Wednesday, 6 September 2017

September 7 2017
Small Town Killers
Tommy's Honour
The Dinner
Wallace & Gromit and Friends: The Magic of Aardman
AICE Israeli Film Festival 2017

It's a week of recommendable films, but nothing that's a mind-blowing stand-out. For a change of pace though, check out the spectacular Aardman exhibition at ACMI (and if you don't know Aardman, think Wallace & Gromit!) And for even further variety and fine film offerings, the Israeli Film Festival opens. 

Small Town Killers 
Director: Ole Bornedal
Length: 90 min
© Icon - whacky Scandinavian humour and
farcical elements abound in this black comedy 
of murderous husbands and ditzy wives.
This screwball Danish comedy is the story of Edward and Ib, two unappealing husbands who see their wives as little more than sex objects. However, denied conjugal delights and sick of the women, they decide to divorce. When told how much they'll have to pay in alimony, they decide, in a drunken fit, to hire a Russian hitman. Igor arrives and things get crazy with the wives attempting to turn the tables on the men. This is another example of a film's appeal depending upon what you find funny; I like Scandi humour and so got plenty of laughs out of the somewhat crude and silly story. There are elements of farce and plenty that stretches credibility, but it's an entertaining tale, well acted and zany.
3 - recommended!

Tommy's Honour
Director: Jason Connery
Length: 112 min
© Transmission -  a delight for golf fans!
The winner of a couple of British film awards, this should appeal to golfers, as it tells the true story of the founding family of golf, Old Tom Morris (Peter Mullan) and his son Tommy (Jack Lowden). Not being a golfer, I found it a tad slow and hard to follow at first, as it traces the history of the first Open tournaments, and all the rowdiness and betting that went with them. When the personal lives of the Morrises took centre stage, the film felt more intimate to me, especially  the tragic story of young Tom and his older wife Meg. Sam Neill makes a welcome appearance as an upper class toff who looks down on the Morrises, that is until young Tom decides he wants to be an independent professional in his own right. The film looks absolutely gorgeous, shot on some of Britain's most loved courses, including golf's spiritual home, St Andrews. The costumes and recreations of the era are also impressive. 
3 - recommended!

The Dinner
Director: Oren Moverman
Length: 122 min
© Icon -  things get heated in this
multi-layered look at family dynamics and
kids behaving outrageously.  
Stan Lohman (Richard Gere) is a successful politician married to younger wife Katelyn (Rebecca Hall). He invites his teacher brother Paul (Steve Coogan) and wife Claire (Laura Linney to dinner at a fancy restaurant. He wants to talk about something important, but it takes almost the whole evening before the matter is addressed - that the children of each couple have done something horrendous, and the parents must now decide to what lengths they will go to protect their kids. This film has divided critics right down the middle - and I'm fairly torn about it too! The moral issues the film raises are thought-provoking, as is the look at mental illness and family conflict. But the director opts for jumping all over the place like a grasshopper - one minute we are listening to Paul's tedious internal monologue on life and war (especially Gettysburg), then seeing him in cynical action in the classroom. The film is self-consciously divided into "courses", and an endless parade of pretentious food comes out. Meantime there are interspersed flashbacks to what the cousins have done. However, the rivetting performance by Coogan demonstrates that he is much more than a comedian, and the strength of acting by the other three leads gets me to eventually say it is worth a look. 
3 - recommended!

Wallace & Gromit and Friends: 
The Magic of Aardman
At ACMI until 29 October
© ACMI/Aardman
What an absolute treat this informative, delightful and exhaustive exhibition is. As part of Melbourne's Winter Masterpieces, it covers the entire history of the Aardman studio, from its earliest animations, through to its upcoming film, Early Man. For those who don't know, Aardman Studios is responsible for the iconic claymation characters Wallace and Gromit and such fabulous films as The Curse of the Were Rabbit (an Oscar winner!) and Shaun the Sheep. The exhibition takes us through sketches of concepts, engineering plans and model creation, along with miniature sets, explanations of how the magic is achieved, and provides umpteen clips of our favourite films, along with lesser known stuff like advertisements the studio has done. At the end visitors can create their own character out of plasticine and have a shot at animating it. This is a total delight and eye-opener for all ages. 
It's a winner!
For more info go to:

AICE Israeli Film Festival 2017
5-17 September, Melbourne & Sydney
Mr Gaga is one of the most extraordinary dance films 
you will ever see.  
Again this year the festival offers a diverse selection of thought-provoking and entertaining films, including the 1940 Charles Chauvel film, Forty Thousand Horsemen.
One film back by popular demand is Mr Gaga, the story of the director of the Batsheva Dance company. If you've never seen it, here is an unmissable opportunity to catch what is my favourite dance film ever. Here's what I said when it screened at the HotDocs festival last year: 
Israeli choreographer, Ohad Naharin, has changed the face of modern dance with his Batsheva Dance Company. This film, painting a portrait of Naharin's personal life and work, has more energy and innovative dance moves than I've possibly ever seen, is a feast for the senses, and is ABSOLUTELY UNMISSSABLE!
For details of times and tickets visit:

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