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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.