Wednesday 10 April 2024

 April 11th 2024

Late Night With the Devil
Civil War
Robot Dreams
Back to Black
Evil Does Not Exist

It's another wonderful week of worthy films. All are recommended, with a couple of stand-outs.  The Oscar-nominated animation is a superb panacea for other more dark and disturbing films. 
Late Night With the Devil
Dir: Cameron Cairnes & Colin Cairnes
Length: 93 mins

©  Maslow Entertainment - totally original,
scary and even funny
Jack Delroy (David Dastmalchian) is the host of a late night show that he hopes can one day rival Johnny Carson's ratings. But since the death of his wife, Delroy's rating have been tanking, so he decides to host a special Halloween event that will bring viewers back in droves. He enlists a medium Christou (Fayssal Bazzi) and, for balance, a debunking skeptic, Carmichael Haig (Ian Bliss), who believes everything is either a hoax or has a logical explanation. But the big drawcard is supernatural psychiatrist June (Laura Gordon) and her young ward and patient Lilly (Ingrid Torelli) who, it seems, is intermittently possessed by a demon known as Abraxas. Is it all one big hoax or will evil be let loose in the studio? What an original storyline these Aussie writer/directors have come up with. And what a wonderful homage to a certain genre of late night schlock-horror shows. Evoking the 70s studio sets, with a live band playing, a studio audience (all decked out for Halloween), constant silly banter and copious cuts to ad breaks, the film feels at first like a super realistic spoof. But when things get hairy, the chills and thrills set in. Dastmalchian is perfect as the sort of slimy host we are know and hate, while Rhys Auteri is an excellent foil as Gus, the sidekick and announcer for Jack's show. With a super-creative twist and Faustian element at the end, this is a film that is true entertainment, with a strong narrative, plenty of thought-provoking intrigue and just the right amount of horror.
4 - highly recommended

Civil War
Dir: Alex Garland
Length: 109 mins

©  Roadshow - America is disintegrating, 
and journos are capturing it all
Some time in America's dystopian future, everything has turned to hell. Nineteen states have seceded and civil war has engulfed the country. The rebel Western Forces army is moving east towards DC, while the government is sending its troops to try to quell the uprisings. Hardened journalist Lee (Kirsten Dunst) and her boozy colleague Joel (Wagner Moura) are also racing east, trying to get a scoop interview with the President before the White House is possibly overthrown. Young aspiring journo Jessie (Cailee Spaeny) muscles her way in on the expedition, along with veteran journo Sammy (Stephen McKinley Henderson). What they experience en route is seriously confronting. The really frightening thing about this brilliant and disturbing film, is just how prescient it feels, and that the divisiveness in America today could perhaps lead to such a scenario as this in the not-so-far future. Garland is not so much commenting upon specific politics, but more on what war looks like, what is means to be a war photographer in the middle of it all, and how humanity is so easily lost in such situations. At times the film-making feels like news footage, and the immersion of the central characters in the bullet-riddled conflict makes for nail-biting tension. In other moments of rare calm, we glimpse just what the world has lost after all hell breaks loose. Dunst is memorable in her role, and the other three leads support her admirably. Jesse Plemons is notable in a chilling scene where the quartet of journalists stumbles across a group of soldiers (mercenaries, government troops, or rebels?) and discovers just how much humanity and rationality have been lost in the conflict. Grit your teeth for this near must-see film and reflect, tragically, what a mess our world is in.  
4.5 - wholeheartedly recommended

Robot Dreams
Dir: Pablo Berger
Length: 102 mins
© Madman - get out the tissues!
A beautiful story of friendship
If you're looking at the picture and are about to dismiss this as something only for kids, DONT!! Read on, and discover a sublime, wordless animation that speaks to the deepest human longing for friendship, and the need to sometimes move on in life. Dog is lonely, so he orders a build-your-own robot. Instantly he and Robot become firm friends and share everything together, especially dancing to the lively 1980s hit September. But on a beach trip tragedy strikes, Robot becomes incapacitated and Dog is forced to leave him, desperately hoping he will be able to come back and retrieve him. Not a single word is spoken in this animation from Spanish director Berger. All the characters are anthropomorphised animals, and all communication is conveyed via body language and the simplest of animated gestures. And yet we can read more emotion into this, than into many films acted by real humans! I found myself unexpectedly teary with both delight and sadness in so many scenes. The visuals, with an 80s New York setting, are exciting and colorful, the soundtrack vibrant, and to my surprise, the plot does not go in an anticipated direction, but veers in a direction far more attuned to real life. Much as we all love slick Disney and Pixar animations, Robot Dreams, a worthy nominee for this year's Oscar, delves far deeper and hits the most human of nerves.
4.5 - wholeheartedly recommended

