Friday, November 30, 2012

Monthly Round-up: November Viewing

 So ends another month. With a solid two months of work ahead, Sam and I took a couple of mini breaks in November - a visit to our friends in Canberra where we caught a few films at the Canberra International Film Festival and a weekend away in the Blue Mountains. It was a pretty good month for screenings actually. No new 5 star films - but plenty of memorable ones all the same. The only obvious blips on this month were the awful final installment of the Twilight Saga and Woody Allen's To Rome With Love. The December schedule is full of screenings for the early Summer season, so they look like they will be occupying a lot of my time.

Last year I was inspired to participate in the 'Blind Spot Series' courtesy of Ryan McNeil at The Matinee. Though I started strong, I only ended up seeing four films from the twelve I listed, and from those four, have only written about three. They (Night of the Hunter, Au Hasard Balthazar, Once Upon A Time in the West and Paris, Texas) were all fantastic.

Here are the rules: Cull together a list of “Blind Spot” films…movies that we as movie enthusiasts likely should have seen by now, but haven’t for one reason or another. After narrowing the list down to a truly manageable twelve titles, the goal would be to watch all twelve over the course of the next year, and to write one’s thoughts afterwards.

My 2013 selections:

Sunrise (F.W Murnau, 1927)
A Matter of Life and Death (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1946)
The Treasure of Sierra Madre (John Huston, 1948) 
Ikiru (Akira Kurosawa, 1952) 
Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953)
On the Waterfront (Elia Kazan, 1954)
Ordet (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1955)
The Sweet Smell of Success (Alexander Mackendrick, 1957)
Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, 1962)
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (Luis Bunuel, 1972)
Fanny And Alexander (Ingmar Bergman, 1982)
Satantango (Bela Tarr, 1994)

I intend to do it this time.

I watched a total of 33 films in November, also making a start on some 2012 revision in preparation for my EOY lists. There are in the vicinity of ten films I want to re-watch in December just to clarify my thoughts on them.

New-To-Me-Films (By Order of Preference)

----------Essential Viewing---------- 

Solaris (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1972)

Possession (Andrzej Zulawski, 1981)

The Perks of Being A Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky, 2012)

Blood of the Beasts (Georges Franju, 1949)

Sorcerer (William Friedkin, 1977)

Smashed (James Ponsoldt, 2012)

Celeste and Jesse Forever (Lee Toland Krieger, 2012)

Like Someone In Love (Abbas Kiarostami, 2012)

Robot and Frank (Jake Schreier, 2012)

Rust and Bone (Jacques Audiard, 2012)

Skyfall (Sam Mendes, 2012)

The Sessions (Ben Lewin, 2012)

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs (Phil Lord, Chris Miller, 2009)

All The Way Through Evening (Rohan Spong, 2012)

Brick (Rian Johnson, 2005)

----------Essential Viewing----------

Trailers: Silver Linings Playbook/Zero Dark Thirty

With Silver Linings Playbook and Zero Dark Thirty set for a release in Australian cinemas in January of next year - and as they are two of my most anticipated upcoming releases - I thought I would introduce a trailer to any readers who aren't familiar with what they're all about.

Silver Linings Playbook

Directed by David O. Russell (Three Kings, The Fighter) and stars Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro and Jackie Weaver.

After a stint in a mental institution, former teacher Pat Solitano (Cooper) moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. Things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a mysterious girl with problems of her own.

Zero Dark Thirty

Directed by Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) and stars Jessica Chastain, Joel Edgerton and Mark Strong.

A chronicle of the decade-long hunt for Al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden after the 9/11 attacks, and his death at the hands of the Navy SEAL Team 6 in May, 2011.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

DVD Review: Silent House (Laura Lau, Chris Kentis, 2012)

Silent House is an independent American horror film written by Laura Lau and directed by Lau and Chris Kentis (the creators of Open Water). It is a remake of the 2010 Uruguayan film of the same name, which was allegedly based on a true incident. This tense, unnerving film delivers scares, but also features some astounding use of the camera.

Elizabeth Olsen stars as Sarah, a young woman who has returned to her family’s secluded lake house to help her father and uncle clean up the place in preparation for sale. When Sarah finds herself locked inside the house with no means of escape, her panic soon turns to terror when her situation becomes increasingly ominous and she realises she is not alone.

Continue reading at Graffiti with Punctuation

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

New Release Review: All The Way Through Evening (Rohan Spong, 2012)

All The Way Through Evening, a thoroughly researched and immensely moving documentary by Australian filmmaker Rohan Spong, is the study of the New York music and art scene in honour of the talented artists whose lives were tragically cut short by the early onset of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the 1980’s.

The preparations for the Benson AIDS Series charity concert, annually staged on December 1 (World AIDS Day) in Manhattan by Mimi Sterne-Wolfe, an aging New York concert pianist, occupy a large part of the film’s focus. But, in addition to this fascinating story, Spong has stretched the boundaries of investigation, capturing a number of personal accounts from the friends and family of men who never got the chance to fully prove their potential. In the process of putting together another concert – calling in old friends to assist and rifling through hundreds of compositions in search of the one she is after - we are privileged to accompany Sterne-Wolfe on her journey and hear her commentary.

Her inspiration comes from the fantastic compositions and operas (often unfinished and unperformed) of her late friends - along with powerful rehearsals and performances of those works. Spong’s interviews are intimate and often-heartbreaking talking head accounts of people recalling their friends and loved ones; whether it is about the deceased’s unique artistic talents, their openly gay lifestyles or the early fears and prejudices that arose following the revelation of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. These accounts are unashamedly direct and revealing, and consequently, deeply affecting.

