Category: Drama

Florence Foster Jenkins

 

Summary: As the worst opera singer in the world, Florence Foster Jenkins (Meryl Streep) prepares to take her career to dizzying new heights a young pianist, Cosme McMoon (Simon Helberg) finds himself swept up into the world of lies that Florence’s hsuband , St Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant), has set up in order to protect her feelings.

Year: 2016

Australian Cinema Release Date: 5th May 2016

Australian DVD Release Date: TBA

Country: United Kingdom, France

Director: Stephen Frears

Screenwriter: Nicholas Martin

Cast: Nina Arianda (Agnes Stark), Mark Arnold (Cole Porter), Richard Bevan (Stubbs), Dar Dash (Antonio), Carl Davis (Orlando Adams), Paola Dionisotti (Baroness Le Feyre), Rebecca Ferguson (Kathleen), Aida Garifullina (Lily Pons), Hugh Grant (St Clair Bayfield), David Haig (Carlo Edwards), Simon Helberg (Cosme McMoon), Tony Honickberg (Mr. Levi), John Kavanagh (Arturo Toscanini), James Sobol Kelly (Edgar), Elliot Levey (Edgar Booth Cunningham Jr.), Greg Lockett (Chuck), Nat Luurtsema (Tallulah Bankhead), Danny Mahoney (Clifford B Thornton III), Simon Markson (Charlie), Christian McKay (Earl Wilson), David Menkin (Carlton Smith), David Mills (Augustus Corbin), Georgina Morton (Pearl), Josh O’Connor (Donaghy), Sid Phoenix (Corporal Jones), Jonathan Plowright (Ernest Ziegler), Phillp Rosch (Archie), Liza Ross (Mrs. EE Paterson), Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins),

Runtime: 110 mins

Classification: PG

 

OUR FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS REVIEWS & RATINGS:

 

David Griffiths:

The world of cinema can be a strange, strange place. Whenever a film comes out I hear people talking about what demographic the film will appeal to, whether it will appeal to men or women etc. I’ve never really taken much notice of it because when it comes to films my tastes are pretty varied. While I love my horror and science-fiction I can also settle down and watch a movie meant for kids, like Monster’s Inc. and enjoy it as well. The same with movies meant for older people, take 45 Years for an example, while some said it was for older people I enjoyed it to the point where it has been one of my favourite films of this year.

But now comes a film that is making me re-think whether some films are meant for different ages, and that film is Florence Foster Jenkins. Now I’m not going to sit here and say I hated the film because I didn’t. For me it was just a mediocre film, it didn’t bore me but it didn’t exactly have me labelling it a classic either. What did surprise me was the comedy aspect of the film. Sure the first couple of times Meryl Streep (The Devil Wears Prada) warbled horribly as Florence Foster Jenkins I chuckled, but there were some older members of the audience I was in who laughed themselves stupid every time Florence attempted to sing. Yes it really did have that kind of effect on the older audience.

So why was Streep singing so badly off key? Because in this film she plays Florence Foster Jenkins, a real life character who during the 1940s made a name for herself for literally being a bad singer. And while anyone that every heard her would know she was a dreadful singer she was spared those details by the fact that her husband, St Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant – Notting Hill) did everything in his power to make sure she never found out the truth. That included paying music critics and making sure anyone who ever laughed during her performances was quickly turfed out of the venue.

During the film we see Florence start off at a small level of singing for small groups of people but as she plans to take her career even further, to the point of recording a single and performing on bigger stages, she decides to team up with a young piano player named Cosme McMoon (Simon Helberg – The Big Bang Theory) who quickly finds himself having to get used to St Clair and Florence’s web of lies.

As far as the film goes despite being very light hearted in style in does get to you emotionally. Such is the power of director Stephen Frears (The Queen) and screenwriter Nicholas Martin’s (Midsomer Murders) style of filmmaking that many of the scenes of the ailing Florence really do start to get you, so much so that you do want her to be happy. That style of filmmaking also raises suspense at times when you wonder how some people will be react to Florence’s singing and how their reaction will affect her.

It is those kinds of scenes that make this film well worth watching but there are also some downsides to Florence Foster Jenkins as well, and those largely centre around a huge issue in the casting. As you would expect from a film like this Meryl Streep puts in a brilliant emotionally driven performance and while Hugh Grant does match her remarkable well for me it felt like he was miscast in the role of Florence’s husband. While the wardrobe department have done all they can to ‘age’ Grant for the role it does come across as very creepy matching at times during the film… yes almost as creepy as the pairing of Catherine Zeta-Jones and Sean Connery in Entrapment. Having said that though Grant does put in a good and charming performance, he’s just in a role that he should never have been cast in.

The other actor who really impresses in this film is Simon Helberg who most people will know as Howard Wolowitz on the successful comedy series The Big Bang Theory. Herlberg has shown throughout his television career that he has impeccable comedic timing and he certainly brings that to his character here – the socially awkward and very innocent McMoon. To his credit Helberg not only matches Streep and Grant’s performances but sometimes even manages to steal the limelight with his creative facial expressions.

Maybe I didn’t find Florence Foster Jenkins as funny as some of the other people screening that I was in but I still found it a heartfelt film that grows on you the longer it goes on.

Stars(3)

 

 

Greg King:

You can hear Greg King’s full Florence Foster Jenkins review on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Ep #175.

Stars(3.5)

 

 

Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):  Stars(3)

 

IMDB Rating:  Florence Foster Jenkins (2016) on IMDb

 

Other Subculture Entertainment Florence Foster Jenkins reviews: You can also listen to our full Florence Foster Jenkins review on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Ep #175.

Trailer:

An

Summary: The manager of a pancake stall finds himself confronted with an odd but sympathetic elderly woman looking for work. A taste of her homemade bean jelly convinces him to hire her, which starts a relationship that is about much more than just street food.

Year: 2015

Australian Cinema Release Date: 6th May 2016

Australian DVD Release Date: TBA

Country: Japan, France, Germany

Director: Naomi Kawase

Screenwriter: Naomi Kawase, Durian Sukegawa (novel)

Cast: Etsuko Ichihara (Yoshiko), Kirin Kiki (Tokue), Masatoshi Nagase (Sentaro), Taiga (Yohei), Kyara Uchida (Wakana)

Runtime: 113 mins

Classification: M

 

OUR AN REVIEWS & RATINGS:

 

Greg King:

This gentle and delicate little drama from Japanese filmmaker Naomi Kawase screened at the Melbourne International Film Festival in 2016, and is now gaining a limited theatrical release. It is a deceptively charming little film that will win audiences over. The title itself An is the Japanese word for a sweet red bean paste which is one of the key ingredients of the film.

Sentaro (Masatoshi Nagase, from Jim Jarmusch’s Mystery Train, etc) runs a little pancake stall on the street selling dorayaki. A delicacy in Japan, dorayaki is essentially a pancake consisting of two small cookies filled with a sweet bean sauce. Business is rather slow until Tokue (veteran Kirin Kiki, fromLike Father, Like Son, etc), an elderly woman, applies for a job as an assistant cook. She is hired despite her crippled hands and her age. She makes her own sweet bean sauce from scratch, but it proves such a treat that soon customers are flocking to the small stand. Both have unhappy pasts and secrets, but when Tohue shares her recipe with Sentaro she helps him rediscover life. Shy local schoolgirl Wakana (newcomer Kyara Uchida) is another outsider who hangs around the shop. Together the trio bond over their love of dorayaki and their friendship changes the direction of their lives.

An (or Sweet Bean as it is known in some territories) is based on a novel written by Durian Sukegawa, and is arguably Kawase’s most accessible film. This is a low-key heartfelt and bittersweet film that centres around themes of tradition, food, friendship, loneliness, pain, secrets and second chances. Like Tokue’s unhurried approach to making her bean sauce recipe, Kawase’s direction is leisurely and sensitive. She takes her time over a lengthy sequence in which Tokue patiently makes her bean sauce.

