The Ages of LoveAnne Murphy
Three chapters tell three interconnected love stories that illustrate the three ages of man, Youth Maturity and Beyond.
A rom-com is that bit more enjoyable for being Italian, the stories and characters are less stereotypical than their Hollywood counterparts. The content ripens and matures as the movie progresses through the ages of man, each delivering more depth than the previous story. None are too deep, all deliver some fun and are refreshing for their European sophistication. The comedy is it is light and agreeable, there’s nothing to tax an audience in the storylines. Ti amo.
The First GraderAnne Murphy
The true story of an 84 year-old Kenyan villager and ex Mau Mau freedom fighter who fights for his right to go to school for the first time to get the education he could never afford.
"Based on a true story" the opening credits report, so prepare to learn about Kenya's recent and bloody past. "The First Grader" revisits a brutal episode in history while focused on a redemptive story line, complete with extraordinary African backdrops. The feel good meter runs high while watching this incredible story of one man's experience and his determination to learn to read and write. Elementary.
The Tall ManAnne Murphy
A documentary, set on Palm Island where on the day Cameron Doomadgee was arrested for swearing at a policeman and was found dead in a watch-house cell forty-five minutes later.
"The Tall Man" is a documentary that persuasively recreates a death in custody one statement at a time through interviews and first person accounts. As each witness account is carefully scrutinised, a grim and unsettling story emerges. Trials and inquests are revisited and accounts unravel. We may not be able to determine exactly what happened on that one night in 2004, but we can definitely draw our own conclusions. Short on truth.
Burning ManAnne Murphy
An English chef with a restaurant on Bondi Beach is trying to put his life and his relationship with his son back on track.
"Burning Man" is a pastiche of scenes that don't follow a sequential time-line but nonetheless build into a sorrowful narrative. Forget chronological sequencing, this is a compelling portrayal of grief, a time when events don't evolve in a linear sequence, and emotion reigns. It's just in time for the audience that the jigsaw of memories piece together and the emotional impact of the story is felt, packing a punch. Tears will quench the flames.
We Need to Talk About KevinAnne Murphy
The mother of a teenage boy who went on a high-school killing spree tries to deal with her grief - and feelings of responsibility for her child's actions.
Harrowing is the only way to describe "We Need to Talk About Kevin". It's difficult viewing, a chilling and disturbing movie. All credit to the director for the way the mother's haunting story unfolds, threading memories and recollections into the narrative as an explanation for the present. The actor's performances are outstanding while portraying situations more chilling than most horror plots. Maybe we need to talk, but in hushed tones.
Our Idiot BrotherAnne Murphy
A comedy centered on an idealist who barges into the lives of his three sisters.
"Our Idiot Brother" is like movie popcorn, light and enjoyable without being really filling. The indie style production is as amiable as the affable main character; it is a comedy with charm. The focus is the special relationships between siblings, close, affectionate, and then relentlessly honest. The plot comprises small family interactions rather than dramatic action. The everyday trials of being part of a family are action enough to hold interest and the film does not stray into over sentimentality. Quite an intelligent idiot.
Bill Cunningham New YorkAnne Murphy
A cinematic profile of the noted veteran New York City fashion photographer.
"Seek beauty, and you'll find it", says the subject of this captivating film biography. The documentary spans the lifelong career of a delightfully eccentric and passionately obsessive follower of fashion. The film-maker almost becomes a private detective following his subject, a lively photographic journalist who is dedicated to the singular pursuit of capturing the style of people out on the street. As unassuming as the photographer is, he is undeniably one of the who’s who of the New York fashion scene; the challenge is keeping up with him. Run-a-way success.
A political thriller advancing the theory that it was in fact Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford who penned Shakespeare's plays.
The identity of one of our greatest writers is scrutinised in "Anonymous", a tawdry tale of fiction staged as lusty historical drama. The audience is kept busy trying to work out who's who as the time-frame jumps into the past and back again, causing confusion when we try to match the older and younger actors of the same character. Sordid conspiracies abound, and it's all a bit fanciful, convoluted and overly long. As they say in the classics, "It's not Shakespeare".
