Following his Best Picture Academy Award® winner Moonlight, writer/director Barry Jenkins adapts James Baldwin’s acclaimed novel IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK, a love story set in 1970s Harlem, New York. After her fiancé Fonny (Stephan James) is arrested for a crime he didn’t commit, 19-year-old Tish (newcomer Kiki Layne) and her family struggle against a corrupt justice system in this powerful, brilliantly crafted drama.
IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK had its World Premiere at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival, where it was Runner-Up for the People’s Choice Award.
Summary: Falling in love is easy, getting out of it is hard. Our hero, Josh ﬁnds himself ‘LoveStuck’ between his best friend, his ex-girlfriend and the new girl he is about to move in with. As a lowly clerk working with the public service in Canberra, Josh is used to procrastination, but his fear of con*ict and knack for stretching the truth gets him into trouble with the women that he loves.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 24th August 2017
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Murray Fahey
Cast: Rik Brown (Josh), Fenella Edwards (Horatio), Murray Fahey (Polonius), Cathy Hagarty (Cath), Malcolm Irvin (Rosencraztz), Ali Little (Barnardo), Jenny Lovell (Gertude), Heady Manders (Voltemand), Gabby Millgate (Bag Lady Ophelia), Glen Morrison (Laertes), Robert Morrison (Guilderstein), Rama Nicolas (Kate), Emma Reid (Hecuba), Patti Stiles (Trish), Geoff Wallace (Claudius)
Runtime: 73 mins
OUR LOVESTUCK REVIEWS & RATINGS:
The Australian film industry has been throwing up some extremely experimental films over the past few years – from one-shot action films through to filmed theatre productions. Well now comes Lovestuck – a completely improvised film from director Murray Fahey (Cubbyhouse, Dags). Not only does the film toss up a story that keeps you guessing but also gives you a look behind the scenes of what goes into making an improvised film at the same time.
The film centres around Josh (Rik Brown – Utopia, Dinner For Three) a man who is struggling with his feelings with three woman – his ex Kate (Rama Nicolas – Little Solider, The Mutant Way), his current girlfriend Cath (Cathy Hagarty – newcomer) and his best friend Trish (Patti Stiles – Neighbours, Stingers). On one disastrous day he meets with Kate to hand back some of her things – which then sets him on a journey to find a pen that she once gave him – while meanwhile Cath and Tess meet for the first time. The result is him having to make a decision about the three woman if he has any chance of moving on at all.
The danger of doing an experimental film like Lovestuck is that sometimes the experiment itself can get in the way of the story or can distract the audience from getting immersed in the film. Strangely, given that the film also shows the audience what is happening behind the scenes at times, neither happens here. The actors at hand – especially Rik Brown – are so good at the improvisation that you forget that you are watching a film that never technically had a script. The scenes flow together well and while there are some scenes that perhaps didn’t need to be there, most of the scenes featuring the main four characters tie in together well and do raise the suspense of who Josh will chose at the end… something that director Murray Fahey let Rik Brown decide as part of the improvisation.
The improvisation of the film does allow for the tone of the film to switch at times which gives Lovestuck a really unique feel. From comedic moments when Josh runs into Cath outside a massage parlour and tries to explain that he didn’t get one of ‘those’ massages right through to more dramatic scenes like Cath and Trish meeting for the first time this is a film that at one moment feels like an episode of Seinfeld one moment and the latest romance drama the next. Even the Hamlet Hip-Hop scene which had the potential of feeling out of place in the film works well because as an audience member you find yourself sitting there thinking ‘do they have the pen or not?’
The key to this film working though was the cast and to Fahey and his casting assistant’s credit they get this 100% right. Rik Brown carries the film throughout and with the tone changes that is no easy feat. From moments of complete awkwardness right through to almost slapstick comedy he delivers each time while Nicolas, Hagarty and Stiles also amazing throughout the film. Not once does there seem to be a moment where they hesitate when they think of what to say next and to be able to deliver improv lines so naturally means they deserve high credit… it is no easy feat.