All The Way Through Evening, accompanied by the beautiful composed by Robert Savage, is not just an insightful investigation into the HIV/AIDS pandemic and how crippling it was for the gay community and the art scene, but it is also a touching collective eulogy for these artists, a celebration of their lives and talents. Brought to life by the colourful interviewees and sensitive direction, this is undeniably an important memorial work.

My Rating: ★★★★

All The Way Through Evening will be released nation-wide over the World AIDS Day weekend, commencing this Thursday, November 29th. It is screening for a strictly limited time at Dendy Newtown (Sydney), Cinema Nova (Melbourne), Palace Centro (Brisbane), Mercury Cinema (Adelaide) and Dendy Cinema (Canberra). All proceeds from screening on Saturday December 1st will go to individual HIV/AIDS organizations in each state.

Opel Moonlight Cinema Announces 2012/13 Program

With summer fast approaching, Opel Moonlight Cinema has announced a stellar line-up of films that will make up the 2012/13 program for Australia’s favourite outdoor cinema. 

Kicking off the bumper season will be the opening night preview screening of Quartet, a British comedy-drama starring Maggie Smith, Billy Connolly and Tom Courtenay and the directorial debut for Academy award-winning actor, Dustin Hoffman. 

The 2012/13 program includes a number of highly anticipated preview films including the biographical drama starring Anthony Hopkins, Hitchcock; the western drama written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained; the dramatic thriller starring Academy Award winner Denzel Washington, Flight; and This is 40, a hilarious comedy written and directed by Judd Apatow (The 40 Year-Old Virgin, Funny People) and starring Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann and Megan Fox.

Skyfall and The Dark Knight Rises return to screens, and there are family-friendly screenings of the heartwarming animated adventure, ParaNorman; the latest instalment of the popular children’s series, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted; and the re-release of the Walt Disney favourite, Aladdin

With something for every film enthusiast, the program also includes a mix of classic and cult films including the coming of age comedy, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off; the 1986 hit action film Top Gun; and Quentin Tarantino’s acclaimed Pulp Fiction.

What: Opel Moonlight Cinema 
Where: Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney and Brisbane  
Tickets: Available online at

New Releases (29/11/12)

In cinemas this week we have The Perks of Being A Wallflower, a wonderful teen drama adapted by Stephen Chbosky's from his own acclaimed novel, Celeste and Jesse Forever, an indie dramedy that offers big laughs while also challenging viewers with some contemplative dramatic impact, and All The Way Through Evening, a music documentary about Mimi Sterne-Wolfe, an elderly New York concert pianist. Also hitting screens are Red Dawn and Fun Size, but they don't sound worth getting excited about.

The Perks of Being A Wallflower follows Charlie (Logan Lerman, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief), a young man anxious about his freshman year at a new school. As is revealed throughout Charlie has suffered a series of traumas in his life, and is emotionally and mentally scarred as a result. Bright but incredibly shy, Charlie finds himself accepted amongst a group of sympathetic, free-spirited seniors, including a stepbrother and sister, Patrick (Ezra Miller, We Need to Talk About Kevin) and Sam (Emma Watson, Harry Potter), who offer up new experiences and guide him through the emotional rollercoaster of adolescence.

Celeste and Jesse Forever - Celeste (Jones) and Jesse (Andy Samburg) have been best friends for a long time, but after six years of marriage they have begun to realise that it’s just not working out. Celeste is a workaholic, a successful trend analyser who runs her own media company with her partner, Scott (Eljah Wood), while Jesse is an unemployed artist who has moved into the studio at the rear of the house. In what can only be described as a peculiar relationship, they hang out regularly, car pool and still mess about like they’re together. However, after some time without any development in their relationship, Jesse decides to start dating. Celeste pretends to be happy for him, but when he proves her pessimism wrong and finds himself in a stable relationship before she does, she spirals into a state of confusion, contempt and self-pity, struggling to accept losing him forever.

All The Way Through Evening - feature length documentary about an elderly New York concert pianist (Mimi Stern-Wolfe) who struggles to perform an annual concert of music written by her composer friends, all lost of HIV/AIDS, during the early wave of the pandemic. It was conceived, shot and directed by Rohan Spong, an independent Australian filmmaker. It is screening exclusively at Dendy Newtown here in Sydney and is an acclaimed and moving film.

Fun Size - a teen comedy centered on a sarcastic high school senior, Wren (Victoria Justice), who is eager to distance herself from her dysfunctional family by going off to college. Before that can happen, Wren's mother, Joy, insists that she watch her little brother Albert on Halloween night, so Joy can go to a rager with her much younger boyfriend. When Wren gets distracted by an invitation to the party of the year, Albert disappears into a sea of trick-or-treaters. Frantic to locate him before their mother discovers he's missing, Wren enlists the help of her sassy best friend April, as well as Peng, an aspiring ladies man and co-captain of the debate team, and Peng's best friend, Roosevelt, a sweet nerd whose crush on Wren clouds his better judgment. This unlikely foursome embarks on a high-stakes, all-night adventure to find Albert, crossing paths with outrageous characters every step of the way.

In Red Dawn, a city in Washington state awakens to the surreal sight of foreign paratroopers dropping from the sky - shockingly, the U.S. has been invaded and their hometown is the initial target. Quickly and without warning, the citizens find themselves prisoners and their town under enemy occupation. Determined to fight back, a group of young patriots seek refuge in the surrounding woods, training and reorganizing themselves into a guerrilla group of fighters. Taking inspiration from their high school mascot, they call themselves the Wolverines, banding together to protect one another, liberate their town from its captors, and take back their freedom.

