Friday, February 27, 2015

Film Happenings 27th February 2015

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel ✪✪✪  or in my language 3/5 Twees
(opens 26th Feb) – Screens Everywhere   
My thoughts
I am probably the wrong person to review this film, having seen the first after everyone told me how great it was. The original was a big hit, but I didn’t love it. I thought it was rather twee. The word of mouth has started already with this follow up film with so many people telling me they love it. And for the first half I certainly did love it. Maggie Smith and Dev Patel (Sonny) have great chemistry and are laugh out loud funny together. Dev Patel is very endearing as the over enthusiastic hotel owner, and Maggie Smith as the cantankerous Muriel is a perfect foil.
Where it suddenly collapses is in the middle third with Richard Gere arriving as the suspected hotel inspector. He’s just too Richard Gere, and they’ve given him this horrible monologue that’s meant to be romantic, and it just comes off dull. After that I found his dullness seeped into the rest of the plot, only lifted by some glorious clothes and wonderful, energetic dancing.
However, I temper my opinion in that, as I said, I didn’t love the first, and I’m not a twee lover as opposed to a tea lover (which I am of the latter). So, if you loved the first and were one those running around telling everyone, go see it. If you weren’t a fan, this one won’t do anything to change your mind. I imagine if this one does well, then there will be 3rd Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and, heaven forbid, we may end up with a chain of them. It seems the action heroes have The Expendables to which to retire, and the romance leads have the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

Film Blurb
THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL is the expansionist dream of Sonny (Dev Patel), and it's making more claims on his time than he has available, considering his imminent marriage to the love of his life, Sunaina (Tina Desai). Sonny has his eye on a promising property now that his first venture, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful, has only a single remaining vacancy - posing a rooming predicament for fresh arrivals Guy (Richard Gere) and Lavinia (Tamsin Greig). Evelyn and Douglas (Judi Dench and Bill Nighy) have now joined the Jaipur workforce, and are wondering where their regular dates for Chilla pancakes will lead, while Norman and Carol (Ronald Pickup and Diana Hardcastle) are negotiating the tricky waters of an exclusive relationship, as Madge (Celia Imrie) juggles two eligible and very wealthy suitors. Perhaps the only one who may know the answers is newly installed co-manager of the hotel, Muriel (Maggie Smith), the keeper of everyone's secrets. As the demands of a traditional Indian wedding threaten to engulf them all, an unexpected way forward presents itself. (c) Fox Searchlight
Project Almanac  ✪✪✪ (opening 26th Feb)  Screens Everywhere

My Thoughts
Being a huge fan of the time travel genre (well, I even recently released Back Again, a time slip novel), this film was on my excited-to-see list. However the trailers are a touch deceiving. It’s not as action-packed as they would lead you to believe. And, it’s found footage! You know like Blair Witch Project that began the whole genre, and Paranormal, where it’s filmed on handy-cam or iPhones on the pretext that this is real life stuff. If you don’t like shaky photography, then this is not for you. It’s also very much aimed at the teens.
The beginning is very slow. My twelve-year-old leaned over a good 45 minutes into the movie and said, “When is it starting?” Finally, when they do travel back in time, they don’t do much, except go back again and again to help one of teenagers pass an oral test, and the requisite win the Lottery. Although, there was a glaring plothole with the lottery, when they mistakenly miswrite one of the numbers and only get 5 out of 6 correct and win $1.8 instead of $43 million, or some huge figure. So, they all decide they can’t be bothered going back again to get the $43 million. Say what!!! After they’ve gone back so many times just to pass a test or secure revenge on a bully. It’s stuffed full of teen angst and romance, and that will certainly limit the audience.
If you’ve seen The Butterfly Effect, then you’ve seen this film, and you’ve seen a better version.

Film Blurb
A brilliant high school student and his friends uncover blueprints for a mysterious device with limitless potential, inadvertently putting lives in danger. (C) Paramount

Girlhood  ✪✪✪ (opening 2nd March at Lotterwest Film Festival only) 

My Thoughts
This is a Lotterywest Film Festival movie, and it’s foreign language, set in France. Not to be confused with the brilliant Boyhood, it’s about a teenage girl,   , and her metamorphous from  a quite, retiring girl into a tough, gang member. Then it becomes a story of girls becoming women and finding themselves and their position with the various gangs within their school and neighborhood. Then it becomes another film entirely with the main character making some dark choices and becoming involved in the drug business. There’s a lot to enjoy in this film, although there’s also a few dead spots. It’s French, and if you enjoy French films then this is a solid and interesting one. They have a feel and style all to their own.  My main take from it was that in having two boys I’m quite relieved. Not that I haven anything against daughters, it’s just this film certainly depicts the cattiness and bullying that can occur in these girl groups that form in high school.

Film Blurb
A brilliant high school student and his friends uncover blueprints for a mysterious device with limitless potential, inadvertently putting lives in danger. (C) Paramount


Pirates of the Caribbean 5: Dead Men Tell No Tales has started filming on the Gold Coast. Apparently Johnny Depp was seen at a Foo Fighters concert this week in Brisbane. The iconic Black Pearl has been hidden on set from passing traffic by shipping containers. Not sure it’s the greatest news in the world that they are making another one. Last couple have been very average, but if it brings money into Australia via the productions that is good news. Here's a news article with pictures: CLICK HERE

The Merry Widow - Opera at the Met
Sat 14th March - Sun 15 Mar at Luna Leederville & Luna SX

My Thoughts
I haven’t seen many operas except for the school productions like the Mikado. I think these films are a great opportunity to expose yourself to culture. We don’t get many operas through Perth. If you are an opera fan, why not check it out.
Film Blurb
The great Renée Fleming stars as the beguiling femme fatale who captivates all Paris in Lehár’s enchanting operetta, seen in a new staging by Broadway virtuoso director and choreographer Susan Stroman (The Producers, Oklahoma!). Stroman and her design team of Julian Crouch (Satyagraha, The Enchanted Island) and costume designer William Ivey Long (Cinderella, Grey Gardens) have created an art-nouveau setting that climaxes with singing and dancing grisettes at the legendary Maxim’s. Nathan Gunn co-stars as Danilo and Kelli O’Hara is Valencienne. Andrew Davis conducts

THAT SUGAR FILM 5/5 stars (40 stars out of 5 number of teaspoons the average Australian consumes a day of hidden sugar)
Showing at Luna Leederville & Luna SX & Event Cinemas

I’m mentioning this one again because Damon Gameau has been on radio and in the newspapers over the last week in Perth Now quite a few people are talking about this film and the amazing awareness that he is creating about the hidden sugars in our healthy food. I cannot recommend this film enough for anyone who cares about theirs and their family’s health. It’s brilliantly done, entertaining, and explicit in explaining the facts and the science of ingesting too much sugar. Warning: if you watch this it will change the way you view food, and you may find you are throwing out a lot of the food in your cupboard, but, hey, a small price to pay to live a healthier, happier, more energized life.

Q&A Screening Event on Monday 23 March at Luna on SX at 5.30pm & 6.15pm (6.15pm SOLD OUT) and Tuesday 24 March at 6.45pm at Luna Leederville (due to popular demand!) with Australian actor, TV star Damon Gameau (Underbelly, Balibo), who presents and  talks about his revealing debut documentary feature that  looks at the effects of sugar on our  health following the evening session.  Joining Damon will be a health professional and health food advocate. 

Film Blurb
THAT SUGAR FILM is one man’s journey to discover the bitter truth about sugar. Damon Gameau embarks on a unique experiment to document the effects of a high sugar diet on a healthy body, consuming only foods that are commonly perceived as ‘healthy’. Through this entertaining and informative journey, Damon highlights some of the issues that plague the sugar industry, and where sugar lurks on supermarket shelves. THAT SUGAR FILM will forever change the way you think about ‘healthy’ food.

 Lotterywest Festival Films Somerville & Joondalup Pines
For Tickets and Times:  CLICK HERE

·      Salt of the Earth 16th Feb to 1st March Documentary:
·      ’71  (UK/Irish) 4 ½ / 5 stars Reviewed last week  23rd Feb to 1st March Somerville – 3rd March to 8th March
·      GIRLHOOD 2nd to 8th March at Somerville   Reviewed above

LUNA Outdoor Cinema Leederville

For Tickets and Times: CLICK HERE
·     A MOST VIOLENT YEARThriller starring Jessica Chastain

CAMELOT Outdoor Cinema

For Tickets and Times: CLICK HERE
·      FlickerFest – Best of Australian Shorts running 5/3 to 8/3
·      Birdman – Check out what all the Oscar awards are about
·      Theory of Everything
·      Pride – I loved this small British film. Well worth catching. A real feel good film.

McDonalds Community Cinema
CINEMAS are at Burswood, Mandurah, Murdoch, Bassendean and Curtin
For Tickets and Times: CLICK HERE

Highlights showing at Burswood:
·      AMERICAN SNIPER  Wednesday 4/3/15
·      Screening on behalf of the RSL of WA as part of the 100th Commemoration of ANZAC.
·      Penguins of Madagascar Saturday 28/2
·      Paper Planes Sunday 1/3


JUPITER ASCENDING – I caught this at a general session. It’s not as bad as the critics would have you believe. It’s just not as good as expected.
SELMA – Martin Luther King Jnr bio-pic
Paper Planes - This has been a huge box-office success and rightly so.

