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Oh shit. #365films2014 has taken a turn. #spiceworld

Oh shit. #365films2014 has taken a turn. #spiceworld

2 Notes

365 Films in 2014 (#212 - #230)

No real theme this edition, but I did include a memorial to Robin Williams (R.I.P.)

The Cinémathèque program at Mercury Cinemas presented Stranger Than Paradise and I was also lucky enough to catch Palo Alto in its regular season there too.

Still to come… A musical education (I promise.)

- August 9 -

212/365 Funny Games [1997]

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- August 10 -

213/365 Funny Games [2007]

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It’s taken a lot of processing to decide what to make of Michael Haneke’s project spanning a decade. Haneke produced a German language film in 1997 and then remade it for an English audience in 2007…shot for excruciating shot.  

The premise revolves around a couple and their son being taken hostage by two male youths on their holiday at a lake house.

The German actors (Susanne Lothar and Ulrich Mühe) make it feel like a regular, white-collar family, whereas Tim Roth and Naomi Watts bring too much glitz and glam to the roles. And as great an actor as Michael Pitt can be, he feels miscast as the evil ring leader in the English version (maybe it’s because the other tormenter role feels familiar to his work from a previous film.) 

Haneke is never one to edit for the sake of editing which can be painful at times but most of the stillness in Funny Games adds to the viewer’s tension. While the project itself is interesting to note, what slays is the feeling of emptiness at the final shot of the film combined with the jarring metal music that blasts.

Funny Games (1997) – (4 stars)

Funny Games (2007) – (2 and a half)

- August 11 -

214/365 Stranger Than Paradise [1984]

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Jim Jarmusch is somewhat of a vignette King. He’ll present a tale or two to the audience and weave magic through the subtle “story” without employing common narrative devices. Stranger Than Paradise is a some times depressing some times delightful look at a thrown together trio comprising of slimy but well meaning Willie (John Lurie), fish out of water Eva (Eszter Balint) and the token side kick Eddie (Richard Edson).

For a black and white film with barely any soundtrack (save for the continuous use of Screaming Jay Hawkins’ ‘I put a spell on you’) the mind doesn’t wander as the group’s playful bickering and horsing around in tiny New York City apartments or roadtrippin’ to Florida pleasantly surprises. 

The real star of the show is Willie and Eva’s Aunt Lotte (Cecillia Stark), a ranting, funny without trying to be funny ethnic lady that every viewer either knows or is related to.

Stranger Than Paradise is a film of two halves that starts out bleak but comes together in an hilarious turn of events.

-Presented by ‘Cinematheque’ at the Mercury Cinema -

(4 stars)

- August 12 -

215/365 Mrs. Doubtfire [1993]

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With respect to Robin Williams, I am going to have to set aside the Men’s Rights Activism and casual transphobia of Mrs. Doubtfire because he’s so flawless as a cross-dressing nanny that it’s hard to process these issues within a film that practically raised a generation.

Even with a well worn story line of marriage break down, as expected, Robin Williams steals every damn scene he’s in - whether he’s slap-sticking all over the place as Mrs. Doubtfire, doing impressions as man-child Daniel or montaging a make over with his brother and “Aunt” Jack (the fabulous Harvey Fierstein and Scott Capurro).

As a film about divorce, sure, Daniel goes about it the wrong by tricking his ex-partner Miranda (Sally Field) into hiring him as a nanny, but the point is he’s desperate to spend time with his kids. Also the trickery leads to a lot of lols so how bad can it be? (Please don’t judge me I just really love this film.)  

At the heart of Mrs. Doubtfire is that families come in all shapes and sizes and mum and dad might not always love each other but that won’t effect how they feel about the children. Gosh I’m tearing up thinking about it all.

Not that any one would take comfort in the death of a comic genius but the in development Mrs Doubtfire 2 will never go ahead and that should allow the original to be a testament to Robin Williams’ memory. 

(5 stars)

216/365 Aladdin [1992]

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This film. This is the animated film of an entire generation’s childhood. Genie. Mute Carpet. Cheeky Abu. Creepy Jafar. Doe-eyed but head strong Jasmine. GLORIOUS musical numbers. And animation that hasn’t dated over the course of decades.