Weekly Recommendation: Perks of Being A Wallflower, Celeste and Jesse Forever and All The Way Through Evening are the essentials this week.

20 Films To Watch This Summer 2012/13

Spring has been awesome. Looking back at my Spring Preview there have been some significant release changes, but Australian viewers were still privileged to Monsieur Lazhar, Your Sister's Sister, Killer Joe, Lore, Ruby Sparks, Looper, Searching for Sugar Man, Killing Them Softly, I Wish, Hail, The Intouchables, Argo, Frankenweenie, The Sessions, The Master, The Angels' Share, Robot and Frank, Celeste and Jesse Forever and The Perks of Being A Wallflower. That is a pretty solid few months. There's usually something worth watching released every week.

But now lets take a look ahead to the 2012/13 summer, which includes Australia's biggest day of releases (Boxing Day) - something like 7 or 8 films are released that day - and a string of films hitting screens in January and February likely to be amongst the Oscar contenders. Expect to see Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Django Unchained, The Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty, Flight and Lincoln to be considered for Best Picture. As many February releases have not been confirmed we are a bit slim there (though foreign language films such as Amour and Rust and Bone could hit screens as early as February), but January certainly has plenty of exciting films in store. Here's 20 significant releases I have selected, taking into account those I have seen already and can recommend and those with a LOT of buzz from the U.S.

Check out January 31. What a day...potentially.

Liberal Arts (Dec. 13)

Les Miserables (Dec. 26)

Wreck-It Ralph (Dec. 26)

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Dec. 26)

Sightseers (Dec. 26)

Samsara (Dec. 26)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

New Release Review: The Perks of Being A Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky, 2012)

The wonderful Perks of Being A Wallflower, one of the finest films I have seen about the challenges of adolescence and the life of a high schooler, felt from a deeply personal place. The reason for this might be that the fact that writer/director Stephen Chbosky has adapted the film from his 1999 novel – and has been responsible for every chapter of the film’s journey from the page to the screen. Though I having not the epistolary novel (comprised of a series of “letters”), Chbosky’s love for these characters is clearly evident.

The Perks of Being A Wallflower follows Charlie (Logan Lerman, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief), a young man anxious about his freshman year at a new school. As is revealed throughout Charlie has suffered a series of traumas in his life, and is emotionally and mentally scarred as a result. Bright but incredibly shy, Charlie finds himself accepted amongst a group of sympathetic, free-spirited seniors, including a stepbrother and sister, Patrick (Ezra Miller, We Need to Talk About Kevin) and Sam (Emma Watson, Harry Potter), who offer up new experiences and guide him through the emotional rollercoaster of adolescence. 

Review: Rust and Bone (Jacques Audiard, 2012)

Rust and Bone screened at the Canberra International Film Festival. It was the Australian premiere.

Rust and Bone, Jacques Audiard’s (A Prophet) tragic and emotionally charged romantic drama and redemption story is an intensely resonating human study featuring a pair of astounding performances.

The brutish Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts, Bullhead) – all testosterone, arms, fists and brash physicality – has just taken his son away from his irresponsible mother and has travelled a long distance to start a new life.

After some minimalist living, they eventually shack up with his sister and Ali takes on whatever jobs he can find. He works security at an electronics store, bounces at nightclubs and because of his fearless lease of life, takes up bare knuckle boxing when a work colleague, who runs an illegal racket, poaches him. He frustrates his sister and utilises tough love on his son, whom he often neglects.

It is at a nightclub that he meets another social misfit, Stephanie (Marion Cotillard, La vie en rose), an orca trainer and choreographer of a local sea world show. Having been assaulted by a male club patron, Ali escorts her home. Not long after, Stephanie suffers a horrific accident and turns to Ali for strength, company and care.

Continue reading at Graffiti With Punctuation

Saturday, November 24, 2012

New Release Review: Celeste and Jesse Forever (Lee Toland Krieger, 2012)

Celeste and Jesse Forever, a charming little oddball romantic comedy with dramatic punch, really took me by surprise. While I am willing to give anything starring the lovely Rashida Jones (I Love You Man, The Office) a go, I didn’t expect it to resonate as strongly as it did, nor be so entertaining.

Celeste (Jones) and Jesse (Andy Samburg) have been best friends for a long time, but after six years of marriage they have begun to realise that it’s just not working out. Celeste is a workaholic, a successful trend analyser who runs her own media company with her partner, Scott (Eljah Wood), while Jesse is an unemployed artist who has moved into the studio at the rear of the house. In what can only be described as a peculiar relationship, they hang out regularly, car pool and still mess about like they’re together. However, after some time without any development in their relationship, Jesse decides to start dating. Celeste pretends to be happy for him, but when he proves her pessimism wrong and finds himself in a stable relationship before she does, she spirals into a state of confusion, contempt and self-pity, struggling to accept losing him forever.

Continue reading at Graffiti With Punctuation.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

New Releases (22/11/12)

In cinemas this week: the 23rd installment in the James Bond Franchise, Skyfall, Julie Delpy's sequel to 2 Days in Paris, 2 Days in New York, the documentary about the infamous Harper's Bazaar fashion editor, Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel and Electrick Children.

Skyfall - James Bond is back for another adventure in the 23rd installment of the popular spy franchise. Oscar winning British director, Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition), is the man at the helm for Skyfall, the third feature starring Daniel Craig as 007. A figure from M’s (Dame Judi Dench) past – a rouge agent named Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem) – resurfaces and targets MI6. Bond (Craig) with the assistance of his new Quartermaster (Ben Wishaw) traverses the globe in his attempts to take down this dangerous new threat.

