Thursday, May 31, 2012

Monthly Round Up: The Best Films I Saw in May

Anyone who has been following the focus on female directors will have recognised that I had a couple of guest reviewers this month. Personally I reviewed Sophia Coppola's The Virgin Suicides, Lynne Ramsay's Ratcatcher and Kathryn Bigelow's Point Break. Maiwenn's Polisse and Sarah Polley's Take This Waltz have June releases, but they also fit in very well.

In addition, I watched Jane Campion's Bright Star, Lynne Ramsay's Morvern Callar, and Andrea Arnold's Fish Tank. I enjoyed the latter two, but have not had the energy to share my thoughts on them. Sam McCosh, who runs An Online Universe, reviewed Morvern Callar, while Chris Elena reviewed Jane Campion's In the Cut. Reviews can all be found below.

The nominees for the 2012 LAMMY Awards were announced over the LAMBcast on Wednesday. Congratulations to everyone who received nominations, and thank you to everyone who has voted so far, and for those who voted for me.

I was lucky enough to receive nominations in two categories: Most Prolific (along with Never Too Early Movie Predictions, Dan at Fogs' Movie Reviews, Castor and his team at Anomalous Material and Ryan at The Matinee), and Best Movie Reviewer (along with Ryan at The Matinee, Dan at Fogs' Movie Reviews, Dan at Dan the Man's Movie Reviews, James at Cinema Sights and Sam at Duke and the Movies).

I am humbled by the recognition amongst the peers who I admire and respect and who inspire me to maintain this site. A win in either of these categories would be an honour, but I am nominated with some very talented individuals and they all run fantastic sites. However, I hope that the amount of time and work I put into this site is clear in the regularity of my posts and the length of some of my reviews. This is my 997th post on this site (My 1000th may be my review of Prometheus, actually) and I usually surpass 40 posts a month. Only about half of these are reviews - but I cover regular segments, incoming news and other film enthusiast articles. My reviews - new releases, festivals, classics and those selected to accompany a chosen director/theme -  can be found all over the site. I'll leave that decision up to you. Thanks in advance to everyone who throws a vote my way. Good luck to everyone nominated, and here's to another rewarding year as a member of the LAMB. 

Looking ahead to June, my attention will be focused entirely on the Sydney Film Festival. Of course, there might be a few reviews early in the month and following the festival, but between 6-17 June I am going to be watching a lot of films (26 on my schedule, here) and trying to blog about as many as I can. Films like Amour, Moonrise Kingdom, Beasts of the Southern Wild, On the Road, Killer Joe, Monsieur Lazhar will be reviewed - or at least have an opinion documented. So, for extensive coverage on the SFF be sure to stop by regularly.

I watched a total of 31 films in June. Only a couple of re-watches, which shows that I had a lot of new films at my disposal. Though I ended up seeing more films I enjoyed than I didn't, it was a pretty weak month, especially for cinema releases. I have marked the essentials. Find out after the jump...

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ten Best Actresses of All Time Relay Race

I am privileged to once again be selected to participate in another blog-a-thon created Nostra of My Filmviews, The Ten Best Actresses of All Time Relay Race. A twin blog-a-thon, focusing on Actors, has also been making the rounds through the blogging community. Tyler at Southern Vision is the man who has passed the honours on to me, and whom I thank. The idea around the blogathon… well, to use Nostra’s words:
“I’ve created a list of what I think are the best actresses of all time. At the end of the post I, just like in a real relay race, hand over the baton to another blogger who will write his own post. This blogger will have to remove one actress (that is an obligation) and add his/her own choice and describe why he/she did this. At the end the blogger chooses another blogger to do the same. The idea is to make this a long race, so that enough bloggers get a chance to remove and add an actress. We will end up with a list (not ranked in order) which represents a common agreement of the best actresses. It will also mean that those who follow this relay race will get to know new blogs as well!”
Here is a list of the blogs that have participated thus far:

Find the line-up and my substitution after the jump...

New Releases (31/05/12)

So, what's new out this week? What rounds out the month of dire releases? Actually, having finally seen Dark Shadows the other day it gave the month an unexpected lift. I enjoyed it. Looking back, I can really only recommend The Way (which had a tiny release in April, broadened in May), The King of Devil's Island and Dark Shadows, with The Five-Year Engagement and Men in Black 3 having their moments.

Due to lack of interest/motivation and missed opporunities I am yet to catch The Dictator, The Woman in Black, Bel Ami and this week's release Get the Gringo, and I doubt I will be seeing them. Get The Gringo, I hear, is actually quite good. I was not won over by the trailer (AWFUL!) and it does star Mel Gibson. Also released this week are What To Expect When You're Expecting, which I have seen, and Declaration of War, France's representative for Best Foreign Language Film and one I will certainly make an effort to see.

Summaries courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes.

