Posts Tagged ‘movies’

The films I saw at the movies in 2014 and how I rated them…

January 13, 2015

So the Golden Globes are all over and the Oscars nominations are now just around the corner so what better time than to give a rundown of the movies I was last year. There 39 this year, that is 1 up on last year.

Listed in chronological order of having been watched, and scored out of 5 where 5 is the highest score…

  1. August: Osage County = 5
  2. Philomena = 4
  3. The Book Thief = 3
  4. Saving Mr Banks = 5
  5. Twenty Feet From Stardom = 5
  6. Last Train to Lisbon = 2
  7. Her = 5
  8. 12 years a slave = 4
  9. Wolf of Wall Street = 4
  10. Dallas Buyers Club = 4 1/2
  11. Grand Budapest Hotel = 4
  12. Other Woman = 3 1/2
  13. Fading Gigolo = 3
  14. The Finishers = 4
  15. Belle = 3
  16. Bad Neighbors = 2
  17. Chef = 4
  18. Godzilla = 4
  19. The Edge of Tomorrow = 4
  20. Maleficent = 3 1/2
  21. Under the Skin = 3
  22. Grace of Monaco = 2 1/2
  23. Broken Circle Breakdown = 5
  24. The Two Faces of January = 3 1/2
  25. 22 Jump Street = 3 1/2
  26. Dawn of Planet of The Apes = 4 1/2
  27. A Most Wanted Man = 4 1/2
  28. Lucy = 4
  29. Calvary = 4
  30. The Keeper of Lost Causes = 4
  31. Begin Again = 5
  32. Equaliser = 4
  33. Gone Girl = 4
  34. Boyhood = 4 1/2
  35. Skeleton Twins = 5
  36. Pride = 3 1/2
  37. Interstellar = 4
  38. Whiplash = 5
  39. Hunger Games: Mockingjay = 3 1/2
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The films I saw at the cinema in 2012…

January 17, 2013

Listed in chronological order of having been watched, and scored out of 5 where 5 is the highest score….

  1. Mission Impossible, Ghost Protocol = 3
  2. Sherlock Holmes = 3 ½
  3. Albert Nobbs = 2 ½
  4. Melancholia = 3 ½
  5. The Skin I Live In = 4
  6. The Decedents = 4
  7. Young Adult = 3 ½
  8. Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy = 3
  9. Chronicle = 4
  10. Weekend = 4
  11. Shame = 4
  12. The Artist = 4
  13. J.Edgar = 4
  14. Star Wars Phantom Menace = 5
  15. My Weekend With Marilyn = 3 ½
  16. Elles = 3 ½
  17. The Hunger Games = 4
  18. Margin Call = 3 ½
  19. Best Marigold Hotel = 3 ½
  20. A Separation = 4
  21. Titanic 3D = 5
  22. The Deep Blue Sea = 2 ½
  23. Romantics Anonymous = 3 ½
  24. Dark Shadows = 3
  25. The Avengers = 4
  26. W.E. = 3 ½
  27. Café de Flour = 4
  28. Prometheus = 4 ½
  29. Rock Of Ages = 2 ½
  30. Seeking Friends For The End Of The World = 4
  31. Take This Waltz = 4
  32. A Royal Affair = 4 ½
  33. Margaret = 3
  34. The Dark Knight Rises = 3 ½
  35. Magic Mike = 3
  36. Bourne Legacy = 4 ½
  37. Total Recall = 4
  38. The Sapphires = 4
  39. Your Sisters Sister = 4 ½
  40. Ruby Sparks =4
  41. Lore = 4
  42. Looper = 4
  43. Arbitrage = 4 ½
  44. Savages = 4
  45. Argo = 4
  46. The Sessions = 5
  47. Skyfall = 5
  48. Intouchables = 5
  49. Quartet = 4

Time Out

January 28, 2010

Ok it is time to get back at it. I have had some time out, time out form work and time out from life and now it is time to join the real world again.

It has been a while since I had the opportunity to take an extended time off from work and I can highly recommend it if you ever have the chance. I feel like I have recharged my batteries.

Whilst off I saw heaps of movies and read I don’t know how many books. Some movies seen that I think are worth seeing are, Up In The Air, Nowhere Boy,  Avatar, Invictus, An Education and Sherlock Holmes. And some books you might want to pick up are Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill, Breath by Tim Winton, The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold and the Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson.

