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Thursday, 19 January 2017

Film No. 5 (2017) Split January 16th.

Film No. 5 (2017) January 16th.  7.00 PM HOYTS Garden City Booragoon.

"You've emailed me for an emergency appointment two days in a row, tell me what's going on?" (Dr Karen Fletcher asks Barry the reason for his change of behaviour).

M Night Shyamalan seemed to have lost his touch after the success of The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, so much so he received a major raspberry for The Happening ten years ago. Well this talented director is back, the highly taut and entertaining Split places him back in the box office spotlight.

The film's title relates to the many personalities of Kevin,(James McAvoy)including Dennis, Kevin, Hedwig and many more . Some of those personalities are in therapy with Dr Fletcher (Betty Buckley) who gives us the impression she may unknowingly hold the key to assisting three girls who have been taken hostage by Dennis in a brazen carpark kidnapping. 

It's here I must cease my plot summary other than to say McAvoy is brilliant as the lead performer as is Anya Taylor-Joy as the mysterious Casey. I say M Night is back to his best because he layers Split with handsome images and unpredictable turns. More importantly however he concludes with a twist which had the crowd at my preview reaching for their phones for further research and thought.

I forgot to mention there is a 24th personality introduced to Kevin's closet of personas late in the film. I'm pretty sure it's a key to M Night's twist which draw's the curtain on Split but I'm still thinking about that.  9GUMS. 

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Film No. 4 (2017) Paterson January 15th.

Film No. 4 (2017) January 15th.  8.00 PM THE PINES Outdoor Cinema Joondalup.

"I had a beautiful dream, we had twins" (Paterson's partner, Laura wakes and answers Paterson's query about how well she slept).

Along with Richard Linklater and Hal Hartley, Jim Jarmusch is a film artist of the unique kind. I still fleetingly think about the originality of scenes from Mystery Train and Night on Earth. Jarmusch is not to everyone's taste because of the reflective, often quiet pacing he adopts. His films usually depict gentle, warm, good people ... I can sense Jarmusch devotees salivating already; Paterson is everything you'd expect of a Jarmusch film.

Paterson (Adam Driver) lives in Paterson New Jersey, the largest city in NJ and home to comedian Lou Costello where a statue and park commemorate it's most famous resident. We track a week in Paterson's life and while on the surface his daily routine is mundane and uneventful the machinations of his observations, his interactions and his insightful poetry leave a warm glow. And it wouldn't be a Jarmusch film with out a visual puzzle or two along the way.

There is no forward story, except for two cut away shots of Paterson in uniform on his bedside table. He has a sweet, loving relationship with his partner Laura, beautifully played by Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani; they encourage one another to fulfil their dreams. The legitimate gentleness of their relationship is captivating. Laura tells Paterson about her dream that they had twins, and so Jarmusch plants twins of varying ages in random scenes from then on. Could it be Paterson notices twins more readily or is it a reminder to duplicate his notebook of poems?

Then there is Marvin, their British bulldog. Marvin is the catalyst for a few of Patersons other small pleasures. Each weekday evening Paterson walks Marvin to his local bar. Marvin waits patiently outside while Paterson "chews the fat" with owner Doc and others. Marvin sits, waits and contemplates acts of naughtiness (look out for the mailbox mystery) he may unleash on Paterson. It's all part of the spell Jarmusch puts us under. Fan's will luxuriate in Paterson, my hope is that others will love the experience, then seek out other films from his catalogue.  11GUMS.   



Sunday, 15 January 2017

Film No. 3 (2017) Rosalie Blum January 13th.

Film No. 3 (2017) January 11th.  5.00 PM LUNA SX Fremantle.

"Happy? What does that mean? Sounds like a women's magazine" (Vincent's mother reacts in surprise at Vincent's question regarding his life so far).

There is a short grab where the third person voice over, crucial to the flow of Rosalie Blum, states Rosalie (Noemie Lvovsky) loves jigsaw puzzles because every piece fits perfectly.  This minor scene sums up this extremely clever, quirky, funny and poignant film. Every scene has it's place but it's only in the final minutes that  we fully appreciate the sum of all its thoughtful parts.

