Friday, 10 November 2017

BRAD’S STATUS

A father takes his son to tour colleges on the East Coast and meets up with an old friend who makes him feel inferior about his life's choices.

Supposed to be a comedy drama but there is very little to laugh at. BRAD’S STATUS is a very serious meditation on the demoralising effect of comparing our lives with those we often define as “successful”. Ben Stiller, who plays the father, is having an existential crisis because he feels his life has been a waste when compared to a number of his old school mates who have made it big. There’s a very important message in this movie about valuing the simple lives that most of us lead rather than pursuing status, money, and power. It’s good to see Ben Stiller (Zoolander) in something substantial. His performance is good, as is Austin Abrams (Paper Towns) who plays the son and is on screen with Stiller most of the time. It lags a bit at times and could have been more daring. I felt very depressed at the end of this one — but with a needed nudge to reflect on what things I truly value in life. An insightful movie — especially for those living in the so-called “first world”.


Sunday, 5 November 2017

THREE SUMMERS

The new ensemble romantic comedy written and directed by Ben Elton.

Set over three summers at The Westival, a fictional West Australian rural folk festival redoubtable local radio personality ‘Queenie' describes as "Australia in a tent". Two young musicians fall in love against a wider collection of tales dealing with a microcosm of contemporary discussion points, including Indigenous, immigration and refugee issues.

THREE SUMMERS comes across as if an immature screenwriter has tried to include as many Australian social observations and issues as possible in 1 hr 42 mins without worrying too much about how they fit together. Despite that, there are moments that are touching, funny, and incisive. It’s like watching a series of disjointed comedic gags that have no real plot line, although the romance between two of the characters does provide a bit of a backbone to the movie. It’s fun and, although a short movie, seems longer than it needs to be.


Saturday, 4 November 2017

THE MIDWIFE (Sage Femme)

Claire is a midwife and has devoted her life to others. At a moment when she is preoccupied by the imminent closure of the maternity clinic where she works, her life is further turned upside down when Béatrice, her father's former mistress, turns up on the scene. Béatrice is a capricious and selfish woman, Claire's exact opposite.

A gentle, human relationship drama that I enjoyed. I’m not a midwife, but the birth scenes in the movie seemed very real and authentic. The plot is somewhat contrived but the performances of the two lead actors make this movie worth watching.


Wednesday, 1 November 2017

CATCH-UP RATINGS

Every so often, I get a bit behind in reviewing movies I’ve seen. So, here are my star ratings for a few recent movies.

THE DANCER - Nothing in her background destined Loïe Fuller from the American Midwest to become a Belle Epoque icon, even less a dancer at the Paris Opera. Even at the risk of destroying her back and burning her eyes with the stage lights, she will never falter in the quest to perfect her dance. But her encounter with Isadora Duncan, a prodigious young dancer hungry for fame and glory, will precipitate the fall of this icon at the beginning of the twentieth century. ****

THE ONLY LIVING BOY IN NEW YORK - When a young man learns that his overbearing father is having an affair, he tries to stop it, only to be seduced by the older woman as well. ****

THE FOREIGNER - Quan is a humble London businessman whose long-buried past erupts in a revenge-fueled vendetta when the only person left for him to love -- his teenage daughter -- dies in a senseless act of politically motivated terrorism. His relentless search to find the terrorists leads to a cat-and-mouse conflict with a British government official whose own past may hold the clues to the identities of the elusive killers. ****

INGRID GOES WEST - Ingrid becomes obsessed with a social network star named Taylor Sloane who seemingly has a perfect life. But when Ingrid decides to drop everything and move west to be Taylor's friend, her behaviour turns unsettling and dangerous. ***

BRIGSBY BEAR - Brigsby Bear Adventures is a children's TV show produced for an audience of one: James. When the show abruptly ends, James's life changes forever, and he sets out to finish the story himself. (Brigsby Bear Productions) ****

See you at the movies!

Movie descriptions are from IMDB or TMDB unless otherwise stated.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

THOR: RAGNAROK

Imprisoned, the mighty Thor finds himself in a lethal gladiatorial contest against the Hulk, his former ally. Thor must fight for survival and race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela from destroying his home and the Asgardian civilisation.

The humour in this movie is what makes it worth seeing. It has all the usual elements of a superhero movie, but New Zealand director Taika Waititi (Hunt for the Wilderpeople) has made this possibly the funniest Marvel movie ever made. And it seems to suit the actors — Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, and Cate Blanchett look like they are having great fun. And Waititi, himself, puts in a wonderful performance as Korg. Check it out if for no other reason than to have a good laugh along with its wonderful characters.


Wednesday, 25 October 2017

GOOD TIME

After a heist goes awry, a bank robber tries to free his brother from Rikers Island, all in one night.

This a heist movie with a difference — it’s more about the aftermath than the heist itself. Robert Pattinson plays yet another  complex character, Connie, who robs a bank with his brother, Nick (played by Ben Saftie, one of the directors), who is mentally challenged. Things don’t go as they should and the story becomes a suspenseful, deeply moving journey where Nick tries to free his brother from jail. The relationship between Connie and Nick is what makes this movie so special and it transcends the genre with freshness, insight, and depth. Pattinson continues to surprise showing he has truly left behind his Twilight days. The soundtrack is excellent and expresses the confusion and chaos internally experienced by the protagonists as they struggle to survive. Don’t miss it.


Tuesday, 17 October 2017

THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US

Stranded after a tragic plane crash, two strangers must forge a connection to survive the extreme elements of a remote snow covered mountain. When they realise help is not coming, they embark on a perilous journey across the wilderness.

Idris Alba and Kate Winslett are pleasant together, but the movie is just not suspenseful enough. It’s more romance than adventure and the romance is very predictable (actually, the whole thing is predictable), the story is farfetched, and it all descends into cheesiness by the finish. The two main characters would look a lot worse than they do if they’d really survived what they did. Wait for it on DVD if you must see it.