Thursday, 26 October 2017

October 26 2017
Brigsby Bear
The Midwife
Ingrid goes West
The Untamed
Cunard British Film Festival

Again some wonderful release this week, plus another Festival - this time the British! And yet a couple more reviews from JIFF, so no excuses for not getting along to the movies!

Brigsby Bear
Director: Dave McCary
Length: 97 min
© Sony - an unusual film with much heart and creativity
James (Kyle Mooney) leads an oddball isolated life with only his kooky parents and an obsession for watching an animated TV series called Brigsby Bear. But all is not as it seems, and James' life changes dramatically in an instant. We then gradually learn what his past reality has really been about (and I'm not letting on!) If I'm being deliberately obscure, I think the less you know in advance about this one, the better. In his new life James discovers the real world, learns what friendship and family is, and how to use his love of Brigsby to create a new future for himself. Although the total premise is way out there, and is based upon something potentially horrific, this is actually a totally charming, funny and touching film, with a thoroughly likeable main character, and lots of warm fuzzy feelings that, fortunately, don't step too far into schmaltz territory. It's a gorgeous treatment of (belated) coming of age, and the idea that creative imagination, linked with child-like dreams, especially when shared with friends and family, may just be the best thing to get you through. I loved it!
4 - highly recommended!

The Midwife
Director: Martin Provost
Length: 117 min
© Palace- the two Catherines are terrific in this
gentle story of forgiveness and babies
Claire (Catherine Frot) is a single mother to teen Simon, and a committed midwife at a local clinic. Unexpectedly, after more than three decades, Beatrice (Catherine Deneuve) turns up, seeking to make amends for past hurts. Beatrice was Claire's late father's mistress, who did a runner from that relationship when Claire was only 14. Beatrice is flighty, eccentric, a gambler and recently diagnosed with cancer. Gradually the ice thaws between the women and a strange affection develops. European film-makers do this kind of thing best. They have a way of depicting prickly relationships, and odd situations, that always feel authentic and easily empathised with. The interplay between these two greats of French cinema is a treat to watch. The film takes its time, lingering on lovely scenes of Claire facilitating at numerous births (and, unlike so many American films, these babies are newborns!), and we see her no-nonsense but caring style. Her times spent at her beloved patch of community garden are lovingly teased out, as is the other friendship she forms with neighboring gardener and truck driver Paul. All in all, this gentle film is a pleasure, and a reminder of what can open up when forgiveness is embraced. 
3.5 - well recommended!

Ingrid Goes West
Director: Matt Spicer
Length: 97 min
© Rialto -  Ingrid and Taylor in a brief period 
of best friends
Ingrid Thorburn  (Aubrey Plaza) is an unstable Instagram addict who is unable to tell the difference between people she has "liked" and a real relationship. She becomes obsessed with Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen), an Instagram "star" and proceeds to stalk her, until she insinuates her way into Taylor's life. This dark comedy is an intelligent, hilarious, and at times touching satire on the world of social media. The screenwriting and dialogue accurately nail the way many younger folk speak and behave with each other and their phones, and is a cringe-worthy expose of the shallowness of much of life these days. It also examines the issue of identity - how we see ourselves, and what is the true "self" under all the social posturing. Entertaining and thought-provoking watching, with blitzing performances by the two leads.   
4 - highly recommended!

The Untamed
Director: Amat Escalante
Length: 98 min
Exclusive to ACMI cinemas - 27 Oct - 9 Nov
© ACMI -  friends joined by a very large secret
Alejandra is in a miserable marriage to Angel, made worse by the fact that Angel is having an affair with Ale's gay brother, Fabian. Veronica goes off to a cabin in the forest for regular sexual encounters of a strange nature. She claims her encounters are the purest and greatest sexual pleasure she has ever experienced.  After being injured during a tryst, Vero meets Fabian, a nurse at the hospital, and introduces him to the opportunity to get the same pleasure she has had. Sounds almost normal eh? But when you find the truth of who/what the strange pleasure-giving sexual creature is, things get majorly weird! This for me is a strange mash-up of body horror, with kinky sex overlay, and a domestic drama of non-epic proportions. Certainly the film is well made, (it's won awards!) strongly acted, somewhat intriguing, and has interesting themes around sexuality, domestic violence and homophobia, but its content is so repulsive in certain regards that it's not for me. 
2.5 - maybe!

Cunard British Film Festival
26 Oct - 15 Nov - Melbourne - see website for other states
Palace Balwyn, Brighton Bay, Como and Astor Theatre

Ah the Brits!! They have given the world so many wonderful actors, and there is always something so dependable and to which we can relate, regardless of the subject matter. From a biopic of guitarist Eric Clapton, another of Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein, through to the much anticipated story of the creator of Winnie the Pooh, there is a cornucopia of splendid films to be had in this festival. So far I've caught a couple:

A surprisingly feel good film about polio
Breathe: (117 mins) Andy Serkis (of Golum fame) takes the directorial chair for his debut film, based on the true story of Robin Cavendish (Andrew Garfield), who, in the late fifties, contracted polio at the age of 28. His devoted wife Diana (Claire Foy) is determined, against all medical advice, to bring Robin out of hospital, where he lives only with the help of a respirator, to home. There, with the love and support of friends and inventors, Robin proves you don't have to be a victim, and polio doesn't have to stop you leading a long and fulfilling life. I really enjoyed this film, mostly because stories of this nature are absolutely inspiring, and I learned so much about what happened in that era that gave hope to so many. I must add that the film possibly takes gross liberties, as I found it a bit hard to believe that people facing such enormous challenges could be so relentlessly upbeat! 

Ray Winstone is perfect as 
the gym manager
Jawbone: (91 mins) Director Thomas Napper takes a script by Johnny Harris, based on the writer's own youth as an amateur fighter. Harris plays the lead, Jimmy McCabe, a former junior boxing champ who has now become an alcoholic. In desperation Jimmy returns to the gym where he once trained, hoping to make something of himself again. The gym is run by Bill, (the incomparable Ray Winstone). I dislike boxing as a sport, but this film is superbly rendered, with flawless scripting and unsettling realism. All the actors inhabit their roles, the fight scenes are tightly choreographed (and hard to watch), but ultimately this an example of the best of British film-making.

John Hurt in one of his last roles ever
That Good Night: Eric Styles directs one of John Hurt's last films before his death. Ralph, an aging curmudgeonly playwright, diagnosed with a terminal illness and  married to a much younger wife, tries to come to terms with mortality and set things straight with his estranged son. Set in the beautiful south of Portugal, the film is a touching meditation upon aging and death, with much relevance to today's debates about dying with dignity. Charles Dance plays a mystery stranger with advice and help for Ralph.  

For information on times, cinemas and ticketing visit

JIFF (more reviews)
The Jewish International Film Festival will run for 4 weeks. I've already given you 11 reviews from last week, but as I manage to preview any other films, I'll bring them to you. 

Never Be Boring: Billy Wilder
Billy Wilder - one of the greats!
This is a fabulous insight into the famous director's career. The doco delves into Wilder's work, including clips from famous films, interviews with people who knew him and archival interviews with the man himself. No lover of the golden age of Hollywood studio films should miss this.  
A father's love and worry
This gentle heart-wrenching film about a father's love is set in the heart of New York's Hasidic community, and is one of very few films in Yiddish. Menashe's wife has died and the community/religious rules are that he cannot bring up his son alone unless he remarries. Balancing the demands of his faith, and his love for his son, Menashe must make difficult decisions. 

With 65 films from 26 countries, JIFF has something for everyone (as I already said last week!)
Check out screening times at the Classic or Lido by visiting:

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