2 Days In New York - Hip talk-radio host and journalist Mingus (Chris Rock) and his French photographer girlfriend, Marion (Julie Delpy), live cozily in a New York apartment with their cat and two young children from previous relationships. But when Marion's jolly father (played by Delpy's real-life dad, Albert Delpy), her oversexed sister, and her sister's outrageous boyfriend unceremoniously descend upon them for an overseas visit, it initiates two unforgettable days of family mayhem. The visitors push every button in the couple's relationship, truly putting it to the test. How will the couple fare. . . when the French come to New York?

Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel - During Diana Vreeland's fifty year reign as the "Empress of Fashion," she launched Twiggy, advised Jackie Onassis, and established countless trends that have withstood the test of time. She was the fashion editor of Harper's Bazaar where she worked for twenty-five years before becoming editor-in-chief of Vogue, followed by a remarkable stint at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute, where she helped popularize its historical collections. Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel is an intimate portrait and a vibrant celebration of one of the most influential women of the twentieth century, an enduring icon who has had a strong influence on the course of fashion, beauty, publishing and culture. 

Electrick Children - Rachel is a rambunctious teenager from a fundamentalist Mormon family in Utah. On Rachel's 15th birthday, she discovers a forbidden cassette tape with rock music on it. Having never heard anything like it, Rachel has a miraculous experience. Three months later, Rachel turns up pregnant and claims to have had an immaculate conception from listening to the music. Rachel's parents arrange a marriage for Rachel, but Rachel runs away to the closest city, Las Vegas, to search for the man who sings on the cassette tape, thinking he has something to do with her mysterious pregnancy.

Weekly Recommendation: Skyfall is exciting and a lot of fun – the grittier modern take on the franchise is infused with throwbacks – but it’s not completely satisfying. With jaw-dropping action, Mendes’ steady direction, Deakins’ astounding visual spectacle and the return of a memorable villain, there are lots of reasons to check out the return of Bond to the big screen. I haven't seen any of the other films released this week, but as I liked 2 Days in Paris I would be interested in checking out the sequel. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

New Release Review: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 (Bill Condon, 2012)

The final chapter of the Twilight Saga arrived in cinemas this week, accompanied by the usual opening weekend mass flock. Bill Condon returns to direct the second half of the screen adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s final novel in the series, Breaking Dawn.

As expected, the events kick off straight after the conclusion of Part 1 with newly transformed vampire, Bella (Kristen Stewart), recovering and trying to adjust to her new set of skills and desires. Her baby, Renesmee, is healthy and growing fast, protected and cared for by Jacob (Taylor Lautner), who “imprinted” her and as a result is bound to her side. Bella and Edward (Robert Pattinson) are living with the Cullens, Edward’s family, who have welcomed Bella and Renesmee into their clan.

Though she ages fast and is the spawn of a vampire and a human, Renesmee was conceived and delivered while Bella was still in human form, and is not the immortal child (an illegal infant created by two vampires) as the ruling Volturi (led by Michael Sheen and Dakota Fanning) are led to believe. Fearing the worst the Cullen clan gather allies from around the world who can attest to Renesmee’s human qualities and stop a war.

New Release Review: Skyfall (Sam Mendes, 2012)

James Bond is back for another adventure in the 23rd installment of the popular spy franchise. Oscar winning British director, Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition), is the man at the helm for Skyfall, the third feature starring Daniel Craig as 007.

A figure from M’s (Dame Judi Dench) past – a rouge agent named Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem) – resurfaces and targets MI6. Bond (Craig) with the assistance of his new Quartermaster (Ben Wishaw) traverses the globe in his attempts to take down this dangerous new threat.

Admirably, Mendes and his Academy Award-nominated cinematographer Roger Deakins (No Country For Old Men, True Grit) ensure that the film’s locations and epic set pieces look absolutely stunning. The framing and compositions are beautiful and the colours explode off the screen. The steady, controlled action sequences in Skyfall prove that it is possible to create frenetic thrills and still ensure that the audience can see it. Though the action was about the only feature worthy of praise in Quantum of Solace, the Bourne-esque shaky cam and rapid-fire editing was an aesthetic that needed to go.

Continue reading at Graffiti With Punctuation.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Review: Like Someone In Love (Abbas Kiarostami, 2012)

Like Someone In Love screened at the Canberra International Film Festival.

Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami, a previous winner of the Palme d’Or for Taste of Cherry (1997), returned to Cannes this year with Like Someone In Love. Though many have been captivated by his latest work, the reception was certainly mixed. After time to reflect on its unconventional storytelling style and unravel its subtleties, it has become a film that I greatly admire and appreciate.

Set in Tokyo, we are immediately immersed into a bustling restaurant/bar. We are privileged to one side of a phone conversation between a young woman named Akiko (Rin Takanashi) and presumably her boyfriend. They are arguing, and it becomes clear that he is jealous and doesn’t trust her. She presumably lies to him, claiming she is out with some friends. Akiko has a secret and discovering who she was with and why results in a case of mistaken identity and a series of fascinating exchanges of escalating tension.

Continue reading at Graffiti With Punctuation

New Release Review: Robot and Frank (Jake Shreier, 2012)

The feature film debut for writer Christopher Ford and director Jake Schreier, Robot and Frank won the Alfred P. Sloan Prize at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. It features Frank Langella in the title role as an aging former jewel thief.

Set in the near future, Frank contently lives alone, reminiscing on his career as a wily cat burglar and estranged and removed from his son Hunter (James Marsden) and daughter Madison (Liv Tyler), who are growing increasingly concerned about his health and wellbeing. He has been experiencing signs of dementia, a mental depreciation not only recognized by his son, who has grown tired of the weekly visits to his father (who seems to have no appreciation for them) but also the local librarian and friend, Jennifer (Susan Sarandon).

