Thursday, January 29, 2015

Film Reviews & News 30th January 2015

Every Friday at 12:40 you can catch little old me and Jenny Seaton or Brian Corr chatting films on the CurtinFm Afternoon Show. You can listen from the website here: 

If you live in Perth, we also discuss film events and special screenings, so come back every Friday if you want to know about all things film. Love free stuff? There's usually giveaways, too. So stay tuned.  Make sure you sign up for my newsletter to hear about book and film ticket giveaways and news. CLICK HERE to sign up.

Here's what I'll be talking about tomorrow, Friday 30th January, 2015.  


The Theory of Everything (opened 29th Jan) Screens wide 4.5/5 stars
Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones.  The relationship between the famous physicist Stephen Hawking and his wife. Nominated for 5 oscars. Best Film, Best Actor, Actress, Musical Score, Adapted Screenplay. Beautiful, tragic romance that is well worth seeing. Any other year and I would think it would be a shoe-in for Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones to take out the oscars for Best Actor and Best Actress, but this year I think the Academy will hand them to the veterans, Michael Keaton and Julianne Moore. The Oscars are as much about politics as art. This is also extraordinary uplifting despite the sad true life story.

Still Alice (opened 29th Jan) - Screens wide 3.5/5 stars
Julianne Moore, her character, Alice Howland, a renowned linguistics professor suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s. Great performance. She’s nominated for the Best Actress Oscar. And probably will win. I found this film not as heart-wrenching as I imagined it would be, especially after viewing Still Mine early last year. 

Foxcatcher (opened 29th Jan) - Screens wide 3/5 stars
Oscar Nominations incl Best Actor, Best Director. Stars Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo Based on true story about Olympic wrestling brothers who end up training at Du Pont (one of American’s richest men’s) estate for the 1988 Olympics and the events that follow. I didn’t love it, but it’s receiving great accolades. It seemed overly long and plodding in places. However, Steve Carell is fabulous and barely recognisable in this.

American Sniper (opened 22nd Jan) - Screens wide 4.5/5 stars
Directed by Clint Eastwood Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle's most deadly sniper in the history of the Seals saves countless lives on the battlefield, but he struggles with life back home on his furlows between his 4 tours. Edge of the seat film. I really enjoyed it. Even better than Zero Dark Thirty and Black Hawk Down. Thank you to Harper Collins for our great book giveaway. My full review here

Wild (opened 22nd Jan) - Screens wide 3.5 /5 stars
Reese Witherspoon plays Cheryl Strayed who walks 1100 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail to deal with personal tragedy. Reese Witherspoon nominated for best actress & Laura Dern as best supporting actress. It’s an average film. My full review here

Paper Planes (opened 15th Jan) - Screens wide 5/5 stars
Fantastic Australian movie filmed in Perth starring Ed Oxenbould (Aussie 12yo) who also starred in Disney’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Also stars Sam Worthington and Debra Mailman. Make sure you catch it on the big screen and take your kids and grandkids, and if you don’t have any, see it anyway. My full review here

All tickets and details are at:

Bolshei Ballet: The Nutcracker at the Windsor in Nedlands Sat 7th and Sun 8th Feb
The Barber of Seville - The Met Opera at Luna on SX and Luna Leederville Saturday 31st Jan
Treasure Island National Theatre Live – direct from the UK. National theatre broadcasts. Luna Leederville & SX 14th-15th Feb
The Room – Great fun, immersive cinema. Showing at the Luna Leederville on Sunday 1st Feb


Lotterywest Festival Films Somerville & Joondalup Pines
Currently showing: Jimmy’s Hall (Irish Film) and Force Majeure (Swedish/Denmark/Norway)

CAMELOT Outdoor Cinema
Russell Crowe - Fri Jan 30 & Sat  Jan  31
Bill Murray  - Sun Feb 1 & Mon Feb 2
Russell Crowe - Tue Feb 3

McDonalds Community Cinema Burswood
CINEMAS are also at Mandurah, Murdoch,  Bassendean and Curtin
Programme is at

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins

Rating: ✪✪✪✪ ½  out of 5 Stars

Release Date:                     January 2015
Author’s Website:               Paula Hawkins Website
Publisher’s Website:        Random House

