Sunday, 10 April 2016

It's a veritable smorgasbord of film genres this week, and no excuses for not going to one of these terrific films! 

Where To Invade Next 
Director: Michael Moore
Length: 118 mins

Michael Moore is on the rampage again in one of his most entertaining films to date. Although the conceit of his "invading" countries is a bit weak, the actual content of what he discovers is amazing. He heads off to a variety of places - Italy, France, Finland, Norway, Slovenia, Germany, Portugal, Iceland and Tunisia to investigate what aspects of their societies are so admirable that the ideas should be stolen and taken back to the USA. What he reveals about all manner of things from free gourmet school lunches, to progressive prison systems is absolutely enlightening, and it's super refreshing to see how positive he is towards everything involving the role of women.  

4 - wholeheartedly recommended!

For a full review from Bernard Hemingway:

Director: Grimur Hakonarson
Length: 92 mins

Brothers Gummi and Kiddi are sheep farmers in a remote Icelandic community. They haven't spoken for 40 years, but when an outbreak of fatal sheep disease strikes, they may have to find a way to reconcile. 
This is minimalist film-making at its best (it won a major prize at  Cannes!) Rams is spare, measured, beautiful and insightful.  It captures a specific and little known way of life, but also deals with universal truths about the often irrational way humans get through their lives.  The two old curmudgeons are superbly acted, the sheep are winning in their own right, the cinematography is overwhelmingly majestic, and the subtle understated story has touches of humour, but its poignant humanity stands out. 
While I acknowledge such films are not everyone's bag, I loved it - my fellow reviewer CT loved it, so why not be open to a wonderful and different film experience? 

4.5 - Wholeheartedly recommended!

For a rave review from Chris Thompson:

Director: Jennifer Peedom
Length: 96 mins

© Transmission Films
As this doco explains, Sherpas are an ethnic group, renowned for schlepping the heavy gear on climbing expeditions to Everest (and being ridiculously underpaid and unacknowledged for it!) When Peedom went to Nepal to make her film about deteriorating relationships between foreign climbers and Sherpas, she was witness to the horrific avalanche which killed 13 of their number. This rather changed the thrust of the film, making it about the tragedy, as well as the struggle for the rights of these local people, to whom the mountain is spiritual. (To many Westerners it is more about ego and money). With spectacular vistas, and fascinating insights into the Sherpa's way of life, this is a gripping doco, and a worthy companion piece to the recent feature film Everest.    

3.5 Recommended!

For a full review from Bernard Hemingway:

Spanish Film Festival 
Melbourne April 13 - May 1 (for other states, check the website)

Although opening night is not until the 13th of April, with all festivals, it's good to thoroughly scrutinise the program and work out in advance what you want to see. 
I was fortunate enough to preview a terrific award-winning film called Truman. It tells of an actor Julian (Ricardo Darin) who is dying, and unwilling to continue chemotherapy. His old childhood friend Tomas comes from Argentina to visit him in Madrid, and together they spend a few days, while Julian puts his affairs in order, the most important being to catch up with his son, and to find a home for his beloved dog Truman. It's rare that a film so convincingly depicts the openness and depth of a long-term male friendship. I found Truman intensely beautiful, moving but not without its humour. If the rest of the festival is this good, then bring it on!! 

4 - wholeheartedly recommended!

Check out the full Spanish Film Festival program at:

The Jungle Book
Director: Jon Favreau
Length: 105 mins

More filmic surprises, in another stunning animation from the Disney Studio. This time the story of little Mowgli, raised by wolves in the jungle, uses a real child actor (Neel Sethi), with a vast array of animated animals, that look astonishingly realistic. The movie opts for a non-stop action adventure style, which is totally thrilling, while the requisite lessons in life come thick and fast. Voicing the animals are such luminaries as Ben Kingsley as Bagheera, Idris Elba as Shere Khan, Scarlett Johansson as Kaa, Bill Murray as Baloo, and Christopher Walken as King Louis. All the settings are glorious, and the musical numbers a delight. Maybe I'm becoming a child in my old age, but I was thoroughly entertained.

3.5 - Recommended!

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