However, the slow pace gives audiences ample time to get to know the characters and soak up the atmosphere. Kawase also suffuses the film with a warmth and gentle humour and a sentimental nature. The film’s final sequence blatantly tugs at the heartstrings.
The film is anchored by the remarkable performance of veteran actress Kiki, who brings grace and dignity to her role. Nagase brings a quietly unassuming quality to his performance as Sentaro.

An has been beautifully shot by first time cinematographer Shigeki Akiyama who gives the film an almost poetic quality. The colourful Japanese cherry blossoms which also feature prominently in the film become a potent symbol of the fleetingness of life, and the importance of seizing the moment and living in it.

An is another fine example of that subgenre of food porn cinema like Big Night, Babette’s Feast, etc, that will have audiences leaving the cinema feeling quite hungry and ready for a bite of something simple.

Stars(3.5)

 

 

Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):  Stars(3.5)

 

IMDB Rating:  Sweet Bean (2015) on IMDb

 

Other Subculture Entertainment An reviews: You can also listen to our full An review on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Ep #175.

Trailer:

Midnight Special

Summary: A father named Roy (Michael Shannon) goes on the run with his son, Alton (Jaeden Lieberher), after the boy’s special powers attracts the attention of a cult who believes he delivers messages from God and also the CIA.

Year: 2016

Australian Cinema Release Date: 21st April 2016

Australian DVD Release Date: TBA

Country: United States

Director: Jeff Nichols

Screenwriter: Jeff Nichols

Cast: Lynn Berry (herself), Sean Bridgers (Fredrick), Kerry Cahill (Linda), Bill Camp (Doak), Adam Driver (Sevier), Kirsten Dunst (Sarah Tomlin), Joel Edgerton (Lucas), Lucy Faust (Caroline), Sharon Garrison (Jane Adams), Dana Gourrier (Sharon Davison), Nancy Grace (herself), Scott Haze (Levi), David Jensen (Elden), Allison King (Hannah), Sharon Landry (Merrianne), Jaeden Lieberher (Alton Meyer), Michael Shannon (Roy), Sam Shepard (Calvin Meyer), Paul Sparks (Agent Miller)

Runtime: 112 mins

Classification: M

 

OUR MIDNIGHT SPECIAL REVIEWS & RATINGS:

 

David Griffiths:

Jeff Nichols has really announced himself as one of the best modern day filmmakers over the past few years. To be honest Nichols is yet to make a bad film, and his features which have included Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter and Mud have been gems that have regularly made my Top Ten films lists of the years they were released. Hell, I would go as far as to say that Mud is right up there as one of the best modern day films made. For that reason alone when I heard that his new film, Midnight Special, was a dark edged sci-fi that just happened to star two of my favourite actors, Michael Shannon and Joel Edgerton, I was just as excited as I was about the release of Captain America: Civil War or Batman vs Superman.

Midnight Special begins with Roy (Michael Shannon – Man Of Steel) on the run from the law after he and his childhood friend Lucas (Joel Edgerton – The Gift) snatched his son Alton (Jaeden Lieberher – St. Vincent) from a cult where it is expected that Alton and his supernatural gifts will continue to be the cult’s bridge between themselves and God.

But as Roy and Lucas rush to get Alton first of all to his mother, Sarah (Kirsten Dunst – Melancholia), and then to the co-ordinates that he has been sent, the journey is made dangerous by the fact that they are pursued by henchmen sent by cult leader, Calvin Meyer (Sam Shepherd – Mud) and law enforcement agencies led by Sevier (Adam Driver – Star Wars: The Force Awakens). Then there is the fact that Alton’s supernatural powers seem to be changing all the time, sometimes with catastrophic results.

There is no doubt that Midnight Special is going to frustrate some audience members. The film begins with an amazing opening as Nichols has the courage not to let the audience be able to figure out too much. In fact for the first 20-30 minutes you are led to believe that Alton has been kidnapped and you have absolutely no idea who Lucas is. The film keeps you completely in the dark to key information and that just adds to the suspense as you try to piece everything together like a jigsaw puzzle. That works remarkable well for the beginning of the film but what is annoying is when Nichols decides to do the same thing with the ending the film. There are so many unanswered questions in the end that it almost drives you crazy. In fact there are so many things left open that this is the one time I wouldn’t be angry if they decided to make a sequel to the film just to finish it off.

For the most part though Midnight Special works sensationally well.  The way the film drifts from the cult storyline to a road-thriller shows that Nichols has the maturity to be a filmmaker that doesn’t shy away from throwing all the traditional filmmaking styles right out the window to get his story across. The fact that Nichols also manages to mix tropes from road trip and thriller movies into a film that ends up being a sci-fi also shows why he is one of the most exciting filmmakers of the modern generation.

Nichols’ well written screenplay also allows his cast to shine. As you would expect Edgerton and Shannon at their usual brilliant best while the film also allows Kirsten Dunst to remind audiences that she is still an actress who can really deliver when she is given the right material to work with. The script also lets Adam Driver show those who have been critical since his performance in Star Wars: The Force Awakens just how good he has always been in the indie filmmaking society. But the star here is clearly Jaeden Lieberther who like he did in the Bill Murray film St. Vincent shows the world how is destined to become one of the finest actors Hollywood has ever seen.

Midnight Special is the kind of film that has the potential to frustrate cinema goers who like a simple linear story, but if you like your sci-fi a little left of centre then you are going to adore this film. In fact this is the kind of movie that you’ll go to see and then urge your friends to see because you’ve loved it so much. Sure Midnight Special is not as good as Nichols’ previous films but it is still well worth a look.

Stars(4)

 

 

Greg King:

You can hear Greg King’s full Midnight Special review on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Ep #173.

Stars(3)

 

 

Nick Gardener:

You can hear Nick Gardener’s full Midnight Special review on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Ep #173.

Stars(3)

 

Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):  Stars(3)

 

IMDB Rating: Midnight Special (2016) on IMDb

 

Other Subculture Entertainment Midnight Special reviews: You can also listen to our full Midnight Special review on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Ep #173.

Trailer:

Mother's Day

Summary: As Mother’s Day rapidly approaches various people find themselves going through different stages of life. Sandy (Jennifer Aniston) finds that her ex-husband’s suprise is nothing like she expected, Miranda (Julia Roberts) decides to keep impressing her fans and ignore the fact the day is near, Jesse (Kate Hudson) and Gabi (Sarah Chalke) find themselves having to hide their lives from their parents, Bradley (Jason Sudeikis) prepares to help his daughters through their first Mother’s Day after the death of their mother while Kristin (Britt Robertson) finds it impossible to accept Zack’s (Jack Whitehall) marriage proposal as she heads into her first Mother’s Day.

