Thursday, May 28, 2015

FILM STUFF 28th May 2015

TOMORROWLAND ✪✪✪✪ (Opens 28th May most cinemas)

 I was always going to love this film. It’s about imagination and the places it can take you, pretty much the Walt Disney mantra. It’s not an animation. There are real live actors in this film, most notably George Clooney as the cantankerous, disillusioned Frank. I just mention that because a few people have asked me about Tomorrowland as an animated film.
   The CGI is colorful and beautifully done, and the ideas behind the futuristic world are fascinating. Where it does fall down is the plotting. It’s aimed at all ages but feels skewed very young, from around eight to fourteen. Unintentional I think. There are parts where the characters are fighting robots that have a real Home Alone feel. That’s fun, but a little old fashioned. In fact, the whole film seems very nineties. Think the feel of Jumanji and Zathura.
   In saying all this, if you are young-at-heart, the message behind the film will find a home with you. It did with me, and that’s why, for the past week, I’ve worn my Tomorrowland badge, which Disney kindly gave us at the screening.
   What I also find interesting is that a few weeks ago, my son’s high school English teacher told me that the English curriculum is now changing to include more narrative storytelling. During my boys’ primary school years I was horrified to discover narrative writing time had been almost totally removed from the curriculum to make way for more life-skill writing such as letter and report writing; analytical thinking was replacing imagination-stretching. I even wrote a passionate post entitled, Throwing Imagination Out With The Bath Water, pointing out this was a mistake. That essay has been the most popular post I’ve ever written with over 14,000 reads and still climbing.
  The Education Department has since discovered, as I predicted, what they were turning out were people who couldn’t think outside the box, that imagination was one of the most important skills a human being can possess. So there seems to be a thought process going on around the world that while great grades and education is important, as emotively shown in Tomorrowland, nothing is as important to success as imagination. Long live Imagination, without it, we’re still trying to make fire, right?
 Film Blurb 
   From Disney comes two-time Oscar (R) winner Brad Bird's riveting, mystery adventure "Tomorrowland," starring Academy Award (R) winner George Clooney. Bound by a shared destiny, former boy-genius Frank (Clooney), jaded by disillusionment, and Casey (Britt Robertson), a bright, optimistic teen bursting with scientific curiosity, embark on a danger-filled mission to unearth the secrets of an enigmatic place somewhere in time and space known only as "Tomorrowland." What they must do there changes the world-and them-forever. Featuring a screenplay by "Lost" writer and co-creator Damon Lindelof and Brad Bird, from a story by Lindelof & Bird & Jeff Jensen, "Tomorrowland" promises to take audiences on a thrill ride of nonstop adventures through new dimensions that have only been dreamed of.(C) Walt Disney

SAN ANDREAS  ✪✪✪½ (Opens 28th May most cinemas)

   I don’t need to tell you about this movie. The name and the poster say it all. It is every disaster movie rolled into one. We’ve got Towering Inferno, The Perfect Storm, Earthquake, Tidal Wave, 2012, Daylight and The Impossible. There’s even touches of Meteor and Deep Impact, no aliens or meteors, but a lot of people trying to get out of cities and head to higher ground. Value for money, you certainly get a lot of bang and destruction for your cinema buck.
   The makers jump headlong into the genre with wild special effects, a body count that defies, well, counting, while playing the impossible heroism of the two parents (Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino) attempting to locate their daughter in a devastated and crumbling San Francisco, as a bit of an outrageous satire. Director Brad Peyton understands the script is ridiculous, but his only concern clearly seems to be to deliver an entertaining ride with the subtext Don’t look for the plot holes, we know, just have fun with it.
   So go along and have fun. Make sure you take popcorn, and, ah, no need to count the “Oh my  God’s. I’ve done it for you. There’s six. Let me know if you get a tally on the body count. The last line was a real belly laugh: We will rebuild. Yeah, good luck with that! And, please, Hollywood, don’t make a number two, even if it does well. We’re all good.
Film Blurb 
   In the aftermath of a massive earthquake in California, a rescue-chopper pilot makes a dangerous journey across the state in order to rescue his estranged daughter.

