Monsieur LazharAnne Murphy
At a Montréal public grade school, an Algerian immigrant is hired to replace a popular teacher who committed suicide in her classroom.
While presented as a simple tale, "Monsieur Lazhar" navigates complex social issues; and the phrase 'deceptively simple' is fitting. Themes of loss and grief are explored within a classroom setting by focusing on teacher and pupil relationships. The result is a tender and moving storyline given life by an excellent cast. It is a pleasure to watch serious subjects played out with a deft touch that neither preaches nor moralises. Bring an apple for this extraordinary teacher.
Your Sister's SisterTom Jones
Iris invites her friend Jack to stay at her family's island getaway after the death of his brother. At their remote cabin, Jack's drunken encounter with Hannah, Iris' sister, kicks off a revealing stretch of days.
'Written and directed by…' is the first credit. Ironic considering this film seems to be stripped of all script and direction. Applying their craft in the purest form, the cast improvise each scene and create a compelling and honest story of love and relationships. This style may turn some off. The dialogue and scenes lack the structure we are more accustomed to. But, like a woman removing all make-up, at first it may seem different, but its true beauty lies beneath.
Chinese Take-AwayAnne Murphy
In Buenos Aires, the bitter and methodic Roberto is a lonely man and the owner of a hardware store.
Don’t be misled by the title, "Chinese Take-Away" is original cinema fare. The characters are human to a fault, simple and uncomplicated. They stumble through day-to-day trying to get through some extraordinary and unexpected circumstances. That is the charm of this movie, perfectly balancing between the everyday-ordinary and the synchronistic and inexplicable. The result is quirky and beguiling, and it's simply delightful to watch the story unfold without being able to predict the direction or outcome. Recommend you eat in.
Moonrise KingdomAnthony Macali
A pair of young lovers flee their town, which causes a local search party to fan out and find them.
"Moonrise Kingdom" follows the sweet romance of two misunderstood kids, who find solace in one another after everyone else has given up on them. The narrow island setting is full of quirks, making use of a tour guide to describe some of its more famous tidbits, and adding a homely touch to the affair and adventure. A colourful cast push the expedition along, playing the frustrated parents and companions with good humour and trepidation; but the heart of the film lies in the relationship, a chronicle of a harmonising affection from a simpler time. A love story to rise up and conquer all.
Storm Surfers 3DAndrew O'Dea
A 3D adventure into the world of big wave surfing with Aussie tow-surfing legend Ross Clarke-Jones and two-time World Champion Tom Carroll.
"Storm Surfers 3D" is a character-driven documentary that transcends the surfing genre. There's an element of genuine story-telling as we revel in the raw honesty and boyish nature of two mates and their lifelong quest to ride the biggest waves. The proportions of the film are epic, but its brilliance lies within the camerawork and an innovate 3D format that is able to project the enormity and raw power of the ocean never so immensely realised on camera before. Drop-in and see this one.
A desperate Hong Kong film producer goes to extreme measures to fund his next feature.
Whilst it is completely wacky, often ridiculous, and includes many jokes only Hong Kong audiences apparently get, this is one hell of a comedy. It is sharply paced, refreshingly spontaneous, and has a cleverly written, self-referential script. Even within the smut and dirty jokes comes some unexpected heart-warming moments that oddly feel quite natural. Look out for the scene with Brother Tyrannosaurus, you might just injure yourself from laughter. It may be vulgar, but it's definitely worth the price of admission!
Nameless Gangster: Rules of the TimeStefan Bugryn
A customs official teams up with a vicious gangster to create the most powerful crime partnership.
A story like this always remains timeless. It is a classic tale of loyalty and betrayal within the confines of the Korean crime underworld. The film is so smartly pieced together, you will forgive it for relaying too much information too quickly. Look away for barely a second and you might find yourself struggling to keep up… pay attention, and you will be rewarded generously. Everything about this movie is just so cool; from the upbeat music, crazy Korean fashion and hairdos, to the amazing storytelling. You can name this one - awesome!
The WayAnne Murphy
A father heads overseas to recover the body of his estranged son who died while traveling the "El Camino de Santiago," and decides to take the pilgrimage himself.
'El Camino de Santiago', or 'The Way of St James', has been a Christian pilgrimage for a thousand years and this movie shows why the walk is more travelled now than ever before. The story may be fiction, but the trail itself, the magnificent scenery, and the diverse experiences of pilgrims are real. Not everyone's path, but those who do watch will experience a melancholic and moving film. This way for a life affirming journey.