Paying a visit to the library is part of Frank’s daily routine – but with the declining interest in print media, the plans for its reformation into a community centre commence, which is part of an enveloping theme of the fading past.

Unable to take care of his father any longer, Hunter purchases a robot companion (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard) – a mechanical ‘butler’ programmed to take care of Frank. This involves housekeeping, ensuring he maintains a strict diet and recommends stimulating cognitive exercises such as gardening.

Though he initially rejects his new companion he soon warms to its presence when he realizes that its participation in recreational activities can include being an accomplice in Frank’s capers, the only activity that seems to rejuvenate him and energize his mind. After a few lessons in picking locks and some elaborate scheming the unlikely partners decide to take advantage of the rich new-age yuppies that have moved into the area. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Review: Smashed (James Ponsoldt, 2012)

I watched 'Smashed' at the Canberra International Film Festival earlier in the month.

Smashed, directed by James Ponsoldt and written by Ponsoldt and Susan Burke, won the U.S Dramatic Special Jury Prize For Excellence in Independent Film Producing at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. This impressively directed indie drama convincingly captures the trials and tribulations of substance abuse and provides a showcase for the talents of Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World).

Kate (Winstead) and Charlie (Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad) are a young married couple who enjoy having a good time together. Their bond is centered on a mutual fondness for music, dancing and drinking…heavily, which places her rewarding primary school teaching position in jeopardy.

Continue reading at Graffiti With Punctuation

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Korean Short Film Night 2012

A night of celebration will grace the Korean Cultural Office as a selection of award-winning short films screen as part of The Korean Short Film Night 2012, which aims to celebrate cultural diversity. Tales of Korean heritage features films from Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and the United States that focus on Korean heritage and stories in a newfound land.


 November 29th at 6:30pm
Korean Cultural Office, 255 Elizabeth St, Sydney
Entry is free but bookings are essential.

Directors Andrew Lee (UTS) and Susan Kim Danta (School of Media Arts, COFA) will be in attendance for a Q + A after the screening.

A mix of drama and documentaries will warm your hearts with their moving storylines and genuine characters. The event will also mark the closing of the New Zealand and Korea Year of Friendship, as the Australian premiere of KOWI screens.

The event is presented by the Korean Cultural Office and run by Cinema On The Park, a free, weekly Korean film night, which boasts a full line-up of the best of Korean cinema from controversial classics to popular Korean blockbusters. Having attended several of these screenings I can recommend coming along, both to this event, and future screenings.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Radiohead: Concert & Personal Best-Of

On Monday night I was lucky enough to score a ticket to see Radiohead live in concert here in Sydney. I went with my girlfriend Sam, and my friends Blake and Patrick. What an unforgettable sensory experience. One of the best things I have ever done, for sure. Blake called it "Bucket List stuff." It's true. They are one of my favourite bands and seeing as this was their first tour of Australia in something like eight years, I may never get the chance to see them again.

We had ridiculously good seats - about a quarter of the way back in the seated section and directly in front of Thom Yorke - and the atmosphere was full of anticipation prior.

The show was phenomenal and demonstrative of the immense talent of the musicians, and how they have continue to evolve their sound over the last 20 years. They will certainly go down in history as one of the greatest bands of all time. It has been 19 years since Pablo Honey. Obviously, I wasn't listening to them then (nor was I when OK Computer came out in 1997, but it has become one of my favourite albums ever) but it is evident that they have remained relevant by evolving their style.

The walls of sound were epic, Yorke was a star, crazily dancing around the stage, and the ever-changing light show was stunning. They played for over two hours, returning for three encores. Insane.

Here is the complete setlist (the highlights in BOLD):

1. Bloom
2. Lucky
3. Morning Mr. Magpie
4. Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
5. Myxomatosis
6. The Gloaming
7. Seperator
8. Staircase
9. Videotape
10. Nude
11. Ful Stop
12. Lotus Flower
13. There There
14. Planet Telex
15. Feral
16. Bodysnatchers

17. Give Up The Ghost
18. Pyramid Song
19. These Are My Twisted Words
20. Reckoner
21. Paranoid Android

Encore 2:
22. 15 Step
23. Everything In Its Right Place

Encore 3:
 24. Idioteque


Here is my personal 'Best Of Radiohead' double album.

Disk 1 (1993-2000)

Talk Show Host
Blow Out
High and Dry
Fake Plastic Trees
My Iron Lung
Street Spirit (Fade Out)
Paranoid Android
Exit Music (For A Film)
Let Down
Karma Police
Climbing Up The Walls
No Surprises
Everything in its Right Place
The National Anthem

Disk 2 (2001-2012)

Packt Like Sardines In A Crushed Tin Box
Pyramid Song
You and Whose Army?
I Might Be Wrong
Knives Out
2 + 2 = 5
Sit Down. Stand Up.
Where I End And You Begin
There, There
A Punch Up At A Wedding
A Wolf At The Door
15 Step
Jigsaw Falling Into Place
Morning Mr. Magpie
Lotus Flower

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

New Releases (15/11/12)

New to cinemas this week we have the newest (and final...i think) installment in the Twilight Saga, Breaking Dawn Part 2. Now, if I wasn't researching what was out this week I never would have known this was out. There has been absolutely no publicity (not that there needs to be), but there is a really bizarre atmosphere surrounding the release.

Also out this week are Dead Europe, the haunting adaptation of the acclaimed novel by Christos Tsiolkas and The Angels' Share, Ken Loach's crowd-pleasing Cannes winner, both of which I have seen, as well as Robot and Frank, Two Little Boys and God Bless America.

