Wednesday, February 29, 2012

2012 Alliance Francaise French Film Festival Review: The Day I Saw Your Heart (Jennifer Devoldere, 2011)

The Day I Saw Your Heart, directed by Jennifer Devoldere and making its Australian Premiere at the 2012 Alliance Francaise French Film Festival, is a breezy, mature and touching comedy-drama that offers few challenges to an audience - except requiring them to overlook a messy conglomeration of narratives - but offers up a talented and likeable cast, a toe-tapping soundtrack, light-hearted laughs and several poignant moments. The Day I Saw Your Heart is a little twee, but it is an experience that should prompt viewers to closely consider and further value their relationships with their loved ones and to never underestimate the surprises (both wonderful and devastating) that can influence them.

Beautiful twenty-something, Justine (Melanie Laurent), an aspiring artist working full-time at a radiology lab, and the youngest of three sisters, has been plagued by failed relationships. After dumping yet another boyfriend, she moves onto the sofa at her sister’s place. Dom and her husband, having failed on countless occasions to produce a child, are planning to adopt. Meanwhile, the women’s tactless and selfish 60-year-old father, Eli (Michel Blanc), announces to the family over dinner that his much younger third wife is pregnant. It is to be his first child since Justine.

This is a film that chronicles the complex disturbances that have caused unrest within the family, and the miracles and tragedies that bring them closer together over the course of the film. Dom is desperate for a child, and while Eli’s wife is overjoyed by the prospect of a new addition to the family, he seems to be indifferent, more concerned with befriending Justine’s exes (a couple of them work for him) and improving his golf game. He retires, leaving the business in the hands of his younger associates, but during his twilight hiatus, manages to insult and upset his entire family, before learning (completely by chance) some debilitating news about his health.

Prometheus -TED Talk by Peter Weyland in 2023

Released today was a TED talk from the future by Guy Pierce in character as Peter Weyland (CEO of Weyland Industries) as envisioned by Ridley Scott. It is an intriguing look into what may lie ahead, as well as important back story into the epic mythology explored in Scott's new film, Prometheus. 

Prometheus opens worldwide in 3D on June 8th.

Peter Weyland has been a magnet for controversy since he announced his intent to build the first convincingly humanoid robotic system by the end of the decade. Whether challenging the ethical boundaries of medicine with nanotechnology or going toe to toe with the Vatican itself on the issue of gene-therapy sterilisation, Sir Peter prides himself on his motto, “If we can, we must.” After a three year media blackout, Weyland has finally emerged to reveal where he’s heading next. Wherever that may be, we will most certainly want to follow.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

New Releases (01/03/12)

There are seven new releases hitting Australian cinemas this Thursday, March 1. Honestly, they could not be more polar opposing. We have A Separation, the best reviewed film of 2011 and winner of Best Foreign Language Film at yesterday's Academy Awards. It won the Jury Prize at the Sydney Film Festival and the Audience Award at the Melbourne International Film Festival last year. It has a 99% score on Rotten Tomatoes, and I can vouch for it too. It was the best feature film I saw last year. It is a must see. Also released this week are Like Crazy and Carnage, Roman Polanski's new film. Both have been attracting positive reviews, and have won and been nominated for several awards throughout the season. Looking good, right? Well, also released on Thursday are The Devil Inside Me, The Sitter, Project X and A Little Bit of Heaven. All reports recommend sticking clear of this lot. The Sitter has the highest score on Rotten Tomatoes. A measly 22%. Quick summaries to come:

A SeparationAt the end of this decade, A Separation should be remembered as one of the finest films released. The title links to my review from Sydney Film Fest. I hope it will encourage you to seek it out.

Like CrazyA love story is both a physical and emotional tale, one that can be deeply personal and heartbreaking for an audience to experience. Director Drake Doremus' film Like Crazy illustrates how your first real love is as thrilling and blissful as it is devastating. When a British college student (Felicity Jones) falls for her American classmate (Anton Yelchin) they embark on a passionate and life-changing journey only to be separated when she violates the terms of her visa. Like Crazy explores how a couple faces the real challenges of being together and of being apart.

Carnage - Razor sharp, biting comedy centered on parental differences. After two boys duke it out on a playground, the parents of the "victim" invite the parents of the "bully" over to work out their issues. A polite discussion of childrearing escalates into verbal warfare, with all four parents revealing their true colours. None of them will escape the carnage. It is based on a stage play, and it is brief (80 minutes). With Roman Polanski at the helm, and a cast featuring Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster, Christoph Waltz and John C. Reilly, it is certainly worth a look, I am sure.

UPDATE: End-of-Year Awards - My 30 Best Films of 2011

As I explained in my previous 'Best of 2011' I would be updating that list following the Oscars to include any January and February 2011 releases that I feel should be considered amongst recognition. As a result of many of the Oscar contenders getting a release, and with some proving to be exceptional, this list has significantly changed. Any films that are released in cinemas following today will be considered a 2012 Australian release. Currently The Grey leads the pack for 2012.

Let me know what you think of the updated list. How does it reflect yours?

*Denotes New Addition

1. Senna
2. A Separation
3. The Tree of Life
4. Incendies
5. Project Nim
6. We Need to Talk About Kevin
7. Drive
8. Take Shelter
9. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy*
10. Moneyball
11. The Skin I Live In
12. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo*
13. The Descendants
14. Midnight in Paris
15. Warrior
16. Rango
17. Weekend*
18. Martha Marcy May Marlene
19. Armadillo
20. Shame*
21. The Artist*
22. 13 Assassins
23. The Ides of March
24. Win Win
25. Contagion
26. Attack the Block
27. Of Gods and Men
28. Snowtown
29. The Muppets
30. Meek's Cutoff

20+ Honourable Mentions: Trust, Certified Copy, The Trip, Hugo, The Guard, L'illusionniste, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Adventures of Tintin, In A Better World, Hanna, I Saw the Devil, Never Let Me Go, Beginners, Kill List, Buck, Bill Cunningham New York, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Elite Squad 2: The Enemy Within, 20 Cigarettes, Young Adult and Crazy Stupid Love.

New Release Review: Like Crazy (Drake Doremus, 2011)

Like Crazy is an independent romantic drama from director Drake Doremus. Loosely inspired by Doremus’ real-life experience with his ex-wife, he also co-wrote the screenplay with Ben York Jones. Like Crazy won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Film at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and awaits an anticipated, though limited, Australian release on March 1.

