, although the setting is modern day. Chilling but nothing preternatural.
Before MidnightAnne Murphy
We meet Jesse and Celine in Greece, almost two decades have passed since their first meeting on a train bound for Vienna.
The talkies were invented for the couple in this story. "Before Midnight" is a conversation first and foremost, and film is merely the medium it's recorded on. Relationships are complex and involve compromise. It's a pleasure to be privy to an intimate but seemingly everyday sort of dialogue about lives spent together and the future to come. All is achieved with a natural style and there is little feeling that what plays out is being acted out. Magical without pumpkins.
Two teenage boys encounter a fugitive and form a pact to help him evade the bounty hunters on his trail and to reunite him with his true love.
"Mud" is a hold-your-breath atmospheric thriller set down South in the US. As expected, the ol' boys are hardened characters seeking either redemption or revenge but this intense movie really belongs to the two wide-eyed young boys and their adventures in a grim adult world. While distracted by women, they are discovering what it takes to be a man and how the bonds forged between men prove more steadfast than other embittering relationships. Gritty.
Much Ado About NothingAnne Murphy
A modern retelling of Shakespeare's classic comedy about two pairs of lovers with different takes on romance and a way with words.
Finally a rom-com that is unabashedly romantic and laugh-out-loud funny. The ingredients of this movie create a heady cocktail that ensures audience delight. First take a work published in 1600, stage it as a garden party with players costumed in business attire speaking with American accents, sit back, and swig. The secret is having the cast drink a lot, it works, and the otherwise silly plot twists make more sense than ever. Ta-dah and much ado.
A Gun in Each HandAnne Murphy
A series of five vignettes exploring the relationship crises of middle aged men.
This movie is a conversation starter. After watching the intimate conversations on the screen, there will much to talk about, particularly with a member of the opposite sex. "A Gun in Each Hand" is thought provoking, and we're given a fly-on-the-wall chance to witness men talking and sharing about their feelings and relationships. They are all struggling in some way and the director's slightly cynical touch is light enough that we can connect with both their desires and concerns. Straight shooters, or trying to be…
Despicable Me 2Anne Murphy
Gru is recruited by the Anti-Villain League to help deal with a powerful new super criminal.
Despicable has become respectable and it must be Spring as dating and romance are the featured themes. The writers have set up their reformed villain to meet a love interest and create a traditional family. How’s that for uninspired? Needless to say, "Despicable Me 2" is not as delightful as its predecessor. Thankfully those little yellow guys, the minions, make merry with fart jokes and other slapstick mayhem; they are more attuned to junior audiences than the besotted lead characters. Disappointed me.
In the HouseAnne Murphy
A sixteen-year-old boy insinuates himself into the house of a fellow student from his literature class and writes about it in essays for his French teacher.
"In the House" cleverly and deliberately blurs the line between fact and fiction. As the plot develops, we are left to ponder what game is being played. This is a clever movie where the audience could feel as manipulated as any of the characters; is there a disquieting undertone of malevolence or was it imagined? After all, this is a witty story about story-telling and it is a good story well told. Inside, outside, and upside down.
Happiness Never Comes AloneAnne Murphy
Sacha is only interested in one night stands and has a phobia of children, until he meets Charlotte, the divorced mother-of-three and ex-wife of one his employer's powerful clients.
This French rom-com is delightful, and there's much enjoy. Unfortunately, like many in the genre, there's not a lot to make it memorable. The good-looking leads enchant with their on-screen chemistry, and the humour has a physicality to it that borders on slap-stick, providing an amusing touch of vaudevillian styling. You can't help but be enamoured - this movie delivers a delightful affair of the heart. Happiness, apparently, comes for couples.
The Great GatsbyAnne Murphy
A Midwestern war veteran finds himself drawn to the past and lifestyle of his millionaire neighbour.
