Starring: Chris Hemsworth Michael Shannon Michael Peña Navid Negahban Trevante Rhodes Geoff Stults Thad Luckinbill Austin Stowell Ben O’Toole Austin Hebert Kenneth Miller Kenny Sheard Jack Kesy.
Genre: Action Adventure Drama Historical.
Running time: 130 Minutes. Concise Critique: 12 Strong By Maxwell M. Lyons
America, 9/11, terrorism, Afghanistan; here we go again. The latest in American jingoism, 12 Strong, is based on the now-declassified military operation involving the first U.S. soldiers to land in (*cough* invade) Afghanistan post-9/11. Led by captain Mitch Nelson (Chris Hemsworth), this twelve-man Special Forces unit was ordered to rendezvous with local warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum (Navid Negahban) and launch a retaliatory attack – all while on horseback – to cripple the Taliban’s nexus of power and pre-emptively hinder Al Qaeda’s faculty for further terroristic training. And so began the War-On-Terror.
The performances of and chemistry between Hemsworth and Negahban alone were highly commendable, and it is this dynamic that carries much of the movie and acts as a surprisingly emotionally-charged subplot. Outside this duo, noteworthy performances were those of U.S. allies played by Michael Shannon (a loyal lieutenant) and Michael Peña (the comedic relief). Unfortunately, the remaining nine compatriots were underdeveloped and offered little more than gratuitous masculine bravado and throwaway movie-tagline dialogue. And let’s not forget the waves of faceless Taliban soldiers and their stereotypical cold-hearted religious extremist of a leader – you’d be hard pressed finding a more contrived antagonist.
Aside from poorly-written characters, the film’s main problem stems from its overly cliché conventions and enamour with patriotic heroism. There are the tearful (horrendously underwritten) soldier’s wives and their melodramatic goodbyes, the cold-but-progressively-warmer foreign relations, the overcoming of differences for the greater good, the eye-for-an-eye mentality, and of course the necessity for the hero to prove themselves in some way – you’ve seen it all before. The film somehow even makes its action scenes feel repetitive and lacklustre after a while, becoming little beyond a spectacle of smart bombs dropping from B-52s in the stratosphere. The gunfire, explosions, and tactical warfare still rear their heads every so often, but at 130 minutes the film drags on somewhat and stunts in pacing.
At its core, 12 Strong appears to have the best of intentions in telling the amazing story of these twelve men. It was fairly entertaining at times and had some admirable performances, but was unfortunately hindered by its melodramatic cliché, subpar dialogue, and one-dimensional stolidity. If you like war movies and don’t mind a bit of narrative simplicity, you may find 12 Strong a decent way to kill an afternoon. But if – like myself – you’re blasé with the ego-stroke of American patriotism, you won’t get much from this one. Whichever you choose, I must say that the irony of casting an Australian as lead actor to the most American thing to America its way out of America in quite some time should not be lost on anyone.
12 Strong will be released in cinemas Australia-wide on March 8, 2018.
KANGAROO NEW website
MARY MAGDALINE NEW website review by Susan Reynolds
Running time: 106 Minutes. Concise Critique: In the Fade (Aus dem Nichts) By Maxwell M. Lyons
Directed by Fatih Akin and winner of the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film 2017, In the Fade is a strikingly humanistic story of grief, desolation, and reprisal at the hands of injustice. Divided into three distinct (and intertitled) acts the movie follows Katja (Diane Kruger) and her psychological struggle through the ensuing events following the death of her ex-con husband Nuri (Numan Açar) and young son Rocco at the hands of a terroristic bombing.
As a whole, the movie is an entertaining watch with compelling performances, tight and highly focussed cinematography, and a felicitous discordant sound design fitting of the gritty neo-noir it presents itself to be. Unfortunately, there are some tonal issues between the three acts – the second act in particular drags somewhat before tensions are reignited leading into the climactic thriller-esk third act, though by this stage it loses some traction and never quite reaches that level of suspense you’d hope for.
Furthermore, there was little intricacy to the narrative. The film seemed far too enamoured in depicting the profundity of Katja’s grief that it lacked depth outside her solipsism. For instance, Nuri’s criminal history served little but to facilitate exposition in the form of a police interrogation that itself lead nowhere. Furthermore, the young villainous duo are shallow and underdeveloped characters, all but mere blank canvases with the word ‘evil’ scrawled across them – their malevolence is autotelic. Likewise, Katja’s friends and family are generic and one-dimensional, acting only to fuel Katja’s despair and add verisimilitude to her impetuous desolation before being ousted from the story. The film really wants you to believe that there is no alternative for Katja, but it offered little opportunity otherwise, and so the narrative felt forced and vacuous.
In the Fade is definitely a movie worth seeking out (if you can handle subtitles), though I would caution having ‘Golden Globe’ level expectations. There are many praiseworthy aspects, especially in Kruger’s performance as the unwavering and monosyllabic Katja, but its claustrophobic scope, narrative otiosity, and tonal inconsistency hampers what is an otherwise enjoyable watch.
In the Fade will be released in cinemas Australia-wide on March 8, 2018.
EVERY DAY NEW website review by Susan Reynolds THE FILM WAS CANCELLED BY THE PRODUCERS
Film Review: Oscar Nominated Live-Action Short-Films By Maxwell M. Lyons
The Academy Awards are right around the corner, and critics the world over are vociferously touting their winning-predictions. From ‘Best Picture’ to ‘Best Actor/Actress’, there are a flurry of beautifully crafted marvels, impeccable performances, and commendable behind-the-scenes roles worthy of reverence. Though often overlooked is the category of short-films, which is a crying shame given the remarkable feats of cinematic craftsmanship of this year’s nominees for Best Live Action Short-Film – ‘DeKalb Elementary’, ‘My Nephew Emmett’, ‘Watu Wote/All of Us’, ‘The Eleven O’Clock’, and ‘The Silent Child’.
DeKalb Elementary is a retelling of a 2013 school shooting in Atlanta, Georgia. Deriving much of its dialogue and inspiration from the actual transcript of the 911 call made during the event, the short tells the story of a young gunman armed with an automatic rifle and his encounter with a surprisingly compassionate administrator. As a whole, the short was quite well made, but unfortunately lacked anything overly noteworthy. The performances were fairly commendable, but the narrative is quite simplistic and seems to lack scope compared to its competitors. For what it’s worth, the short was solely character focussed devoid of what could have been an easily politicised piece around heroism, mental health, or the much-dreaded topic of gun reform. But in a way this lack of thematic conviction deterred from the overall impact, presenting a problem without a solution – one regrettably still relevant given the continued frequency of mass shootings and gun violence in the absence of pragmatic regulations in the US, but I digress. Given the subject matter, it’s Oscar nomination comes as no surprise, but given its ethical neutrality, up against the other shorts, it falls flat in execution.
My Nephew Emmett continues the trend of historical adaptions with its highly stylistic and dramatised account of the racially-driven 1955 murder of Emmett Till – an African-American teenage city-boy visiting relatives in Mississippi – for the “crime” of whistling at a white woman. Told from the perspective of Emmett's great-uncle (L.B. Williams), the short is a well-acted highly cinematic piece that unfortunately lacks completeness, perhaps hindered by the ‘short’ aspect of being a short-film. The emotional connection with Emmett just isn’t there, which is a shame given the masterful performance by Williams, whose portrayal is so strikingly dark and emotionally complex it near borders on macabre, complemented by a morbid ambiance of soft and low-light cinematography. An admirable piece built on a shaky foundation, My Nephew Emmett may not win an Oscar, but it’s certainly worth keeping an eye on writer/director Kevin Wilson Jr. – an undergraduate NYU film student would you believe?
