Monday, 21 May 2018

May 24  . . . and the forthcoming weeks
The Bookshop - out this week
German Film Festival - starts this week
My Friend Dahmer - May 31
Kodachrome - June 7
Upgrade - June 14
Ideal home - June 21
Foxtrot - June 21

It's that time of year again for the blogger to take a well-earned break. So I will let you know now, in advance, of  films that are coming up, which I have already managed to preview. And if I can get the dreaded Gmail to work from random computers, I may follow up with a weekly re-run  just to jog your memory. Or not!!
The Bookshop
Director: Isabel Coixet
Length: 113 min
© Transmission - so very British! 
In 1959, in an English village, war widow Florence Green (Emily Mortimer) decides to open a bookshop in an old house. She runs up against opposition from vindictive socialite Mrs Gamart (Patricia Clarkson) who wants the house for an arts centre. Unexpected support comes in the form of the reclusive Mr Brundish (Bill Nighy), who is much gossiped about without the villagers knowing the facts. This is archetypical Brit film-making - gentle, well-acted, and beautifully shot. Despite terrific acting and excellent production design, the film never quite soars to emotional highs, and the incessant voice-over narration is a little tiresome. But it is a sweet tale, paying homage to books and the idea that one should always follow one's passions. 
3 - recommended!  (could I really miss a Bill Nighy film?)

German Film Festival
Melbourne May 24-June 6
Palace Cinema Como
For other states, ticketing and program visit:

Palace Cinemas have taken over the newly revamped German Film Festival, bringing you 26 feature films, including a variety from this year's Berlin International Festival. Closing night gives you the opportunity to see the iconic 1987 Wim Wenders film Wings of Desire, digitally restored. As always I'm lucky to have caught a few in advance.
Mademoiselle Paradis: As they say, fact is often stranger than fiction. This multi-award winning period film is the late 18th century story of a talented pianist, blind from birth, who was sent to renowned physician, Dr Mesmer. As her eyesight improves, her playing deteriorates, leading to an agonising choice. Fabulous costumes, cinematography and production design combine with an intriguing piece of history. 
In Times of Fading Light: This is for lovers of films about the repressive times in East Germany. It stars one of Germany's top actors Bruno Ganz, who was brilliant in Downfall. Here he plays a hardline communist party man, celebrating his 90th birthday, just before the fall of the Berlin Wall. As various friends, neighbours and party faithful come to visit, we realise personal lives and politics are all on the brink of change. 
When Paul Came Over the Sea: A documentary about asylum seeker Paul from Cameroon. As he waits to cross the Mediterranean to Europe he is befriended by the film-maker, who follows his journey. This is an insightful look at the refugee situation from a very personal viewpoint. 

My Friend Dahmer - out May 31
Director: Russ Meyer
Length: 107 min
© Madman  - creepy kid! The genesis of
a serial killer, but not without compassion
Jeffrey Dahmer was infamous for murdering 17 men and boys in mid-west America between 1978 and 1991. This slow-burn, compellingly creepy film traces the young Dahmer (Ross Lynch) through his final high school year, giving a possible insight into what drove the guy to become the biggest serial killer since Jack the Ripper. The film isn't about the crimes (you can read all about them on the net), but about his odd friendship with a group of boys who became intrigued by the weird behaviour of this introverted and socially isolated kid. One of his friends, John Backderf, eventually created a graphic novel in 2012, reflecting upon his experiences with Dahmer. The film is based upon this. It also examines the severely dysfunctional and emotionally neglectful home life of the young teen, begging the question: are "monsters" born or created? Could he have turned out differently with better relationships? The craziness of Dahmer's mother, along with the coldness of his father and the bullying at school, lead one to feel moments of sadness for the boy. All the young men give strong performances as the friends, setting Dahmer up to humiliating antics, while Lynch's powerful performance is chilling. Though the film starts slowly, seeming like a teen flick, it grabs you and progressively shocks and intrigues.
3.5 - well recommended!

Kodachrome - out June 7
Director: Mark Raso
Length: 105 min
© Icon - plumbs the father/son dynamic
World-famous photographer Ben (Ed Harris) is dying. His nurse Zooey (Elizabeth Olsen) contacts Ben's estranged son, record-producer Matt (Jason Sudeikis) with an odd request. Ben wants to develop four rolls of film from years back, and the only place in the country that still develops Kodachrome film is in far-flung Kansas. Ben wants Matt to drive him. Yes, in many ways we sense where this is going from the outset, but it is so beautifully scripted and acted, that not a moment feels forced. The grief for a lost time is strongly felt - the idea of photos being actual, versus the "digital dust" of so much of today's electronic world. But the film's real depth lies in the heart-wrenching story of father and son, and whether they can ever bridge the years of resentments and estrangement. With humor, a strong soundtrack, a romance thread, and absolutely truthful top-notch performances from the three leads, this is a powerful and moving film that had me in tears.
4 - highly recommended!

Upgrade - out June 14
Director: Leigh Whannell
Length: 100 min
© Madman - revenge action in a futuristic world
of high tech bio-engineering
Upgrade is set in a futuristic world where computers control just about everything. Grey Trace (Logan Marshall Green) and his wife are victims of a street mugging. His wife is killed and Trace is left a quadriplegic. Unexpectedly he is approached by a mysterious young billionaire who suggests he could have a spinal implant that could "upgrade" him and restore his function. When a computer chip called STEM is inserted in his spine, Trace discovers that he is perhaps no longer boss of his own being. I love an imaginative sci-fi, and although this one is in parts derivative of other sci-fis, it works quite well as a cross-genre thriller with themes of futuristic bio-engineering and driverless cars, along with revenge, madness and devious conspiracies. Though at times violent, it doesn't take itself totally seriously and is good entertainment for fans of the genre.
3 - recommended!

Ideal Home - out June 21
Director: Andrew Fleming
Length: 91 min
© Icon - just looking at this pic, you know it's going 
to be great fun.
You gotta love Paul Rudd and Steve Coogan playing long-term live-in lovers, who hold wonderful extravagant dinner parties and bicker constantly. Paul (Rudd) is a TV director and Erasmus (Coogan) a flamboyant chef who hosts cooking shows and has a massive ego. (Coogan does ego really well.) When Erasmus's hitherto unknown grandson, Bill (Jack Gore), turns up on the doorstep, a new take on the idea of family is born. I love the way I loathed the kid at the start, then gradually softened. This is Coogan at his best, with Rudd a perfect foil as the long-suffering partner. The script is witty, replete with self-deprecating satire, one-liners, terrific dialogue and laugh-out-loud moments. It's true entertainment - touching and heaps of fun.
4 - highly recommended!

Foxtrot -  - out June 21
Director: Samuel Maoz
Length: 114 min
© Sony Pictures Classics - heartrending tale of loss, 
peppered with moments of humour
Tel Aviv couple Michael (Lior Ashkenazi) and Dafna (Sarah Adler) have the worst possible news delivered: their son Jonathan has been killed in the line of army duty. Both go into a spiral of grief. To say anything more plot-wise would be to say too much. Suffice to say this is award-winning film-making which scooped the pool at the Israeli Ophir awards, and justifiably so. Gut-wrenching drama combines with black humour about life in the Israeli army, while remarking upon upon the futility of war and the hypocrisy of those in charge. The cinematography is masterful and quite creative, and performances uniformly splendid. The film takes you upon a roller coaster journey, juggling time frames and leading to a bizarre twist of fate that bookends the whole movie.
4 - highly recommended!

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