It might be called Aladdin, but every one knows Robin Williams owns this. From the opening scene as a dodgy salesperson to the ending with all the feels, what a vocal performance. Williams single-handedly changed the way animated features were seen by Hollywood. Pre-Aladdin it would be hard pressed to find big name stars in films where their faces wouldn’t be seen. In 2014, there’s no avoiding CGI with encyclopedic lists of celebrities attached.

Aladdin doesn’t waste a single animated cell and although there’s only one name we remember vocally, the film’s legacy will last a lifetime for ‘A Whole New World’. Nawwww. *vomits*

(5 stars)

- August 13 -

217/365 The Birdcage [1996]

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Is it possible that Nathan Lane may have out Robin Williams-ed Robin Williams in this camp 90s remaining of French film La Cage aux Follies?

Williams plays the straight and narrow nightclub owner, Armand Goldman, while Lane flounces around the screen as Albert, his partner in life. Lane is so great at over-the-top fabulousness while Williams stands aside, audibly sighing at his dramatic lover.

While we could all watch Lane and Williams give a master class in funny, there’s unfortunately a story to get to that isn’t as amazing. Some knock-off Bradley Cooper wants to marry Ally McBeal and apparently they’re twenty and eighteen years old respectively. Alec Baldwin’s vocal twin, Gene Hackman, is a conservative pollie who would never approve of his daughter marrying into a family with homosexual parents. 

It was the 90s. They tried. But really, we’re all here for the Lane and Williams comedy hour as well as Hackman and Dianne Wiest getting out of a sticky situation in drag.

(3 stars)

- August 15 -

218/365 Brazil [1985]

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If you’re ever looking for a film to assault your senses (maybe not smell) then famed Monty Python cartoonist, Terry Gilliam, has got a treat for you.

In a world not too dissimilar to George Orwell’s dystopian 1984, dreamer Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) blerghs his way through each day as a shit kicker in the public service. All hell breaks loose when one of the worker bees is mistakenly arrested and killed for acts of terrorism and Lowry is placed in charge of investigating - post-modern bureaucracy ensues.

Brazil is so surreal and thematically absurd that it’s easy to assume that a lot of Tim Burton’s work must have be influenced by Gilliam. Dream sequences, ridiculous cinematography and an excellent Robert De Niro cameo fill the wonderful stupor of a Gilliam cinematic experience.

(3 and a half stars)

- August 17 -

219/365 Let the right one in [2008]

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Those Nordic arty types sure know how to think outside the box. A vampire love story sends shivers up my spine and smacks of True Blood trash, but Let the right one in is more than a stock standard pulpy sucky tale of unrequited love. 

Based on John Ajvide Lindqvist’s thing you can read on a Kindle, Let the right one in turns to young vampire love in the harsh, unforgiving climate of wintery Stockholm. Gosh it’s pretty and idyllic to look at then you remember people actually live there and no sunlight for months on end would get old….real fast.

Lovelorn Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) and his vampire gf Eli (Lina Leandersson) are adorable but don’t fuck with them because they have no qualms about biting back.

If you’re a subtitle-aphobe, fear not, America has remade Let the right one in for all your philistine needs (and it stars Australia’s Kodi Smit-McPhee).

(4 stars)

- August 18 -

220/365 Palo Alto [2013]

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Hats off to James Franco. He’s a busy dude. Between writing books, acting in films, being a sex pest on Instagram or bombing as host of the Oscars, he’s also had time to star in blockbusters and indie films based on stuff he’s written. It’s impressive if he didn’t come across as a bit of a d-bag in the process.

Palo Alto is directed by Coppola of the Gia variety (not Sofia) and turns Franco’s published short stories into a teen narrative. But, like, we’ve seen it all before, well it feels that way. Teens smoke, drink, do drugs, have sex… what’s more to learn?

Coppola’s aesthetic is pretty and warm, washed with lovely filters and scored with hip tracks. Emma Roberts and Val Kilmer’s son seem age appropriate as the leads and some of the parties they go to look fun if you’re bored on a Friday during the middle of high school, otherwise… “meh”.

I’m mostly here for the Val Kilmer scenes.

(2 and a half stars)

- August 20 -

221/365 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest [1975]

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Blend Orange is the New Black with American Horror Story: Asylum and the resulting clean eats smoothie would be the male centric One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Lead by a young antiestablishment fellow by the name of Randle McMurphy (Jack Nicholson), patients at the mental health facility include Danny DeVito and brown-haired Christopher Lloyd.

