Walkabout (1971) Film Review

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This film is a piece of Australian classic cinema, and it’s got that wonderful, strange style of filmmaking of the seventies. Lots of jumpcuts, changing from one thing to another to make connections or contrasts, odd music. Just general strangeness – and wonderfulness also.

The story is that there are two kids, Girl (Jenny Agutter who I have more recently enjoyed in Call the Midwives, a life time later!) and White Boy (Luc Roeg) who are stranded in the middle of the Australian Outback by their father in a horrific scene (a very terrible way to start the film). They then wander, hoping to get somewhere, until they come across Black Boy (David Gulpilil) who takes them about and feeds them and helps them.

I don’t understand all that happens in this film. There is some really terrible stuff (including the final scene of Black Boy, which I totally do not understand). But it is a film of its time, and it makes some really interesting points about life in modern society.

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Fargo (1996) Film Review

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Having recently watched the television series of Fargo, I wanted to go back and revisit this film. Set in small-town America, we have Jerry Lundegaard (William H Macy) arranging to have his wife, Jean (Kristin Rudrud) kidnapped to get the ransom from his rich father-in-law. The kidnappers: Carl (Steve Buscemi) and Gaear (Peter Stormare). But things don’t go great, and things are investigated by heavily pregnant cop Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand).

I love this film. It’s one of my favourites. It’s strange, sad, funny, odd, violent, wonderful, brilliant and I just loved it – I love it so very, very much, and will absolutely revisit regularly. Apparently, some people don’t get this film. I don’t get that.

Fargo won Oscars for Best Actress in a Leading Role (France McDormand) and Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen (Ethan Coen, Joel Coen) and was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Director, Best Cinematography and Best Film Editing.

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Capote (1959) Film Review

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Truman Capote (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is riding high his waves of success in New York, wooing the world with his humour and loving life. Then he hears about the murder of a Kansas family and decides to write a book about it. In real life, this is considered to be one of the first examples of a non-fiction novel – researching the men convicted and others. This film looks at the potential toll it took on Capote.

It’s an interesting film – the era is captured beautifully, including things like the difference between the high life in New York to the small town life in Kansas. It’s made me want to read the book again. I think I enjoyed it, though I wouldn’t be racing to see it again.

Capote won an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and was nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Catherine Keener), Best Achievement in Directing (Bennett Miller) and Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay (Dan Flutterman)

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Being John Malkovich (1999) Film Review

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Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) is a puppeteer who lives with a menagerie and his wife, Lotte (Cameron Diaz), but he is depressed, he is unemployed, and he ends up taking a job for filing in a strange office on the 7½th floor. Here, he discovers a small door that leads him into a portal that goes directly into the brain of John Malkovic (played by himself). Then there is Maxine (Catherine Keener)who is out to make a buck and maybe fall in love.

Such a strange film – I loved it so much when I first saw it, and seeing it again now probably fifteen years later, I’m surprised at how much I had forgotten. I think I enjoyed it even more on the re-watch – it is just so very, very strange. The group of elderly folk who need the portal, or the woman in the office who constantly mishears people but blames it on them – magnificent. If you haven’t seen this, and you’re up for a strange movie adventure, here you go!

Being John Malkovich was nominated for Oscars for Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Catherine Keener), Best Director (Spike Jonze) and Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen.

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Beaches (1988) Film Review

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As eleven year olds, CC Bloom (Mayim Bialik) and Hilary (Marcie Leeds) meet on holiday. They are from very different backgrounds – CC is working class Brooklyn, and Hilary is from a very wealthy other part of the world. As adults (now played by Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey), they share parts of their lives, but flit in and out. And that’s about it. (Oh, ok, sad ending – but this is a well-known tear jerker, so I’ll leave you to decide that).

I was a mega-fan as a teenager, so much so that I was surprised to find I can still quote large chunks! Now, it is dated and I find some things annoying that didn’t bother me before (like the amount of mooning at any single man in the film was a bit tedious) and the whole structure of it being an extended series of flashbacks was extremely tedious and unnecessary, but overall, it was totally good. Though if I think about it, if you didn’t love it at the time, it might be a bit hard to love it now.

Beaches was nominated for an Oscar for Best Art-Direction- Set Direction.

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As Good As It Gets (1997) Film Review

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Melvin (Jack Nicholson) is an offensive, racist, misogynistic, misanthrope who also happens to have OCD. When his neighbour, Simon Bishop (Greg Kinnear) a gay artist, is beaten in his house, Melvin is forced by Simon’s agent, Frank Sachs (Cuba Gooding Jnr) to take the dog. Meantime, if he misses his meal at his local café served by the only waitress there who can deal with him, Carol (Helen Hunt), his life goes off track. So when her son, who suffers badly from Asthma, causes her to miss work, it sends his life totally off the rails.

Melvin is so totally offensive, but it’s so obviously a way to protect himself from the world and so you kind of deal with it. Especially because he does change as the film goes on. I expected to remember it as being overly cheesy, and I suspected that the depiction of OCD may have been somewhat simplified. However, it seems pretty reasonable – and while I think that it is believable that these changes can occur in Melvin’s life, it somewhat surprises me that changes haven’t happened prior to this late stage. But, the acting is fabulous, it really is an amazing cast and it is definitely worth watching.

As Good As It Gets won Oscars for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Jack Nicholson) and Best Actress in a Leading Role (Helen Hunt) and was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Greg Kinnear), Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen (Mark Andrus and James L. Brooks), Best Film Editing and Best Music, Original Music or Comedy Score.

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The Eye of the Sheep by Sofie Laguna – Book Review

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This is a tough book; not tough to read, because it is from the perspective of a young boy with some form of autism as he tries to make sense of the world. What is tough is that young Jimmy’s world includes an ill mother, a drunk and violent father, an angry brother and a lack of clear understanding of his place in this world.

I loved it. It’s beautiful in its descriptions of Jimmy’s world and that around him. It is the first book I’ve read that gives an account of autism that gives a real sense of what may be happening in the mind of a child. The lack of understanding of what other people are going through, the need to be “both too fast and too slow”. It’s so beautifully done, and so deeply heartbreaking. Oh, Jimmy.

The Eye of the Sheep was the 2015 Winner of the Miles Franklin Award.

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