Lovestuck just shows what you can create when you get together a creative team of people. While an improvised movie sounds like it shouldn’t work this one does to the point where you really do care which decision Josh makes. Worth checking out if you like your cinema a little left of centre.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
IMDB Rating: N/A
Other Subculture Entertainment Lovestuck Reviews: Nil
Summary: An iconic Australian story of family, friendship and adventure, between a young boy and a scrappy one-of-a-kind dog that would grow up to become an Australian legend.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 26th December 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Kriv Stenders
Screenwriter: Daniel Taplitz
Cast: Josie Alec (Abby), Caitlin Berestford-Ord (Catherine), Syd Brisbane (Big John), Bryan Brown (Grandpa), Kee Chan (Jimmy Umbrella), Justine Clarke (Diane Carter), Thomas Cocquerel (Stemple), Jon Doust (McLeod), Alla Hand (Gilliam Shaw), Jason Isaacs (Michael Carter), John Jarratt (Lang Hangcock), Hanna Mangan Laurence (Betty), Steve Le Marquand (Little John), Winta McGrath (Nicholas Carter), Zen McGrath (Theo Carter), Levi Miller (Mick), Kelton Pell (Durack), Igor Sas (Dr. Samuel), Calen Tassone (Taylor Pete)
Runtime: 88 mins
OUR RED DOG: TRUE BLUE REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Nobody ever expected the original Red Dog film to go onto the greatness that it did when it was released back in 2011. Somehow the little Aussie family film showed the world that the Australian film industry wasn’t dead. While the industry had seen many Aussie filmmakers try the comedy vein, it seems it was the family comedy vein that still had life in it. The film grossed over $21 million in Australia alone.
Of course, not surprisingly word of a Red Dog sequel started to seep through while the first film was still raking in money at the box office. The only man who didn’t seem interested in the concept was the director Kriv Stenders (Boxing Day) who was already busy on his next project – the cult film Kill Me Three Times starring Simon Pegg. Along the way, though something changed and now five years later we find ourselves sitting down to watch a prequel to the original – Red Dog: True Blue.
There is little wonder that Stenders was nervous about making another Red Dog film, a dud could tarnish the legacy that the first left behind. Luckily though Stenders once again teamed up with screenwriter Daniel Taplitz (Chaos Theory) and together the two men came up with a film that is different enough from the original film to give it its own identity, but not different enough to alienate fans of the first in the series.
This second film is told through the eyes of a Perth father Michael Carter (Jason Isaacs – Black Hawk Down) who after watching the original Red Dog movie in the cinema recounts the story of how he was actually the original owner of Red… or Blue as he was called back then. His story tells of his younger self (Levi Miller – Pan) being forced to leave home because of his mentally unstable mother and moving to outback Western Australia where he lived with his grandfather (Bryan Brown – Australia). On a cattle station.
The story sees Mick meet Blue and tells of the adventures that they had together including Mick falling in love for the first time, with his tutor the young and beautiful Betty (Hanna Mangan Laurence – Acolytes).
Fans of the original film will see very early on that Stenders and Taplitz are onto a winning formula when they see the creative way that leads to Michael Carter telling his story. While it seems a little strange for the film to be referencing the first film so openly, but at that same time it so creative that you can’t help but applaud at the pure genius act that the two men have managed to deliver.
While Red Dog: True Blue is creative it does lack a little of the emotion that we felt from the first film. I’m man enough to admit that I teared up twice during Red Dog, but here Stenders and co takes the film in a completely different direction, this time the film is a pure coming of age story that sees a young boy take his dog with him on the start of life’s journey. While the film does also have a few moments that are likely to make you chuckle it doesn’t have anywhere near as many comedic moments as the first movie either.
Those that benefit from Stenders work here is the cast. Levi Miller is almost unrecognisable as the younger version of Mick and he settles into the period style of the film well. It is great to see Hanna Mangan Laurence back on the big screen and hopefully, we see her there again soon while as usual Bryan Brown leads the way with a mature performance as he leads the cast despite seemingly being in auto-pilot for most of the film. The big scene stealer here though is John Jarratt (Wolf Creek) who has a cameo as mining magnate Lang Hancock… and boy is it a cameo to remember.
Red Dog: True Blue is a smooth, enjoyable ride for the whole family. It might not reach the heights that the first film did but it is still a film that holds its own and reminds audiences just how fun it still can be to watch a coming-of-age story. The fact that it is being released on Boxing Day makes it the perfect family cinema outing this holiday season.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
IMDB Rating: No rating available.
Other Subculture Entertainment Red Dog: True Blue Reviews: Dave Griffiths broadcast a Red Dog: True Blue on 2UE’s That’s Entertainment on the 8th December, 2016.
Summary: A piano prodigy who lost his ability to play after suffering a traumatic event in his childhood is forced back into the spotlight by an eccentric girl with a secret of her own.
Australian Cinema Release Date: N/A
Australian DVD Release Date: 6th July 2016
Director: Takehiko Shinjo
Screenwriter: Naoshi Arakawa (manga)
Cast: Ryan Bartley (Megu (voice)), Robbie Daymond (Saito (voice)), Erika Harlacher (Emi Igawa (voice)), Carrie Keranen (Hiroko Seto (voice)), Erik Scott Kimerer (Takeshi Aiza (voice)), Wendee Lee (Saki Arima (voice)), Max Mittelman (Kousei Arima (voice)), Erica Lindbeck (Kaori Miyazono (voice)), Erica Mendez (Tsubaki Sawabe (voice)), Kyle McCarley (Ryota Watari (voice)), Stephanie Sheh (Nagi Aiza (voice)), Julie Ann Taylor (Nao Kashiwagi (voice)), Cristina Valenzuela (Koharu Seto (voice))
Runtime: 12 x 22 mins episodes
OUR YOUR LIE IN APRIL VOL 1 REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Your Lie In April is a Japanese animated series, based around a coming-of-age / first-love story intermingled with competitive musical ambitions. Volume One is released on DVD and BluRay in Australia by Madman Entertainment.