As is common with films set in correctional facilities, there’s always a stern authority figure and Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher) is brilliant as the no nonsense warden.

Real talk. Sure, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a darling of the critics and featured on Top 100 film lists the world over, but I was basically waiting for The Simpsons moment the entire film. A lot of the performances were great to watch, particularly from young up and coming actors who we all know and love now, but much of the films middle act felt a little like filler.

Let’s just say Nurse Ratched dueling with Jack Nicholson is worth the price of admission.

*throws sink out window*

(3 and a half stars)

- August 21 -

222/365 World’s Greatest Dad [2009]

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Over the course of Robin Williams’ career, he’s acquired such a diverse back catalogue of films it’s hard finding the right place to start to pay homage to the talented actor. Of course, the classics get a look in, but Williams had a knack of picking some left of centre films where he didn’t necessarily play the hyperactive man we came to love.

World’s Greatest Dad is breath of fresh air that went under the radar upon release in 2009.

Williams plays English teacher and failed writer, Lance Clayton father to the school’s biggest pervert and all round ratbag, Kyle Clayton (a constantly sweating Daryl Sabara). When his jerk off son, ironically dies jerking off, Williams becomes the star ghostwriter of Daryl’s “unpublished works”. Alexie Gilmore does her best ‘I look like I’m potentially related to Sigourney Weaver’ imitation and is enjoyable to watch as Williams undecided lady friend.

Sometimes indie films like World’s Greatest Dad come together with all the elements when on paper it sounds like they shouldn’t. And its general commentary about how we treat the dead, no matter how horrible they were when alive, is fascinating.

(4 stars)

- August 24 / August 25 -

223/365 Nymphomaniac Volume 1 [2013]

224/365 Nymphomaniac Volume 2 [2013]

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Lars von Trier has made some of the most gut-wrenching, knock the wind out of you, devastating films over his lifetime including two particular favourites of mine, Dogville and the Björk-led Dancer in the Dark. Don’t be watching those when you’re having a downer of a day. But that’s the thing with von Trier, you know what you’re getting yourself into so you can only blame yourself!

Nymphomaniac v.1 and v.2 focus on the depravity of sex addict Joe (a von Trier casting favourite in Charlotte Gainsbourg) recounting her life long battle with the condition to a man who finds her bloody and beaten, Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård).

Volume 1 sets the scene with how a young Joe (Stacy Martin) finds herself wandering down a hyper sexualised path via encounters with a very British and very irritating Shia Labeouf. Her back-story also helps us understand and sympathise with a mental health condition that is highly taboo. And Uma Thurman gets to sink her teeth into an awkward confrontation which is always welcome. 

Volume 2 got way more creepy and at times felt like it crossed the line between what should and shouldn’t be shown on film. One of the characters introduced to Joe is the VERY young P (played by the VERY young looking actor Mia Goth) and there’s a definite paedophile-y vibe going on that is uncomfortable at best.  By comparison, the S&M scenes with Jamie Bell seem G-rated as opposed to some of the other content von Trier puts the audience through.

The beauty of von Trier films, depravity aside, he’s a master at film making and the experience always feels new and exciting to watch. He’ll use a split screen to tell a story three times over without venturing into tacky territory.

 As an insight into nymphomania, it’s not a hopeful outlook, but of course, with von Trier and his Depression trilogy, nothing ever is.

Volume 1 - (3 and a half stars)

Volume 2 - (2 and a half stars) 

- August 26 -

225/365 Con Air [1997]

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90s action films just got it, didn’t they? Explosions, ridiculous hair, Trisha Yearwood anthems, a cast of thousands and of course Monica Potter.

Con Air is filled with great action performances (don’t be fooled, there’s not a single actor robbed of an Oscar here) from the likes of Steve Buscemi, John Cusack, John Malkovitch, Ving Rhames, an almost forgotten Dave Chapelle and badass Danny Trejo. Half of those people would never get a second look in for the seventh sequel of The Expendables, but in the 90s, everything was fair game.

And don’t worry, that’s not even mentioning the man, the myth, the hair… Nicolas Cage, himself, as good guy Cameron Poe.

