Hotel LuxAnne Murphy
Hans Zeisig, an apolitical comedian, impersonator and cabaret actor, flees with a Russian passport from Nazi-Berlin, and finds himself in Moscow staying in the legendary Hotel Lux.
Valuing humour over politics, this a comedic romp in a wartime setting. Elements of the story are grounded in fact, and the political caricatures are obviously drawn from fiction, but work well as parody. "Hotel Lux" is interesting because it centres on a part of WWII not often seen on the big screen, the relationship between Hitler and Stalin. Employing comic antics of another era, this is irreverent and entertaining... make a reservation.
The Good NeighbourAnne Murphy
Two neighbours discover they are lonely kindred spirits until they are involved in a hit and run and events spiral out of control.
A story of a tangled web of deception that gets more convoluted and tense with each scene. The suspense builds, and although tense cinema viewing, it is not quite edge-of-the-seat viewing. As the plot twists and turns and a sense of impending doom builds, it becomes obvious things will not end well. Even so, this well crafted movie holds plot surprises to maintain interest right through to the close. Love thy neighbour.
Promising the MoonAnne Murphy
A woman with Alzheimers leaves her nursing home and wartime family secrets are uncovered.
Set in Germany and Latvia this movie traverses the past and present as well as the countries themselves. Regardless of the setting, "Promising the Moon" is an emotional drama rather than a war film, a portrait of the bonds between mothers and daughters, and wives and husbands. A story of reconciling strained family relationships is related with a depth of feeling that is absorbing, while a mystery is unfolded and the past is explained in this superior and well-acted production. Promises lead to obligations.
This Must Be the PlaceAnne Murphy
A bored and retired rock star sets out to find his father's executioner, an ex-Nazi war criminal.
This is a beguiling character study, thanks to the disarming performance of the lead actor. The central role is a captivating mix of unsophisticated naivety and world weariness played with sincerity. This movie, which is one man's search for self-discovery, could be plumbed meaning, and while many messages might be discovered it is better appreciated as adventurous film-making that delights with its originality. "This Must Be the Place" takes audiences to some-place else... if someone asks, this is where I'll be.
A Dangerous MethodAnne Murphy
A look at how the relationship between Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud gives birth to psychoanalysis.
"A Dangerous Method" documents the shared origins of what have become rival doctrines, following the professional friendship and falling out of the earliest proponents of 'the talking cure'. The actor's performances ensure compelling, if at times uncomfortable, viewing. The period in modern history is faithfully depicted and attention is paid to details which highlight the differences between the lifestyles and theories of kindred pioneers. Even more engrossing than the look is the dialogue; unsurprisingly the screenplay is based on a non-fiction book. No slips, Freudian or otherwise.
Dr. Seuss' The LoraxAnne Murphy
Dr. Seuss' classic tale of a forest creature who shares the enduring power of hope.
"The Lorax" targets young audiences and captivates them with candy coloured animation, cute critters and a lively pace, all presented in 3D. Although the original story book was written 40 years ago, this is a fable for today with greed pitted against green. There's a strong moral message about the importance of caring, and thankfully the lesson is related without preaching; instead there's singing and dancing in a kid's own adventure. Spirited school holiday viewing, a magical movie starring Truffula trees.
Mirror MirrorAnne Murphy
An evil queen steals control of a kingdom and an exiled princess enlists the help of seven resourceful rebels to win back her birthright.
A favourite story recounted for today's audiences. The charming prince, while handsome, is more affable than heroic and it's the beautiful princess who achieves her own victories. The story retains all of its original elements and is retold with a fabulous sense of humour and spellbinding magic. "Mirror Mirror" is magnificently staged and gloriously costumed; it is also CGI enhanced, but only just enough to ensure no wrinkles. The fairest of them all.
Le HavreAnne Murphy
When an African boy is discovered hiding in a shipping container in the port city of Le Havre, an aging shoe shiner takes pity on the child and welcomes him into his home.
The simplicity of this movie is material to why it will be enjoyed. It is warm hearted and unpretentious. Layers of difficult socio-political issues are pared back to create a story that humanises the plight of immigrants without visas. The kindness shown to one struggling boy and the solidarity of the town’s characters in resisting the law enforcers are natural choices. Compassion and humour perfectly blended.
The Art of LoveAnne Murphy
Multiple vignettes show the sexual desires and frustrations of Parisian couples.