What to Expect When You're ExpectingOver the moon about starting a family, TV fitness guru Jules and dance show star Evan find that their high-octane celebrity lives don't stand a chance against the surprise demands of pregnancy. Baby-crazy author and advocate Wendy gets a taste of her own militant mommy advice when pregnancy hormones ravage her body; while Wendy's husband, Gary, struggles not to be outdone by his competitive alpha-Dad, who's expecting twins with his much younger trophy wife, Skyler. Photographer Holly is prepared to travel the globe to adopt a child, but her husband Alex isn't so sure, and tries to quiet his panic by attending a "dudes" support group, where new fathers get to tell it like it really is. And rival food truck chefs Rosie and Marco's surprise hook-up results in an unexpected quandary: what to do when your first child comes before your first date? You know what to expect. It's not TERRIBLE because it has good intentions, but what a mess.

Get the GringoMel Gibson finds new life in a Mexican jail after getting caught at the border with $4 million dollars of Mobster money. Gun-toting, grizzly violence and plenty of bad one-liners ensue I am sure. Written by Gibson, Get the Gringo is the directorial debut from Adrian Grunberg. Many are criticising the film's swaggering attitude, but Gibson's performance (he is back in his element after all), and the blending of grim and funny, are being praised.

Declaration of WarThe opening night film of last year's Critics Week at the Cannes Film Festival, this exuberant and deeply moving film follows a new couple, Romeo (Jeremie Elkaim) and Juliette (Valerie Donzelli), who must face the ultimate test when they discover their new born child is very ill. Gathering their friends and family together, they confront the ordeal together as a form of warfare. Donzelli infuses the story with unexpected verve using a host of cinematic techniques, music and heartbreaking performances that results in a film about a contemporary couple who surprises even themselves with their ability to fight not only for the life of their child, but for each other.

Weekly Recommendation: I think Declaration of War is the pick this week. Fans of hard violence and action films, and Mel Gibson (hmm), will probably enjoy Get the Gringo, and anyone who liked New Year's Eve (hmm) will find something to laugh at in What To Expect When You're Expecting. Still, I would hold out and see Prometheus on the biggest and best screen you can next week. 

Madmen Acquire Deals With Cannes Big Names

Story courtesy of Madmen Entertainment.

The Madman acquisitions team has returned from the 2012 Cannes Film Festival with deals signed on a wide ranging selection of award-winning and director-driven films from names like Robert Redford, Michel Gondry, Thomas Vinterberg and Michael Winterbottom.

Following on from the awards announcement, two titles acquired by Madman have been recognised. Thomas Vinterberg, known for starting the 'Dogme 95' filmmaking movement, returns with THE HUNT which features Danish star Mads Mikkelsen. Mads was recognised with the Best Actor Award for his performance. The award for Best Screenplay went to Christian Mungiu for his film BEYOND THE HILLS. Mungiu is no stranger to Cannes, having won the 2007 Palme D'Or with 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS, 2 DAYS.

Also acquired at Cannes were Im Sang Soo's THE TASTE OF MONEY and THE WE AND THE I from visual genius Michel Gondry (ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, BE KIND REWIND), which screened as part of the Director's Fortnight sidebar.

Several films currently in the final stages of completion were also acquired at this year's market in Cannes; Robert Redford directs himself alongside an ensemble cast including Shia LaBeuof, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Richard Jenkins, Brit Marling and Nick Nolte in THE COMPANY YOU KEEP.

The next project from prolific and dynamic filmmaker Michael Winterbottom again sees him teaming up with Steve Coogan for THE KING OF SOHO, a look at the man at the head of swinging London. Academy Award(r) winner Susanne Bier's new film LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED is a romantic comedy set in Sorrento, Italy starring Pierce Brosnan opposite Paprika Steen.

Also acquired was the sophomore feature from British up and comer Richard Ayoade, following on from last year's SUBMARINE. His new film will be titled THE DOUBLE, starring Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska, with production having commenced earlier this month.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Upcoming Release Review: Take This Waltz (Sarah Polley, 2012)

 Take This Waltz has an Australian cinema release scheduled for June 14.

Written and directed by Sarah Polley (Academy Award nominee for Best Adapted Screenplay for Away From Her), Take This Waltz is an indie romantic drama set in a gorgeously photographed suburban part of Toronto and stars Academy Award nominee Michelle Williams, along with an impressively low-key Seth Rogen, Luke Kirby and Sarah Silverman. The title of the film, Take This Waltz, comes from the Leonard Cohen song of the same name. It is used memorably during the film.

