Thursday, January 21, 2016

Film Stuff 21st January 2016

Enjoy this podcast taken from my film news and review spot on Radio CurtinFM 100.4 with the wonderful Jenny Seaton where I discuss this week's film stuff, along with an impromptu interview on my writing and knocking Stephen King off the #1 short story spot on US Amazon. You can subscribe or access this also on iTunes: iTunes or on Google Play by downloading the PodBean app and searching for Film & Book Google Play


If you enjoy these musings, you might enjoy my latest book DEADLY MESSENGERS which readers are calling the most terrifying, impossible-to-put-down thriller of 2015.

Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Prime members read it for FREE!  (and all my other books and stories). CLICK HERE: http://buff.ly/1FU3MTV

   
    Hope everyone is settling in to the New Year. After a sabbatical for Christmas, here we have a bunch of films I’ve previewed over the past weeks. Last year, I closed off the year of previews on 30th December (Point Break, which we won’t talk about), at 165 films for the year. Yep, I know that is a lot. In fact this year will be no different. Already this week, I’ve seen eight!

   In between all these films, I’m planning on releasing three novels this year. My next The Troubles Keeper will be available late March. A Deadly Messengers Audible spoken book will be out April sometime. Really excited about that. And life keeps trucking on. I plan to have the best year yet in 2016. I wish the same for you.

The Big Short  ✪✪✪✪½ (opens 14th January Luna Cinemas & selected cinemas)
My Thoughts
   
   So do you think a film would be good if it were based on a true story, which affected the entire world and adapted from a best-selling book by Michael Lewis, who just happened to also write the The Blind Side and Moneyball, (films that populated the Oscar nominations)?      What about if they added a star cast with the likes of Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, Melissa Leo, Hamish Linklater, John Magaro, Rafe Spall, Jeremy Strong, Marisa Tomei and guest roles that will surprise and have you beyond amused. Could they turn an event that has most of the world confused and scratching their heads into and something watchable, even entertaining?


   The answer is a resounding YES! This film makes most of the Global Financial Crisis understandable, and what is dry and a tragedy, actually entertaining. I say mostly understandable because there are still parts where I’m thinking I must be so dumb because I know they’ve dumbed it down, but I still don’t get it. However, that does not detract from the story.
   Directed and adapted for screen by Adam McKay, the same guy who wrote the hugely brilliant Ant-Man, you can see where the humor in a film about such a serious subject comes into play and why it works. If you get a chance, do see 99 Homes on DVD or streaming. It’s about the GFC, too, but where this is global, 99 Homes is on the micro human level. One thing with both these films, you will come out of it angered by the greed and stupidity of those who caused this to happen. Highly recommended.
Film Blurb
When four outsiders saw what the big banks, media and government refused to, the global collapse of the economy, they had an idea:  The Big Short. Their bold investment leads them into the dark underbelly of modern banking where they must question everyone and everything. Based on the true story and best-selling book by Michael Lewis (The Blind Side, Moneyball). Christian Bale, Steve Carell,  Ryan Gosling,  Brad Pitt,  Melissa Leo,  Hamish Linklater,  John Magaro,  Rafe Spall,  Jeremy Strong,  Marisa Tomei and Finn Wittrock

The H8TEFUL EIGHT   ✪✪✪✪✪ (opens 21ST January Most cinemas)
My Thoughts
   I’m the biggest Quentin Tarantino fan, so you’ll only get a biased opinion from me. I love the way his mind works. He’s just so far off center in black, violent comedy, he kills me … and practically every character in his films.
   This one is no different. Like his 2013 Oscar winning Django Unchained, it’s set in the wild west in the early eighteen hundreds and is populated with colorful characters who sprout snappy, dark comedic, ominous lines. I love the way Tarantino casts actors whose star has lost its sheen and reminds us why we loved them so in years gone by. Remember what he did for John Travolta via Pulp Fiction? In Django Unchained, Don Johnston appeared in a small, but winning role. In The H8teful Eight it’s Kurt Russell and Jennifer Jason Leigh whose turn it is to dust off the age hackles and give award-nominee performances. Jennifer Jason Leigh is just fabulous and unrecognizable as Daisy Domergue a fugitive being brought to Red Rock to be hung.
   Of course, Tarantino has a long association with Samuel L. Jackson, and he’s back as the pivotal character Major Marquis Warren. Nothing is as it seems in this, and you won’t know who is who until the very end. I loved it and am seeing it again. Don’t miss it.
Film Blurb
Set six or eight or twelve years after the Civil War, a stagecoach hurtles through the wintry Wyoming landscape. The passengers, bounty hunter John Ruth (Kurt Russell) and his fugitive Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh), race towards the town of Red Rock where Ruth, known in these parts as 'The Hangman,' will bring Domergue to justice.