Dead Europe - Australia's Tony Krawitz (Jewboy, The Tall Man) directs the adaptation of The Slap author Christos Tsiolkas' award-winning novel in this searing film about history, guilt and secrets. Ewen Leslie delivers a great performance as photographer Isaac, whose father's death in suburban Sydney reveals the schism in his family and prompts a return to the ancestral homeland. On a trip to his parent's village in Greece, he learns something of his father's cursed history. At first he dismisses the revelation as superstitious nonsense, but over the course of his travels - from Greece to Paris to Budapest - Isaac is forced to confront the anti-Semitism of the past, the embedded bigotry in the bones of Europe and the nature of inherited guilt. It is on this fateful trip that Isaac will learn the truth of his family's migration to Australia, their refusal to ever return to Greece, and the burden he continues to bear as a consequence of acts committed years before his birth. Krawitz sensitively depicts this clash of mythology and a very contemporary reality in this daring and enigmatic film populated by spirits and outcasts.

The Angels' Share - The Angels' Share introduces Robbie, an ex-offender and new father who embarks on an adventure with his new found friends to a whiskey distillery and discovers that turning to drink might just change his life.

Robot and Frank - Set in the near future, Frank (Frank Langella), a retired cat burglar, has two grown kids who are concerned he can no longer live alone. They are tempted to place him in a nursing home until Frank's son chooses a different option: against the old man's wishes, he buys Frank a walking, talking humanoid robot programmed to improve his physical and mental health. What follows is an often hilarious and somewhat heartbreaking story about finding friends and family in the most unexpected places.

Two Little Boys - When Nige finds himself in a spot of bother after a series of unfortunate incidents, he is forced to ask Deano for help. The problem is Deano is not really the kind of guy you should turn to in a crisis.

God Bless America - Frank (Joel Murray) has had enough of the downward spiral of American culture. Divorced, recently fired, and possibly terminally ill, Frank truly has nothing left to live for. But instead of taking his own life, he buys a gun and decides to take out his frustration on the cruelest, stupidest, most intolerant people he can imagine -- starting with some particularly odious reality television stars. Frank finds an unusual accomplice in a high-school student named Roxy (Tara Lynne Barr), who shares his sense of rage and disenfranchisement. Together they embark on a nationwide assault on our country's most irritating celebrities.

Weekly Recommendation: I have heard near-unanimous praise for Robot and Frank (and Frank Langella's performance) so I am going to blindly make it my top recommendation. The Angels' Share is very entertaining, and Dead Europe, though haunting and ugly, is worth a look too. Having also seen Two Little Boys and God Bless America I find them hard to recommend.

New Release Review: The Angels' Share (Ken Loach, 2012)

The Angels' Share, a tale of whiskey espionage from respected British director Ken Loach (The Wind That Shakes The Barley), screened at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival (extraordinarily, it is Loach's eleventh film accepted) and picked up the coveted Jury Prize.

It is an edgy, though heartfelt, redemption story about a troubled and violent Glaswegian youth, Robbie (Paul Brannigan), who has one chance, with a baby on the way, to turn himself around, learn to be responsible and establish a route to a new life. Balancing the effective drama with a clever dose of comedy in the vein of The Full Monty, it is often uproariously funny. But both the poignant drama and the laughs are engrained in a real human story and that's what results in the film having more of a profound effect than one would expect.

Struggling to stay out of the way of his local tormentors and being aggressively told to keep away from the mother of his newborn child, Robbie is facing a crossroads. He could leave town (as recommended) and start afresh, or he could prove that he deserves a second chance and has the ability to change. While on community service, a bizarre series of events leads to him attending a whiskey tasting session in Edinburgh with his community supervisor, Harry (John Henshaw), and it is there that he discovers an unlikely hidden talent - a fine nose for whiskey. He enlists a few of his buddies (local misfits charged with minor misdemeanours), when they learn about a priceless whiskey set for prompt auction, to help him utilise his talent to their economical advantage.

There is some really strong comedy, and though Robbie is a loser who is hard to sympathize with initially, he eventually wins us over. The support cast are all hilarious. One of the few issues for me personally were the Scottish accents, which were so thick that it was difficult to understand what was being said at times, and I definitely missed a few of the jokes. Viewers should be aware that there is some strong profanity and grisly violence, but The Angels' Share is a potential feel-good hit that should thrive on positive word-of-mouth.
                                                                                                                            My Rating: ★★★★ (B+)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Monday Links (12/11/12)

It has been a little while since I posted here on Film Emporium, but I have actually been doing little else but watch films. After three busy straight stressful days at work, Sam and I hopped on a coach and made our way to Canberra, Australia's capital city, on Saturday morning. Two of our friends were generous enough to let us stay with them, and as there were a few films screening at the Canberra International Film Festival that we were interested in seeing, there was plenty of motivation. By the end of the weekend - which was very pleasant - we had seen Abbas Kiarostami's Like Someone In Love, Jacques Audiard's Rust and Bone (both of which screened at Cannes earlier in the year) and James Ponsoldt's American indie drama, Smashed. All of them were excellent and provoked a lot of contemplation and discussion. Reviews of each to come soon.

Recently, my review of The Sessions, which features a remarkable central performance from John Hawkes as a young man affected by polio, is now online at Graffiti With Punctuation. I also caught up with Andrei Tarkovsky's science fiction masterpiece, Solaris, one of only three of his films I was yet to see.

Here are some links for this week:

Chris Elena shares his 'Best Films Set in New York'.

Alex gives Rust and Bone a glowing reception, and though I haven't read his review to see how he justifies his thoughts, I can certainly understand his admiration for the filmmaking...and the performances. Marion Cotillard take acting to a new level.