The poignant and heartwarming Like Crazy follows the story of a bright British college student, Anna (Felicity Jones), and her long-distance relationship with a fellow American student, Jacob (Anton Yelchin). Anna, an aspiring journalist, is a foreign exchange student, and after having fallen in love with Jacob, a talented furniture designer, decides to overstay her student visa, which expires after graduation, and spend the summer with him. After her brief return home, when she arrives back in Los Angeles and tries to re-enter the country, she is denied entry at JFK and sent back to England, leaving the pair with no choice but to remain in a strained long-distance relationship. Deeply in love, this proves to be a frustrating burden, which begins to influence how they each live their lives and the decisions they make about their future.

Awards Watch: Winners at the 84th Academy Awards

The reason I have not posted the winners of the 84th Academy Awards up earlier is because I was hosting an Oscar Party and rushing off to blog is pretty antisocial. The day was great. We drank some wine, and had several great discussions about film - including a fantastic late night one about The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. It picked up just one award, but it was the consensus that Reznor/Ross should have won for their score (though they weren't even nominated), Rooney Mara's performance was the strongest in her category and that in this conservative year it would have been great to see the film recognised for Best Picture. Still, it won the award that made me the most excited - film editing. What a shock to see Kirk Baxter and Angus Hall back on stage. They deserved it though.

Oscar rundown - Oh god, Billy Crystal is awful. Actually that opening montage was pretty funny. What was with Jennifer Lopez's dress? Aww I love Jessica Chastain, she is adorable. I hope she wins. No, Octavia Spencer. I really admire Christopher Plummer. What a fantastic speech. Cirque Du Solei was impressive. That Emma Stone/Ben Stiller sketch was actually quite good. Okay, getting tired of RDJ's doco now. Bret McKenzie is on stage. Angelina is presenting an award...and has a leg. Woody is absent. I would have liked to have seen Farhadi back on stage. Alexander Payne is always a class act. Spotlight is on Viola, but I'm looking at Chastain in the background. Hey, Jean Dujardin wins. Meryl. Ugh. Hazanavicius is back again. The Artist wins the biggie, and Dujardin is at the back playing with the dog.

The Artist wins five, Hugo wins five...and The Iron Lady wins two.

Best Picture: The Artist

After Hazanavicius won Best Director this was fairly inevitable, though Hugo had picked up a bunch of awards earlier in the night, which made us question whether it might cause an upset.

Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist

Yeah. Before the night, and before Hugo's string of awards, this seemed like a sure bet. Not a surprise, but I half expected to hear Scorsese's name called.

Best Actor: Jean Dujardin for The Artist

Could have been Clooney. Could have been Pitt. Like at Cannes and at the SAG Awards, it is is Jean Dujardin.

Best Actress: Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady

Ugh. Meryl. Rooney got robbed.

Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer for Beginners

This is a class act. Fantastic speech from Plummer.

Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer for The Help

Standing ovation. She was very good. But I wanted to see Jessica Chastain give a speech.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Night Before Oscar: Razzie Nominations and Wishful Thinking

Firstly, a few days back, I posted by Predictions for the 84th Academy Awards. I was browsing through some other blogger's predictions today, and I think they all look very similar because this year has quickly become quite predictable. I made a couple of choices that are looking unlikely (A Separation for Original Screenplay, for example), but that's part of the fun - incorporating an element of optimism into the trends.

Secondly, here is a collage of my 'If Only' selections for some of the major Oscar categories. A couple of these will probably win, but most of them are longshots. Still, if half of these get up, I will have enjoyed the day. In order they are: Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Sup. Actor, Sup. Actress, Original Screenplay, Adapted Screenplay and Animated Film.

Thirdly, the nominations for the 32nd Razzie Awards were announced today. Typically awarded the night before the Academy Awards, this year they will be awarded on April Fool's Day. You can find all of the nominees listed at An Online Universe.

Exclusive Clips for 'The Devil Inside'

Courtesy of Way to Blue, here are some exclusive clips from the upcoming horror/thriller The Devil Inside, opening in cinemas March 1.

Awards Watch: 'Snowtown' Takes Top Prize at 2012 Australian Film Critics Association Awards

The Australian Film Critics Association (AFCA) have announced the winners of their Annual Film Awards. I received this information courtesy of Julian Buckeridge of At the Cinema.

Here are the winners:

Best Australian Film

The Eye of the Storm
Mrs Carey's Concert
Oranges and Sunshine
Snowtown *WINNER*
Sleeping Beauty

Best Overseas Film (English Language)

The Guard
Take Shelter
The Tree of Life *WINNER*

Best Overseas Film (Foreign Language)

Certified Copy
In A Better World
Incendies *WINNER*
The Skin I Live In

Best Documentary

Bill Cunningham New York
Mrs Carey's Concert
Project Nim
Senna *WINNER*

Best Actor

Daniel Henshall - Snowtown *WINNER*
Willem Dafoe - The Hunter
Matthew Newton - Face to Face
Geoffrey Rush - The Eye of the Storm
Hugo Weaving - Oranges and Sushine
David Wenham - Oranges and Sunshine

Best Actress

Emily Browning - Sleeping Beauty
Judy Davis - Eye of the Storm
Louise Harris - Snowtown
Charlotte Rampling - Eye of the Storm
Emily Watson - Oranges and Sunshine *WINNER*

Best Director

Brendan Fletcher - Mad Bastards
Justin Kurzel - Snowtown *WINNER*
Julia Leigh - Sleeping Beauty
Daniel Nettheim - The Hunter
Fred Schepisi - The Eye of the Storm

Best Screenplay

Alison Addison - The Hunter
Shaun Grant - Snowtown *WINNER*
Julia Leigh - Sleeping Beauty
Judy Morris - The Eye of the Storm
Michael Rymer - Face to Face

I did not participate in the voting, but this has been one of the rare awards ceremonies where I have found myself agreeing with every winner. What are your thoughts?

Awards Watch: 'The Artist' Sweeps the Independent Spirit Awards

The Independent Spirit Awards are often the most exciting celebration of the Awards Season. Why? Well, usually the year's BEST films are nominated - and don't get recognised anywhere else. This year Drive, Take Shelter, Martha Marcy May Marlene are just some of the films that feature.

But, this year, because The Artist is also nominated, events proceeded the same way as many prior ceremonies. The Artist, as it is expected to do at tomorrow's 84th Academy Awards, took out Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor (Jean Dujardin). Will Reiser won Best First Screenplay for 50/50, Best First Feature went to Margin Call and The Interrupters won Best Documentary.