    Reading this book was like travelling on a high-speed train, excuse the pun. It begins slowly, and you are lulled into thinking this might be just a relaxing trip to while away the hours. Then, suddenly, you are sucked into a ride that is dragging you along faster and faster.
    What was so fun about this read was the dialogue inside Rachel’s head. She’s a flawed heroine with serious issues, which are only revealed as we realize what she’s sharing with us (and herself, to a degree) and the reality, are two different things.
    Each weekday, as Rachel travels back and forth to London, she passes by a row of houses near a stop signal. As the train pauses at this spot, it gives her just enough time to spy on a couple living in one of the houses. She names them Jess and Jason, and invents an imaginary life of happiness around them, in stark contrast to her own.
    One day she sees something that surprises and alarms her, and she finds herself compelled to interject herself into these complete strangers’ lives. Other more terrifying events occur and, suddenly, she is not only entangled in a police investigation, but she may actually be in grave danger herself.
      The story is immersive and the characters strong. Perhaps the reveal was not so much a surprise, however, as they say, it’s not always about the destination, but about enjoying the journey. This is one thoroughly enjoyable journey, and I’ll certainly be catching the next trip with its author, Paula Hawkins, when she releases her second book.
     I received a copy of this book from for an honest review. Thank you to the wonderful book-loving people there.
More about this book at: The Girl On The Train

    Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She's even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason', she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.
    And then she sees something shocking. It's only a minute until the train moves on, but it's enough.
     Now everything's changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she's only watched from afar.
    Now they'll see; she's much more than just the girl on the train

About the author:

Paula Hawkins worked as a journalist for fifteen years before turning her hand to fiction. Born and brought up in Zimbabwe, Paula moved to London in 1989 and has lived there ever since. The Girl on the Train is her first thriller.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Film Reviews: 22nd January 2015

    Here’s last week’s and this week’s releases. Blame school holidays and the editing of my next novel, Messengers, for the delay in last week’s. Can I mention also that there are some excellent films in these releases, but if you are in Australia, please try and catch Paper Planes first if you enjoy great family films. If you are an Australian, support quality Australian films first this year (that’s my mantra). Here’s the full review of Paper Planes: CLICK HERE
    I will be back on air with my weekly film radio spot on Perth Radio Station Curtin FM 100.1 every Friday at 12:40 West Australia time. If you live outside of Perth, then you can tune in on the home page digitally.
    If you would like a break from movies, why not grab an e-copy of BACK AGAIN my time travel novel. It’s been making some best of lists recently, so I know you would enjoy. Click here to check it out.

(The Best of the Bunch)
Birdman  ✪✪✪✪✪
Opens in Australia:               15th January 2015
Other Countries:                   Release Information
Perth:                                   Luna Palace Cinemas

    This film is brilliant. What a concept. It’s 119 minutes of what appears to be one single tracking shot to give the feeling of a play, but is actually very, very clever editing. The plot is centred around a the few preview nights and days leading up to opening night of a Broadway play. Michael Keaton will win the Oscar for best actor. There you go, I said it. This is Keaton acting out of his head.  And Emma Stone is just incredible. Every one of the supporting actors brings it home. I loved this film so much that I saw it again.
    A little warning though, it may not be for everyone. Here’s a guide: If you loved Black Swan with Natalie Portman, then I think you will love this. If you didn’t understand what all the hype was about for Black Swan, then it may not be for you. It is avant-garde, and at the end, you may think, what the? But for most cinephiles and lovers of something a touch different, it will be a joy to watch.
    A washed-up actor who once played an iconic superhero must overcome his ego and family trouble as he mounts a Broadway play in a bid to reclaim his past glory.

American Sniper    ✪✪✪✪½
Opens in Australia:               22nd January 2015
Other Countries:                   Release Information

    Fans of Zero Dark Thirty, Black Hawk Down, and the Hurt Locker will have Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper on their list of must-see war films. However, if that isn’t you, put it on your list anyway. Bradley Cooper has been nominated for best actor at the Academy Awards, as has the film in Best Picture category. Even though I don’t think they’ll win — it’s a very strong year in those categories —it’s already winning at the box office with an unexpected $89.5m U.S. opening weekend.
    Based on the 2012 bestselling autobiography, American Sniper tells the story of Chris Kyle, a Navy Seal who served four tours in Iraq and was proclaimed the most lethal sniper in U.S. Military history with 160 confirmed kills. He was nicknamed by the insurgents Shaitan Ar-Ramadi, the Devil of Ramadi, and a hefty bounty was placed on his head.
    What makes this film so edge-of-your-seat engrossing for much of the 132 minutes is not just the finely tuned action sequences but, also, the portrayal by Bradley Cooper of Kyle as a more rounded character than most war depictions allow. This film isn’t only about an incredible hero and amazing marksman it’s about the toll war takes on a family as well as the soldier, as the story takes us between Kyle’s tours during his furlows at home.
    Eastwood displays a keen eye for action and the film is beautifully paced. Bradley Cooper, who also co-produced the film, has beefed up physically to the point, where you wonder, initially, if it’s really him. Sienna Miller, as his wife Taya, also plays a great role, as a woman who is left to raise her family alone while the man she loves seems increasingly alienated from her. The other supporting actors are real and sympathetic.
    Like most war films the depiction of the action is bloody and horrific, and we are again reminded that it is high price our soldiers pay when they go to war. It is truly an incredible story of bravery and of the frightening life of a soldier. You will come away grateful that there are people like Chris Kyle willing to do what he had to do, and sad that we still live in a world that requires that of anyone.

Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle's pinpoint accuracy saves countless lives on the battlefield and turns him into a legend. Back home to his wife and kids after four tours of duty, however, Chris finds that it is the war he can't leave behind

Unbroken   ✪✪✪ ½
Opens in Australia:               15th January 2015
Other Countries:                   Release Information
Perth:                                   Luna Palace Cinemas

    Based on the book of a true story, this is a fairly grim experience. It’s received a great deal of publicity as it’s Angeline Jolie’s first major directional debut. She does a good job of telling this story, and I think she has another great career future as a director.  However, the film feels a little unevenly paced, and it’s similar to Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence and last year’s Railway Man with a Life of Pi, lost at sea, interlude. If you enjoy war films, you will be satisfied though.
    Takamasa Ishihara, as the cruel prison of war camp Captain, Watanabe, in his first big screen role (he’s a big pop star in Japan) is chillingly sadistic and hateable.
    Although, can I recommend first checking out The Water Diviner starring Russell Crowe.       That one has a more interesting and heart wrenching story and it’s an Australian film. And this year is my year of promoting Australian films that are worthy of your dollars. Mind you, Unbroken was filmed in Australia, so that makes it pretty Aussie. Aren’t we developing quite the Australian film industry with films of this calibre with this star power of Angeline Jolie being made here?
After a near-fatal plane crash in WWII, Olympian Louis Zamperini spends a harrowing 47 days in a raft with two fellow crewmen before he's caught by the Japanese navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp

The Wedding Ringer ✪✪✪
Opens in Australia:               22nd January 2015
Other Countries:                 Release Information

    It was a lot better than I expected, and I had a few guests at the preview (if you live in Australia and are on my mailing list you will hear about the giveaways first told me they really enjoyed this. It’s the usual American comedy fare, but Josh Gadd and Kevin Hart have a nice chemistry. I get the feeling that they’re grooming Kevin Hart (Ride Along, Grudge Match) to be the next Will Smith comedy/romantic lead. He gets my vote. I like him.

Two weeks shy of his wedding, a socially awkward guy enters into a charade by hiring the owner of a company that provides best men for grooms in need.

Wild  ✪✪✪½
Opens in Australia:               22nd January 2015
Other Countries:                   Release Information
Perth:                                  Luna Palace Cinemas

    It’s an interesting enough film based on the book Wild: A Journey from Lost to Found and Reese Witherspoon portrays the real life Cheryl Strayed, who for some bizarre reason decides that trekking solo for 1100 miles will somehow help her overcome her grief, does a fine job.  What should be emotional and fascinating doesn’t quite hit it.
Director Jean-Marc VallĂ©e, who also directed the Dallas Buyers Club, which scored Matthew McConaughey his Best Actor Oscar last year, has created a distant feel to the film, so I didn’t feel as vested in Witherspoon’s character.
    If it appeals to you, go see. Otherwise, I found 2014 Tracks, the Australian film starring Mia Wasikowska, of a woman who walks from the middle of Australia to the coast of Western Australia probably more engaging.
A chronicle of one woman's 1,100-mile solo hike undertaken as a way to recover from a recent catastrophe.

Mr Turner  ✪✪✪
Opens in Australia:               22nd January  2015
Other Countries:                   Release Information
Perth:                                     Luna Palace Cinemas

    A strange film about a strange man. Timothy Spall, as well as the other actors, is superb. This is not your standard three-act film, though. It feels more like a reality TV show following Turner around in the last 25 years of his life. It’s very authentic, though, showing the great divide between the wealthy and the poor and you will leave the cinema scratching and grateful we can take a shower these days. This one is being bandied around as an Oscar consideration, so if you are a cinephile or an art lover you might like to take a look.
An exploration of the last quarter century of the great, if eccentric, British painter J.M.W. Turner's life.

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