James provides an in-depth analysis of Kurosawa's Ikiru

Check out Margaret's Anne Hathaway Appreciation at Cinematic Corner. 

John reviews The Queen of Versailles.

Tom Clift has been reviewing for Film Ink. Check out his review of The Master.

Tyler is working his way through (and updating) his Top 100 Films. Check out numbers 90-81.

Werner Herzog vs. Errol Morris?

Dave reviews Killer Clowns From Outer Space and Blake interviews Lee Unkrich at Graffiti With Punctuation.

That's all for this week...I'm off to see Radiohead live. Hope everyone is well.

New Release Review: The Sessions (Ben Lewin, 2012)

The Sessions is a warm, crowd-pleasing biographical account about immense courage and sexual healing that will entertain and leave few dry eyes in the house.

Mark O’Brien (John Hawkes) is a man who has lived most of his life with the support of an iron lung and several compassionate aids (notably Vera, Moon Bloodgood). Despite his paralysis, Mark’s brain remains sharp and he becomes a renowned writer, journalist and poet. Mark comes to realise that there is one experience he desires above all else – sexual intercourse with a woman – and he vows to lose his virginity. After consulting with his priest, Father Brendan (William H. Macy), who declares that he believes “God will give him a free pass on this one”, he contacts a California sex surrogate – a therapist (Helen Hunt) who offers therapeutic guidance through intimate sexual interactions.

Continue reading at Graffiti With Punctuation

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

New Releases (08/11/12)

It is a bit of a mixed week this week. When I read that The Master, The Sessions and Seven Psychopaths were being released on the same day I was very excited. Having been disappointed by Seven Psychopaths and having heard terrible things about Alex Cross (also released) it has weakened somewhat. Still, The Sessions has been very well received, and The Master, for me (and many others), is one of the best films released this year.

The Master - the highly anticipated new film from ambitious American writer, co-producer and director, Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Magnolia and There Will Be Blood). A grandiose achievement in almost every sense, this evocative work of vibrant cinematic vision is a film that will offer rewards for inquisitive film goers for a long time to come. Not easily forgotten, it is a dark and haunting storm that stirs emotions, offers up individual moments that will leave a viewer in awe and through its explored themes, leaves a percolating concoction of contemplation and admiration. At the fore of this story is Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix in his first screen role since I’m Still Here), a World War II Navy veteran who is struggling to adjust to a post-war society. A gaunt, sickly-looking alcoholic with a bent back and a limp, emotionally and physically Freddie is a mess. He bounces between jobs – a portrait photographer and a vegetable farmer – and is consistently under the influence of toxic concoctions that are clearly unsafe to drink. He then stumbles onto a pleasure boat in San Francisco where he meets Lancaster Dodd (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) the leader (‘master’) of a philosophical movement known as The Cause. He sees something in Freddie, perhaps recognizing himself and relating to his personal struggles, and after accepting him into the movement as a patient and disciple, begins to exert his influence.

The Sessions Based on the poignantly optimistic autobiographical writings of California-based journalist and poet Mark O'Brien, The Sessions tells the story of a man confined to an iron lung who is determined - at age 38 - to lose his virginity. With the help of his therapists and the guidance of his priest, he sets out to make his dream a reality. Stars John Hawkes and Helen Hunt have been mentioned in the Oscar talks for their performances, and Hawkes has been great of late (everyone, he should have been nominated for Martha Marcy May Marlene last year following Winter's Bone the year before, yes?). Check out Chris Elena's review for An Online Universe at the link.

Alex Cross - follows the young homicide detective/psychologist (Tyler Perry), from the worldwide best-selling novels by James Patterson, as he meets his match in a serial killer (Matthew Fox). The two face off in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse, but when the mission gets personal, Cross is pushed to the edge of his moral and psychological limits in this 'generally poorly received' action thriller.

Seven Psychopaths - Marty (Farrell) is a struggling writer who dreams of finishing his screenplay, "Seven Psychopaths". Billy (Rockwell) is Marty's best friend, an unemployed actor and part time dog thief, who wants to help Marty by any means necessary. All he needs is a little focus and inspiration. Hans (Walken) is Billy's partner in crime. A religious man with a violent past. Charlie (Harrelson) is the psychopathetic gangster whose beloved dog, Billy and Hans have just stolen. Charlie's unpredictable, extremely violent and wouldn't think twice about killing anyone or anything associated with the theft. Marty is going to get all the focus and inspiration he needs, just as long as he lives to tell the tale.

 Weekly Recommendation: The Master. Definitely, I really want to see it projected in 70mm (Hayden Orpheum Cremorne only - Sydney) so if you get the chance I think that would be very worthwhile. It is going to look amazing anywhere, however. From what I have heard The Sessions is also going to be a very worthwhile watch. If you haven't had the chance to see Argo, The Intouchables or Frankenweenie yet, they also come highly recommended and continue their run this week.

Trailer: West of Memphis

West of Memphis is the hotly anticipated new documentary following the trio of Paradise Lost documentaries (the latter, Purgatory, was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at last year's Academy Awards). West of Memphis focuses on the extraordinary case of the West Memphis Three - Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr. - the three teenagers wrongly convicted for the murder three 8-year-old boys in West Memphis in the 1993. Now, nearly 20 years later, the men have been released - and this documentary provides further insight into the devastating case and the miscarriage of justice, their personal journeys along the way and an investigation into a new suspect.