"The Great Gatsby" as a book is a literary classic and it's difficult to review the movie without making comparisons. Most viewers will watch with some sort of expectation. Do so at the peril of your enjoyment, look too critically and you'll see this is not a perfect image of the novel. Forget familiarity, the director has delivered a turbo-charged, multi-coloured and visually spectacular version of the story and intriguing characters alike. This film version is true to the source but somehow greater.
A Lisbon woman seeks out a man who has a secret connection to her neighbour’s past life on a farm by Mount Tabu in Africa.
The film-maker's craft is skillfully realised in stunning black and white, and "Tabu" is visually rewarding. Innovative audio techniques leave the telling of the background story to a narrator with a flat style that eventually weighs down interest. The real let down is a plot that lacks depth. The movie is not redeemed by its symbolism... a crocodile obviously warns of lurking danger. Ironically it's the very same reptile that remains the only snappy thing about this film. Not fabu(lous).
Lost in SiberiaAnne Murphy
A shy German logistician of a mail order company is sent to Kemerovo in Siberia to accomplish better work flow in the Russian subsidiary company.
Sometimes we have to travel far from home in order to find ourselves, and that mantra is central to this movie. A conservative business man becomes captivated by a traditional singer, an attraction that highlights the economic and social differences of individuals and their respective homelands. "Lost in Siberia" is quirky and heartwarming, the perfect antidote to a working week that might leave you feeling a little jaded. The best thing about getting lost is being found.
The Big WeddingAnne Murphy
A long-divorced couple fakes being married as their family unites for a wedding.
Rather than celebrating marriage, "The Big Wedding" has a core of infidelity and it doesn't stop there. This movie offers many good reasons to avoid matrimony. The happy couple is happy enough but they fail to spark much interest; nor do their families made up of mostly crass characters. It's all a bit vulgar and unfunny but fortunately a little too lame to be really offensive. The most objectionable part is being lured into a cinema by the big name actors in this low brow feature. Big wedding but little entertainment.
Shores of HopeAnne Murphy
Two friends working on the docks in East Germany in the 1980’s make plans to defect to the west.
Friendship, conscience, and politics from the last century make an engaging story, especially as everybody is plotting against somebody. The Stasi, the secret police, are portrayed as bumbling and brutal. It's alarming and intriguing to experience a world where betrayal is rewarded and nobody can be trusted. There is an austerity of style presented on-screen that lends credibility to the tale, and you may just pinch yourself in order to remember this is a story, although the setting was real.
Haute CuisineAnne Murphy
The story of Danièle Delpeuch and how she was appointed as the private chef for François Mitterrand.
"Haute Cuisine" is a tasty factional account of a woman cooking and making her way in a man's world. Kitchen environments are not known for their diplomacy, and the chef has a poise and self-assuredness that could provide a template for woman in business. Her spirit is inspiring. Expect light fare rather than a big meal, and it's satisfying nonetheless. The food provides as much entertainment as the politics, and foodies will enjoy the reverence paid to simple ingredients, not to mention the pleasure of eating. Gastronomic!
First PositionAnne Murphy
A documentary that follows six young dancers from around the world as they prepare for the Youth America Grand Prix, one of the most prestigious ballet competitions in the world.
The physicality, athleticism and strength of mind of ballet students at the top of their art is extraordinary. Even so, in a world of reality TV competitions, the struggle to win has become all a bit clichéd. This is one for aficionados who will appreciate the achievements of the dancers, and for the rest of us this performance piece is heart-warming, if predictable, without being too tutu.
Hyde Park on HudsonAnne Murphy
The story of the affair between FDR and his cousin Daisy Suckley, centered around the weekend in 1939 when the King of England visited New York.
The most entertaining thread of "Hyde Park on The Hudson" comes from the pronunciation of 'hot dog' by the royal couple. Disarmingly straight-faced, they consider whether to eat one. It's a small highlight in what is an otherwise lacklustre production about a philatelist president and his dowdy cousin. "How I longed for him" is typical of the narration provided, courtesy of the mooning paramour to explain what isn't apparent on the screen. The Hudson reduced to a rivulet.