Year: 2016

Australian Cinema Release Date: 28th April 2016

Australian DVD Release Date: TBA

Country: United States

Director: Garry Marshall

Screenwriter: Tom Hines, Lily Hollander, Anya Kochoff, Matthew Walker

Cast: Jennifer Aniston (Sandy), Ella Anderson (Vicky), Brittany Belt (Beth Anne), Ayden Bivek (Tanner), Charly Briggs (Baby Katie Zim), Remy Briggs (Baby Katie Zim), Caleb Brown (Mikey), Joseph Leo Bwarie (Principal Bobby Lee), Jesse Case (Rachel), Sarah Chalke (Gabi), Hector Elizondo (Lance Wallace), Cameron Esposito (Max), Adam Freeman (HSN Host Adam Freeman), Gary Friedkin (Shorty), Jennifer Garner (2nd Lt. Dana Barton), Lisa Roberts Gillian (Assistant Betty), Adreana Gonzalez (Publicist Inez), Suzanne Haring (Bella the Balloon Lady), Tom Hines (Brady), Kate Hudson (Jesse), Mia Jackson (herself), Genevieve Joy (herself), Beth Kennedy (Gwenda), Siena LaGambina (Paige), Kate Linder (Dog Walker Gigi), Loni Love (Kimberly), Jon Lovitz (Wally Burn), Natalie Machado (Soccer Referee Lisa), Aasif Mandvi (Russell), Penny Marshall (Narrator), Sam Marshall (Sam), Margo Martindale (Flo), Drew Matthews (Beanzie), Shay Mitchell (Tina), Ariana Neal (Evette), Anoush NeVart (Sonia), Timothy Olyphant (Henry), Robert Pine (Earl), Julia Roberts (Miranda), Britt Robertson (Kristin), Graydon Russell (Tommy), Gianna Simone (Val), Brandon Spink (Peter), Jason Sudeikis (Bradley), Sandra Taylor (Lexy), Owen Vaccaro (Charlie), Paul Vogt (Tiny), Matthew Walker (Randy The Clown), Lucy Walsh (Jody), David Wedil (Dog Walker Leah), Jack Whitehall (Zack)

Runtime: 118 mins

Classification: M

 

OUR MOTHER’S DAY REVIEWS & RATINGS:

 

David Griffiths:

Over the past few years Garry Marshall’s movies haven’t always been easy to watch. The man who once brought as classic television shows like Happy Days and The Odd Couple has turned to a lazy style of filmmaking which has seen him use the quantity of stars to get people into the cinema rather than the quality of the film. The result has been films like New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day which while have had star power but haven’t exactly been the most captivating films to watch.

It was because of that style of filmmaking that has meant that Mother’s Day has virtually been released in Australia with very little fanfare at all, a surprise when you realise that it stars three regular box office winners – Jennifer Aniston (We’re The Millers), Julia Roberts (Pretty Woman) and Kate Hudson (Almost Famous). If you are one of those people that have been a little bit worried about going to see Mother’s Day you can relax because this is one of Marshall’s better modern day films.

The film centres around a number of characters as Mother’s Day rapidly approaches. There is Jesse (Kate Hudson) and her sister Gabi (Sarah Chalke – Scrubs) who haven’t seen their parents in years because of their secret lives they know that their parents would not approve them. There is also Sandy (Jennifer Aniston) who is left reeling after she discovers that her ex-husband (Timothy Olyphant – Hitman) has just re-married the much younger Tina (Shay Mitchell – Pretty Little Liars) which means her children know have a second mother. Then there is Bradley (Jason Sudeikis – Horrible Bosses) who has been left trying to bring up his daughters after the death of his mother while Zack (Jack Whitehall – Fresh Meat) struggles to comprehend why the mother of his daughter, Kristin (Britt Robertson – The Longest Ride) refuses to marry him. Last but not least there is Miranda (Julia Roberts), the television show host that brings the ensemble all together.

After watching Mother’s Day i found myself sitting down and going over the film like a crime scene. Why did Mother’s Day work so well when Marshall’s previous films have been such lame ducks. The first thing I realised was the fact that Mother’s Day seems to flow a lot smoother than the previously mentioned films. Some of the links between characters in the other films have been pretty lame where as in Mother’s Day the relationships are not only believable but help the film’s storyline to move along rather than get in the way of it.

There also seems to be a lot more heart and humor in the film this time around which in the end makes the whole film seem a whole lot more realistic. While the story revolving around Bradley might not be as well presented as the similar story in Steve Carrell’s Dan In Real Life Sudeikis does manage to mix comedy with some truly emotional scenes. Likewise Sarah Chalke and Kate Hudson brilliantly portray two sisters sadly forced to live secret lives despite the fact they live in modern times. Like Sudeikis the two manage to amazingly combine comedy with some scenes that are powerful enough to really upset anybody who has had similar things happen in their lives.

Perhaps the biggest breath of fresh air in Mother’s Day are the acting performances of Britt Robertson and Jack Whitehall. Whitehall largely comes from a comedy background and while he plays a stand-up comedian in Mother’s Day he shows a new side to his talents by also expertly portraying a lot of the more emotional scenes that he shares with Britt Robertson who is almost unrecognisable compared to the roles that she has recently played in Tomorrowland and The Longest Ride.

Marshall really does find the right mix of comedy and drama and manages to make Mother’s Day a credible film that is a joy to watch. This is a film that you can easily become emotionally involved with and with great acting performances from the likes of Aniston, Hudson and Sarah Chalke this is actually a film that you won’t groan at if someone in your family decides that want to watch it every Mother’s Day. Garry Marshall take a bow you have finally learnt how to make a good ensemble film.

 

Stars(3)

 

 

Greg King:

Mother’s Day is the third film in director Garry Marshall’s unofficial trilogy based around Hallmark-like “special events” holidays, and it follows the bland template established by the romcom Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve. All three films are multi-character narratives with interwoven storylines and a star studded ensemble cast in which a bevy of A-listers vie for screen time. In terms of quality thoughMother’s Day falls somewhere between the superior Valentine’s Day and the lacklustre New Year’s Eve, which seem a little contrived by comparison.

Given the title it’s not surprising that all of the narrative strands here revolve around different concepts of motherhood, maternal responsibilities, complex mother and child relationships, and the daily struggles of motherhood. The formulaic script has been written by four writers including Anya Kochoff Romano (Monster-in-Law) and three first time screenwriters in actor turned writer Tom Hines (a regular in many of Marshall’s films), Lily Hollander, and Matthew Walker, which accounts for a slight unevenness in tone at times.

The film is set in Atlanta and centres around a number of middle class women during the days leading up to the titular celebration day.

Jesse (Kate Hudson) and her sister Gabi (Sarah Chalke, from Scrubs, etc) live next to each other, and they haven’t seen their parents for a couple of years, mainly because they fear that their judgemental mother (Margot Martindale) will disapprove of their lifestyle choices. Jesse has married Russell (Aasif Mandvi), a doctor of Indian descent with whom she has a young son, while Gabi is gay and married to her girlfriend Max (Cameron Esposito). But when their parents unexpectedly stop by for a surprise visit the scene is set for some emotional upheavals and broad racist humour before a reconciliation can be affected.

Sandy (Jennifer Aniston) is divorced from her husband Henry (Timothy Olyphant, from tv’s Justified, etc), but they seem to share a good relationship. But then Sandy is shocked to learn that he has married the much younger Tina (Shay Mitchell, from Pretty Little Liars, etc). She is a little jealous and even bitter at having to share her two sons with their new stepmother who is barely out of puberty herself.

Bradley (Jason Sudeikis) is a physical trainer still recovering from the death of his wife (a cameo from Jennifer Garner), a soldier who was killed in action in Afghanistan a year ago. He is something of a mister mum, trying to raise his two daughters, but struggling to keep it all together. Several of the women at the gym where he works are trying to fix him up with a suitable partner. But as Mother’s Day approaches, Bradley is not sure how to handle his emotions.

Zack (Jack Whitehall) works in a bar but is also an aspiring stand up comic. He wants to marry his girlfriend Kristin (Britt Robertson, from The Last Ride, etc), who is the mother of his young daughter. But Kristin was adopted as a child and is still suffering from some abandonment issues. She is reluctant to marry him until she can come to terms with who she is.

The link that draws all these various characters together is Miranda (Julia Roberts), the popular host of a television home shopping network program and celebrity author.

The cast do what they can with their at times cliched characters. Aniston is a familiar figure in romcoms, and fittingly most of the best moments and best lines are given to her character. She manages to bring the material alive whenever she is on screen. Hector Elizondo, who has appeared in all of Marshall’s films, has a small role here as Miranda’s increasingly exasperated manager.

This is surprisingly lazy filmmaking from veteran Marshall, who of course gave us such classic television sitcoms as Happy Days, Mork And Mindy and The Odd Couple, and big screen romantic comedies like the classic Pretty WomanMother’s Day is suffused with his trademark mix of humour and warmth. Here he juggles his large cast and multi story lines deftly enough, and gives us a mix of slapstick humour mixed with sentimentality that sometimes slips into mawkishness.

