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Friday, 17 March 2017

Film No. 16 (2017) Loving March 9th.

Film No. 16 (2017) March 9th.  6.45 PM LUNA Paradiso, Northbridge.

"We just love each other, we're not doing anyone any harm" (Richie Loving states his case to anyone who has an inclination to listen).

The marriage between Mildred and Richie Loving in the late sixties depicted in the Time/Life photographs showing their unabashed love for one another will remain etched in the fabric of the U.S. psyche  for eternity. Loving captures the essence of what can happen to good people when injustice threatens to strangle their spirit. Then when good people, with influence, find them and fight their case the marriage law in the U.S. is changed for ever. In a landscape of films re-enacting real events Loving is a stand out. Edgerton and Negga don't need dialogue to convey exactly how much outrage we feel for their predicament. 10GUMS. 

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Film No. 14 (2017) A Few Less Men February 28th.

Film No. 14 (2017) February 28th.  6.30 PM Greater Union Event Cinema, Innaloo.

"He's got an enormous boner" (said on numerous occasions by numerous people throughout the film).

Find the 2.33 minute trailer for A Few Less Men, view it and you'll save yourself money and time on catching the cinema release. If, after that viewing you feel ungratified then feel secure in the fact you won't be alone.

I so wanted to praise a film shot in this beautiful state (Western Australia) in which I live and love. But I can't. This sequel to A Few Best Men may be slightly better than its predecessor, but why on earth was it made? I was mildly amused on four to five occasions. This is not a good sign for a 93 minute feature length comedy.

So let me reiterate; watch the trailer and be done with it. You'll get as much amusement as I did over 93 minutes.  3GUMS


Film No. 13 (2017) Alone in Berlin February 27th.

Film No. 13 (2017) February 27th.  6.45 PM LUNA Paradiso, Northbridge.

"Germany has taken my only son, for you, for the fuhrer, what more can a man donate than his child?" (Otto rebuts an accusation that he has made no contribution to Germany's war effort).

The story underpinning Alone in Berlin is a fascinating tale of parents singlemindedly dealing with the loss of their only son during Germany's push to become the supreme race. The film reenacts the fictionalised novel of the same name by Hans Fallada telling the story of Otto and Elise Hampel (Brendon Gleeson and Emma Thompson) who used their own version of social media in the form of postcards to spread anti Hitler messages around their city.

The fact the film is a German tale, played out in Berlin by German film-makers using English character actors is surprising and at the same time perplexing. The dialogue is in english with german accents but all the text on screen is in german. That's clunky to say the least. If the same technique had been used in The Lives of Others I feel sure it wouldn't have been that award winner it became.

The strange thing is, Gleeson and Thompson are brilliant as the grieving parents, it's just that their brilliance can't make the whole body of work gel. The fact that this tale is based on the lives of grieving parents with so much less to live for now their only child has been senselessly killed makes it a tale worth telling. The simplicity of Otto's use of social media, 1940's style, is intriguing to say the least.

Perhaps the film's greatest attribute, in this time of political unrest is it's anti war message. The British / German co production gives insight, if slightly heavy handedly, into Berlin life under nazi rule through the eyes of humble people. Alone in Berlin has lots to say and despite my mild reservations is well worth a look. 8GUMS.   

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Film No. 15 (2017) Handsome Devil March 5th.

Film No. 15 (2017) March 5th.  8.00 PM SOMERVILLE U.W.A. Nedlands.


"Everyone at Woodpile College is obsessed with rugby. I didn't hate rugby, but what happened if you didn't love it?" (The opening voiceover of Ned as he begins his coming of age adventure at boarding school).

Loner, red head independent thinker, Ned, shares boarding accommodation with talented rugby sports jock, Nick, in a coming of age tale which gets bogged in cliche, but only slightly. What begins on the surface as a laugh out loud comedy develops to become something deeper in it's interpretation of boys, their families, their friends, belonging, stereotyping and yes, you guessed it, coming of age. In a genre packed with classics, Handsome Devil's understatement and offbeat character performances will win you over. I can't guarantee however that you'll remember a sliver of what it was about 24 hours on. 7GUMS.  

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Film No. 12 (2017) Hidden Figures February 19th.

Film No. 12 (2017) February 19th 10.30 AM ACE Cinemas Rockingham.

"Three negro women are chasing a police officer down the highway in 1961, that is a god ordained miracle" (Dorothy shouts to her two colleagues as they speed to their work-place under police escort).