George Harrison: Living in the Material WorldAnne Murphy
Inter-cut with archive material, friends, family and associates of the musician tell the story of his life and how spirituality became such a major part of it.
ou might guess that this renowned musician had a extraordinary life but it takes the spotlight shone by this exceptional documentary to reveal just how remarkable his life and times were. It helps that much of the history is told to camera by the subject in his own words, and those close to him lovingly colour in the detail. Ultimately this is an affecting and moving portrait of a man whose guitar gently wept.
A Quiet LifeAnne Murphy
The story of a man with a dark past, that inevitably catches up with him.
Mystery is slowly brewed as the story behind the main character is revealed. Initially the plot is vague, and the viewer must sit with some uncertainty as to what is happening on the screen. The lack of story structure is a clever device that adds to the mounting suspense. Tension is maintained amid a seemingly routine domestic situation, and there are ominous hints that all is not as it seems as the violence starts to escalate. "A Quiet Life" is a well-constructed, gripping movie experience... shhh.
Lost KissesAnne Murphy
A girl in the deprived outskirts of a Sicilian city becomes a local celebrity to her community when word spreads that she just might be able to perform miracles.
"Lost Kisses" uses cynicism to explore our faith in the inexplicable, and satirically mocks our need to keep up appearances. While not taking an overt stance on one side or the other of religious belief and our desire for miracles, there's a lot going on under the surface-line of the story. It's a pleasure to be allowed to draw your own meaning. A peck on the cheek.
Corpo CelesteAnne Murphy
Thirteen year-old Marta restlessly tests the boundaries of the catechism of the Catholic Church when her family move from Switzerland to a city in southern Italy.
The protagonist is a stranger in a strange land as she prepares for her confirmation ceremony. A naive view of the Church and the various characters that support the institution are used to question the traditions and rites of its teachings. "Corpo Celeste" gently mocks using symbolism and religious iconography rather than overtly criticising any practice. The movie is effective in that it does plant questions about socially accepted values. You'll never get to heaven...
20 CigarettesAnne Murphy
An assistant film director working in Iraq finds himself caught up in a suicide attack.
This movie tells the autobiographical story of its director with a lighter touch than a documentary might have allowed. Iraq is shown as a place where soldiers and peace-keepers are wondering what they were doing there. Injury is graphically depicted, providing a palpable experience of the horror of war. A strong but very watchable political statement is made by bringing a personal story to the big screen. The cigarettes provide an interesting device to contrast everyday life with a day in a war zone. Smoking.
Escort in LoveAnne Murphy
When her husband dies in a car accident, Alice is left with a massive debt and the risk of losing her son so she turns to the oldest profession in the world.
Working as an escort is sometimes painted as an overly rosy career choice when portrayed in a movie. Thankfully, the annoyance of that plot hook is diffused in "Escort in Love" by the comic scenes it generates. There is also a couple of interesting side themes around social inclusion and diversity which compensate. This film is easy to like and enjoy, thanks to the congenial characters. Love the escort.
Sorelle MaiAnne Murphy
The director's family is filmed over a 10 year period acting in film roles rather than biographic depictions to create an experimental and dramatic work.
"Sorelle Mai" is an interesting movie that follows the hopes and mostly thwarted dreams of a brother and sister. What makes it really interesting is knowing what the director attempted and the scope of the project. For those sitting in a cinema it's not obvious how ambitious the film-making is, and for the average viewer the slight narrative may be insufficient to captivate. Appreciate this one for being well crafted. Sisters are doin' it...
A group of zoo animals decide to break their code of silence in order to help their lovable zoo keeper find love.
There are two incompatible angles in "Zookeeper": romance and talking animals. The largely unfunny romantic thread might appeal to adolescents, but it's unlikely to ignite much interest in a family-fun setting. The zoo animal antics could amuse young audiences if they talked about something other than how to attract a mate; conversations that probably won't resonate with kids. If only these beasts had decent script writers... what's said in the zoo should stay in the zoo.
The GuardAnne Murphy
An unorthodox Irish policeman with a confrontational personality is teamed up with an uptight FBI agent to investigate an international drug-smuggling ring.
"The Guard" is a comedy threaded with some serious themes. The genre is an original police-buddy action combination delivered in a lilting Irish style which proves delightful. The central character is a foul-mouthed modern masterpiece, politically incorrect, big hearted, world weary and honourable, as well as disrespectful, again a little bit of everything in the mix. This is a very funny movie but not so much laugh out loud as wryly observed and darkly humorous. Many unguarded moments.