Poe is a killing machine who gets locked up after defending HIS WOMAN. Cut to his release date years later and Poe is heading home to see HIS WOMAN and daughter for her birthday.

Who would have thought putting a whole bunch of hardened criminals on the one plane together would be a good idea? Oh yeah, and no guns allowed on any of the Air Marshals. Good work guys, reeeeeal good work.

What’s more to know? There’s a tonne of exploding planes, a “flying” car, loads of great catch phrases and two scary mofos in Cyrus The Virus and Garland Green (Malkovich and Buscemi respectively) as well as the rest of crims.

It starts and ends with ‘How Do I Live’, which is basically everything. Nuff said.

 (4 stars)

- August 27 -

226/365 Noah [2014]

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Not even God gets a look-in during this epic tale of Noah and rock monsters…whaaa? Rock Monsters? Even the most inattentive Catholic would have remembered Rock Monsters in the Scriptures and god damn it, they never happened.

Darren Aronofsky takes a lot of creative license for Noah but the concept kind of… sort of… works.

Russell Crowe mumbles his way through the clunky dialogue as the titular character and Jennifer Connolly does ‘concerned wife/mother’ well but for a story based on biblical history, it’s fun at times (the whole two of every kind of animal) and action-y enough for those who need explosions. There’s even some love story, albeit a little incestual, revolving around handsome actor types Emma Watson and Douglas Booth.

You’ll have to set aside the white washing of characters set in a BC-era but Aronosfky manages to weave a little of his pseudo-indie directing style into a multimillion dollar blockbuster.  Oh and there’s a character called Ham (Logan Lerman) which isn’t very kosher.

Fortunately (or unfortunately) there’s no ass-to-ass scene (NSFW) to be found.

(2 and a half stars)

- August 28 -

227/365 The Queen of Versailles [2012]

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Documentary filmmaking has the amazing knack of turning subject matter on its head and sometimes even the directors/producers get caught up in the chaos. It happened in Capturing the Friedmans and it happens in The Queen of Versailles.

On paper, a fly-on-the-wall look at a billionaire family building America’s largest house inspired by French palaces is enough to get punters along to check out the circus. But then the global financial crisis hit.

It’s all about former Mrs. Florida winner Jackie and her rise from rags to riches back to rags, but the Siegel family (including her husband and time share King, David) is always present as is the constant reminder of how hard the GFC smacked around the whole U.S.

Jackie means well but struggles to comprehend the need to cut back when times are tough, while David seems to have his head screwed on and gets the need to reel in the spending. Unfortunately for the Siegels, David can’t seem to let go of an investment that would put their bankruptcy dilemma to bed – this couple is a match made in insolvency heaven.

The Queen of Versailles is a fascinating look into new money, opulence and how when the American Dream falls, it falls hard.

(4 and a half stars)

- August 29 -

228/365 Oldboy [2003]

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Oh boy. Park Chan-wook really does a number with his revenge film Old Boy - simple in theory, layered by the end.

Oh Dae-su (Choi Min-sik) is a drunk who winds up locked away for fifteen years with no explanation as to why. Even less explanation comes when he is released, thus sending him on a warpath towards finding his captors and making them pay.

Along the way he falls in love with an apprehensive Mi-do (Kang Hye-jung), although, he tries to assault her so can you blame her? Mi-do is a reasonable lady and can see Oh Dae-su is a troubled man so she’s willing to give him more chances than any sexual assault victim should. The real baddie of the entire outing is Lee Woo-jin (Yoo Ji-tae) who’s backstory is disturbing as it is important to the climax.

Oldboy could have been any Western action thriller but Chan-wook’s direction combined with Chung Chung-hoon’s cinematography create a twisted, harrowing vision of Seoul.

Oof. Dat ending.

(3 and a half stars)

229/365 The Dish [2000]

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The people at Working Dog are just funny. Jane Kennedy, Rob Sitch, Santo Cilauro and Tom Gleisner have been responsible for some of Australia’s top comedies of the past three decades including D-Generation, The Castle, Frontline, The Hollowmen and of course, late night television staple, The Panel.

The Dish is what Australian film is so great at, no not depressing convoluted crap, but the story of an underdog coming good with larrikin humour as far as the satellite reception can broadcast.

Who knew that Australia played such an important role in showing the world footage from the moon landing and who knew it was the footage that almost never was!?