(Showing at Luna Cinemas from 28th May)

   The French films, I love them so. This film is a delight; I always seem to be calling French films “a delight.” It reminds me of a Shakespearean comedy of errors or a Jane Austen comedy of polite relationships and misunderstood circumstance. In any case, it’s a wonderful comedy and drama. It’s also beautifully filmed and shows a slice of French provincial life where the smelling of bread is almost a sensual experience and life at a slower pace invites more time for neighborly eavesdropping.
   Gemma Arterton is stunning as the precocious English ex-pat whose love decisions find her digging herself deeper into a bad situation which may end in disaster. Martin Joubert (Fabrice Luchini), a literary fan, is wonderful as the neighbor who becomes obsessed with Gemma and decides Gustave Flaubert’s 1856 famous book Madame Bovary is playing out in his own backyard.
   Go see it and fall in love with French cinema, as this is as fine an example as you will see. Delicious!
   By the way Fabrice Luchini starred in the 2013 French film In the House, which is another great example of fabulous French film. If you enjoy Gemma Bovery seek that one out, too. It’s a gem.
Film Blurb 
   Life begins to imitate art in uncanny ways when earthy British beauty Gemma (Gemma Arterton) and her furniture restorer husband Charles Bovery (Jason Flemyng, X-Men: First Class, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) move to the very same Norman village where the graphic novel was written. Local baker and Flaubert fan Martin Joubert (Fabrice Luchini) falls for the lovely and charming newcomer and sets out to be her mentor. It doesn't take long before his wild imagination leads him to draw parallels between the literary and real life woman, as he insinuates himself into her life. She soon finds herself at a crossroads that seems to be fulfilling Joubert's worst fears that her destiny is mirroring that of Flaubert's doomed heroine. Director Anne Fontaine's clever adaptation of the graphic novel is at once a cheeky literary mash-up, a sensuous romance, a witty feminist commentary, and a heady celebration of French provincial life. (C) Music Box Films

(Showing at Luna Cinemas from 28th May)

 Partisan is a layered film requiring some thought. It’s very European in style, yet its written and directed by Melbourne born 30-year-old Ariel Kleiman and filmed in Australia. It stars Vincent Casell (Black Swan, Oceans 12 & 13, Birthday Girl) as the leader of what seems to be some kind of cult. The group has taken up residence in a ramshackle dilapidated, isolated stone-mountain compound outside a large city. Ten years after the first resident arrives with her child, and with the camp now filled with children and mothers, it becomes obvious things are not as wonderful and peaceful as they seem.
   If you don’t pay attention, you can easily miss a few of the key points in the plot and become hopelessly lost. It is a story of morals and the dangers of naivety. The negatives were that some points in the film were overly long. If those had been cut, then the suspense would have been more taut and the film would have benefited greatly.
  Still, for a first time director, it’s an impressive film, despite its faults. The lead child actor Jeremy Chabriel gives an extraordinary performance as the eldest child in the commune who begins to challenge the authority of the king. Partisan is not for everyone. It’s definitely a festival-type film. If that is your cup of tea, then this film will have you pondering its theme long after the credits.
Film Blurb 
   Alexander is like any other kid: playful, curious and naive. He is also a trained assassin. Raised in a hidden paradise on the outskirts of town, Alexander has grown up seeing the world through the eyes of his father, Gregori. As Alexander begins to think for himself, creeping fears take shape and Gregori's idyllic world unravels.

Date: 28-31 May 2015
Location: Cinema Paradiso

A Journey into the Heart of German Cinema
The Audi Festival of German Films is bringing new German-language films to Australia this May, sure to thrill audiences with an exhilarating program of features, shorts and documentaries in addition to exciting special guests from Germany. In its 14th annual season, the festival will showcase the incredible breadth, dynamism and creativity of the German film industry.
Proudly presented by the Goethe-Institut in association with German Films, screening partner Palace Cinemas and with the support of Audi, the 2015 festival takes place over two weeks in ten cinema locations across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Adelaide, Perth, Byron Bay and Hobart. Spanning social dramas, corporate thrillers, quirky comedies, an Alpine western and historical romance, the wide-ranging program presents a rich world of German cinema, with a majority of screenings as Australian premieres.

