Thursday, 14 January 2016

Great to see Leonardo di Caprio finally get acknowledgment at the Golden Globes for a great performance in The Revenant (see last week's blog). Not to mention Innaritu for Best Direction and Best Film. This week another slew of top quality films releases. Here goes!

Director: Todd Haynes
Length: 118 mins

Carol (Cate Blanchett) is an elegant 1950s housewife who gets herself intimately involved with a younger woman, Therese, (Rooney Mara) who works at a department store but aspires to be a photographer. Director Haynes handles this intense love story, set in an era when lesbian relationships were not spoken of, with delicacy, style and poignancy. The look of the era is magnificent, as are the two leads, Blanchett with her cool, slightly aloof demeanour, and Mara bringing an innocence and heartbreak to  Therese, smitten and totally in love with an older married woman. Prepare to be swept up in a compelling love story!

Totally worth seeing!

For a full review from Bernard Hemingway (not as smitten as I):

Serial (Bad) Weddings
Director: Philippe de Chauveron
Length: 97 mins

For someone who generally doesn't enjoy French comedy, I really loved this film I just stumbled upon (it was previously part of the Jewish International Film Festival, but now has a small release). 
The Verneuil family (white, blue-blood French and Catholic) has four daughters. One is married to a French Chinese, another to a French Arab, and another to a French Jew. At family gatherings the prejudices flow fast and furious, but finally a truce bordering on friendship is reached, that is until the fourth daughter decides to marry a French African. This film has achieved what unIndian and Alex and Eve tried, in an Aussie context, unsuccessfully to do. It is charming, consistently funny, delightfully captures (without offence) various ethnic traits, and by the end is incredibly touching. A real winner. 

Absolutely worth seeing. (Elsternwick's Classic still has it for another week at least)

The Big Short
Director: Adam McKay
Length: 130 mins

This one is really ahead of the pack, with an eye-popping cast of Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling. Even if you feel you are an econo-klutz (someone with zero knowledge of markets and financial crises), you can still be highly entertained and thrilled by this ingenious film, which takes a comedic/dramatic approach to what happened when the bum fell out of the US housing market, precipitating the GFC. The four leads play a quartet of prescient guys who saw what was about to happen, and as the big bankers and brokers shafted Mainstreet US citizens, these guys shafted the Wall Street financiers, and in the process made a fortune for themselves. The film is funny, well scripted and yet another worthy addition to the many films inspired by the economic dramas of 2008. 

Absolutely worth seeing!

For a full review from Chris Thompson:

The Hateful Eight
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Length: 187 mins

People seem to love or hate Tarantino's films. He's a maestro when it comes to blood and gore, and this one is no exception. A stagecoach carrying bounty hunter John Ruth (Kurt Russell), and his prisoner Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is flagged down first by Major Warren (Samuel L Jackson), then by Chris Mannix (Walter Goggins) who is on his way to Red Rock to become the next Sheriff. A blizzard forces them to hole up at a Wyoming inn where a quartet of questionable characters is already esconced - an English toff, a cowboy, a Mexican and a retired General, played by Tim Roth, Michael Madsen,  Demian Bichir and Bruce Dern. These eight live up to the title - they are each totally despicable in their own way. Misogynistic violence towards Daisy is rampant, racist remarks flow, as does the blood in the film's second half. It's all shot in  old-fashioned 70 mm, so looks stunning, the acting is universally great, Ennio Morricone wrote the evocative music, there's a lot of wit in the script, and Tarantino is a master craftsman, but with an almost adolescent delight in over-the-top violence.  The film may be trying to make some philosophical points about American history and race relations, but Django Unchained did it better. 

Worth seeing, if you love blood and gore - or are a die-hard Tarantino fan!

For a full review from Bernard Hemingway

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