Back to Black
Dir: Sam Taylor-Johnson
Length: 122 mins
© Studio Canal - Marisa Abela brings Amy
back to life!
There is nothing like the tragedy of young talent being cut down in its prime. So many brilliant musicians died at age 27, and Amy Winehouse is one of those. In 2015 we saw the documentary Amy, and now a feature film of her life is here, with the director aiming to tell the story from Amy's perspective, and through the haunting lyrics of the songs that appeared on her 
Grammy-winning album Back to Black. Marisa Abela plays Amy, and, with a powerfully  impressive voice, does all her own singing. Jack O'Connor is Blake, the unsuitable man Amy fell for, married, and who is perhaps credited for a large role in her downfall. Many of Amy's lyrics were directly inspired by the tumultuous love affair. Eddy Marsan plays Amy's father Mitch Winehouse, and it is here that the film's interpretation significantly differs from apparent "fact". Since Mitch is a producer of this film, we are not shown how he also was a destructive influence, pushing Amy to tour beyound her exhaustion limit. Regardless, Marsan delivers a fine performance. A stand-out is Lesley Manville as Nana Cynthia, a positive and unconditionally loving influence on Amy, who had already started her heavy drinking at a very young age. Unfortunately, the early problems that pushed Amy into a self-destructive lifestyle are not deeply enough examined, nor the culpability of others around her in the music industry along with the horrendous paparazzi; the film remains firmly focused upon the sad and sorry love affair. However, I am yet again at odds with the Tomatometer critics, some of whom see the film as exploiting tragedy. I remained deeply engaged with the story throughout: the wild young woman, her aspirations, struggles, and her extraordinary talent. 
3.5 - well recommended

Evil Does Not Exist
Dir: Ryusuke Hamaguchi
Length: 106 mins

© HiGloss  - wonderful themes of tranquil
life disrupted by developement
Hamagushi follows up his award-winning Drive My Car with this delicate and mysterious tale of a father Takumi (Hitoshi Omika) and his little daughter Hana (Ryo Nishikawa). They are in a rural village some way from Tokyo and live a simple life that is heavily invested in the natural beauty around them. Takumi chops wood and collects wild wasabi for a local restaurant while Hana collect bird feathers for the village chief. But some Tokyo developers have plans to build a glamping holiday retreat in the village and send representatives who seek to get the locals involved and approving the project. The film works beautifully as a disturbing insight into the effect thoughtless development can have upon the ecology of pristine areas, and on the people who value their way of life. Like last week's Perfect Days, this is also a slow-burn film, with lingering shots of trees, grassy fields, and wood chopping, so fans of Marvel movie mayhem will probably not enjoy it. The scenes where the locals hold their meeting with the company present beautifully scripted and strong pro-conservationist arguments, and the relationship between Takumi and his daughter is beautifully evoked. But the most confounding thing is a very mysterious (for me quite incomprehensible) ending that left me feeling disappointed, after being so heavily engaged with this powerful story. 
3.5 - well recommended

Saturday 6 April 2024

April 7th 2024

Goodbye Julia
Monkey Man
Before Dawn
The First Omen
Ferrari (streaming on Amazon Prime)

Another fabulous week for film. One stand-out beautiful film from Sudan, a new Aussie war film, a streaming surprise, plus a couple of big-ticket releases that may wow many and underwhelm others.
Goodbye Julia
Dir: Mohamed Kordofani
Length: 120 mins
© Potential - delicate and nuanced filmmaking
in a story the personal amid politics 
Mona (Eiman Yusif) and Akram (Nazar Goma) are a childless Sudanese couple in a tense marriage. She used to be a singer but has given it up at the demand of her jealous overbearing husband. When Mona's carelessness leads to the death of a man, guilt-ridden, she tracks down the man's widow, Julia (Siran Riak) and gives her a job as a maid. Amid a web of lies and cover-ups, the women develop a friendship, despite Mona coming from the elite Arab echelons of society, and Julia being a "southerner", the oppressed people who were originally in Sudan before all manner of colonisation. Mona adores Daniel, Julia's son, and Akram trains the lad in woodworking. But Sudan is a conflict-ridden country, and eventually the conflict, along with the deception, threaten everything the women have built. Goodbye Julia  had me running to Google to read up on the history of this part of Africa. Again, a story grounded in circumstances I only ever see on the news goes ultra-personal and puts human faces to a fraught geo-political situation. How exquisitely Kordofani has handled his story. He has a deep humanity and compassion for his characters, however flawed they are, and the performance of every cast member is nothing short of superb. Thematically, there is so much to ponder here: patriarchy, hatred, war, redemption, forgiveness, all beautifully bound up with the intimate: the need to be oneself, to have friends, and to simply survive the cruel vicissitudes of never-ending war-mongering and power battles (as witnessed 24/7 in today's world!) This glorious film shines a light on lives and a history I knew so little about. It is a gem.  
For some solid background to the history of Sudan's conflict visit:
4.5 - wholeheartedly recommended