The central character is Margot (Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine), a 28-year-old writer, though it isn't clear what she has written, who meets the handsome Daniel (Luke Kirby, The Samaritan) on a flight back to Toronto. Having also crossed paths earlier that day, they share a conversation, and seem to connect after the initial awkwardness passes. Catching a cab together, Margot is surprised to learn that he lives across the street from her. It is clear that their chemistry is strong and intense but Margot suppresses her attraction because she is coming home to her husband Lou (Seth Rogen, Knocked Up), a cookbook writer, and a happy young marriage. But has their comfortable marriage, which to Lou and his supportive family idealistically eternal, become stagnant? Does Margot, who is discovering she is still coming-of-age in her late 20's, feel like she is living the life she wants to lead? Consistent run-ins with Daniel – and eventually secret rendezvous - and mounting sexual tension and desire, aren’t going to help. Will Margot give up it all?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Cinema On The Park Review: Gwoemul [The Host] (Bong Joon-Ho, 2006)

I was excited to watch The Host, having been recommended it on several occasions. It is not only a hugely popular film in Korea, but has been well-received by international audiences. I had the chance to see it at Cinema on the Park last week, playing as part of their 'Birth of the Blockbuster' program.

The Host is a South Korean monster film directed by Bong Joon-ho, following the success of his 2003 crime drama, Memories of Murder. The Host, which became the highest grossing South Korean film of all time and was critically acclaimed - picking up Best Film at the Asian Film Awards – works not just as an original and terrifying creature film, but as a social and political commentary. It introduces an additional biological threat which exposes government incompetence, identifies implications of the American military presence in Korea, and allows political activism to become a part of the drama. It is also a compelling family drama too.

The cause of the mutation of the giant amphibious creature that will later terrorize Seoul is revealed in the film’s opening sequence; the order of an American military pathologist to a reluctant Korean assistant to violate protocol and dump 200 bottles of formaldehyde into the sewer system, which flows into the Han River. A period of time passes, and there are several sightings of a large creature beneath the surface.

We are introduced to the family who will become the primary protagonists for this tale. Park Gang-du (Song Kang-ho) runs a snack bar with his father, Hee-bong (Byeon Hee-bong), which is set up along the bank of the Han River. It is revealed he has a sister and brother; a skilled national medallist archer, Nam-joo (Bae Doona) and an alcoholic former-activist, Nam-il (Park Hae-il), as well as a young daughter, Hyun-seo (Ko Ah-seong). Each of the characters surprise us in different ways and it is easy to forge an emotional connection to their stories.

Monday Links (28/05/12)

I'm sure some of you have recognised that I have changed the title of my blog. As I have had a few contributors recently, and am no longer the sole writer, I felt like I should drop off my name from the title. It is now called The Film Emporium to match the url, so feel free to update your blogrolls.

The winners for the 65th Cannes Film Festival were announced overnight, and there were a few surprises. Let me know your thoughts on the festival, and the decided winners.

During the week Chris Elena and Sam McCosh, whom many of you will know from the twitter circle, contributed reviews to the site as part of the monthly theme of female directors. Check out their thoughts on In the Cut and Morvern Callar.

The first teaser trailer for Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master was released during the week. It is awesome, and it certainly looks like Joaquin Phoenix is back.

The blockbuster season is upon us. I list 25 Films to keep an eye out for over the next three months.

The 76ers lost Game 7 against the Celtics yesterday. The dream is over. Still, I am a proud fan, with the youngsters going deeper than anyone expected, even having a chance to take Game 7.

Now, on to what everyone else has been writing about:

Ruth recently took a look at a pair of short films from Christopher Nolan and Martin Scorsese.

Alex takes a look at the all-too-brief career of John Cazale, and his short film, Earrings, has a one sheet.

The first trailer for The Great Gatsby has arrived. You can check it out at Anomalous Material.

 Diana has been watching a few films starring Robert De Niro recently. Check out her thoughts on Taxi Driver

Thomas Caldwell reviews Once Upon A Time in Anatolia. It picked up the Prix (i think) last year at Cannes, and I am very much looking forward to it at SFF.

Nick made me laugh. Check out Bill Murray at Cannes.

Please welcome James Blake Ewing of Cinema Sights to his new site. James' reviews are outstanding and he always finds something interesting and often different to analyse about each film.

Cillian Murphy is an excellent actor, and Stevee takes a look at her 10 Favourite Performances. My top two: 28 Days Later and Sunshine.

I am now intrigued by a film called Sound of My Voice. Sam liked it.

Finally, but certainly not least, a fantastic new site has just been launched by Blake Howard, formerly of Castle Co-Op, called Graffiti with Punctuation. He has a fantastic co-writer in Cam Williams of Popcorn Junkie. This will be an awesome site to keep an eye on.

Hope everyone has a great week.

Winners Announced at the 65th Cannes Film Festival

The winners at the 65th Cannes Film Festival were announced overnight. The jury, led by President Nanni Moretti, decided on the winners, following an engrossing festival that has offered up its fair share of surprises amongst the pre-speculated strong lineup. We had several prior winners returning with new films, a film from Alain Resnais, a man now in his 90's, and the return of Leos Carax after a decade of absence.

The other day I went through and provided a quick report on the films that had played so far and the critical reactions to each, as well as speculation on what the likely winners will be. At that point there were a few films that had not yet screened. Before I get into the winners I thought I would give a quick overview of how they were received.