Produced by Peter Jackson and Damien Echols and directed by Amy J. Berg, there is no set release date in Australian cinemas though it is screening at the Brisbane Film Festival later in the month. Check out the trailer below:

Monday, November 5, 2012

DVD Review: Once Upon A Time In Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)

The haunting Once Upon A Time in Anatolia, directed with great precision and assurance by world-class filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan, shared the Jury Prize at last year's Cannes Film Festival with The Kid With A BikeI caught it earlier in the year at the Sydney Film Festival, but due to unsuitable circumstances to watch a film of this length and tone, I had the desire to watch it again in an attempt to unpack its mysteries.

The film opens in the dead of night as a group of men in three cars - including a police commissioner (Yilmaz Erdogan), a prosecutor (Taner Birsel), a doctor (Muhammet Uzuner) and a murder suspect (Firat Tanis) - drive through the tenebrous Anatolian countryside, the serpentine roads and rolling hills lit only by the headlights of their cars. They are searching for the corpse of a local man who has recently been buried there. The suspect, who has confessed to the murder, claims he was drunk at the time and can't remember where he buried the body. The convoy drives from spot to spot, often captured in a lengthy unbroken shot as they approach their destination from a distance, and search for signs that distinguish it as the burial ground.

The story unravels like a police procedural, but it is unconventional to say the least. Realistically, events unfold at a natural pace and only when the characters are ready to converse or take action. If a character needs to step out and urinate, the rest of the group waits and converses about matters both trivial (yoghurt) and poignant (death), and we wait along with them. This is a simmering drama that is less about action, and more about philosophizing, building atmosphere and developing character. 

Monday Links (05/11/12)

I watched Brick for the first time this week. I was impressed, especially by Joseph Gordon Levitt's performance. It was well-dialogued and gripping, if some of the developments were unrealistic, given the location and the age of the characters.

I also made a trip to the cinema to watch Frankenweenie. Great to see it in contention for an Oscar nomination for Animated Feature. It would be disappointing to see it miss out, because it is some of Burton's best work in a while. It looked stunning and is an effective balance of sweet, amusing and macabre, with some honorary nods to classic creature films. It even brought some tears to my eyes.

My review of Seven Psychopaths is now online at Graffiti With Punctuation. I am in the minority with my opinion on this one. It is out this week.

Later today, I will be posting a DVD review of Once Upon A Time In Anatolia on The Film Emporium, a film I appreciated much more on a re-watch.

Tomorrow I am seeing Two Little Boys and next weekend I am traveling to Canberra for the Canberra Film Fest. Like Someone In Love, Rust and Bone and Smashed are scheduled in. Then I am seeing Radiohead live and watching Skyfall, so there are lots of awesome things to look forward to. Just have to get through this week of work. Its been kicking my ass recently. Very busy.

So, enough about what I am up to. Here are some links:

Ruth shares her thoughts on The Master

Sam has a new 'Best Films Set In...' feature. This time its Hotels

As part of his Horror Marathon, Alex looks at his Top 10 Scariest Non-Horror Films.

CS reviews A Fantastic Fear of Everything (starring Simon Pegg) at Toronto After Dark.

Nick asks us a question: What does the 'Nooooo' really represent? 

Margaret at Cinematic Corner reviews Skyfall.

Anna compares Fight Club - book vs. movie.

Sam Fragoso reviews Flight.

Andrew's 'Essential Performances of the 90's' Tournament has come to an end. You can now check out the winner.

Tyler, like Alex, lists the 20 Scariest Films He Has Ever Seen.

Ryan shares his thoughts on new Disney animation, Wreck-it Ralph.

And, if you are an Australian resident, be sure to enter the fantastic giveaway currently running at Graffiti. Find out how we are celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Universal Pictures.

Hope everyone has a great week.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

New Release Review: Seven Psychopaths (Martin McDonagh, 2012)

Seven Psychopaths is set to hit Australian cinemas November 8.

If you liked writer/director Martin McDonagh’s last film, In Bruges (2008) then it is pretty hard not to go into Seven Psychopaths with some level of anticipation. While it’s not a major drop of the ball from McDonagh, it is a haywire mess of a film, preoccupied with its self-aware meta tendencies and forgetting to tell a coherent story. It is a film that thinks it is cleverer than it is and I walked away disappointed.

Marty (Collin Farrell) is a struggling writer who is way past deadline on his most recent screenplay, “Seven Psychopaths.” Billy (Sam Rockwell), (Marty’s best friend) is making a living as a part time dog thief with Hans (Christopher Walken). When Charlie (Woody Harrelson), a psychopathic gangster whose beloved dog has just been stolen by Billy and Hans, sets out on a violent revenge mission to find her, Marty is caught up in the middle.

Continue reading at Graffiti With Punctuation.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Jewish Film Festival Review: Yossi (2012)

Yossi (screening as part of the 2012 Jewish Film Festival) is an Israeli drama directed by Eytan Fox. It serves as a sequel to Fox’s 2002 film Yossi and Jaggar, which introduced audiences to Ohad Knoller’s titular character. He reprises his role here.

It is a sad, but hopeful and life-affirming story about 34-year-old Yossi, a former soldier (his service and his doomed relationship with a fellow soldier is covered in Yossi and Jaggar) and now a cardiologist living in Tel Aviv. He is still a closeted homosexual and a sad and lonely workaholic.

He lives a rather pathetic existence; immersed in a morose, boring daily routine. He eats bad food – he is pudgy, unshaven and tired-looking – watches bad gay porn and draws daily sympathy from his co-workers; one a nurse who expresses an non-reciprocated romantic interest in him, and the other a newly-divorced doctor who tries to takes him out partying in an attempt to help him get his mojo back. He tries online dating, but when he arranges a meeting using an old and misrepresentative photo, he is embarrassingly called out on it.

Continue reading at Graffiti With Punctuation