This series hits with immediate impact. The first thing we see is a girl, Kaori, following a cat around. This is both endearing and amusing but also features some interesting animation that already raises expectations on the quality of the series. We cut to the titles and are treated to yet another catchy theme tune – Hikaru Nara by Goose House.
Soon after, we are treated to exceptionally animated sequences done with 3D models and rotoscoping and sharp camera movements. This really livens the scene and makes it present, even as we will see sweat fly off of characters as they perform with all their might. These sequences become something you eagerly await throughout the series as they are so passionate and reflect the power of the music being played. Artistic licence is taken to colour and light the scenes so that you can follow what is happening to the colours emotionally and mentally.
In a word: impeccable.
This is one of the most engaging stories I have been privileged to watch, filled with identifiable characters and relationships. I wept several times – particularly during concert scenes where characters’ emotions come out in their music. That said, this is a complex and emotional story where layers are peeled off piece by piece, with foreshadowing of what is to come reflected in what has already been.
I have not been touched by or connected with a story so instantly as I have with this one.
Plenty of anime humour and dynamics are used throughout the story to even out the emotional intensity and balance out the high quality animated sequences. This is as much to keep the series to a deadline and budget as much as it is to entertain and not overwhelm the audience.
The characters were recognisable instantly and initially laid out simply, but layers of details and dimension show more and more with each episode. Arima Kousei is the voice and heart of the series and I could connect instantly and even see a mirror for myself. This is a highly immersive experience.
The voices are very suitable but also have that typical anime feel, but this is good to heighten things a little and ad the entertaining elements as counter for the highly internal and reflective feel that marks this series.
The production is an interesting blend and this is set-up in the first episode (showing the different elements and styles involved throughout the story). Character movements seem real, which are then raised with CG / rotoscoping for the intense musical performance scenes. Again, this is countered by the heightened moments of manga-style humour and exaggeration to lighten the drama. Beautiful music and imagery throughout the show keep you locked into this world; transfixing.
This DVD set, being only the first half of the series, is not over-endowed with features. The usual textless opening and ending credits are included (which is fine, as I had Goose House’s theme stuck in my head, and now have it on my phone). These sequences are actually quite a joy to watch in themselves, so it is forgivable not have more features included as the real experience is the story itself.
However, this leaves me really eager to see volume two and I, for one, cannot wait to grab it up as soon as I can!
I highly recommend this series, with 4.5 out of 5 stars.
(Mind you, I may only have taken half a star off as I’m dying to see the rest of the show!)
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Entertainment Your Lie In April Vol 1 reviews: Nil.
Summary: About Erika who claims that popular boy, Sata is her boyfriend. She has no choice but to make him her fake boyfriend. Unfortunately,he may look like a sweet person, but he is actually an ultra sadist and treat her like a slave.
Wolf Girl & Black Prince is a Japanese animated series, revolving around an off-beat high school romance. It is released on DVD and BluRay in Australia by Madman Entertainment.
I found this series to be an enjoyable watch despite, or perhaps because of, my constantly conflicting feelings about the main pair’s romance. This romance is centred around Erika (the lying ‘wolf-girl’) and her ‘black prince,’ Kyoya.
What, at times, seems like an abusive relationship (or, at least, a pretend relationship) is complicated by sudden glimpses of care and sweetness throughout that keep you building hope in a happy outcome; just as Erika does as she realises the truth of her feelings and confesses her love to Kyoya.
By raising these conflicting feelings within its audience’s minds the story successfully manages to put us in Erika’s place. At times we want her to just end it; it’s a ridiculous situation to be in. And then we suddenly think that there’s more to it, and more to him, and maybe we want to give him another chance…
It’s just like a relationship – especially one that may not be good for us. Still, you do have to wonder why Erika does put up with it and this could be a question that makes you wonder if you want to keep watching once you are past the halfway point and our protagonist is still putting herself through emotional heartache.
However, the truth of the situation is that Erika constantly lands herself in the thick of it with her lies and exaggerations but ends up finding numerous friendships – which is what she set out to do in the first episode of the series as she starts her first day of high school. Find rewards like this is what really makes the show attractive and enticing.
A great array of supporting characters and interrelationships are shown throughout the series. Some characters could have benefited by more screentime, or a longer series, but as the story is Erika and Kyoya’s relationship this would have been extraneous to the main plot and dragged out the painful parts of the relationship to the point where you would probably stop watching.