 - David Cronenberg's Cosmopolis caused a stir on the release of the trailer a few weeks back, which suggested that Cronenberg was returning to the violence and surreality that his most famous films are notorious for. It also stars Robert Pattinson, trying to prove that he is a capable actor outside of the god-awful Twilight franchise. The film has been very divisive and oddly I believe it is set mostly in cars (Crash, anyone). I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not. A lot of his films that have divided critics - Videodrome, Naked Lunch and Crash for example - have been awesome. The Guardian called it "agonizingly self-conscious and meagre", though many have been very very impressed by Mr. Pattinson. Still a must-see.

 - In the Fog has drawn plenty of attention, with many critics considering it a real threat to take the Palme d'Or. It is directed by Belarusian director Sergei Loznitsa, and is a slow-moving drama set during World War II. Comparisons to Andrei Tarkovsky mean nothing but good things in my book, but I hear it is bleak bleak bleak.

 - Mud is Jeff Nichols' hotly anticipated follow-up to Take Shelter, one of the best films to hit cinemas last year. Nichols actually won the Grand Prix for Take Shelter. Mud is an adventure about two boys, Ellis and his friend Neckbone, who find a man named Mud hiding out on an island in the Mississippi. Mud (played by Matthew McConaughey), describes fantastic scenarios - he killed a man in Texas and vengeful bounty hunters are coming to get him. He says he is planning to meet and escape with the love of his life, Juniper, who is waiting for him in town. Skeptical but intrigued, Ellis and Neckbone agree to help him. The film received a rousing ovation, but some have been disappointed about the final act. It sounds a bit like a Huckleberry Finn-type tale.

My predictions were: Palme (Amour), Prix (Rust and Bone), Jury (The Hunt or In the Fog), Actor (Denis Lavant, Holy Motors), Actress (Marion Cotillard, Rust and Bone), Director (Leos Carax, Holy Motors, or Michael Haneke, Amour) and Screenplay (Jeff Nichols, Mud)

Here are some of the winners:

Palme d'Or - Amour, directed by Michel Haneke

Grand Prix - Reality, directed by Matteo Garrone

Prix du Jury - The Angel's Share, directed by Ken Loach

Best Actress - Christina Flutur and Cosima Stratan, Beyond the Hills

Best Actor - Mads Mikkelsen, The Hunt

Best Director - Carlos Reygadas, Post Tenebras Lux

Best Screenplay - Christian Mungiu, Beyond the Hills

Prix Un Certain Regard - After Lucia, directed by Michael Franco

Special Jury Prize - The Big Night, directed by Benoit Delepine and Gustav Kervern

Special Distinction - Children of Sarajevo, directed by Aida Begic

Best Actress - Emily Dequenne, Loving Without Reason and Suzanne Clement, Laurence Anyways.

Camera d'Or (Best First Film) - Beasts of the Southern Wild, directed by Benh Zeitlin

In Competition FIPRESCI Prize - In the Fog, directed by Sergei Loznitsa

Un Certain Regard FIPRESCI Prise - Beasts of the Southern Wild, directed by Benh Zeitlin

Director's Fortnight Prize - Hold Back, directed by Rachid Djaidani

Prize of the Ecumenical Jury - The Hunt, directed by Thomas Vinterberg

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Upcoming Release Review: What To Expect When You're Expecting (Kirk Jones, 2012)

What To Expect When You're Expecting hits Australian cinemas on May 31.

I’m sure anyone who has seen the trailer for What To Expect When You’re Expecting has expectations about what is in store. I think one will either know whether it is their sort of film, or it isn’t. In short, if you enjoyed films like New Year’s Eve or He's Just Not That Into You, you will probably find something to enjoy about this film. Though full of the usual features of the cheesy romcom it does have redeeming qualities, and though it is ridiculous and has some misguided morals, it is relatively harmless and never surrenders its good intentions - to convey that giving birth and raising a family is the most beautiful and purposeful thing we can do in our lifetime. Despite glimpses of humour and heart, it is disappointing to say that the delivery was very painful.

Directed by Kirk Jones, from a screenplay by Shauna Cross and Heather Hach, and based on the book of the same name, What To Expect When You're Expecting features an ensemble cast of Hollywood starlets and comedy actors – and follows five Atlanta couples who each experience the joys and sorrows of bringing a little one into the world.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Classic Scene: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher, 2011)

I am heading away for the weekend so there won't be any fresh content on the site for a couple of days.

To begin my weekend I watched David Fincher's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, just out on DVD. There are many great individual moments in this film. Sure, the narrative is a little flawed - but I still feel like the source material is responsible - but when you have such a compelling mystery and characters as cool as Mikael and Lisbeth - and performances as spot on as Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara's - this is easy to overlook. It is a stunning production from a technical point-of-view, and it holds up very well. 

