Hitting Australian cinemas today are: Attack the Block, Jack and Jill, Machine Gun Preacher, Restless and Wasteland.
Attack the Block - From the producers of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz (remember: they are awesome), Attack the Block (written/directed by Joe Cornish) follows a gang of tough inner-city kids who try to defend their turf against an invasion of savage alien creatures, turning a South London apartment complex into an extraterrestrial warzone. Been hearing nothing but great things about this film for months. I believe it's an inventive, high-octane science fiction thrill ride full of British pop culture references, and creative creature design. The one to see this week.
Jack and Jill - If you have seen the trailer for this film you should not be setting a foot inside a theatre with the intention of seeing this. It's being widely heralded as Sandler's worst film (and considering it is also from the creators of Just Go With It and Grown Ups, it doesn't surprise me) which means it's sure to be unpleasant. The film focuses on Jack Sadelstein (Sandler), a successful advertising executive in Los Angeles with a beautiful wife and kids, who dreads one event each year: the Thanksgiving visit of his identical twin sister, Jill (also Sandler). My friend recognised today that Sandler characters are always rich and successful, despite always suffering from manchild-itis. I wonder why that is? It pains me to see these films get the green light. Avoid.
Machine Gun Preacher - When an ex-biker-gang member Sam Childers (Gerard Butler) makes the life-changing decision to go to East Africa to help repair homes destroyed by the civil war, he is outraged by the unspeakable horrors faced by the region's vulnerable populace. Ignoring the warnings of more experienced aide workers, Sam breaks ground for an orphanage where it's most needed - in the middle of territory controlled by the brutal Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a renegade militia that forces youngsters to become soldiers before they even reach their teens. Determined to save as many as possible, he leads armed missions deep into enemy territory to retrieve kidnapped children, restoring peace to their lives - and eventually his own. This has potential, but has not been well received. Also, I am yet to see a film enhanced by the involvement of Gerard Butler.
Restless - Annabel Cotton (Mia Wasikowska) is a beautiful and charming terminal cancer patient with a deep felt love of life and the natural world. Enoch Brae (Henry Hopper) is a young man who has dropped out of the business of living, after an accident claimed the life of his parents. When these outsiders chance to meet at a funeral, they find an unexpected common ground in their unique experiences of the world. For Enoch, it includes his best friend Hiroshi (Ryo Kase) who happens to be the ghost of a Kamikaze fighter pilot. For Annabel, it involves an admiration of Charles Darwin and an interest in how other creatures live. This is Gus Van Sant (Elephant, Milk) but I believe it is far from his best.
Wasteland - Filmed over nearly three years, Wasteland follows renowned artist Vik Muniz as he journeys from his home base in Brooklyn to his native Brazil and the world's largest garbage dump, Jardim Gramacho, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janiero. There he photographs an eclectic band of 'catadores - or self-designated pickers of recyclable materials. His collaboration with these inspiring characters as they recreate photographic images of themselves out of garbage reveals both dignity and despair as the catadores begin to re-imagine their lives. It was an Oscar nominee earlier in the year and it has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 100%. I imagine it is very good.
Weekly Recommendation: I'm pretty confident you won't go wrong with Attack the Block. If you haven't yet seen The Ides of March, it is also worth a look.