 

Stars(2.5)

 

 

Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):  Stars(3)

 

IMDB Rating: Mother's Day (2016) on IMDb

 

Other Subculture Entertainment Mother’s Day reviews: You can also listen to our full Mother’s Day review on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Ep #174.

Trailer:

A Month Of Sundays

Summary: Divorced real estate agent Frank Mollard’s (Anthony LaPaglia) is struggling to deal with divorce and his place in the world when he is suddenly surprised from a phone call by Sarah (Julia Blake) an elderly woman who reminds Frank of his own mother who is now deceased.

Year: 2015

Australian Cinema Release Date: 28th April 2016

Australian DVD Release Date: TBA

Country: Australia

Director: Matthew Saville

Screenwriter: Matthew Saville

Cast: Wayne Anthony (Noel Lang), Julia Blake (Sarah), John Clarke (Phillip Lang), Justine Clarke (Wendy), Terence Crawford (Staurt), Indiana Crowther (Frank Jnr.), Mikaela Davies (Olivia), Donal Forde (Damian), Patrick Graham (Ian Treggoning), Anthony LaPaglia (Frank Mollard)

Runtime: 110 mins

Classification: PG

 

OUR A MONTH OF SUNDAYS REVIEWS & RATINGS:

 

David Griffiths:

A film is supposed to make you feel a range of different emotions when you watch it, but very often it’s how you feel as you leave the cinema that is the most important. Will you leave feeling entertained? Informed? The one thing you probably shouldn’t be feeling when you leave the cinema is empty… but sadly that is the way I found myself feeling as I left the cinema after a screening of A Month of Sundays… something that I should add that the friends with me were feeling as well.

To be honest that completely surprised me because in the past I have adored the films made by Australian director Matthew Saville. His debut feature Noise was a fresh alternative Police drama that had me really raving about the brilliance of the film, while his last film Felony again visited the boys in the blue and kept its audience guessing from start to finish.

That is the first thing that hits you about A Month Of Sundays it is very different to anything that Saville has done before. Instead of going down the crime path this film centres around Frank Mollard (Anthony LaPaglia – Without A Trace) a real estate agent who has found himself in a deep funk as he struggles to see any importance in his work and is also dealing with the fact that his now famous wife, Wendy (Justine Clarke – Look Both Ways), has left him and he has no idea how to connect with his son, Frank Jnr. (Indiana Crowther – newcomer).

Then along comes something that sparks a little bit of interest in Frank’s life. He receives an accidental phone call from Sarah (Julia Blake – Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark), a retired librarian who reminds him of his mother. While Frank’s uncaring boss, Phillip Lang (John Clarke – The Man Who Sued God) warns him against it Frank finds himself drawing closer to Sarah.

A quick read through of the summary of the film and you see that it could have been possible for A Month Of Sundays to have been a very thought provoking film. To its credit the film does explore topics such as how an older male deals with the break-up of a marriage, the loss of his mother and also trying to relate to his teenage son, but the film just does not go deep enough into any of those topics to make it worthy film. The film also doesn’t allow its audience to feel sorry for Frank enough, we simply see him as a morose (and kind of boring) individual and as a result you just never really develop a connection to him. Worse still is the fact that the filmmakers obviously think that the audience with side with Frank and not support Sarah’s son in his belief that Sarah and Frank’s friendship is a little strange. Truthfully it is easier to see the son’s point of view than it is to see Frank’s.

One of the biggest problems with the film though is that it just seems to cruise along at a steady pace with very little highs. The major high throughout the film is the comedic style of John Clarke, which most Australians would have come to know and love with his political satire on A Current Affair. Clarke’s style steals nearly every scene that he is in and it is often his one liners that are the stand out. He even manages to deliver some good emotional scenes as we see his character battle with dealing with the fact that his elderly father has lost his mind.

As usual Anthony LaPaglia is good but really doesn’t get a lot to work with. He breezes through his scenes while wearing the same emotion on his face in nearly every scene. He is well supported by Justine Clarke and newcomer, Indiana Crowther. The clear standout here though is Julia Blake who commands the screen in every scene she appears in and once again she has managed to deliver another great performance.

A Month Of Sundays is a little bit of a letdown for all the Matthew Saville fans out there. Slow and unremarkable this is a film that I doubt that I will revisit.

Stars(2.5)

 

 

Greg King:

A Month Of Sundays is the third film from writer/director Matt Saville (a veteran of television with credits ranging from the telemovie The King to sitcom Please Like Me), and is something of a change of pace for a filmmaker widely considered as one of our best. His first two films were the multi-award winning Noise and Felony, both character-driven police dramas that explored themes of guilt, responsibility, family and secrets. A Month Of Sundays is a more introspective drama about a man undergoing a midlife crisis who gets a new lease on life after he meets an elderly woman. It deals with universal themes of family, loss, grief, mortality, dysfunctional relationships, the dream of owning your own home, regeret and redemption, and a variety of complex mother/son relationships.

The central character here is Frank Mollard (played by Anthony LaPaglia, from tv series Without A Trace, the recent Holding The Man, and AFI award winning dramas Balibo, Lantana, etc), a real estate agent who has fallen into a pit of despair and is sleepwalking through his life at the moment. He is having trouble selling houses, even in the midst of a real estate boom. His mother has recently died, he is still dealing with the breakdown of his marriage to Wendy (Justine Clarke), who is finding fame as the star of a new television medical drama, and is having difficulty relating to his teenaged son (newcomer Indiana Crowther). His job is selling houses that belong to the soon to be deceased, which further adds to his emotional turmoil and sense of grief.

Then he receives phone call from the elderly Sarah (Julia Blake), who accidentally rang his number when trying to call her own son. Intrigued by their brief conversation and the sense of comfort it briefly provided, Frank arranges to meet Sarah and through her he explores his own grief and emotional confusion. His presence soon proves an irritant to her real son Damien (Donal Forde), who works as an IT expert. But eventually Sarah becomes something of a surrogate mother figure and her wisdom and life experiences eventually help snap Frank out of his ennui and he begins to reconect with the world around him.

But unfortunately this earnest and well meaning but contrived melodrama is the lesser of Saville’s three films. It is uneven in both tone and pacing. There are problems with the script and the characterisation as we don’t really identify with some of the characters here or even care that much about them.

Veteran cinematographer Mark Wareham (Felony, BoyTown, etc) makes good use of the leafy tree lined suburban streets of Adelaide and gives the film a strong sense of location and a strong visual surface.

LaPaglia is good at conveying the fragility and vulnerability of the male psyche and he does a good job here bringing some unexpected layers to his nuanced portrayal of Frank. A nice touch sees Frank describe every location he enters in terse real estate terms: “Meticulously renovated family home; untouched period charm; late Victorian style; scope to further improve…” Although 79, Blake is still a formidable screen presence and she brings gravitas to her role as Sarah. But the best moments of the film centre around Frank’s shifty boss Philip (a scene stealing performance by comic John Clarke), a shifty hustler with a heart of stone. Clarke brings his usual dry, deadpan wit to the role and I wanted more of his character and less of the melodramatic stuff about dysfunctional families and midlife crises that we have seen in numerous other similarly themed films.

But overall A Month Of Sundays is a rather trite and pedestrian affair that will struggle to resonate with a wider mainstream audience.

 

Stars(2)

 

 

John Noonan:

Anthony LaPaglia plays sour faced estate agent, Frank Mollard, who could be a human stand in for Droopy the Dog should he ever fail to turn up for work. Frank is still wrestling with unaired feelings about his mother’s death the previous year, his ex-wife is carving a successful career as an actress and his distant son appears to be following suit. He’s also become disenfranchised with his job; watching potential first time home owners lose out to middle-aged hipster property tycoons. When he receives a call from a sweet old lady called Sarah (Julia Blake) who has misdialled, Frank spies an opportunity to claw back some of the happiness he once had.