The romantic lives of four couples are shown in amusing episodes that over-lap and intertwine. Interesting romantic dilemmas are raised around fidelity, friendship, dating and monogamy but the pace is so swift there's no opportunity to consider your own reaction before the situation has moved on. The intent here is not to provoke reactions as much as it is to amuse, and it although it is tinged with the melancholy of longing for more than you have, it is very amusing. Love paints a pretty picture.
A man's unhappy existence comes unravelled after a chance encounter with an old friend's son.
Post-apartheid South Africa looks dated, painted in sepia tones, in this film about repression and infatuation. The central character is tormented with closeted rage. He is so emotionally taut there is an almost explosive undercurrent threading the increasingly uncomfortable scenes. Although noisy with background sounds there are long sequences without dialogue which serves to add to the dangerous mood. Ultimately the narrative is insufficient to provide coherence, which lets down interest as the pace stumbles. Mirror mirror on the wall not much beauty here at all.
Ballroom RulesAnne Murphy
A passionate group of Australian same-sex ballroom dancers battle homophobia, injury and personal drama as they pursue their dream of competing at the Gay Games in Germany.
The journey starts in a Melbourne dance studio that caters to same sex couples and travels across the world to perform at a peak level. This documentary wears a big smile, much like any dancer does. It highlights the travails and triumphs of competitive dance complete with the ubiquitous wardrobe malfunctions. The characters have a charming mix of frivolity and fanaticism, or more accurately, dedication to their sport. This is a ballroom blitz.
Follows the relationship between two apprentices working on an agricultural complex south of Berlin.
A real farm setting and improvised dialogue provides "Harvest" with an almost documentary, naturalistic tone. The story is about two young men finding themselves and each other. Central to the film is a carefully observed and tentative romance in a potentially homophobic setting. The emotional tension and subsequent attraction between the two unfolds slowly. This movie enthrals its poetic depiction of emotional confusion and its surprisingly chaste approach to the developing relationship. Watch it and reap.
We Were HereAnne Murphy
A deep and reflective look at the arrival and impact of HIV/AIDS in San Francisco and how individuals rose to the occasion during the first years an unimaginable epidemic.
A profoundly moving documentary that revisits an extraordinary time in recent history for a close knit community. The use of personal recollections showcases the humanity in threaded through the stories of facing adversity. "We Were Here" is carefully edited, and never strays into over-sentimentality while exploring how individuals confronted difficult times without heroics but reliant on love, making it a powerful piece of film-making and compelling viewing. The past is present.
Becoming ChazAnne Murphy
A documentary following Chaz, formerly Chastity, Bono's gender transition.
Allowing a camera, and the crew required to operate it, to follow your gender transition might seem like a curious decision. Then again if you have grown up in the spot light of the public eye then this might a good chance to inform about transgender dilemmas and the process of change. "Becoming Chaz" is not only informative, it also documents a courageous protagonist who is an advocate for having enough sense of self to really be on the outside who you already are on the inside. A tough path walked on the way to Chaz.
Jo's BoyAnne Murphy
A well-known retired rugby player who is the son and grandson of well-known rugby players hopes that his son will also play rugby for the big league.
"Jo's Boy" is set a small French village and the film has the rustic feel of a past era when life was simpler. The story moves along with the pace of a good football game, and there are plenty of minor storylines of mateship and a blossoming romance. Light entertaining fare, culminating in an inevitable tense match, its predictability is countered by a humorous directorial touch. Cheers for sports boys.
The Snows of KilimanjaroAnne Murphy
After celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary, a couple are shattered by two young men, armed and masked, who beat them, tie them up, snatch their wedding rings and flee with their credit cards.
Inspired by Victor Hugo's poem "How Good are the Poor", this warm-hearted movie tackles some of today's social and moral issues within the setting of a small community. Our judgments of others can be black and white but, as this moving story highlights, the reality of another is never so simple. The themes are complex but the motivation of each character is uncomplicated. Let it snow.
17 GirlsAnne Murphy
Seventeen teenage schoolmates decide to become pregnant at the same time.
The impracticality and rebellious tendencies of adolescents is the central theme to "17 Girls". Many social themes are explored in this surprising gem, including self determination for one's own decisions, peer group pressure and individual empowerment. This is a pensive movie with many scenes depicting one of the characters in solitude, contrasting the lure of being part of a giggling gang of girls. While there is a lot for the audience to think about, there is one too many thoughtful close-ups of furrowed brows. Girls, girls, girls.