Jim Jarmusch experimented with conflicting points of view with exactly the same type of incident in Mystery Train (1989) and director Julien Rappeneau uses a similar technique to highlight the three key characters of Rosalie Blum; Vincent (Kyan Khojandi), Aude (Alice Isaaz) and Rosalie. It's the perfect technique to keep us actively putting the time frame and sequence of events perfectly in place.

Vincent is a man low in self-esteem but looking to improve his lot. A series of coincidences as he attends to the whims of his overbearing mother, Simone (Anemone) lead him to the shop run by Rosalie. Rosalie is familiar, he's captivated by her and so the puzzle begins to unfold. Aude is Rosalie's niece, and much of the film's comedy comes from her living environment and the task she is set by her aunt. The film is divided into chapters, the titles of which are the names of our 3 key characters.

Rosalie Blum is smart, thought provoking and wonderfully layered. The all important ending is not a surprise but the reason for Vincent's vigil is brilliantly original. It's the ease with which we relate to Vincent's light bulb moment that lingers. It's that final piece of a jigsaw that fits perfectly and there is a rush of aesthetic pleasure one gets when there is a satisfactory resolution, and there can be no doubt about this one.  10GUMS.           

Film No. 2 (2017) Sing January 11th.

Film No. 2 (2017) January 11th.  1.10 PM  FENWICK 3 Cimenas  Esperance.


"If you want to become stars and win a hundred grand then you'd better be prepared to work harder than you have ever worked in your lives (Buster Moon prepares his contestants for their once in a life-time opportunity).

2016 will be remembered as a year full of classy animated feature films. Finding Dory broke box office records and Moana is receiving accolades on the awards front. I've not seen either but from all reports they are deserving of their gongs. With this in mind I thought I'd make Sing a must see in my favourite Aussie rural cinema, Fenwick 3 Esperance, Western Australia. 

Sing does nothing new but it takes on a premise very prevalent in reality television over the last ten years, talented no-bodies becoming overnight stars, which make it surprising the theme hasn't been tackled previously.

Enter Buster Moon (voice of Matthew McConaughey) an optimistic koala who's enthusiasm to succeed as an entrepreneurial theatre owner/manager is infectious. We know our journey with Buster is going to be a roller coaster of a ride as he cranks up an I've Got Talent production. The talent includes Mike (Seth MacFarlane), the smart mouthed mouse, Rosita (Reese Witherspoon) a pig of the overworked house variety and Johnny (Taron Egerton) the cockney gorilla trying to make good. Their set pieces are all show stopping and win us over. Oh and I nearly forgot Miss Crawly, Buster's right-hand, an iguana with one glass eye. She is a stroke of genius.

Then there is the wonder of the animated effects. The sequences depicting Buster's theatre being refurbished then destroyed then refurbished again brings the inevitable happy ending together beautifully. As is often the case in films like Sing, the ideas used as the  movements and backdrops (animation) unfold around the characters is often underrated. Sing is highly entertaining with a smattering of new ideas.  8GUMS.         

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Film No. 1 (2017) The Edge of Seventeen January 5th.

Film No. 1 (2017) January 5th.  4.40 PM  FENWICK 3 Cimenas  Esperance.


"I was just writing my own suicide note just now, I have 32 fleeting minutes of happiness during lunch which is being eaten up time and again by the same especially badly dressed student and I finally thought I'd rather have the dark nothingness" (Mr Bruner (Woody Harrelson) responding to Nadine's cry for help).

There is a lovely scene late in The Edge of Seventeen when we finally see what makes Woody Harrelson's, Bruner tick. It's a nice twist and sums up the film's voice; nothing is what it seems, especially when seen through the eyes of a self centred seventeen year old. Our seventeen year old is Nadine, edgily played by Hailee Seinfeld who appears in her first major role since True Grit (2010).

In the same way the late great John Hughes took us inside the confused minds of teenagers with The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink, Kelly Fremon Craig unloads similar satchels of tight, snappy conversation as Nadine inundates us with her little world awash with self-centredness. Okay, we've seen it all before but Nadine is likeable and all the key characters (while not all developed to their full potential) share a unique chemistry.

