Calvary - Movie Poster

Calvary

5.0 Anne Murphy

Threatened during confession, a good-natured priest must battle dark forces closing in around him.

Bless us Father if this isn't the most bruising story about transgression and redemption ever filmed. Some of the characters cannot forgive themselves for their situations let alone forgive those who have trespassed against them. "Calvary" is a dark exploration of the human condition and our need for vengeance. This movie is exceptional from the startling opening lines, to the heart rending closing scene. Be warned, while there are moments of gentle humour, it's largely a wounding experience. Days of reckoning.


Galore - Movie Poster

Galore

3.0 Anne Murphy

It's a sweltering summer before the final year of school and Billie and Laura share every secret except for Billie's biggest secret - she's crazy in love with Laura's boyfriend, Danny.

"Galore" is a moody movie that captures the nihilism of youth. It's a grim story of realism as opposed to other more fanciful offerings about youth that create 'Grimm' tales of fantasy. The central 'BFF's' have nothing much to do and nowhere to go but cycle to the local swimming hole for relief from their otherwise stifling situations. Still it is compelling, even as the viewing experience is suffocating. Galore?


The Trip to Italy - Movie Poster

The Trip to Italy

2.5 Anne Murphy

Two men, six meals in six different places on a road trip around Italy. Liguria, Tuscany, Rome, Amalfi and ending in Capri.

Part way through "The Trip to Italy", and probably mid-guffaw, you might start wondering why you're watching. The sometimes improvised dialogue starts to wear a little thin with yet another repeated impersonation. The guys are living the dolce vita and certainly eating well in spectacular settings. This is a pleasant enough romp yet at the same time it's all talk and no action, going to show that you can travel the length of Italy and not get anywhere. Prego.


For Those Who Can Tell No Tales - Movie Poster

For Those Who Can Tell No Tales

3.0 Anne Murphy

An Australian tourist discovers the silent legacy of wartime atrocities when she arrives in a seemingly idyllic little town on the border of Bosnia and Serbia.

This is a moving portrayal of coming to terms with atrocities of the recent past. The story is based on the real life experiences of one of the writers, who is also the lead actor, and it has an authentic feel. If only the tone didn't get quite so preachy; the superior analysis of an outsider with the privilege of coming in as a tourist does irritate a little. Importantly though it does give voice...


The Broken Circle Breakdown - Movie Poster

The Broken Circle Breakdown

4.5 Stefan Bugryn

A pair of musicians have their love put to the test when tragedy strikes their family.

This is an emotionally dynamic and musically outstanding film that only comes around every so often. What stands out most, and what you will stick with you the longest, is the stirring soundtrack, which creates a beautiful dream-scape that perfectly embodies the moving storyline. It is a tragic journey that will warm your heart, and break it at the same time; a great depiction of the bohemian spirit, and a bold study of modern beliefs. Close to being a masterpiece that should be viewed by all audiences. Nothing broken here.


The Double - Movie Poster

The Double

4.0 Anthony Macali

A clerk in a government agency finds his unenviable life takes a turn for the horrific with the arrival of a new co-worker who is both his exact physical double and his opposite.

"The Double" is dark, twisted and strangely comedic. In a clever expression of loneliness and anxiety, it's easy to sympathise and share in the feelings of the bumbly protagonist. While the setting doesn't always make a lot of sense, the quirkiness is not excessive. Usually such conventions isolate the audience, but it serves a valuable purpose in breaking the mundane and sad overtones with bouts of witty and insightful and laughter. Worth seeing once.


Everyday Rebellion - Movie Poster

Everyday Rebellion

3.5 Anne Murphy

"Everyday Rebellion" follows three main stories, in the Ukraine, Wall St. and the Spanish neighbourhood assembly.

Although the film is heavy in ideology, the creativity of the protestors is inspiring, and the use of humour adds a light touch. Real footage of recent protests is used with effect. Many of the activists are readily identifiable as everyday people and the narration provides understanding of events, demystifying some the perceived rage of rebellion. You can't help wondering 'what next?' Could we do this every day?


The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz - Movie Poster

The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz

5.0 Anne Murphy

The story of Aaron Schwartz, a programming prodigy and information activist, who was facing indictment under the very laws he was campaigning to change when he took his own life in 2013.

This is a must see documentary, be outraged, despair, and then promise to change the world in your own way. Who would guess that a story of technology and access to information could be so emotionally involving? If only we all had as much integrity around our ideals for a better society and the sharing of knowledge as this maligned but inspiring young man. All round brilliant.


Seduced and Abandoned - Movie Poster

Seduced and Abandoned

3.0 Anne Murphy

An exploration of several interconnected subjects: The Cannes Film Festival, cinema art, money, glamour and death.