Monkey Man
Dir: Dev Patel
Length: 120 mins
© Universal - mythology and mayhem
in a bloody tale of revenge
If you know your Indian myths and legends, you know the story of Hanuman, the monkey god who represents courage and strength. It is this tale that inspires a young Indian man of lowly birth, The Kid  (Dev Patel). Now grown, he has spent his life tormented by the memory of the savage murder of his mother at the hands of police chief Rana (Sikandar Kher). He earns money in hand-to-hand combat (fighting as The Beast) in a seedy den in the slums of a fictional Indian city. But with a greater plan in mind, he lands a job  as a waiter at a wealthy nightclub cum brothel, to be near those members of the corrupt elite he wishes to take revenge on. This is an amazing directorial debut from writer, director and lead man, Patel. Amazing on many levels, both good and questionable. Visually the film is a shining example of how to use the medium - full of breathtaking camera work, atmospheric settings and high adrenaline action sequences unlike those usually seen in Hollywood films. It is not your usual action film, in that it takes aim squarely at the issues of political corruption and social injustice in India. It smartly incorporates in its plot the cultural core of Indian mythology and beliefs, while also highlighting marginalised groups such as the transgender hejra people who feature strongly as they support The Kid in his quest. But somehow for me the combination doesn't totally work, partly because the level of violence in the revenge scenes is relentless and gruesomely over the top (a good 15-minute edit may have helped) and the social issues are scantily addressed (including some oddly chosen archival footage). This detracts from a unified feeling of the film as a whole. That said, for those seeking something different in the action sphere, Monkey Man will deliver a spectacular punch that you won't forget in a hurry.
3 - recommended

Before Dawn
Dir: Jordon Prince Wright
Length: 95mins
© Umbrella  - mateship and growing up
in the trenches of World War One
World War One and the origins of mateship are not new themes in films. Sometimes movies try to glamorise war, and elevate the heroic qualities of fighting side by side with your mates for the greater glory of one's country. Fortunately not so in this story of a farmer's son. Jim Collins (Levi Miller), who heads off in 1915 with his mates to the trenches of the Somme, thinking anything is better than life on the farm and imagining the war will soon end. We follow Jim's harrowing journey and emotional growth as he risks his life for his fellow diggers, and trudges through inordinate amounts of mud in the trenches. In as much as any film can put viewers into the scene, this one tries hard to put you knee-deep into the ghastliness of trench warfare. The horrific conditions are recreated, not using CGI, but through actual pyrotechnic effects, and the digging of kilometres of trenches in Esperance, Western Australia. The fresh-faced cast reinforces the tragedy of the loss of young life in war. But for me not enough happens plot-wise, and there is a feeling of lack of authenticity in the settings, even from the opening scenes of farm life in the early 1900s. I came away feeling this was someone's passion project that, however commendable, possibly couldn't raise a big enough budget for what he wanted to convey on screen.
2.5 - maybe

The First Omen
Dir: Arkasha Stevenson
Length: 120 mins
© 20th Century Studios - nasty goings-on
under the guise of religion. 
I have a memory like a sieve! I do remember that I saw The Omen back in the mid-70s, and was genuinely scared by it. I remember little else, so whether this prequel does justice to the original is not for me to say. But, standing on its own two feet, it is a slick film with all the requisite ingredients for lovers of devilish doings and body horror to enjoy. Seventeen-year-old orphan Margaret (Nell Tiger Free) travels from America to Rome to become a nun, Her old benefactor Cardinal Lawrence (Bill Nighy) is there to welcome her and settle her into her new job in an orphanage, under the strict eye of Sister Silva (Sonia Braga). Margaret quickly bonds with orphan Carlita (Nicole Sorace), an outcast who is often locked up as punishment, but soon it becomes apparent that fiendish plots are afoot in this not-so-pious establishment. You can take this film on a couple of levels - as a classic horror, or perhaps as a vague metaphor for scandalous sexual abuse within the Catholic church. With a deliciously sacreligious and demonic conspiracy theory at its heart, the plot lurches from moderate scares, to outright ghastliness near the conclusion. (You'll need to steel your stomach for some scenes.)  Free gives a strong, convincing performance, while Braga shines as the evil Mother Superior. A neat ending ties the film in to the iconic original, and perhaps gives a glimmer of hope that evil does not always win out, (along with the strong possiblity for yet another sequel/prequel.) 
3 - recommended