There’s something about A Month of Sundays, the latest film from director Matthew Saville, that doesn’t quite stick. For all intents and purposes the goods it puts on display are tempting; great cast, sunny locale and a touching underdog story that often resonates with Australian audiences. And yet it all feels a bit too light, particularly when stacked up against Saville’s previous work, such as Felony and Noise.

The trailer suggests that this will be a bittersweet drama about two people forming a cross-generational friendship in which they’ll laugh, cry, and possibly even learn something at the end of the day. However, Sarah, played wonderfully by Julia Blake, is merely one of several characters who walk in and out of scene to validate Frank’s demeanour. We learn an awful lot about the bitter agent, but very little about the dear OAP who likes to use the Dewey decimal system to keep her books in order at home. Affectations do not a personality make.

When a turning point in the film sees Sarah receive some tragic news, it makes the same misstep as Me and Earl and The Dying Girl, by denying her agency and instead focussing on how poor Frank will cope. LaPaliga is brilliant, but this film should really be more of a two-hander than it is. However, it’s not all doom and gloom, as Jack Clarke steals a number of scenes as Frank’s boss Peter Langdon. Even then though his acidic one-liners are hampered by scenes involving his mentally ill father that feel like they were taken from another film.

As feel good movies go, this is pretty much by the numbers stuff and it’s such a shame that a talented person like Saville would make such a misstep. However, in the right mood, A Month of Sundays is perhaps a non-taxing classic Sunday arvo film waiting to happen.

 

Stars(3)

 

 

Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):  Stars(2.5)

 

IMDB Rating: A Month of Sundays (2015) on IMDb

 

Other Subculture Entertainment A Month Of Sundays reviews: You can also listen to our full A Month Of Sunday review on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Ep #174.

Trailer:

Jem And The Holograms

Summary: As a small-town girl catapults from underground video sensation to global superstar, she and her three sisters begin a journey of discovering that some talents are too special to keep hidden.

Year: 2015

Australian Cinema Release Date: N/A

Australian DVD Release Date: 24th March, 2016

Country: USA

Director: Jon M. Chu

Screenwriter: Ryan Landels

Cast: Justin Alastair (Esteban), Ken Baker (Donnie The Reporter), Nicholas Braun (Brad), Barnaby Carpenter (Emmett Benton), Jimmy Fallon (himself), Katie Findlay (Stormer), Eiza Gonzalez (Jetta), Ryan Guzman (Rio), Dwayne Johnson (himself), Djoir Jordan (herself), Jason Kennedy (Jason Kennedy), Kesha (Pizazz), Alicia Keys (herself), Hayley Kiyoko (Aja), Hana Mae Lee (Roxy), Juliette Lewis (Erica Raymond), Christy Marx (Lindsey Pierce), Nathan Moore (Zipper), Aubrey Peeples (Jerrica/Jem), Aurora Perrineau (Shana), Chris Pratt (himself), Isabella Kai Rice (Young Jerrica), Molly Ringwald (Aunt Bailey), Stefanie Scott (Kimber), Jackie Tohn (Rebecca)

Runtime: 118 mins

Classification: PG

 

OUR JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS REVIEWS & RATINGS:

 

Harley Woods:

Jem And The Holograms is a film based on Hasbro’s super popular doll line of the Eighties, which had a cartoon series still loved to this day. The screenplay of this film was written by Ryan Landels and the film was directed by Jon M Chu.

The story revolves around the orphaned Jerrica who grows up with her little sister, Kimber, and 2 adoptive sisters, Shana and Aja, in a house where music is cultivated as a way to bond. She becomes an online sensation overnight when she dons a pink wig and performs a song under the name ‘Jem’.

When I heard that Jem was going to be done as a live action movie I was so excited. I loved the cartoon when I was a child. I t was the essential Eighties cartoon – full of music, colour, crazy style but with real heart at its centre.

Then I saw the trailer for the movie. What was being advertised was absolutely nothing like Jem – it was just using the name. I’m pretty sure this pissed-off a lot of people and the film’s release suffered for it.

However, having just watched the DVD release, I have to say it was not as horrible as I feared. Synergy was there as a character, albeit a little different to the original, as was Jerrica’s backstory, slightly tweaked…

So why was I shown a completely boring ‘I-want-to-be-on-American-Idol’ type trailer to advertise the movie – with almost none of the classic Jem elements and characteristic details?

Despite this, the film does offer good fan-service throughout the film; a lot of characters and elements from the show appear. Some elements are not used enough, such as the classic Jem “truly outrageous” style. This appears briefly at the start and gets our hopes up… only to be watered down when they hit stardom.

The filmmakers have created a story about finding the ‘real you’ and being courageous enough to be yourself and follow your dreams. To sell this, we not only follow Jerrica’s journey to becoming Jem via her online video, but other ‘everyday people’ are shown throughout the film with their video uploads. This is meant to be an inspirational “we are all Jem” idea, showing that everyone can make their dreams come true.

Whilst I applaud the idea and lesson, I have to say that all those videos were annoying and detracted from the narrative. More time spent ‘showing’ Jem’s effect rather than a bunch of low-quality home video scenes of people saying how inspired they are would have been more beneficial.

Overall, the story was good and engaging but suffered from lazy and predictable moments later on. At one point the band falls apart, but all is forgiven without any kind of prompting a few minutes later. Character-wise, the movie starts good and builds each of the main characters, then becomes all about Jem and the others start to become background elements.

Jerrica’s biological little sister, Kimber, is the catalyst for the events and is built up at the start. Jerrica finds clues left by their father and follows them as her personal journey and, apparently, is nothing to do with Kimber. A message from their father at the end is all directed at Jerrica, only acknowledging Kimber at the very end.

Fans of Jem will have been wanting to see the Misfits in the movie. They’re not the main antagonists as you might have hoped, but do appear in a mid-credits bonus scene (with Pizazz played by Kesha) obviously intended to set-up a sequel. Their absence did not bother me, though, as it made sense to set Jem up as a star before introducing rivals.

I hope we actually do get a sequel, but with stronger writing (I’ll do it!) and ‘style’ showing it to be a bit more faithful to the franchise – especially in how it’s advertised. I hope they make the effort to set it straight and actually make Jem ‘truly outrageous’, which she really wasn’t in this film.

A nice touch might have been to update the old theme-tune. The music was good in the movie, but it should have been more striking and utilised more than it actually was for a film about a musician. It was disappointing to see her turned into a Lady-Gaga-clone at one stage – although this could have been a device used to show her becoming unpopular when they tried to change who she fundamentally was; you missed something there, Hasbro Studios!

Performances by the cast were generally strong, given what they had to work with. At times the film did not know if it wanted to be funny or feely and could have been executed better. Our heroine played her part well but we would like to see more opportunity to be the striking character and talent that she is built up to be (more the script’s fault than the actress’).

This film deserves 3.5 out of 5, with plenty of room left to be truly, truly, truly outrageous.

 

Stars(3.5)

 

 

Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):  Stars(3.5)

 

IMDB Rating:  Jem and the Holograms (2015) on IMDb

 

Other Subculture Entertainment Jem And The Holograms Reviews: Nil

Trailer:

Eye In The Sky DVD

Summary: High ranking British officials Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren) and Lt. General Frank Benson (Alan Rickman) think that their hard work is finally paid off and they have been able to track the location of a number of terrorists in Kenya. When it is determined that all the terrorists will be in the same building for a meeting a plan is put in place to use drones to watch their movement and pounce when the time is right.

But when things start to go wrong and Powell and Benson realise that they are going to have to use American drone pilot Steve Watts (Aaron Paul) for a kill mission, the whole case becomes political. That then esculates when a young girl innocently goes into the ‘kill zone’ to sell bread.