I thought I would highlight one of my favourite moments; one I find to be genuine and grounded in a reality I connect with personally. I could have mentioned the scene where Mikael comes back to the cottage after meeting with Lisbeth for the first time. He places something on top of his fridge and walks away, only to recognise that a bottle has been disturbed and has started to roll off the fridge. He jumps back and elegantly catches it. I feel like this was a complete accident, but because it was a moment of imperfection - and something that I think anybody can relate to - it made it through the cutting room. The camera continues its pan and the purpose of the shot is revealed, to introduce the cat, which Mikael has no reason to believe should be inside the cottage.

But the moment I want to highlight is another fleeting one. Michael has just collected the photos from the parade and put them together on his Mac to reveal Harriet's recognition of someone across the street, and her scared retreat from her friends and the festivities. At the point this discovery is made it is a big break in the investigation, and you can feel the chills present on the back of Mikael's neck. He then does something that I have found myself doing before. When I have been watching a suspenseful film, had a profound revelation, or found myself feeling suddenly anxious/nervous, I turn around and look behind me. I'm not sure whether it is to check and see if I am being watched and if my reaction has been seen by someone else, or if I am searching for someone to share the moment with, but Mikael does it in response to this revelation and finds himself alone. Many people might overlook this action, but I think it definitely adds something inherently human to his character. 

Hope everyone has a great weekend. I will be back on Monday to start another busy week, and with a lot of new content, including reviews of The Host for Cinema on the Park, What To Expect When You're Expecting, hitting cinemas May 31, and Sarah Polley's Take This Waltz, not out until June 14.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Quick Cannes Report

These are notes and observations manufactured from what has come through media outlets, my own opinion based on the reviews that have come out of Cannes immediately following the screenings, and general buzz amongst the social media realms.

 - Michael Haneke took home the Palme d'Or in 2009 with The White Ribbon, and his new film, Amour, is a drama about an elderly couple, played by Emmanuelle Riva (Anne) and Jean-Louise Trintignant (Georges), whose love is severely tested when Anne has an attack. The reviews have been unanimously positive with many claiming the film to be a 'masterpiece'. It is the current favourite to take the top prize.

 - Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson's latest, which opened the Festival and competes in competition, might be Haneke's closest rival at the present. Reviews have been very positive, with many claiming the charming coming-of-age tale to be amongst Anderson's best works to date. Christy Lemire (Associated Press) claims in her review: "If you love Wes Anderson, you'll love this. The best of what he can do is vibrantly on display."As a big Wes Anderson fan, I am very excited to know that I will be seeing this in a few weeks at the Sydney Film Festival.

 - Only a few reviews are in for Ken Loach's The Angel's Share, but they have also been positive. I have overlooked it on my Sydney Film Festival schedule, which could prove to be a mistake. Loach is a Cannes veteran, having screened films in the Official Competition many times, and winning the Palme d'Or for The Wind That Shakes the Barley in 2006. The Angel's Share tells the tale of Robbie, an ex-offender and new father who embarks on an adventure with his newfound friends - former criminals who also can't find work and also on community service - to a whiskey distillery and discovers that turning to drink might just change his life.

 - Korean director Hong Sang-soo is a regular on the festival circuit. I have only seen one of his films - The Power of Kangwon Province, which was interesting - but In Another Country has received a warm reception. Isabelle Huppert, a winner at Cannes, is always a class act.

 - The Hunt is the first return of Danish director Thomas Vinterberg since his acclaimed film, Festen, competed for the Palme d'Or in 1998. Mads Mikkelsen's performance has been highly praised. Often playing unsavoury and violent characters, he is against-type here. Robbie Collin of The Daily Telegraph awarded the film 5 Stars - "It is rare that a film can make you laugh, cry and shake with fury at the same time; even rarer when it does so for the right reasons." Could be one to watch out for.

 - Rust and Bone could also be a sleeper, too. The responses have been mixed, but mostly drawing great admiration, especially for the performances. Marion Cotillard, who is always riveting, is perhaps the current favourite for Best Actress. Following A Prophet, there is plenty of anticipation for Jacques Audiard's follow up, and it appears to have delivered accordingly.

 - Killing Them Softly is Australian director Andrew Dominik's first feature since The Assassination of Jesse James in 2007, reuniting with Brad Pitt. The brutal picture, which tells the story of a robbery against the mob which is then investigated by a hitman's boss, has had a high-profile reception with many critics praising Brad Pitt's work, the film's dark humour and Dominik's helming.

 - Holy Motors, Leos Carax's newest feature certainly caused a sensation overnight. I believe it is unforgettably surreal and wacky. Peter Bradshaw gave the film 5 Stars: "It is wayward, kaleidoscopic, black comic and bizarre; there is in it a batsqueak of genius, dishevelment and derangement; it is captivating and compelling." Michel Piccoli, Kylie Minogue and Eva Mendes star. It could be in with a shot.

