Wednesday, 11 April 2018

April 12
Isle of Dogs
The Party
Young at Heart Film Festival 

Films from this year's and 2017 Berlin Film Festival are arriving, with a couple of great offerings released this week. And a reminder that the Young at Heart Seniors Film Festival opens next Tuesday, April 17th in Melbourne. 

Isle of Dogs
Director: Wes Anderson
Length: 101 min
© 20th Century Fox  - don't miss this top-notch 
stop motion film with heart and depth.
Stop motion animation is a labour of love. The dedication and creativity that's gone into this amazing film is blatantly apparent, as idiosyncratic Anderson brings his genius to the screen once more! Set in a slightly futuristic Japan, Isle of Dogs is the story of the corrupt mayor of Megasaki (Akiro Ito) who banishes all dogs from the city after an outbreak of "Snout Flu". Mayor Kobayashi's adopted ward Atari (Koyu Rankin) sets out in search of his beloved pet Spots, and lands on Trash Island where the dogs dwell. The film works on numerous levels - it is a delightful, at times whimsical off-centre piece of entertainment, visually splendid, clever dialogue, with canine characters to delight (and that's from a non-doggie lover). This is no cutesie-wootsie puppy play - underneath there is some scathing political satire (complete with conspiracy theories) and biting social commentary. Thematically there is resonance for refugees, concentration camps, lunatic leaders and more. Only the dogs speak English while the humans speak Japanese with no subtitles. Believe me, it works a treat, and the Japanese sensibility of the film, along with Anderson's trademark tableau camera style, only adds to its relentless charm. Actors voicing the English-speaking characters are all notable, including Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Scarlett Johansson, Greta Gerwig, Harvey Keitel, Jeff Goldblum, Bob Balaban, Frances McDormand, Yoko Ono and Bill Murray. Wow!! This winner of the Silver Bear for Best Director at Berlin, 2018 is for me almost unmissable.
4.5 - wholeheartedly recommended !

The Party
Director: Sally Potter
Length: 71 min
© Madman - an elegant celebratory gathering goes from 
good, to bad to disaster. 
This short and sweet black comedy is a somewhat strange offering from Potter, of Orlando fame. It feels like a cross between a domestic melodrama, and a social satire upon a certain class of Brits. Janet (Kristin Scott Thomas) is holding a party to celebrate her appointment as Health Minister. Invited friends are a lesbian couple Jinny (Emily Mortimer) and Martha (Cherry Jones), who  are expecting IVF triplets. Then there's April (the always wonderful Patricia Clarkson) and soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend Gottfried (Bruno Ganz), and cocaine-snorting Tom (Cillian Murphy). Tom's wife Marianne hasn't arrived and he thinks she's having an affair. As all manner of verbal jousting and personal revelations unfold, the tone of the party degenerates. Meantime Janet's gloomy husband Bill (Timothy Spall) drinks too much and drops a couple of bombshells of his own. Films of people's self-perceptions unravelling at social events always provide a degree of malicious fun, as does this. Shot in crisp black and white, and with an excellent cast, it makes for an entertaining watch. The Party was nominated for a Berlin Golden Bear in 2017. 
3.5 - well recommended!

Apia Young at Heart Seniors Film Festival
Melbourne: 17-25 April 
Palace Como, Balwyn, Brighton Bay
On March 29th I gave a heads up and four reviews for this festival which only starts in Melbourne early next week, but is already underway in other states. Below are the reviews again, in case you missed them. Plenty of other excellent films are showing in this festival including: Gurrumul, Last Flag Flying, The Bookshop, Aurore, and Return to Montauk. And don't forget the retrospective featuring All About Eve, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and A Star is Born.
Return to Montauk, which I'm itching to see, is another nominee for Best Film at the Berlin International Film Festival.  
Visit for all details.

ChappaquidickSenator Ted Kennedy (Jason Clarke) made headlines in 1969 when he drove his car off a bridge, killing a young campaign strategist Mary Joe Kopechne (Kate Mara). Even though the facts of the film are part of history, this is a gripping recreation of the events, and a timely look at the corruption and ambition that invariably goes with politics. Clarke's excellent portrayal of Kennedy swings the audience from sympathy, through to contempt. 
Desert Bride: This award-winning Argentinian film stars Paulina Garcia as Theresa, a woman who has worked as a maid for one family for 30 years of her life. While travelling to another post, she mislays her baggage. Kindly market vendor Gringo offers to drive her to hunt for it. This gentle film delicately looks at issues of love, change and aging, and somehow its short runtime still allows it to explore its themes in a way that resonates with you long after the film is over.
LBJ: Woody Harrelson delivers a strong performance as vice president Lyndon Johnson, who was dramatically swept into office when Kennedy was shot. The film examines Johnson's inner insecurities and the tasks he grappled with in healing the nation and moving forward with JFK's vision. 
Sea Dreaming Girls:  sweet and heart-warming Italian doco about a group of elderly ladies who live in a remote Italian mountain village and have never seen the sea. In honour of their social club's 20th anniversary, they decide to raise money for a seaside jaunt. This is a delightful story, showing it's never to late for new things in life.

4 - the festival is highly recommended!

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