Best Feature: The Artist
Best Female Lead: Michelle Williams (My Week With Marilyn)
Best Male Lead: Jean Dujardin (The Artist)
Best Supporting Female: Shailene Woodley (The Descendants)
Best Supporting Male: Christopher Plummer (Beginners)
Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
Best Screenplay: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (The Descendants)
Best First Screenplay: Will Reiser (50/50)
Best Cinematography: Guillaume Schiffman (The Artist)
Best First Feature: Margin Call
Best International Film: A Separation
Best Documentary: The Interrupters
John Cassavetes Award: Pariah
Truer Than Fiction Award: Where Soldiers Come From
Someone to Watch Award: Mark Jackson for Without
Producers Award: Sophia Lin for Take Shelter
Robert Altman Award: Margin Call

Saturday, February 25, 2012

New Release Review: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Stephen Daldry, 2012)

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close follows Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn), a young boy living in New York, whose father Thomas (Tom Hanks) was killed in the 9/11 bombings. The events of the day - Oskar was let out of school early and arrives at home to hear six phone messages left by his father, trapped on the 105th floor of the North Tower, before watching it collapse - are relayed via flashback.

A year has passed, and Oskar and his mother Linda (Sanda Bullock) are struggling to heal, and they have been unable to maintain a healthy relationship because Linda is unable to explain to Oskar why the towers were attacked and why they buried an empty coffin to mourn his father. When Oskar is exploring his father's closet, he knocks over a blue vase and finds a key inside an envelope labelled with the name "Black". 

Believing it is a message from his father, and a puzzle for him to solve, he sets out to meet every person in the Five Boroughs with the surname Black (all 417 of them) and see if they had known his father and if they have an answer to the mystery of the key. He creates an extensive filing system and scrapbook, marks residences on map, cordoning off zones, and visiting strangers on foot on a schedule every Saturday. Along the way, he befriends a mute elderly gentleman (Max Von Sydow), who is renting a room from his grandmother. He accompanies Oskar on his search - proving to be a confidant, and source of inspiration and wisdom.

Despite a string of negative reviews, which has caused the film to suffer at the box office, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close received a shock Oscar nomination for Best Picture. ‘Emotionally manipulative’, ‘exploitative’ and ‘cloying’are all terms that have been thrown around to describe reviewers' displeasure in Stephen Daldry’s (Billy Elliot, The Reader) adaptation of the beloved Jonathan Safran Foer novel. It is adapted by acclaimed screenwriter Eric Roth (The Insider, Munich). While many of these criticisms have some weight, to base a critique on 'hating the kid' just doesn't cut it for me.

Exclusive Clips for 'Like Crazy'

A love story is both a physical and an emotional tale, one that can be deeply personal and heartbreaking for an audience to experience. Director Drake Doremus' film Like Crazy beautifully illustrates how your first love is as thrilling and blissful as it is devastating. When a British college student (Felicity Jones) falls for her American classmate (Anton Yelchin) they embark on a passionate and life changing journey only to be separated when she violates the terms of her visa. Like Crazy explores how a couple faces the real challenges of being together and of being apart. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Best Picture at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and of the Special Jury Prize for Best Actress for Felicity Jones. In cinemas March 1st.

Below is the trailer for Like Crazy and a couple of clips from the film courtesy of Way to Blue:


I Want You

I Love You

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Films of Dario Argento: Tenebre (1982)

I can only imagine how much controversy Tenebre would have caused following its release. It didn’t even make it to American cinemas until 1984 and when it did it was heavily censored and under an alternative title. Dario Argento took his giallo blueprint, which he made his own during the 1970’s, into the 1980’s and heaped on the blood and intensity.

American crime thriller and horror writer Peter Neal (Anthony Franciosa) is in Rome to promote his latest popular novel, Tenebre. Accompanying him are his agent, Bullmer (John Saxon), and his assistant, Anne (Daria Nicolodi). Just prior to Neal’s arrival in Rome, we follow an attractive young shoplifter who is caught trying to steal one of Neal’s novels. She arrives back at her home and is killed by black-gloved figure wielding a razor. A letter from the killer is slid underneath Neal’s hotel room door, claiming that his novels have inspired them to go on a killing spree, targeting women in ways identical to how Neal described them. 

Soon enough, Neal finds himself harassed in other ways. More notes (which accompany more killings – a lesbian journalist and her lover) and threatening phone calls. No one, not his assistants, his agent, his bitter ex-wife (who has been following him) or the hotel staff, are free from suspicion or danger, as Neal quickly tries to piece together the clues.

2012 Academy Awards: Ranking the Nominees

I am stealing this idea from John at John Likes Movies, who was influenced by In Contention. Having just seen the final Best Picture nominee, and the last nominated film I will see before the ceremony, I thought I would rank this year's Academy Award nominees. I will start with a list of those I haven't seen, and then rank the ones I have. There might be a few surprises.

Films I haven't seen: A Cat in Paris, Chico and Rita, Bullhead, Footnote, In Darkness, Monsieur Lazhar, Rio, W.E, Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, Pina, Undefeated, Hell and Back Again, If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front, Real Steel, Margin Call and A Better Life.

1. A Separation
2. The Tree of Life
3. Drive
4. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
5. Moneyball
6. Midnight in Paris
7. The Descendants
8. Warrior
9. Rango
10. The Artist
11. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
12. The Ides of March
13. Hugo
14. The Muppets
15. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
16. The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn
17. Beginners
18. Kung Fu Panda 2
19. My Week With Marilyn
20. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II
21. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
22. Jane Eyre
23. The Help
24. Puss In Boots
25. War Horse
26. Albert Nobbs
27. Bridesmaids
28. The Iron Lady
29. Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Trivia - There were only two ★★★★films nominated, but every film down to Beginners I rated ★★★★ or above. There is a big drop off with the bottom six films. Personally, how would you rank them?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

French Filmmaking Pair Confirmed As Guests for 23rd Alliance Francaise French Film Festival

Two of France's most exciting, contemporary filmmakers Remi Bezancon and Mia Hansen-Love have been confirmed as guests of the 23rd Annual Alliance Francaise French Film Festival. Bezancon will be the guest-of-honour at the Festival's gala launches in both Sydney and Melbourne on 6 and 7 March and will attend a Sydney screening and Q & A for his latest film, A Happy Event, whilst Hansen-Love will visit Australia for the second week of the event to participate in a Q & A session following screenings of her new film, Goodbye, First Love in Sydney and Melbourne.

Writer/director Bezancon first came to the attention of Festival audiences with his funny, yet moving drama The First Day of the Rest of Your Life, the smash hit that looked at five decisive days in the lives of one family. His latest feature, the critically acclaimed A Happy Event, takes an intimate and poignant look at a young couple who find themselves unprepared for the lifestyle changes wrought by parenthood.

Mia Hansen-Love is also acknowledged as a filmmaker of great talent, who like Bezancon, writes and directs her films. Renowned for the insight and sensitivity she brings to her characters, her previous drama, Father of My Children, screened at the 2010 Festival to great acclaim and went on to enjoy a successful release in Australia. Her latest film, Goodbye, First Love, is a beguiling story of love, loss and the tender memories of youth, which follows the romantic journey of a young woman (Lola Creton) who finds herself caught between the powerful emotions of her first love and the more pragmatic nature of her present relationship.