The Danish Girl  ✪✪✪✪  (opens 21st January 2015 Most cinemas)
My Thoughts
   If you want to see some of the finest performances this year and last year or any year, see The Danish Girl. You would expect nothing less from Eddie Redmayne, last year’s Oscar winner for The Theory of Everything. Alicia Vikander is mesmerizing on screen as Elbe’s wife, who suggests her husband dress up as a woman to attend a party as a bit of a joke. Unfortunately, the joke backfires when her husband realizes he is actually a woman trapped in a man’s body. Director Tom Hooper who also directed The King’s Speech has done a great job of drawing us into the lives of two people who love each other but are doomed by biology to endure terrible suffering for that love.
   The story is loosely based on the real diaries of Lili Elbe, the first transgender person to undergo a gender change operation. It’s so very sad, and my heart ached for the poor Elbe and his wife who loses her husband, but still supports him. 
   Co-stars the gorgeous Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts, (Far From the Madding Crowd, A Little Chaos) and Ben Wishart (James Bond Q-Mr. Gadget).  Highly recommended period piece and biopic drama.
Film Blurb
Based on the book by David Ebershoff, The Danish Girl is the remarkable love story inspired by the lives of Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener (portrayed by Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander, and directed by Academy Award winner Tom Hooper. Lili and Gerda’s marriage and work evolve as they navigate Lili’s groundbreaking journey as a transgender pioneer.

Goosebumps  ✪✪✪½  (opens 14th January 2015 Most cinemas)
My Thoughts
   We were treated to a preview of Goosebumps at Moonlight Cinemas in King’s Park. They even extended the use of luxury beanbags to us, which was greatly appreciated.
   What we have here is the usual Hollywood family film complete with pretty good special effects and an ending you can see coming a mile away. However, it’s still enjoyable family fare, and I’m sure it will do well with the Goosebumps fans. Interestingly enough, Jack Black isn’t his usual crazy self either.
   My whole family (including the snarky thirteen-year-old who acts as though I’m dragging him to the dentist every time I mention coming to a film), enjoyed this. Look for a few seconds of a very clever guest role at the very end by R.L. Stine. Apparently, he’s outsold Stephen King. I didn’t know that. Here I am wishing to emulate the Master King’s success and he is a rich second to Stine. Who knew? While watching this film, they make darn sure you know who is the King of horror. Good for Mr. Stine.
 Film Blurb
Upset about moving from a big city to a small town, teenager Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette) finds a silver lining when he meets the beautiful girl, Hannah (Odeya Rush), living right next door. But every silver lining has a cloud, and Zach's comes when he learns that Hannah has a mysterious dad who is revealed to be R. L. Stine (Jack Black), the author of the bestselling Goosebumps series.

Carol ✪✪✪✪ (opens 14th January Luna Cinemas & selected cinemas)
My Thoughts
   This is a beautiful period film set in the fifties. The clothes and set are just divine. Director Todd Haynes, known for his complex female character portrayals as in Far From Heaven and the very good TV series Mildred Pierce, has a way of slipping you inside the character’s world like no other. It’s unsettling but incredible at the same time.
    Some may find this film slow and drawn out. Think long, loooong, lingering looks and conversations about character’s desires and wants. However, if you go with it, as though you were a fly on the wall, you will find something substantial and thoughtful in this film. 
   Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara are simply wonderful in their roles. Cate Blanchett is certainly in the same league as Meryl Streep as an actress who can inhabit any character convincingly.
    This is art-house, but high production values art-house. Might I say, also, it’s refreshing to see a same-sex love affair treated so beautifully. You might watch this film and be appalled at the way Carol is treated in the fifties because she is gay. Yet, until we legislate for same sex marriage, we haven’t really moved that far from condemning gay love as an aberration, have we? Love is love, and with a few of these good same-sex romantic films coming out, I hope finally Australia will allow all people in this country equal rights. #Loveislove!
Film Blurb
A young woman in her 20s, Therese Belivet is a clerk working in a Manhattan department store and dreaming of a more fulfilling life when she meets Carol, an alluring woman trapped in a loveless, convenient marriage. As an immediate connection sparks between them, the innocence of their first encounter dims and their connection deepens. While Carol breaks free from the confines of marriage, her husband threatens her competence as a mother when Carol's involvement with Therese and close relationship with her best friend Abby comes to light. As Carol leaves the comfort of home to travel with Therese, an internal journey of self-discovery coincides with her new sense of space.