Excellent cast (Sam Neill, Patrick Warbuton, Tom Long, Eliza Szonert), hilarious writing, and a great Australian film to everyone involved ya big pack of galahs.

(4 stars)

- August 30 -

230/365 2 Days in Paris [2007]

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Julie Delpy is one of those slashies that it’s hard not to love. She can act in her native French or with an adorable Franco-English accent. And she’s a great writer of relationship drama pieces that feel more real than any reality television drivel ever will.

Famed more for the Before series, Delpy shows definite inspiration from her time with Ethan Hawke in this back and forth with Adam Goldberg. Fortunately, 2 Days In Paris is far more accessible and less wanky.

Any one who has travelled will understand the guilt and ignorance felt from being an English-speaking tourist surrounded by Europeans who seem to speak every language ever invented with the expertise of a linguist. Jack (Goldberg) is all of us although he’s probably a little too neurotic and precious when faced with Marion’s (Delpy) home base of Paris.

More films should be about walking around foreign countries with witty, funny dialogue. It’s that simple.

(3 and a half stars)

Notes

I went to bed like dis.

I went to bed like dis.

Notes

I don’t know about you but my Friday is going VERY well. @wch_foundation

I don’t know about you but my Friday is going VERY well. @wch_foundation

1 Notes

Never not photographing @theadelaideoval. #adelaide #southaustralia @southaustralia

Never not photographing @theadelaideoval. #adelaide #southaustralia @southaustralia

2 Notes

Aladdin paying homage to Robin Williams.

Aladdin paying homage to Robin Williams.

5 Notes

Iconic.

2 Notes

365 Films in 2014 (#197 - #211)

Got my nostalgia on for this edition of #365films2014 with classics such as Little Monsters, Beetlejuice, The Secret Garden and Drop Dead Fred to name but a few.

'Cinematheque' at the Mercury Cinema presented The Player as well as Dr Strangelove OR: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

Coming soon: A MUSICAL EDUCATION.

xoxo

- July 24 -

197/365 Down and Out in Beverly Hills [1986]

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Could Bette Midler, Richard Dreyfuss and Nick Nolte really share their screen time in a film about the homeless making it big with Californian socialites? Of course! It’s the 80s.

Jerry Baskin (Nolte) is at home on the streets of Beverly Hills until Dave Whiteman (Dreyfuss) and his wife Barbara (Midler) “adopt” him after an unsuccessful suicide attempt in their swimming pool. SO ZANY.

Hilarity ensues when Baskin sleeps his way around the Whiteman house, including the maid, and throws a spanner in the works for Dave and his picture perfect life that is less than perfect.

Down and Out in Beverly Hills is the type of film that pops up on TV at midday and you’ll promise yourself to switch it off at the next ad but you’re still there when ‘The End’ magically materialises on the screen.

(2 and a half stars)

- July 27 -

198/365 Airheads [1994]

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File Airheads under the list of films that would not and could not exist in the year 2014. The internet alone has turned the music industry on its head and the stubborn honchos at major labels still seem to struggle with the idea that consumer habits are evolving daily.

Chazz (potentially wig wearing Brendan Fraser), Rex (Steve Buscemi) and Pip (Adam Sandler) are a bunch of burn outs that want to make it big with their band The Lone Rangers. How do you make it big in the 90s?
1.Get played on the biggest radio station
2. People hear your song
3. Get signed to record label
4. ????
5. MEGASTARS.

LA logic right there my friend.

A cavalcade of stars cameo along the way for the absurd ride that is holding a radio station hostage while waiting for them to play your record or tape or whatever people from the past recorded music on.

Also, Michael Richards will never not be Kramer.

(3 stars)

- July 28 -

199/365 Drop Dead Fred [1994]

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Without wanting to disrespect the dead, I feel there must be a requirement of loving the work of Rik Mayall to truly appreciate his ability as an actor person. I’m ashamed to admit I’ve never experienced Blackadder or The Young Ones…DON’T HATE ME.

So now that that’s out of the way.

Phoebe Cates stars as Lizzie Cronin who has just about had enough of the shit life has served up to her within the first five minutes of the film – losing her car, her husband and her job. Her world takes an hilarious turn when her destructive imaginary friend Fred (Rik Mayall) returns.

