The WordsAnne Murphy
A writer at the peak of his literary success discovers the steep price he must pay for stealing another man's work.
"The Words" is a story about a story within a story. With a great cast and the main characters playing authors it's ironic that what this film lacks is script development. Ambitious in scope, it lacks depth and ultimately contains insufficient intrigue to hold interest and it comes across as contrived. There's a melodramatic build to a final twist or surprise, and then the surprise is that there is no surprise; an anti-climax. Writers block?
The Last SongWendy Slevison
A rebellious girl is sent to a Southern beach town for the summer to stay with her father.
"The Last Song" was specifically created as a vehicle for its female lead to make the shift to more adult dramatic roles, but regrettably it won't help her career as much as she may have hoped. The movie is everything you'd expect â€“ a cheesy, schmaltzy tear-jerker. While the young stars do their best to provide some sense of authenticity to their roles, the overwrought, overloaded and implausible plot make it very hard work for cast and viewer alike. It almost certainly won't be the amiable young star's last song, but sadly isn't her best.
The Last CircusAnne Murphy
Two clowns compete for the love of a beautiful trapeze artist.
"The Last Circus" uses a circus troupe in an allegorical presentation of the horror of the Spanish Civil War. The result is macabre and violent, yet strangely compelling viewing. There's nothing subtle in the telling of the story, it goes right over the top with absurdity, and then it could be argued that the same comic chaos underpins any war. Choosing clowns as the main characters is heavy handed imagery; both the happy clown and the sad clown are grotesque, more than entertaining. This metaphor laden effort is in need of a ring-master.
Hyde Park on HudsonAnne Murphy
The story of the affair between FDR and his cousin Daisy Suckley, centered around the weekend in 1939 when the King of England visited New York.
The most entertaining thread of "Hyde Park on The Hudson" comes from the pronunciation of 'hot dog' by the royal couple. Disarmingly straight-faced, they consider whether to eat one. It's a small highlight in what is an otherwise lacklustre production about a philatelist president and his dowdy cousin. "How I longed for him" is typical of the narration provided, courtesy of the mooning paramour to explain what isn't apparent on the screen. The Hudson reduced to a rivulet.
J. EdgarAndrew O'Dea
Director of the FBI for almost 40 years, J.Edgar Hoover was feared and admired, reviled and revered.
This biopic is as unprovocative as it is uninformative. So much of "J Edgar" is dedicated towards an unnecessary focus on the man's battle with his sexuality and unrequited romance that it loses direction. Eventually, it labours towards the end of what is ultimately a dull and turgid affair. Utterly disappointing when you consider the talent of the director and the squandered opportunity to delve into the life of one of the most influential and controversial characters in the history of the United States. Sucks almost as much as the protagonists' vacuous namesake.
Magic Mike XXLAnthony Macali
Mike rejoins the crew to embark on a road trip to Myrtle Beach and attend the Annual Strippers Convention.
"Magic Mike XXL" does everything in its power to subvert all your expectations. Apart from the final hour, the plot is largely uneventful and bland, severely lacking the level of fun and frivolity from the first magic show. Despite the surprisingly pleasant motion picture visuals, this story of male-entertainers hitting the road on a journey of self-discovery unfortunately sticks too close to the straight and narrow. Put it away.
A man awakens from a coma, only to discover that someone has taken on his identity and that no one believes him. With the help of a young woman, he sets out to prove who he is.
The premise of "Unknown" is solid, but it's the execution that falters. You can't help but shake the feeling you've seen it all before, only done much better. Most disappointing is the talented cast that is wasted in underwhelming, forgettable roles. An inevitable twist might explain inconsistencies in the plot, but it only leads to a pedestrian climax that will have most wishing the amnesia that plagues the protagonist could've translated to the viewing experience as well. Forget it.
Marley & MeWendy Slevison
A family learns important life lessons from their adorable, but naughty and neurotic dog.
"Marley and Me" positions itself as a romantic comedy but unfortunately it fails to deliver. With no chemistry between its lead actors, the characters and plot are difficult to engage with, and you find yourself not really caring about the human stars. It's the 22 adorable Labradors who share the role of Marley that are the best part of this movie, and the only laughs come from the innumerable scenes of chewing and destruction. For dog-lovers with lots of patience only.
A teacher opens a time capsule that has been dug up at his son's elementary school; in it are some chilling predictions lead him to believe his family plays a role in the events that are about to unfold.
"Knowing" is a movie about numbers and creepy whispering guys who ghost around gifting children smooth black rocks and cute white rabbits. These are but small examples of its absurdity, and should only appeal to those sadistic few who enjoy seeing large groups of people killed in disastrous CGI mayhem (or the constant and expressionless face of the lead actor). Knowing this is what the future may hold, there is no excuse to watch this film.
Dorian GrayWendy Slevison
A corrupt young man keeps his youthful beauty eternally, but a painting reveals his inner ugliness.
Set in Victorian London, this film is a turgid and vulgar representation of a fascinating morality tale by an author renowned for his witty social commentary. Sadly, all wit is lost due to the blank, lacklustre performance by the central player. Despite stylishly replicating the era,and having a strong support cast, "Dorian Gray" completely lacks substance, and the CGI effects used for the portrait become increasingly, albeit unintentionally, comic. Regrettably, this movie is as ugly in it's essence as the title character.
A Lisbon woman seeks out a man who has a secret connection to her neighbour’s past life on a farm by Mount Tabu in Africa.
The film-maker's craft is skillfully realised in stunning black and white, and "Tabu" is visually rewarding. Innovative audio techniques leave the telling of the background story to a narrator with a flat style that eventually weighs down interest. The real let down is a plot that lacks depth. The movie is not redeemed by its symbolism... a crocodile obviously warns of lurking danger. Ironically it's the very same reptile that remains the only snappy thing about this film. Not fabu(lous).