Watu Wote/All of Us, the final true-story of the category, tells the story of a Christian woman travelling from Kenya to Somalia on a bus that is stopped by Islamic Al-Shabaab terrorists – a common occurrence near the treacherous border dividing these countries. What makes this tale so indelible is not the attack itself, but the actions of the fellow Muslim passengers, who stand in solidarity and protect the Christians passengers from certain execution. The film casts a group of terrific local Kenyan actors who convey excellent chemistry with one another in a narrative that focusses heavily on the intimacy of negative emotions that fester between the two religious groups, fuelled by the distorted veil of extremist forces. Narratively-speaking, however, the film lacks poignancy, focussing more on dramatizing the 2015 events than making a statement. It’s a story of heroism that eclipses any contention raised on the issues of religious discrimination or fundamentalist terrorism. A heartfelt story for sure, but not one worthy of winning the Oscar.
A nice reprieve from the hard-hitting emotional drain of the other shorts, The Eleven O’Clock is a comically witty film starring Australia’s own Derin Seale and Josh Lawson about a psychiatrist and his titular appointment with a patient suffering from grandiose delusions, thinking he himself is a psychiatrist – the only problem, you don’t know who’s who. What ensues is a hilarious psychoanalytic nightmare that blurs objective reality and confabulated mendacity as both men combat the spiralling hysteria of one another’s “delusions” while attempting to remain professional under duress. Performances are on point, and whilst the twist ending comes as no surprise the journey getting there is satisfyingly maddening. Whether you derive a message pertaining to the perceived instability and delirious nature of the world’s political climate, or perhaps the ubiquity of delusion and egotism of self-avowed expertise, or simply enjoy it at face value for the ludicrous farce it presents, there is much entertainment to be had. Comedic shorts seldomly attain Oscar-winning status and so it’s disheartening to say this homegrown short will likely follow the trend, though regardless I would slate The Eleven O’Clock among the must-watch films emerging from the recent Oscar season.
Lastly, we have The Silent Child, a disheartening PSA-in-disguise about the inherent stigmatism surrounding deaf and hearing-impaired children and the continued lack of specialist support and sign language recognition in schools and greater society. Joanne, a specialist support worker, is hired to assist Libby, a young hearing-impaired girl about to commence her schooling. Though well-intentioned, Libby’s mother is naively adamant in knowing what’s best for her daughter, spurring conflict amongst the family and resistance against Joanne, despite Libby’s promising communication development under her tutelage. In the end, inconvenience outweighs progress, and Libby suffers for it – a heartbreaking end, followed by a coda of frustratingly saddening statistics on the ill-equipped nature of families and schools in assisting the profoundly deaf. Personally, I think The Silent Child is most deserving of the Oscar. The film is gorgeously shot and performances by all are fantastic and emotionally-charged. It’s not a dramatised celebration of heroism or bitter reflection of the past you see in the other ‘true-story’ pieces, but instead is a beautifully crafted call-to-action – a plea for change, a depiction of a tragic reality lived by many. For this it deserves the highest of praise and continued support in the spread of its harrowing message.
Though it is a sombre reality that short-films these days are no longer recognised with the same esteem as their lengthier counterparts, it in no way detracts from the artistry of these succinct cinematic showcases. This year’s Oscar nominees for Best Live-Action Short-Film prove a perfect example to this point and should be experienced by all. Luckily, many cinemas across the country are holding compilation screenings of these shorts back-to-back, and so I would explore everyone to seek out their local screening. You won’t regret it!
WOW! the film is one spectacular journey into the world of art, relationship, gender and nations interactions , guilt and society / socium fairness.
It describes the contemporary art museum life from the eyes of its director, Christian, divorced with two daughters, struggling to connect with other women, making some awkward decisions in both personal and job-related issues.
He curates the new museum called "The Square" when his marketing campaign fails on all levels attracting media and press to his own values of life and questioning museum's view of the multicultural society.
At the same time Christian gets involved into the rather funny but dramatic at the same time situation over his stolen wallet and mobile phone when he posts some unthoughtful and rather inconsiderate messages to the thieves. It leads him to open up a can of worms on so many level of social life he would not imaged existed.
The crisis in unavoidable and this awful situation can lead him to loose his job and much more.
I adored the camera, the unpredictable moments, the funny parts and the pace - everything everything was beyond my best possible expectations! 10.10 for delivering the messages! Unpronounceably great work of surrealistic art!
FIFTY SHADES FREED NEW website RATE: 5.5/10 review by Yulia Assatryan
THE DEATH OF STALIN NEW website review by Nina Tunaley
THE DEATH OF STALIN - ***
As a fan of satire in the British form I found that I had no choice but to compare this production with the infamous Monty Python and the Goon Shows. This performance is loosely based on the period surrounding those who were in the controlling committee with Stalin at the time of Stalin’s death. Of course, the satirical comedy deals with the power play of committee members with outcomes based on loose historical facts – a bit like the French Asterix series. Overall, I thought it ran a bit long, as the humour becomes a tad too predictable. Just as the Holy Grail stirred a lot of criticism I feel that to those knowing or living close to this period of history, could be offended, as satire does not suit all. It does manage to touch on all the “known bad aspects” of the Stalin period, and make light of the individual situations surrounding each of the committee of politians. The casting was typical Monty Python with actors who did not hold back in their portrayal of each character – ruthless.
There have been many brilliant horror movies in recent years, from IT to Get out and even Lights out made an acceptable showing; the Spierig brothers new film Winchester, will not be counted among them. A dry and dull affair, with all the tension of a wet noodle and the emotional impact of kindergarten musical. Relying entirely on outdated and overused film technics, hoping to catch viewers off guard as they slip in out of consciousness trying make it through its bloated and utterly predictable script. Winchester is a paint by numbers film emphasises all the wrong aspects and contains such little respect for its viewers it seems to actively go out of its way to insult them every step of the way. The film claims to be “Based on true events” in much the same way that the vomit I had to swallow watching this film was based on the meal I once ate. It tells the story of a rich widower and heir to the Winchester gun company as she attempts to battle the spirits of all those killed by her company’s guns through the use of nonsensical architecture and a belief in the divinity of the number 13. Told through the eyes of a painfully foreshadowed phycologist as he attempts to diagnose the aging widow and keep his mind intact through this unrelenting beat down of a film. The films main stars Helen Mirren and Jason Clarke are both so obviously waiting for their pay check it’s astounding that they weren’t caught on camera checking their bank accounts. Both actors have proven themselves to be talented and capable of greatness, which just makes watching them phone it in with such apathetic performances you almost feel bad for them having to waste their time so very uncomfortable. The supporting cast range from forgettably mediocre to downright cringeworthy. Mirren and Clarke combined may be enough to carry this film, but it’s a heavy burden and without motivation, they don’t carry it far. They aren’t helped by the simplistic script and cookie cutter plot of course. With characters being forced to repeat and explain every single detail of the plot to such a minute scale that even the most unobservant viewers feel bludgeoned by the film and it’s clearly non existent expectations of its audience. Not that the plot is complicated, philosophical or otherwise difficult to completely understand. The film seems to have a secret agenda, aiming to hit as many horror clichés as possible without being noticed and fails terribly. It comes down to writer laziness more than anything, and no where is this more apparent than in its supposed “horror” elements. Relying exclusively on jump scares the film is about as nail biting as a double amputee. For all the dark pallet choices, dramatic camera angles and laughable attempts at foreshadowing, the film contains absolutely no tension whatsoever. The film is so predictable that a mere five minutes in, the audience had already begun audibly counting down the seconds until the next jump scare arrived. It’s attempts at phycological drama are half assed and lead nowhere, much like the dramatic family angle that was almost built into a solid arc only to completely neglect the payoff at the finally. It’s attempts at romance were so unreservedly noxious that it raises the question of whether the directors understand basic human emotions. A question made further prominent when you consider that aside from writing and directing this abomination they were also responsible for the music. A monotonous, mind-numbingly soporific mummer that pervades the film. While not as terrible as the other aspects of the movie, the constant hum of tortured violins and protracted pianos wears thin very early on and works to further distance the audience from the atmosphere that the film makers seem so desperate to create. If the film does have a saving grace however it is Ben Nott and his cinematography work. While this film may be doomed to the dumpster fires of history, it will be in no way because of how it looked. The lighting is appropriate to the scenes, the colour pallets are fitting and effective, and camera does the very best it can to portray the emotions and drama that the rest of the film lacks the power to present. Winchester is doomed to become a black spot on the resumes of nearly everyone responsible for this films creation, however anyone who has the misfortune to watch this feature will agree that Mr Nott deserves to hold his head high. In summary, Winchester is a beautiful train wreck, a ten-a-penny mediocre mess of writing that somehow obtained enough of a budget to lure in a couple of decent actors and a good cinematographer. Is it scary? Most certainly not. Is it enjoyable? Only if you really like seeing handlebar moustaches. Is it worth paying the price of admission? If I still have to answer that question, then who knows, for you, maybe.