I also got into the habit of going for coffee and cake each morning, I took the time to sit there, read the paper and think about what to do with my day whilst my waist gradually increased due to all the cake I was eating. Not the healthiest breakfast I know.

Much of my time was spent on the beach dozing in the daytime sun and daydreaming that this kind of lifestyle was mine forever. It was not however all rest and no play, I did do some work for a charity which was very enjoyable and rewarding. I worked with the Aids Council Of New South Wales (ACON) on their new safe sex campaign for the Mardi Gras season, no doubt I’ll give it a mention on here once it launches.

I also became a qualified diver (again), I had not scuba dived for about eight years and thought it was time to get back down there so re-did my PADI course. Enjoyed every minute of it and kicked myself for having lived in Australia for almost five years now and had not taken the opportunity till now to requalify.  Hopefully I will be out there in the ocean diving with sharks soon.

Film Review: Moon

October 20, 2009

moon

Filmed in 33 days on a budget of $5 million, this debut film has been described by its director, Duncan Jones, as ‘indie science-fiction’. Thumbing his nose at current sci-fi genre trappings (action, space ships, aliens), he has purposefully returned to the tone of the ‘70s and early ‘80s, seeking to tell a ‘human story in a future environment’ – think Silent Runnings or Blade Runner, not Star Wars.

It is the near future and astronaut Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is living on the far side of the moon, approaching the end of a three year contract mining Earth’s primary energy source, Helium-3. Alone on the planet with satellite communication with his family disrupted, his sole source of company is the lunar base’s computer, Gerty, dryly voiced by Kevin Spacey.

Sam’s health starts to deteriorate and he begins to hallucinate, leading to an almost fatal accident in a lunar rover. As he recovers back at the base, his reality is challenged by an enigmatic visitor who looks somewhat familiar.

This curious little film is one that requires patience, but if you are in the right mood for an intriguing conundrum with existential overtones, then step right up. Director Jones poses a big question – if you met in person, would you like yourself? – and is overall successful at engaging his audience throughout a series of mind-bending scenes that are played completely straight instead of for laughs.

Rockwell is onscreen for pretty much the entire running time and impresses in a role that could have been too clever for its own good. Is it just me, or is there something a bit sexy about this strangely likeable actor? He’s alternately grimy and healthy here and doesn’t overdo it with the crazy tics. It’s a brave, potentially exposing performance with no other actors to interact with, and frankly, it’s what makes the film work. Without the goodwill Rockwell engenders, much of the audience would probably be alienated by the detached air that prevails during early scenes – we need a hook to drag us into this film, and he is it.

The screenplay is smart and economical. You’ll need to watch and listen carefully if you don’t want to lose your way, but if you run with this, the latter parts of the film manage to conjure up quite a bit of emotion from what initially seems to be a chilly little brain-teaser. One scene in particular will have you clutching at your pearls as a painful truth is revealed to our protagonist.

The production design is pleasingly old-school. The interior of the space station has the same white chunky décor as the original Alien and the exterior scenes and model-work feel pleasingly retro compared to the CGI vistas we’ve grown accustomed to in recent years. Special effects are used throughout the film, but they are often the invisible kind, as opposed to a look-at-me spectacle. The sound design is effective and the music is just right. There’s a strange tension here, ratcheted up as the film progresses. This is not quite sustained in the final stretch, but it’s still an unnerving experience, leaving the audience feeling distinctly uneasy at times.

To say more would be to reveal too much – part of the fun is found in unravelling the mystery here. And I’m not quite sure that everyone will buy into the central twist. We’re not in Shyamalan territory, but suspension of disbelief is definitely required at times.

So this is by no means the best film you’ll see this year, or even this month, but it is refreshingly different and it does manage to intrigue for most of its 97 minutes.

Reviewed by: The All Knowing I

Film Review: Blessed

October 6, 2009

In recent months, Aussie film pundits have been talking up 2009 as a vintage year for local product. Samson and Delilah, My Year Without Sex, Beautiful Kate – not just high quality, these were home-grown films that punters were actually going to see. The latest addition to the field, Blessed, is a surefire contender for the strongest Australian film of the year, but – here’s the catch – one which may struggle to find its audience.

