North Korean Science Sings

It’s refreshing to hear songs about Science, even if they do honour the “General” aka Kim Jong-il. The Schoolgirl’s Diary is the first North Korean feature film to be distributed internationally. The state of their film making in 2006 only outshone their Science. Let’s hope their nuclear and missile industries are similar fizzers.

For the Flicrit from MIFF 2009, please see:

The Schoolgirl’s Diary: Propaganda 101

Kevin Rennie

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Flick Crit: Not So Gran Torino

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Latest film review at Cinema Takes is Not So Gran Torino:

The setting for Gran Torino is the Global Financial Crisis’ ‘Ground Zero’: the suburbs of ‘Motor-City’ Detroit before the worst of the sub-prime meltdown.

I didn’t review Gran Torino when it was first released because I was disappointed with it. It deserves big ticks for: good acting; a tight script and topicality. But the crosses are a lot to bear from such great filmmakers: lack of originality; pedestrian predictability and a dearth of insights. Going by the box office and its continuing presence in Australian cinemas I seem to be in a small minority.

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Flick Crit: Watchmen – Not Everybody Wants To Rule The World

Latest film review at Cinema Takes is Watchmen: Not Everybody Wants To Rule The World:

Who’s watching the Watchmen is one of its themes. Apparently lots of people are, if early box office is any indication.

Others can buy into the disputes between the filmmakers and purists of DC Comics about this story of comic book heroes. The graphic novel hasn’t been my preferred genre since the 1950s but I have enjoyed some of the film adaptations of the less well known super heroes and villains such as Sin City, V for Vendatta and Iron Man. Perhaps the best of the recent ones was Hell Boy.

If you’re tired of Batman and Spiderman retreads, then this could be the movie for you. If you’re a fan of the comics, then you might want to wait for an extended director’s cut due later in the year. Too much is obviously not enough for some people!

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Flick Crit: Frozen River – what goes around…

Latest film review at Cinema Takes is Frozen River – what goes around…:

If you think times are tough, then make sure you see Frozen River to put life in first world society into perspective. It is the story of two women who put their lives and freedom on the line for their children. Melissa Leo’s stellar performance was nominated for an Oscar as Best Actress in a Leading Role. Hollywood doesn’t have many good roles for women of a certain age but the independents keep finding them.

This story is set on the U.S./Canada border. The St.Lawrence River runs through a Mohawk reservation when it isn’t iced-over, dividing New York State and Quebec Province. Leo plays Ray Eddy whose husband has skipped off with the little money they had to indulge his gambling addiction. She is a middle-aged mother of two boys whose one ambition is to buy a “double-wide” trailer home for them. Lila Littlewolf (Misty Upham) is a young Mohawk widow who wants to get back her baby son.

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Flick Crit: W. – With God On His Side

Latest film review at Cinema Takes is W. – With God On His Side:

Unless you’ve been in coma for the last 8 years, it is impossible not to have an opinion about George W. Bush and his years as leader of the “free world”.

W. was a disappointment as a president. In many ways so is the movie W. Oliver Stone has presented the George W. Bush most of us know about. Drunk, wastrel, drifting from job to job, living in dad’s and brother Jeb’s shadows. Then AA, born again Christian, family man, successful Texas Rangers baseball team owner, Texas Governor and finally the ultimate office. His early life as the black sheep of the Bush clan transformed into a remarkably successful electoral career after becoming Governor of Texas in 1994. His actual achievements are more contentious.

I can’t bring myself to read the intimate details of W.’s White House or his family life so others can argue about the accuracy of his backstage life. Given Stone’s notorious tendency to make-believe, National Security Council meetings may not have finished with a prayer.

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Flick Crit: The Reader

My latest film review on Cinema Takes:

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The Reader: not just another holocaust movie

The Reader is a complex film that explores themes of love, barbarity, guilt, shame and secrecy. The triumph of the human spirit is often hard to find as the horror of the holocaust is revisited through a different lens, a seemingly ordinary but very flawed German woman.

There are many ghosts haunting this excellent movie besides its holocaust victims.

Twenty five years ago Meryl Streep won a Best Actress in a Leading Role in Sophie’s Choice. Kate Winslet took the glittering oscar prize this year in competition with Meryl’s outstanding portrayal of Sister Aloysius Beauvier in Doubt. Sophie and Hanna both have secrets that embody the mystery in each narrative. In Hanna’s case her personal shame takes precedence over public condemnation but her secret is barely disguised from early on in the film. We are warned by a teacher’s remarks that literature is about characters trying to keep their secrets hidden.

Amon Goeth, the crazed commandant from Schindler’s List was played by Ralph Fiennes. He received a nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences certainly like holocaust movies.

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Flick Crit: Rachel Getting Married

The latest film review on Cinema Takes:

Rachel Getting Married: Uncomfortable in Connecticut

There’s nothing like a wedding to bring out the best and worst in families.

Rachel Getting Married, directed by Jonathan Demme, is set in upper middle class, comfortable Connecticut. Grinding poverty is not a factor in this family’s conflicts.

The drama centres on rehabilitation, not just of its central character, but of the whole family. Neuroses stalk the halls of the home that is the setting for the celebrations: sibling rivalry and jealousy, father/daughter, mother/daughter. More baggage than LA International Airport.

Kym is on leave from drug rehab to attend sister Rachel’s wedding to Sidney. Rachel is a high achiever par excellence, Ms Perfection. She is finishing her PhD in Psychology, arguably the worst possible background for dealing with a recovering sister. In fact all the family are guilty of over-analysis. All of them know the 12 steps of rehab by heart. Kym takes the one called “making amends’ to new territory in her speech to the pre-nuptial dinner. Echoes of many an embarrassing family moment on these public occasions for many in the audience.

Anne Hathaway as Kym is magnificent. Her striking appearance shifts between Liza Minnelli, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Keira Knightley and Audrey Tautou. Some company! She was too young for Twin Peaks but was made for it.

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