Mayall clearly steals the show with his absurdist style and while no one would have predicted Cates to have such a great physical comedy presence, the film itself is kind of blah.

Drop Dead Fred fared well at the box office as an independent film but made its name being a cult memory for children who grew up in the 90s. That’s what missed the mark for me, seeing it in 2014 out of context.

SNOTFACE.

(2 stars)

- July 29 -

200/365 Little Monsters [1989]

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They don’t make movies for kids like they used to. Well, maybe they do but they’re hoping we won’t notice that plots for über popular Pixar titles (I’m looking at you Monsters, Inc.) are more than a nod to 80s classics.

Little Monsters, like every thing else in the 80s, stars Fred Savage as gawky Brian Stevenson. Brian’s dealing with the worst thing a child can go through ever in their entire short-lived life – growing up and parent’s separating.

Enter 11-year-old monster Maurice (American Deal or No Deal’s Howie Mandel).

While Drop Dead Fred’s Fred is a figment of imagination, Maurice and his band of monsters are very much real and living under the beds of humans the world over trying to scare children, kind of like the main plot point of Monsters, Inc. Hmmmmm.

The monsters only come out at night because light turns them into piles of clothes but also makes for cute scenes with scaries collapsing into laundry.

All of the kids, including Savage’s adorable real life little brother Ben, don’t come across as too precocious and although Maurice grates, the ending will have you checking the room for someone cutting onions.

The soundtrack is so on point too - zero cheesy kids songs with nothing but 80s hits.

(3 and a half stars)

- July 30 -

201/365 Beetlejuice [1988]

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Shocking, as it may seem, Beetlejuice wins the award for Tim Burton film that does NOT star his wife Helena Bonham-Carter or his second wife, Johnny Depp. For that, it’s a winner already. That’s not to say J-Depp and HBC are woeful at their craft, it’s more a statement on the recent feeling of “IT’S BEEN DONE BURTON” that his latest outings have garnered.

What a bloody marvelous world Burton has created in Beetlejuice! Adam and Barbara Maitland (a Ryan Gosling-esque young Alec Baldwin and the wonderful Geena Davis) suffer a fate worse than death…becoming ghosts in their own home. Catherine O’Hara, as haunted homeowner Deelia Deetz, is a pleasure as always and Winona Ryder does her best emo impersonation trying to be the voice of a generation.

The clearly dated special effects work in Beetlejuice’s favour as the pulpy nature of the entire experience calls for obvious blue screens and base level CGI.

Michael Keaton is a revelation as the title character in a role he was probably born to play but no one other than Burton could ever envisage him successfully pulling off (much the same as his earlier role in the classic Batman series).

Forget fraught-with-racial-danger ‘Around the World’ themed parties… gather your mates together for a night in Beetlejuice inspired get ups.

(4 stars)

- July 31 -

202/365 The Player [1992]

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Director Robert Altman sure knows how to meta the shit out of a film whilst sending up the entire Hollywood industry, which frankly, is nothing to sneeze at.

The Player is a fantastic satirical look at how a caddish movie producer type, Griffin Mill (Tim Robbins), ducks and weaves his way through the minefield of job stealing colleagues, wannabe writers, and committing murder. Aside from constantly wanting to ask Robbins the obvious of question of why he and Susan Sarandon couldn’t make it work, he’s great at carrying The Player through the highs and lows of an hysterical pisstake.

The lesser players (hurr) are only less in screen time rather than quality. With actual acting, as opposed to cameo-ing, coming from heavyweights Whoopi Goldberg, a young and hairy Vincent D’Onofrio, Australia’s own Greta Scacchi, doe-eyed Cynthia Stevenson, Sydney Pollack and Lyle Lovett, the cast is second to none. And then there’s the avalanche of cameos peppered throughout – it’s enough to give IMDb and Wikipedia an extensive work out.

Altman spends so much of the film winking at the audience that it’s hard to tell if he ever had his eyes open, except for the fact that all of writer Michael Tolkins’ jokes land.

- Presented by ‘Cinematheque’ at the Mercury Cinema -

(4 and a half stars)

- August 1 -

203/365 A Little Princess [1995]

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Can we take a moment to talk about Alfonso Cuarón’s diversity as a director? Over a decade he directed A Little Princess, Great Expectations, Y tu Mamá También, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and The Assassination of Richard Nixon. Come on Alfie! You’re making us all look bad.

