Wednesday, 8 December 2010

A Lifetime Goal

A lifetime goal has been achieved with the full cast & crew credits listed on for El Heist Grande.

The film has been entered into a number of festivals in 2011 - good luck!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

The White Ribbon movie review

Michael Haneke is, to my mind, the best example of an “artistic” film director working today. Always challenging, never populist and very accomplished are words that apply equally to his Best Foreign Language Oscar winner, The White Ribbon.
So what happens when the drive for a godly perfection becomes an all encompassing and extremist view point with no scope for reason, grace or latitude? Perhaps, reasons Haneke, you raise a generation that simultaneously feels morally superior and through fear acts maliciously towards others.
This film is set in a small German town during the summer before the outbreak of World War 1. The film is narrated by the school teacher, now an old man reflecting back on the events of that time. The first mysterious event concerns the doctor who is felled, while riding his horse, by a wire strung between a tree and gatepost. The culprit is not discovered and after a time, village life returns to normal.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Paranormal Activity movie review

Things that go bump in the night,
Should not really give one such a fright,
It's the hole in each ear,
That lets in the fear,
That, and the absence of light!
Spike Milligan

What I particularly liked about Paranormal Activity:
  • the screenplay was tight with dialogue used to serve the story (not a time filler between scares as witnessed in Blair Witch Project)

Sunday, 3 October 2010

El Heist Grande movie review

It was with great anticipation last night that we attended the first ever screening for family & friends^, Farce Miller Enterprises latest comedy, El Heist Grande.
The film opens with a hush. The tension is immediately built with three men sitting around a table. Their faces grim. Two have guns which are pointing at each other’s head. The low synth music builds dread and expectation.
We jump to the jaunty opening credits which is playing the cheeky sax El Heist Grande theme and animated sequence of the main players. Without diluting the tension, this has everyone engaged from the first moment and signals to the audience that they are about to be entertained by this story.
Set in the quiet, eastern Melbourne suburb of Nunawading, friends Alec (David Farr) and Andrew (Darrell Hawkins) are in desperate need of some fast money. This leads them to the shadowy office of Stan Man (Onkar Kale) who offers the pair $10,000 if they steal some very rare Moga-Komo quiche.
Alec becomes The Heistmaster and Andrew, somewhat reluctantly, The Chief of Staff. Together they pull together an unlikely band of specialised skill sets : Daniel (Daniel Mu) as The Guy Who Turns Lights On & Off; Samson (Matthew Laing) as the Master of Communications; Charlotte (Grace Chandler) as The Injury Feigner; Jason (Richard Farr) as The Intimidating Cricketer; and Ivy (Zoe Dale) as The Personal Assistant.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

The Last Station movie review

The Last Station begs an interesting question. Is “religion” a life killing institution that seeks only to ‘take’ from people ? According to the film, in the latter years of his life, author Count Leo Tolstoy (he of the War and Peace and Anna Karenina fame) – played by Christopher Plummer - sought to implement a place of freedom and truth from his commune that was outside the traditional Orthodox religion of his time.
In a movie twist his followers, led by Chertkov (Paul Giamatti) seek to institutionalise their Tolstoyism which in turn only leads their followers to follow their puritanical rules and thus continue the cycle of one form of oppression. In one of the film’s best lines, when asked if they believe Tolstoy is the Christ, the answer back is “certainly a prophet : God speaks through him; I recognise the cadence in his voice.”

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Zidane : a 21st Century Portrait movie review

What a curious contemplation Zidane : a 21st Century Portrait is.
As the title suggests, it is a portrait rather than a documentary where viewers are encouraged to sit and absorb this version of conceptual art from directors Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno.
Zinedine Zidane (‘Zizou’ to his fans) was for a time world football’s best player and played at marquee club, Real Madrid. His contempories and team mates included Ronaldo, Beckham and Raul. Zidane played in the midfield as the pivot player through whom most advances were coordinated. Like supremely gifted players of all codes, Zidane found space and time, never appearing to be under pressure and making passes with a grace that belies the effort.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

In The Loop movie review

Sardonic is defined as bitterly sneering, ironic and sarcastic. This is an apt description of In The Loop, an Oscar Best Screenplay nominee.
The action centres around a hapless British minister in the lead up to the war in Iraq. Simon Foster (Tom Hollander) makes Jim Hacker from ‘Yes, Minister’ look highly capable and when under pressure in a radio interview, gives a view on the impending war with Iraq, sets up a chain of consequences that he is unable to control.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

The Hurt Locker movie review

Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker is a fine 5 out of 5 movie set in the ongoing conflict in Iraq and a worthy Best Picture winner.
The movie is constructed with a number of set pieces all involving the bomb disposal team, made up of Staff Sergeant James (Jeremy Renner), Sergeant Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and Specialist Eldridge (Brian Geraghty). The team must defuse bombs that have been left amongst the refuse, locked in the back of cars, and attached to people’s bodies.
Each set piece is tense because we do not know if this action will be their last. The opening scene shows Staff Sergeant Thompson (Guy Pearce) pay the ultimate price and this undertone pervades the rest of the film.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

MIFF : Little Sparrows movie review

Little Sparrows is the story of a mother’s love and how her children ultimately grow up to lead their own lives.
The mother, Susan (Nicola Bartlett) is dying from second stage cancer. She only has months to live and makes plans to “die in her own way.” Her estranged husband James (James Hagan) comes home to live as she organises one last Christmas to share with her 3 daughters and their families.
The action of the film centres around the lives of the three daughters and the decisions they make. The emotional highlights of the film is when each daughter has a conversation with their mother, alone, in the hospital ward. Susan gives each daughter some advice, her unconditional love and ultimately closure so that they can move on with the next stage of their lives.