A lot of time is spent hoping for more details into Kyoya’s past and reasons for his actions which are hinted at but held very close to the chest until the end, unfortunately. It would have been nice to put a bit more of this information in along the way, but it is worth pursuing to the end to get more pieces of the puzzle, despite the harder moments of character ‘sadism’ in the series.
This DVD is only presented in the original Japanese audio with English subtitles (which I prefer, anyway). The characters work with suitable voices that fit the usual archetypes and stereotypes, setting suitable tones for each moment of drama, humour, romance and so on. It is this voice work and the additional characters that keep the entertainment going and lighten the more emotionally draining moments.
This is a well-made series, done in the typical style with the primary focus on exaggerating Erika’s rollercoaster of emotions and highlighting important moments such as the flashbacks to Kyoya’s childhood.
I like that the production team did not resolve every little thing for each and every character, as this is how it is in real life. Despite some heightened drama, you walk away believing in the relationships and characters’ personal / internal dramas; like a window into a single chapter of someone’s life.
Focus is given to the romance and relationships and getting that to a certain point without wholly and conveniently fixing everything in everyone’s lives.
This is a ‘lite’ DVD set, with the only features being the usual textless opening and ending credits. I like this, however, as the theme tunes got stuck firmly in my head. Being a short, complete story I did not feel the set suffered from not having further features, as the real experience is the story itself.
This series is available in stores now from Madman Entertainment.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Entertainment Wolf Girl And Black Prince reviews: Nil.
Summary: Murphy (Karl Glusman) is an American filmmaker living in Paris. His life begins a new high when he starts a loving but sexually charged relationship with Electra (Aomi Muyock). Their relationship faces new challenges though when they decide to invite their beautiful neighbour, Omi (Klara Kristin), into their bedroom.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 23rd October 2015
Australian DVD Release Date: 18th November 2015
Country: France, Belgium
Director: Gaspar Noe
Screenwriter: Gaspar Noe
Cast: Benoit Debie (Yuyo), Ugo Fox (Gaspar), Karl Glusman (Murphy), Klara Kristin (Omi), Vincent Maravel (Castel), Aomi Muyock (Electra), Isabelle Nicou (Nora), Aaron Pages (Noe), Deborah Revy (Paula), Stella Roach (Mami), Omaima S. (Victoire), Juan Saavedro (Julio), Xamira Zuloaga (Lucile)
Runtime: 135 mins
OUR LOVE 3D REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Love 3D is not an easy movie to review. There are some people out there that will be very quick to label the film as pure porn. However to do that is a pretty immature thing to do. To do that would be like a patron of an art gallery likening a classic nude painting to a $2 stick magazine available in your local newsagent. It is a slippery slope but for the sake of at the best way to objectively look at Love 3D is to judge it in the way that you would any other kind of cinema.
Having said that though Love 3D is not the kind of film that some audience members are going to warm to very quickly. The film sees director/screenwriter Gasper Noe take a very alternative stance (some might say abrasive) to his audience. The film is confrontational in the fact that it does consist of some pretty graphic sex scenes (some of which are non-simulated sex) but is obvious what Noe was attempting to do. He wanted to create a film that looked at a relationship in the most naturalistic style available and to do that he has decided to take a route that not many filmmakers would be brave enough to do.
The one thing that needs to be pointed out about Love 3D is that the sex scenes do not get in the way of the story… in fact they are the story. Noe has actually done a great job of making sure everything works and quickly reveals that Murphy and Electra are a sexually charged couple who are more than willing to experiment. With sex being the thing that this couple revolve around the most it only seems natural that the film would also revolve the same theme. Noe also makes a good point of making sure that the film doesn’t go over the top all the time and in what might be a complete surprise to many this is actually a film with a fairly decent script and characterisation as well.
Such is the way that these characters are set-up it is very possible that a lot of audience members will in fact be emotionally involved by some of storylines and themes explored throughout the film. Few films, aside from Trainspotting of course, have ever shown such a graphic fall into the world of drug use and abuse like what happens to one of the characters here (I really don’t want to spoil it for anybody that hasn’t watched the film yet). The relationship between Murphy and Omi will also hit a chord with many audience members and some of the more harrowing scenes to watch in this film are the ones revolving around Murphy psychologically breaking as he realises that he is now trapped in a relationship that he doesn’t want to be in.
Knowing that a film has graphic sex in it can sometimes be a reason to question how decent the acting skills of the cast involved are going to be, but that shouldn’t be too much of a worry before you go into the cinema to watch Love 3D. Young Karl Glusman shows that he has the potential to be a star of the future. Whether it be a graphic sex scene or some of the scenes depicting his breakdown he puts in a good all round performance. He is also well backed up by Aomi Muyock and Klara Kristin who despite no previous acting experience put in some harrowing naturalistic performances.