It took me a while to put together what wanted to write about this film. I got very emotional watching it as it reminded me my own personal journey in art. It is sentimental, it is poetic, it is documentary, and it is great French director Agnes Varda and street photographer, graffiti artist, JR travel in France and set up new highly inventive and artistic projects with locals. The film shows a beautiful country side of France which reminded me of Russia and our own country house. I was all in tears of course... An art collaborating couple cruise around in a van, chat and capture unusual set ups with goats farmers and local food producers. Both artists are geniuses. Their creative side is so inspiring you will want to do the same if you feel the film's idea. They are remarkable and the picture is hard yo describe to be honest unless you watch it - it is more like many Fellini movies - it is about everything and nothing. It is a story of life, a part of life and a beautiful par tit is. This is what I call classic (in my understanding of the genre of course) Watch the film just with one purpose please: travel with the artists inside their world. You will feel connected right through your heart. The friendship between two is amazing to watch as well. this IS FRIENDSHIP without naming it. They do not have rules in their friendship. "I have a nice relationship with time, because the past is here, you know? I've spent time, if I have something of my past, I'll just make it, nowadays, I make it now and here." The scene of a person coming to someone else's place with a gift (favorite food) and the person not opening up is hurtful and is shown very deeply in the film through the tears of Agnes whose friend did not let her in despite the arrangement. Just keep in mind one thing when you watch: EYE CAN NOT LIE! - make it as your punch line...
"I know that the seaside represents the whole world", she remarked, "the sky, the ocean, and the earth, the sand. And it's like expressing where is the world. It's about a calm sea, a calm ocean, just a very, very discreet wave ending on the sand. And that's a landscape that touches me a lot. But I know that also people feel that, too."
SEE YOU UP THERE (Au revoir là-haut) NEW ALLIANCE FRANCAISE FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL 2018 website RATE: 9/10 review by Yulia Assastryan
The main heroes , Albert and Edward, a famous designer and the modest bookkeeper surviving the hardships of the First world war decided to organise an enormous fraud with monuments to victims who died on fields of battles. This shady deal becomes not only dramatic, but also very dangerous … The novel refers to « See you up there!>>Pierre Lemaitre. « Au revoir là- haut>> are the last words of the soldier shot for some crime at war. Author speaks about things universal: about nonsense of war, life and death. The stupidity of the propaganda screaming about the heroes battling and dying for fatherland is obvious. But in general « See you up there, at the top of » is not a philosophical but adventurous movie. In this film bloody events of the First world war are described extremely realistically. Terrible battles which have carried away lives of thousand soldiers are shown as complete general madness. A small group of soldiers under the command of captain Anri. got lost. This person is ready for everything, for the sake of the financial benefit. However two guys managed to survive in that meat grinder.. Bookkeeper Albert Long could not believe to the luck of his survival. Together with another survivor Edward they decided to establish their own business. This desperate couple decided to earn on the memories of the lost comrades. They have developed the nasty business. Nobody could catch villains in a lie. But once circumstances have developed against them. Now they are threatened with danger of death. Can they escape this one more time? It is a bright ,very realistic (sometimes too much realistic), dynamic screen version of the novel THE GREAT SWINDLE (Au revoir là-haut in French) by Pierre Lemetre.
It’s a universal truth that we all have regrets and lost dreams, for some of us, those dreams can be rekindled if only we hold out hope, for others, only pain rewards our optimism. For lovers of Stephen Sondheim’s 1971 musical Follies, hope has proven to worth the risk. 30 years since its last full scale performance, National Theatre has rekindled the flame and brought those beautiful girls back to the stage, regrets and all.
For the unaffiliated, Follies tells the story of two couples, each as loveless and apathetic to each other as they are remorseful of their life choices and nostalgic for the romance of their past. Ben and Phyliss Stone represent the lustrous nouveau riche; based in Manhattan the well to do couple live comfortably but menially, bored, childless and deeply unhappy. Contrasting them are Buddy and Sally Plummer, equally wealthy and borderline depressed but much lower key, having chosen to the move to phoenix and live a quiet life. The play follows Sally primarily, and tell the story of her shifting mindset. From her long standing, resigned crush on Ben, to her increasingly hopeful passion of rekindling the flame, all the way back to a furious final acceptance that come across with such passion that it borders on the insane.
The setting for the couples’ drama is also significant, the story taking place in 1971 on the eve of a theatres destruction. The cast all represent the retired theatre performers, returning and reuniting for one last hurrah. A huge foreshadow of the nostalgia-based mindset shared by nearly all the characters. Now in their twilight years, the characters seem to have universally agreed upon a romanticised and exaggerated version of the past. A vison of which constantly haunts the play, drifting in and out of the performance to remind the audience of just how ridiculous and glamorous their memories truly are.
Follies truly is an unusual play, for all it’s grand spectacle, huge musical numbers, ridiculous over the top dance routines, massive set pieces and general extravagance, it is at its heart, a character study. Delving deeply into the lives, minds, thoughts and feelings of the four main characters. It’s not the peacock feathers that carry the story, it’s the moments of introspection and true communication between the lovers, ex-lovers and hanger-on’s. It’s about letting the past be what it was without trying to blow it up into something it could never have been and about accepting your choices in life without driving yourself insane with questions of what could/might have been. This point in particular in driven home with spectacular style and grace, as the play combines the two stories lines seamlessly, cutting from what was, to what is and blending the two, at times, portraying both simultaneously yet keeping the story coherent and without losing the audience. A feat made even more impressive by the shows unbroken two and a quarter hour run time. Not that it feels long, just the opposite in fact. With a collection of frabjous songs, magnificent dances and stunning performances, all telling an earnest and eternally relevant message of life and memory, Follies is a phenomenal exhibition of talent and showmanship. With a strong lesson for youth, told through the mouths of the experienced, Follies is worth a watch regardless of age, gender or background. To let this opportunity go past, would truly be the height of folly.
Briefly touted as “The best reviewed movie of all time” (holding a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes for several months post-release), Lady Bird is a fascinating character study of a young woman trying to find her identity amidst the fray of an effervescent adolescence. In her first solo writer/director role, Greta Gerwig creates a beautifully heartfelt coming-of-age tale that through its ups and downs feels all too real in its portrayal of the chaotic existential paradox that is maturity. With stellar performances and hilarious one-liners throughout, it’s no wonder the movie has received such high praise.
Set in Sacramento, Lady Bird revolves around high-school senior Christine McPherson (Saoirse Ronan), self-nicknamed “Lady Bird” – literally, she gave the name to herself. Burdened by the manacles of her vapid environment, she yearns for the flourish of a better life on the East Coast, attending a college somewhere like New York (or Connecticut or New Hampshire) where the artistically excitable thrive. Nevermind the lower class financial struggles of her family, nor her mediocre grades, in this true to life portrayal of the adolescent mind reality takes a backseat to solipsism.