For his adaption of the popular children’s book by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Cuarón doesn’t go big enough with the magic instead focusing on the foreign-ness of India while underutilising the talented young, supporting cast of orphaned characters. Lead Liesel Mathews is a cute kid but kind of irritates as recently bankrupt Sara Crewe. Although she wades through a pool of stellar orphans, Eleanor Bron steals the show as the wicked master of the house, Miss Minchin.

Part Oliver! or Annie without singing, part “Wow! Isn’t India so mystical?”, A Little Princess has a lot of charm but fails to translate into a legacy that requires mandatory viewing for every childhood.

(3 stars)

- August 2 -

204/365 The Secret Garden [1993]

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Backing up Frances Hodgson Burnett’s little girl protagonist series, The Secret Garden is a beautifully crafted coming of age tale set against the old timey lush English countryside.

After her debaucherous parents die in India, Mary Lennox (Kate Maberly) is dumped at a Yorkshire manor kept under thumb by the imposing Mrs. Medlock (Dame Maggie Smith). Colin Craven (Heydon Prowse) is hidden away in the manor, seemingly too ill to leave his bed or function in society. Well, Mary is having none of that, befriends the boy and helps him experience the beauty of the manor’s secret garden.

The score swells faster than the happy tears that develop by the time the credits roll. The Secret Garden is a fantastic modern adaptation of a much beloved classic.

(4 stars)

- August 3 -

205/365 The Killer Inside Me [2010]

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As the credits rolled to Eddy Arnold’s ‘Shame On You’ it’s difficult to imagine the lyrics being directed at any one besides the people behind The Killer Inside Me. There’s so much nope here that it’s hard to know where to start.

The Killer that the title refers to is Lou Ford (Casey Affleck, for why??), a deputy sheriff who has a penchant for beating the absolute shit out of woman and leaving them for dead. Now there have been successful films that dealt with sickos such as American Psycho. The difference being that American Psycho makes comment on excess and the American Dream albeit being the work of a known dickbag, Bret Easton Ellis. I digress.

The Killer Inside Me uses Jessica Alba and Kate Hudson as barely speaking punching bags (so basically punching bags) for Lou Ford to channel his evil ways. Unfortunately, domestic violence IS a real problem in society and it’s not demonised, insane monsters doing the beatings but “loving”, “normal” fathers, husbands and boyfriends. A film like this does no favours for survivors and sufferers.

Winterbottom might have created a stylish looking film but the scenes of violence are so gratuituous you’ll want to close your laptop, skip your Blu-Ray or walk out of the cinema.

Shame on you Michael Winterbottom.

(1 star)

- August 4 -

206/365 Dr. Strangelove OR: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb [1964]

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The combination of Kubrick and Peter Sellers is a match made in black comedy heaven, if that’s even a thing. Where the M*A*S*H film missed the mark, Dr. Strangelove OR: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb nails the satire of war.

Imagine a world where nuclear war is only a disgruntled General and incompetent government away from reality. Well, the Cold War is about to get a real injection in its arm thanks to the actions of Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden) and his no-turning-back order to the US Air Force – oh and they’re armed with nuclear bombs!

As to be expected, Sellers takes on the role of a number of characters with his usual hilarious aplomb. Whether he’s Dr. Strangelove suppressing his Nazi-isms or Captain Mandrake trying to collect call the President of the United States, he’s a consummate professional at making the audience shriek with laughter.

A young James Earl Jones makes his acting debut as nervous Lieutenant Lothar Zogg but it’s George C. Scott who steals the show as the patriotic, “commie” hating General Buck Turgidson which is a hard task to achieve when you’re sharing screen time with THREE Peter Sellerses.

- Presented by ‘Cinematheque’ at the Mercury Cinema -

(4 stars)

- August 4 -

207/365 Single White Female [1992]

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Besides everything, the 90s were best at creating sexy thrillers perhaps because pre-internet people had to get their rocks off in the name of art. Enter Single White Female.

Allison Jones (Bridget Fonda aka The 90s Personified) is a stone cold fox, rocking Julia Gillard’s hair before even J-Gill knew what to do with it. Unfortunately for Ms. Jones she has a proclivity for attracting attention from bad people including potential husbands, clients and psychopathic housemates.