Dir: Michael Mann 
Length: 130 mins
Streaming on Amazon Prime

©  Roadshow - Adam Driver is excellent
as Enzo Ferrari in a story of more than cars
Rev-heads, start your engines! And strap in for an octane-charged ride with the racing drivers of 1957, competing in the gruelling Mille Miglia race in Italy. Actually the film is about much more than racing cars. Enzo Ferrari (Adam Driver) is in crisis. He and his wife and business partner Laura (Penelope Cruz) are mourning the death of their son, and struggling to keep their marriage and their car business afloat. Meantime Enzo is hiding the fact that he has another son with his mistress Lina (Shailene Woodley) who is pushing to know if the child will ever be acknowledged. This slick film-making from the esteemed director Mann, coupled with powerful performances from the leads, elevates the story into a true personal drama of ambition  and love.  Production values are splendid, with all the period cars having been purpose built for the movie, the Ferrari factory meticulously recreated, and the costumes perfect for the era. Many of the race scenes are breathlessly tense, with the inherent danger of the sport, especially back then, front and centre. Driver's portrayal of Ferrari is terrific; restrained and elegant with a simmering drive to win, while the two women in his life, along with the illegitimate boy Piero, comes across as real, relatable human beings. A very engaging watch.
4 - well recommended

Wednesday 27 March 2024

March 28th 2024

Perfect Days
Io Capitano
20 Days in Mariupol (streaming on DocPlay)
Little Richard: I am Everything (streaming on Amazon Prime) 

There are some GREAT films to catch up with over the Easter break. Two outstanding nominees for Best International Feature Film hit our big screens, while streamers can catch two fabulous (but very different) documentaries. 
Perfect Days
Dir: Wim Wenders
Length: 103 mins

© Madman - a slice of Japanese life
that is so beautiful and simple
Hirayama (Koji Yakusho) seems content with his life. He has a set routine, getting up each day to work as a toilet cleaner in Tokyo, later going to his regular restaurant and bathhouse, and reading nightly from his large book collection before sleeping. He is a quiet man, who says little, works fastidiously and immaculately, and who keenly observes the world around him, taking copious photos of shadows and light patterns cast by the trees. The encounters he does have with others are varied: among them his co-worker Takashi (Tokio Emoto) and a girl that Takashi is pursuing;  his niece, Niko (Arisa Nakano), who runs away from home to spend a few days with him; his estranged sister who cannot cope with her brother's life choices, a homeless vagrant; the people who serve him his meals; and a stranger who bots a cigarette and confesses he is dying from cancer. Gradually these encounters, some more impactful than others, seem to cause him to look introspectively at his life. Nominated for a Best International Feature this year, Perfect Days is definitely not a film for the impatient person. Rather, it is more like a meditation upon life, in an inimitably Japanese way. The observation of not only beauty but the world around us, the care taken with every tiny task, and the ability to live in the moment - all these things are at the heart of this sublime film. When Hirayama goes into his dreams at night, he conjures the ethereal black and white beauty of his photographs; when his niece questions the future, Hirayama responds with "now is now", like a mantra evoking living in the present. Wenders' love of Japan seeps out of every scene, and Yakusho creates a character who we cannot help but love, admire and empathise with. The film for me is a small treasure to be savoured, moment by moment. 
4.5 - wholeheartedly recommended

