Tuesday, 3 May 2016

I'm leading off with an inspirational must-see gala theatrical performance, filmed in honour of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death. With a similar plot to the French film Marguerite, reviewed last week, we have Florence Foster Jenkins. Anthony LaPaglia returns in a low key but affecting Aussie film,  while auteur Nanni Moretti delves into the trauma created by the impending death of a parent.

Shakespeare Live
Length: 160 mins (maybe more if you get an interval!)
Don't miss it - only on Friday 6 May, Saturday 7 May, and Sunday 8 May (further screenings depending upon demand) 

Who'd have thought it? I am over the moon about Shakespeare. Upon the 400th anniversary of the Bard's death, the Royal Shakespeare Company put on a gala performance, the likes of which a Shakespeare fan can only dream of. Consummate Shakespearean actors such as Judi Dench, Ian McKellan, Helen Mirren and David Tennant, to name a few, along with numerous other members, perform iconic speeches from the best loved plays. Vocalists sing haunting songs based upon Shakespeare's words; so do hip-hop artists. Ballet dancers, modern jazz dancers and opera singers - all perform works inspired by the Bard. Comedy gets a run in a hilarious scene with Tim Minchin and other actors pondering where to put the stress in the line "To be or not to be". If ever I found difficulty in understanding the text, these brilliant performers have brought the words to life, and given me an epiphany in finally seeing just how important and influential and relevant this writer has been for four centuries. 

5 - Absolutely unmissable!

Florence Foster Jenkins
Director: Stephen Frears
Length: 110 mins

Hot on the heels of the French take on this story, (see my last week's blog) comes the delightful English language version, based on the real socialite of 1940s New York who fancied herself a talented opera singer, though her voice was atrocious. The ever-watchable, amazingly talented Meryl Streep plays Florence, with Hugh Grant as her adoring husband. There is more overt comedy in this version (though it is not without its pathos), but it lacks the dark, mysterious intrigue of the French film. It is a joy to see Grant back in form delivering an excellent performance, and the film is highly entertaining, from go to whoa. 

4 - Wholeheartedly recommended!

For a full review (hopefully) check out:

Month of Sundays
Director: Matthew Saville
Length: 109 mins

This is a low-key, heartfelt film about a middle-aged  Adelaide real-estate agent Frank (Anthony LaPaglia), who is struggling with every aspect of life. He can't cut loose from his ex-wife Wendy (Justine Clarke), has communication problems with his son, and his  job has become a total drag. When he gets a wrong-number phone call from Sarah (Julia Blake) who thinks he is her son, an odd-couple friendship is born, with Frank seeing Sarah as a mother figure (his own mother has died). This is understated film-making with a capital U, but there is plenty of subtle humour, true emotion, and ultimately a positive take on the how to overcome negativity and embrace life.  

3.5 - Recommended!

For a full review from Chris Thompson:

Mia Madre
Director: Nanni Moretti
Length: 106 mins

Nanni Moretti and Margherita Buy  - ©Palace Films
Another film focusing upon mother issues. Movie director Margherita is desperately trying to juggle her personal and professional life. Her ability to focus upon the film she is shooting becomes compromised, as her beloved mother is dying. She is also battling an egotistical lead actor (John Turturro), and trying to handle a moody teenage daughter. Director Moretti, who plays Margherita's brother, is excellent at capturing heavy emotions, and death of a parent is one of the heaviest and something many of us can relate to. The emphasis on the "film within a film" for me took up too much space, and detracted from the emotion, though it certainly commented upon the superficiality of the movie industry as compared to the nitty-gritty depth of real life. Overall this is worth seeing for the two award-winning performances from the female leads. 

3 - Recommended!

For my full review:

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