Love 3D is not a film for everyone. If you find graphic sex in a film a turn off then you shouldn’t even bother to stand in line for the film, but if you don’t mind some alternative cinema that goes into a really dark place then this is a film that you’ll want to watch time and time again. Good characterisation, a decent script and believable acting performances make this film more than the stick-flick that some may easy write it off as.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Entertainment Love 3D reviews: You can listen to our full Love 3D review on a future episode of The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show.
Summary: When The Diary Of A Teenage Girl begins it opens with Minnie (Bel Powley) a 15 year old teenager who is very excited about the fact that she has found a guy who wanted to have sex with her. As the story pans out we soon learn that aspiring artist Minnie lives with her hippie-like mother, Charlotte (Kristen Wiig), and her slightly dorky younger sister, Gretel (Abby Wait), who likes to spy on what Minnie is doing.
So who is the guy that Minnie has lost her virginity to? Well that is soon revealed to be Charlotte’s thirty-five year old boyfriend, Monroe (Alexander Skarsgard), who convinces Minnie that he is in love with her and that it is okay for them to start a relationship. Once Minnie has her sexual awakening it then starts her and her best friend Kimmie (Madeleine Waters) on a destructive path of sex and drugs.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 24th September 2015
Cast: Miranda Bailey (Andrea), Davy Clements (Arnie), Domino The Cat (Willie), Douglas Gawoski (John), Margarita Levieva (Tabatha), Austin Lyon (Ricky Wasserman), Christopher Meloni (Pascal), Carson Moll (Michael Cocaine), Quinn Nagle (Chuck), John Parsons (Burt), Bel Powley (Minnie), Susannah Schulman (Aline Kominsky (voice)), Alexander Skarsgard (Monroe), Abby Wait (Gretel), Madeleine Waters (Kimmie), Kristen Wiig (Charlotte), Anthony Williams (Frankie)
Runtime: 102 mins
OUR THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Take note – The Diary Of A Teenage Girl is one of the most surprising films of 2015. A click glance of the cast and seeing Kristen Wiig mentioned would have you excused for thinking that this is the latest coming-of-age comedy about the young unattractive teenager trying to impress the boy she likes. Even the film’s poster backs this up and yes I found myself sitting down in the cinema expecting another film in the vein of The Way, Way Back. What I got instead was a really eye-opener of a film that dares to be gritty and different and propels itself into deserving the description – one of the films of the year.
Directed by first time director Marielle Heller and based on a novel by Phoebe Gloeckner The Diary Of A Teenage Girl is a brutally frank look at what happens to a young girl when she is molested by a person that she is supposed to trust. Heller makes a brave decision with this film, she could have made this a dark confronting film like a filmmaker such as Lars Von Trier or Larry Clarke would have, but instead Heller does something different. She instead tell the story of Monroe and Minnie’s relationship in the same way any romance film would. She shows the young girl besotted by her lover and follows their relationship so intently we even see some pretty graphic sex scenes, graphic in the sense of nudity not in the sense of violence. As Minnie tells the story of her first love it is up to the audience to pass the judgment of how wrong the relationship is because for the narrator (Minnie) this is the love affair of a life time. The fact that Heller takes this path makes the Diary Of A Teenage Girl a brilliant film that for once does something different without using that as a marketing ploy.
Heller also brings other things to the table that makes this film a gem. She capitalizes on the fact that Minnie is an aspiring artist and at times during the film brings the artwork to life in animation, a move that only enhances the fact that this sweet and innocent teenager is really creating some pretty confronting and sexual sketches. This style of filmmaking allows the audience to take an occasional break from the fact that a character they love is soon being reduced to low acts of $5 prostitution sex.
The brilliant script (which is also written by Heller) does a great job in giving the audience a view of the goings on straight from Minnie’s innocent point-of-view. We never really get to see Monroe as the stereotypical pedophilic monster that a lot of films would have used to portray him while we also get to see how he is able to get to Minnie as the fact that she sees herself as a fat and unattractive teen is subtly fed to the audience without the use of a sledgehammer. The story also provides moments of great drama. You are forever wondering what will happen when Charlotte learns about Minnie and Monroe, while some of the other characters introduced into Minnie’s life, like Tabatha (Margarita Levieva), also have you wondering exactly what they are planning on doing with Minnie.
When it comes to the cast The Diary Of A Teenage Girl also packs a lot of surprises. For a start there is no sense of comedy at all around Kristen Wiig as she portrays Charlotte, a mother who wants to experiment with drugs and live the hippy lifestyle while always on the lookout for a man who is going to take care of her. At times Wiig is virtually unrecognizable as the same actress who made us laugh so hard in Bridesmaids. Then there is Alexander Skarsgard who portrays Monroe as your typical everyday lovable loser, the kind of guy you know is never going to amount to anything but certainly wouldn’t suspect of sleeping with a 15 year old girl. Skarsgard turns creepy without turning up the creepiness factor if that makes sense?