If you find value you in my reviews and film blurb, then buying an ecopy of any of my books is a great way to say thanks, and keep me in coffee. My latest Back Again is only $3.99, less than a coffee. Click here to choose.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Susan May’s Oscar predications

And the winner is…

I'm putting it out there. Let's see how many I get right. Last year I only picked two wrong, but I hadn't made it public. This year, let's see. Do you think I've got them right? What do you think will win?

Best Film

American Sniper
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything


This is the strongest film line up I’ve seen in years. I’m ringing my hands over these films on what to pick. It will come down to Boyhood or Birdman, but I think Birdman just pips Boyhood at the post for originality. A close third would have to go to The Grand Budapest Hotel. Whiplash is fabulous, too, and it was on my radar as a winner until I saw Birdman.

Best Actress

Felicity Jones - The Theory of Everything
Marion Cotillard - Two Days, One Night
Reese Witherspoon - Wild
Julianne Moore - Still Alice
Rosamund Pike - Gone Girl


None of these were stand outs for me. The Oscar will go to Julianne Moore, though. Her performance elevated what was a midday movie to something interesting.

Best Actor

Michael Keaton - Birdman
Eddie Redmayne - The Theory of Everything
Benedict Cumberbatch - The Imitation Game
Bradley Cooper - American Sniper
Steve Carell – Foxcatcher


Without a doubt, this is the performance of Michael Keaton’s career. There is not a second on screen where he isn’t riveting. Nobody else is even close to him. He will win.

Best Supporting Actress

Emma Stone - Birdman
Patricia Arquette - Boyhood
Meryl Streep - Into the Woods
Laura Dern - Wild
Keira Knightley - The Imitation Game


I’m wringing my hands again on this. It’s a real toss up between Emma Stone, who shows she can really act in Birdman, and Patricia Arquette who consistently delivered over twelve years in Boyhood. There’s one scene Emma Stone played with Michael Keaton that just blew my mind. In the end, I hope its Arquette’s, because she wasn’t flashy but played the everyday mom to perfection.

Best Supporting Actor

Mark Ruffalo - Foxcatcher
Edward Norton - Birdman
J.K. Simmons - Whiplash
Robert Duvall - The Judge
Ethan Hawke - Boyhood

WINNER:       J.K. Simmons

J.K. Simmons inhabits his character in Whiplash. The final scene between him and  is probably one of the greatest scenes without dialogue you will ever see. This one I would put money on.

Best Director

Morten Tyldum - The Imitation Game
Bennett Miller - Foxcatcher
Alejandro González Iñárritu - Birdman
Richard Linklater - Boyhood
Wes Anderson -The Grand Budapest Hotel

WINNER:       Richard Linklater

You could give an Oscar to everyone on this list bar Bennett Miller (I didn’t love Foxcatcher). Every one of them brought something new to filmmaking this year. However, I have to give it to Linklater. To create a film over 12 years with the same actors is and extraordinary feat. If it wasn’t for him, I’d be handing it to Iñárritu for Birdman. But it has to be Linklater.

Best Original Screenplay

Foxcatcher - Dan Futterman, E. Max Frye
Birdman - Alejandro González Iñárritu, Armando Bo, Nicolás Giacobone
The Grand Budapest Hotel - Wes Anderson, Hugo Guinness
Nightcrawler - Dan Gilroy
Boyhood - Richard Linklater

WINNER: The Grand Budapest Hotel - Wes Anderson, Hugo Guinness

I’m giving this one to The Grand Budapest Hotel. It’s quirky and original and beyond delightful. Wes Anderson is known for his unique characters, and in this the dialogue was like poetry. Wonderful.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Whiplash Damien -  Chazelle
American Sniper - Jason Hall
The Imitation Game - Graham Moore
The Theory of Everything - Anthony McCarten
Inherent Vice - Paul Thomas Anderson


When less is more, when the screenplay doesn’t beat the audience over the head to get the message across, that’s when a screenplay works. Not only were the actors astonishing in Whiplash, so was the minimalist script that allowed them to shine.

Best Animated Film

The Tale of Princess Kaguya
How to Train Your Dragon 2
The Boxtrolls
Big Hero 6
Song of the Sea


How to Train Your Dragon 2 was a surprisingly good follow up to the original. However, my heart is with Big Hero 6. This studio consistently delivers wonderful animations with appealing, layered stories.

For the other awards, here are my picks:

Best Production Design:                   The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Costume Design:                       The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Film Editing:                             Grand Budapest Hotel
(Birdman was robbed here. It should have been up for this)
Best Visual Effects:                           Interstellar
Best Cinematography:                       The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Animated Feature:                     Big Hero Six
Best Animated Short:                        Feast