Archive | January, 2012

Oranges and Sunshine (2010)

30 Jan

I was recommended to watch this film by my sister Kelly. It’s a co-Australian-UK production that broadly explores a tremendous injustice made by the British and Australian governments in the 1950’s-70’s. 130,000 children were deported from the UK to work in Australian Christian/Catholic/Government organisations for roughly a decade per child. The children were originally given up for “adoption” either voluntarily or in some cases involuntarily and told that their parents had died and the land that they are being transferred to is full of oranges and sunshine. In actual fact, they were transported to horrible conditions throughout Australia becoming wards of the state.

I have been a great admirer of Emily Watson since her remarkable performance in Breaking Waves (1996) and still find her a pleasure to watch. Although, she was not given much to work with in this role. She became more of a vessel that threaded together the narrative rather than an integral participant. Similarly, both Hugo Weaving and David Wenham delivered good performances with what they were handed.

Both debut feature director Jim Loach and screenwriter Rona Munro did their best with such epic subject matter although technically the film feels quite clunky in some instances. I was intrigued with the dialogue, it being a mix of both a simple realistic approach and exposing candor. It is commendable to see such an approach. I myself try to aim for such realistic dialogue in my writing also and know how challenging it is to balance with what technically needs to be written to make a scene work.

Overall, i believe this story needed to be told and one feels that the filmmakers felt that heavy responsibility when crafting this narrative. I only wished they had gone through a few more drafts before heading into production.




Arrietty (2010)

29 Jan

The latest from Studio Ghibli. This time not actually directed by master Miyazaki but the next generation of Ghibli’s talented filmmakers. Once again we the audience are taken upon a journey into the realm of childhood fairytales and superstitions that do not disappoint even the most skeptical film-goer.

Arrietty, like her father, is a Borrower. A four-inch-tall person who is discovered by teenage Sho to live underneath his families country house and survives from “borrowing” the food and resources her family needs to survive off the humans of the house. Although strictly forbidden, Arrietty and Sho strike up a friendship that puts Arrietty’s family at risk of capture.

Although Princess Mononoke is still reigning number one from the Ghibli collection (Spirited Away and Porko Rosso closely trailing) i was pleasantly impressed by this well crafted film.

I Love You Phillip Morris (2009)

29 Jan

This film reminded me of Fargo (1996) with the tongue-in-cheek manner in which it presented (and indulged) a factual story of a con man. Jim Carrey does not cease to impress me with his performances. As does Ewen McGregor, who underplays his character perfectly.

Telling the story of Steven Russell, a happily married local policemen of Virginia who, after a car crash, drastically changes the direction of his life by embracing the fact that he is a gay man. He moves to Miami and begins living the life he has always dreamed of. This however involves large quantities of cash. So he begins conning people for money and winds up going to jail. This is where he meets his true love, Phillip Morris (Ewen McGregor). Russell struggles with his addiction to swindle money whilst promising Morris he will live his life lawfully. This is harder than it seems for Russell.

An carefree entertaining film that has quite dark themes when you begin to examine it more intently.


The Last Play At Shea (2010)

29 Jan

A documentary narrated by Alec Baldwin chronicling the relationship between Billy Joel and Shea Stadium in Queens/Long Island. A heartfelt dedication to a landmark setting that meant a great deal for all Americans. From The Beatles first stadium show in 1965 to the highs and lows of the working class Mets baseball team that captured the locals interest and subsequent devotion for the underdog team. The documentary also traces the career of Billy Joel, from humble beginnings sharing houses with band members to his transformation when entering his second marriage with Christie Brinkley, his humility shone through when speaking of himself and his life in general. It was also great hearing some of his hits from over the years performed live intercut with archival footage.

Murderball (2005)

29 Jan

A powerful doco that examines the life of key players in the American Wheelchair Rugby team plus the outcast expat player-turned-coach Joe who now heads the Canada team. The relationships and fight to win create a spiral of drama that is both captivating and inspirational. Merely observing these men’s attitudes and spirit for life was an enriching experience. The only sour note would be the hardcore rock Rubin and Shapiro chose to heighten the drama for the game sequences.