Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Monthly Round-up: October Viewing

I watched a total of 31 films in October, including THE MASTER twice. In fact, I watched ARGO last month but due to an embargo I could not review/discuss the film until mid October. It wasn't a particularly strong month, overall (but there were very few 'bad' films) but the two aforementioned films jumped into my 2012 Top 10.

Most of my reviews this month can be found at Graffiti With Punctuation, and though I have tried to regularly update The Film Emporium, most of my time has been devoted to working my day job and keeping on track with new releases/festivals and contributing to Graffiti. The site is booming day to day and I am very excited to be on board and privileged to the opportunities presented me.

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

 The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2012) 2 Views

Argo (Ben Affleck, 2012)

The Intouchables (Oliver Nakache, Eric Toledano, 2011)

Frankenweenie (Tim Burton, 2012) - Frankenweenie is sweet, macabre and tear-jerking. In stunning B+W stop motion, Burton's wild imagination culminates in a giddily crazy final act. Admirably honoring the horror/creature flick, Burton also strings a poignant message through this weird and wonderful tale. The middle was a tad slow/stretched, but overall a lot of fun. And sad.

Terraferma (Emanuele Crialese, 2011)

I Wish (Hirokazu Koreeda, 2011)

Hail (Amiel Courtin-Wilson, 2012)

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

New Release Review: Bachelorette (Leslye Headland, 2012)

Bachelorette is stacked with outrageous situations and facing the necessary repair and clean of a ripped and stained wedding dress; the women take to the streets in a desperate early hour’s mission to save their friend’s big day. It feels like an escalator ride into new realms of zaniness and though many scenes will leave viewers cringing in disapproval (there’s cocaine snorting, binge drinking and candid sex chatter aplenty) there should be plenty of big laughs too.

With their friend Becky (Rebel Wilson) set to marry her sweetheart, Dale (Hayes MacArthur), the remaining members of her old high school clique – Regan (Kirsten Dunst), Gena (Lizzy Caplan) and Katie (Isla Fisher) – reunite in New York City for the wedding and what turns into a wild eve bachelorette party.

In short, Bachelorette is a film about unpleasant people doing unflattering things. If that doesn’t sound like your thing then you probably won’t enjoy it. The women are genuinely loathsome, though certainly sympathetic on occasions, and their pratfalls draw mixed emotions of bewilderment, disapproval, contempt and amusement.

Continue reading at Graffiti With Punctuation

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

New Releases (01/11/12)

I am a little confused as to what comes out this week, actually. I am 100% certain that End of Watch, Bachelorette and Housos vs. Authority are released in cinemas this week, but I have also read on different occasions that The Giants, You Will Be My Son, The Expatriate and Sinister are released too.

End of Watch - From the writer of Training Day, End of Watch is a riveting action thriller that puts audiences at the center of the chase like never before. Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña star as young LA police officers who discover a secret that makes them the target of the country's most dangerous drug cartel.

Bachelorette - On the night before an old friend's wedding, three frisky bridesmaids go searching for a little fun but find much more than they bargained for. With lovely Becky (Rebel Wilson) set to marry her handsome sweetheart, Dale (Hayes MacArthur), the remaining members of her high school clique reunite for one last bachelorette bacchanal in the Big Apple. Regan (Kirsten Dunst) is an overachieving, ueber-Maid of Honor who's secretly smarting over the fact that she's not the first to marry, while Gena (Lizzy Caplan) is a whip-smart sarcastic who's actually a closet romantic, and Katie (Isla Fisher) is a ditzy beauty who loves the good life. But when Becky insists on keeping the bachelorette party tame, the women proceed with an after-hours celebration of their own.

My friend Chris has reviewed Housos vs. Authority at An Online Universe, and I checked out You Will Be My Son earlier in the year at the French Film Festival. Until I watched Cafe De Flore it was the best of the fest. The Giants has a small release at the Chauvel and I'm pretty certain the other two listed above have been shifted to another week.

Weekly Recommendation: I laughed a lot in Bachelorette, and End of Watch (which I will endeavour to see next weekend) has been well received in the States. Depends on what genre you feel like - found footage cop drama or gross out comedy. On November 8 two of the big Oscar favourites, The Master and The Sessions, hit cinemas so they're worth waiting for.

New Release Review: Hail (Amiel Courtin-Wilson, 2012)

Hail is the tale of a broken man without self-control, and stuck within the confines of a violent criminal past, his present social position and the company he keeps, there is little hope for him evolving. When tragedy hits close to home, he feels like he has nothing to live for and descends into a spiral of merciless self-destruction and madness. Hail, a docu-drama of astounding authenticity, tells a nightmarish and uncompromising revenge tale brimming with harsh verbal and physical brutality and a sensory bashing that will be tough to shake.

Based on the life and stories of former prisoner Daniel P Jones, who stars in the film as himself, Hail is a rough-looking film tracking the raw realities of the return of an ex-con to society following his release from a Melbourne prison. With his bold first feature Melbourne filmmaker Amiel Courtin-Wilson (Bastardy) blurs the line between fact and fiction and creates an observant, brutal and unsettling docu-drama sure to be admired by tough-skinned viewers.

