Sunshine CleaningAnne Murphy
In order to raise the tuition to send her young son to private school, a mum starts an unusual business, a biohazard removal/crime scene clean-up service, with her unreliable sister.
This is an endearing movie in a low key 'indie' style. A beguiling cast portray a dysfunctional family facing their everyday relationship challenges. The comedy is so heartfelt that laughs catch on the way up, almost mutating into sobs, before rising as smiles. The tone is as mirthful as it is melancholic, despite the dark storylines. "Sunshine Cleaning" is the perfect antidote for messy everyday lives.
What Just Happened?Wendy Slevison
Two weeks in the life of a fading Hollywood producer who's having a rough time trying to get his new picture made.
What a disappointment. "What Just Happened" is a film boasting an amazing pedigree, but has no apparent storyline or plot, no standout performances and no characters we care anything about; not even the big-name actors playing themselves can do anything to invigorate this lifeless, pointless exercise. Unfortunately, all you are likely to think as you leave the cinema after watching this movie is "what just happened?" And the answer is... not much.
I Love You, ManAnthony Macali
Friendless Peter Klaven goes on a series of man-dates to find a Best Man for his wedding.
"I Love You, Man" is far more annoying than it should be. While the "man-dating" idea makes for an interesting and hilarious juxtaposition against 'normal' relationships, it's shackled by the awkwardly nervous fumbles in the lead's attempt to make friends. They're very funny at the start, but dominate the dialogue towards the end as the same material is regurgitated (at times literally). The signs are clearly emblazoned in the sky; the formula for the modern comedy is starting to tire, despite there being some love around this film.
Night at the Museum 2Andrew O'Dea
Security guard Larry Daley infiltrates the Smithsonian Institute in order to rescue his old friends.
"Night at the Museum 2" is an unfunny, unimaginative story devoid of any of the creativity and charm of its predecessor. Outstanding visuals are buried beneath a sprawling mess of a screenplay, as a mish-mash of gimmicky characters spend the entire movie running, babbling and slapping their way through what is a blatant recipe for dollars. Most annoying is a host of underdeveloped historical figures making wise-cracks that adults simply won't find funny, and children won't even be able to relate to. This exhibit deserves to be shut-down permanently.
Set in the summer of 1987 and centered around a recent college grad who takes a nowhere job at his local amusement park, only to find it's the perfect course to get him prepared for the real world.
Despite its 'indy' pretensions, this story has more heart than its formulaic predecessors. Sure, it might follow your typical boy meets girl scenario, but it rises above the cliché with a cast who wonderfully capture the fun, frivolity and angst of the time. Although short on the laughs it may promise, it still makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Coupled with an awesome 80's soundtrack en-loop, "Adventureland" is a charming ride about growing up and finding love.
My Year Without SexWendy Slevison
An understated look at love and life in middle-class Australian suburbia.
Watching this film feels a bit like peering in your neighbours' window and secretly watching them go about their lives. What you see is familiar in its detail, insightful in its observations, and at times confronting in its honesty. It boldly broaches the big questions, as well as the little everyday ones. Tenderly crafted, and featuring stellar performances, "My Year Without Sex" is an affirmation of the trials and tribulations of love, relationships, family and yes, sex.
Welcome to Farewell-GutmannAnne Murphy
The Human Resources Department of the pharmaceutical company 'Farewell-Gutmann' has lost its director; his underlings all vying for the job.
This is a dark and sadistic view of corporate life in an HR department. The film is as visually drab and colourless as the executives seeking promotion. The vain, ruthless, and broken characters offer little to engage with as they humiliate one another - the hypocrisy of the slippery slope to the top doled out with a heavy hand. Lacking the essential dexterity of a good black comedy, few will be sorry to say 'adios' to "Farewell-Gutmann".
Observe and ReportAnthony Macali
Bi-polar mall security guard Ronnie Barnhardt is called into action to stop a flasher from turning shopper's paradise into his personal peep show.
"Observe and Report" is a terribly misjudged comedy. Ronnie, our 'hero', is a guy you don't like, don't care about, and don't find funny. It's a simple formula for failure, made worse by poor behaviour and excessive swearing, cheap tools for laughter. Some scenes are so misconceived, they border on surrealism. It's a disappointing effort from a cast who should know better. Protect yourself and don't watch this.
