The HousemaidAnne Murphy
A man's affair with his family's housemaid leads to a dark consequences.
"The Housemaid" is an erotically charged study of the ruthless politics of gender and social position. Money provides the wherewithal to dispense with morality and it is replaced with malice so calculated it's breathtaking. Power is potently portrayed. The onscreen representation of the central family's elaborate lifestyle is lavish and visually opulent. The dark suspense builds and culminates in an ending that is disquieting and memorable, with an odd epilogue tacked on the end as a jarringly surreal close. Well maid, right up to the superfluous flourish of the finish.
Ten WintersAnne Murphy
Timing is everything as friends who are drawn to each other miss opportunities to become a couple but keep connecting by chance during a decade.
Winter in Venice looks cold, the back drops are frosty, a stark contrast to the central characters who are warm and real. There is a good deal of restraint exercised, and love-lorn resignation experienced, by the friends as they fail to connect romantically over the ten year period covered by the movie. The unrequited attraction of the couple is understated and compelling to watch as each year passes and fate conspires to keep them apart. "Ten Winters" is one great story.
The TreeAnne Murphy
Fate strikes taking the father of a family of four and leaving his daughter convinced that her dad still lives in the giant fig tree growing near their house.
There is a tension between holding on and letting go, mourning and living that's central to the plot. The idea behind the story is imaginative and unfortunately the movie lacks depth on the screen as does the dialogue that fails to hold interest. Even the characters at their best are blandly stereotypical. Thankfully the Australian countryside is magnificent, as is the titular tree. It just doesn't take root.
La Nostra VitaAnne Murphy
When tragedy befalls a construction worker he leans on his boss to give him his own site to supervise.
"La Nostra Vita" shows a slice of life for a hard working and honest man in present day Italy. Everyday struggles to navigate dilemmas involving ethics, family and friends a system where corruption is rife and how difficult it can be to do the right thing. Filmed with a hand held camera, the choppiness of the screen images highlight the topical edginess of the story-line. The audience is propelled from moment to moment as the odds stack up against the lead good-guy. Astute, perceptive film making.
Wall Street: Money Never SleepsStefan Bugryn
A young wall street trader learns firsthand about the dark side of America's corporate elite.
Greed continues to reign in this uninspiring tale about everything wrong with modern day capitalism. The subject matter and the characters could have been leveraged to create a much more engaging storyline, but it falls short of a potential Greek tragedy, and turns into a second rate, forgettable drama. Like the money grubbing fat cats it portrays, it looks fancy, but really has nothing much to offer. Greed is still good, but as for this movie... not so much.
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.
Charlie St. CloudThomas Jones
Charlie St. Cloud is a young man overcome by grief at the death of his younger brother. So much so that he takes a job as caretaker of the cemetery in which his brother is buried.
Under usual circumstances, if someone could see dead people, they'd be called crazy. But apparently, if that someone is incredibly good looking, it's endearing. For a film, which deals with heavy subject matter, it's rather underwhelming. Too much emphasis is placed on peripherals (what do geese have to do with anything?) and not enough on the tragedy and trauma, which comes with losing someone. When it comes to Charlie, best stick to the regular seven stages of mourning.
The Girl Who Played with FireThomas Jones
As computer hacker Lisbeth and journalist Mikael investigate a sex-trafficking ring, Lisbeth is accused of three murders, causing her to go on the run while Mikael works to clear her name.
Set in the country famous for IKEA, this film is much the same as visiting one of their superstores, minus the ball pit. There are countless twists and turns as you follow the path of these complex characters, and at the end, you pick up the pieces. The epic plotline is full of suspenseful and provocative drama, delivered at a pace which will leave you behind if you don't keep up. The best in Swedish design. Ja!
After being abandoned for eight years in boarding school, a young teenager returns home.