Post-Festival, Goodbye, First Love will screen from April 5 through Palace Films whilst A Happy Event will enjoy a cinematic release through Umbrella Entertainment on 12 April.

Remi Bezancon
Sydney - 7.00pm Thursday March 8 at Palace Norton Street, Leichhardt.

Mia Hansen-Love
Sydney - 6.15pm Tuesday March 13 and 6.15pm Wednesday March 14 at Palace Norton Street, Leichhardt.
Melbourne - Thursday March 15 at Palace Cinema Como, South Yarra.

The Films of Dario Argento: Deep Red (1975)

Deep Red has been called “the most beautifully shot horror film ever made” and I can certainly see why such a claim could be made. The inventive uses of the camera, and the complex compositions, are sublime, and in all of its grotesque glory, Deep Red is a staggeringly beautiful film. It is also terrifying.

There are some exceptional buildings and interior set pieces in this film – Helga Ulmann’s apartment, the houses of Amanda Righetti and Dr. Giordani, the old abandoned house and the Da Vinci School. The long hallways (often with doors lining both sides) and large spacious rooms (with lots of wardrobes and hiding places) ensure that Argento has plenty to work with, and the way the camera sweeps around the rooms, cutting between the focus on the character in danger, and the POV of the killer lurking in the shadows, creates near unbearable tension. This is the style Argento has been developing in each of his earlier films (with his debut The Bird With the Crystal Plumage utilising it the best so far) but he masters it here in a new level of precision.

The film stars David Hemmings (Blowup) as Marcus Daly, a pianist and music teacher, who investigates the shocking murder of a psychic medium, after witnessing it from the street level late one night. Earlier in the evening, the psychic had stressed during her live reading that there was a figure in the room full of pure evil. A figure in the crowd stands up (presumably our killer) and goes to the bathroom, before lingering behind and following Helga home.

Ulmann lives in Daly’s apartment building, and though his desperate attempt to save her fails, he (like a number of Argento’s heroes before him) becomes obsessed with finding the murderer. Recognizing that a painting he had glimpsed on the way in had since vanished, and likely before the police had blocked off the room, Daly is convinced that it has significance. The killer strikes several times, eliminating people who have learnt something about their identity, but as Daly digs deeper into the complex web of affairs, he uncovers a sinister secret inside a deserted old house.

Cast of 'I, Frankenstein' Arrive in Melbourne for Feb. 27 Production

The international and Australian cast of I, Frankenstein has begun to arrive in Melbourne ahead of the film's February 27 start of production date.

Cast members including Aaron Eckhart, Bill Nighy, Miranda Otto, Yvonne Strahovski and Socratis Otto will call Melbourne home for the ten-week shoot, however locals shouldn't be alarmed if there's a certain darkness in the air.

Picking up where Mary Shelley's classic novel left off, I Frankenstein follows Dr. Frankenstein's creature (Eckhart) into a present day, gothic metropolis. There he is drawn into an epic power struggle between two immortal clans, a battle which will decide the fate of mankind.

Writer/director Stuart Beattie explains, "Mary Shelley's story is about the creation of the first human being. I, Frankenstein is about that being becoming human." A collaboration between Lakeshore Entertainment and Hopscotch Features, I, Frankenstein is written and directed by Beattie (Tomorrow When the War Began) and based on the graphic novel by Kevin Grievous (Underworld).

With an expected late 2012 release, Hopscotch/eOne are releasing the film in Australia while Lionsgate will be distributing the film in the U.S.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Films of Dario Argento: The 'Animal Trilogy'

For LAMBS in the Director's Chair for February, the focus is Dario Argento. I had previously watched The Bird With the Crystal Plumage and Suspiria as part of my Halloween special last October, but I decided to work through some of his other films too. Here is Part 1 of my Argento special:

The Bird With the Crystal Plumage (1970) (Capsule review originally written on October 30, 2011)

The Bird With the Crystal Plumage is an excellent horror/thriller debut from writer/director Dario Argento (Deep Red and Suspiria). An American writer, Sam Dalmas (Tony Musante), is living in Rome. Suffering from writer’s block, he considers returning to the United States, but witnesses an attempted murder late one night through the glass doors of a museum. He sees a woman being attacked by an assailant wearing a raincoat. In the days that follow he can’t shake the thought that there was something odd about the whole affair and gets lured into the case when he is instructed to remain in Rome, with the police believing him to be an important witness in the hunt for the serial killer they believe has been terrorising the city.

He begins obsessing over the case, with his life (and his model girlfriend’s also) eventually threatened by the killer. There is a great pace to this film with Argento crafting a compelling mystery, building a tense atmosphere and punctuating it all with several terrifying sequences. Many would have been proven to be very shocking at the time. The photography from Vittorio Storaro (The Conformist, Apocalypse Now) is stellar and this is certainly influential work within the genre. It is a landmark in the Italian giallo (crime fiction/mystery) genre – and the first in Argento’s “Animal Trilogy”.

Rating: A-

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

New Release Review: My Week With Marilyn (Simon Curtis, 2011)

My Week With Marilyn is directed by Simon Curtis and adapted from two memoirs (The Prince, the Showgirl and Me, and My Week With Marilyn) by Colin Clark (portrayed at age 23 by Eddie Redmayne) by Adrian Hodges. The majority of the film depicts the making of the 1957 film, The Prince and the Showgirl, and Clark's experience on the set with director and star Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh), after winning a role as his third assistant director, and the most famous female movie star in the world at the time, Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams). Monroe has recently married Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott) and in addition to moving to England to shoot the film, is on her honeymoon.

Clark's experiences would be the dream of any 23-year-old with a love for the movies, but Hodges and Curtis manage to reveal Marilyn at her most voluptuous and sexy, and her most sad and troubled, while ensuring the film is playful and amusing, and the hyperactive energy of the camera, editing and score aid the tone. When Miller returns to New York, Monroe, who struggles to remember her lines and wastes take after take, much to the frustration of Olivier, becomes a worry. She finds solace in Colin, who is assigned to keep an eye on her. Colin is naïve and innocent and can’t help but fall in love with the lovely Ms. Monroe. As a result of Olivier’s bullying (justified, considering how unreliable Marilyn was), he treats her with sympathy and believes he understands who she really is. Marilyn takes a liking to the youngster, who always seems to be there when she needs him – and for the briefest time, becomes the centre of his world.

New Releases (23/02/12)

Hitting Australian cinemas on Thursday 23rd February there are six releases, though Paddy Considine's well-received debut film, Tyrannosaur, is only being released in Melbourne, I understand. Still, here in Sydney we have a less than impressive line-up - A pair of action films, Contraband and Killer Elite, the Best Picture-nominated Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (perhaps the worst reviewed Best Picture nominee ever, though having not yet seen it, I have to reserve judgement), Gone, a suspense thriller starring Amanda Seyfried, and Late Bloomers, a comedy/drama for the old-timers.