Hedra Carlson (Jennifer Jason Leigh aka The 90s Personified 2.0) …Oh come on, HEDRA? The writing was surely on the wall with a name like that… weasels her way into Allie’s apartment and before too long she’s already killed a dog, knocked out a guy, blown (non-consensually) the fiancé, and worse yet…ripped off Allie’s red bob look.

It’s amazing how terrifying a messed up new roomie can be even if it seems like the lamest plot development for a thriller. Also Fonda kicks some major ass to save the day.

(3 and a half stars)

- August 5 -

208/365 Enemy [2013]

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Director Denis Villenueve is responsible for one of the great modern thrillers from last year (Prisoners) and yet he still wanted to have more movie fun times with Jake Gyllenhaal. The result is doubling the Jake but dropping his game with the actual film.

Jake Gyllenhaal and what I can only determine to be Maggie Gyllenhaal wearing a beard, plays both Adam Bell and Anthony Claire, identical dudes roaming around the same city WHERE NO ONE SEEMS TO NOTICE?! In Adelaide, if two guys with similar hair walk past you assume Orphan Black protocol.

Tension mounts as both gentlemen struggle with their newfound doppelganger-itis and their partners, girlfriend Mary (Melanie Laurent) and wife Helen (Sarah Gadon), start getting the heebeejeebies.

Not to spoil the ending, but yah, we get metaphor.

Enemy wants so badly to be a critic darling but aside from the well crafted cinematography and bleak Toronto skyline, it’s all too ho-hum.

 (2 and a half stars)

- August 6 -

209/365 Buried [2010]

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Five minutes in you’ll need to check your claustrophobia at the door or you won’t survive the next eighty-five minutes. Buried is not for the faint hearted but if you’re easily bored strap yourself in for an exhilarating ride.

Ryan Reynolds is the unlikely leading buried man, trapped six feet under with nothing but a mobile phone, knife and sheer will keeping him alive.

Buried is a clever concept on paper – how can you set an entire film in a coffin and keep the audience’s attention? And director Rodrigo Cortes does well with the story development. What felt unnecessary is the backstory of a civilian worker in a war torn region being ambushed by EVIL BROWN TERRORISTS and then buried alive. Cliché cliché cliché. There’s no reason Buried couldn’t have thought outside the box (hurrr) for plot points.

Oh and the ending…I mean really?

(3 and a half stars)

- August 7 -

210/365 Grey Gardens [2009]

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HBO Films have a knack at attracting big names to star in their made for TV films which elevates a pedestrian outing into must see content. Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange are not to be sneezed at. Their star power is second to none and watching them faff around as Big Edie and Lil’ Edie, the famed Bouvier mother/daughter combo, is a sight to behold – they’re so damn watchable.

Billed as a story about Jackie O’s relatives, Grey Gardens rides off the coattails of interest in anything Kennedy related but also why wouldn’t people be fascinated about a rich couple of eccentric broads in a dilapidated mansion?

In 1975, a Grey Gardens documentary was released and this film version takes a look at the lead up to its premiere. Drew Barrymore acts her face off earning a Golden Globe and an Emmy in the process and Lange could sit around doing nothing and it would still be worth it.

 (3 and a half stars)

- August 8 -

211/365 El secreto de sus ojos (The Secret in Their Eyes) [2010]

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Murder/rape crime dramas are a dime a dozen, but El secreto de sus ojos takes a different approach to keep the genre feeling fresh.

Skipping between modern day and the 70s, Benjamin Esposito (Ricardo Darin) is the lead investigator of a young woman’s brutal murder and rape but constantly finds hurdles between catching the killer and helping the victim’s husband find justice for his wife. Irene Hastings (Soledad Villamil) is a total boss human as the voice of reason in the law offices or something, who really knows what people do in legal bureaucracy?

While rape plot lines are tired and overused and there is a graphic scene to really drill home the horriblessness of it all, the rest of the investigation has enough twists and turns to keep even the most criminally fascinated viewers intrigued.

 (4 stars)

5 Notes

LEAKED: Buzzfeed Oz application.

- @mikey_nicholson

Notes

Love the post #aflcrowseagles kick and catch on the banks of the Torrens. #adelaide @cityofadelaide

Love the post #aflcrowseagles kick and catch on the banks of the Torrens. #adelaide @cityofadelaide