Thursday, 23 February 2017

February 23 2017:  
The Family

By the time the next blog comes along the Oscars will have come and gone. Ultimately they are not the final arbiter of what's the best in movie-land. But it is a strong field this year, and I'll eagerly wait the outcome. Meantime a couple of non-Oscar contenders release this week, both worth seeing.  

The Family
Director: Rosie Jones
Length: 98 min

© Label Distribution -  beware cult leaders who think
they are the Messiah!

This chilling doco looks at the police investigation into a cult known as The Family, which operated strongly in Melbourne from the 1960s to the 90s (and still has a few members floating about!) A self-styled messiah called Anne Hamilton-Byrne formed the group, with support from Melburnians high up in politic and academia. She "acquired" children by various underhand means, bringing them up in shocking conditions, involving cruelty, deprivation and LSD. To the outside world they appeared as happy little home-schooled look-alikes, mostly with dyed white-blonde hair. The film unfolds layer by layer like a thriller, exposing the sordid details through interviews with surviving members of the cult, and the police officers who ran the case. This is a gripping and disturbing history, which makes for interesting viewing, but at times it becomes somewhat convoluted and confusing, due to the time shifts, the copious archival material and the great number of talking heads presenting their stories.

3 - recommended!
For a longer review from Bernard Hemingway go to:

Director: Kleber Mendonca Filho
Length: 142 min
Exclusive to Cinema Nova, Melbourne
© Rialto - Sonia Braga plays Clara, a strong woman
to be reckoned with
Sonia Braga is one of Brazil's foremost actors. Here she plays Clara, in an award-winning, remarkable but challenging film about a woman who refuses to sell her apartment to developers. I say challenging because it is the type of film that wows the critics, but may have less appeal to mainstream movie goers. The movie takes its time unhurriedly to establish aspects of Clara's life - a reprieve from early breast cancer, her love of music (both passion and career-wise), and her attachment to her apartment opposite the sea in Recife, Brazil, where she has always lived and raised her family. The film works on two levels - a personal one, in which a dwelling can be seen as a repository of a person's emotions and history, and the broader societal level in which progress steamrolls through, heedless of the damage it causes to people's lives. As the construction company ups the ante in its attempts to get Clara to sell, the movie takes on an almost thrilling aspect, while the picture of Clara's daily life in a vibrant city amongst her family and female friends is lovingly portrayed. I find the film a bit long, but there is something compelling about a story of an individual taking on the big guys, and of course this is yet another movie showcasing a strong and self-assured woman. Braga's fabulous performance manages to capture the anomaly of ageing - feeling still like a child inside but looking to the world like an old woman. As an added bonus, the soundtrack of Brazilian music is a winner for lovers of the genre.

4 - wholeheartedly recommended!
For a longer review from Bernard Hemingway go to:

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