Tyrannosaur - Joseph (Peter Mullan) is an unemployed widower with a drinking problem, a man crippled by his own violent temperament and furious anger. Hannah (Olivia Colman) is a Christian worker at a charity shop, a respectable woman who seems wholesome and happy. When circumstances brings the pair together, Hannah appears as Joseph's guardian angel, tempering his fury and offering him warmth, kindness and acceptance. As their relationship develops, Hannah's own secrets are revealed - her husband (Eddie Marsan) is violent and abusive - and Joseph emerges as her unlikely saviour. With striking performances and a deeply felt story, this is actor-turned writer/director Paddy Considine's debut film.

Contraband - Chris Farrday (Mark Wahlberg) long ago abandoned his life of crime, but after his brother-in-law, Andy (Caleb Landry Jones), botches a drug deal for his ruthless boss, Tim Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi), Chris is forced back into doing what he does best - running contraband to settle Andy's debt. Chris is a legendary smuggler and quickly assembles a crew with the help of his best friend, Sebastian (Ben Foster), for one final run to Panama and back, hoping to return with millions of dollars in counterfeit bills. Things quickly fall apart and with only hours to reach the cash, Chris must use his rsuty skills to successfully navigate a treacherous criminal network of brutal drug lords, cops and hit men before his wife, Kate (Kate Beckinsale), and sons become their target. Just writing this, the plot sounds convoluted - and reports are that there is nothing particularly special about Contraband.

Killer Elite Australian director Gary McKendry’s debut feature (which has an unfathomable budget of $66 million) is based on the ‘The Feather Men’, Ranulph Fiennes’ expose of the SAS’s role in a late 60’s war in Oman. The events have been shifted to the 80’s with one of the world’s elite operatives, Danny Bryce (Statham), hired by a vengeful oil Sheikh, who is holding his mentor and partner, Hunter (Robert De Niro) hostage. He is assigned to hunt down and assassinate three ex-SAS men who had been involved in the killing of his sons during the devastating war. But, they must look like accidents, and there must be a recorded confession along the way. Killer Elite is a pointless, disposable action vehicle, which features a never-ending stream of nonsensical action sequences, an abundance of genre clichés, unlikeable and unconvincing characters, a bloated running time (it drags terribly near the end, and actually has several false endings), an emotionless romantic subplot, and one of the worst screen beards of all time (owned by Dominic Purcell). I really wasn't a fan - but for an alternative opinion, check out my buddy's review at

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sydney Stars Set To Shine On The Big Screen In 'Sydney Unplugged'

Some of Australia's most exciting and acclaimed filmmakers are bringing Sydney to the big screen in all its glory, in a film aptly named Sydney Unplugged. A promotional clip of Sydney Unplugged screened last night at TROPFEST. You can watch it here.

To be shot in the second half of 2012, Sydney Unplugged is a film that will comprise of twelve stories. Each story will be helmed by a different director that will showcase Australia's premier city through a myriad of themes and storylines. Produces by the internationally renowned director and creator of Tropfest John Polson, and Gary Hamilton, the depth and diversity of Australia's filmmaking talent, both behind and in front of the camera will be on display.

Filmmakers Alex Proyas (Knowing), David Michod (Animal Kingdom), Ivan Sen (Toomelah), John Curran (The Painted Veil), Kieran Darcy-Smith (Wish You Were Here), Liev Schreiber (Everything is Illuminated), Rachel Ward (Beautiful Kate), Ray Lawrence (Lantana) and Russell Crowe (Texas), will be joined by actors Anthony LaPaglia and Toni Collette in their directorial debuts, in creating the inspiring stories that will make up Sydney Unplugged.

Sydney Unplugged will illustrate the vibrant and unique cultural and social tapestries of life in one of the world's most beloved and inspiring cities. To be released in Australian cinemas by Icon Film Distribution in 2013, and sold internationally by Arclight Films.

Awards Watch: 'The Descendants' and 'Midnight in Paris' Win at WGA.

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) have announced their winners. Many of the nominees have also been nominated for an Oscar, so the winners would have to be considered the favourites for an award next week. Woody Allen's script for Midnight in Paris, and the writing team behind The Descendants, Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, were the favourites, and took out the awards for Best Original Screenplay, and Best Adapted Screenplay respectively. Here are the rest of the nominees:

Original Screenplay

50/50 - Will Reiser
Bridesmaids - Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig
Midnight in Paris - Woody Allen *WINNER*
Win Win - Tom McCarthy; Story by Tom McCarthy and Joe Triboni
Young Adult - Diablo Cody

Adapted Screenplay

The Descendants - Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash; Based on the novel by Kaui Hart Hemming. *WINNER*
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo - Steve Zaillian; Based on the novel by Stieg Larsson
The Help - Tate Taylor; Based on the novel by Kathryn Stockett
Hugo - John Logan; Based on the book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick
Moneyball - Steve Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin; Story by Stan Chervin; Based on the book by Michael Lewis.

Documentary Screenplay

Better This World - Katie Galloway, Kelly Duane de la Vega *WINNER*
If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front - Marshal Curry, Matthew Hamachek
Nostalgia For the Light - Patricia Guzman
Pina - Wim Wenders
Position Among the Stars - Netty Naaijkens - Retel Helmrich and Leonard Retel Helmrich
Senna - Manish Pandey

In other news, The Descendants has also picked up The Scripter Award at the 24th Annual USC Libraries Scripter Award, and Best Edited Feature Film (Dramatic) Award at the American Cinema Editors (ACE) Eddie Awards.

The Artist picked up Best Edited Feature Film (Comedy or Musical) and Rango won Best Edited Animated Film. The win for The Descendants was a big shock - beating out Hugo, Moneyball and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

Interestingly, the winner of the Editing Award in the Dramatic category has won the Best Picture Oscar 15 times since 1990. Will that be the case this year? Though The Artist is the heavy favourite, The Descendants is the winner of the Golden Globe: Drama, and should not be written off entirely. The winners here make my Oscar Predictions in the Screenplay categories seem very bold.

Monday Links (20/02/12)

Hey everyone. I'm sure most of you know now that I decided, stupidly, to change my url during the week. Complications have ensued, and basically my old url name is still attached to Andy Buckle's Film Emporium in the Google searches, meaning that most of the links lead to a blank page stating that the site no longer exists. It still does, but under If you followed me in a Google Reader, or via email, it is very likely you will have to de-follow and follow again. Also, if you followed me through Blogger, I don't think my posts are appearing to you through the Dashboard. You will have to re-follow me at the new url and feed. Also, if you link to me through your Blogroll, I would be very appreciative if you could update the link.

