A Lone ScalpelAnne Murphy
A pioneering surgeon, who cares more for his patients than for the rules, conducts a liver transplant when the town's Mayor falls ill.
Set in the 1980's, this hospital drama is heavy on the hospital parts and underplays the drama side, as the well-intentioned main characters are somewhat inscrutable. Perhaps reflecting the film's cultural setting, the overall tone is matter of fact and clinical around themes of life and death. It's redeemed by its quirkier moments amid the realistically graphic operating theatre surgery scenes. That's right, Kemosabe.
Villon's WifeAnne Murphy
This enticing period melodrama depicts a long-suffering woman's relationship with her brilliant but self-destructive writer husband in post-war Tokyo.
The drama is heavy going as everyone is laden with sorrow, desire and regret against a post-war back-drop that is sombre and opportunistic. The angst of the artist is captured in the husband's role and balanced by the strong-willed determination of the wife. Much can be read between the scenes, as the drama of dark themes and hard times plays out. "Vilon's Wife" is engrossing with all of the fragile and intertwined relationships of a soap opera; wretched affairs but no divorce.
A historical drama set in Roman Egypt, concerning a slave who turns to the rising tide of Christianity while falling in love with the famous female philosophy professor Hypatia of Alexandria.
This visually extravagant epic looks to the skies pondering shape of our universe, while on the ground bloody religious disputes are fought with stones and daggers. Disappointing is the production sloth that depicts one side as dirty and grey and the other as pale and clean. Barely forgivable, even in the 400AD setting, is a disquieting patriarchal tone discolouring ancient Alexandria. Unforgivable, is the lack of dramatic tension as "Agora" devolves into tedium.
A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle ShopAnne Murphy
The owner of a Chinese noodle shop's scheme to murder his adulterous wife and her lover goes awry.
Curiosity is aroused watching the scheming characters play out this tale with pantomime action in a surreal mountainous desert setting. This movie is brightly coloured and visually splendid, a spectacular feast that will leave you a little hungry. More is promised than delivered. The action is slapstick rather than suspenseful, as the goofy cast execute their various self-interested plots and plans. The pace plods a little in this Chinese Cluedo, that's more convoluted than simply a woman, in a noodle shop... with a gun.
La DanseTom Jones
The film follows the production of seven ballets by the Paris Opera Ballet.
At first, "La Danse" feels like a realistic and unpretentious glimpse into the Paris Opera Ballet. There's no commentary, no interviews and very little editing. However, at the two and half hour point, it could be accused of lazy film making and bordering on self indulgent. The talent and physiques of the dancers are to be marvelled, but an entire movie on this subject is unnecessarily long.This is one fly-on-the-wall film where you wish someone would hurry up and squat the fly.
Life as We Know ItTom Jones
Two single adults become caregivers to an orphaned girl when their mutual best friends die in an accident.
The title captures the entire essence of this film. Everything about it is what we have seen, have known and have come to expect from this type of feel good film. There is nothing really new or different. The cast play the same roles we all know that they'll play. The plot has all the ingredients we know are needed to make a romantic comedy; romance and comedy. "Life as We Know It", is as we know it and nothing else.
Soul KitchenAnne Murphy
Zinos unknowingly disturbs the peace in his locals-only restaurant by hiring a more talented chef.
A motley collection of likable characters encounter some unlikely events. Scenes reveal darker forces at play and there's adversity to overcome along with unexpected romance whisked together with a slapstick sort of tone. These are good ingredients roughly chopped to make "Soul Kitchen" a rambunctious romp. However, most characters and some storylines are a little undercooked, and the film fails to connect on a meaningful level. This fare is easy to digest and pleasant enough without being truly satisfying for the soul.
City of Your Final DestinationTom Jones
Omar Razaghi wins a grant to write a biography of Latin American writer Jules Gund. Omar must get through to three people who were close to Gund so he can get authorization to write the biography.
Despite lacking in action or drama, don't expect to become restless in your seat or repeatedly check your watch during this film. It's not boring, but relaxing. The greenery, the food, the drinks and the sounds of nature which accompany every scene add to the sense of tranquillity which is created for the audience. The high calibre cast prove why they're at the top with some impressive performances. Until you reach the city of your final destination, sit back, relax, enjoy.
