Saturday, 25 November 2017

November 23 2017
Goodbye Christopher Robin
The Butterfly tree
Japanese Film Festival
The Teacher

Unfortunately a late blog this week. Returned from a five day jaunt up north to find internet totally down (along with downed wires in the street) and good ol' Telstra saying no technician available for 5 days!! So on a learning curve with the iphone hotspot, but Slow, slow slow!!! Let's hope for a big catch-up and a functional network for next week's blog (which will also run late, thanks to modern technology!) 

Goodbye Christopher Robin
Director: Simon Curtis
Length: 107 min
© Fox - take the tissues! 
Writer Alan Alexander Milne (Domnhall Gleeson) returns traumatised  from World War One and moves himself, his wife Daphne (Margot Robbie) and their 8-year-old son Christopher Robin (Will Tilston) to the peace of the English countryside, where he starts writing an anti-war book. Soon all else is overwhelmed by his decision to write a children's book, based upon the toys, especially the teddy bear, so beloved of his son. The worldwide success of Winnie-the-Pooh is phenomenal, but it puts terrible pressure upon a little boy's life. I grew up with this book, and it has so many important memories for me, so you may say I'm prejudiced in my review. The director does a superb job of balancing the darkness of the post-war period with the sweet innocence of childhood and a sense of how a child's imagination can lift up all those who come into contact with it. The formality and distance of the Milne parents is in stark contrast to the warmth of CR's nanny, Olive, (Kelly McDonald), while the media feeding frenzy that results from Pooh's publication is still resonant for today's celebrity-struck world. This film, while it could have risked being overly sentimental, is delicate, magical, and beautiful, with an unforgettable child performance at its heart - a heart that is at once sad, exquisite and timeless. 
4.5 - wholeheartedly recommended!

The Butterfly Tree
Director: Priscilla Cameron
Length: 108 min
© Kabuku PR - gorgeous to look at - intriguing and sexy
as father and son vie for the same woman
Evelyn (Melissa George) is an exotic dancer who also runs a flower shop. Her zest for life, her beauty and seductiveness manage to enchant widower Al (Ewen Leslie) and his son Fin (Ed Oxenbould). Fin confuses maternal craving and teenage lust, while Al's grief sees him turning to one of his students (Sophie Lowe) for comfort. With father and son competing for Evelyn's attention, fireworks ensue, but the glamorous Evelyn has disturbing secrets of her own. Fin's collection of butterflies, and the fact that Evelyn dances in a beautiful butterfly costume lends this film a wild visual beauty. There are many moments of intense magic realism that are splendidly visually alluring, but there is also an odd tone to the film - it never quite knows if it wants to be high drama or vaguely comedic. Despite several overly-familiar plot devices, there is a lot to enjoy in this film, which is a sweet exploration of important themes of  fathers and sons, loss, longing, grief, illness and growing up. Notable is young Oxenbould, who is turning into a fine young actor. 

Japanese Film Festival
Melbourne 23 Nov - 3 Dec 
ACMI and Hoyts Melbourne Central
See website for other dates

Not enough Japanese films get releases in Australia for my liking. and I don't mean only anime or samurai/ninja  films - just films about everyday lives, reflecting modern day Japan. So the festival is a splendid opportunity to catch a few and open your eyes to a fascinating culture.
Highly recommended are: Love and Other Cults, Radiance (closing night film), and This Corner of the World, an exquisitely painted animation telling the story of a family back in the time of the bombing of Hiroshima. 
Visit the website for times and listings of films. 

The Teacher
Director: Jan Hrebek
Length: 102 min
© Palace - she may look sweet, but she's a 
manipulative and dark character. 
Teacher Maria Drazdechova (Zuzana Maurery) comes new to school with smiles and seeming charm. She wants to know all her students, especially what each of their parents does for a job. This dark Czech film is based on true dastardly doings back in 1980s Czechoslovakia, when this scurrilous teacher, also a head of the Communist party, extracted all sorts of favours from pupils' parents in exchange for good marks. Incredible but true, this dark comedy will enrage you, and certainly impress with the terrific award winning performance by Maurery. The era is fabulously recreated, and the moral issues are still highly relevant in today's world.
4 - highly recommended! 

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