It has been a stressful week, and to demonstrate how much my readership has been decimated (basically, I have had about 3 views through Google Searches) I will provide this image:

But, the content has continued, and I have been linking to everything through Twitter and Facebook. Released in cinemas last Thursday were This Means War, Buck and The Grey - and I hope to catch the only film I am yet to see from that week (well, except One for the Money), My Week With Marilyn, tomorrow. I also watched I Saw the Devil and provided my Predictions for the 84th Academy Awards.

But, on with the links:

Liebster Blog Award

Hello everyone! Recently I have been lucky enough to receive a Liebster Award from Lesya, who runs an excellent site, Eternity of Dream. Thank you very much for the recognition Lesya. I also received one from Nikhat, who runs Being Norma Jean, earlier in the month too. So, I should thank her too. As per the deal, I will now pass this award onto five more bloggers.

“The rules are that the winners have to pay forward to other people whose sites are worth the recognition. If they accept the award, they should: thank the person who nominated them; nominate five other favorite blogs with fewer than 200 followers, and copy/paste the Liebster Blog Icon into their post.”

Steve Honeywell @ 1001Plus is endeavouring to watch every movie ever contained in the '1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die' Series. An ambitious endeavour, and his write-ups are always engaging.

Sam McCosh @ An Online Universe has just unveiled her new site, but already it is brimming with interesting material. She is keeping Australian and New Zealand readers informed with trailers for upcoming releases, weekly recommendations and well-written reviews of all the new releases.

Nick Prigge @ Cinema Romantico is one of my favourite writers. I love how passionate he is for films, and especially, for performances. He has unique but excellent taste, and he always reviews in such an entertaining and conversationalist way. Always a pleasure to read, he also writes for Anomalous Material

John @ John Likes Movies proudly claims not to be critic, but that he loves movies and writing about them. He writes very well. I always find his reviews to be spot on, and he balances his site well with regular awards coverage and predictions during the season, classic reviews, unique listings and Blog-a-thons.

My buddy Dwayne Lennox writes @ The Lennox Files and his reviews are published in Sydney's Cafe Society Magazine. Dwayne sees everything, and almost all of the weekly releases are up on his site before the release date. He supplies a really reliable source to make your filmgoing decisions from.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Check Out 'Briefcase', An Impressive Short Film Recently Made Available Online

What's inside this briefcase will change your life. Briefcase is a new short film created and written by Nate Golon.

Starring: Nate Golon as CARTER, Nadine Heimann as SAM, Tobias Mehler as THE MAN and John Zderko as THE COP.

Produced by Nate Golon and Christopher Slaughter. Directed by Andre Welsh. Cinematography by Andre Welsh. Edited by Nick White.

The Briefcase is an attention-grabber from the beginning and is driven by a very clever premise. It displays excellent production value, is intelligently shot and acted, and displays great potential from all involved. I recommend checking it out.

Awards Watch: Winners Announced at Berlinale

Listed below are the winners at the 2012 Berlinale Film Festival. Last year's winner was Asghar Farhadi's A Separation, which has gone on to become one of the year's most acclaimed films, and received a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards. The winner of the Golden Bear, and from what I understand, a surprising selection from the jury that included Mike Leigh, was Caesar Must Die, a documentary directed by the Taviani brothers.

Golden Bear for the Best Film: Cesare deve morire [Casesar Must Die] (Paolo and Vittorio Taviani)

Jury Grand Prix - Silver Bear: Csak a szel [Just the Wind] (Benece Fliegauf)

Silver Bear for Best Director: Christin Petzold for Barbara

Silver Bear for Best Actress: Rachel Mwanza in Rebelle [War Witch] by Kim Nguyen.

Silver Bear for Best Actor: Mikkel Boe Folsgaard in En Kongelig Affaere [A Royal Affair] by Nicholaj Arcel

Silver Bear for an Outstanding Artistic Contribution – Lutz Reitemeier for the photography in Bai lu yuan [White Deer Plain] by Wang Quan’an

Silver Bear for the Best Script – Nikolaj Arcel, Rasmus Heisterberg for En Kongelig Affaere [A Royal Affai] by Nikolaj Arcel

Alfred Bauer Prize, awarded in memory of the Festival founder, for a work of particular innovation: Tabu by Miguel Gomes

Best First Feature Award: Kauwboy by Boudwijn Koole

Special Prize – Silver Bear: L’enfant d’en haut [Sister] by Urusla Meier

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Awards Watch: Predicted Winners at the 84th Academy Awards

With the 84th Academy Awards a little over a week away, I thought I would get my picks in. Right now access to my blog is in dire straights so I wanted to justify throwing links everyone's way. The rules of these predictions are simple:

Predicted Winner is who I think will win.

Alternative Choice also has a strong chance and win would not surprise.

Dark Horse isn't one of the favourites, but the one that could pull off an upset.

Should Win is who I would vote for given the opportunity.

I was going to add in a Should'a Been There, but there has been plenty of talk about who missed out already. I have not included my predictions in the shorts categories, because I honestly could not develop an opinion on them. Really, having not seen any of the nominees for Best Documentary Feature, I have no opinion on that category either. But, regardless, here are my predictions for 21 of the categories.

Best Picture

Predicted Winner: The Artist
Alternative Choice: Hugo
Dark Horse: The Tree of Life
Should Win: The Tree of Life

Best Director

Predicted Winner: Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
Alternative Choice: Martin Scorsese (Hugo)
Dark Horse: Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life)
Should Win: Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life)

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Predicted Winner: Jean Dujardin (The Artist)
Alternative Choice: George Clooney (The Descendants)
Dark Horse: Brad Pitt (Moneyball)
Should Win: Jean Dujardin (The Artist)

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Predicted Winner: Viola Davis (The Help)
Alternative Choice: Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady)
Dark Horse: Michelle Williams (My Week With Marilyn)
Should Win: Rooney Mara (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo)

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Predicted Winner: Octavia Spencer (The Help)
Alternative Choice: Berenice Bejo (The Artist)
Dark Horse: Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids)
Should Win: Berenice Bejo (The Artist)

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Predicted Winner: Christopher Plummer (Beginners)
Alternative Choice: Kenneth Branagh (My Week With Marilyn)
Dark Horse: Max Von Sydow (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)
Should Win: Christopher Plummer (Beginners)

Will all of these above categories follow the suit of the awards ceremonies preceding them? I think so. There will be few surprises here. Wins for Dujardin and Viola Davis are no longer surprises. Much more interesting than Streep and Clooney, but you never know. Clooney was excellent. He still could win. I get a bit bold in the screenplay categories - predicting who I think are the deserved winners, and not sticking to the trends. Documentary Feature and Foreign Language Film could go anywhere (though I am very confident on the latter) and it is very likely the technical awards will be split between The Artist and Hugo. Who is going to win Best Editing? I think that is a tough one. The rest of my predictions are after the jump:

Live Feed of Tropfest 2012 Available Through Movie Extra

Movie Extra brings you the exclusive live broadcast of the world's largest short film festival, Tropfest, this Sunday 19th February, from 7.30pm (AEDST).