Win WinAnne Murphy
A struggling lawyer and wrestling coach's chicanery comes back to haunt him when the teenage grandson of the client he's double-crossed comes into his life.
The good-humoured and flawed characters which populate "Win Win" are acted with refreshing individuality. The movie plays out as a down to earth and warm comedy, that is hard not to be charmed by. As the captivating plot develops, and very human problems are encountered, an almost constant tickle of laughter fills the cinema. Audience interest is engaged by the readily recognisable challenges of ordinary people and their relationships, and we're ready to empathise. Nobody loses.
Jane EyreAnne Murphy
A mousy governess who softens the heart of her employer soon discovers that he's hiding a terrible secret.
A film adaption of a literary classic is rarely considered as good the book but this one is superb. "Jane Eyre" is likely to captivate all, including the most avid readers among us. This effort is well cast, capturing a perfect balance of brooding passion and guarded vulnerability. The cinematography captures a gothic austerity on the screen that reflects the social confines and well mannered restraint of the times, balanced by a landscape of moody spellbinding moors. Passionate plain Jane.
The Hollywood ComplexAnne Murphy
Spring heralds pilot season in Hollywood, and that means audition time as aspiring actors come to town with their Moms, desperately seeking that elusive call back from casting.
The scale of the 'wanna-be' industry is surprising, teeming with agents, drama-teachers and photographers, all fed by the sheer numbers of kids hoping to be discovered. While we can chuckle and scoff at the onscreen antics of the children and their parents, there is something very unsettling beneath the 'fun'. The opportunistic nature that all of the parties have in common suggests that many do not come away unscathed. Certainly no-one sings "Hooray for..."
Familiar GroundAnne Murphy
Benoit lives with his invalid father while his sister, Maryse, is desperate for her husband to sell the backhoe sitting abandoned in their suburban yard.
The camera zooms in on family relationships, focussing on small interactions and exchanges. If you've ever wondered what the neighbours are doing, this film is a glimpse of them indulging in the same mundane activities as your loved ones. "Familiar Ground" is understated and wry, full of mini-moments. It manages to be unexpectedly generous too, as this little, almost deadpan, movie delivers a redemptive feel-not-bad, if not feel good, close. Familiar terrain that surprises.
Cedar RapidsAnne Murphy
Tim Lippe has no idea what he's in for when he's sent to Cedar Rapids, Iowa to represent his company at an annual insurance convention.
"Cedar Rapids" is a surprising and heart-stealing comedy, thanks mostly to the nuanced portrayal of the central character, as a naive and amiable man. This hearty movie is rude and rambunctious while managing to be emotionally earnest. In line with the indie tradition the result is disarming despite the morally dubious convention setting. Movie goers will take away a genial glow even as what happens in Cedar Rapids stays in Cedar Rapids…
Over the course of a tense afternoon, a gang of five lure three younger boys into a complex street scam in order to rob them.
"Play" is based on real events that happened in Sweden. The movie is shot on location and uses untrained actors, imbibing a mockumentary tone, leaving a funny taste that it is neither fact nor fiction. The interactions between the cocky perpetrators and the intimidated targets make racial tensions uncomfortably palpable, but there's little else on offer. Interesting enough, but real-time drags like slow motion as the film goes on and on without getting anywhere. No fun.
Siblings from Japan get stranded in a small town, Littlerock, while waiting for a replacement rental car.
Viewing American culture, through the eyes of a non-English speaker is interesting but almost insufficient to maintain feature length interest. Perhaps it is the desolate location where nothing much happens, or the listless locals, but boredom stealthily encroaches. At times it feels that not enough is happening on the screen. Even so this story of strangers in a remarkably strange land is unsettling enough to hold attention, leaving a lasting imprint. It's like looking through a magnifying glass and not a kaleidoscope.
A teenage loner, who wears pyjamas to school, is befriended by the slightly oddball Vice Principal.
Perhaps the only thing more difficult than being a high-school teenager is being a teenage misfit at high school. "Terri" is an unexpectedly endearing movie, thanks to the understated but oversized performance of the protagonist and the big hearted, if crazed, turn by the Vice Principal. The honesty embedded into the portrayals of all of the characters contributes to making this disarming film an original gem. The director's eye allows for scenes as bruising as they are amusing without trading sensitivity for laughs. Go Terri.