Free MenAnne Murphy
In Paris during WWII, an Algerian immigrant is inspired to join the resistance by his unexpected friendship with a Jewish man.
There is a low key feel to the characters and scenes in "Free Men", and the storyline provides a new twist to a war plot and friendships during a time of turmoil. It has the credibility of being "based on strong evidence" which is the tag-line appended to the credits. This previously untold story is interesting viewing for historians, Francophiles and freedom fighters alike. Liberte, egalite, fraternite and the brotherhood of man.
The LookAnne Murphy
A biographical study of legendary actress Charlotte Rampling.
It is interesting to imagine different actors starring in their own documentaries, and few would enchant and enthral like the central figure of "The Look". This documentary is produced in chapters, each a conversation with one of her collaborators. The result is as an intimate portrait of an enigmatic actor and a career that spans more than 40 years. Her intelligent musings about aging, love and death provide insight into a life lived on the big screen. This unconventional woman is worth a look.
18 Years Old and RisingAnne Murphy
Primo, a boy with a humble background, is studying for University entrance while trying to impress girls who hang out with a crowd of rich young things.
Set in Paris in the early 80's as a Presidential election looms, "18 Years Old and Rising" has an interesting political text for a film of the coming of age genre. Like the main character, this movie takes risks to impress, and it shows a hero's quest for love that is memorable, bold, and fun. It is a pleasure to watch a storyline that delights by not being predictable. Forever young.
The Day I Saw Your HeartAnne Murphy
Justine is an x-ray technician with a youthful-minded father who plays golf with her ex-boyfriends.
"The Day I Saw Your Heart" is an amusing and off-beat film about family ties. The plot follows the complex relationships of fathers, daughters, sisters, wives and babies. The story is original and told in an anecdotal style, a bit like skimming through someone's diary. This French movie provides interesting viewing, if slight, as it bubbles along with a light touch. It lacks any depth or real insight into the characters themselves, but their eccentricities more than compensate for their shallowness. Watch to see some big hearts.
Two sets of parents convene a cordial meeting after their sons are involved in a fight, as their time together progresses, increasingly childish behaviour throws the afternoon into chaos.
Set in one room, "Carnage" is an intimate but dark comedy of manners and, as it turns out, manners that serve only as a thin veneer of refinement when a war of words erupts. A fly-on-the-wall experience is provided and audiences will come away glad not to be like the jousting individuals and couples on the screen, but wanting only to gossip about them. The strong cast avoid both sophistication and annihilation.
My Week with MarilynAnne Murphy
Colin Clark, an employee of Sir Laurence Olivier's, documents the tense interaction between Olivier and Marilyn Monroe during production of The Prince and the Showgirl.
There's not a lot of plot to get lost in just an intimate week with the movie star we remember for her reputation for being as fragile as she was glamorous. "My Week with Marilyn" is an engaging in-depth character study. The lead actor delivers a spell-binding and authentic portrait of the screen legend as complex woman who shone in front of the camera and struggled with insecurity behind the scenes. Not only gentlemen will prefer this blonde.
The story of Joseph, a man plagued by violence and a rage that is driving him to self-destruction.
"Tyrannosaur" is harrowing viewing. Filmed with an uncompromising eye for realism, there’s an intensity to this movie that’s rarely captured with such bruising effect. Anger, rage and torment are central to the story and expressed without inhibition. Expect a confronting experience, one that will leave audiences wrung out, if not reeling from the relentless blows landed. The cast are credible and the performances delivered are absolutely convincing, particularly when somewhere from the depths of hopelessness something transformative is glimpsed. As riveting as it is grim.
Martha Marcy May MarleneAnne Murphy
Haunted by painful memories and increasing paranoia, a damaged woman struggles to re-assimilate with her family after fleeing an abusive cult.
The fragile bonds of family come under scrutiny in this psychological thriller, and makes for tense viewing from the opening scenes right until the second it finishes. The film is dark and taut as memories are seamlessly threaded with the present. The film-maker is deft, using the past to explain today and develop a sense of impending threat in the audience. While watching it becomes harder to breathe as the story unfolds. Mal-adjusted mentality methodically manipulated.