Not Suitable for ChildrenStefan Bugryn
A young ladies' man learns his days are numbered to be a father.
This movie has heart, and lots of it. It knits a very serious situation with a bit of cheek, helped largely by the childlike innocence of the lead. Expert direction creates what could realistically have been a full-blown teenage sex romp into something much more subtle and controlled, and there is a beauty in its simplicity, with plenty of unexpected touching moments. No big gags are needed, because the charming story-telling looks after itself. Maybe not suitable for children, but for everyone else, it's a winner.
An examination of the life of acclaimed 'horse whisperer' Buck Brannaman, who recovered from years of child abuse to become a well-known expert in the interactions between horses and people.
This engaging documentary centres on a horse whisperer who says that rather than helping people with horse problems, he helps horses with people problems. The modest and authentic cowboy is kind in his methods and demonstrates an incredible rapport with and respect for the horses he works with. The message delivered is how to break cycles of abuse with sensitivity, the effect is life affirming and uplifting. Home, home on the range…
Friends with KidsAnthony Macali
Two best friends decide to have a child together while keeping their relationship platonic, so they can avoid the toll kids can take on romantic relationships.
"Friends with Kids" is about breaking conventions, offering an atypical (and refreshing) perspective on marriage and children. It thrives on the chemistry of its two leads, dishing out their rather brash commentary on the failed relationships of their friends, and sharing some of the opinions we always think but never say. The experiment unfolds and it's funny, only to succumb to the formulaic predictability so promisingly absent from the first half. Film with laughs.
The Woman in the FifthAnne Murphy
American writer Tom Ricks comes to Paris desperate to put his life together again and win back the love of his estranged wife and daughter.
The actor's performances are very good, the cinematography is considered, and dramatic tension is maintained throughout. Audiences will still wonder what happened when the plot is unfolded and will want to decipher what looks like an allegorical representation of the psyche of a writer. This movie will instigate discussions to determine how to explain the outcome. There are no tidy conclusions, and the story will linger beyond first viewing and into the fifth.
Café de FloreAnne Murphy
A love story between a man and woman, and a love story set four decades earlier between a mother and her son.
"Café de Flore" has two distinct threads that are separated in time and interwoven into one movie like a dream within a dream. The story is one of love and obsession and it is told with a sense of unease that builds along with anticipation about what might transpire. This movie is as engrossing as it is puzzling, with content so emotional you can't help but be drawn in and watch entranced. Book a table.
Salmon Fishing in the YemenWendy Slevison
A fisheries expert is approached by a consultant to help realise a sheik's vision of bringing the sport of fly-fishing to the desert.
"Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" is a film that's as original as its title. Adapted from the novel of the same name, it is a refreshingly imaginative and appealing cross-cultural narrative featuring warmly authentic performances from an extremely likeable cast. Humorously juxtaposing the frenzy of politicians clamouring for public approval against the solitude and grace of fly-fishing, this movie takes you on an improbable but decidedly pleasurable journey that's well worth the fare.
This Must Be the PlaceAnne Murphy
A bored and retired rock star sets out to find his father's executioner, an ex-Nazi war criminal.
This is a beguiling character study, thanks to the disarming performance of the lead actor. The central role is a captivating mix of unsophisticated naivety and world weariness played with sincerity. This movie, which is one man's search for self-discovery, could be plumbed meaning, and while many messages might be discovered it is better appreciated as adventurous film-making that delights with its originality. "This Must Be the Place" takes audiences to some-place else... if someone asks, this is where I'll be.
A Dangerous MethodAnne Murphy
A look at how the relationship between Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud gives birth to psychoanalysis.
"A Dangerous Method" documents the shared origins of what have become rival doctrines, following the professional friendship and falling out of the earliest proponents of 'the talking cure'. The actor's performances ensure compelling, if at times uncomfortable, viewing. The period in modern history is faithfully depicted and attention is paid to details which highlight the differences between the lifestyles and theories of kindred pioneers. Even more engrossing than the look is the dialogue; unsurprisingly the screenplay is based on a non-fiction book. No slips, Freudian or otherwise.
The Hunger GamesAnthony Macali
Set in a future where the Capitol selects a boy and girl from the twelve districts to fight to the death.
There's so much going on in "The Hunger Games" that you're bound to find something to cheer for. In a world of poverty and social class, it explores themes of politics and power, while emphasising the unsavoury demand for reality entertainment and violence. All these observations warrant our likeable heroine to do battle, an exercise that will satisfy the more bloodthirsty of fans. The build-up to the ceremony still ranks best, its history and spectacle matched by the lavish make-up and fashion on parade. Captivating and intense, the odds are definitely in its favour.