Io Capitano
Dir: Matteo Garrone
Length: 121 mins
© Rialto - fiction that is so close to the
truth. Challenging but ultimately uplifting
We may be getting inured to seeing news reports of refugees making their way from Africa to Europe, sometimes at the cost of their lives. But it's a different story when you see it up close and personal, getting emotionally invested in the actual human beings involved. This is exactly what director Garrone achieves in his award-winning story of two young Senegalese teens, who decide to take the perilous journey, hoping to make their names in the music business when they arrive in Europe. Cousins Seydou (Seydou Sarr) and Moussa (Moustapha Fall) save for six months to chase their dream, but it turns out to be a harrowing experience, as they make a treacherous journey through the Sahara, are ripped off by corrupt guards and people traffickers, fall into the wrong hands in Libya, and, for Seydou, ultimately face the biggest challenge of his young life. Despite the harrowing nature of the subject matter, Garrone imbues the narrative with touches of surrealism and near-magical experiences. He also exploits to the max the cinematographic opportunities afforded by colorful African villages with music and dance, and the stark but majestic beauty of the Sahara, along with the threatening vastness of the mighty Mediterranean Sea. Young Sarr is a revelation as an actor, bringing grace, bravery, and ultimately hope to his character. A nominee for Best International Film at this year's Oscars, Io Capitano has also won four prestigious awards at the Venice Film F
estival. It's a very rewarding watch that will have you totally engaged with the characters and their journey.
4 - highly recommended 

20 Days in Mariupol
Dir: Mstyslav Cherbnov
Length: 95 mins
Streaming exclusivelyon DocPlay
© DocPlay - confronting and important
documentary making going to the heart
of the horrors of war. 
In his acceptance speech for Best Documentary feature at this year's Academy Awards, director Chernov said, 
“Probably I will be the first director on this stage to say I wish I'd never made this film. I wish to be able to exchange this to Russia never attacking Ukraine.” But what a film he has made, condensing the first 20 days of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, as the people of Mariupol are bombed, and the city is progressively destroyed. Words can barely convey what these people went through, and while the footage is at times shaky, handheld and on the run, it captures to the last ghastly detail the horror of such a war. The scene of the bombed out maternity hospital is heartbreaking. The bravery of the Ukrainian journalists who were trapped in Mariupol is remarkable, as they desperately struggle to get their video footage out of the besieged city to appeal to the world to send help. This is no easy watch, but is such an important film, which brings the broad sweep of war reporting down to the personal details of real people and the destruction of their lives.
4.5 - wholeheartedly recommended 
It's been a while since I've nagged you about subscribing to DocPlay, but if you are a doco aficionado, for the price monthly of a couple of cups of coffee, you can have the best and latest docos in the world streamed to your home. What's to think about??!!

Little Richard: I Am Everything
Dir: Lisa Cortes
Length: 101 mins
Streaming on Prime Video
© - Good golly Miss Molly, this is such
a terrific doco. 
And now for something absolutely entertaining and uplifting; something for rock'n'roll fans and anyone who loves a great music doco. Too much credit is often given to the white origins of rock'n'roll. Richard Penniman, black and queer, could well be called the father of the craze that swept the world. This exciting biopic features more archival footage than you can shake a stick at, along with insightful input from such later iconic musicians as 
Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, David Bowie, Tom Jones and more, all of whom credit Richard with being a major inspiration. The personal backstory of Richard's muti-faceted personality is equally captivating, and we learn much about his various incarnations: from popular pompadoured raucous singer, to being openly gay in a time when it was neither fashionable nor legal. Amazingly he later married a woman, divorced, turned to religion, returned to his rock roots, and continued for his lifetime to present different versions of himself to the world. This film is just so much fun, with a brilliant soundtrack (of course!) and an eye-opening insight into a man who changed the course of modern music.
4 - highly recommended

Wednesday 20 March 2024

March 21st 2024

Just a Farmer
Love Lies Bleeding
The Nut Farm
More from the Alliance Francaise French Film Festival