Daddy’s Home ✪✪✪½ 
(opens 26th December 2015. Now showing at a few cinemas & the outdoor cinema season)
My Thoughts
You’ll read bad reviews on this, but I like Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg together. They were so funny in The Other Guys. This is just light entertainment with a little family message in between the laughs. Silly, stupid fun, but I like silly stupid fun.
Film Blurb
A mild mannered radio exec’s (Ferrell) life gets turned upside down when his wife’s ultra-attractive and supremely likeable ex-husband (Wahlberg) re-enters the picture. The two compete in the ultimate display of one-ups-manship as they vie for the children’s affection.

The Fifth Wave  (not reviewed)  (opens 14th January 2015 Most cinemas)
Film Blurb
In the new film The 5th Wave, four waves of increasingly deadly attacks have left most of Earth decimated. Against a backdrop of fear and distrust, Cassie (Chloƫ Grace Moretz) is on the run, desperately trying to save her younger brother. As she prepares for the inevitable and lethal 5th wave, Cassie teams up with a young man who may become her final hope - if she can only trust him


Looking For Grace ✪✪✪ ½   (opens 26th January Luna cinemas)
Advance Screenings: Fri 22 Jan - Sun 24 Jan
Opens Tue 26 Jan Cinema Paradiso & Luna On SX

My Thoughts
This is an interesting Australian film, which I actually enjoyed quite a bit. It’s kind of quirky and different. There’s a mystery at its heart, a few surprises, and some very funny scenes poking fun at our Aussieness. Rhada Mitchell is very good and so is Odessa Young as Grace, the runaway teen. Filmed in Western Australia, it has the feel of any place. A thought provoking and poignant story that will stay with you after the credits.
Film Blurb
The long-awaited new film from Sue Brooks, acclaimed and multi award-winning director of Japanese Story and Road To Nhill, LOOKING FOR GRACE is an intimate, funny and profoundly moving story about the complexities of family life.

When rebellious 16-year-old Grace (rising star Odessa Young) takes off, her exasperated mum and dad (the superb Radha Mitchell and Richard Roxburgh) enlist the help of a close-to-retirement detective, and begin the long drive from Perth out to the West Australian wheatbelt to try to find her. On the journey, the two must confront the realities of their changing relationship to one another, and to their daughter…

OFFICIAL SELECTION – 2015 VENICE INTL. F.F. – IN COMPETITION, OFFICIAL SELECTION – 2015 TORONTO INTL. F.F. – IN COMPETITION OFFICIAL SELECTION – 2015 ADELAIDE INTL. F.F. – IN COMPETITION

DHEEPAN ✪✪✪½   (FRANCE) French & Tamil with English subtitles
UWA Somerville:        Monday 25th January—Sunday 31st January
ECU Joondalup:         Tuesday 2nd February – 7th February

My Thoughts
Dheepan begins as a fascinating insight into the plight of the refugee as we follow three Sri Lanken refugees who pose as a family to escape the civil war in their country. They end up in France in an apartment block compound, which seems to be not much better than what they left. It takes a turn to the ultra violent toward the end, which was rather unexpected. An interesting film, well acted. Of course, seeing anything at Somerville or Joondalup Pines is a wonderful experience.

Film Blurb
   Winner of the top prize at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, Dheepan is the latest masterpiece by director Jacques Audiard (The Beat That My Heart Skipped, 2006 PIAF).
   In the aftermath of civil war in Sri Lanka, Dheepan flees to make a new life in France. He arranges with two strong women to pose as a family in their Paris apartment, but outside, trouble is brewing.
   An utterly absorbing drama, Dheepan is one of the year’s most important films.

The Brand New Testament (French/Belgium) ✪✪✪  ½ 
UWA Somerville:        Monday 18th January—Sunday 24th January
ECU Joondalup:         Tuesday 26th December – 31st January

My Thoughts
   This film screened for the launch of the second program of the Lotterywest Film Festival season. Rain and storms threatened, but we ended up with a beautiful night. I shall pause here to wax lyrical about the setting of Somerville. It is truly stunning set among the towering pine trees. A kookaburra looked down upon us from a tree branch; you could be in a woodland grove in the middle of an enchanted forest, it is so beautifully created; and the food, oh my goodness, the food is extraordinarily delicious. They supplied us with picnic hampers with divine contents to match our surroundings. Although you can bring your own food and drink, it is all available there.
   Now to the film … Don’t miss the experience of seeing this film at Somerville or Joondalup. It is a brilliant comedy with thought provoking and amusing commentary on life. Beyond charming, unique, and wildly imaginative, everyone I spoke to afterward told me that they loved it. The French actors are all wellknown character actors, and they portray their role as normal people who just happen to be the family of God, to a tee. Some of the exchanges between God’s young daughter and her brother Jesus Christ are priceless.
   GO. SEE. THIS. FILM. IF. YOU. ARE. IN PERTH. Seriously, go, but if you live somewhere else and see this film showing or available on streaming, see it. You will love it, too.