A Film with Me in ItAnne Murphy
A couple of out of work actors find themselves in a predicament, as accidental deaths pile up around them.
The situation the characters in this movie find themselves in is both dark and comical, but as a black comedy, it fails to deliver. The premise is clever but never witty, and the characters are droll and bumbling, comedic without being funny. There are all of the necessary ingredients to arouse laughter, but when it's served up the dish simply fails to amuse. Something about this film with me in the audience just doesn't seem right.
Ghosts of Girlfriends PastWendy Slevison
A bachelor is haunted by the ghosts of his past girlfriends at his younger brother's wedding.
Romantic comedy is a tricky genre. At the very least, an engaging and believable story is required for success, together with a convincing cast. This movie fails spectacularly on both these points, and is made worse by an unimaginative, hackneyed, and at times distasteful script. With insipid performances from all of the actors involved, in particular the one-dimensional male lead, there is just no redeeming this appalling waste of time and money. It really is as ghastly as the title suggests.
A sailor returns to the steppes of Kazakhstan with a dream of a simple existence as a shepherd. He discovers love in the life he lives rather, than the love of his life.
"Tulpan" is a story mostly shown in real time. The director uses no special effects, and the unorchestrated soundtrack is composed of the everyday cacophony of life in a crowded yurt, accompanied by the rush of violent windstorms. There are actors, of course, but the most heart-rending scenes are played out by a sheep and a camel. The simple yet tenacious characters save this delightful drama from being pure documentary.
Mary and MaxAnne Murphy
A tale of friendship between two unlikely pen pals.
This meticulously constructed claymation is a mostly sombre film for older audiences. The characters and their surrounds are faultlessly observed, giving rise to frequent humorous moments, lifting the tone from what may have otherwise been despairingly gloomy. The predominantly monochromatic landscape serves to reinforce the serious nature of the themes of loneliness and mental illness. The movie is so finely balanced that ultimately the desperate is also oddly endearing.
17 AgainCourtney Slevison
In 1989, Mike O'Donnell was the star of his high school basketball team. Now 20 years later, with his glory days behind him, a magical encounter gives him the chance to be 17 again.
In a familiar body-swap genre, this movie shines with charm and good-humour. The film is led by the brilliant casting of the main character, with a great supporting cast. While clearly aimed at teenage girls, "17 Again" will reach a broader audience due to its big heart and great comedic moments. The perfect film for undemanding, feel-good fun.
The Boat That RockedAnthony Macali
A period comedy about an illegal radio station in the North Sea in the 1960's.
"The Boat That Rocked" is a dazzling compilation of the best music of the sixties, played and presented by an equally upbeat cast. There is no story, only parody, with scenes that'll either make you cringe, smile or laugh out loud. In fact, it's so wrought with feel-good moments that it may be enough to make you sea-sick. However, if you enjoy being immersed in such euphoria, you'll enjoy this film, maybe even love it, and everyone else can revel in the celebrated soundtrack.
Monsters vs AliensAnthony Macali
When a meteorite from outer space hits a young girl and turns her into a giant, she is taken to a secret government compound where she meets a ragtag group of monsters.
Monsters vs Aliens is a fun film, and I'm sure was a lot of fun to make, but it's certainly no masterpiece. Despite the jaw-dropping visuals and towering production design, the story is pretty unengaging for kids and adults alike. There is still plenty of humour to amuse all tastes, but it needed more monsters, typically ones that could inject a bit more wit into the film.
Easy VirtueAnne Murphy
An Englishman marries a glamorous American. When he brings her home to meet the parents, she arrives like a blast from the future - blowing their entrenched stuffiness out the window.
Set on a magnificent English country estate just after the First World War, this archetypal comedy of manners counterbalances predictable stereotypes with effervescent dialogue, and the result is captivating. Battle lines are drawn up and spirited repartee is fired between the pretentious and the sassy. The movie's salacious undertone is irresistible, particularly as the niceties don't mask the loathing. Virtue versus vice, and vice versa.
Confessions of a ShopaholicWendy Slevison
A college graduate lands a job as a financial journalist in New York City to support her shopping addiction, and falls for a wealthy entrepreneur.