 - Matteo Garrone's Reality, John Hillcoat's Lawless (disappointing!), Alain Resnais' You Aint Seen Nothin' Yet! and Christian Mugiu's Beyond the Hills have all received lukearm responses. There is nothing to suggest they are bad films, but have not been up to the standard of some of the directors' prior works. This is especially disappointing for Lawless, considering the cast - Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Guy Pierce, Jessica Chastain. Mugiu's film, a Romanian religious piece, has divided critics, while it could be 90 year-old Resnais' swan-song.

 - Abbas Kiarostami's Like Someone In Love has generated a lot of buzz, but for the wrong reasons. It was booed at the end. This does not mean much considering that Malick's The Tree of Life, which won the Palme d'Or last year, was also booed. Certified Copy received plenty of critical acclaim, and Juliette Binoche won Best Actress for her work, but this Tokyo-set film seems set to be a critical flop.

 - Just in today: On the Road finally screened at the Croisette and has not been well-received at all. That is a shame. Walter Salles adaptation of Jack Kerouac's acclaimed novel, which many have claimed to be unfilmable, has not impressed audiences, despite some mention of strong work from the ensemble cast.

 - There have been plenty of tweets coming through tonight about Lee Daniels' The Paperboy. Apparently it is pretty wild. The mentions about what Nicole Kidman and Zac Efron get up to are especially amusing. The responses are largely negative, however this has only made me more intrigued.

Current Palme d'Or favourite: Amour. Still to screen: Cosmopolis, The Taste of Money, Mud, In the Fog and Post Tenebras Lux.

Guest Review: Morvern Callar (Lynne Ramsay, 2002)

It is very exciting to present another guest review on the site. Sam McCosh, whose reviews can be found at her personal site, An Online Universe, has reviewed Lynne Ramsay's Morvern Callar. Following up from her fantastic debut, Ratcatcher, which I reviewed last week, Ramsay has crafted another powerful masterpiece. Thanks to Sam for the contribution, I hope you all enjoy it. 

Morvern Callar (based on the book of the same name by Alan Warner) stars Samantha Morton as a young Scottish woman who is dealing with the suicide of her aspiring-writer boyfriend. He not only leaves behind gifts and words of wisdom for Morvern, but also money for his funeral and instructions on what to do with his unpublished manuscript for his first novel. After initially being in a state of denial about his death, Morvern submits the book as her own work and takes the money meant for the funeral and heads off on the holiday to Costa del Sol (Northern Spain) with her best friend. The film follows the two girls on their adventures in Spain as we watch their fun, and we see Morvern abandoning the weight of her past and embracing this much more pleasant present, where she can increasingly see endless possibilities for herself.

It is never made clear whether Morvern is suffering from any form of mental illness, but the actions she takes after the death of her boyfriend and while on holiday in Spain would indicate that something is not quite right. Certainly there is a level of eccentricity about her, but this can only account for so much – the same goes for grief and the grieving process; there is a point beyond what is “understandable”. In no world is it okay or normal for her to do the things she does. In this review I’m not willing to state what she does, as it would constitute a major plot spoiler in my eyes. For those who haven’t seen the film, all you need to know is it is heart-breaking, disturbing, and just not right.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Looking Ahead: 25 Films to Watch Out For This Winter

Before we take a look at what is to come in Winter, lets go back and have a look at what has been worthwhile viewing over the last three months:

A Separation, Carnage, Headhunters, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Raid, Le Havre, This Must Be The Place, Footnote, The Avengers, Wish You Were Here, Cafe De Flore and The Way.

Note: This is going by the current Australian release schedule. Dates are prone to change, and some films even find themselves playing in one city only or going straight-to-DVD. Also, it is my assumption that the schedules for July and August are not confirmed. But, as we are amidst Blockbuster season, all of these films should have a cinema release in the next three months.


Prometheus (June 7)

Friends With Kids (June 7)

Take This Waltz (June 14)

Rock of Ages (June 14)

The Cabin in the Woods (June 14)

A Royal Affair (June 21)

Brave (June 21)

Elena (June 21)

Marley (June 21)

Snow White and the Huntsman (June 21)


The Amazing Spider-Man (July 4)

Not Suitable for Children (July 5)

Lockout (July 12)

The Dark Knight Rises (July 19)

Magic Mike (July 26)

In Darkness (July 26)

Safety Not Guaranteed (July 26)


Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (August 9)

The Sapphires (August 9)

The Bourne Legacy (August 16)

Bully (August 23)

Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai (August 23)

Wuthering Heights (August 23)

Moonrise Kingdom (August 30)

Cosmopolis (August 30)

What are your thoughts on some of these releases? What are you most looking forward to?

New Releases (24/05/12)

It is another uneventful week at the cinema. May has been one of the worst months of cinema I have experienced since I have been regularly attending the cinema and tracking what is released on a week-by-week basis. There are just two new releases in Australian cinemas this week - Men In Black 3 and Bel Ami.

Summaries courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes. 