Then there is the acting performance of young Bel Powley who deals with a lot in this film. From scenes consisting of her standing naked for a few minutes at a time to the constant barrage of put downs about her appearance this is one role that Powley needs to be rewarded for. A relative unknown until she played Princess Margaret in A Royal Night Out earlier this year Powley’s strong dramatic and daring performance here not only deserves to win her awards but should also be a breakout performance for her in the same way Juno was for Ellen Page. Powley announces herself as an actress to watch in with one hell of a performance.
The Diary Of A Teenage Girl is a must for anyone that likes alternative cinema and doesn’t mind making some brave descisions. The film will be hard to watch for some but is also a fim that will completely stun its audience. Thought provoking and confronting The Diary Of A Teenage Girl not only reveals Bel Powley as an actress to watch but also announces Marielle Heller as a filmmaker to watch.
Summary: Based on a novel by John Green Paper Towns tells the story of Quentin Jacobson (Nat Wolff) and Margo Roth Spiegelman (Cara Delevingne) who have grown up living in houses opposite each other. When they were kids they were inseparable friends who did everything together, but after the pair found a body of a man who had committed suicide and Margo became wrapped up in solving the mystery of the man’s life the pair started to drift apart.
Now they are seniors at High School. Quentin is a safe student who has focused on becoming a doctor, getting married and having children while hanging out with his somewhat geeky friends, Radar (Justice Smith) and Ben (Austin Abrams). Meanwhile Margo has become one of the most popular girls in school, dated by the popular boys and hanging out with her best friend, the beautiful Lacey Pemberton (Halston Sage).
Suddenly after years apart Margo reaches out to Quentin to help her on one night of ‘crime’ as she gets revenge on her adulterous boyfriend and his friends, then she simply disappears meaning for once his life Quentin is the one with a mystery to solve.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 16th July 2015
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Country: United States
Director: Jack Schreier
Screenwriter: John Green (novel), Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber
Cast: Austin Abrams (Ben), Hannah Alligood (Young Margo), Ryan Boz (Young Quentin 14), Cara Buono (Mrs. Jacobsen), Caitlin Carver (Becca), Josiah Cerio (Young Quentin), Meg Crosbie (Ruthie), Stevie Ray Dallimore (Mr. Jacobsen), Cara Delevingne (Margo), Ansel Elgort (Mason), Griffin Freeman (Jase), Tom Hillmann (Mr. Spiegelman), Lance Lovegrove (Robert Joyner), Drew Matthews (Gus), Kendall McIntyre (Ben At Age 12), Susan Mackie Miller (Mrs. Spiegelman), Halston Sage (Lacey), RJ Shearer (Chuck), Jaz Sinclair (Angela), Justice Smith (Radar), Nat Wolff (Quentin)
Runtime: 109 mins
OUR PAPER TOWNS REVIEWS & RATINGS:
There will not be a film that frustrates you as much this year as Paper Towns will. The film starts off, as the trailer suggests, as a well written teenage mystery, in the vain of a modern day Secret Seven or Famous Five, but then just as the film starts to get interesting it simply peters out with one of the weakest endings you are ever likely to see.
The disappointing thing is that director Jake Schreier (who directed the brilliant Robot & Frank) and a screenwriting team that boast The Spectacular Now and (500) Days Of Summer on their resume draw you in really early and have you loving this film in a way that suggests it could be one of your favorite films of the year. For once they seemed to have created very realistic characters with their own individual personalities. There are no clean cut Hollywood teens here, instead you get genuinely confused high school kids that show all the personality traits of the kids that you went to school with, including that kid that was obsessed by sex and saw every women (including his friend’s Mums) as a chance.
As a result you find yourself really barracking for these realistic characters so when Margot disappears you invest a lot of interest in whether or not Quentin can find her. But is here that the writing in this film falls away completely. It seems that as soon as the characters embark on their road trip all the suspense and drama of this film just goes completely out the window, and not even a near miss car accident can re-ignite it. Really the road trip should have started a lot earlier and been the main focus of the film but instead it becomes a rushed effort during which all the good characterization seems to simply disappear and important moments in the lives of the characters are just brushed over really, really quickly.
Then comes the final insult a finale that you both want to praise and criticize. First off you want to congratulate the creative team behind the film for not going with the traditional American ending that you would expect with a teenage romance, but at the same time the ending frustrates you so much that you feel that the only way the filmmakers could appease themselves is by delivering one of those dreaded sequels that gives you some insight into what happens to the characters when they go off to college (or whatever one in particular decides to do).