Hidden Figures is an old fashioned film depicting old fashioned values, using old fashioned techniques with a solid old fashioned ending. In no way should my previous sentence be construed as a blight on the film because it is a delightfully produced 115 minutes of quality entertainment. Given its pure Hollywood pedigree it was fitting Hidden Figures should receive a Best Picture Oscar nomination.

Katherine Johnson (Taraji Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monroe) all had brilliant careers as NASA employees beginning in the early sixties. So what? you may well ask. What makes their story worth telling? Well, being ambitious black African women in the U.S. during the sixties definitely wasn't a prerequisite for success. Hidden Figures tells the story of three such women who reached the pinnacles of their professions despite the adversity they encountered because of their skin colour.

The film begins with our key characters on the side of the road, with car problems. They are already employees of NASA thus we are not privy to how they won their jobs in the nation's prestigious space agency; stories worth telling in themselves. Katherine gains most focus as the maths genius who has John Glenn indicating he'll only trust her calculations if he is to succeed in returning to earth. 

Al Harrison (Kevin Costner) returns to his cool, controlled roots as he singlehandedly beats down the barriers Katherine faces as a minority in the NASA work place. Kirsten Dunst as Vivian Mitchell  gradually softens her prejudices as Dorothy earns her stripes by displaying her computing smarts. Put simply, there are no surprises in the story but there is in the unveiling of three heroes, whos stories have rarely been heard. Disney would be proud to call Hidden Figures one of theirs.  9GUMS.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Film No. 11 (2017) Patriots Day February 14th.

Film No. 11 (2017) February 14th 1.00 PM Greater Union Cinemas Innaloo.

"We've got multiple explosions down here. We need help. (The words of Tommy Saunders seconds after the two explosions near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon)

Patriots Day is possibly the best researched, partially fictionalised motion picture based on an actual event, ever produced. The Boston Marathon bombing of 2013, captured so vividly by multiple cameras, remains likely the most followed terrorist event world wide, ever. Director Peter Berg and superstar Mark Wahlberg have successfully pieced together their third film, a thorough re-enactment of this tragic event.

Could it be that Wahlberg, in collaborating with Berg, has found a way to redeem himself from the angry young man tag he was branded with just after being discovered as a talent. These Berg/Wahlberg collaborations do shout out for a united America in a crisis. Love and goodwill to others will deliver them from evil is the message screaming out from the screen.

From the moment the two pressure cooker bombs exploded on that April day, the perpetrators, brothers Dzhokhar and Tamarian Tsarnaev were killed or in custody, respectively, within 120 hours. The community of Boston connected in a way that ensured the terrorists stood little or no chance of anonymity. The film uses a combination of staged and actual footage with such seamless continuity we're enthralled from the outset.

Berg has made a blunt warts and all feature film. The star studded cast stay true to their real life counterparts, never stealing scenes and always paying homage to the real heroes; the people of Boston. Wahlberg, Bacon, Simmons and Goodman are all worth watching for that reason. Hopefully we have entered a new era of film making where the retelling of a momentous event draws less on fiction and more on truth. Patriots Day along with Deepwater Horizon is testament to that possibility. 10GUMS.      

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Film No. 10 (2017) Silence February 6th.

Film No. 10 (2017) February 6th.  6.30 PM Greater Union Event Cinema, Innaloo.

"Ferreira is lost, he denounced god and surrendered his faith" (Father Valignano impresses upon Rodrigues and Garupe the reason their mentor has gone missing).

If there was any question over Martin Scorsese's devotion to Catholicism then let it cease. Scorsese takes us on an epic journey over 162 minutes of what it was to be a priest in the 17th century, dedicated to serving god and others then spreading the word of the saviour in enemy territory, Japan in the case of Silence.

The back story behind Scorsese taking two decades to make the film could very well be the topic of a film itself, much like Hearts of Darkness was for Coppola's Apocalypse Now. 

So how does one recommend a film so emotionally draining as Silence? One doesn't really. I can however reflect on the gruelling journey Scorsese inflicted upon me in firstly re-telling Shusaku Endo's novel and secondly giving an insight into why the forces of religious division continue to create havoc in our modern world even after the numerous lessons etched in history.

Two Catholic missionaries (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) gain permission to seek out their mentor Ferreira (Liam Neeson) who has gone missing in 17th century Japan. Their trek through a country cleansing itself of Catholicism is brutally enlightening. Garfield is the mainstay of our epic journey. His strength of will exasperates, particularly late in the film, it's why he's good. Pure film lovers who thrive on being tested in the darkness of a cinema shouldn't miss Silence. Film goers who love nothing more than to while away 100 minutes for entertainment's sake may find Silence a trial. 10GUMS.