Friday, 20 April 2018

April 19
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
The Song Keepers
A Quiet Place
21st Spanish Film Festival

Plenty of variety this week! A much anticipated drama/romance from a popular novel, an impressive new Aussie doco, and the always warmly anticipated Spanish Film Festival. I also catch up with one of last week's releases, so suspenseful my heart still hasn't stopped thumping. 

The Guernsey Literary and 
Potato Peel Pie  Society
Director: Mike Newell
Length: 124 min
© StudioCanal - engaging wartime 
adventure/romance based on a best-selling novel 
Here is another quintessentially Pommie film based upon a highly popular best-selling novel. In post-war 1946 London author Juliet Ashton (Lily James) is about to embark on a tour publicising her latest book when she receives a letter from farmer DawseyAdams (Michiel Huisman) on the isle of Guernsey. After a period of correspondence with Dawsey, and a sudden engagement to dashing GI Mark (Glen Powell), Juliet heads over to Guernsey to research a new book about the lives of the residents there under the German occupation. The tragic history she unearths will be both an anguish and a healing for all. Beautiful production values recreating the era underpin this charming film, which has plenty to recommend it: war history, intrigue, romance, secrets, and plenty of British stiff upper lip spirits. James is translucently beautiful in the role, Huisman an earthy hunk, and with top support from the likes of Matthew Goode as Sydney the publisher, and other British stalwarts, it's a worthy watch, which even brings a tear to the eye in parts.
3.5 - well recommended!

The Song Keepers
Director: Naina Sen
Length: 84 min
© Potential - a warm and inspiring doco of one 
man's dedication, and the power of music
The Central Australian Aboriginal Women's Choir is the subject matter of this fascinating documentary. (Stats: 32 members, aged 20s to 80s; includes 2 men). Choirmaster Morris Stuart (himself of African background) amalgamated a number of choirs from remote communities and trained them to sing old hymns, many learned by the women as kids, when they were in the German Lutheran missions of Herrmannsberg. The doco tracks the choir's trip to Bavaria where they were warmly welcomed by the Germans who were overwhelmed hearing their songs returned to them - but this time sung in native Australian languages. Some of the women speak of the legacy of colonialism, and there is a subtle undercurrent of the dark legacy of the past. But the uplifting and optimistic tone of the film prevails. I came away with a sense of hope and deep affection for the choir, their leader, and the hope that music could help heal the parlous state of white/black relations in Australia.
3.5 - well recommended!

A Quiet Place
Director: John Krasinski
Length: 90 min
"If they hear you they hunt you" - silence is critical. 
A great creature feature with top family values.
It's hard to pigeon-hole this film into one genre, as it succeeds on so many levels -horror/thriller/family story. In a post-apocalyptic Earth, creatures from outer space have ravaged much of the world's population. They are blind but hunt using their highly developed auditory sense. Lee, (John Krasinski), his wife Evelyn (Emily Blunt), and their 3 kids, one of whom is profoundly deaf, are surviving, living on a remote farm, and communicating only by sign language. When the creatures finally are alerted to the family's whereabouts, an edge-of-seat, nail-biting mission to evade death ensues. The idea of protecting family at all costs is central to this film. The director cleverly and quickly gets the audience to care about the fate of the family, leaving us emotionally invested from go to whoa. The sound production values are top-shelf, with minimal music and plenty of absolute silence. Performances are universally top-notch, and while there are occasional unanswered plot questions, most of what happens feels quite credible. Possibly the less you know the more you'll get out of your viewing, but PLEASE, don't take noisy crunchy food into this one - the quieter the better! (For that matter, avoid noisy food in all films!)
4 - highly recommended!

Spanish Film Festival
Melbourne: April 19th to May 6th 
Palace Como, Westgarth, Brighton Bay, Kino and Astor
See website for other states
For more information, and times visit

The vibrancy of the Spanish Film Festival is with us once again. As well as many new award-winning films, there are two very special reruns: Pan's Labyrinth will screen on closing night, while Jamon Jamon features as part of a special event. (This film launched the careers of Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem in 1992.) 
For history buffs there is Gold with a fabulous ensemble cast, and set in Central America in 1540.  Dying is a delicate relationship drama in which a woman must cope with her partner's diagnosis of a brain tumour. There is also a feature retrospective paying tribute to director Bigas Luna.  
As always I've caught a few, (though not yet as many as I would have liked).

Sin Rodeo: Meaning "no filter", this whacky comedy tells of a woman who spends her life feeling unheard and unappreciated. When she visits a charlatan Indian guru and takes his medicine, she becomes so outspoken that she must learn to find a new balance between looking after her own needs, and not letting others run all over her. I found a lot to empathise with in this one!
Coco: The glorious Oscar award-winning animation is the story of little Miguel whose family forbid him to play music. He cannot fathom why. On Mexico's Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), he finds himself in a position to finally get some answers. This joyous film is visually splendid, the music is a treat, the plot moves along at a great pace, it is warm, uplifting, tear-jerking and simply unmissable. I can't recommend it highly enough (for all ages!) 
Abracadabra: This has won countless awards (mainly in Spain), but perhaps my sense of humour is not in tune with the Spaniards. Again the plot features a wife with a neglectful husband. When the party trick of an amateur hypnotist  goes wrong, the man seemingly gets possessed by a ghost. This one's a bit scatty for my liking, but if you like magic and mayhem, it may be worth checking out.  

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