Movie Extra will be offering an open feed of the live broadcast so that everyone can access the action and excitement of the event, hosted by the comedy duo of Adam Spencer and Julia Zemiro. The broadcast will screen the 16 finalist films, live celebrity interviews and a live performances by music act Faker, direct to viewers across the nation.

Join Movie Extra red carpet hosts, Renee Brack and James Tobin for all the glitz and glamour of the celebrity arrivals, with a line-up of Tropfest star judges including Geoffrey Rush, Charles Randolph and Damon Gameau, with more judges to be revealed on the night. A host of VIP guests will attend the event, including Joel Edgerton, Josh Lawson and the cast of the FMC TV series, Conspiracy 365.

Friday, February 17, 2012

New Release Review: The Grey (Joe Carnahan, 2012)

The Grey is an American survival thriller directed by Joe Carnahan (The A-Team, Smokin' Aces). It is based on a short story called "Ghost Walker", which is co-adapted by writer Ian MacKenzie Jeffers and Carnahan himself. While the film promised, at least, the possibility of Liam Neeson battling a wolf, it actually offered up so much more. It is a film will raises a lot of different emotions from audience members - tension and fear, sympathy and sadness - and is the first truly memorable official 2012 release to hit cinemas.

The central character in The Grey is Ottway (Liam Neeson), a world-weary Irishman who works in Alaska, protecting a team of oil drillers from the wolves that live in the region. Following the completion of their current job, Ottway and his colourful band of ragtag cohorts are on their way back home for a break when their plane is caught in a blizzard, and being unable to withstand the conditions, crashes into the Alaskan wilderness. There are only a few survivors - and Ottway counts seven - when Lewenden (James Badge Dale), mortally injured from the crash, devastatingly succumbs to his injuries. These men include Flannery (Joe Anderson), Talget (Dermot Mulroney), Diaz (Frank Grillo, outstanding) and Hendrick (Dallas Roberts). They soon discover, amidst the wreckage and the strewn bodies, that they have landed in the territory of a pack of bloodthirsty wolves. Lacking supplies or weapons, they try to make their way to a tree line in the hopes that they will situate themselves outside of their hunting area and be better protected. It is not to be, and it becomes a desperate race to find contact, while coping with the harsh elements, their unrelenting predators, and even their own minds.

American Pie Cast Heading to Australia

Jason Biggs, Seann William Scott, Mena Suvari, Chris Klein, Tara Reid, Eugene Levy and filmmakers Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg hit our shores this March to celebrate the release of American Pie: Reunion, the highly anticipated fourth theatrical instalment, which sees the return of the original gang for their high-school reunion.

The ensemble cast, who first made audiences cringe in 1999's original film will mark their arrival in Australia with a group Photo Call in Sydney on Tuesday March 6th.

Aussie fans will then have the opportunity to get-in on a slice of the action as the cast and filmmakers hit the red carpet for the film's Australian Premiere in Wednesday March 7th at HOYTS MELBOURNE CENTRAL.

American Pie: Reunion
All the American Pie characters we met a little more than a decade ago are returning to East Great Falls for their high-school reunion. In one long-overdue weekend, they will discover what has changed, who hasn't and that time and distance can't break the bonds of friendship. It was summer 1999 when four small-town Michigan boys began a quest to lose their virginity. In the years that have passed, Jim and Michelle married while Kevin and Vicky said goodbye. Oz and Heather grew apart, but Finch still longs for Stifler's mum. Now these lifelong friends have come home as adults to reminisce about - and get inspired by - the hormonal teens who launched a comedy legend. American Pie: Reunion hits cinemas APRIL 5.

Domain Change -

Due to some unforeseen difficulties in the transition between my blogger domain name and my custom one, and growing frustration with my personal managing of the site, I have decided to alter my domain name, but still use the blogger sub domain. So, my site is as accessible as ever, but if you wish to search for my blog using a url - it is now:

I apologise for any difficulties you may have had accessing my site recently. With this change I now need to update my Blogroll again - so bear with me while I fix that situation. Thanks to everyone who has helped me out over the last couple of days. Expect regular news and reviews as per normal.

Kind regards,

Andy Buckle

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Update: New Domain (Shortly)

Hello everyone,

As you may have experienced, there has been some difficulties accessing my blog over the last few days. There has been a delayed transition between my old domain name,

and my new one, 

Some of you may not have been able to access certain pages, but the links I have provided on social media (Twitter/Facebook) have been to accessible pages with the old url. Please bear with me, because I have been instructed that it is in the transition phase, and can take up to three days before the site is available across the internet. It is now approaching two, so hopefully it will be up and running later today.

Warm regards,

Andy Buckle

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Review: I Saw the Devil (Kim Ji-Woon, 2011)

I Saw the Devil is a South Korean film directed by Kim Ji-Woon, and written by Park Hoon-jung. It first premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. The film opens on a snowy night, and a young woman is stranded with a flat tire in the middle of nowhere. A man, driving by, offers his assistance but because she is awaiting a tow, he is turned down. Unbeknownst to the young woman, this man is a sadistic killer named Kyung-chul (Choi Min-sik, Oldboy) and during the night he kidnaps, rapes and murders her and scatters her decapitated body parts. When her severed ear is discovered the next morning, a police investigation commences – led by her father, Squad Chief Jang (Jeon Kuk-hwan). When her identity is confirmed, her fiancé, Soo-hyun (Lee Byung-hu, The Good, the Bad and the Weird), a special agent, becomes determined to track down and take personal vengeance against her murderer. He receives a list of suspects from Jang, tracking down each one, and inflicting serious pain – before setting his sights on Kyung-chul, who has since continued his murderous rampage.