Even within the apparent mediocrity and melancholy of her environs, she seeks the milieu of the affluent and popular. Naïve and callow, Lady Bird makes the timeless mistake of undervaluing what she has in blind pursuit of a disparate life, whether it be trading genuine friendship for superficial admiration and prestige or seeking love and intimacy at the cost of her innocence. But it comes from a place of good (if only misguided) intent. Beneath the façade of youthful independence is a kind-hearted girl who merely wants to break free of the constraints of her adolescence. And therein lies the true beauty of Ronan’s performance. It felt all too real. Through all the highs and lows of the story she evoked such emotion in her portrayal that it truly felt reminiscent of what life was like transitioning from a teenager to a young adult.
In similar fashion, Laurie Metcalfe’s performance as Lady Bird’s mother (Marion) was nothing short of spectacular. Fuelling most of the emotional drive of the narrative, Marion is the glue holding the family together. Whilst Lady Bird’s father Larry (Tracy Letts) is the ‘softy’ of the family, her mother is forced to play ‘bad cop’. In true mother-daughter fashion, the interactions between Marion and Lady Bird are riddled with conflict and contempt on both sides as she tries desperately to “tough love” her daughter into some semblance of maturity. However, Marion’s pragmatic nature and candid expression often come across as disdain to the emotionally immature Lady Bird, further adding fuel to the fire. The interplay between these two characters is complex and alluring and serves as the crux of Lady Bird’s coming-of-age.
At a runtime of only 94-minutes the theatrics of Lady Bird’s senior year (and briefly beyond) fly by in a myriad of montages, jump-cuts, and short-lived scenes that, whilst succinct, cut straight to the point and didn’t needlessly waffle on for the sake of exposition or a padded runtime. Moreover, the frequency of these epigrammatic-style quick-cuts meant that when a lengthier, more narrative-crucial scene followed it seemed more purposeful and had a pronounced impact in contrast, helping to subtly drive-home the importance of the scene’s focus. As a trade-off, however, having such swift transitions hindered the cohesiveness of the overall narrative. The movie came across more as a series of tangential vignettes rather than a fluid progression of story arcs. Each event served a purpose in Lady Bird’s maturation in some small way, but ultimately lacked an emotive connection to the overarching story. Perhaps the addition of a few more mother-daughter/father dialogues connecting the loose threads of Lady Bird’s experiences might have served the film well.
All in all, Lady Bird was one of those rare films that was simply a pleasure to watch. It brings with it that bittersweet feeling of relatability in watching someone grow as a person and learn from their mistakes and past pitfalls. Lady Bird is everything that life and maturity are – it’s messy, unpredictable, funny, emotional, and everything in between. It may not be one of those classics you watch time and time again, but it would be amiss to say it wasn’t worth seeing at least once.
Lady Bird will be released in cinemas Australia-wide on February 15, 2018.
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME NEW website RATE: 10/10 review by Yulia Assatryan
The screen version of the novel of André Aciman about intimacy between the young scientist Oliver and а teenager Elio Perlman who spends summer in the Italian mansion of his parents. Helping with scientific documentation to his very respectful professor Perlaman, the beautiful and thoughtless probationer wins heart of his unsophisticated son. My general impression is as following: I want just talk about advantages of this film.: Music is absolutely stunning and catchy is impossible attractive in this movie! the vewier is carried away by the magis sounds just to that small Italy where there was a 17-year-old hero Elio.Drunk with feelings we keep enjoying italan rural medieval arcitecture, food wine, language,parlare-mangiare,alora....The landscape scnes are goregeous, fruit-vegetables, fish.....Hillarious! Very solar movie from Italian Luca Guadagnino famous for the colourful melodramas. In his pictures there is a lot of sensuality, an esthetics, sex and the most true beauty with which heart fades, and the plot departs on the twenty third plan. This time the Italian director has decided to picturize a besteller of the compatriot André Aciman about fantastic summer to the Mediterranean which the young intellectual Elio has carried out with the assistant to the father - American Oliver … The fabulousness of history consists in the idea that they find each other and nobody disturbs them. Their lyrical novel damages nobody unlike the classical love stories.But this love has neither enemy, nor contradictions — that happy occurence when all perfectly understand everything.Everybody accept, forgive and support.
I, TONYA NEW website RATE: 8/10 review by Yulia Assaryan
Professional sport is full of pain and failures - all of which are illustrated in "I, Tonya". Tonya Harding is one of the most well known figure skaters, carving herself a successful career spanning a decade and becoming a household name. There are a lot of victories and the most prestigious awards in her portfolio but she was remembered from a negative side. At the USA figure skating championship in 1994 the ex-husband of Tonya Jeff Gillooly and the bodyguard Shawn Eckhardt have provoked somebody to break the right leg of her closest competitor Nancy Kerrigan.He has only hurt Nancy's leg but this trauma stopped her from further competition. Craig Gillespie created a vigorous, perfectly made movie which traces the stages of Tonya's life very realistically. Tonya was born in a poor working family, so called white trash. Extremely talented she was chronically not lucky. Mentally injured by the spiteful mother Tonya was regularly taught hatred lessons to the whole world. Mother beat poor Tonya and once has even thrown a knife at her .After that Tonya ran away from home and has married the guy who … beat her too and once has even shot at her (from great love). Far from stereotypes of "the real sportswoman", Tonya drank, smoked, guzzled pizza and in general didn't refuse anything as the normal girl - however kept training and even competed at the Olympic Games . But the arbitrators decided that Tonya wasn't "a positive image of the American girl''. Everything that was really wanted by Tonya was a little love from mother, the husband and the audience. Tonya Harding is one of the most famous figure skaters, the first American and the second woman in the history who has managed to perform a threefold axel at competitions. However she has become famous not for sporting achievements, but attack on the competitor which was organized by her husband. All history of Tonya Harding – difficult, ambiguous and dramatic is about tension and discrimination peculiar to big-time sports, and how the outstanding career can be destroyed because of some minor idiots. All facts are witty collected in a uniform picture that the viewer has already solved independently without pressure of an author's position Our australian movie star Margo Robbie has proved to be really talented actress capable of serious drama experiences. Even the audience well familiar with history of figure skating will support Tonya before each her exit to ice. Allison Janney – mother of the main character- has turned out so charismatic and deserves "Golden Globe" definitely.
MENASHE NEW website RATE: 8/10 review by Carolyn Newall
Menashe - Rialto Distribution Review Director Joshua Z. Weinstein has combined his documentary experience with a literary approach made famous by Jane Austen, to shape his beautiful, sensitive film, Menashe. Unless you had done some research you would not be aware that the film is based on a true story, Far less that the story is that of the man playing the lead character, Manashe Lustig, an Hasidic Jew from the New York Hasidic community in Borough Park, Brooklyn. In Austen style, Weinstein paints a detailed miniature, focussing so closely on this small neighbourhood and the minutia of daily life that you are not often reminded that this is actually New York. Authentically, for the place, the dialogue is in Yiddish. My first exposure to Hasidic Judaism came when I was studying and teaching Chaim Potok’s wonderful novel My Name is Asher Lev. Published in 1972, Potok explores the clash between ultra conservative religion and artistic giftedness. Asher Lev’s father, in Christian terms, was an evangelist and missionary who was devout, devoted and disciplined. At that time the depiction of the human form in art was still forbidden by religious law so coming to terms with his only son as a gifted artist was difficult. Potok could have used his story as a condemnation of the rigidity of Hasidic law but he didn’t. It is much more layered than that as the author endeavours to find his place in a tradition that he has no desire to leave. Given my previous understanding I was surprised to learn that Weinstein found any members of the community to appear in the film let alone be able to cast the entire project with non-actor members of the community and shot the entire film in the neighbourhood. The purchase of a portrait to decorate the apartment also seemed odd to me. I shouldn’t have been surprised though as change happens everywhere, even if incrementally. Many of the cast had never even seen a movie, far less been in one. It wasn’t easy, many participants pulled out for fear of repercussions and the full cast list was kept confidential for the duration of the filming. Menashe is a little like Potok, he may be rebelling in small things like his clothing and his desire to raise his son, Rieven, (played by Ruben Niborski ) on his own, but at heart he is devout and has no desire to leave the community that he identifies so closely with. His existential struggle is a recurring one; how do you jettison nonsensical tradition while keeping to the parts that give meaning. For Menashe, it seems ridiculous that his son must live with his brother’s family unless he marries again. It is forbidden for children to be raised by single parents. Yet if he does remarry it is forbidden for his new wife to touch her stepson. So what is the point? As it turns out Menashe has good reason not to want to marry again.