The TownTom Jones
As he plans his next job, a longtime thief tries to balance his feelings for a bank manager connected to one of his earlier heists, as well as the FBI agent looking to bring him and his crew down.
"The Town" is your classic cops and robbers fare, with a little bit of heart. The robbery scenes are exhilarating and are directed in such a way that you share the thrill of being chased, and the adrenalin which comes with the risk of getting caught. The problem with this film lies in the moments between the robberies, where a story tries to develop but really only slows the whole thing down. Much like its characters, this film is a goodie and a baddie.
Eat Pray LoveAnne Murphy
A married woman realizes how unhappy her marriage really is, and that her life needs to go in a different direction.
This movie is true to the book, only with the content trimmed back as is expected of best sellers translated for the screen. It's still big with over 2 hours of viewing. A personal story of discovery, with an angst ridden heroine, fantastic shot-on-location scenery, and the obligatory happy ending. "Eat Pray Love" is so eminently watchable you will even pardon the good looking actors for being so immaculately coiffed. Readers will embrace this girls own adventure and love.
France, 1950s. From the Quartier Latin to Saint-Tropez via New York, a young Parisienne becomes the icon of a whole generation.
"Sagan" is an interesting biography if a little episodic. This happened then that happened, got married, wrote another book, fell in love again; get the picture? This long movie covers an eventful life well lived at the expense of depth or connection. Beautifully filmed and well acted but a series of events even in an interesting person's life, leaves the audience longing for a stronger narrative. The paradox is unforgivable, especially when the central character is a writer.
The Man Who Will ComeAnne Murphy
In the winter of 1943, Italian peasant families in an Italian village carry on with life while Nazi soldiers seek to wreak revenge on partisan fighters.
Apparently "The Man Who Will Come" is based on historic events, unfortunately that is not learned in the cinema watching the film. The film is lightly narrated leaving the viewer to piece together the story. We're not helped by the sparse dialogue or the fact that much of the action is viewed through the eyes of a child. The war atrocities depicted as the story builds are truly horrifying, stupefying the audience. Shame on mankind, whoever it is we're waiting for.
Draqulia - Italy TremblesAnne Murphy
An investigation on the management of 2009 L'Aquila earthquake by the Berlusconi government.
"Draquila" is a political documentary using satire to present an astounding story of corruption and mismanagement. The film airs few voices other than that of the comical narrator, giving the impression of a potentially lopsided view. Too much is made of mocking the Prime Minister, and the nuances of the bureaucratic lampooning are a little lost on an audience outside of Italy. It becomes a little tiresome rather than rallying support for the people still homeless after the earthquake or exposing the ongoing calamity of government. Audiences tremble rather than quake.
The Sorcerer's ApprenticeAnthony Macali
Master sorcerer Balthazar Blake recruits a seemingly everyday guy in his mission to defend New York City from his arch-nemesis, Maxim Horvath.
"The Sorcerer's Apprentice" is a modern take on the world of wizardry, competing in the popular genre with more money and less imagination. The ingredients are familiar: boy meets girl, the journey of the 'chosen' one, love is more important than the end of world... such unoriginality is cleverly cloaked in wiz-bang special effects and the charisma of the cast. Despite its bewitchery, the film is ultimately entertaining and destined for a future of more 'life' lessons from sorcerers.
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.
Elsa and Clive, two young rebellious scientists, defy legal and ethical boundaries and forge ahead with a dangerous experiment: splicing together human and animal DNA to create a new organism.
"Splice" is an ambitious and provocative film that presents an intelligent take on an often visited ethical dilemma. The performances from both the leads and creature are great, and help to sustain a relatively solid story that unfortunately winds up being undercut by a perversely baffling and cumbersome climax. Competent in splicing a difficult genre and theme, this film still manages to be an engrossing yet erring blend of horror and oddball family drama.
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 story of Robert, a murderous tyre with psychic powers.
