The DilemmaAnne Murphy
A man discovers that his best friend's wife is having an affair.
"The Dilemma" is a window into the phallocentric world of a couple of blokey blokes, and it might have been best to keep the blinds down. In a series of poorly edited improvisations, naif blockheads blunder around trying to bump into a joke. Serious themes are underdeveloped and presented with a whacky, zany tempo that leaves the effort uncomfortably mired in primitivism. It's disappointing given the plot opportunities to explore infidelity, depression, relationship, addictions, commitment and more. Insight or parody? No dilemma here mate, it's all ham.
Morning GloryAnne Murphy
An upstart television producer accepts the challenge of reviving a struggling morning show program with warring co-hosts.
"Morning Glory" is as cute as a kitten, and just as fluffy and playful. Audiences will find it either predictably amusing or predictably irritating, as it it sticks to a tried and true formula, offering no surprises and delivering on all expectations. This is a bright funny film with a big name cast, who appear to enjoy acting like cornflakes. It bubbles along with all of the snap, crackle, and pop that many enjoy in the morning.
A modern retelling of the story of Rapunzel, a Princess who has spent her entire life in a tower.
A feisty frypan-wielding heroine. A horse bursting with personality that behaves like a bloodhound. A quirky colour-changing sidekick. And, of course, hair - 70 feet of lush, golden, magical hair. It's all here - delightfully crafted characters and a rousing soundtrack, everything you'd hope for from its creators. The animation is a visual feast in its attention to detail, with a blend of old-school painting and drawing, and incredible 3D CGI. This film is a rollicking adventure that has heart, soul and humour. Go get tangled up in the queue to see it.
Alex and his sister run a business designed to break up relationships.
"Heartbreaker" is a sparkling rom-com that delights as it delivers everything you hope for from the genre. The movie is even a little tongue-in-cheeky, as it pokes fun at some of the romantic clichés we endure on the screen from lesser offerings. The ingredients are perfect - the lead characters being likeable rogues, a stylish Monaco setting, some knock your socks-off romantic wooing, and a satisfying conclusion that is not teased out for feel good purposes, but still manages to feel good. All in all, a charming heart warmer.
Little FockersAnne Murphy
Family-patriarch Jack Byrnes wants to appoint a successor.
The third installment of a movie franchise is unlikely to attract new viewers and seasoned fans of this series will know what they're in for. Be warned, "Meet the Fockers" fails to deliver to the standard of the earlier releases. This one is a fumbling montage of cheap gags delivered by actors you can only wish had something better to do - even the endless plays on the 'F' word are wearing thin. Cinema goers deserve better. It's time for audiences to ask, "What the Fock?".
Love and Other DrugsAnne Murphy
Maggie is an alluring free spirit who won't let anyone - or anything - tie her down.
"Love and Other Drugs" is a love story that hams it up and attempts to pass as a rom-com. There’s a super dose of romance as the themes of love, relationships and commitment are played out with enough depth to dissolve any hard-hearted genre cynicism. There are some annoyingly superficial and muddled moments offsetting the serious underlying themes of illness and the drug industry with levity. Watching this mixed up but enjoyable offering you're stirred rather shaken. Humming; "Jump up, bubble up, what's in store?".
Primary school teacher Paul Maddens is charged with producing the school's nativity play.
"Nativity!" delivers warm, family friendly, Christmas cheer by the manger full. The story-line is corny, and the plot holes are substantial yet all is forgiven because it's funny and it's cute. The feel-good factor is pumped right up and delivered upon. The final scene, in particular, is fabulous, with some foot tapping original songs and knock-out performances by the children. Audience members in the demographic the film is aimed at clapped as the credits rolled. A jovial ho ho ho was enjoyed even though a bah-humbug was anticipated.
Wild TargetAnthony Macali
A hitman tries to retire but a beautiful thief may change his plans.
"Wild Target" is remake with all things British, recruiting the help of some of its finest actors to impart the land's odd humour. As the professional killer goes about his deadly serious business, his actions are unmistakably downplayed and amusing. The jolly music is turned up, and the film reaches a far greater audience. The result is fun, although many jokes are often hit and miss, and the pace is all over the place. In the end, the charm of its main characters, all criminals, will win you over. A wild romp.
Rare ExportsAndrew O'Dea
In the depths of the Korvatunturi Mountains in Finland, 486 metres deep, lies the closest ever guarded secret of Christmas.
"Rare Exports" is a clever horror comedy that presents a very dark take on the tradition of Santa Claus. The unique and intelligent premise is what drives the film, and although some may find it slow in parts, the unusual story is strangely entertaining. It has a distinct visual style set against the white and cold of remote Finland, and considering its minimal budget, the perfectly apt CGI puts most big-budget Hollywood fare to shame. Perfectly fine stocking-filler.
Due DateStefan Bugryn
A father to be is forced to share a car across America with an aspiring actor to make it to his child's birth.
"Due Date" is a road trip comedy that warms your heart more than it makes you laugh. It starts off rather slow and unfunny, but just like the trip itself, gains momentum as it goes along. Sprinkled with bittersweet moments, its exterior is very much a masculine buddy movie, but it has a heart of gold underneath. It rewards the viewers with an emotional subtext that makes you laugh louder and appreciate the characters more. Worth the trip!
Boldly unconventional and cheerful, that's how one could describe Babou.
Boldly unconventional and cheerful, that's how one could describe "Copacabana", it is that sort of movie. A mother daughter relationship is scrutinised in this story, and strong performances bring the central characters alive. The tension between being true to oneself and being what others expect you to be is intelligently explored with a generous dash of quirky social satire. The result is well captured by the camera, perfectly paced, and the experience is intelligently feel good. More than a place, Copacabana is a state of mind
After being set up by a corrupt Texan business man, an ex-Federale unleashes a violent rampage of revenge against anyone who stands in his way.
This film can be summed up using three B's; brawn, babes and bullets. It runs along a revenge plot that breaks no new ground in terms of writing, which will no doubt bore and annoy some audiences. But it actually indulges in its own gratuity, and lets the cheesy violence and cool one-liners reign supreme. It is almost entirely overtly cliché, yet it's obvious that this is the intention. Don't expect an Oscar winner, because this surely would never make the 'cut'. Otherwise, it's slashing good fun!
A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle ShopAnne Murphy
The owner of a Chinese noodle shop's scheme to murder his adulterous wife and her lover goes awry.
Curiosity is aroused watching the scheming characters play out this tale with pantomime action in a surreal mountainous desert setting. This movie is brightly coloured and visually splendid, a spectacular feast that will leave you a little hungry. More is promised than delivered. The action is slapstick rather than suspenseful, as the goofy cast execute their various self-interested plots and plans. The pace plods a little in this Chinese Cluedo, that's more convoluted than simply a woman, in a noodle shop... with a gun.
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.