However, in his bumbling, endearing way Menashe asks for the opportunity to prove that he is capable of raising his son. Whether it was his unfortunate burning of the kugel or the Ruv’s gracious response to the burning, we see at the end that Menashe has accepted the inevitable. Nothing is said but we do see him, resplendent in the dreaded hat and coat, presumably on his way to see the matchmaker. That however is presumption as the ending is ambiguous. It is clear why this film created such a stir at Sundance. It is sensitive, nuanced and compelling. The first-time actors present unwaveringly authentic characters and the glimpse into this intensely private and closed community are fascinating. The universality of its themes: family, community and belonging make it appealing and pertinent to those of us on the outside as well. 8/10 Carolyn Newall
MOLLY'S GAME review by Nina Tunaley
I found this movie attention grabbing, due to the amount of information one is continually receiving in relation to the personal story of Molly, American gambling laws and the confronting issues associated with all the types of mostly wealthy card players involved at Molly's game table. Another level of interest is added towards the end with the push of local crime syndicates. Molly was a good athelete in younger years but an accident had her looking for a career in other places. By chance, she linked up with a proponent of the game table, and eventually collects enough information to run her own. The producer spends time during this period to ensure you understand how women were treated at this time, and this leads Molly to take hold of her destiny, which she does successfully while walking a very tight legal line. In the background running parrallel to Molly's life, her two brothers are competing at high level, fully pushed by their father. Molly's relationship with father is examined and conciled at the end of the story when she re-enters the sporting arena having fought court battles with the tax and crime offices of America. You really must keep up with the jargon of each character type, plus pay full attention to the constant narration in this production. A lot of information to asorb in quite a long film but it remains interesting to the end. Really interesting story of Molly Bloom, a beautiful, young, Olympic-class skier who ran the world's most exclusive high-stakes poker , very well produced, stars from Leonardo DiCaprio to Ben Affleck. Worth seeing.
THE POST website RATE: 7/10 review by Yulua Assatryan
Improbable history of Catherine Graham, first female publisher of the Washington Post newspaper, and editor Ben Bradley. They enter a race with New York Times for the right to shed light on state the secrets disappearing more than 30 years. Journalists should overcome the disagreements and to risk career and freedom that the world has learned the truth. Events of this film of the director Steven Spielberg are developed around serious scandal which center have handed over dear newspapers New York Times and Washington Post. When having received on hands the materials baring all that lie which was hidden by the U.S. Government behind numerous secrets more than 30 years both news editions have risked all for the sake of the most important in the profession — fight for the truth and justice. In this case, concentrating attention around Catherine Graham and Ben Bradley who began the main symbols of that fight which took place to be in real life. Steven Spielberg shows skill with impressive tranquility. He twists a thriller spiral by means of dialogues, he with it is helped by the star performers showing tension powerful internally literally several gestures. "the favourite of America" Tom Hanks and the invariable nominee of each Oscar Meryl Streep became the main "deadly weapon" of a picture certainly. Both actors have perfectly played roles, but their role doesn't want to call the best in career of each of actors and even noticeable at all. Watching this movie is a must
BREATHE NEW website RATE: 7.5/10 review by Yulia Assartryan
After the wedding the young British Robin (Andrew Garfield) and Diana Cavendish (Claire Foy) are full of plans for the future. However shortly after Diana becomes pregnant, Robin gets sick with poliomyelitis, and the virus almost completely paralises the man. Now Robin can't even breathe. He has to be constantly connected to the medical ventilator. Doctors assure Diana that the disease is incurable and that Robin has to spend the last days in hospital. When the husband's condition is stabilized, Diana tries to obtain that Robin is transported home . Inspired with love of the wife, Robin constructs the wheelchair with the built-in system of artificial respiration. It allows him to find mobility of which patients with his diagnosis didn't even dare to dream before. New British biopic "Breathe " is produced by Jonathan Cavendish – Robin and Diana's son, the main characters of the film. Cavendish directs special effective studio The Imaginarium, and it has allowed him to employ the screenwriter William Nicholson and to charge direction of a picture to the business partner Andy Serkis). "Breathe " became Serkis' debut. The image presented by Cavendish is inspiring and pleasant, but also flat and dullish. Heroes are so strong spiritually that they with ease step over any obstacle, mental or medical .We see how Diana discharges Robin from hospital and he starts moving around the house. In a certain period of time they travel the world to stand for the rights of disabled people to live out of hospital chamber … All this is curious, but not very touchy . A particular interest ican arise among patients who need artificial respiration. Fortunately, the film has a powerful weapon – charm of the leading actors and minor characters (relatives and friends). Formally the picture is considered to be medical drama. But it looks almost like the comedy about smiling and eccentric people who support each other at a difficult moment and good-natured joke even in the face of death.
This story is situated in Calais on the French Coast, involving a wealthy French industrialist family and it’s indifference to the environment around it. Turmoil within the family exists because of failings in direct communication between partners, ex-partners and children. Different working worlds between parents are impacted by modern communications technology as well. This was not an easy film to follow as the flow I thought was interupted often by competing stories. A sons rebellion to the strict family work in one instance and his care for the workers, a father daughter relationship which had not developed, a company accident and it's indifference to the injured, an ex wifes death, a daughters attempted suicide, racial issues both with the servants to the family and with those in the broader community, and to top it of a fathers wish to just have a happy end! His wishes appear to have been over looked. Yes this is a complex production and you do require to pay attention! My final thoughts follow the reading of complex sci- fi's; where at the start, so many things happen, that you do not fully appreciate the place of all and remember the detail of the characters until you are well into the book. This film to me was a bit like that. The happy end is humorous. If you are into difficult novels this complexity is for you.
FILM STARS DON'T DIE IN LIVERPOOL website review by Nina Tunaley
A movie full of drama, love and life decisions. The director takes you on a trip full of flash backs, but done in such a way that you will not have any problems following the story line. The actors chosen for this production take hold of your attention, to the extent that you feel that you are there with them. An ageing successful actress from the USA, meets with a budding young actor in England. The story develops around the actress’s history, past, present and a future which is cut short due to a previously poor health decision. It covers some periods which are in the USA where you are introduced to part of her family and time in Liverpool with his family. Her dying wish draws you into the Shakespeare Theatre. A really nice production which holds you like a good book.
Genre: Action/Adventure, Drama. Rating: M. Running time: 140 minutes Starring: Gerard Butler, Pablo Schreiber, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Curtis ‘50 Cent’ Jackson, Evan Jones, Dawn Olivieri, Mo McRae, Max Holloway
An inarguable homage to the all-time greats of the heist movie genre, Den of Thieves serves up a fun (albeit dark) action-packed crime noir reminiscent of ‘Heat’ (1995) and ‘The Usual Suspects’ (1995)… on paper at least. In execution it unfortunately falls a bit flat, suffering from unrelenting clichés, poorly constructed and half-baked characters, and an unnecessarily abstract narrative of story arcs that are pointless at the best of times and dissonant at the worst. Small mercies of high-octane action and gunfights, and beautifully directed cinematography do their utmost to redeem the blockbuster heist-thriller that Den of Thieves so desperately wanted to be, but at 2-hours and 20-minutes, it spreads its wings too far and misses the mark.
