Little DeathsAnne Murphy
Composed of disturbingly sensual and terrifying short narratives, unified by the twin themes of sex and death.
Stories that usually only live in one's imagination emerge on to the screen. The quality production has a dreamlike quality. The narrative is more creative, more hedonistic, and a little more hysterical than everyday ordinary reality; needless to say it is more enjoyable too. There is more suggested than consummated on the screen, and risqué elements are implied rather than explicit. "Little Deaths" is deftly handled so the libidinous tone doesn't sink to lewd. Good Australian film making lives a little.
The Loved OnesAnne Murphy
When Brent turns down Lola's invitation to the prom, she concocts a wildly violent plan for revenge.
"The Loved Ones" take ingredients familiar to the horror genre, lonely country roads, self-conscious teenagers, power tools and a high school dance, and creatively serves them up in an inventive story. This movie is both frightening and funny, typically the comic moments are more frightening than fun. The recognisably Australian production is all the more macabre for having been achieved without shiny special effects, no gloss. It's crowned with shockingly good performances from actors we'll see more of. There's a haunting message that love hurts.
When his idyllic life is threatened by a high-tech assassin, former black-ops agent Frank Moses reassembles his old team in a last ditch effort to survive.
With the all-star cast and firepower at its disposal, "Red" has all the ammunition required for success. Sure, it does have some individually funny moments, but for a movie pertaining to be a pure action comedy, the one-liners simply aren't funny enough, and the explosions and gunfights simply not that exciting. The only real sense of danger comes from a host of fine actors putting their careers in jeopardy with such a poor choice in film. They really should know better. Red? Bet on black.
Made in DagenhamAnne Murphy
A dramatisation of the 1968 strike at the Ford Dagenham car plant, where female workers walked out in protest against pay discrimination.
A historically important, political story is related in "Made in Dagenham". The birthing of an important precedent comes alive on the screen with archetypal British humour as an uplifting offering. The demarcation lines are drawn, the bad guys mired in their dark plotting as the determination of the good gals to triumph builds. The film is nostalgic and true to the era, delightfully sentimental and humorous. If they can make good in Dagenham, we can make it anywhere.
Life as We Know ItThomas Jones
Two single adults become caregivers to an orphaned girl when their mutual best friends die in an accident.
The title captures the entire essence of this film. Everything about it is what we have seen, have known and have come to expect from this type of feel good film. There is nothing really new or different. The cast play the same roles we all know that they'll play. The plot has all the ingredients we know are needed to make a romantic comedy; romance and comedy. "Life as We Know It", is as we know it and nothing else.
4 Black SuitsAnne Murphy
Four men, down on their luck, are co-opted as pallbearers to walk carrying a man in his coffin from Athens to the village of Boeotia for burial motivated by the promise of rich rewards.
In the best Greek tradition, the journey this film takes is an odyssey of unexpected self discovery. There are a couple of elements that work particularly well - incredibly filmed, surreal scenes the players find themselves in, and the camaraderie that builds among the central characters, including the dead one. Enjoyable for an unconventional story that unfolds with an unexpectedly big heart. As the title suggests this is a well dressed comedy.
The events in a night, from dusk to dawn, at a roadside kebab caravan, Kantina.
People come and go throughout the night, what brings them to the canteen is a mystery - most don't drop in for the food. What does happen is a confusion of events and characters. Greek speakers in the audience will chuckle more than the non-Greek speakers, as the subtitles seem to lose something in translation. As the canteen's patrons muddled along throughout the disjointed storyline, it's no surprise the production quality suffered the same fate and was inconsistent from scene to scene. You'll be left hungry after visiting "Canteen".
Soul KitchenAnne Murphy
Zinos unknowingly disturbs the peace in his locals-only restaurant by hiring a more talented chef.
A motley collection of likable characters encounter some unlikely events. Scenes reveal darker forces at play and there's adversity to overcome along with unexpected romance whisked together with a slapstick sort of tone. These are good ingredients roughly chopped to make "Soul Kitchen" a rambunctious romp. However, most characters and some storylines are a little undercooked, and the film fails to connect on a meaningful level. This fare is easy to digest and pleasant enough without being truly satisfying for the soul.
Dinner for SchmucksThomas Jones
When he finds out that his work superiors host a dinner celebrating the idiocy of their guests, a rising executive questions it when he's invited, just as he befriends a man who would be the perfect guest.