"Udaan" is a narrative about a young teenager and the complex relationship he shares with his father. The story is well scripted with an amazing screenplay that portraits the association and issues between the main characters. The director has handled the subject very well, capturing situations from everyone's life and infusing the characters with realistic emotions. Situational based sound tracks and lyrics ignite your thoughts, as the film inspires you to take responsibility, follow your passion, break all boundaries and fly towards freedom.
The Disappearance of Alice CreedAndrew O'Dea
Two men fortify a nondescript apartment so it can serve as a prison before kidnapping a woman.
"The Disappearance of Alice Creed" sets the tone from the outset, with a dialogue-free opening act that is as methodical and gripping as the film itself. Shot almost entirely in a confined space, excellent camera work and direction help to maintain its claustrophobic nature and sustain an air of tension. It moves from confrontation to revelation with doses of dry humour in just the right places to lace the suspense. With superb acting performances from the cast (all three of them) and a tight focus, you won't need to search any further than this if you're looking for a smart, engaging thriller.
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.
Tomorrow, When the War BeganAnne Murphy
When their country is invaded and their families are taken, eight unlikely high school teenagers band together to fight.
If a hostile invasion were to occur it might play out just as it does in "Tomorrow, When the War Began". Action laden exploits are built on a gripping premise that stays just within the bounds of credibility. The interaction between the affable teenage characters is laden with coming of age insecurity as they try to work out what's happening and what to do. Tension is palpable as bewilderment develops into determination to survive. The gang rallies and the adventure begins...
Matching JackWendy Slevison
A woman struggles with her son's illness and her husband's infidelity.
Watching "Matching Jack" is a bit like spending two hours in the Oncology Ward of a Children's Hospital, and whilst compassionately acknowledging that for many families, this is their dreadful reality, it's pretty tough on the ordinary movie-goer. The film is about sick children, and in spite of a romance and a 'happy' ending, this fact leaves a slight feeling of discomfort - it's too emotionally overworked to be a documentary, but too tragically true to life to be entertaining. Tears will flow, but it just feels a bit too orchestrated... disappointing diagnosis for one of Australia's well-known film-making teams.
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'!
Father of My ChildrenWendy Slevison
A film producer struggles with suicidal despair amidst the collapse of his business.
"Father of My Children" explores the emotive subject of suicide, acutely juxtaposing the life of a busy young Parisian family before and after 'the event'. In this sensitive and authentic observation, anger, tears, secrets and stoic determination are all revealed as the people left behind struggle to continue on with life amidst their grief and the financial mess that is their legacy. Based on a true story (only minor details have been changed), this film is a poignant acknowledgement of the very significant issue of mental health in our world. Don't just see this film, talk about it.
The Killer Inside MeAnne Murphy
A West Texas deputy sheriff is slowly unmasked as a psychotic killer.
Small town post-war America is faithfully captured and depicted in a way that almost elicits nostalgia, even for those of us who weren't there. "The Killer Inside Me" is dark and moody as well as stylish, as is the film-noir tradition. Watching the sociopathic protagonist committing a string of murders while maintaining his deception is profoundly disturbing. Sadistic elements of the story-line are intended to shock; the violence is brutal and administered with pre-meditated determination but most chilling is the demeanour of the murderer. There is not a flicker of remorse inside this killer.
Cairo TimeAnne Murphy
A romantic drama about a brief, unexpected love affair that catches two people off-guard.
Cairo creates a magnificent backdrop for this movie, the mood is exotic and the scenery is breathtaking. The pace in the summer heat is languid, and the already heavy atmosphere is laden with meaningful glances. Without meaning to give anything away, the previous sentences provide a full plot description, as not very much happens. "Cairo Time" is well produced and almost serves better as a travel documentary than a romantic drama, as charming as the love story is. Slow, subtle and lingering, it might stay around for a time.
Everlasting MomentsAnne Murphy
In a time of social change and unrest, a young working class woman wins a camera in a lottery.