The one thing that Paper Towns does deliver though is some future stars. Nat Wolff steps up from Fault In Our Stars and takes over the lead role pretty well, while Cara Delevingne really shows just how far she has come in her short career with a commanding performance that shows that she may well follow in the footsteps of Jennifer Lawrence and Shailene Woodley and use a teenage flick like this to launch her into much better things acting wise. Then there is Halston Sage, who despite her smaller role manages to steal a lot of scenes, especially with a strong emotional scene set in a bath tub of all places. With her good looks and great acting skills Sage certainly has a big career ahead of her.
While early on Paper Towns threatens to be a teenage flick as good as The Spectacular Now or The First Time it ends up disappointing its audience with a melancholy finale and some really lame road trip scenes. Somewhere along the creative line something dreadful happened with Paper Towns and this once promising film just falls by the wayside, sad but true.
On the outside it looks like Ruben Guthrie (Patrick Brammall) has it all made. After just picking up another major Advertising Award he returns home to Sydney to have a house party to celebrate. But when his swimsuit model girlfriend Zoya (Abbey Lee) watches him once again take the regular trek of getting drunk before injuring himself while jumping off the roof of his mansion into a pool his life comes crashing down.
Horrified at the near miss Zoya sets him an ultimatum. She heads back overseas and tells him not to come and find her until he has gone twelve months sober. Ruben thinks it will be easy and while he is at first reluctant to join an Alcoholic Anonymous group he soon finds one that has him opening up as he gets closer to the very hippy-like Virginia (Harriet Dyer).
But while Ruben starts feeling really good he soon finds those around him disagree. Soon his parents Peter (Jack Thompson), Susan (Robyn Nevin) and his best friend Damian (Alex Dimitriades) are always trying to get him to drink, as is his boss (Jeremy Sims) who feels that his sobriety has taken away his edge.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 16th July 2015
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Brendan Cowell
Screenwriter: Brendan Cowell
Cast: Natasha Beaumont (Sheridan), Blazey Best (Janelle), Patrick Brammall (Ruben Guthrie), Yvonne Cowell (Vonny), Alex Dimitriades (Damian), Harriet Dyer (Virginia), Leon Ford (Dimitri), Katie Gavin (Laura), Michael Lahoud (Jeremy), Abby Lee (Zoya), Francis Mossman (Lorenzo Oil), Robyn Neven (Susan), Elly Oh (Sun Ye), Jeremy Sims (Ray), Billy Thompson (Harry), Jack Thompson (Peter), Brenton Thwaites (Chet)
Runtime: 90 mins
OUR RUBEN GUTHRIE REVIEWS & RATINGS:
There is nothing quite as disappointing as a film that has so much potential but then fails at the last few hurdles – sadly that also the best way to describe new Australian film Ruben Guthrie. The film comes from a brilliant stable, based on a well received theatre play from one of Australia’s top writers and actors Brendan Cowell so therefore it is completely head scratching at why the film leaves itself open to so much criticism.
Having said that though Ruben Guthrie is not the complete mess that many critics would have you believe, misguided perhaps, but a mess… no way. To its credit Ruben Guthrie is nowhere near as bad as what its trailer makes it look and there are more than enough times throughout the film that it manages to win you over. There are some deeply touching scenes as the audience watches a man try to overcome his inner demons while his family and friends don’t seem to want to allow him to heal. Then there is also the fantastic soundtrack put together by Sarah Blasko that is so haunting it brings back flashes off the fantastic Somersault soundtrack from all those years ago.
But for every good thing about Ruben Guthrie something ugly raises its head. Stupid little questions like why does a raging alcoholic keep a well stocked bar going while he is trying to give up alcohol? They may seem small but they are the kinds of things that can really make a film like this seem less believable. Then there are the walking clichés. As if Jeremy Sims’ portrayal of an advertising executive isn’t cringe worthy enough then there is the over-the-top portrayal of a gay character, a shame when Alex Dimitriades has played such a realistic gay character in the amazing film Head On a few years ago. Sadly for Dimitriades here it is sad to take his character seriously because of the bad directing and screenwriting, it may have been supposed to make him look like a bully boy that the audience hated but the result is such a clichéd mincy character that most of the times the audience finds themselves laughing at him instead of hating him.
It seems such a shame that the film has problems like that when Cowell (who also directs here) manages to overcome the biggest problem of all – and that is to get the audience on side with Ruben Guthrie. At the start of this film he is a despicable character. He is a complete prick and you wonder how on Earth there will ever be a time when you find yourself barracking for him. But somehow Cowell manages to overcome that problem, and even when Ruben is starting a relationship with Virginia despite his promise to Zoya you can’t help but once again want to see him succeed. Yes this is a very schizophrenic script with its massive amount of ups and downs.