This is a movie that does not take itself too seriously. Equate it to eating fairy floss, and you will not be disappointed. It is fun, flighty and a visual feast for fashionistas. The leading lady makes a very cute clothes-horse, and handles the amusing script splendidly. Having a laugh whilst we are in the middle of a recession is nothing to feel guilty about. So, relax and enjoy - no confession necessary.
Fashion VictimsAnne Murphy
A travelling salesman loses his licence and gives his reluctant son no option but to accompany him on his sales round to women's fashion stores.
The plot is lively in this comic coming-of-age movie where the old must make way for the new, and the father has more growing up to do than his son. Grounding the fabulously theatrical characters are interpersonal relationships and frustrations with one another that evoke empathy. Parts of small town life in Germany look a little dated, but the overall effect is quirky and entertaining, and that's never out of fashion.
Bottle ShockAnthony Macali
The story of the early days of Californian wine-making, featuring the now infamous blind Paris wine-tasting of 1976, which has come to be known as "Judgment of Paris".
Bottle Shock is a whimsical tale of wine, passion and love. Unfortunately, it's the servings of love that are the most unpalatable, with some thin romances used to fill out a lean plot. Such a story accords the film-makers an opportunity to showcase the stunning Californian wine country, and they squeeze every last drop of it, producing a film that should cater to most tastes.
Dean SpanleyWendy Slevison
Set in Edwardian England where upper lips are always stiff, a cantankerous old man and his long-suffering son begin a strange journey that eventually allows the old man to find his heart.
This is a truly original story of love, loss, and grief, populated by intelligent and disarmingly eccentric characters. The story starts slowly, but before the viewer can summon a yawn, they are drawn in, entranced, as the well-told tale unfolds - both poignant and comical at the same time. Offbeat, whimsical, moving and very funny, you'd have to be barking mad to miss it.
A Pain in the AssAnne Murphy
An unlikely friendship develops between a hitman and a suicidal guy who have both checked into the same hotel for different reasons.
The latest episode in the life of Francois Pignon, for some, this film may be a laugh-out-loud slapstick comedy. However, if farcical screwball is not your bag, then this movie could be seriously unfunny. The situations are 'black' and the delivery is heavy-handed. Rather than the satirical wit we expect of Monsieur Pignon, laughs are sought from situations such as suicide, divorce, and incompetent medical specialists. Funny? More like a pain in the ass.
Marcelline has the lead role in Turgenev's "A Month in the Country" and is in rehearsal for the stage production while rendezvousing with her real and imagined mid-life crisis.
This is a charming dramatic comedy about arriving at a certain life stage unfulfilled by the journey and irrevocably aging. Time ticks to an off-beat rhythm as players and characters collide, even the director's metronome can't restore a more even beat for members of the cast. It's the off-stage drama that is most engaging, where emotions are held in check only to emerge in theatrically inappropriate ways. Encore.
Zack and Miri Make a PornoAnthony Macali
Lifelong platonic friends Zack and Miri look to solve their respective cash-flow problems by making an adultfilm together.
"Zack and Miri Make a Porno" is a film of two halves. The first half is hilarious and fantastic, introducing us to the loveable friends and their daily escapades. It's when the title comes to life that the film fails miserably. It's certainly not as much fun as promised, leaving you wishing Zack and Miri found a more entertaining solution to their cash problems.
He's Just Not That Into YouWendy Slevison
This Baltimore-set movie of interconnecting story lines deals with the challenges of trying to understand human behaviour.
Adapted from the best-selling book of the same name, this movie is overpopulated with under-developed characters making mistakes, behaving badly, and being downright stupid - surprise surprise, mostly the women. An ensemble cast, who individually can be very good, get lost in the mire of a script laden with stereotypes. While generally entertaining, there are sections where you find yourself not caring who's just not into who.
Ghost TownAndrew O'Dea
When Pincus dies unexpectedly, but is miraculously revived, he wakes up to discover that he now has the annoying ability to see ghosts.
Simply put, this movie is a 'rom-com' that is neither romantic, nor funny. It utterly fails to deliver on the potential of its premise, instead delivering a plot that feels all too scripted and formulaic. As it labors along in an unimaginative state, you can't help but be frustrated by comedic talent that is severely underutilized. A completely transparent attempt at a comedy, "Ghost Town" is hauntingly bad.