It's said that a story has a start, a middle, and an end, but this doco is all middle with little set-up or context and no real conclusion. There are interesting conversations with well-known directors and other studio folk, even an actor or two. Movie buffs will enjoy this more than others. The business of film making is laid bare and it might not be surprising to find that in what should be a creative world it's money that does the talking. No happy ever afters.


Chef - Movie Poster

Chef

3.0 Anne Murphy

A chef who loses his restaurant job starts up a food truck in an effort to reclaim his creative promise, while piecing back together his estranged family.

Don't see "Chef" on an empty stomach, the food on the screen is mouth-watering, and will have stomachs rumbling. Interestingly, this is a movie as much about social media as it is food trucks. Mix troubled relationships between friends with a road trip, and there are no prizes for guessing what's served up. It is a feel good film though, and what the story lacks in flair it makes up with fun. Flavoursome but formulaic.


Fading Gigolo - Movie Poster

Fading Gigolo

4.0 Anne Murphy

Fioravante decides to become a professional Don Juan as a way of making money to help his cash-strapped friend, Murray.

The themes of love, morality, and mortality are explored as a florist ventures into what is known as the oldest profession in the world. "Fading Gigilo" is richly textured and unexpectedly charming thanks to the characters and larger than life actors who play them. When watching, tenderness is found in the smallest moments, a glance, a sigh, or a word not spoken. The only discordant note comes from the soundtrack as the background music dominates at times. Be seduced.


In a World... - Movie Poster

In a World...

3.0 Anne Murphy

An underachieving voice coach finds herself competing in the movie trailer voice-over profession against her arrogant father and his protégé.

Indie films, such as this one, often have a wisdom that belies their budget. "In a World" is wise along with the wise-cracks, and there's something deft in how points are made around perennially topical social themes like sexism without causing discomfort. It is witty rather than sharp and endearing in lieu of irresistible, but overall convincing and clever. Like its lead character the movie is a likable underachiever. Yes, in a word.


Nebraska - Movie Poster

Nebraska

3.5 Anthony Macali

An aging, booze-addled father makes the trip from Montana to Nebraska with his estranged son in order to claim a million-dollar Mega Sweepstakes Marketing prize.

"Nebraska" is the black-and-white story of a rather confused elderly man. His poignant history is revealed during an absurd adventure to the titular destination, ensuring a stop-over at the town of his birth grants us a glimpse of small-town country life. All the characters we meet are equally colourful and droll, while conveying the quiet fragility and banal habits of old age. Simple and stripped-back, the film is a winner thanks to its lovable lead. Rich in sympathy and laughter.


Gloria - Movie Poster

Gloria

3.5 Anne Murphy

A story set in Santiago and centered on Gloria, a free-spirited older woman, and the realities of her whirlwind relationship with a former naval officer she meets out in a club.

There is much to like about the authenticity with which one woman's life is depicted, including the loneliness of living alone. "Gloria" is about a real character who is a complete woman. The sex scenes are a highlight with everything played au natural; the audience laughs... but maybe it is true that getting to know someone romantically is no easier at sixty that it was at sixteen. Glorious.


Blue Is the Warmest Colour - Movie Poster

Blue Is the Warmest Colour

3.5 Anthony Macali

Adele's life is changed when she meets Emma, a young woman with blue hair.

"Blue Is the Warmest Colour" is an intimate and uncompromising story about first loves, sexual discovery and desire. The camera is close-up and firmly focused on the young Adele, adding an emotional reality that leads you to believe you are watching a true story unfold. You cannot imagine any other cast playing these spirited characters, and their performances are fascinating. Some of the more graphic scenes will shock, and although the film is too long, you can't deny the amazing storytelling. Red hot.


Wadjda - Movie Poster

Wadjda

3.5 Anne Murphy

An enterprising Saudi girl signs on for her school's Koran recitation competition as a way to raise the remaining funds she needs in order to buy the green bicycle that has captured her interest.

How women find their way in a patriarchal world underscores the story of a girl and her mother, written and directed by a woman. "Wadjda" shows life in a society where women face challenges and day-to-day struggles. There is a sense of defiance but it's diluted by resignation, and the result is a gentleness in the tone of the movie that's borne of a feminine viewpoint. Go girl.


Dallas Buyers Club - Movie Poster

Dallas Buyers Club

4.5 Anne Murphy

In 1985 Dallas, electrician and hustler Ron Woodroof works around the system to help AIDS patients get the medication they need after he is himself diagnosed with the disease.