Not one but two Aussie films with a farming theme - and they couldn't be more different from each other!  Plus violence, sex and grunge intersect in a thriller with the wonderful Kristen Stewart. And one more from the French Film Festival - a lavish period piece. 
Just a Farmer
Dir: Simon Lyndon
Length: 103 mins
Catch this film where and when you can! For cinema locations and times in Melbourne and rural Victoria:
© Vam Paddock Productions - heartache on the 
land. This is the daily struggle for many farmers,
both psychologically and physically.  
The life of a farmer can be one of hard work, struggle, and sometimes tragedy. The film opens early on with the suicide of Alec (Joel Jackson), who leaves behind distraught wife Alison (Leila Mcdougall), their two children, Eric (Oliver Overton) and Sally (Vivian Mcdougall),  brother Oliver (Damien Walshe Howling) and father  Owen (Robert Taylor). With debts up to the eyeballs, Alison barely knows how to cope, while Owen drinks himself into the ground to cover his pain. 
Alison's sister, city gal Kathryn (Susan Prior) comes to help out.The ghastly statistic in Australia is that one farmer dies by suicide every ten days. This timely film sets out to start a conversation that hopefully will help troubled farmers, especially men, to seek help before things get out of hand. The tough aussie male ethos is challenged, with encouragement to talk to a counsellor, or a friend, rather than stoically battle on. This is a beautifully scripted film, with lovely performances from the entire cast, especially the two young kids. Shot out in Victoria's wheatbelt, the film makes the most of the magnificent landscape, and with Mcdougall herself  coming from a farming background (and having scripted the film), authenticity is at its heart. This is a moving and important story that we all should see, even non-farmers, to remember just how vital farming is to our lives, and hopefully to improve farmer's psychological and physical wellbeing.
4 - highly recommended

Love Lies Bleeding
Dir: Rose Glass
Length: 104 mins
© VVS - two kick-ass girls in love, seething
violence and a father from hell.  
Lou (Kristen Stewart) runs a seedy gym. When aspiring bodybuilder Jackie (Katy O'Brian) comes in, on her way to the Las Vegas championships, the two fall instantly for each other and a passionate relationship erupts. When not training, Jackie works at a shooting range run by Lou's estranged father (Ed Harris) who is definitely involved in murky criminal activities. But Jackie has a short fuse, and when Lou is upset that her sister-in-law Beth is being abused by husband JJ, Jackie snaps, triggering off a sequence of violent events that threaten to destroy the girls' love, and expose Lou's past. It's hard to categorise this film - yes it's a love story, with a side-order of revenge, all fuelled by violence and characters who each are unhinged in their own ways. The two lead women generate a fantastic chemistry together, while Ed Harris sports one of the worst hairdos seen in years on film. The broody, dark and moody cinematography captures the grunge and marginalisation of all of their lives, and the tension ratchets up with each plot twist. It's not a film for the faint-hearted, with some scenes bordering on repulsive. Unfortunately the ending runs somewhat off the rails, feeling clunky and unimaginative, but overall it's a solid and, (for most of its runtime) gripping thriller.
3.5 - well recommended

The Nut Farm
Dir: Scott Corfield
Length: 91 mins
© Bonsai - nuts, nonsense and fracking
in this Aussie comedy
San Francisco cryptocurrency trader Brendan Brandon (Arj Barker) goes bust, then discovers he is to take over a macadamia farm run by his uncle Mitch (Roy Billing) who has gone missing. But the farm comes with conditions, and everything is under threat from evil  schemer Zoran (Jonno Roberts) who is fracking gas and planning to send it via pipeline to his beloved New Zealand. Can Brendan save the farm and win the love of neighboring dairy farmer Kim (Madeleine West)? Arj Barker is a mainstay of the Melbourne Comedy Festival. I seldom go to the comedy festival, uncertain if any of it will elicit a laugh from me. Even if Barker's humour is great for a stand-up routine, it surely doesn't translate to the big screen. Unfortunately this film doesn't even get into the category of "so bad it's good"! It feels like peurile schoolboy humour, with an infantile collection of nut and poo jokes, none of them particularly funny. Zoran, the milk-guzzling villain, is so stereotyped he may as well have stepped out of an old music-hall routine, while the local cop Sergeant Blake is beyond unbelievable. Some viewers may enjoy this simplistic style of silly story, and I hate to stick the boots into an Aussie film, but  it just doesn't do it for me.  
2 - don't bother

More from . . . 
Alliance Francaise French Film Festival
Until April 2
Palace Cinemas
For all information on venues, films, synopses, bookings visit

I'm yet again at odds with the Tomatometer, but I find this lavish, unusual period piece definitely worth a look on the big screen. 

Jeanne du Barry: Maiwenn directs and stars in the true story of a courtesan, Jeanne du Barry, who rose from virtually nothing to become the favorite mistress of King Louis the XV (Johnny Depp) just before his death, and two decades before the French Revolution. A French-speaking Depp plays the king with taciturn reserve, while Maiwenn conjures up a feisty woman, very ahead of her time, defying convention, and those at court who deride her. The huge pluses for the film are the magnificent settings, much of it shot at Versailles, and the glorious costumes, which, en masse, look like the pallette of a richly rendered painting. Despite feeling unsure of the authenticity of the representation of the relationship, I found myself much engaged with the plot and the characters.