Written and directed by Christian Gudegast (co-writer of ‘London Has Fallen’ (2016)) in his premiere directorial role, Den of Thieves centers around two teams of opposing renegades in a classic cops and robber, guards and thieves scenario. On one side you’ve got Gerard Butler as Nick ‘Big Nick’ Flanagan, leading his unit of loosely-moralled law enforcement. On the other, you’ve got Pablo Schreiber as Merrimen and his elite heist crew of ex-marines and ex-convicts. Tensions are high, both leaders become enthralled with playing mind-games with one another, and in the end $120 million in cash lays on the line.
Both Butler and Schreiber do an exemplary job in their respected performances, with Butler delivering a much more emotionally complex character than to be expected from the long-time typecast masculine aggressor we’ve come to expect from him; not to say he isn’t still that character, it’s just complemented with some emotional diversity often unseen. The remaining cast of contingents do a fine job too, but they’re essentially replaceable – for the most part they are underdeveloped, half-baked henchmen-types. Even the second-tier characters that get proportionally more screen time than their co-members (e.g., O'Shea Jackson Jr and Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson, both apart of Merrimen’s ensemble) have such clique dialogue and shallow character that they bring little but muscle and plot-devices to the table.
The heist itself is fairly well thought out and exciting in execution but getting there is a journey and a half. What could have been a fast-moving adrenaline filled 90-minute action exhibition is turned into a stunted event riddled with unnecessary filler that primarily adds little to the narrative. As a result, it was hard to maintain that sense of unnerving tension you come to expect from the genre. Every time the movie started to gain momentum it’d throw in a story arc or two that more-often-than-not lead nowhere and achieved nothing. There was enough exposition thrown around in the dialogue that it’s hard to imagine a couple extra lines here and there would have been worse than adding an extra 10-minute scene with little resolve. It took me out of the narrative and left me caring less and less about the overall plot as time went on.
A few redeeming aspects of the film included the action and cinematic direction. Movements were swift and natural, sound design was gratifying and visceral, and the cinematography was incredibly well shot. To reiterate, the performances of Butler and Schreiber were on-point, and the heist itself was more than satisfactory (once we finally got there). I do think there is a solid heist thriller in there somewhere, it’s just hidden amongst the 2.5-hour mélange of missteps.
Den of Thieves tries so hard to be the Heat of the modern era but unfortunately falls short in execution. Gripping action aside, the characters and plot are so inconsistent and gratuitous that the movie fails to keep consonance, nor sufficient momentum building to the climactic faceoff between the obverse duo and their replaceable contingents. The film’s redeeming qualities are lost amidst the poorly contrived narrative and execution, leaving you blasé to the small mercies that would otherwise be commendable. That being said, if you enjoy a bit of mindless action this may be right up your alley; just as long as your attention span can handle it).
Den of Thieves will be released in cinemas Australia-wide on February 1, 2018.
PHANTOM THREAD THE BEST MOVIE OF THE MONTH website RATE: 10/10
The film shows extraordinary characters with the superb acting, mesmerising story line and filming and camera to die for. Reynolds Woodcock is a stunning artist in the world of fashion a man who lives his art work as his only form of existence and expression. Fashion becomes his wife over the years until he meets Alma, the muse of his inspiration and a love of his life in human, female form, the woman who will turn his world and his house hold upside down, challenge him, love him deeply in return and runs the world around him by her own rules. At the start of the film the household is so cold there are no additional movements made by its members, the rules are never broken, the models tried to seduce the master of he house but they failed so many times: they change one another like marching soldiers sent to the war and killed by its cruelty without returning back home. The new woman, the new model breathes in the warmth and life into the coldness of the house environment. The woman will speak her truth out and would bring fire, intimacy, truth, desire and new fresh wave into the frozen kingdom of the fashion palace. The couple would clash, they would fight but the core designed by god , not by them will remain and will attract them back together again and again. The film is simply a symphony of the most amazing inspiration and art based relationship that will always float alive after any storm in the world: I laughed and I was on the edge of my seat for the duration of the entire film, I absolutely loved it. The actors' performance is immaculate, the emotions are so fine you will feel the grace touching your inner soul's corners, you will tremble in your seat, that is guaranteed. While Daniel Day-Lewis (.Reynolds Woodcock) is a mystery for us Vicky Krieps as Alma deliveres that long waited Berman's performance that I love so much. Her light, remarkably embracing, strange, inner, provocative Mona Lisa La Gioconda's smile gives out everything and nothing. The film is worth seeing just for that one glance of the actress indeed! It is the film when the silence talks and the loudness becomes the music for your ears. There is one more but not less fascinating character, Woodcock's sister, who is a housekeeper, Reynold's mother and his protector at the same tie How the chemistry in the house develops is another sensational part of the film with the third bright character added. It is a beautiful masterpiece worth you attention this season.
Daniel Day-Lewis puts on an acting masterclass in his self-proclaimed final role as Reynolds Woodcock in Phantom Thread, the closing showcase of one of the most prestigious actors to grace the screen in recent decades. Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights (1997), There Will Be Blood (2007), The Master (2012)), Phantom Thread tells the story of an artist and his muse, and the inherent give-and-take of their unfolding relationship. It’s beautiful, it’s ugly, it’s infatuating, it’s dark, it’s heart-warming, and it’s twisted. An “acquired taste”, perhaps, but one I’d more than recommend.
Set during post-war London, the film follows the life of esteemed couturier Reynolds Woodcock, whom with the assistance of his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) runs The House of Woodcock, a renowned fashion company that specialising in dress-making for only the most elite women of London. As part of his inspiration and creative process, Reynolds routinely seeks the companionship of forgettable partners until they are of no creative use and he bores with them. This all changes when he comes across a young, strong-willed woman named Alma (Vicky Krieps). Like many before her, she becomes infatuated with Reynolds, though unlike before he grows to love her back – but at what cost? A once meticulously planned and tailored life becomes disrupted by love, and there’s no going back.
Performances by the three leading actors/actresses were simply amazing. Lewis was nothing short of exceptional and if this was indeed to be his last film, he most certainly went out on a high note. Award-winning in every sense of the word (talking to you Oscars!). And then there’s supporting actresses, Krieps and Manville – just, wow! Both performances were staggering and immaculately portrayed, and their chemistry together alongside Lewis was spot-on – loving but cold, intimate but distant, caring but cruel. The remaining cast did a great job in their roles too.
One thing worth noting is the abstract nature of the narrative. The plot is solid, and one can follow along with relative ease, but don’t expect things to be force-fed to you. Many story elements went unexplained or were merely passed over, left open to viewer interpretation. Though let me be clear, this is not a negative. As counter-intuitive as it may sound, it’s actually a nice reprieve from the creative banality of many modern movies – with their prosaic exposition and blatant plot (over)explanation. Sure, the timeline can get a little confusing and you might be interested to know details of the unanswered, but the movie gives you enough information to piece together crucial story elements without flooding you with frivolous narrative-filler. Remember the age-old adage: “Show, don’t tell.”
Narrative intricacy aside, Phantom Thread delivered a cinematic showcase of masterfully crafted costumes and set designs. More than a mere aesthetic marvel, every aspect of the theatrical design was detailed and purposeful – a testament to the verisimilitude of Anderson’s directorial vision. The world felt real and served as a perfect complement to the immaculate performances by the leading cast.