Continue reading at Graffiti With Punctuation

Monday, October 29, 2012

Interview - Paul Thomas Anderson (Director: The Master, There Will Be Blood)

On Wednesday 24th October I was lucky enough to represent Graffiti With Punctuation in a round table interview session with the director of Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love, There Will Be Blood and The Master, Mr. Paul Thomas Anderson. He is one of the most talented and most respected filmmakers of his generation and admirers of his films (myself included) claim them to be amongst the greatest American films ever made.

Paul was in town to promote The Master, his most recent ‘masterpiece’. Later that evening he would be introducing the film at the opening of the 1st Cockatoo Island Film Festival and the following night he would be conducting a Q&A session at the Astor Theatre in Melbourne, where the film would be screened in the desired 70mm format. Shane A. Bassett [SB] (a reviewer for the Central Coast Express Advocate), and Jamie Watt [JW] (writer for AskMen) joined me for the roundtable.

Check out the interview at Graffiti With Punctuation. The Master is in cinemas November 8.

Monday Links (29/10/12)

It has been a couple of weeks since I posted an edition of Monday Links, but I have honestly not had time. I have been keeping up with the new releases - last week I watched Bachelorette (in cinemas Nov. 1), tonight I am watching Seven Psychopaths (Nov. 8) and tomorrow I plan to catch up on Frankenweenie. I have been indulging in a few re-watches (Margaret, Carnage and Attack the Block) and posting regularly at Graffiti With Punctuation.

There you can find my thoughts on The Master and my involvement in an interview with Director Paul Thomas Anderson, which was conducted last Wednesday.

Also there you can find my review of Hail, sure to be one of the most talked-about films of the year. If you're interested in winning some quality DVDs we have a Australian Film Buff gift pack giveaway running, courtesy of Madman Entertainment. Let us know your favourite Australian film to enter.

But, enough about what I'm up to, here is some fine work for your reading pleasure.

At An Online Universe Sam reviews Bachelorette and Chris reviews Robot and Frank. If you know Chris Elena then you also know his review of The Master is essential reading.

I also enjoyed Mike's analysis of The Master at Cue Dot Confessions.

Jessica recently caught up with The Omen and loved the ending. I should watch that film again. I remember really enjoying it.

Cloud Atlas certainly has me intrigued. Ryan (The Matinee) and Tom (MovieDex) certainly loved it.

Steven at Surrender to the Void took a look at the films of Sergio Leone for his most recent 'Auteurs Series'.

Kudos to Glenn Dunks at Stale Popcorn. His mission was to watch 31 horror films over the course of October - a challenge I might have to partake in next year. Here's his review of Amer.

I really must watch Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans. Simon analyses the classic.

Cam was tremendously moved by Searching For Sugar Man, and understandably so.

Tom Clift interviews Wake in Fright director Ted Kotcheff and reviews Robert Zemeckis' Flight.

Corey discusses the joys of re-watching movies. I am often rattling on about the importance of a re-watch in concreting your thoughts on a film. Great films take more than a watch to understand and appreciate, I think.

Oslo, August 31st is one of the best films I have seen this year. John reviews it. 

At Graffiti, Blake reviews Celeste and Jesse Forever, which is in cinemas next month.

Sam asks us to list our Top 10 Films of 40's at Duke and the Movies.

Bonjour Tristesse gave Holy Motors a big score. This makes me happy.

And finally, Alex is embarking on a Halloween Marathon. He breaks down the Friday 13th, Hannibal Lecter and Psycho franchises.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Upcoming Release Review: The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2012)

The Master, distributed through Roadshow Entertainment, hits Australian cinemas November 8.

The Master is 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, The Master is a film that some will understandably find cold, contentious and frustrating. But for this reviewer, an admirer of all of Anderson’s previous films, within this evocative work of vibrant cinematic vision is a film that will offer rewards for inquisitive filmgoers 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.

Continue reading at Graffiti With Punctuation

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

New Releases (25/10/12)

In cinemas Thursday October 25: Argo, Frankenweenie, Dredd 3D, The Intouchables and Hail.

ArgoBased on true events, Argo chronicles the life-or-death covert operation to rescue six Americans, which unfolded behind the scenes of the Iran hostage crisis-the truth of which was unknown by the public for decades. On November 4, 1979, as the Iranian revolution reaches its boiling point, militants storm the U.S. embassy in Tehran, taking 52 Americans hostage. But, in the midst of the chaos, six Americans manage to slip away and find refuge in the home of the Canadian ambassador. Knowing it is only a matter of time before the six are found out and likely killed, a CIA "exfiltration" specialist named Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) comes up with a risky plan to get them safely out of the country. A plan so incredible, it could only happen in the movies.

Frankenweenie - From creative genius Tim Burton comes Frankenweenie, a heartwarming tale about a boy and his dog. After unexpectedly losing his beloved dog Sparky, young Victor harnesses the power of science to bring his best friend back to life-with just a few minor adjustments. He tries to hide his home-sewn creation, but when Sparky gets out, Victor's fellow students, teachers and the entire town all learn that getting a new "leash on life" can be monstrous. A stop-motion animated film, Frankenweenie will be filmed in black and white and rendered in 3D, which will elevate the classic style to a whole new experience.