Content-wise, I Saw the Devil is an extremely ugly film. It actually borders on unwatchable at times, but because the filmmaking is so exceptional, it never ceases to be captivating. Just when we think we have seen it all (Kyung Chul’s massacre of two men in a vehicle for example), we are introduced to his cannibalistic acquaintance, scoffing down the raw remains of one of his victims as Kyung Chul’s arrives at his house to lay low. There is nowhere to turn when looking for a hero, because Soo-hyun turns into a monster himself. His blind fury and his tragic underestimation of his target – rather than kill him quickly, he plants a tracker inside him and follows him, allowing him to recover, before inflicting more pain and suffering on his body - has severe consequences. Losing control of his target, a seemingly unconquerable psychopath, results in the lives of his fiancés family being threatened. Not only does the death of his fiancé and his own trip to the dark side weigh on his conscience, but also the lives of innocent people, brought into this mess because of his personal vendetta.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

New Release Review: Buck (Cindy Meehl, 2011)

Buck, which made the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences shortlist for Documentary Feature (but ultimately missed out on a nomination), has an Australian cinema release on Thursday February 16. Directed by Cindy Meehl, Buck is the real-life story of a true American cowboy, Buck Brannaman, a master horseman and a man brimming with goodness, whose hard-earned wisdom and unique philosophy on life has been an inspiration to people around the world.

Buck chronicles Brannaman’s extraordinary life from his troubled childhood, where he was a child prodigy with a rope and lasso (performing on stage and television), but also the victim of physical abuse from his father, to his inspiring adult work as a highly skilled horse trainer. He spends nine months of the year on the road, giving four-day workshops on horse handling in towns across the United States. If there were a ‘Horse Whisperer’ in the world today, it would be Buck Brannaman. Though he often spends time away from his wife and children, his daughter Reatta, also gifted with a rope, often accompanies her father and sleeps in a tent next to Buck’s mobile home and horse trailer.

New Releases (16/02/12)

Once again there are five new releases hitting cinemas this week. This Means War, the romantic action-comedy starring Chris Pine, Tom Hardy and Reese Witherspoon actually hits cinemas today, marking Valentine's Day, but The Grey, One For the Money, My Week With Marilyn and Buck all hit cinemas on Thursday. So far, I have seen This Means War and Buck (review up later) - and was unfortunate to miss The Grey and Marilyn. Still, I have heard good things about both (and of course, Michelle Williams is Oscar nominated for her role in Marilyn), and I intend to check them out over the weekend. Despite Katherine Heigl's film receiving unfathomably bad reviews (even for a Katherine Heigl film) this should be a pretty good week.

This Means War - The new film from McG (Charlie's Angels, Terminator: Salvation), written by Timothy Dowling and Simon Kinberg. Two CIA operatives, inseparable partners and best friends, Tuck (Tom Hardy) and FDR (Chris Pine), are grounded to desk work following a botched covert operation and soon discover that they have both started dating the same woman. That woman is Lauren Scott (Reese Witherspoon), an unlucky-in-love workaholic who is convinced by her sex-crazed best friend to try online dating, where she agrees to meet Tuck. Things go well on their first date, until she runs into FDR later in the night at a video store, setting in motion a series of elaborate schemes between the pair (who have agreed on some battle grounds), which ultimately effects both their professional and personal lives. With neither one letting up, they decide to employ their incomparable skills and an endless array of high-tech gadgetry to one-up the other – while trying to keep their friendship a secret from their indifferent and emotionally torn target. The premise is undeniably ridiculous, and there are some stupefying moments, but as light, brainless Friday night entertainment, and a great date movie, it scrapes through with a pass.

The Grey - In The Grey, Liam Neeson leads an unruly group of oil-rig roughnecks when their plane crashes into the remote Alaskan wilderness. Battling mortal injuries and merciless weather, the survivors have only a few days to escape the icy elements - and a vicious pack of rouge wolves on the hunt - before their time runs out. Heard plenty of good things about The Grey, which a lot of viewers have benefitted from watching without knowing much about it. I believe it is surprisingly philosophical and offers up plenty of suspense.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Classic Scene: A Serious Man (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2009)

Here is a classic scene from a film that has grown on me more with every viewing. It is a scene from the Coen Bros' 2009 masterwork, A Serious Man.

Out-of-sorts physics teacher, Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg), is trying to find an explanation behind the inexplicable series of bad luck he has recently been having. Amongst other things, his wife has suddenly requested a Jewish divorce and he has been bribed by one of his failing students to give a passing grade. Seeking life guidance, he books a meeting with Rabbi Nachtner, but unexpectedly gets the junior Rabbi, Scott (Simon Helberg). Here's how things play out...


Larry Gopnik: "And...she wants a Get."

Rabbi Scott: [PAUSES] "A what?"

Larry Gopnik: "She wants a..."

Rabbi Scott: [Interrupting] "Oh, a Get! Uh-huh. Sure."

Larry Gopnik: "I feel like the carpet's been yanked out from under me. [STAMMERING] I don't even know which end is up. I'm not even sure how to react. I'm so confused."

Rabbi Scott: "What reasons did she give for the rupture?"

Larry Gopnik: "She didn't give reasons. Just that, you know, things haven't been going well."

Rabbi Scott: "And is that true?"

Larry Gopnik: "I guess. I don't know. She's usually right about these things. I was hoping that Rabbi Nachtner could..."

Rabbi Scott: "That he would...he would...Yes?"

Larry Gopnik: "Well, with the benefit of his life experience. No offense"

Rabbi Scott: [Chuckling] "No, of course not. I am the junior rabbi. It is true, the point of view of somebody who's older and perhaps had similar problems might be more valid, and you should see the senior rabbi as well, by all means. Or even Marshak. If you can get in, that is, he's quite busy. But maybe...[PAUSE]...Can I share something with you? Because I, too, have had the feeling of losing track of Hashem, which is the problem here. I too have forgotten how to see him in the world and when that happens, you think: "Well if I can't see him, he isn't there. He's gone." But that's not the case. You just need to remember how to see him. [CHUCKLING] Am I right? I mean...the parking lot here. [WALKS OVER TO LOOK AT THE LOT THROUGH THE WINDOW] Not much to see. But if you imagine yourself a visitor, someone who isn't familiar with these autos and such, somebody still with the capacity for wonder. Someone with a fresh...perspective. That's what it is, Larry. [GETTING ANIMATED] Because with the right perspective you can see Hashem, you know, reaching into the world. He is in the world, not just in shul. It sounds to me like you're looking at the world, looking at your wife, through tired eyes. It sounds like she has become a sort of thing. A problem. A thing."

Larry Gopnik: "She is seeing Sy Ableman."

Rabbi Scott: [LOOKING DEJECCTED] "Oh."

Larry Gopnik: "They're planning...[PAUSE]...That's why they want the Get."

Rabbi Scott: "Oh, I'm sorry."

Larry Gopnik: "It was his idea."

Rabbi Scott: "Well, they do need a Get to remarry in the faith. But...this is life. You have to see these things as expressions of God's will. You don't have to life it, of course."

Larry Gopnik: "The Boss isn't always right, but he's always the boss."

Rabbi Scott: [LAUGHING] "That's right! Things aren't so bad. Look at the parking lot, Larry. [TRUNS TO ONCE AGAIN LOOK OUT THE WINDOW] Just look at that parking lot."