Men in Black 3Agents J (Will Smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones) are time. J has seen some inexplicable things in his 15 years with the Men in Black, but nothing, not even aliens, perplexes him as much as his wry, reticent partner. But when K's life and the fate of the planet are put at stake, Agent J will have to travel back in time to put things right. J discovers that there are secrets to the universe that K never told him -- secrets that will reveal themselves as he teams up with the young Agent K (Josh Brolin) to save his partner, the agency, and the future of humankind. I found Men in Black 3 to be somewhat enjoyable. An excellent Josh Brolin gives the franchise an effective dose of youth and energy, there are some inspired ideas, amusing moments and effective effects and creature design. Certainly not as bad as it could have been.

Bel Ami - Bel Ami is the story of Georges Duroy (Robert Pattinson), who travels through 1890s Paris, from cockroach ridden garrets to opulent salons, using his wits and powers of seduction to rise from poverty to wealth, from a prostitute's embrace to passionate trysts with wealthy beauties, in a world where politics and media jostle for influence, where sex is power and celebrity an obsession. Christina Ricci, Uma Thurman and Kristen Scott Thomas co-star. It has not received glowing reviews. Linked review courtesy of Sam McCosh at An Online Universe.

Weekly Recommendation: The Way. Best film I saw in a cinema this week. Alternatively, a night in with DVDs. Start with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, but if you're after something a bit lighter The Descendants, Hugo, The Muppets and Young Adult are all out. With the exception of The Avengers, they beat everything out in a cinema at the moment.

With the release of the new Men in Black film in cinemas world wide it must give you an urge to go back and watch some classic Will Smith movies. Why not sign up to and get a free month trial where you will be able to access a huge database of movies online.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Guest Review: In the Cut (Jane Campion, 2003)

This is a guest review from my good friend Chris Elena, whose reviews can be found at his blog, Can You Dig It? Chris is also a writer/director and is he working on some short film projects at present, so keep an eye out for his name. As this month's focus is female directors he was very generous to offer a personal analysis of Jane Campion's controversial 2003 thriller, In the Cut. 

Post-Feminist, sexist and/or gratuitous, whatever you believe In the Cut to be, one can’t deny the power it holds. In this reviewer’s opinion, it’s a masterpiece.

Frannie Avery (Meg Ryan) is a lonely English professor who spends her days teaching a class that doesn’t care, feeding her cats and tending to her love starved and depressed sister (Jennifer Jason Leigh). Things change drastically, however, when the body of a young woman is found just outside her apartment building. It’s after this discovery that she meets Detective Malloy (Mark Ruffalo), a hard yards New York City cop who takes a liking to Frannie during his investigation. Her desire for a companion and his rough around the edges personality ignite a passionate connection between the two. Their interactions soon become dangerous as the serial killer is revealed to be someone very close to either of them and more women are found brutally murdered in and around the city. Frannie has her suspicions of Malloy and of one of her students, yet can passion cloud a sound judgement of a man she barely knows?

Teaser Released for Paul Thomas Anderson's 'The Master'

The first teaser for The Master, the highly anticipated new drama written, directed and co-produced by Paul Thomas Anderson - his last film was There Will Be Blood in 2007 - has been released online at this morning. PTA regular Phillip Seymour Hoffman headlines the cast, but The Master also welcomes the return to the screen for Joaquin Phoenix. Amy Adams and Laura Dern also star.

The film's premise has been kept pretty quiet but I believe it tells the story of a charismatic intellectual (Hoffman) who launches a faith-based organisation following World War II. A drifter (Phoenix) becomes his right-hand man as the faith begins to gain a fervent following.

The Master currently has a release date of 12 October 2012 in the U.S. Here is the teaser. What are your thoughts?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Movie Extra Webfest 2.0 Winner 'Event Zero' to Premiere on Youtube

Movie Extra Webfest 2.0 winning webseries, Event Zero, is set to launch on Movie Extra's YouTube channel on Tuesday 22 May at 9.00am (AEST). Audiences will get their first look at the highly anticipated webseries with the launch of episode one, ahead of the release of the following six episodes on Monday June 11.

Created by Enzo Tedeschi and Julian Harvey (producers of The Tunnel), Event Zero stars a host of Australian actors including Zoe Carides (Crownies, Out of the Blue), Valentino Del Toro (Gabriel, Underbelly: Infiltration), Harry Pavlidis (Gabriel, East West 101, All Saints) and Steve Davis (The Tunnel). As well as collaborations with several directors including Carlo Ledesma (The Tunnel), Andrew Traucki (The Reef) and Shane Abbess (Gabriel).

Event Zero tells seven interconnected stories of people caught up in an event much bigger than they are. A report comes in of a train derailment near Circular Quay. Smoke billows from the wreckage and victims pour onto the streets. As the emergency workers arrive at the chaotic scene, they realise the biggest threat is only just emerging. People without a scratch are collapsing on the ground and dying - and it is spreading. Unless someone can work out what is going on the death toll will continue to rise. This moment is Event Zero.