Dredd 3D - The future America is an irradiated wasteland. On its East Coast, running from Boston to Washington DC, lies Mega City One - a vast, violent metropolis where criminals rule the chaotic streets. The only force of order lies with the urban cops called "Judges" who possess the combined powers of judge, jury and instant executioner. Known and feared throughout the city, Dredd (Karl Urban) is the ultimate Judge, challenged with ridding the city of its latest scourge - a dangerous drug epidemic that has users of "Slo-Mo" experiencing reality at a fraction of its normal speed.

The Intouchables - An irreverent, uplifting comedy about friendship, trust and human possibility, The Intouchables has broken box office records in its native France and across Europe. Based on a true story of friendship between a handicap millionaire (Francois Cluzet) and his street smart ex-con caretaker (Omar Sy), The Intouchables depicts an unlikely camaraderie rooted in honesty and humor between two individuals who, on the surface, would seem to have nothing in common.

Hail - An occasionally near-hallucinogenic telling of his battle to escape the lure of crime and the consequences of betrayal and grief. Unable to accept society and always on the brink of excess and violence, Daniel struggles daily with his existence until one terrible act brings things to a head.

Weekly Recommendation: All. ARGO is a must-see. A cracking political thriller with a good dose of dark comedy. THE INTOUCHABLES is uplifting, inspiring, very funny and very well acted. One of the year's best feel-good films. DREDD 3D is grungy and violent and essential for hardcore action junkies. FRANKENWEENIE, I believe, is Tim Burton back at his best and HAIL has been lauded as one of the best Australian films of the year following its run on the festival circuit. Strong week.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

New Release Review: The Savages (Oliver Stone, 2012)

Oliver Stone (Platoon, JFK) has not had a great run of late with his feature films. Alexander was a bloated disaster in every sense of the word, and Wall Street 2 was a surely regrettable attempt to blend his successes of the past with the United States’ predicament at the time. Frustratingly, he continues his dire streak.

Our narrator here is Ophelia, known as ‘O’ (Blake Lively), who in the opening monologue reveals that she might or might not be narrating this story from the grave. She introduces us to her communal boyfriends and inseparable partners, Chon (Taylor Kitsch), a former Navy SEAL and mercenary, and Ben (Aaron Johnson), a decent and charitable Buddhist and talented botanist of illicit drugs. The pair of entrepreneurs run a lucrative marijuana business out of their Laguna Beach-front home, supplying the California-region with some of the best product ever distributed.

When a Mexican drug cartel, led by no-nonsense business-inheritor, Elena (Salma Hayek), and her mustachioed enforcer, Lado (Benicio Del Toro), proposes a partnership the boys choose not to comply, deciding to split to Indonesia. When O is kidnapped and help hostage in Elena’s estate, they realize they have to muscle-up, hatch a rescue plan and try and keep their prospering independence.

Continue Reading at Graffiti With Punctuation

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Upcoming Release Review: Dead Europe (Tony Krawitz, 2012)

Dead Europe, distributed through Transmission Films, is in cinemas November 15. It is also screening on Closing Night at the Greek Film Festival on Sunday Nov. 4 at 7.00pm, and as part of the Jewish Film Festival (Sydney: Tuesday 6 Nov at 8.45pm, Event Cinemas Bondi Junction).

Dead Europe, adapted by Louise Fox from the novel of the same name by Christos Tsiolkas, tells the disturbing tale of a young Greek-Australian photographer, Isaac (Ewen Leslie, Jewboy and Sleeping Beauty), who, while attending an exhibition of his works, transports his recently deceased father’s ashes from Australia to his ancestral homeland in Greece. Visiting Europe for the first time, Isaac finds it not only a rich environment for future work, but comes to learn about his father’s sinister past involving a young Jewish boy at the end of World War II. Isaac’s world begins to unravel as he journeys from Athens to Paris to Budapest and realizes he cannot escape the ghosts of the past. There is an intense clash of inherent guilt, embedded prejudice, sordid behaviour and personal discovery.

Dead Europe is an odd film, and having not read Tsiolkas’ novel I found the narrative difficult to penetrate. The story is episodic, the developments are jarring and often lack context, and rather than simultaneously focus on the two stories – Isaac’s and his father’s – it reveals the latter almost exclusively through testimony. The information Isaac collects about his late father and his family’s past doesn’t feel earned, but falls into his lap often through inexplicable convenience and following some questionable decisions. I feel like the audience is asked to fill in the gaps themselves. Isaac comes to realize that the ghosts of his father’s past – embedded within the architecture of Europe, and the still-prevalent social issues – are making their presence felt.