 

Directed by Ana Kokkinos, helmer of the highly acclaimed 1998 feature Head On, this film started life as a play in Melbourne – Who’s Afraid of The Working Class? Don’t let the theatrical origins put you off. The screenwriter has done a great job of transferring this story from a dialogue-based medium into a celluloid world where powerful imagery and moments of silence are as impressive and emotional as the gritty script.

 

It’s deceptively simple. The first half of the film, titled ‘The Children’, follows the different exploits of seven children over the course of 24 hours. We wander with them through various situations, gradually beginning to understand the motives for their behaviour as backgrounds and family ties are revealed.

 

Midway through, the film switches perspective and we are presented with ‘The Mothers’, seeing the same situations through the eyes of the five mothers of these kids, each with their own story that provides vital context for the viewer.

 

Each half of the movie stands alone as a portrait of disenfranchised working class families struggling to keep their heads above water – in emotional terms as well as financially. But seen together, the cumulative impact is enormous, creating a hugely moving whole that will resonate strongly with anyone who has experienced complex familial entanglements (that’s all of us, right?).

 

Performances are terrific. The kids are naturalistic and convincing – equal parts obnoxious and endearing with not a sniff of a stage-school brat among them. Of the mothers, my money is on Frances O’Connor receiving most of the plaudits in her against-type role as a welfare-reliant single mother who neglects her kids, smokes while pregnant and seeks solace in a series of failed relationships with unsuitable men. Deborra-Lee Furness and Miranda Otto also shine, injecting some real warmth into two potentially unsympathetic characters.

 

Handheld camerawork forces the viewer onto intimate terms with these people and the unglamorous Melbourne locations further contribute to a strong sense of realism.

 

The score is quite beautiful, reminiscent of Decoder Ring’s Somersault soundtrack and used brilliantly to underpin some of the quietly emotional moments.

 

Since Head On played at gay film festivals around the globe, SameSame readers won’t be surprised to hear that there is a queer strand to this web of interconnected lives. We aren’t given, and we don’t need, the full background to share the confused isolation of gay teen Arthur, known by his family as Roo.

 

The scene where he takes part in an amateur porn film might be confronting for some audiences, but it’s an astonishing sequence – depressingly real and ultimately heartbreaking. You’ll just wanted to reach into the screen and rescue this kid.

 

Okay, so this is not straightforward easy entertainment, but it is soulful and rewarding and easily worth 17 bucks and 112 minutes of your time.

 

Blessed has a lot to say about ordinary people leading ordinary lives and despite the overwhelming tragedy of the closing section, this is not a misery-fest – there are real moments of warmth and poignancy here, if you look for them.

 

See it with someone you love – you’ll appreciate a big reassuring hug afterwards.

Reviewed by : The All Knowing I

Movie Review: Quiet Chaos

May 22, 2009

chaos

If you don’t express suffering, does this mean that you aren’t feeling any pain? This is one of the questions faced by the viewer by low-key but occasionally startling film, Quiet Chaos, by Antonello Grimaldi.

A big critical and commercial success in its native Italy and based on a bestselling novel by Sandro Veronesi, on paper it sounds like hard work. Pietro Paladini (Nanni Moretti) is a successful business executive, happily married with a 10-year old daughter, Claudia. In the opening scene, he and his brother rescue two women who are drowning in the sea. This dramatic saving of lives is juxtaposed almost immediately with death – the two men arrive home only to find Pietro’s wife lying dead in the garden. Her sudden death is never explained and barely discussed, but the ramifications of this event shape the rest of this unusual study of the mourning process.

Pietro takes his daughter back to school after the funeral and spontaneously promises her that instead of going to work, he will wait outside until her classes are over.
He continues to do this day after day, gradually building a number of small, mostly wordless connections with other regular visitors to the grassy spot – a dog-walker; a young boy with Down’s syndrome; a café owner.

His behaviour leads to a sort of notoriety and he is joined by his bosses, fellow workers and family members – his brother Carlo and his eccentric actress sister-in-law (Valeria Golino, playing slightly mad very prettily). In their attempts to console him, they instead reveal their own pain and insecurities in the face of his seeming calmness.

With very little incident across close to two hours, this film would only ever succeed on the strength of its performances and fortunately the cast is uniformly strong. Moretti appears in almost every scene but never outstays his welcome. We feel such sympathy for his character, despite the fact that he doesn’t go out of his way to cultivate this. There is something in this man’s story that invites compassion without the film-makers ever resulting to histrionics or emotional manipulation.

