Reviews

Episode 183 – Olympus Has Fallen / Spring Breakers / Admission

This episode of the Moviewallas podcast includes reviews of:

olympus_has_fallen Admission-Poster Spring breakers

– Olympus Has Fallen

– Spring Breakers

– Admission

Play

Visit www.moviewallas.com for reviews, articles, film festival coverage and more!

– Email us: mail@moviewallas.com
– Join the Facebook community: facebook.com/moviewallas
– Follow us on Twitter: @moviewallas
– Subscribe to the Podcast: iTunes Store / Other Podcast Clients 
– iPhone App: iTunes
– Android App: Android Market
– Get free email updates Sign-up form

Episode 177 – Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters / Side Effects

In this episode of Moviewallas we review:

 

Side Effects  hansel-and-gretel__130127123236

– Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters

– Side Effects

Play

Visit www.moviewallas.com for reviews, articles, film festival coverage and more!

– Email us: mail@moviewallas.com
– Join the Facebook community: facebook.com/moviewallas
– Follow us on Twitter: @moviewallas
– Subscribe to the Podcast: iTunes Store / Other Podcast Clients 
– iPhone App: iTunes
– Android App: Android Market
– Get free email updates Sign-up form

Lore | Review

LORE, the second film from Australian director Cate Shortland (Somersault) is a riveting and complex look into a rarely seen legacy of the Holocaust.

When her SS officer father and mother, a staunch Nazi believer, are captured by the allies at the end of World War II, Lore, a fourteen-year-old German girl (Saskia Rosendahl) is left to fend for herself and must lead her four siblings on a harrowing journey across a devastated country. When she meets the charismatic and mysterious young refugee Thomas, (Kai Malina, The White Ribbon,) Lore soon finds her world shattered by feelings of hatred and desire as she must put her trust in the very person she was always taught to hate in order to survive.

loreLore is more than an average coming of age tale as it slowly simmers, teasing and testing us with the question “How can someone be wrong for believing what they are raised to” and more importantly that there are always casualties on both sides of any war.  The story is a triumph in showing how far one goes to protect the ones that they love and to whom they are duty bound.

Striking newcomer Saskia Rosendahl is a pleasure to watch and will certainly be noticed for this mesmerizing performance in the title role.  Her quiet beauty and display of emotion is admirable for someone so young and she is supported by an equally talented younger cast.

Screenwriters Shortland and Robin Mukherjee have done a marvelous job of adapting Rachel Seiffert’s novel The Dark Room (Man Booker Prize finalist, LA Times Prize for First Fiction).  In fact, Random House will re-publish the novel The Dark Room to coincide with the film’s February theatrical release.

Cinematographer Adam Arkapaw (Animal Kingdom, Snowtown) does an equally fine job of capturing the bleak and lush landscapes of the countryside.  At times we feel like we are watching a painting unfolding.

LORE opened in Los Angeles and New York on February 8 and will be followed by a national roll-out

Winner: Audience Award, 2012 Locarno Film Festival

Winner: Golden Starfish Narrative Feature Award, 2012 Hamptons Film Festival

Winner: Kodak Award for Cinematography,  2012 Hamptons Film Festival

Winner: Bronze Horse for Best Film, Saskia Rosendahl for Best Actress, Best Cinematography, Best Musical Score, 2012 Stockholm Film Festival  

Winner: Best Film, 2012 Hamburg Film Festival  

Official Selection: 2012 Toronto International Film Festival-Special Presentations

Official Selection: 2012 Locarno Film Festival Winner: Audience Award

Official Selection: 2012 Sydney Film Festival

2013 Australian Film Institute Awards (Australian Oscars)- Nominated for Best Film, Best Young Actor, Best Direction, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design,  Best Production Design, Best Sound  

Episode 173 – Zero Dark Thirty / The Impossible / Promised Land

Happy New Year!  Here is a wrap up of some late 2012 and early 2013 releases.

zero dark the impossible promised land

– Zero Dark Thirty.  Can acclaimed Director Kathryn Bigelow repeat the success of The Hurt Locker?

– The Impossible.  There’s Oscar buzz for Naomi Watts for her performance here.  Find out what we thought.

– Promised Land.  Director Gus Van Sant brings us a morality tale with an all-star cast.

Play

Visit www.moviewallas.com for reviews, articles, film festival coverage and more!

– Email us: mail@moviewallas.com
– Join the Facebook community: facebook.com/moviewallas
– Follow us on Twitter: @moviewallas
– Subscribe to the Podcast: iTunes Store / Other Podcast Clients 
– iPhone App: iTunes
– Android App: Android Market
– Get free email updates Sign-up form

Episode 172 – Les Misérables / Django Unchained

It’s the 2012 Christmas Day releases in this episode of Moviewallas!  We discuss:

Django_Unchained_Poster  les miserables

– Les Misérables

– Django Unchained

Play

Visit www.moviewallas.com for reviews, articles, film festival coverage and more!

– Email us: mail@moviewallas.com
– Join the Facebook community: facebook.com/moviewallas
– Follow us on Twitter: @moviewallas
– Subscribe to the Podcast: iTunes Store / Other Podcast Clients 
– iPhone App: iTunes
– Android App: Android Market
– Get free email updates Sign-up form

Episode 166 – Skyfall / Flight / A Late Quartet

A bumper crop of movies this week! We discuss:

– Skyfall – Director Sam Mendes gives us his take on the much loved James Bond franchise
– Flight – A new movie starring Denzel Washington and directed by Robert Zemeckis
– A Late Quartet – A terrific ensemble cast including Christopher Walken and Philip Seymour-Hoffman

…and the name of the movie that none us could remember was Crazy Heart!

Play

Visit www.moviewallas.com for reviews, articles, film festival coverage and more!

– Email us: mail@moviewallas.com
– Join the Facebook community: facebook.com/moviewallas
– Follow us on Twitter: @moviewallas
– Subscribe to the Podcast: iTunes Store / Other Podcast Clients
– iPhone App: iTunes
– Android App: Android Market
– Get free email updates Sign-up form

Episode 164 – Cloud Atlas / The Master

In this episode of Moviewallas we discuss a couple of this year’s more challenging works:

  

  • Cloud Atlas
  • The Master
Play

Visit www.moviewallas.com for reviews, articles, film festival coverage and more!

– Email us: mail@moviewallas.com
– Join the Facebook community: facebook.com/moviewallas
– Follow us on Twitter: @moviewallas
– Subscribe to the Podcast: iTunes Store / Other Podcast  Clients 
– iPhone App:  iTunes
– Android App:  Android Market
– Get free email updates Sign-up form

Episode 162 – Argo / Seven Psychopaths

In Episode 162 of Moviewallas we talk about:

  

  • Ben Affleck’s highly anticipated movie Argo
  • Writer/director Martin McDonagh’s latest work Seven Psychopaths
Play

Visit www.moviewallas.com for reviews, articles, film festival coverage and more!

– Email us: mail@moviewallas.com
– Join the Facebook community: facebook.com/moviewallas
– Follow us on Twitter: @moviewallas
– Subscribe to the Podcast: iTunes Store / Other Podcast  Clients 
– iPhone App:  iTunes
– Android App:  Android Market
– Get free email updates Sign-up form

Episode 156 – For a Good Time, Call… / Lawless

In Episode 156 of Moviewallas we talk about:

    

  • For a Good Time, Call…
  • Lawless
Play

– Email: mail@moviewallas.com
– Facebook: facebook.com/moviewallas
– Twitter: @moviewallas
– Subscribe to the Podcast: iTunes Store / Other Podcast  Clients 
– iPhone App:  iTunes
– Android App:  Android Market
– Get free email updates Sign-up form

2012 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) – Update Four

The Toronto International Film Festival was in progress when 9/11 happened. TIFF takes place in the first two weeks of September, and since 2001 the festival has showed a short two minute memorial prior to every feature screened on September 11th. Over the years, the short has changed, but it has always been a well crafted piece consisting of reactions to 9/11 from the film community. And 2012 was the first year that the festival chose not to show a 9/11 tribute. There was some curiosity around this amongst a few people I spoke with today.  Most individuals, including myself, believe this was a deliberate decision, to demonstrate a small manner of healing that has occurred since the events of 2001. And that while 9/11 can never be forgotten, the world has learned to move on a little bit. This is oddly comforting.

All of the films I saw today seemed to deal with matters of the flesh in some form or another.

2012 TIFF still, ‘Byzantium’

Byzantium, the latest from director Neil Jordan (The Company Of Wolves, The Crying Game, Interview With A Vampire, The End Of The Affair) stars Saoirse Ronan and Gemma Atherton as contemporary blood-suckers. For a film about vampires, I found the movie oddly bloodless. To be clear, there is a surfeit of blood and gore on screen, but the film seemed to me lacking in dramatic tension. I respect the decision to have the movie be as much about atmosphere as the plot, but the terminally sluggish placing seemed a peculiar choice. The movie dips back periodically to a back-story set two hundred years in the past, but the back and forth in chronology isn’t effective since that origin story about the two vampires is not particularly compelling. I am hardly an expert on the mythology of vampires, but I am fascinated by the belief that vampires in literature have always been a metaphor for all those in the world who are patently different. And therefore subject to scorn and hatred. This theory also explains the need for vampires to stay in dark. It has been suggested that vampires in early literature were meant to represent lepers. There has been discussion that the vampires in Anne Rice’s books represent homosexual repression. Others have suggested that the reaction to vampires has long represented racism in the world.  Considering that the director of Interview With A Vampire is returning 20 years later with Byzantium, I was hoping he had something more to add to the mythology of blood-suckers. But I struggled to find any meaningful insight in Byzantium and surprised to see it be so toothless. Yes, he comments on how vampires have traditionally been male and the two female protagonists in this film are pariahs even within the vampire clan. But even that protest comes across a bit outdated. Saoirse Ronan is one of the more intriguing screen presences in current cinema and does a very able job here but even so seems underused. This is a technically accomplished film, but considering that it is presented as more than just pure entertainment, it was a bit of head-scratcher for me.

2012 TIFF still, ‘The Sessions’

The Sessions comes to TIFF already having gathered buzz at prior film festivals as the movie guaranteed to earn acting nominations for John Hawkes and Helen Hunt. I am not going to argue about that having seen the film. In fact, it is best if this film is seen with the minimum of expectations. This is a small-scale film that evokes some big issues. The movie is based on the real-life story of Mark O’Brian, a Berkeley area poet / journalist, who after being afflicted with childhood polio, needed to live in an iron lung and had no useable motor movements below his neck. Confined to a stretcher all his adult life, and with caretakers around him to help him with everyday activities, Mark O’Brian went on to obtain his degree. Obviously unable to do many things that others can, he realized in his mid-thirties that the one thing he could not live without having accomplished in his life was to have a physical relationship. The movie begins at this point in his life, and covers his relationships with those around him,  chiefly with the sex-therapist who tries to assist him with fulfilling his desire to lose his virginity. Helen Hunt plays the therapist in a fearless performance, depicting the complexities of a woman with a husband and son who, as part of her professional career is required to get physically intimate with others. John Hawkes, that menacing and charismatic actor from Winter’s Bone and Martha Marcy May Marlene is unrecognizable here in the lead role as a man constantly  shrunk down to size in the presence of the medical equipment around him. The film features some stellar writing, especially when it gets into decidedly unchartered territories, and performances that make you forget that you are watching actors. What I liked most about the film though was how it successfully makes the case, on multiple occasions, that many issues that we may consider as being uniquely specific to the physically disabled are actually remarkably universal; the impediments we face in life are not that different regardless of our physical status. This story is also rife for assessing the particular considerations of a professional sex-therapist. What are the ethics, motivations and conflicts associated with a person whose trained work involves having sex with clients and who receives monetary compensation for it  (Hunt’s character makes it clear, repeatedly, that she is a therapist, not a prostitute)? And when a sex-therapist builds necessarily difficult relationships with the person being treated, how can the physicality of it not bleed over into emotional dependencies? The film explores this to some extent – notably with the shifting attitude of Hunt’s husband who initially believes his wife is a saint for what she does to help people, but over a period of time starts resenting her for the same thing – but I wished it had plumbed this further. After all is said and done though, this is an original, intimate, and affecting film.

2012 TIFF still, ‘My Awkward Sexual Adventure’

Truth in advertising! The movie, My Awkward Sexual Adventure, is exactly what the title indicates. This is a silly little sex-comedy, which can sit in your Netflix queue along with the American Pie films. Did I laugh during this film? Yes, many times. And it is perhaps a notch above the sort of teenage raunchfests thrown at us from time to time. In this genre, nobody is looking for high art, or even exceptional insight, and as long as the film isn’t inept or does not insult the audience, it is already ahead of the others in the race.  The plot involves a man whose girlfriend declines his marriage proposal claiming she finds him boring and his physical skills in bed severely lacking. Through a turn of circumstances, he strikes a deal with a stripper (with a heart of gold? what do you think?) who promises him education with lovemaking in return for him assisting with her failing finances. A homegrown Canadian effort that took almost a decade to bring to the screen, the film is harmless fun. Although the movie does up the ante substantially in the raunch department, the writer and lead actor Jonas Chernick and director Sean Garrity keep things energetic, and the committed actors make this not an unworthy entry in this genre.

Sadly, I have only one more day left at TIFF and will be filing in my final report tomorrow.