Film Blurb
What if God were an angry family man from Brussels?
   What if he sat at his computer in his dressing gown, dreaming up commandments to amuse himself and annoy everyone else?
   And what if his daughter, in a fit of childish pique, decided to change the rules and write a brand New Testament?
   This gloriously imaginative comedy answers all these questions with a series of affectionately funny twists on religion and society.

OUTDOOR CINEMAS


Moonlight Cinemas
Date: December - March
Time:  Doors open at 6.00pm Film commences 8pm  
Location: Synergy Parkland in Kings Park and Botanic Garden. Enter from May Drive.

Details and Booking

Films of note this week: 
Ferris Beuller’s Day Off      Thursday Jan 21
Daddy’s Home
Suffragette
Alvin & the Chipmunks

Burswood Outdoor Community Cinema
Date: Runs to April
Time:  Doors open at 6.30pm Film commences 7:45pm
Location: Burswood, Bassendean, Mandurah, Murdoch.
Run by over 700 volunteers, they proudly donate all profits to kids charities. To date we've raised over $6 million for kids in a health or physical crisis.

Details and Booking

Films of note this week: 
Alvin & the Chipmunks
Daddy’s Home
Suffragette
Joy

Rooftop Movies
Date: Runs to April
Time:  Doors open at 6.00pm Film commences 8pm
Location: City of Perth Roe St car park LEVEL 6 NORTHBRIDGE
Details and Booking

Films of note this week: 
The Big Lebowski
E.T.
Mad Max
                                                                              
Camelot Outdoor Movies


Date: Runs to April
Time:  Doors open at 6.00pm Film commences 8pm
Location: 16 Lochee Street, Mosman Park
Details and Booking

Films of note this week: 
In The Heart of the Sea Thursday Jan 21
The Belier Family          Friday Jan 22
Learning to Drive            Saturday Jan 23
Spectre 007                     Sunday Jan 24

Luna Outdoor Movies
Date: Runs to April
Time:  Doors open at 6.00pm Film commences 8.15 pm
Location: 155 Oxford Street, Leederville (tickets & entrance Luna Cinemas)
Details and Booking

Films of note this week: 
The Hateful Eight pre show extras) Thursday Jan 21 & 25-27
Room     (sneak peaks & pre show extras)  Friday Jan 22-Sunday Jan 24

LOTTERY WEST FILM FESTIVAL
Date: 23rd November to 10th April
Time:  Doors open at 6.00pm Film commences 8pm
Location: Somerville UWA & ECU Joondalup Pines
Details and Booking

Films this week: 
Mia Madre (Italian)
ECU Joondalup:         Tuesday 19th January – 24th January

   A beautifully moving film, Mia Madre (My Mother) introduces us to a woman trying to hold things together while dealing with work, grief and a prize idiot.
   Margherita is a director immersed in her latest production, which stars riotously inept actor Barry Huggins (played by John Turturro, in scene-stealing form). Meanwhile her mother is gravely ill, so she must try to juggle the chaos at work while adapting to upheavals in her life. Nominated for the Palme d'Or (2015 Cannes Film Festival)

The Brand New Testament (French/Belguim)
See my review above
UWA Somerville:        Monday 18th January—Sunday 24th January
ECU Joondalup:         Tuesday 26th December – 31st January
   What if God were an angry family man from Brussels?
   What if he sat at his computer in his dressing gown, dreaming up commandments to amuse himself and annoy everyone else?
   And what if his daughter, in a fit of childish pique, decided to change the rules and write a brand New Testament?
   This gloriously imaginative comedy answers all these questions with a series of affectionately funny twists on religion and society.

DHEEPAN ✪✪✪✪ (FRANCE) French & Tamil with English subtitles
UWA Somerville:        Monday 25th January—Sunday 31st January
ECU Joondalup:         Tuesday 2nd February – 7th February

See my review above
   Winner of the top prize at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, Dheepan is the latest masterpiece by director Jacques Audiard (The Beat That My Heart Skipped, 2006 PIAF).
   In the aftermath of civil war in Sri Lanka, Dheepan flees to make a new life in France. He arranges with two strong women to pose as a family in their Paris apartment, but outside, trouble is brewing.

   An utterly absorbing drama, Dheepan is one of the year’s most important films.

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