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.
STUDIO BLURB
    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.

STUDIO BLURB
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?
STUDIO BLURB
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 http://eepurl.com/3P-Wz) 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.

STUDIO BLURB
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.
STUDIO BLURB
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.
STUDIO BLURB
An exploration of the last quarter century of the great, if eccentric, British painter J.M.W. Turner's life.


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