Much akin to Woodcock himself, the movie presents a deceptively esoteric portrait of itself. On the surface, it’s unapologetically mercurial, yet with each passing moment, it alludes to just the opposite, with every small detail seemingly done so deliberately. From a misplaced clue here to an otherwise ostensible detail there, there was always a method to the madness. It’s a story longing for true enamoured appreciation but gifted only to those who seek it. One you can watch half-a-dozen times and always find something new to decipher and/or admire. Like a fine wine, I imagine it will only get better with age.
If I had to nit-pick, my one real gripe with Phantom Thread was – at times – the cinematography. Most notable in the first third of the film, there were a number of scenes I felt the camera framing was ever so slightly misaligned; made ever-more apparent by the instability of some of the tracking shots. Honestly, though, it’s unlikely the average viewer would notice this, so I wouldn’t worry.
A harrowingly unsettling, yet beautiful tale of an artist and his muse, Phantom Thread offers amazing performances, beautiful cinematics, and stunning set and costume design – an obscurely entertaining romantic-drama with a morbid twist. If you are just in it for the fashion, you may want to think twice about this one. But for connoisseurs of acting and cinematic arts (and what Daniel Day-Lewis fan isn’t?), it’s most certainly worth the experience.
Phantom Thread will be released in cinemas Australia-wide on February 1, 2018.
ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD THE FILM TO PAY ATTENTION AT website RATE: 10/10
"If you can count your money, you don't have a billion dollars"
This film will be not exactly what you expect it to be. It is nothing close to a detective story, it will be not the film you see in the trailer although the story line will be exactly as the sources tell you. For the whole film you will be hold suspended, you will be glued to your cinema chair without knowing what will happen next. We perhaps will never understand why the richest man is not be able to afford the ransom and still he is spending millions of dollars on a new and rare painting. The acting is superb. The film is about family values, about how we treat the close ones, each other and how life can be so unpredictable and challenge us. We understand the nature of the rich and how their fortune was made (their character) through the film t the very end of it. The atmosphere created is dead cold and while the mother is doing everything for the ransom for her kidnapped son to be paid, the grand father of the kidnapped plays his own game aiming to win by any cost. It is the film to watch and enjoy for many reasons: you will reflect so much and associate with your own family. The story will make you think about your own choices: what money actually make you, us? Are they simply the energy something dirty or just the paper that doe snot worth anything compared to life love and relationship? Why do we always have to put them in picture and why do they play such a vital role in our moral-less, a-moral socium? You will see what money actually makes us, what we become if we do not count them. Watching and comparing worth your time at the cinema every second of this film. Perhaps you will understand that money do not mean anything and they still do. No more to say see for yourself how it all plays out.
IN BETWEEN (BAR BAHAR) website review by Irina Ivanova
In Between is a modern-day drama showing the drastic gap between the reality and ingrained traditions of Muslim world. It is a debut feature from Maysaloun Hamoud, who observes the hardships of contemporary nonconformity and battleship against social hypocrisies.
The fate brings together three very different young Arab women living under one roof in an apartment in Tel Aviv. Their lives are a constant fight against traditionalistic prejudices of the Arabic-Israeli society.
Laila (Mouna Hawa) is a budding lawyer who is open-minded and Europeanized. Her self-confidence and unbendable temperament shine in the best feministic manner. Still she is just a loving woman, ready to give all her heart to the deserving man. That’s where she meets the choice to stay free or be tamed and enclosed into the cage of an ‘appropriate’ behavior.
Salma (Sana Jammalieh) is another story. She is an inspiring DJ, working long shifts at kitchens and pubs to earn her independent living. Her tattoos and facial piercing are only the tips of the iceberg for her parents fiercely denying Salma’s non-traditional sexual orientation. The girl is forced to hide away and run to a more liberal country, leaving someone dear behind.
There is also Nour (Shaden Kanboura), who is a true Muslim, faithful and holy, studying hard to get a prestigious profession. She is about to get into an arranged marriage, and truly believes that love is not a necessary component to a happy relationship – what is much more important is ‘to get along’. To the much of a horror and grief, Nour will find out that there are some nasty demons hiding behind her husband-to-be faked demeanour.
Set in the raging run of endless parties with drugs and booze, the three heroines are caught, as it suggests the title of the movie, in between liberty and suppression. Seemingly so dissimilar from each other on the outside, the women are connected by the same motif to live their lives freely and be whoever they want to be.
review by Susie Cashmere
DIRECTED BY: Maysaloun Hamoud GENRE: Drama (subtitles) RUNNING TIME: 1 hour, 43 ins CAST: Mouna Hawa Shaden Kanboura Sana Jammelieh Riyad Siman Mahmoud Shalaby
This fabulous movie is an emotional view for the audience as we watch three female flat mates in Tel Aviv fight the imposing constraints of their Muslim faith A directorial debut for Hamoud, it is truly inspiring.
As the title suggests, these women are caught between freedom and repression, religion and secularism, and the past and the future.
Theirs is a world of partying, drugs, alcohol and generally acting as most of the youth of today. Their lifestyles are in stark contrast to what their parents know and want for them. Thus, a difficult life to live openly.
Laila, (Mouna Hawa), is a chain smoking, leather jacket wearing party girl who can drink anyone under the table. Salma ( Sana Jammelieh), who lives with Laila, is gay and an aspiring DJ. A lifestyle she needs to keep secret from any of her strict family members. Then we meet Nour (Shaden Kanboura). She moves in with the girls as a flatmate and being an ultraconservative and devout Muslim, struggles with the girls lifestyles. Nour’s fiancé Wissan (Henry Andrawes) worries about Nour’s flatmates influence over her and is eager to bring the marriage forward to remove his bride from such “corruption”.
All three women have different goals and ambitions, but scratch the surface and the problems they all incur are not so different after all.
laila is in a whirlwind relationship with Ziad (Mahmood Shalabi) who embraces her spirit, but is very critical of her when around his family members. Hypocrisy at it’s best, and extremely difficult for her to deal with.
Salma may have found true love with a female trainee doctor, but of course the relationship has to be kept secret. It’s extremely emotional and frustrating for the viewer who just wants love to be love.
As for Nour, she begins to realise that becoming the wife of a sanctimonious man, who is a pillar of society with the respect of many, might not be the life she really wants after all.
It’s a kind of Muslim “Sex in the city”, but with a fair bit more feistiness!
The director, Maysaloun Hamoud, has paid a price for this masterful movie. She has been criticised for using Israel’s state funds. She has had death threats and Fatwas and been accused of corrupting Muslim women by Muslim fundamentalists.
I loved the movie. I loved the way it dealt with the lives of people in cultures many of us don’t understand. The characters are brilliant and I admire Hamoud for the beautiful direction of the movie and not being afraid to tackle real life issues.
It’s no wonder IN BETWEEN was up for so many award at the Cannes Film Festival, including Maysaloun Hamoud receiving the “Women in Motion Young Talents” award.
In figuring out where the name of the film derived from, the director takes you on a history tour set in the 1920 period, when some had returned from war to settle in the outback. The story becomes a tale of how the local aboriginals were treated under Anglican standards and morals; and their individual responses to achieve some measure of respect. This becomes evident at the end of the story when a young aboriginal boy, having observed the elders, provides the expected response to the ‘white boss’. The local policeman, played by a seasoned Australian actor, really brought the film to life, as this is a typically slow moving story, matching the speed and mood of the outback. The name of this film is gained from the policeman’s thoughts, after having tracked a suspect to an area he had not seen before, but upon the return to town realised its potential. Threads of Anglican beliefs slowly grow through this story resulting in the beginings of the church in this region of Australia. A very historical production bringing subject matter not often discussed in Australia to light in a very absorbing story. Your attention does not stray due to both subject matter and marvellous scenery.