Two young Americans with special abilities must race to find a girl in Hong Kong before a shadowy government organization called Division does.
"Push" is a forgettable addition to the 'superheroes' genre. The only superpower present here is the uncanny ability to teleport from one completely inane plot hole to another. The storyline is as boring as it is confusing, exacerbated by flimsy handheld camerawork and an unflattering visual style. Even the ostentatious action sequences end up looking like nothing more than sci-fi muddle. When push comes to shove, this film falls flat on its face.
In New York City, a young counterfeiter is introduced to the world of street fighting.
"Fighting" is yet another 'underground' brawling pic that packs little punch. Don't be mislead by the title, as this movie plays more like an unconvincing character study interrupted by the odd fist-fight. Weighed down by a seriously sluggish plot, it drags on from scene to scene, evoking little feeling except making you want to throw in the towel. Brutal, bone-crunching fights are laughable, leaving the mumbling pretty-boy-lead with nothing but a few scratches on his chin. Pay the price for admission and you're in for one nasty sucker-punch.
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.
The JudgeJan Di Pietro
A big city lawyer returns home where his father, the town's judge, is suspected of murder.
"The Judge" provides genteel drama with textbook precision. It places the family unit and justice as the guiding institutions for society, suggesting that if Middle America's families are suffering, the world will come crumbling down. What we all need, apparently, is law to keep us "equal". There are funny, commendable performances, although they are stained by poor script and story, and it becomes frustrating to watch genuinely interesting characters held hostage to beige tasks. Raise your right hand… away from your wallet!
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.
The Time Traveller's WifeAnne Murphy
A romantic drama about a Chicago librarian with a gene that causes him to involuntarily time travel, and the complications it creates for his marriage.
"The Time Traveller's Wife" has an imaginative storyline centred on an incredible romance that transcends time. Something must have gone wrong in production, as the telling of this tale is unforgivably banal. This movie is such a drag viewers will find themselves wishing for an ability to time travel beyond the credits to escape the tedium. With no on-screen chemistry it's hard to even care about the time traveller's wife's husband or his wife.
A horrific bus accident sends a young woman down an emotionally destructive path to seek justice.
This film is painfully long. The lazy editing could have culled a scene or ten, saving the audience some sanity and patience. Instead, we’re left with an overly intricate nit-picking of one of the most annoying characters in cinema. She is a dishonest, manipulative, and obnoxious teenager who uses others for her own self-righteousness. The supposed saving grace is her ‘noble’ intention, but she comes across as nothing more than an unrelenting monster. A lot of the scenes are too pretentious and preachy to be taken seriously. Have a Margarita instead.
A keen look at the unusual private life of a father and his daughter, set on the fringe of society.
This is one of those movies where the audience is left in suspense, waiting with the expectation of some hidden moral message or meaning to come. Except in this film, it never does. Sure, the point might very well be the examination of a protagonist who in essence is uninteresting, or even the examination of an uninteresting man's life... unfortunately this translates to the entirety of "Curling" as well. Sitting through it will leave you wishing you were able to stick your head in the snow of its wintry backdrop than endure another drawn-out minute. Would rather cop a snowball to the face.
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...
A grief counselor working with a group of plane-crash survivors finds herself at the root of a mystery when her clients begin to disappear.
"Passengers" is a horrible drama that fails dismally in its feeble attempt to pose as a thriller. Everything about the movie is decidedly uneventful, accentuated by sluggish pacing and an unremarkable script. The gloomy camerawork throughout succeeds only in making the vapid plot seem monotonous; the only respite coming when it inevitably crashes and burns in a dissatisfying twist-ending. If you pay to go watch this film, you will have been taken for a ride.
Holy MotorsStefan Bugryn
The mysterious Monsieur Oscar spends a day vaulting from one persona to the next…
Be warned: this surrealist fantasia is one hell of a challenge. Like an abstract painting, precious little is explained, and almost everything is open to interpretation. More questions are raised than answered, which will no doubt instigate discussion and arguments after viewing. Sadly, the majority of those questions are just plain pretentious, self indulgent, and weird. It will confound, confuse, shock, tease, frustrate, and ultimately, divide the audience. If it doesn't captivate you, it will simply disgust you. But that's the beauty of cinema, right? Well, not for everyone.
A Few Days in SeptemberAnthony Macali
September the 1st, 2001. Elliot, an American CIA agent holding top secret information on the immediate future of the world.
This film is best summarised in its title. It simply follows a couple of people spending a few days in September. They talk; sometimes they meet people, only to have to wait a day to meet them again, allowing more hapless discussion. The direction features a series of blurry shots throughout, with an impact undermined by the headaches they induce. The dialogue is ambiguous, characters ever-so irritating and an ending more irksome than profound.
A young man sets out to uncover the truth after finding his baby photo on a missing persons website.
This movie feels like nothing more than an extended show reel for the young male lead, dreamed up by studio execs to make an easy buck. The space around the teen heartthrob is filled with an established and highly-regarded supporting cast, who have nothing to work with in a film that has been clumsily put together without even attempting to be clever, entertaining or exciting; all things a good spy flick should be. Underwhelming and completely devoid of any originality or inspiration, "Abduction" is a waste of time.
Romulus, My FatherLuke Bartter
It tells the story of Romulus, his beautiful wife, Christina, and their struggle in the face of great adversity to bring up their son, Raimond.
This film is turgid and slow, full of uninteresting, 'poignant' scenes that seem to exist only to make the most of the lengthy running time. The characters suffer through their lives, and the audience suffers too, not in empathy, but in boredom. It's understandable that the target audience might be those who adore Australian independent films about the human condition, but in any case most will find it dull and uninspiring. Best avoided.