Date: 30-31 May 2015
Location: Cinema Paradiso

   From Paris, London and the USA. Uncover the story of art’s greatest revolutionaries.  Featuring work by Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, Degas, Pissarro and many more. Monet, Ceaznne, Degas, Renoir: some of the world’s most popular artists. Their works, and that of their contemporaries, fetch tens of millions of dollars around the globe. But who were they really? Why & how exactly did they paint? What lies behind their enduring appeal?
   To help answer these questions, this unique film secured unparalleled access to a major new exhibition focusing on the man credited with inventing Impressionism as we know it: 19th century Parisian art collector Paul Durand-Ruel. This eagerly anticipated international exhibition is possibly the most comprehensive exploration of the Impressionists in history.
   It was Durand-Ruel’s brave decision to exhibit the Impressionists in New York in 1886 that introduced enlightened wealthy Americans to this modern French painting. In doing so, he not only filled great American galleries with Impressionist masterworks, but kept Impressionism alive at a time when it faced complete failure. This energetic and revealing film will tell his remarkable story along with that of the Impressionists themselves. Featuring universally loved masterpieces by Monet, Degas, Cezanne, Renoir, Pissarro and many more.

Elaine Page: I’m Still Here
Date: 30-31 May 2015 1:00pm
Location: Windsor Cinema

   The incomparable Elaine Paige brings her sell-out Farewell Concert  ‘Elaine Page: I’m Still Here’ A 50th Anniversary celebration from the Royal Albert Hall to the big screen accompanied by a live set featuring special guests. Filmed for cinema, the concert features the BBC Concert Orchestra, with Elaine performing the highlights of her extraordinary 50 year career, including Memory, I Know Him so Well and As If We Never Said Goodbye
   Full of great musical memories the evening will finish with a pre recorded Q&A and an intimate performance from Elaine, with special guests (which are soon to be announced), as Elaine creates all-new memories, performing and chatting live from London reflecting on her illustrious career.

Catch an Oldie
JAWS 40th Anniversary Screening #2

Date: Saturday June 20
Location: Backlot Studios Time: 6pm

   Based on Peter Benchley's best-selling novel, Steven Spielberg's 1975 shark saga set the standard for the New Hollywood popcorn blockbuster while frightening millions of moviegoers out of the water. One early summer night on fictional Atlantic resort Amity Island, Chrissie decides to take a moonlight skinny dip while her friends party on the beach. Yanked suddenly below the ocean surface, she never returns. When pieces of her wash ashore, Police Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) suspects the worst, but Mayor Vaughn (Murray Hamilton), mindful of the lucrative tourist trade and the approaching July 4th holiday, refuses to put the island on a business-killing shark alert. After the shark dines on a few more victims, the Mayor orders the local fishermen to catch the culprit. Satisfied with the shark they find, the greedy Mayor reopens the beaches, despite the warning from visiting ichthyologist Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) that the attacks were probably caused by a far more formidable Great White.


Date: Sunday June 7
Location: Backlot Studios Time: 2pm is proud to present SAVING PRIVATE RYAN in a stunning digital presentation at The Backlot Perth. 
   Following the Normandy Landings, a group of U.S. soldiers go behind enemy lines to retrieve a paratrooper whose brothers have been killed in action.
Directed by Steven Spielberg. Starring: Tom Hanks, Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, Barry Pepper, Adam Goldberg, Vin Diesel, Giovanni Ribisi, Geremy Davis, Matt Damon, Ted Danson and Paul Giamatti.

Going, going…
These films will be leaving our screens shortly, so catch them this weekend if you don’t want to miss out.