Friday, 30 July 2010

MIFF : Blame movie review

It was a pleasure to attend the premiere of Australia’s newest film, Blame.
The Australian film industry has been accused over many years of green lighting films that “no one wants to see”. It is noteworthy therefore that a greater batch of Aussie films in recent years demonstrate that a film’s potential audience is considered at the concept stage and not as an afterthought. Likewise, the limitations of budget were addressed by having a small cast at a fixed location allowing for minimisation of cost without compromising the entertainment of the story, similar in that regard to last year’s Van Diemans Land.
Blame is part of a recent canon of young adult thriller/horror genre films. MIFF alumni The Loved Ones and Acolytes come immediately to mind.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

MIFF : The Tree movie review

The Tree, a French / Australian co-production, tells the story of a family coming to terms with its grief, set in a rural Queensland town.
Husband Peter suffers a heart attack on his way home from a job behind the wheel of his ute. This occurs at the top of the drive of his family home which he shares with his wife Dawn (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and four children. The ute gently rolls down the hill and comes to rest by the trunk of the enormous Moreton Bay Fig that towers over the house.
The tree in a way is the spiritual centre for the family.

MIFF : Winter's Bone movie review

Similarly bleak in premise, Winter’s Bone likewise follows the story of a family without a father, while eldest daughter (17 year old) Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) cares for her ill mother and two younger siblings.
Set in the Ozark mountain range of Missouri, Ree is the embodiment of the capable and independent spirit of the best of its inhabitants. Her self reliance allows her to chop wood, hunt squirrel and deer, and make measured decisions regarding the well being of her family.

Friday, 23 July 2010

MIFF 2010 Begins!

My workmates are in a buzz. I’m off to see a film over lunchtime. It’s the first day of MIFF and the sun is shining.
Inside the ACMI theatre, the back four rows are filling up. Cineastes are settling in for their first taste of the new festival and everyone is relaxed and chatting amiably.
Japanese pop music plays from the speakers until the lights dim. The rows of school children that have been bussed in for the event, hush.
MIFF’s advertising campaign this year is “It’s a matter of taste” and the lead trailer is a back alley scrap between an oversized popcorn and choc-top. The children laugh appreciatively which probably means the campaign is a winner.
Settle back in the seat. Roll credits. Let the festival begin!

Saturday, 17 July 2010

The Princess and the Frog movie review

The Princess and the Frog transports the majesty of Disney’s glory days into its latest animated release. Who doesn’t remember with fondness, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs or Cinderella from their childhood? What about the more recent Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King ? These films are rich in colour and detail; their stories are sophisticated and characters interesting; and the songs catching.
Its these toe tapping tunes in The Princess and the Frog that instantly awaken within you that giddy, childish joy of being entertained, all the while having either the story transitioned or the character developed, or in the best examples, both.
Set in New Orleans in the Jazz Age of the 1920s, the filmmakers have given themselves a rich well of music from which to draw their inspiration. The incomparable Randy Newman who has scored many, many films, including the successful Toy Story, is at the top of his form here. He provides instantly memorable hits such as “When we’re human” and “Friends on the Other Side” in a range of jazz, blues, gospel and Dixieland styles.
The hard working and practical African-American Tiana (voice of Anika Rose) works two jobs so that she can save up enough money to open “the finest restaurant in all of New Orleans”. She is very much in the spirit of Disney’s other successful, independent female characters, Ariel, Belle and Jasmine.
The care-free Prince Naveen (Bruno Campos) meddles with the black magic of Dr Facilier (Keith David) the easily identified villain of the film, and instead of marrying the blonde princess Charlotte (Jennifer Cody), is himself turned into a frog.
Naveen-the-frog entices Tiana to kiss him through the promise of him a real life prince and instead of the fairy-tale coming true, the unthinkable happens and Tiana herself turns into a frog. This sets up the film’s driving force as both Tiana and Naveen journey through the mystical Louisiana bayous looking for Mama Odie (Jenifer Lewis) who can transform them back into their original selves. On the way they meet anthromorphised characters Louis (Michael-Leon Wooley), a trumpet-toting alligator, and Ray (Jim Cummings), a chilled out and love-struck Cajun firefly.
There is never a dull moment as directors Ron Clements and John Musker have either a song or an action set-piece at every turn to entertain us. The hand drawn animation is just as beautifully rendered as any of the modern computer animated blockbusters however, ultimately, the story works because we have characters we care for and a story that engages us so that children and parents alike can sit back and enjoy.