Central to the "Dallas Buyers Club" is an unusually gritty yet true journey of transformation. The hero is larger than life, a confronting combination of crass profanity and homophobia. It is said that fact is stranger than fiction, and this man's ferocious desperation for life could not have been invented. It's befitting that the lead performances are nothing short of transfixing, making this is one helluva story about tragedy and triumph. Bigger than Texas.


The Great Beauty - Movie Poster

The Great Beauty

4.0 Anne Murphy

Jep Gambardella has seduced his way through the lavish nightlife of Rome for decades, and now it is his 65th birthday.

Interesting characters litter "The Great Beauty" and Rome has a leading role. The ancient and venerated city is the perfect backdrop for a lifetime's reminiscences in a visually exhilarating movie piecing together one man's memories. This wildly creative piece of film-making is a stylish cinematic achievement to be experienced rather than watched. Simply stunning and unmistakably Italian, a contemplation on life, love and meaning that's as intoxicating as an operatic aria. Be seduced.


Inside Llewyn Davis - Movie Poster

Inside Llewyn Davis

4.0 Anne Murphy

A week in the life of a young singer navigating the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961.

"Inside Llywen Davis" provides an in-depth portrait of one man, and a reflection on life. The protagonist has been following a dream and starts to realise that he is living a mundane nightmare. There's no plot to speak of, and this portrayal of the daily grind captures a surreal quality. The cinematography is extraordinary, finding beauty in the grim of winter and grime of the city. As for the folky soundtrack, let's just say you can hear the whistle blow a hundred miles...


Philomena - Movie Poster

Philomena

3.5 Anne Murphy

A world-weary political journalist picks up the story of a woman's search for her son, who was taken away from her decades ago after she became pregnant and was forced to live in a convent.

"Philomena" is perfectly structured. It is crafted to achieve a fine balance between the wrenching despair of forced adoption 50 years ago and touching comedic present-day moments. The story is based in truth, and the facts raise ire as it's difficult to accept that this treatment of young mothers was even possible. Thankfully there is no oozing of sentimentality and the humanity portrayed by the actors ensures moving viewing.


Austenland - Movie Poster

Austenland

2.0 Anne Murphy

Obsessed with Pride and Prejudice, a woman travels to a Jane Austen theme park in search for her perfect gentleman.

This is one of those times when the story ought to have remained a literary piece and not have been brought to the screen. The actors ham up romance scenes in a corny but corseted way. "Austenland" is daffy, cute and insubstantial; there is no trace of the wit and wisdom of the author on whose classic works this fantasy piece teeters. Not the end of the world, but it is a relief to reach this land's end.


Enough Said - Movie Poster

Enough Said

4.0 Anne Murphy

A divorced woman who decides to pursue the man she's interested in learns he's her new friend's ex-husband.

Reading the synopsis you might assume the relationship central to "Enough Said" is fraught, which would misrepresent this intelligent and nuanced comedy. Maybe any romantic pairing is complicated, even the flirtatious liaison that this couple starts out with. While there are complexities inherent in the story line, the movie is deceptively simple, and the realism disarming, almost achingly so. How do you love someone just as they are and not for how you want them to be? Say it again...


The Butler - Movie Poster

The Butler

2.0 Stefan Bugryn

The story of Cecil Gaines, who for three decades served as the chief butler in the White House for eight consecutive US Presidents.

The main problem with "The Butler" is it tries to fit too much into tight parameters, and becomes a little trying as a result. In fact, there's so much going on, it actually feels like there's nothing going on at all. The story between the lead character and his son is engaging enough, but even so, there isn't much depth to the lead himself. He is actually a little boring, much like the entire movie. You'll be better served somewhere else.


Mystery Road - Movie Poster

Mystery Road

3.0 Anne Murphy

An indigenous detective returns to the Outback to investigate the murder of a young girl.

A slow burning thriller without a backing soundtrack, the pace seems all the slower accompanied by the background silence. "Mystery Road" turns the camera on a host of social issues, from racial tensions, alcohol abuse to the dark side of the drug world, prostitution, and domestic violence... and this is only a small town. The problems are observed and not preached about - the only patronising done by the lead characters' colleagues. Disquietingly insightful. The location is certainly no mystery; this is slo-mo Australia.


Lovelace - Movie Poster

Lovelace

3.5 Anne Murphy

The story of Linda Lovelace, who is used and abused by the porn industry at the behest of her coercive husband, before taking control of her life.

One can imagine there is more to tell about the story of the young woman who 'starred' in a porno film that became a cultural phenomenon in the 1970's, and despite its name was not about a giraffe. The tale is sordid, ultimately it is about degradation and abuse, and it evokes empathy for the main character. The disco soundtrack is excellent and the support actors are credible as thugs in body shirts. Hard core.