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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Zombies Served Fresh

Book Review

POSITIVE by David Wellington

✪✪✪½  out of 5 Stars

Release Date:                      April 2015
Author’s Website:               David Wellington's Website
Publisher’s Website:         Harper Collins

My thoughts
   Not a zombie fan? Me neither. I enjoy Walking Dead, (not to the same degree as my teenage son), but then it isn’t about the zombies, is it? It’s about people surviving in a post-apocalyptic world, the politics and the break-down of society. The zombie killings are for the fun of it, yes? So I wasn’t thinking, yay, David Wellington's Positive is the book for me. It has Zombies in the blurb.
   However, it was the book for me. Wellington has cleverly put a new spin on an overstuffed genre. There’s heart in Positive, solid characters, and a storyline that doesn’t dawdle along examining all the minutiae which bogs down some of these post-apocalyptic stories. It’s the book Walking Dead viewers should read when they still want zombies, but need a fresh take. The only thing I didn’t love about the book was that it ended. I didn’t want to leave the characters or the Positive world behind.
   Positive drops us into Manhattan, where society has a certain normality about it now the zombie apocalypse is into its second generation of survivors This younger generation know nothing else except this world of struggling survival. When their parents tell them it was better in our day, it absolutely is the truth. Within Manhattan, they are fairly safe, although this zombie virus can sometimes gestate for up to twenty-one years. If you are unfortunate enough to be born to someone who suddenly turns zombie, like our protagonist Finn, whose mother goes Zombie, you are tattooed with a positive sign and segregated from the population until the expiration of the incubation period.
   Finn, meant to be delivered to a camp in another state to wait out his time, has his transport ambushed. He is left alone to survive in the treacherous territory outside the safety of Manhattan.  In order to stay alive, he must throw his lot in with scavengers and various people who have adapted to the constant threat of death. It’s a road trip of epic adventure and drama, as Finn realizes zombies may not be the worst enemies he must face.
   Wellington is an accomplished writer with a great story to tell in the ilk of The Passage, The Road, and even Stephen King’s The Stand. For all those zombie and horror snobs, jump in to this novel and get your reading hands bloodied, so to speak. You may be surprised how enjoyable the genre is when you’re in the hands of a talented writer. I still may not be a zombie fan, but I’m now firmly a David Wellington fan.

I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins for an honest review. Thank you to the wonderful book-loving people there.  More about this book at: Positive

    In the bestselling vein of Guillermo Del Toro and Justin Cronin, the acclaimed author of Chimera and The Hydra Protocol delivers his spectacular breakout novel—an entertaining page-turning zombie epic that is sure to become a classic.
   Anyone can be positive . . .
   The tattooed plus sign on Finnegan's hand marks him as a Positive. At any time, the zombie virus could explode in his body, turning him from a rational human into a ravenous monster. His only chance of a normal life is to survive the last two years of the potential incubation period. If he reaches his twenty-first birthday without an incident, he'll be cleared.
   Until then, Finn must go to a special facility for positives, segregated from society to keep the healthy population safe. But when the military caravan transporting him is attacked, Finn becomes separated. To make it to safety, he must embark on a perilous cross-country journey across an America transformed—a dark and dangerous land populated with heroes, villains, madmen, and hordes of zombies. And though the zombies are everywhere, Finn discovers that the real danger may be his fellow humans.
   Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome meets World War Z and I Am Legend in this thrilling tale that has it all: a compelling story, great characters, and explosive action, making Positive the ultimate zombie novel of our time.
About the author:
David Wellington is an author of horror, fantasy, and thriller novels. His zombie novels “Monster Island”, “Monster Nation” and “Monster Planet”(Thunder’s Mouth Press) form a complete trilogy. He has also written a series of vampire novels including “Thirteen Bullets”, “Ninety-Nine Coffins”, “Vampire Zero”, “Twenty-Three Hours”, and “32 Fangs”. His werewolf series comprises “Frostbite” and “Overwinter”, known in the UK as “Cursed” and “Ravaged”. In 2004 he began serializing his horror fiction online, posting short chapters of a novel three times a week on a friend’s blog. Response to the project was so great that in 2004 Thunder’s Mouth Press approached Mr. Wellington about publishing “Monster Island” as a print book. His novels have been featured in Rue Morgue, Fangoria, and the New York Times.

Author’s Website:

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