Though there are funny moments, "Dinner for Schmucks" is clearly produced for American audiences and doesn't translate to the Australian sense of humour. Where we should be laughing at the displays of stupidity depicted in the film, we're more likely to remark 'oh my god'. The comedy of errors becomes relentless, which can be partly blamed on the script. Arguably, they relied too heavily on the talent of the starring comedians to make it work. Funny for only certain tastebuds.
Marriage and other DisastersAnne Murphy
Disillusioned with romance, an unmarried woman finds herself organising her sister's wedding.
"Marriage and other Disasters" has all the elements of a romantic comedy, and then some. There is the likeable cast playing mismatched couples, then there are the requisite independent and romantically available parties, the ubiquitous hopeful parents, the comical disaster-dates, the looming wedding and a certain depth that's often lacking in the genre. This movie is also intelligent, with a sassy savvy woman in the lead, it's delightfully laced with irony and served with breathtaking Italian scenery. Look elsewhere for disasters.
The First Beautiful ThingAnne Murphy
A misanthropic professor returns to his hometown to assist his dying mother.
A mother's life is recounted through the memories of her son, and the present viewed through his eyes. "The First Beautiful Thing" is about the everyday frustrations of family, the people closest to us who we never quite forgive for being themselves. The acting is engaging, warm, and vulnerable, as characters are authentically portrayed in this humorous and at times very moving story. The film moves seamlessly between past and the present, the scenes coloured with familial warmth. A truly beautiful thing.
Diary of a Wimpy KidThomas Jones
Live-action adaptation of Jeff Kinney's illustrated novel about a wise-cracking sixth grade student.
When everything else is working against Greg Heffley, the hero of this film, you'd expect the audience would still be on his side. Unfortunately, they're not. The constant adversity against Heffley leads nowhere and he never learns from his mistakes, which makes the whole diary narrative a bit monotonous. What lets this film down even more; it isn't funny. The 'pause for applause' moments are met with tumble weeds in the wind. This is one diary which should be kept under lock and key.
Furry VengeanceWendy Slevison
In the Oregon wilderness, a real estate developer's new housing subdivision faces a unique group of protesters, local woodland creatures who don't want their homes disturbed.
Make no mistake. Everything your instincts tell you about this movie - the title, the actors involved, the plot, even the poster in the cinema - are worth listening to. All that, and the animals 'thoughts' appear as pictures in speech bubbles... Oh yes, it's that bad, an insultingly bad environmental message presented through fervently over-enthusiastic slapstick comedy. Please exact your own form of vengeance and stay away from this mind-numbing apology for entertainment.
Easy AThomas Jones
A clean cut high school student relies on the school's rumour mill to advance her social and financial standing.
Forget what you think this film is going to be like (you aren't even going to hear 'like' after every second word). This is a new generation teen flick. It's witty, intellectual and no subject is taboo. The characters are multidimensional and worldly. An original and funny take on that common double standard of society; the guy gets all the glory, the more he can score. While the girl can do the same and yet you call her... You get the picture.
The Extra ManThomas Jones
A man who escorts wealthy widows in New York's Upper East Side takes a young aspiring playwright under his wing.
Louis Ives travels to New York city to discover who he is. Is he a gentleman? An escort? A writer? Or... a woman? Much like the central character, this film suffers from its own identity crisis; it has no identity. The characters are not relatable on any level and this undermines the film's realistic base to the point where it's hard to take it seriously at all. Set in the city that never sleeps, this film may actually send you to sleep.
Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty GaloreWendy Slevison
The ongoing war between the canine and feline species is put on hold when they join forces to thwart a rogue cat spy with her own sinister plans for conquest.
This is a movie that just doesn't succeed... On the one hand it is aimed at children, full of cute cats and dogs who talk. On the other hand, many of the references, as well as the stylised appearance, are targeted at an adult audience. Uninspired and unfunny, the film just isn't clever enough to achieve its cross-generational target, and even the well-known cast of voice actors can't save it. Will the evil Kitty Galore be defeated? We can only hope so.
The Sorcerer's ApprenticeAnthony Macali
Master sorcerer Balthazar Blake recruits a seemingly everyday guy in his mission to defend New York City from his arch-nemesis, Maxim Horvath.