As winners of the MOVIE EXTRA WEBFEST 2.0 competition, creators Enzo Tedeschi and Julian Harvey were awarded a $100,000 production budget funded by Movie Network Channels and Screen Australia, to produce the seven part webseries. To catch the premiere episode of Event Zero, visit tomorrow morning at 9am. 

To follow the webseries and for regular WEBFEST updates and announcements visit the Facebook page:

Monday Links (21/05/12)

Since checking in last week, I have checked out several films - Polisse, which has an Australian release on June 28, Men In Black 3, which hits cinemas on Thursday, and The Way, now playing in cinemas.

I have also been watching Nicolas Winding Refn's Pusher trilogy. The first, which he directed in his mid-20's, utilises a very low-budget. The two so far have both covered similar territory, taking a viewer into the seedy underworld of Copenhagen and following small-time drug pushers who botch a deal, get in too deep with their bosses and become more and more desperate to come up with the money or drugs owed. These drugged-up losers initially seem hard to sympathise with, but incredibly - and this is a testament to the great work from Kim Bodnia and Mads Mikkelsen (the latter appears in both, but is the central character in Pusher II) - their stories become surprisingly moving. Its extremely ugly viewing at times, but demonstrative of Winding Refn's developing craft. Part III is on the list for this week.

Also this week: I appeared on The Matineecast, discussing The Avengers with Ryan McNeil, and inspired by Alex @ And So It Begins, came up with a list of my 11 Favourite Cinematographers.

Here are some links this week:

Richard @ The Reel Bits reviews Get The Gringo, which hits Australian cinemas May 31.

Kevin Knox reveals his 25 Favourite Films.

Ryan reviews one of the year's most entertaining comedy/thrillers, Headhunters.

Southern Vision is one of the best sources of diverse coverage of classic film. Tyler profiles Yasujiro Ozu and looks at Bergman's masterpiece, Through A Glass Darkly, purely through images.

Are Documentaries Cheating? Corey tackles the question.

Brian didn't like The Dictator. I am still yet to see it. Thoughts on this film?

Alex lists 100 Cinematic Reasons Why He Loves the 60's.

Finally, with Cannes now well under way, be sure to stop by Bonjour Tristesse for the best Cannes coverage.

That's all folks. Have a great week.  

Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth To Tour Sydney In June

Courtesy of Universal Pictures.

Twilight star Kristen Stewart and Australian favourite Chris Hemsworth, hot off the phenomenal success of The Avengers, join visionary director Rupert Sanders on a tour to Sydney for the Australian premiere of their epic action-adventure SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNSTMAN, taking place in true style at Event cinemas, Westfield Bondi Junction June 19. The trio will be enchanting press on Tues 19th and Wed 20th June to promote the breath-taking new vision of the legendary tale, opening in Cinemas across Australia on Thursday June 21.

Kristen Stewart (the Twilight saga, On the Road) plays the only person in the land fairer than the evil Queen Ravenna (Academy Award winner Charlize Theron of Young Adult, Prometheus,) who is out to destroy her. But the wicked ruler never imagined that the young woman who has escaped her clutches and now threatens her reign has been training in the art of war with a Huntsman named Eric (Chris Hemsworth of Thor, The Avengers) who was dispatched to capture her. The epic action-adventure is brought to the screen by Joe Roth, the producer of Alice in Wonderland, and, in his feature-film debut, acclaimed commercial director and state-of-the-art visualist Rupert Sanders.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

New Release Review: The Way (Emilio Estevez, 2011)

The Way has been out for a couple of weeks now but I am really glad I got the chance to see it. It is a moving, life-affirming and inspiring story that sheds light on and respects the centuries-old tradition of the Camino de Santiago, touches on how important family and friends are in helping us through the challenges that pop up on life’s journey, and how death can be understood and accepted purely through ‘living’. It is collaboration between father and son, Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez. Estevez, known for his roles in The Breakfast Club and The Mighty Ducks, adapts Jack Hirt’s novel ‘Of the Road: A Modern-Day Walk Down the Pilgrm’s Route in Spain’ with his father in mind and admirably directs.

Sheen (The West Wing) stars as Thomas Avery, an American ophthalmologist and widower whose only son, Daniel (Estevez), has become emotionally distant. Desiring not to pursue a career-oriented profession and live in the ‘California bubble’ like his father, he wishes to explore the world as an anthropologist. Tom receives the tragic news that Daniel has been killed during a storm in the Pyrenees, as he was walking the 800km Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James), a Catholic pilgrimage route through northwestern Spain, which culminates at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia.

Tom travels to France, where his son’s body is awaiting his identification, with the desire to bring him back to the United States. But, having learnt about the pilgrimage and ignoring his lack of hiking experience, he decides to walk the spiritual trail to deal with his grief and honour his son. Having cremated him, he caries his ashes in a box in his backpack and sprinkles his ashes at places along the Camino. While walking he meets interesting people from all around the work, and despite his desired solitude he reluctantly allows three in particular to become his close companions.