We Were HereAnne Murphy
A deep and reflective look at the arrival and impact of HIV/AIDS in San Francisco and how individuals rose to the occasion during the first years an unimaginable epidemic.
A profoundly moving documentary that revisits an extraordinary time in recent history for a close knit community. The use of personal recollections showcases the humanity in threaded through the stories of facing adversity. "We Were Here" is carefully edited, and never strays into over-sentimentality while exploring how individuals confronted difficult times without heroics but reliant on love, making it a powerful piece of film-making and compelling viewing. The past is present.
My Week with MarilynAnne Murphy
Colin Clark, an employee of Sir Laurence Olivier's, documents the tense interaction between Olivier and Marilyn Monroe during production of The Prince and the Showgirl.
There's not a lot of plot to get lost in just an intimate week with the movie star we remember for her reputation for being as fragile as she was glamorous. "My Week with Marilyn" is an engaging in-depth character study. The lead actor delivers a spell-binding and authentic portrait of the screen legend as complex woman who shone in front of the camera and struggled with insecurity behind the scenes. Not only gentlemen will prefer this blonde.
Martha Marcy May MarleneAnne Murphy
Haunted by painful memories and increasing paranoia, a damaged woman struggles to re-assimilate with her family after fleeing an abusive cult.
The fragile bonds of family come under scrutiny in this psychological thriller, and makes for tense viewing from the opening scenes right until the second it finishes. The film is dark and taut as memories are seamlessly threaded with the present. The film-maker is deft, using the past to explain today and develop a sense of impending threat in the audience. While watching it becomes harder to breathe as the story unfolds. Mal-adjusted mentality methodically manipulated.
Man on a LedgeTom Jones
As a police psychologist works to talk down an ex-con who is threatening to jump from a Manhattan hotel rooftop, the biggest diamond heist ever committed is in motion.
Any film that starts with a car chase in a cemetery is bound to be good. "Man on Ledge" is packed with non-stop drama, suspense, action and characters. There are so many players in this game, each with their own rising stakes, and the way the multiple stories unfold simultaneously, with not a minute of screen time wasted, is incredibly smart and highly entertaining. Don’t let the title deceive you, the plot is a lot thicker and will keep you on the ledge of your seat.
The ArtistAnne Murphy
Hollywood, 1927: Silent movie star George Valentin wonders if the arrival of talking pictures will cause him to fade into oblivion.
Prepare to be transported to a past era in Hollywood by "The Artist". There are many adjectives to describe the nostalgic venture including: charming, original, witty, surprising, and stylish. In short a captivating movie, and all the more so for daring to be all but silent and presented in black and white. It is a pleasure to be entertained by a romance that eschews modern effects and remains authentic to the period portrayed. Paints a picture.
Albert NobbsWendy Slevison
Some thirty years after donning men's clothing in order to work and survive in 19th century Ireland, a woman finds herself trapped in a prison of her own making.
"Albert Nobbs" is the complete antithesis of the summer blockbuster movie. Its quietly tragic tale is told with confined restraint, analogous to the exquisite self-control of the title character. Featuring a stunning performance from the female lead, who is also writer and producer, and an incredibly impressive support cast, this is a film that could be overlooked but shouldn't be. Skip the escapism and spend some time with the curiously compelling Albert.
The Iron LadyTom Jones
A look at the life of Margaret Thatcher, the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
Romance or political drama? "The Iron Lady" could be shelved under either genre as it depicts the political rise and fall of Margaret Thatcher against the backdrop of her mourning the passing of her husband. There is a nice balance of both plotlines and the inclusion of real footage adds conviction to this film. The performance of the lead is so convincing it's like a Madame Tussauds figure coming to life. Thatcher herself endorsed 'doing something' rather than trying to be 'somebody'. With that in mind, do something... go and see this film.
The Skin I Live InAnne Murphy
A brilliant plastic surgeon, haunted by past tragedies, creates a type of synthetic skin.
The narrative of "The Skin I Live In" is as intriguing as it is twisted, central to the plot is a contemporary and perverse Frankenstein character. This is an ethically challenging story of an obsessive patriarch, sinister gender control is stirred with psychological intrigue to create a morally unsettling but memorable movie. The nightmarish elements are balanced by the visually sophisticated and vibrant tone presented on screen. Your skin may crawl, but an imprint is left getting right under the skin.