"Everlasting Moments" is a captivating drama set at the turn of 20th century and told from the perspective of a woman of modest means. Beautifully captured by the camera, and produced in sepia tones, the movie is burnished with a historic patina. The central relationship is acutely observed as years pass, a wife beleaguered by her domestic situation and her oafish husband. Themes of resilience and acceptance are sympathetically related rather than viewed through a romantic lens. Lasting impressions.
Wheelchair-bound Christine makes a life changing journey to Lourdes, the iconic site of pilgrimage.
"Lourdes" is a subversive, almost tongue in cheek, exploration of theology, belief and miracles. A contemplative movie that, thanks to an underdeveloped narrative, leaves the audience to imagine what each sideways glance and eyebrow movement on the screen means. This story will appeal to believers and non believers as it captures both the devotion of a pilgrimage to Lourdes and the modern day commercialism of the same. Miracles are now commodities. It's hard to say what St. Bernadette would make of the contemporary Lourdes.
Two men, who don't realise they have just holidayed in the same place, at the same time, and with the same people, talk about their respective holidays over drinks.
The premise of "Hahaha" is quite amusing and the film is described as a comedy. It's a low budget effort with no fancy props or effects. Redolent of a lazy summer holiday, the pace is almost lethargic. However, the pace and simple presentation are problematic when watching becomes tedious and eye-lids heavy. Despite the cleverness of the plot told from different perspectives, the film relates a boring tale albeit in a picturesque setting. Hmmmmm...
Women Without MenAnne Murphy
Against the tumultuous backdrop of Iran's 1953 CIA-backed coup d'état, the destinies of four women converge in a beautiful orchard garden, where they find independence, solace and companionship.
The cinematography is extraordinary, creating a compelling story on the screen. The camera wanders and picks up magical images, mostly of women who would wish to live their lives differently. Each woman's tale is told with insight and appreciation for the individual; a feminist narrative with a political backdrop. Interest is held as the movie weaves through time and dream sequences, even as the plot lacks a little depth. There are men with the women, they're all but incidental.
A retiree battles to obtain his rightfully due pension.
The grainy uneven quality of this film could be interpreted as artistic or just plain grainy and uneven. This movie was black to the point of miserable. Rather than being entertaining, "Mammuth" is bizarre. Populated with lifeless and simple characters, it's also dull. Even if you 'get' the redemptive elements of the awkward road-trip, you can't help but resent the waste of your time spent watching these lives less lived. Honestly there is no poetry in sliced ham, but you'll have to sit through a screening to 'get' that reference. Only if you must.
Step Up 3DWendy Slevison
A tight-knit group of New York City street dancers find themselves pitted against the world's best hip hop dancers in a high-stakes showdown that will change their lives forever.
Using the same mainstream storyline as many other chick-flicks such as friendship, love, competition and issues of trust, this is definitely a film intended for dance lovers. While showing a disappointing lack of imagination in the plot and rather forced and fake acting, the electrifying dance scenes and razor-sharp chorography do redeem the film. However, it could have stepped its game up a bit.
The Special RelationshipThomas Jones
A dramatisation that traces former U.K. prime minister Tony Blair's relationships with Bill Clinton.
Blair and Clinton's relationship was like every other relationship. There was the honeymoon stage, sleepovers, late night phone calls, an affair, disagreements and ultimately, a break-up. To enjoy this film a knowledge of history or politics isn't necessary, because anyone who has been in any type of relationship will be able to see truth in the depiction of this couple. Unfortunately, the truthful depictions don't extend to the portrayals of some of these well known figures. It leans more towards telemovie than documentary. But rest assured, there are plenty more poltical icons left in the sea.
A New Yorker moves to Los Angeles in order to figure out his life while he house-sits for his brother, and he soon sparks with his brother's assistant.
"Greenberg" is a guy who is annoying and weird, so aloof that you may question his mental state. At the beginning, you empathise with the man, but this doesn't last long, as you become bored by his antics and frustrated by his social encumbrance. It's difficult to root for such a character, especially when his old friends, and particularly the vulnerable assistant, suffer from his selfishness. Yes, life must be tough without any responsibility... poor Greenberg.