"The Sorcerer's Apprentice" is a modern take on the world of wizardry, competing in the popular genre with more money and less imagination. The ingredients are familiar: boy meets girl, the journey of the 'chosen' one, love is more important than the end of world... such unoriginality is cleverly cloaked in wiz-bang special effects and the charisma of the cast. Despite its bewitchery, the film is ultimately entertaining and destined for a future of more 'life' lessons from sorcerers.
Despicable MeThomas Jones
When a criminal mastermind uses a trio of orphan girls as pawns for a grand scheme, he finds himself profoundly changed by the growing love between them.
"Despicable Me" is highly entertaining, well imagined and even at times quite touching, which is unexpected of a film where the hero is a sociopath living in a world where being evil is big business. The politically incorrect humour will have you laughing at the expense of innocent characters. It's 3D at its best, so make sure to secure any belongings; one particular scene on a rollercoaster feels too close to the real thing. Whether you feel guilty or not, it's still a pleasure to watch.
The Other GuysStefan Bugryn
Two mismatched New York City detectives seize an opportunity to step up like the city's top cops.
"The Other Guys" is a clear cut above the typical Hollywood comedy, offering a swag of genuine laughs that are both original and often unexpected. The storyline is your standard buddy-cop fanfare, but often veers off to focus on extended jokes about the characters which would make even the hardest cynic laugh. The 'been there, done that' action leaves a little to be desired, but an onlsaught of jokes offer the audience a uproarious distraction throughout. Hilariously fun for everyone, not just the other guys...
Please GiveAnne Murphy
In New York City, a husband and wife butt heads with the granddaughters of the elderly woman who lives in apartment the couple owns.
Manhattan films about nothing should be a genre of their own. Equal parts smart drama-comedy and introspective reflection on the human condition, "Please Give" is grounded in the angst of reality and near perfect. This is a chick flick populated with grown-ups who are still growing up. The city dwellers dealing with the everyday while struggling with life's big issues like guilt and insecurity are imperfect as well as sharp and funny. Nothing to give just breathe it in.
Vampires SuckAnthony Macali
A spoof of vampire-themed movies, where teenager Becca finds herself torn between two boys.
"Vampires Suck" is far from cinematic, but does show what an easy target the re-imagined world of vampires is. From acting quirks to excessive angst, there are some surprising moments of insight and wit, while restoring the bloody horror absent from its subject matter in outrageous style. Such humour quickly turns to the dark-side, resorting to poor slapstick and pop culture references that are simply embarrassing and beyond farcical. Admittedly, both fans and non-believers of the saga will find delight in the film's jocularity. A ridiculous observation of the blatantly ridiculous.
The Kids Are All RightAnne Murphy
Nic and Jules had the perfect family, until they met the man who made it all possible.
Watching this grown-up drama is an engrossing experience. The central family with its two Mums is more normal than many more traditionally conventional families. The complex and real characters are mature until they do something impulsive or all too human in a wonderful reflection of modern family life. There are tensions, teenage angst, love, and a good deal of craziness in this refreshing comedy. Without preaching and never condescending, we're immersed in a new normal. The kids are alright and their Mums are too.
Going the DistanceCourtney Slevison
A look at the trials and tribulations of a long-distance relationship.
"Going the Distance" is a pretty stock-standard romantic comedy. However, having a couple on either sides of the country attemps a twist that simply doesn't work. The pace feels rushed and you never quite feel the chemistry that is meant to be keeping the couple together despite the odds. The leads put in a likeable effort, but the movie as a whole ends up feeling a bit strained, and some moments are just plain awkward. If you go the distance with this film, unfortunately you will be disappointed.
Set on a rural farm in New Zealand in 1984, Boy, is the story of an 11 year old with a vivid imagination coming face to face with life's realities.
This coming of age tale is sweet at heart and the unpretentious portrayal of Boy's story is endearing. The comedic moments and the uniquely Maori dialogue make this film. However, the one-incident-after-another plot wears a bit thin at times and leaves a few too many loose threads. Is Boy the man? Nah bro'!
Four LionsAndrew O'Dea
The story of a group of British jihadists who push their fantastical and abstract dreams of glory to the breaking point...
This film is a witty, riotously funny, and undeniably unique comedy. At no stage does it resort to extracting cheap laughs from its volatile subject matter as is the case with so many other movies that pose as "outrageous". Brilliantly written, the hilariously farcical tone generates a constant supply of laughter, yet there is also an underlying intelligence that presents a very real and relevant message. All those involved in the making of "Four Lions" should most definitely take pride in it.