MARY AND THE WITCH'S FLOWER website review by Nina Tunaley
MARY AND THE WITCH’S FLOWER ***
English writer Mary Stewart wrote a novel titled ‘The little Broomstick’ in which there was strong magic and dream themes. This production borrows heavily from this story. At first you think you are going to be treated to a typical Japanese sci-fi style animation, but this film has an interesting blend of very English scenery and English characters with the ‘anime’ style of large eyes. Magical creatures abound in typical supernatural backgrounds and the heroine is led to a cute magical broomstick by a mysterious cat. Children would love this film. The story evolves around a magical school, one quite different to Hogwarts; and its owners attempts to develop magic which is able to control all. The missing ingredient of course, is the phosphorescent wild berry (witch’s Flower) that blooms just once every seven years, and is found, along with the little broomstick, by the heroine following the mysterious cat. The adventure starts from here when the magic broom takes the heroine to the magical school. The production has a couple of spots where I thought it tended to lull, but the ending pulled the start of the story together well with more character enhancement that was not clear at the beginning. The flow of the animation is smooth and lack of background detail is left for the viewer to imagine – a bit like the early Doctor Who productions. This does not hurt the production at all.
review by Max Lyons
Film Review: 'Mary and the Witch's Flower' メアリと魔女の花 (Meari to Majo no Hana) by Maxwell Lyons
Production: Studio Ponoc. Producer: Yoshiaki Nishimura. Director: Hiromasa Yonebayashi. Screenplay: Riko Sakaguchi & Yonebayashi, based on the book “The Little Broomstick” by Mary Stewart. Music: Takatsugu Muramatsu.
Starring: [JAP] Hana Sugisaki, Ryunosuke Kamiki, Hikari Mitsushima, Eri Watanabe, Shinobu Ootake, Fumiyo Kohinata, Jirou Satou, Yuuki Amami; [ENG] Ruby Barnhill, Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Teresa Gallagher, Morwenna Banks, Lynda Baron, Jim Broadbent, Ewen Bremner, Kate Winslet
Over the last 30 years Studio Ghibli has made a name for itself worldwide as Japan’s most renowned animation studio, with such classics as Spirited Away (2001), My Neighbour Totoro (1988), and Howl’s Moving Castle (2004). But is it time for a new studio to take the reigns? Could another studio even come close to the iconic works of Ghibli? They may have a long road ahead of them, but Studio Ponoc are certainly on the right path with their debut anime movie Mary and the Witch’s Flower.
Directed by Ghibli-veteran Hiromasa Yonebayashi—director of Arrietty (2010) and When Marnie Was There (2014)—Mary and the Witch’s Flower tells the story of Mary, a young red-headed girl spending the summer at her great aunt’s house in the countryside. One day after stumbling upon a strange flower in the woods, Mary finds herself transported to a magical world above the clouds where she is mistaken for a new student at Endor College – a school of magic. But it doesn’t take long for Mary to realise that things aren’t as ‘magical’ as they seem. Strange experiments are taking place behind closed doors, and great danger awaits Mary and her family and friends, and the flower is the key to all of it.
Overall, I thought Mary and the Witch’s Flower was an entertaining watch, but it most certainly had its fair share of flaws. Let’s start with what I liked. The visuals! Damn were they breath-taking. From characters and creatures to architecture and scenery, it was stunning, and brought the movie to life in all scenes regardless of tone. The hand-drawn animation style is a true artform in itself, and with a plethora of current and former Ghibli employees assisting Studio Ponoc on the movie it is no surprise it lived up the immaculate animation standards of its pseudo-parent studio. Accompanying this was a rather beautiful score that carried the emotion of each scene well and emphasised key tonal points throughout the film. And to top it off, I felt Mary was quite a loveable and endearing character.
But let’s talk about the movie’s flaws. Firstly, pacing – it felt rushed. After some brief character introductions in the opening scenes, the movie jumped right into the deep end. It felt like more of a two-and-a-half act structure, with the ‘midpoint’ of the story being compressed so as to get to the climax faster. This ultimately affected one of the most crucial elements of the movie – character personality and relationship development. I’ll be honest, character development was lacking on all fronts. The only person who felt like they had a personality was Mary, but even she fell short when it came to any meaningful character growth. It all felt very clique, with each character seemingly only being there for the sake of playing their part to progress the narrative – the good guys were good, the bad guys were bad, side characters were singular attributes personified, and the power of ‘ex-machina’ was strong. Consequently, the relationships between the characters felt shallow, and lacked any meaningful depth to them to make me care for them. A perfect example of this is the relationships between the two lead characters, Mary and Peter. The two really only had one somewhat meaningful interaction at the beginning of the movie before things started to go down, so the friendship between them didn’t feel strong or genuine enough to warrant Mary’s actions in the film’s climax. There’s a reason I didn’t mention Peter above. He may be a main character, but he doesn’t do a whole lot and is basically just a ‘damoiseau in distress’ for a generic hostage rescue situation. The same can be said for the movie’s antagonists, Madame Mumblechook and Doctor Dee. Sure, the movie shows you WHEN they turned from loving sincere people to merciless facades of their former selves, but it doesn’t explain WHY this character transition occurred – they are bad for the sake of being bad.
Nonetheless, despite these weakness, would I recommend see it? It may not live up to the coveted works of Ghibli director and co-founder Hayao Miyazaki, but Mary and the Witch’s Flower is certainly an impressive first step in the right direction to establishing Studio Ponoc as one of the big-name animation studios in Japan, and even worldwide. It may not break any new ground, but it certainly offers a playful and light-hearted, albeit mediocre watch. I’d recommend Mary and the Witch’s Flower to children and families, anime lovers, and the average Ghibli fan*.
*For you diehard Ghibli fan, best to avoid this one. It’s everything you want to love about a Ghibli film, just not as good.
Cast: Anna Kendrick Rebel Wilson Elizabeth Banks Ruby Rose Hailey Steinfield
I am a “Pitch Perfect” fan, absolutely loving the first and second movie made. Although I enjoyed the third movie, I wasn’t as impressed as with the first two. Just not quite as fabulous!
In this third movie, we find the girls have graduated from college and are all in the “real” world stuck in dead end jobs, thoroughly unhappy and disillusioned with life. The high of winning the World Championships has settled and the “Bellas” are quite depressed realising that there are not too many jobs that pay well just because you can sing!
Simply put, our favourite singers Beca (Anna Kendrick) Chloe (Brittany Snow) Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) Aubrey (Anna Camp) Emily ( Hailee Steinfeld) and Lee (Hanna Mae Lee) are bored and are itching to get back into singing.
Aubrey (Anna Camp) rounds up the “Bellas” and devises a plan to get out of the daily grind and back into singing. She uses her dad’s military connections to book the “Bellas” in on a U.S.O tour.
Joining this tour are two more groups which is where the rivalry comes in, but, in my opinion, ever so slightly. I feel there needed to be more competition and rivalry amongst the singers.
One of the groups is a bunch of handsome boys, a country act called “Saddle Up” and the other group is an all female band called “Calamity” led by the gorgeous Ruby Rose. Ruby Rose could have been in the movie a whole lot more as her presence on screen is enough to make even the toughest of all critics go week at the knees!!
DJ Khalid arrives and now the competition starts as he is looking for a headline act for his concert. DJ Khalid “spoofs” his own character very well and is terrific on screen.
A text book subplot involves Fat Amy's dad played by the fabulous John Lithgow, trying to re kindle his relationship with his estranged daughter as he realises Amy is about to come into a fortune and he wants to get his greedy hands on it. Of course she realises his motives and the plot fizzles out quite quickly
Elisabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins return as the pompous Capella commentators trying to turn the whole affair into a documentary. To me, they were a little irritating to say the least.
On the whole I enjoyed the film. the characters were fabulous, the story was just lacking a little substance and it could have definitely had more singing in it.
Worth a watch for sure and on the whole I give “Pitch Perfect 3” a $7 out of $10 on the “Cashy scale.