New Cinema Takes review from MIFF 2009 (Melbourne International Film Festival):
Back in town after 8 weeks in Spain and France without a cinema visit. Broke the drought with Disgrace, an Australian film about South Africa.
Both J.M. Coetzee’s novel and its film adaptation leave their audience wanting more answers. It is a confronting and brutal tale of life in modern South Africa. The message is clear. There are no simple solutions.
Full review is at Cinema Takes: Disgrace – bleak morality tale
Latest film review at Cinema Takes is Samson and Delilah: the good fight
Samson and Delilah is a film that all Australians should see. It is confronting and disturbing: poverty, unemployment, petrol sniffing, violence, clashes within aboriginal communities and with so-called mainstream society. Nevertheless in keeping with the optimism of its writer/director Warwick Thornton, it offers some hope.
Latest film review at Cinema Takes is Tulpan: spring in the steppe
Kazakh documentary maker Sergey Dvortsevoy has brought us the acclaimed feature film Tulpan. Its flat, dusty, dry plains are reminiscent of parts of outback Australia but are even more remote.
It’s easy to see why Tulpan has been hot at the film festivals. Superlatives are hard to avoid: original, raw, authentic, genuine, funny, joyous, honest.
Dvortsevoy has restored respectability to the term reality. In fact it is hard not to think that this is a documentary at times. These people couldn’t really be actors. It’s great to see the potential of the movie medium stretched in such powerful ways.
Latest film review at Cinema Takes is Closed for Winter: unlocking summer’s secrets
Australian writer/director James Bogle has given us the very introspective Closed for Winter, an adaptation of Georgia Blain’s 1998 novel of the same name. This dark film brought to mind the recent French language I’ve loved you for so long, “This is a sombre, desolate tale. It is as much about her complex relationships as it is the past.”
Both stories explore coming to terms with loss, about achieving the dreaded ubiquitous cliché and about creating a new beginning.
In theatres now.
Latest film review at Cinema Takes is Camino: children suffering for Opus Dei
Director Javier Fesser’s Spanish film Camino (The Way) evoked anger and pathos in me in equal measures.
The old cliché that we see what we believe seems to apply here.
With its dream world elements this is a fairy tale in many ways. I was sucked into the story despite initial distaste for the subject matter. Its sentimental plot borders on the telenovela with:
* pubescent love
* hospitals with graphic operations
* secrecy and intrigue
* suspense and misunderstandings
* and of course contrived coincidences
There is even confusion over names.
Latest film review at Cinema Takes is Summer Hours: fading into autumn:
L’heure d’été/Summer Hours is a French language story of family generations. When Hélène Regnier (Edith Scob) dies after her 75 birthday, her two sons Frédéric (Charles Berling) and Jérémie (Jérémie Renier) and daughter Adrienne (Juliette Binoche) have to decide what to do with her home and possessions. Her collection of art and furniture is much sought after, with the Musée d’Orsay as central players. The museum originally commissioned three short films that were never made.
The central theme of “what we leave behind” is familiar one to those of us who are baby boomers. Perhaps this is an advance on the preoccupation of filmmakers with what to do with the old folks. Now it’s how to deal with their passing. Or more cynically, the inheritance.
Låt den rätte komma in/Let the Right One In is vintage vampire. I thought I’d never enjoy another in this genre but this film took me by surprise. A real gem!
This is the best foreign language, pubescent female vampire movie of 2008 by far. It’s set in Stockholm in 1982, obviously a memorable year for Swedish horror. Kåre Hedebrant as the bullied boy Oskar and Lina Leandersson as the girl vampire Eli are magnificent! They even outshine the child actors in Slumdog Millionaire.
Latest film review at Cinema Takes is Elegy: sex not quite everything:
Kingsley and Cruz make an unlikely pair in Elegy. It took a while to suspend disbelief in this romance/drama. Its protagonist, David Kepesh (Ben Kingsley), is a Literature academic, a lecturer in Practical Criticism at a New York University. Literature, art, photography, and theatre are his milieu. He is also a minor media celebrity.
The story is based on Philip Roth’s 2001 novel The Dying Animal, which I haven’t read. Kepesh is the latest in a long line of ageing male intelligentsia who have libido issues. Self indulgence and total lack of commitment are their essentials.
He is a serial hedonist who seduces one of his mature age students, Consuela Castillo (Penélope Cruz). She comes from a comfortable Cuban American family. Kepesh sets his sexual sights high. However, he ignores all the old clichés: no fool like an old fool; be careful what you wish for, you just might get it. His motto: “When you make love to a woman you get revenge for all the things that defeated you in life.”