We meet Nadine as a 7 year old. She's already thinking like a teenager but this fast-tracks us towards understanding the contrasting relationships she has with her mum, dad and brother Darien (Blake Jenner). It's old-hat I know but the foundation is solid, we're invested and prepared for tragedy, jealousy, false hope and misinterpretation on how to fit in and weather adolescence.

As the film concludes Darien sets Nadine straight on the trials and tribulations of being her brother. It's a well written outpouring but for me his character wasn't completely developed, real justice was not there for the monologue. Harrelson as Bruner however is as you have never seen him before; low key, dry, slightly watery eyed and totally dependable. He doesn't have a starring role but he is the star. The Edge of Seventeen is a wholesome watch.  9GUMS.      

Friday, 30 December 2016

Film No. 78 (2016) La La Land December 29th.

Film No. 78 (2016) December 29th.  6.40 PM LUNA PALACE, Leederville. 

"How are you going to be a revolutionary if you're such a traditionalist. Jazz is about the future (Sebastian, Ryan Gosling) is given some advice about the future by a contemporary).

Who hasn't heard about La La Land since it's Boxing Day opening three days ago? Not too many folk I would imagine. So while the film underwhelmed me I have to say it is a crowd pleaser with all the sparkle, razzle and absolute dazzle of musicals from a bygone era. It does deserve its praise because it unashamedly carries off the genre it emulates fantastically well.

From the opening number on an L.A. freeway where the traffic is bumper to bumper and the only escape is a song and dance spectacular to while away the time, we know we are in for a world of fantasy. It's where we meet Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone), the two potential love birds, both lost in their dreams of stardom fuelled by their artistic pursuits. For Seb it's his passion for Jazz while Mia is an actor working to get her lucky break. 

It's inevitable they meet. It's inevitable they fall in love. It's inevitable they drive each other to fulfil their dreams. So the risk with a BIG film like this lies in the casting. In Gosling and Stone the producers, distributors and backers alike must be rubbing their collective hands together. Their chemistry on screen is magnetic. It's the reason people who catch two movies a year will break-out and catch a third.

Unashamedly (yes here is that word again) La La Land is totally un original. Every scene is a cliche of 10 films that came before it. But it is the first to use digital advancements to enhance the sum of it's parts. This crowd pleaser will dominate the box office, awards and both multiplexes and independent cinemas alike for months ahead all because they got the casting and the formula right. It sounds simple but as most producers will tell you, it's never easy to achieve. Yes, I was underwhelmed but forget my view, La La Land works. 10GUMS.   

Film No. 77 (2016) Julieta December 24th.

Film No. 77 (2016) December 24th.  8.00 PM SOMERVILLE U.W.A. Nedlands.


"I'm going to tell you everything I wasn't able to tell you before" (Julieta writes to her estranged daughter).

I can only imagine how pretentious it might sound if you were to hear someone say, I've just been to see an Allen (Woody) at the local cinema. Almodovar rolls off the tongue more fluidly but I wonder about the credibility of a film promoted in a manner Picasso or Da Vinci would have been proud of. It makes me wonder whether an artist like Pedro would have chosen to be promoted in this way.   

Julieta re-vitalises all of the dreamy, melodramatic qualities so characteristic of Pedro's style. Once again he takes us inside the head of his central character Julieta (Emma Suarez) a seemingly ordinary middle aged woman about to move from Madrid to Portugal following her partner Lorenzo in the next chapter in her life. Days before her move, by chance she meets Beatriz (Michelle Jenner), an old friend of her daughters, in the street and the melodrama begins.

Keen to sell this new Pedro special, promoters and distributors have described Julieta as a taut thriller. I may be mistaken but Pedro needed to step in here because a film about a woman reminded of her past via dreamlike snippets drizzled with chamber music (which I might add are beautiful to watch), doesn't add up to a taut thriller. This is a simplistic summary because there is emotional upheaval as Julieta tries to reconcile the sudden departure of her daughter after a family tragedy.

If you are a fan of Petro's then don't miss Julieta. Aesthetically he has returned to his trade-mark self. It is all you would expect from this fine film-maker; it's the legitimacy of the tale he wants us to be involved in which left me flat as the screen went to black. An Almodovar it is but in comparative terms it's no Picasso. 8GUMS