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.