"Rubber" doesn't travel far from its amusing premise. Robert rolls around the desert in style, camera low to ground and in-close focus, using his grumbling powers to produce carnage. Undoubtedly circumstances like these will always lead to laughter. An odd sub-plot weaves between moments of madness, where an audience in the movie observe the action from afar using binoculars and comment on the story as it unfolds. Yet it's these bizarre moments that help to drive the film when bogged down by following a tyre that simply rolls. An unconventional and slightly amusing vehicle.
Welcome to the RileysAnne Murphy
On a business trip to New Orleans, a damaged man seeks salvation by caring for a wayward young woman.
The premise of the prostitute and the man who wants to save her is given a twist and a spin in "Welcome to the Rileys". Lost people, each burdened by their own history, find themselves by embarking on various journeys. Strong performances push the implausible just over the border into credible. This movie is rewarding on an emotional level without tugging too hard on any strings as the tale is traversed. Put out the welcome mat for the Rileys.
South SolitaryTom Jones
A veteran lighthouse serviceman and his niece deal with the mismanagement of an island's lighthouse.
"South Solitary" is another display of that overused premise; put an unlikely character in a foreign environment and watch as they struggle to adapt. The quick pace, dynamic characters and moments of black comedy in this film are entertaining, but it ultimately suffers from the monotony, which comes with the territory of lighthouse keeping. However, the audience gets that bit closer to answering the age old question. If you were stuck on an island, what would you take with you? Definitely not a relative with too much baggage (and not the kind packed in a suitcase).
The RunawaysAnthony Macali
Based on lead-singer Cherie Currie's book 'Neon Angel' - a reflection of her experiences as a rock star in the '70's teenage band 'The Runaways'.
"The Runaways" is a musical biopic of teenage girls and their love for rock 'n' roll. This film exposes their relatively unknown story, charting their seedy formation and rise to fame in mesmerising style. The group is held together by terrifically eye-opening performances from the leads. Despite uneven levels of entertainment, this movie entices you to learn more about its popular music and lessons in addiction. A blur of a band easily forgotten.
The Waiting CityAnthony Macali
A mystic-infused love story that follows a young couple's journey to collect their adopted baby.
The title makes sense... there's a lot of waiting in the beautiful city of Kolkata, India, a cinematographer's dream with its vibrancy and detail. It's a slow journey, burdening the future parents more so than the audience, as a prolonged stay reveals the distressing troubles of their relationship. Mother-to-be Fiona works hard and delivers an endearing performance, but it's difficult to find meaning as themes of family and faith become muddled. "The Waiting City" is an admirable Australian film that will resonate with a small audience.
A group of elite warriors are hunted by members of a merciless alien race known as Predators.
"Predators" delivers all that one would expect from such a movie. The plot is thin, but our group of anti-heroes and evolved Predators admirably do just enough to sustain an air of tension. The action sequences are tight, with plenty of stylish gore to satisfy the gruesomely entertained. Although there are some welcome nods to the original, the disappointing thing about this reboot is that it fails to distinguish itself. On the whole though, it must be said that the film succeeds in at least revisiting the franchise and actually getting it back on track - so be sure to "stick around...
The Karate KidWendy Slevison
A single mother moves to China with her young son, and in his new home, the boy embraces kung-fu.
This movie leaves you a little puzzled. Why is it called "The Karate Kid" when it's about kung-fu? Why didn't the editor chop at least half an hour out of it? And... why should people go see this movie? The answer to that is that it's an enjoyable journey - an uplifting tale about a cross-cultural/generational relationship between a pair of improbable allies. Countering the inevitable clichés are skillfully choreographed fight scenes and some truly spectacular scenery. So, in spite of pondering the other questions, you'll almost certainly leave the cinema feeling that the 'kid' did pretty well.
Lou, a young girl, develops affection for the grandfather she'd never previously met when he comes to live with her and her mother and sisters.
All of the action in this beautifully crafted movie happens within the emotional relationships of the characters. The plot is a little underdeveloped, and there's no crescendo or culmination of action, just day to day experiences of the central family. There's plenty to hold the interest of the audience - the moody and realistic performances of the cast, the Australian landscape, the soundtrack - if only there was a dramatic climax. "Lou" is lovely but could have blossomed into more.