If nothing else Ruben Guthrie does set the path for young actor Patrick Brammall to really make a name for himself. The youngster has really crafted a way for himself with some great performances on television in shows like Glitch and Upper Middle Bogan etc, but here he manages to find just the right mix of dramatic and comedic acting to suggest that he may become the next Australian export overseas. Star-on-the-rise Brenton Thwaites is massively under-used however a newly found talent is discovered with Harriet Dyer who manages to steal the scene on a number of occasions. Aussie acting legends Jack Thompson and Robyn Nevin also just breeze through the roles providing a couple of laughs along the way.
Sadly Ruben Guthrie isn’t nearly as strong as it should have been. The screenplay raises too many questions for the audience to talk about once they leave the cinema and you really feel that the film doesn’t explore the notion of Australian culture and alcoholism to the full extent it should have been. Not a complete waste of time but could have been a lot better.
Summary: After breaking up with her boyfriend, Devon (Glenn Luck), because he is reluctant to make the move from Adelaide to Melbourne Jules (Jenni Townsend) arrives back in town with no job but at least being able to live with her friend, Sam (Rain Fuller) and her partner, Alex (Nathan Barillaro).
Soon Jules and Devon start to bond over their love of all things media related and when Sam’s work takes her to Perth Jules and Devon start to find themselves becoming ‘pretty good friends.’
Australian Cinema Release Date: 7th May, 2015
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Sophie Townsend
Screenwriter: Nathan Barillaro, Sophia Townsend
Cast: Nathan Barillaro (Alex), Rain Fuller (Sam), Glenn Luck (Devon), Jenni Townsend (Jules), Sophia Townsend (Lacinta), Michael Edward Williams (Bike Seller)
Runtime: 77 mins
OUR PRETTY GOOD FRIENDS REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Australia has always had a knack for producing great indie filmmakers. People like Jim Stamatakos and Bill Mousoulis have been making films that have made waves right around the world for years. The introduction of the ‘mumblecore’ style of filmmaking also saw the Australian film industry produce films like Darius Devas’ Further We Search (which launched the career of Xavier Samuel), a film which has been at the top of this movement for a long time now. Well now comes a challenger to its Australian Mumblecore Champion belt because Pretty Good Friends is a sensational film that really highlights just how good mumblecore can really be.
Teaming up with screenwriter Nathan Barillaro director Sophie Townsend (who is a first time director) has delivered one of the most naturalistic films that you are ever likely to see. So natural is the dialogue and scenes between her main characters you would swear that Townsend has taken the reality television path and simply just hooked up cameras to follow Sam, Devon and Jules around. The good news is that unlike so many films that try to emulate real life so naturally this is one film where what is scripted and what is ad-libbed isn’t easy to see a mile away and the characters are so believable that you’ll soon be taking the issues and life problems that they are facing and realizing that they have surfaced in your own life a few times as well.
Perhaps one of the most refreshing things about Pretty Good Friends is that the film also brings Melbourne to life in a way that we haven’t really seen on the screen since Secret Life Of Us. Whether it be a shot of Alex and Jules waiting for a tram near Flinders Street Station or Jules catching a good old Metro train Melbourne becomes very much apart of Pretty Good Friends which only adds even more to familiarity of the film as it goes along. Credit must also be paid to cinematographer Tom Swinburn who brings Melbourne to life with some creative shots that never intrude but only enhance the actions between the main characters.
One of the reasons though that this film comes across with such a natural feel however though is because of the strong acting performances of its leads. Both Jenni Townsend and Rain Fuller put in performances that show that they are talented character actors and as an audience we can only hope that they are given plenty of opportunities over the years to showcase their skills on both the small and big screens. Meanwhile, many Hollywood actors could stand to learn a thing or two from Nathan Barillaro who plays the romantic lead in a way that it should be played – someone that women will like but someone who is also relatable to men. Together these three deliver some of the most perfect and natural acting roles that we have seen on the big screen for a while.
Pretty Good Friends is a delightful film that will have you wondering whether or not the filmmakers behind it have been rifling through your own personal diary. The film manages to explore the relationship/friendship boundary in a way few films have done previously. The film looks beautiful and is enhanced by amazing real-life performances by its three leads while also announcing Sophie Townsend as one Australian director that needs to be added to every film fan’s watch list. The fact that she is able to create a film that becomes alarmingly natural with such ease while building suspense like a slow boiling kettle shows all the marks of a director that is going to make some very special films during her career. Pretty Good Friends is a film that shows good filmmaking is certainly not a lost art and doesn’t need a million dollars to bring it to the big screen.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Entertainment Pretty Good Friends reviews: You will also be able to hear our Pretty Good Friends review on an upcoming episode of The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show. You can also read our Pretty Good Friends review on The Book The Film The T-Shirt.