It becomes almost uncomfortable at times as the viewer anticipates, and is even eager for, a sense of catharsis. But we only see Pietro let down his emotional guard once, very suddenly, and the impact of this is much greater for being so isolated and brief. An uncharacteristically raw and explicit sexual encounter is similarly powerful for being at odds with the composure that is so prevalent throughout the rest of the film.

The music occasionally threatens to intrude on the naturalistic feeling of the film, with some overly saccharine piano motifs and typically glum Radiohead tunes. But this is only a minor mis-step in what is otherwise an odd little gem of a picture which manages to remain light as a feather in spite of its potentially downbeat subject matter.

But is this a fair representation of how grief really is? I’m not sure, but it is certainly very different to the Sally Field-style hand-wringing we’ve become programmed to expect from entertainment. It feels slightly oddball but genuine, with a sense of stillness and normality I suspect the audience can relate to more than any amount of dramatic wailing.

Reviewed by: The All Knowing I

Review of Angels & Demons

May 17, 2009

A&D

It’s been three years since the movie adaptation of The Da Vinci Code stormed the multiplexes of the world and earned its stripes as what publicists like to call a ‘global phenomenon’. Sure, some found it lumbering and laughable, but it took more than $750 million worldwide (it’s the 26th most successful film of all time!) and the novels of author Dan Brown have hovered near the top of bestseller lists for much of the last three years.

So it makes financial sense at least for the original production team, led by Ron Howard, to return to Brown’s material. Clearly hoping that the world’s cinema audiences will be back for more as they endeavour to unravel the main conundrum raised by the first film – does it all make sense if you haven’t read the book?

This time we’re in Rome. The pope has died suddenly and the ancient ritual of Conclave is under way, the process by which a new Holy Father is elected. The favoured candidates, the Preferiti, are kidnapped by a secret society called the Illuminati who threaten to kill one Cardinal each hour before igniting a bomb in the Vatican.

Who could possibly avert such a crisis? Step forward Robert Langdon, Harvard symbologist extraordinaire, who is whisked directly to Rome and into a whirlwind of intrigue that catapults him between famous landmarks across the city. He is joined by Vittoria Vetra, played by gorgeous Israeli actress Ayelet Zurer, a Eurobabe-cum-nuclear scientist whose work may hold the answer to one of science and religion’s greatest puzzles (drumroll here) – “the moment of Creation itself!”.

Langdon is again played by Tom Hanks, looking surprisingly fresh and buff in an early swimming scene, but who then proceeds to stumble about on autopilot, pointing at statues and delivering a stream of sanctimonious exposition. This is the type of movie where people don’t have real conversations; they shout plot detail at each other and decipher clues as they run up stairs and down passageways.

As in The Da Vinci Code, we are in the realm where theology is notionally pitted against science. But everything that is potentially interesting about this conflict is quickly sidelined as the audience is plunged into the only story Dan Brown seems able to tell – a race against time peppered with Famous Five-style clues, all wrapped up in a Scooby Doo quality whodunit.

Many important questions are left unanswered. How does Vetra’s hair stay so clean? Would a scientist really be so squeamish when faced with a human eyeball? And when will Ewan McGregor learn that he should only be in musicals? The production design is admittedly impressive, especially the replicas of well-known Roman landmarks, built nearly to scale in Los Angeles. And Hans Zimmer provides a fittingly tense and pounding score, maxing out on choral effects for the big scenes.

Ron Howard works really hard to keep us engaged in his increasingly improbable story. Cars screech and race through busy streets; cameras swoop over the wings of carved angels to reveal enormous crowd scenes. But there’s only so much of this we can take and one soon hungers for the insight and economy of Howard’s last film, the much smaller but infinitely more gripping Frost/Nixon.

Ultimately, this is a loud, long, confused muddle of a movie which swaps sense for a sense of excitement, but that probably won’t stop it from finding a large audience desperate for a Dan Brown fix until his new novel release in September 2009.

Maybe Angels and Demons will be more thrilling and just make more sense to someone who has read the original novel. I suspect it’s definitely a case of preaching to the converted.

Reviewed By: The All Knowing I