Continue reading at Graffiti with Punctuation

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Upcoming Release Review: Argo (Ben Affleck, 2012)

Argo is the hotly anticipated new political thriller from director Ben Affleck (Gone Baby Gone, The Town). Based on extraordinary true events of what became known as the Canadian Caper, Chris Terrio’s screenplay is adapted from a 2007 Wired article, “How the CIA Used A Fake Sci-Fi Flick to Rescue Americans From Tehran” by Joshua Bearman and The Master of Disguise, Tony Mendez’s account of his role in the joint covert rescue by the Canadian Government and the United States Central Intelligence Agency of six U.S diplomats from Tehran, Iran in 1979.

Argo opens in November 1979 with a thrilling early action sequence, which captures hordes of gun-wielding Iranian militants taking over the U.S. embassy and holding 52 Americans hostage. Six other Americans evade the takeover and hide out in the home of the Canadian ambassador, Ken Taylor (Victor Garber). If discovered, they would face death. Sixty-nine days later the CIA calls in Tony Mendez (Affleck), an extraction specialist, and he comes up with an ambitious front – the ‘best bad idea’ the country has – to get their stranded citizens out of Iran. Mendez’s scheme is to enter Iran under the guise of a film producer and supply the six Americans (which include characters portrayed by Tate Donovan, Scoot McNairy, Taylor Schilling and Clea Duvall) with new identities, passports and job descriptions, and convince the defending militants they are a Canadian film crew ‘scouting locations’ for a newly-proposed science fiction film – an exotic Star Wars reboot named ‘Argo’.

Continue reading at Graffiti With Punctuation

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

New Releases (18/10/12)

In cinemas this week: Savages, To Rome With Love, Paranormal Activity and Safety Not Guaranteed.

Savages - Laguna Beach entrepreneurs Ben (Johnson), a peaceful and charitable Buddhist, and his closest friend Chon (Kitsch), a former Navy SEAL and ex-mercenary, run a lucrative, homegrown industry-raising some of the best marijuana ever developed. They also share a one-of-a-kind love with the extraordinary beauty Ophelia (Lively). Life is idyllic in their Southern California town until the Mexican Baja Cartel decides to move in and demands that the trio partners with them. When the merciless head of the BC, Elena (Hayek), and her brutal enforcer, Lado (Del Toro), underestimate the unbreakable bond among these three friends, Ben and Chon - with the reluctant, slippery assistance of a dirty DEA agent (Travolta) - wage a seemingly unwinnable war against the cartel.

To Rome With Love - a kaleidoscopic comedy movie set in one of the world's most enchanting cities. The film brings us into contact with a well-known American architect reliving his youth; an average middle-class Roman who suddenly finds himself Rome's biggest celebrity; a young provincial couple drawn into separate romantic encounters; and an American opera director endeavoring to put a singing mortician on stage. Woody Allen, now in his 70's, is back with another film. I believe it lacks the charm and magic of last year's Midnight and Paris, and squanders its talented cast. Reports have been mixed.

Paranormal Activity 4 - The fourth installment in the popular horror franchise. I expect this is just for fans only, and very much like the previous films. Directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (Paranormal Activity 3 and Catfish). 

Safety Not Guaranteed - When an unusual classified ad inspires three cynical Seattle magazine employees to look for the story behind it, they discover a mysterious eccentric named Kenneth, a likable but paranoid supermarket clerk, who believes he's solved the riddle of time travel and intends to depart again soon. Together, they embark on a hilarious, smart, and unexpectedly heartfelt journey that reveals how far believing can take you. Closing Night selection at the Sydney Film Festival, I walked out of this one puzzled by its widespread praise.

Weekly Recommendation: Having seen two of these films - Savages and Safety Not Guaranteed - I am not comfortable recommending either. I am one of the five people worldwide who didn't like SNG, however. No one asked for Paranormal Activity 4, and have you seen the trailer for To Rome With Love? This week is the dud before the awesome. Next week Argo, The Intouchables, Frankenweenie and Dredd are all released, so I'd hold onto your cash and wait for them. Argo is also screening this week - at 4.00pm Saturday 20th Oct. at Palace Norton Street for Movie Club Members.

Monday, October 15, 2012

DVD Review: Get the Gringo (Adrian Grunberg, 2012)

Get The Gringo, which has troubled star Mel Gibson back in his element as a hardened and innovative tough guy, is not one to be fooled by. My personal aversion to Gibson (and his reputation will never ever be what it once was), and the fact that the theatrical release was preceded and accompanied by an awful promotional trailer, dissuaded me from ever watching the film.

However, giving it a chance on DVD, released recently through Icon Entertainment, the film left me pleasantly surprised by how entertained I was by Gibson’s no-holds-barred performance and the unashamedly trashy sentimentalities, sense of humour and wild gun play. Co-written by Gibson, Get The Gringo is directed by Adrian Grunberg (who had previously collaborated with Gibson as first AD on Apocalypto).
The introduction to Gibson’s character, the titular ‘Gringo’, is a memorable one. He’s wearing a clown mask and embroiled in a high-speed pursuit along the US/Mexican border. His partner is dying and spitting blood all over the back seat and the $2 million dollars in cash they have just ripped from a powerful mob boss. This over-excited and over-edited car chase sequence is a sloppy start, but after a dramatic crash, which has Gringo arrested by corrupt officials on Mexican soil, the film shifts to a cracking location – an elaborate town-like prison known as El Pueblito – and Get the Gringo settles down.