Year: 2015

Australian Cinema Release Date: 24th March 2016

Australian DVD/Blu-Ray/On Demand Release Date: 20th July

Country: UK

Director: Gavin Hood

Screenwriter: Guy Hibbert

Cast: Barkhad Abdi (Jama Farah), Mohamed Abdirahmaan (Abdi), Ahmed Mohamed Ali (Omar), Carl Beukes (Sergeant Mike Gleeson), Babou Ceesay (Sergeant Mushtaq Saddiq), Bob Chappell (Simon Powell), Francis Chouler (Jack Cleary), Monica Dolan (Angela Northman), Kim Engelbrecht (Lucy Galvez), Sonia Esguiera (Esther Alvarez), Daniel Fox (Tom Bellamy), Phoebe Fox (Carrie Gershon), Iain Glen (James Willett), Armaan Haggio (Musa Mo’Allim), Abdullah Hassan (Shahid Ahmed), Dek Hassan (Abdullah Al-Hardy), Faisa Hassan (Fatima Mo’Allim), Jon Heffernan (Major Harold Webb), Gavin Hood (Lt. Colonel Ed Walsh), Graham Hopkins (Nigel Adler), Jessica Jones (Kate Barnes), Tyrone Keogh (Sammy), Liz King (Susan Danford/Ayesha Al-Hady), Vusi Kunene (Major Moses Owiti), Warren Masemola (Agent Atieno), Richard McCabe (George Matherson), Roberto Meyer (Rasheed Hamud), Helen Mirren (Colonel Katherine Powell), Ali Mohamed (Khalid), Ma Mohamed (Osman Abade), Jeremy Northam (Brian Woodale), Michael O’Keefe (Ken Stanitzke), Abdi Mohamed Osman (Amadu Mukhtar), Aaron Paul (Steve Watts), Alan Rickman (Lt. General Frank Benson), Laila Robins (Ms. Jillian Goodman), Zak Rowlands (Second Crewman – K. Moore), Monde Sibisi (Muhammad Abdisallam), Abdilatief Takow (Ali), Aisha Takow (Alia Mo’Allim), Lemogang Tsipa (Matt Levery), Luke Tyler (Robert Powell), Ebby Weyime (Damisi), Meganne Young (Lizzy)

Runtime: 102 mins

Classification: M

 

OUR EYE IN THE SKY REVIEWS & RATINGS:

 

David Griffiths:

Director Gavin Hood seems like he has a lot to say about the military and Government officials. Over the years he has delivered movies such as Rendition (which looked at CIA interrogation techniques), X-Men Origins: Wolverine which despite its blockbuster appeal was critical of military experiments on soldiers and his big journey into the sci-fi genre was Ender’s Game a film that was extremely critical about warfare and its involvement with children. Now Hood explores the notion of how politics can interfere with modern warfare with his latest offering, Eye In The Sky. Of course the importance of this film takes another big step forward after the sad death of Alan Rickman, this is his final performance on screen.

As a film itself Eye In The Sky holds its own but the similarities between it and a movie that surfaced last year called Good Kill (starring Ethan Hawke) are alarming. Surprisingly the two films would actually fit together as a good companion piece (take note those who program the films at The Astor), while Good Kill explored the effects that drone warfare has on the pilot that has to deliver the ‘kill’ Eye In The Sky looks at the dangers that occur when politics and modern warfare come face-to-face together.

To Hood’s credit Eye In The Sky would not have been an easy film to direct as the film is almost like two different films in one. While the shots on the ground in Kenya call for chases and action the scenes set back in England call for tense maybe dialogue driven scenes. To Hood’s credit he pulls off both equally as well as each other and it is absolute credit to him that some of the scenes set in the political offices are just as tense as the moments of action in Kenya. Ender’s Game taught as that Gavin Hood was a director to watch and Eye In The Sky shows audiences worldwide that he is a director that at the top of his game can produce a sleek military thriller.

To give the film credit though it really does explore the issue of politics and public relations getting in the way of modern warfare remarkably well. The film’s theory is probably best described by a masterful piece of screenwriting by Guy Hibbert (who also wrote Five Minutes Of Heaven) who at one point has the politicians debating whether it would be better PR for them if they let the terrorists do their terrorist attack or whether they kill an innocent child along with the terrorists. It’s just one bit of writing that will stick with me for a long time.

When your two leads are Alan Rickman and Helen Mirren of course the acting is going to be top notch, and while Mirren once again puts in a brilliant performance you can only wonder whether or not she is miscast and it seems implausible that a woman of her age would still have a military career. Rickman again also puts in a good performance but just seems to breeze through in a role that doesn’t call for him to do anything special. And for those wondering if this is a time that Aaron Paul gets the chance to put his teeth into a meaty role, think again because he like Rickman just seems to get a dream run without having to do much.

While Eye In The Sky is not as good as Good Kill it is still a film that is worth taking a look at if you want to see a film not afraid to raise some questions about modern day warfare. Gavin Hood brings just the right amount of suspense to the film while Rickman and Mirren and predictably good in their roles. Not quite an Oscar worthy film… but not far off either.

Stars(4)

 

 

Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):  Stars(4)

 

IMDB Rating: Eye in the Sky (2015) on IMDb

 

Other Subculture Entertainment Eye In The Sky reviews: You can listen to Kyle and Dave review Eye In The Sky on The Popcorn Conspiracy Ep #002 and The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show #171.

 

Trailer:

A Bigger Splash

Summary: A remake of La Piscine from 1969 A Bigger Splash sees rock-star Marianne Lane (Tilda Swinton), who has lost her voice after recent surgery, on a vacation on the beautiful Italian island of Pantelleria, with her recovering drug-addict, filmmaker boyfriend Paul De Smedt (Matthias Schoenaerts).

Their enjoyable times of lazing in the sun however is cut short when Marianne’s manager and ex-lover Harry Hawkes (Ralph Fiennes) and his new-found daughter Penelope Lanier (Dakota Johnson) turn up unexpectedly and cause a range of issues to arise.

Year: 2015

Australian Cinema Release Date: 24th March 2016

Australian DVD Release Date: TBA

Country: Italy, France

Director: Luca Guadagnino

Screenwriter: David Kajganich, Alain Page (story)

Cast: Elena Bucci (Clara), Aurore Clement (Mireille), Ralph Fiennes (Harry Hawkes), Corrado Guzzanti (Maresciallo Carabinieri), Dakota Johnson (Penelope Lanier), Lily McMenamy (Sylvie), Matthias Schoenaerts (Paul DeSmidt), Tilda Swinton (Marianne Lane)

Runtime: 124 mins

Classification: MA15+

 

OUR A BIGGER SPLASH REVIEWS & RATINGS:

 

David Griffiths:

If you don’t like slow burns and films a little on the alternative then A Bigger Splash is not the film for you. On the other hand if you like me and like a film with a little bit of an edge to it then you might be right in your element with Italian director Luca Guadagnino’s latest offering – a film that certainly keeps its audience guessing right up until the final credits.

Now I would be lying if I sat here and said that A Bigger Splash is the perfect film because it isn’t. While Guadagnino does use the island’s beauty and perils brilliantly well the film does drag at times, especially early on. Of course anyone who can cope with that slowness is then rewarded handsomely with a second half that sees the character’s loyalties tested and even a massive amount of crime injected into the storyline, and it is those moments that will have the audience on the edge of their seat as even though some of the characters are unlikable you do actually find yourself caring what happens to them in the long run.

A Bigger Splash is really a film told in two halves. The first half of the film is brought to life with some good acting performances that will be loved by those who like serious cinema. Tilda Swinton is at her usual best despite being put to the test by playing a character that can barely say a word. To her credit Swinton instead lets Marianne put all her emotions across powerfully for a range of looks and normally aggressive forms of body language.