Mt. ZionAnne Murphy
Turei's family are hard-working potato farm workers in rural New Zealand.
The town is Pukekohe and the year is 1979, it is hard to break away from family and community and young men have big dreams. "Mt Zion" is a modest movie that appeals with its simple earthy feel. You're left to wonder if we grow up too quickly and lose imagined possibilities. Subtitles are provided when a Maori dialect is spoken and there is the odd line of English dialogue that could use translation too, if you know what I mean bru. Singing songs of Zion.
Elspeth Dickens is stuck in an isolated farmhouse with her twin toddlers when a web-cam becomes her pathway to fame and fortune, but at a price.
It's faint praise to say that "Goddess" is a pleasant enough movie. The title suggests heavenly heights might be achieved but it is rooted in ordinariness. While this Australian production is not bad, it disappoints by not being fabulous either. It bounces around with a slightly annoying level of frivolity, finding form as a light and bright escapist production that never quite clicks into gear. Humdrum benign Mum.
North Sea TexasAnne Murphy
A teenage boy's search for love finds him fixated on the boy next door.
It's that time in life when emerging sexual desires inevitably involve the boy next door, as upsetting as that may be to his sister who also fancies the boy next door to her too. That statement about the plot, while accurate, is clumsy in comparison to the tender handling that first love receives in "North Sea Texas", a subtle and moody film. Movies in the understated style of this production often get labelled as 'little films' but there is nothing small about Texas, even when located on the Belgium coast.
In July 1979, during the Summer holidays, in a house in Brittany, a family gathered to celebrate Granny Amandine's sixty-seventh birthday.
Family's are funny when generations gather to celebrate special events, the experience an odd mix of funny-ha-ha and funny-peculiar. "Skylab" is thoroughly charming as it highlights the oddities of a family get-together, full of beautifully observed moments and interactions readily remembered from our shared histories. Missing is a stronger narrative to glue it all together and provide a point to the production; as it is, the question 'so what?' remains unanswered. Pie in the sky…
Somewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa, Komona a 14-year-old girl tells her unborn child growing inside her the story of her life since she has been at war.
The atrocities that surround a girl kidnapped by rebels when she was 12 years old are inhuman in their ruthlessness. Seen through her eyes, the story is a work of fiction but the situation is as credible as the one shown on screen. With its understated approach, "Rebelle War Witch" looks to be drawn from reality. Told from a child's perspective, the depiction of the fate of child soldiers is so plausible it's horrifying.
Thérèse DesqueyrouxAnne Murphy
The unhappily married woman struggles to break free from social pressures and her boring suburban setting.
Based on a classic French novel, "Therese Desqueyroux" is about the boredom of a life of privilege for a woman restrained within a marriage arranged by her family. The movie begins in 1926, but the theme of the suppression of self is timeless, the actions of the protagonist coldly calculated as her martial devotion wanes. Understated and restrained performances serve to highlight the banality of a life lived without passion. Is our fate within or beyond our control? Je ne regrette rien.
Cherry on the CakeAnne Murphy
A lonely woman with a crushing fear of commitment attends a New Year's Eve party that puts her in an uncomfortable predicament.
"The Cherry on the Cake" is a French rom-com that reminds us what hard work the dating game is. The plot is built upon a trivial but amusing premise that gets overworked until it becomes tiresome. Girl and guy meet, but girl tires of guy until guy becomes unavailable, and then girl is interested again. If it sounds irritating in premise,then it's a even more annoying when realised on screen; if only the film was played out with more humour. No cherry picking.
Members of a world-renowned string quartet struggle to stay together in the face of death, competing egos and insuppressible lust.
When you find yourself weeping in a cinema, why is it that you cry? Is it for the life loves and losses of fictional characters or for your own fragile mortality? Something extraordinary is orchestrated when a writer and director conspire to bring a finely tuned production to the screen. Credit must also go to the talented actors who perform together seamlessly as a quartet. "Performance" is played like a concerto. Bravo!