Monday Links (15/10/12)

As I promised, there have been four new reviews posted this week. On Graffiti With Punctuation you can find my thoughts on The Intouchables, I Wish and Argo, and here on The Film Emporium I posted my feature-length review of Lawless.

This week also involved a trip to my parents' place with Sam, which resulted in me eating a lot of great food, being hooked on Friday Night Lights, and discovering Johnny Greenwood's OST for The Master. Masterful.

Coming this week: Reviews of upcoming releases The Savages & Dead Europe, a DVD review of Get The Gringo, and a new FIVE STAR FILMS feature. I think many will find it an unusual choice.

Now, on to this week's links:

Frankenweenie is released in Australian cinemas Oct. 15. Sam has the early scoop at An Online Universe.

Alex was deeply affected by The Invisible War and his new 'In Character' segment features a phenomenal actor I always enjoy watching (even if it is in Rampart).

Josh at The Cinematic Spectacle shares his Ten Favourite Directors.

At Graffiti With Punctuation Cam reviews Undefeated, Nick reviews Cafe De Flore and the team share their Top 10 Australian Films of All Time.

Here's a VERY different read on Argo, courtesy of James at Cinema Sights.

Stevee is embarking on a personal project - A Movie Biography.

I didn't see Marley when it was in town, but Aiden at Cut The Crap Movie Reviews did.

Sam asks his readers a question, and reviews Sinister. That trailer was creepy.

Tom Clift is currently in the States, but he has been busy. Check out his reviews of Frances Ha and The Bay  

I am still annoyed to have missed Laurence Anyways at MIFF, but Phil has it covered.

Certainly one of my most anticipated over the remainder of the month is Seven Psychopaths. Ryan reviews it at The Matinee.

Have a great week.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

New Release Review: I Wish

Written and directed by Hirokazu Koreeda, I Wish is a tiny gem of a film that tells a poignant and touching tale, stirs emotions and leaves a bigger impact than you would expect. Blessed with Koreeda’s sensitive direction and eye for detail, and remarkably spirited performances from the young cast, I Wish is a heartfelt and intimate study of common Japanese life and the coming-of-age of two siblings who live hundreds of kilometers apart with their respective divorced parents, who dream of being re-united. Despite the sugary sweet premise, one can’t help but surrender to the charms.

12-year-old Koichi (Koukii Maeda), who lives with his mother and retired grandparents in Kagoshima, is struggling to accept the separation from his father, a washed up musician, and younger brother, Ryunosuke (Oushiro Maeda), who live in Fukuoka. After hearing a rumour claiming that witnessing the cross over of the new bullet trains that unite their respective towns will result in a miracle occurring, Koichi believes that locating this spot, journeying there, and wishing for the reunion of his parents as the trains cross, will result in his dreams coming true. He discusses this potential miracle with his friends, and Ryu with his own, and after meeting up – with the help of some caring and sympathetic adult figures in their lives – they embark on a life-changing journey that requires them to embrace hope and asks of them courage and maturity.

Continue reading at Graffiti With Punctuation.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Upcoming Release Review: The Intouchables

The Intouchables, distributed through Roadshow Entertainment, hits Australian cinemas October 25.

Everybody’s life takes on an unexpected course at some point. Sometimes it is courtesy of our own responsibility, but often it is through inexplicable coincidence or a bizarre change of fate. Ultimately, it is our family and friends who mean the most to us and give our lives meaning and purpose. In The Intouchables, the international box office sensation, we witness an unlikely but extraordinary friendship develop between two very different men that results in the lives of both taking on an exciting new course.

Based on a true story, The Intouchables is full of good clean humour, crowd-pleasing gags and a well-directed dramatic edge. It is an irresistible French buddy comedy written and directed by Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache. It features incredible performances from Francois Cluzet as Philippe, a wealthy quadriplegic who is disabled following a paragliding accident, and Omar Sy (winner of the Cesar Award for Best Actor – beating out Jean Dujardin, The Artist) as Driss, a poor, purposeless and emotionally battered young man from the ghettos who is hired as his live-in carer.

Continue reading at Graffiti With Punctuation

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Line-up and Dates for the Jewish International Film Festival Announced

Under the guidance of a new Director, the Jewish International Film Festival is set for the most electrifying season in its 23-year history when it screens in Sydney and Melbourne this November.

Drawing on his extensive exhibition and distribution experience, Festival Director, Eddie Tamir has assembled a brilliant line-up of 34 features and documentaries from 14 countries, which will challenge, inform and entertain audiences from within and beyond the Jewish community.

 Incorporating 24 Australian premieres, the 2012 programme will showcase critically acclaimed movies such as The Law in These Parts (Grand Jury Prize Winner at 2012 Sundance Film Festival) and Yossi, (Winner of Best Narrative Feature at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival), alongside mainstream crowd-pleasers, including the romantic comedy Dorfman, starring Elliot Gould, and The Truth: Would I Lie to You? -– the third installment in the wildly successful franchise on the misadventures of Jewish garment workers in Paris.

Launching the event in both Sydney and Melbourne will be the Israeli 2012 box office hit, The World is Funny, from famed director Shemi Zarhin. Nominated for a staggering 15 Ophir Awards (Israeli Oscars) across all major categories, this multi-layered, ultimately upbeat melodrama, offers a tightly woven collection of short stories told with affection by a filmmaker of great insight.

Additional Festival highlights include:

Dead Europe  (Director:  Tony Kravitz)
When Isaac (Ewen Leslie) embarks on journey to his late father’s ancestral home in Greece to return his ashes, he discovers a sickening and insidious secret buried within his family’s past that involves a young Jewish boy, causing Isaac’s world to unravel, as he realises that he can’t escape the ghosts of the past.  Based on the book of the same name by acclaimed author Christos Tsiolkas.

God’s Neighbours  (Director: Meni Yaesh)
Winner of the SACD Prize at 2012 Cannes Critics’ Week, this action drama follows a vigilante squad of young Jewish fundamentalists.  Gang leader Avi (Roy Assaf) and his friends, live in a suburb close to Jaffa, where they willfully use fists and baseball bats to enforce their Breslev code on the more relaxed Jews, as well as Arabs who dare disrupt the Sabbath peace. When new girl, Miri (Rotem Ziesman-Cohen), unwittingly comes to blows with the gang, Avi reluctantly falls in love with her, and finds himself torn between his feelings for Miri and dedication to his cause.

One Day After Peace  (Directors: Erez Laufer, Miri Laufer)
This award-winning documentary captures a mother’s quest for peace.  Robi Damelin lost her son to a Palestinian sniper’s bullet while he was manning a military checkpoint in the West Bank. After unsuccessful attempts at launching a dialogue with the sniper and his parents, Robi returns to her birthplace, South Africa, to see how, after decades of Apartheid, a nation torn apart by violence and misery found a way to forgive and begin to heal.

Roman Polanski – A Film Memoir (Director: Laurent Bouzereau)
Filmmaker Laurent Bouzereau chronicles the notorious existence of cinematic auteur, Roman Polanski; a life that plays out far more unrealistically than fiction.  This thorough documentary hits all the monumental moments that have made Polanski both ‘The Man and the Myth’.
Jewish International Film Festival
will screen as follows:

SYDNEY:            1 – 18 November - Event Cinemas, Bondi Junction
MELBOURNE:    7 – 25 November - Classic Cinemas, Elsternwick

Visit the official Festival website at:

New Release Review: Lawless (John Hillcoat, 2012)

Lawless, distributed through Roadshow Entertainment, hits Australian cinemas this Thursday, October 11.

Lawless is an adaptation of The Wettest Country in the World (2008), written by Matt Bondurant based on the bootlegging activities of his grandfather Jack and grand uncles Forrest and Howard. Directed by John Hillcoat, his first film since The Road in 2009, this violent exercise boasts an unbelievable ensemble of actors and tells the tale of the three brothers – played respectively by Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy and Jason Clarke - who utilize their bar for illegal activities including moonshine manufacture and distribution in prohibition-era Franklin County, Virginia.

When Special Deputy Charley Rakes (Guy Pearce) arrives in town he pays the brothers a visit, informing Forrest, who heads the operations, that he intends to shut down all of the county’s bootleggers. When Forrest refuses, Rakes starts a violent shakedown, and when things get personal, a war commences. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

New Releases (11/10/12)

In cinemas this week: Killing Them Softly, Lawless, Shadow Dancer, The Words and Wuthering Heights. 

Killing Them Softly - Two hapless criminals in search of a quick buck, Frankie (Scott McNairy, Monsters) and Russell (Ben Mendelsohn, Animal Kingdom), are brought in by Johnny Amato (Vincent Curatola, The Sopranos), an in-and-out of prison wannabe big shot, who has hatched a plan to rob a mob protected poker game. Markie Trattman (Ray Liotta, Narc), in charge of the games, has ripped off them off before and Amato figures the criminal world will assume it's him. Following the robbery, which cripples the local criminal economy, just like the Wall Street CEOs cripple the nation's, a street-smart enforcer named Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt, Moneyball) is hired to investigate the heist and eliminate those responsible.

Lawless is the true story of the infamous Bondurant Brothers: bootlegging siblings who made a run for the American Dream in Prohibition-era Virginia. In this epic gangster tale, inspired by true-life tales of author Matt Bondurant's family in his novel "The Wettest County in the World", the loyalty of three brothers is put to the test against the backdrop of the nation's most notorious crime wave. 

The Words - Starring Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Irons, Dennis Quaid, Olivia Wilde and Zoë Saldana, the layered romantic drama The Words follows young writer Rory Jansen who finally achieves long sought after literary success after publishing the next great American novel. There's only one catch - he didn't write it. As the past comes back to haunt him and his literary star continues to rise, Jansen is forced to confront the steep price that must be paid for stealing another man's work, and for placing ambition and success above life's most fundamental three words. 

Shadow Dancer - During an aborted bomb attempt in London, Collette falls into the hands of an MI5 officer, Mac, who offers her a deal: turn informant or go to prison. Fearing for her son's welfare, she returns to Belfast where betraying family and beliefs she becomes a reluctant mole for British intelligence. As suspicion of Collette mounts and Mac takes increasing risks to protect her, both feel the net closing in. 

Wuthering Heights - Andrea Arnold's Wuthering Heights is a fresh and distinct take on the classic novel by Emily Brontë. An epic love story that spans childhood well into the young adult years, the film follows Heathcliff, a boy taken in by a benevolent Yorkshire farmer, Earnshaw. Living in Earnshaw's home, Heathcliff develops a passionate relationship with the farmer's teenage daughter, Catherine, inspiring the envy and mistrust of his son, Hindley. When Earnshaw passes away, the now-grown characters must finally confront the intense feelings and rivalries that have built up throughout their years together.

Weekly Recommendation: Killing Them Softly is the best in this week's diverse and divisive line-up. I have strong feelings of dislike for Wuthering Heights, and Lawless was very disappointing. Review up in the morning. Shadow Dancer is soid, but it has a very limited release. Killing Them Softly is a stylish gun-toting crime noir with great performances, sharp dialogue, bloody violence, and a relevant political and economic subtext. An outstanding follow-up to 2007's The Assassination of Jesse James from director Andrew Dominik.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Monday Links (08/10/12)

It has been a while since I put a links together but it has been a busy week at Graffiti With Punctuation. I was very proud of y first contribution to the FIVE STAR FILMS feature: #13 The Conversation. Coming up this week, expect reviews of Lawless, I Wish and The Intouchables.

But, here are some great articles to check out this week:

Steve shares his thoughts on two of the best films of 2011: Senna and Drive.

At Graffiti be sure to check out Blake's interview with Andrew Dominik and Ben Mendelsohn about Killing Them Softly and Cam's list of Top 10 Older/Younger Self Movies.

Sam has welcomed a new writer to the team at An Online Universe. Chris Elena is a good friend of mine and he reviews indie comedy Safety Not Guaranteed. While there check out Sam's newest Best Films Set In... feature.

Alex reviews Looper, and once again I think he gets it spot on. Having said that, he's one of the few people I know who gave V/H/S, much-hated here in Australia, a pass.

This really made me laugh. The folks at Screenjunkies have created an 'Honest Trailer' for Prometheus. Check it out at Anomalous Material.

James makes some very interesting observations about Bergman's The Seventh Seal

Margaret reveals her 20 Favourite Movie Tracks.

Stevee takes a look at Cabin in the Woods and The Evil Dead.

Sam Fragoso interviews Matt Singer, and enjoyed Frankenweenie

Ryan takes a look at The Perks of Being A Wallflower.

Jessica shares her thoughts on The Deep Blue Sea in a fantastic review. 

Finally, Bonjour Tristesse is providing excellent coverage of the Vancouver International Film Festival.

Hope everyone has a great week. You will have noticed a lot less content on the site this month. I hope you will all follow my reviews to Graffiti With Punctuation and bear with me while I try and balance my life, my writing and my paid work (exhausting and abundant at the moment) and find the inspiration to come up with some inventive new content for The Film Emporium.

Lavazza Italian Film Festival Review: Terraferma (Emanuel Crialese, 2011)

Terraferma is currently screening at the Lavazza Italian Film Festival in major Australian cities.

Written and directed by Emanuele Crialese (Golden Door, Respiro), Terraferma is a relevant and stunningly captured island drama that shocked me to my core.

Set on the volcanic Sicillian island of Linosa, a tranquil, idyllic community whose citizens, formerly reliant on fishing, have begun to recognize the economic potential of the booming tourism industry. Twenty year-old Filippo (Filippo Pucillo) and his mother, Giulietta (Donatella Finocchiaro) decide to rent out rooms to tourists for one more summer before leaving in search of a new opportunity. However, when Filippo decides to utilize it both as a fishing vessel and a means to show tourists the picturesque island he encounters a raft full of shipwrecked illegal immigrants making for refuge on the island.

This is Filippo’s story. He’s a young man torn between the traditions upheld by his grandfather and the needs of a new generation. He is supposed to embrace tourism and turn back illegal ‘aliens’ from the ‘terraferma’, but through his encounters, ever escalating and unnerving, and his responses (one in particular is unthinkable), he learns that his moral compass is not in tune with these new laws, and he must rebel. Hearing that someone has turned their back on drowning refugees, willingly or not, is enough to send chills. It is a film about family values, and moral patriotism, and one can certainly attest to this film evoking an emotional response outside of Italian shores.

Continue reading at Graffiti With Punctuation.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Upcoming Release Review: Dredd (Pete Travis, 2012)

Dredd, distributed through Icon, hits Australian cinemas on October 25.

Dredd 3D is immersive, unashamedly B-grade, and for the most part, entertaining ride. Directed by Pete Travis (Vantage Point) from an adapted screenplay by writer Alex Garland (28 Days Later and Sunshine), Dredd is a stark, grungy, super-violent hardcore action outing with some stylish and audacious visuals and a bleak, oppressive dystopian vision of the future.