Swinton is well supported by Ralph Fiennes who seems to enjoy play the eccentric and very bossy Harry Hawkes. No matter how slow the film is at times Fiennes completely steals a lot of the scenes that he is in, especially one in which he strangely dances for nearly five minutes, a scene which it seems he had a lot of fun filming. His later menacing scenes with both Swinton and Schoenaerts are also standouts that really bring the film to life as well.

Cast wise the audience also gets to see a very different side to Dakota Johnson that what we have not seen previously as well. While audiences got to see her as sweet and demure in Fifty Shades Of Grey and shy and reserved in How To Be Single here Johnson is completely transformed into a sultry and seductive blonde and shows that she is more than capable to match it with her much more experienced cast.

The second half of the film is where Guadagnino really brings the film to life though. As tension reaches a boiling point and a good crime story moves to the fore (don’t worry you won’t read any spoilers here) the film moves up several gears and takes a turn to the dark side. The infusion of glimpses of Europe’s refuge crisis all throughout the film also enhance the latter parts of the storyline as well, which shows that despite the films meandering style early on there was some form of structure there all along.

While A Bigger Splash may not be enjoyed by those who enjoy their normal popcorn movie, this is a film that will be loved by those that love their films a little left of centre and a good dose of darkness.

Stars(3)

 

 

Greg King:

An erotic psychological drama starring Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes and Dakota Johnson, A Bigger Splash is a loose remake of Jacques Deray’s seductive 1969 film called La Picerne, which starred Alain Delon. Director Luca Guadagnino (better known for the gorgeous and visually sumptuous I Am Love) and writer David Kajganich (the dire Nicole Kidman sci-fi thriller The Invasion, etc) give the material a more contemporary flavour as they work in some topical issues with a mention of displaced migrants and refugees who are flooding into European countries by the boat load.

The film is set on the volcanic island of Pantelleria, which lies off Sicily, and centres around four self destructive characters caught up in a complex and complicated relationship. There is rock star Marianne Lane (Swinton), something of a cross between Bowie and Chrissi Hynde, who is recuperating following throat surgery. She is enjoying a nice holiday with her filmmaker boyfriend Paul (Belgian hunk Matthias Schoenaerts), a recovering alcoholic. Both Marianne and Paul are psychologically wounded and carry mental scars.

Then their idyllic holiday is interrupted by the arrival of flamboyant record producer Harry Hawkes (Fiennes) and his estranged daughter Penelope (Dakota Johnson, from the Razzie award winning Fifty Shades Of Grey, etc). Marianne and Harry share a past history. Indeed it was Harry who introduced Marianne to Paul in an effort to get out of the relationship, and he is now full of regrets over that decision. And the sexually precocious Penelope sets her sights on seducing Paul. The atmosphere is charged with suspicion, jealousy, and personal revelations, and there are palpable undercurrents of sexual tension, lust, temptation.

This is a juicy role for Fiennes. This is Fiennes like we haven’t seen him before on screen – lively, brash and flamboyant – and he chews the scenery with his manic performance. He normally has such an intense screen persona, but here he is such an ebullient character who also strips off and dances and swims naked and shows off rare comic timing. It was his performance in The Grand Budapest Hotel that convinced director Guadagnino that Fiennes was suited to the character here.

Swinton has the more challenging role as Marianne, who is largely a silent participant in events. Her character is unable to speak, so Swinton has to convey a wide range of emotions through gestures and facial expressions. Schoenaerts has plenty of charisma and is solid as the brooding Paul.

Johnson’s breakthrough role was as the ingenue introduced to the world of sexual games and b&d in the risible Fifty Shades Of Grey, and here she plays an outrageous, sexually aware Lolita-like adolescent, but her character is a little underdeveloped.

The film features an eclectic soundtrack that includes The Rolling Stones, Harry Nilsson and Captain Beefheart. And Fiennes’ character narrates a wonderful anecdote about working with the Rolling Stones during the 80s, telling an apocryphal story about the recording of the track The Moon Is Up for their Tattoo You album – the story is apparently true, but the Harry Hawkes character and his involvement is not.

A Bigger Splash has been shot on location on Pantelleria by Guadagnino’s regular cinematographer Yorick Le Saux, who gives the material a sunny, washed out, burned look that complements the setting. The swimming pool itself almost becomes a nother character in the carnal edgy drama. The title is also deliberately evocative of David Hockney’s 1967 painting of the same name, and also recalls Francois Ozon’s film Swimming Pool. The itself has something of a European sensibility in its approach to sex and nudity. Guadagnino’s regular editor Walter Fasano uses abrupt cuts to give the film an unsettling and disjointed feel.

But it remains to be seen whether A Bigger Splash will connect with an audience and make a splash at the box office.

Stars(2.5)

 

 

Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):  Stars(3)

 

IMDB Rating: A Bigger Splash (2015) on IMDb

 

Other Subculture Entertainment A Bigger Splash reviews: Nil

Trailer:

Pride

Summary: U.K. gay activists work to help miners during their lengthy strike of the National Union of Mineworkers in the summer of 1984.

Year: 2014

Australian Cinema Release Date: 30th October, 2014

Australian DVD Release Date: 4th March, 2015

Country: UK, France

Director: Matthew Warchus

Screenwriter: Stephen Beresford

Cast: Jack Baggs (Gary), Derek Barr (Brian), Jessie Cave (Zoe), Paddy Considine (Dai), Monica Dolan (Marion), Dyfan Dwyfor (Lee), Mary-Anne Dymond (Rowena), Sophie Evans (Debbie), Karina Fernandez (Stella), Matthew Flynn (Tony), Freddie Fox (Jeff), Johnny Gibbon (Johnny), Joseph Gilgun (Mike), Jessica Gunning (Sian), Nia Gwynne (Gail), Joshua Hill (Ray), Jan Leeming (herself), George MacKay (Joe), Faye Marsay (Steph), Laura Matthews (Tina), Rhodri Meilir (Martin), Jordan Metcalfe (Charlie), Bill Nighy (Cliff), Chris Overton (Reggie), Lisa Palfrey (Maureen), Bryan Parry (Kevin), Feargal Quinn (Jimmy Sommerville), Kyle Rees (Carl), Ben Schnetzer (Mark), Andrew Scott (Gethin), Lee Shepherd (Rhodri), Imelda Staunton (Hefina), Margaret Thatcher (herself), Russell Tovey (Tim), Menna Trussler (Gwen), Dominic West (Jonathan), Liz White (Margaret), Richard Whiteley (himself), Joseph Wilkins (Jason)

Runtime: 120 mins

Classification: M

 

OUR PRIDE REVIEWS & RATINGS:

 

Harley Woods:

Pride is a film based in semi-recent history. The screenplay was written by Stephen Beresford and the film directed by Matthew Warchus.

The story revolves around the miners’ strike in Britain in 1984 and the persecution the mineworkers suffered at the hands of the Thatcher government and the police. Contrasting this is the gay rights movement in London and one gay activist group’s plan to take action and help out another disaffected group of people by raising funds for the mineworkers and their families.

The picture and the place-and-time are set instantly to recreate the Eighties and archive news footage shows us the situations going on with each of the main groups. To take us into this world we meet Joe (George MacKay), affectionately nicknamed “Bromley” after his hometown, on his twentieth birthday – which just happens to be gay pride day. Suddenly inspired to march he joins in with the gay pride activists, hoping to ‘blend in’. Instead, he gets thrust into the limelight, holding a sign for attention. He soon joins in gathering funds for the miners as established activist, Mark (Ben Schnetzer), takes up the cause. From there the LGSM (Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners) movement is born and we are thrust into the main story.

On his journey, as is paralleled by the main plot, Joe finds his identity, new friendships, belonging and a cause. His awkwardness echoes the awkwardness between the two antithetical communities as they band together.