Pretty slim on a narrative front, this action extravaganza stars charismatic New Zealand actor Karl Urban (physically engaging and personable despite his face being covered with a helmet for the entire duration) as the eponymous anti-hero, Dredd. He is an elite and respected Judge on the task force in sole charge of policing law and order in Mega-City One, a vast, scummy and violent metropolis on the East Coast of America, which is depicted as an irradiated wasteland. Along with a psychic rookie, Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), whom he has been assigned to evaluate, Dredd finds himself trapped within a 200-story slum run by the resident drug baroness, Ma-Ma (Lena Headey).

Continue reading at Graffiti With Punctuation

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Upcoming Release Review: Shadow Dancer (James Marsh, 2012)

Shadow Dancer is patiently paced and intermittently gripping and doubles as a spy thriller and family drama. Marsh is not interested in producing big thrills, but tells a slow-burning tale of a desperate woman – a mother, a daughter and a sister – who has to make a choice and by making that choice, abandon those she loves and place the lives of herself and her son in danger.

Set in Belfast in 1993 on the eve of the Joint Declaration of Peace, Colette McVeigh (Andrew Riseborough, W.E and Brighton Rock), an active member of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), becomes an informant for MI5, in order to protect her young son’s welfare. After being arrested following a failed bombing of the London Underground an MI5 agent, Mac (Clive Owen), offers the single mother a choice: face 25 years of imprisonment with her son turned into foster care, or turn informant and spy on her brothers, Conner (Domhnall Gleeson) and Gerry (Aidan Gillen). Having returned home to Belfast to live with her mother (Brid Brennan), and once again getting mixed up with her brothers and their associates, Collette betrays her family and beliefs and acts as a mole. But, just Collette struggles to keep her cover Mac has to take increasing risks to protect her from other agents, including his boss (Gillian Anderson), who have classified interest in the case.

Continue reading at Graffiti With Punctuation.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

New Releases (04/10)


Searching for Sugar Man - tells the incredible true story of Rodriguez, the greatest '70s rock icon who never was. Discovered in a Detroit bar in the late '60s by two celebrated producers struck by his soulful melodies and prophetic lyrics, they recorded an album, which they believed would secure his reputation as the greatest recording artist of his generation. In fact, the album bombed and the singer disappeared into obscurity amid rumors of a gruesome on-stage suicide. But a bootleg recording found its way into apartheid South Africa and, over the next two decades, he became a phenomenon. The film follows the story of two South African fans who set out to find out what really happened to their hero. Their investigation leads them to a story more extraordinary than any of the existing myths about the artist known as Rodriguez. Unmissable. Small release, but seeking it out will reap rewards. 

Taken 2 - A year after the events in Paris, on a trip to Istanbul, Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) gets a surprise visit from his daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace), and his ex-wife, Lenore (Famke Janssen). The happy reunion turns sour when Lenore is taken by people working for Murad Hoxha (Rade Serbedzija), the employer of the men working in the Paris building where Kim's friend, Amanda, was found dead and the father of Marko Hoxha, whom Bryan killed in the previous film. With Lenore held hostage and Kim on the run, Mills must utilize all his lethal skills to rescue them and eliminate any who are seeking revenge against him.

I Wish - Twelve-year-old Koichi lives with his mother and retired grandparents in Kagoshima, in the southern region of Kyushu, Japan. His younger brother Ryunosuke lives with their father in Hakata, northern Kyushu. The brothers have been separated by their parents' divorce and Koichi's only wish is for his family to be reunited. When he learns that a new bullet train line will soon open, linking the two towns, he starts to believe that a miracle will take place the moment these new trains first pass each other at top speed. With help from the adults around him, Koichi sets out on a journey with a group of friends, each hoping to witness a miracle that will improve their difficult lives.

Mental - When his wife, Shirley (Rebecca Gibney), gets thrown into a psychiatric ward, broken after years of being a dormat and having to handle her five wild child daughters alone, Barry Moochmore (Anthony LaPaglia), rather than take responsibility for himself, enlists a random hitch-hiker, Shaz (Toni Collette), to be the live-in nanny and take care of the girls. Each of the girls believe they are suffering from some mental disorder and use that to try and explain their unpopularity and eccentricities. Shaz, trying to convince them that they have no such issues by showing up their neighbors and tormentors, takes them on a series of misadventures which has them crossing paths with Trevor Blundell (Liev Shreiber), local shark hunter and former lover of Shaz, and doing anything from smearing pie over the local cafe owners and defiling a set of white couches. It turns out that Shaz has some secrets of her own and deeper and darker issues than her outgoing, charismatic exterior would suggest. The of the worst films released this year. Avoid.

Weekly recommendation: Yet to see I Wish, but I know Mental is awful and I have heard similarly negative responses to Taken 2. The must-see pick this week is Searching For Sugar Man. Don't let the week's competition sell it short, it is tremendously moving film and one of the truly great documentaries of the year.