Differing opinions within each group show the difficulty of the merger and of dealing with people’s uneducated phobias, but clever humour is used to lighten the tension and resolve issues in an entertaining fashion. A witty play on the stereotypes and expected ‘ignorance’ is used to effect to make things entertaining and take things out of predictable realms.

The personal stories of some of our characters show us the effects that the mineworkers’ situation and the fight for gay rights have on those affected. These human insights give us an emotional connection and draw us further into the plot. We see the fight for survival, the AIDS epidemic – the character of Jonathan Blake was the second-diagnosed person with HIV in London, but is still living strong to this day – self-identity, coming-out and acceptance by your family and those you love.

Gethin, our gay Welsh character, bridges the gap between the two worlds and adds a human expression with his feelings of being unable to return home after being rejected by his mother. As the two camps come together he is finally moved to take-part in the union and humour is used to make light of his awkwardness; breaking in a scene that shows how they are all growing comfortable with each other.

The human element is at the core of the story. We follow this in Joe’s first-gay-steps, his first kiss, his outing to his family… Conversely, we see Maureen’s (Lisa Palfrey) bigotry and how this affects her actions to further her own agenda and to shield her sons from something she has misunderstood. We see the desperation of the mining families in a scene where two of the characters butter bread for sandwiches that have no other fillings. The clever humour is used to show a serious situation in a very accessible way.

Detail has gone into design, set-dressing and wardrobe to set the period perfectly. The colour of the Eighties shapes the London scenes and the grey of the Welsh mining town of Onllwyn. The crazy colour of the period is nicely toned and selected in deliberate pallets in all aspects to keep the visuals pleasant. The grading of the colours are muted more at the start of the film and become bright and bold at the end, subliminally showing a ‘brighter future.’

The story shows the characters at their best and worst and what they take from it all, making for a very engaging and powerful story. We see how the story gets turned around at the end and how far the two communities have come to support each other. We see the power that comes from people coming together; even if not all major battles are won, the amazing feats of people uniting under a common cause has the power to change things, even in small ways and this has a compounding effect. We even get to glimpse the ‘changed hearts’ of Maureen’s sons are they are there to support the gay community at the end, having overcome their own misinformed cynicisms.

Exceptional performances from the whole cast brought the characters to life. Of note was Jessica Gunning as Sian who really ‘comes-out’ in her own right; taking what she has learnt to further herself and eventually became a member of parliament.

Stars(4.5)

 

 

Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):  Stars(4.5)

 

IMDB Rating:  Pride (2014) on IMDb

 

Other Subculture Entertainment Reviews of ‘Pride′: For our full Pride review please check The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Ep #103.

Trailer:

The Finest Hours

Summary: It should be one of the happiest days of Bernie Webber’s (Chris Pine) life. Becoming engaged to his girlfriend, the beautiful Miriam (Holliday Grainger), Bernie’s aim is to go to work at the Coast Guard station where he is stationed and go through the ritual of asking his boss, Daniel Cluff (Eric Bana), if he can get married.

As fate would have it though one of the worst storms to ever hit the United States strikes on that very day. Offshore two oil tankers split in half and while the Coast Guard rushes to save the crew of one they have no idea that another is in difficultly until the alarm is raised much later. As Ray Sybert (Casey  Affleck) battles to keep his crew alive Bernie finds himself being sent on a mission to rescue them, with a crew of his own –a crew that doesn’t trust him as his last rescue ended in the loss of life.

Year: 2016

Australian Cinema Release Date: 3rd March 2016

Australian DVD Release Date: TBA

Country: USA

Director: Craig Gillespie

Screenwriter: Eric Johnson, Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Casey Sherman (book), Michael J. Tougias (book)

Cast: Casey Affleck (Ray Sybert), Savannah Rae Allen (Eliza), Eric Bana (Daniel Cluff),Abraham Benrubi (George ‘Tiny’ Myers),  Rachel Brosnahan (Bea Hansen), Danny Connelly (Dave Ryder), Alexander Cook (John Stello), Ben Foster (Richard Livesey), Jesse Gabbard (Domingo Garcia), Kyle Gallner (Andy Fitzgerald), Holliday Grainger (Miriam Webber), Beau Knapp (Mel Gouthro), Benjamin Koldyke (Donald Bangs), Keiynan Lonsdale (Eldon Hanan), John Magaro (Ervin Maske), Matthew Maher (Carl Nickerson), Graham McTavish (Frank Fauteux), John Ortiz (Wallace Quiery), Chris Pine (Bernie Webber), Michael Raymond-James (D.A. Brown), Angela Hope Smith (Catherine Paine), Josh Stewart (Tchuda Southerland)

Runtime: 117 mins

Classification: PG

 

OUR THE FINEST HOURS REVIEWS & RATINGS:

 

David Griffiths:

Sometimes when a film is released you just have to shake your head at what the distributors think they are doing with the film. Disney’s choice to release The Finest Hours in Australia with no media screenings and only in limited cinemas is a baffling one. Traditionally, disaster films always do well in Australia and not only that The Finest Hours is certainly not the kind of film that should be kept away from the film loving public as it is a film that has a lot going for it.

So often when a director and screenwriter team together to make a disaster film they fall into a familiar trap of trying to make the audience like the characters so much they pile a heap of back story into the film and the result is the disaster itself starting way too late into the film. That certainly isn’t a trap that Craig Gillespie and his team of screenwriters fall in to. Gillespie as a director is someone that certainly can’t be peg holed into a style of filmmaking. From the thought provoking Lars & The Real Girl through to the horror frights of Fright Night Gillespie seems to just make whatever film he damn well feels like and here with The Finest Hours he shows why he is a director that should be added to your list of ‘exciting directors in modern day filmmaking.’ He doesn’t muck around with tons of back story with The Finest Hours, instead the storm itself hits within the first half hour of the film, which means that Affleck and co and in peril before the ice in your Coke has even started to melt.

Surprisingly The Finest Hours also manages to raise the stakes on a number of levels. Not only are the crew of the oil tanker in great peril but Gillespie also makes in known in no uncertain terms that Bernie is being sent on a mission that he has badly unprepared for with a boss that has no clue what he is doing… he is being sent to certain death. Just to raise the stakes even more Gillespie then has the events happen not only through the eyes of Bernie and Ray but also from the perspective of Miriam, an innocent bystander who is forced to watch as the man she loves is being sent on an impossible mission.

It’s for that reason that The Finest Hours is a must see for those people that love good cinema. The suspense never lets up and Gillsepie masterfully directs intense scenes which sees Bernie’s small Coast Guard boat become a submarine as it plunges through the waves in front of it and the even more suspenseful scene during which Ray’s crew have to face the hard decision of whether or not to jump into the wild sea that has just claimed their tanker.

The team of screenwriters also have done enough with the screenplay to make the key characters here likable. You instantly care what happens to the likes of Bernie and Ray, while they even steer well clear of making Mirian a whiny character, something that you feel a lesser team may have accidentally found themselves doing. The screenplay and Gillespie’s directional style also allows the cast to have a little bit of free reign as well. A look between Chris Pine and Ben Foster as their characters race towards the wild sea says more than one ten pages of script ever could. Likewise watching Casey Affleck sit in the corner and calmly think while the rest of his ‘crew’ panic says more about his character than any back story ever could. While both of done some great work in films over the years The Finest Hour is the one film that really shows that Affleck and Pine are so much more than what we have seen from them in the past.

Through no fault of its own The Finest Hours is one of those films that is going to be overlooked by a lot of film goers simply because of the fact that it hasn’t been promoted properly. That’s sad when you realise that in a lot of ways this is a far superior film to something like The Perfect Storm… yes Craig Gillespie has somehow managed to create a classy disaster flick that demands a viewing by serious film lovers.

Stars(4)

 

Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):  Stars(4)

 

IMDB Rating: The Finest Hours (2016) on IMDb

 

Other Subculture Entertainment The Finest Hours reviews: You can listen to our full The Finest Hours  review on a The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Ep #168.

Trailer: