Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (2010) Film Review

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Sally (Bailee Madison) is a creepy and annoying young girl who moves into a mysterious old Gothic mansion with her father, Alex (Guy Pearce) and his girlfriend, Kim (Katie Holmes). Alex is doing up the mansion when Sally discovers these fairy creatures that she initially thinks are good and ace but turn out to be scary.

This film was written by Guillermo del Toro and I guess I was fooled by my love of Pan’s Labyrinth into thinking this may be a beautiful, artistic film with some heart and stuff. And perhaps there is an attempt to have that heart, but it lost me. I found all the characters cold and I could not engage with them, I kept hoping the kid would be taken by these creatures and even Guy Pearce could not save it for me. What I enjoyed the most was playing ‘spot the Aussie actors’ – it was filmed in Melbourne, and there were a lot of familiar faces.

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War Horse (2011) Film Review

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As a youth, Albert (Jeremy Irvine) loved and trained a horse on a nearby farm. Then his drunken dad (Peter Mullen) bought it for far too much, to the chagrin of his mother (Emily Watson). But Albert gets the horse to work and everyone cheers him in the rain. Then war happens, and the horse is taken from them. Albert ends up fighting. Things are nasty and people are badly hurt. So is the horse.

I think this was a terrible film. Apparently, it was an amazing stage play, and that came down to fabulous puppetry to create the horse. But I found the start of this film absolute trite, and then the war parts were pathetic. Although the animals were treated badly, and that was unpleasant to watch, but probably the closest thing to realism you would find. I thought this was really a terrible, terrible film.

War Horse was nominated for Oscars for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Achievement in Cinematography (Janusz Kaminski), Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score (John Williams), Best Achievement in Sound Mixing, Best Achievement in Sound Editing and Best Achievement in Art Direction.

 

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White Oleander (2002) Film Review

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Astrid (Alison Lohman) is left to a series of foster homes after her mother, Ingrid (Michelle Pfeiffer), a passionate and crazy artist, is incarcerated for murder. Her young mind is moulded by a series of women who enter her life, non of whom have her best interests in mind.

It’s a very good film, depicting the way a teenager can be influenced and torn apart by a personality, and it is a tough and unfair journey. In many ways, it felt that it had a heightened sense of reality that jarred, but overall I liked it. Although it is one of those films that I think saying that I ‘liked’ it is not the best word. Appreciated is perhaps better.

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St Elmo’s Fire (1985) Film Review

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What happens when college is over and you are in the real world, facing debt and joblessness, growing up, having to take responsibility for your life? In the current era, this is a question dealt with in Girls and the answer is: inappropriate sex and relationships, poor life choices and drugs and alcohol. What about the mid-eighties? Actually, it’s pretty much the same. But with bigger hair, and the ability to be a star playing saxophone in a college bar (and jeepers, playing the saxophone makes you sexy to all the chicks and really, really sweaty).

It was a classic tale with many members of the “brat pack” of the eighties: Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson and Ally Sheedy. Friends from college being forced to face their demons. And there is not a single character that I did not want to slap. For me, this doesn’t hold up at all… but I think that if I had loved it in the way I loved Young Guns and The Lost Boys, I would probably be ranting and raving about it here. I can see what people would love, I just can’t love it myself.

 

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Anonymous (2011) Film Review

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There has ever been speculation about William Shakespeare. Did he exist? Was he a single playwright or several over a period of time? Or was he someone else altogether? Anonymous tells one version of this story; in this case, that it was the Earl of Oxford (Rhys Irfans), a member of nobility who could not participate in the low arts due to his high status. And there are all other kinds of suggestions about children born out-of-wedlock to Queen Elizabeth (Vanessa Redgrave and, when younger, her daughter, Joely Richardson) and other scandals.

I have no idea about whether any of the information presented was at all factual and, quite honestly, I don’t care. It’s a great yarn, true or not. It’s got all of the sleazy backstabbing and nastiness that a good tale should have – and it’s funny through all the drama. Oh, and the costumes. Oh my.

Anonymous was nominated for an Oscar for Best Achievement in Costume Design.

 

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The Code – TV Review

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Journalist Ned Banks (Dan Spielman) is sent, through an anonymous tip, to investigate an accident involving two indigenous teenagers near Broken Hill. His mentally ill brother, Jesse (Ashley Zukerman), computer genius, is drawn in, and a huge conspiracy is revealed.

I loved this – some of the best Australian television I’ve seen ever. Realistic characters, realistic intrigue with a hell of a lot of betrayal, some torture and nasty violence, and a strong sense of modern Australia – both outback and the intrigue of Canberra. I can’t help thinking that the Canberra depicted here is more interesting that the Canberra most of us know. God save us all if this kind of thing is really happening in Australia.

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Lucy (2014) Film Review

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After being captured and forced to be a drug mule with a new substance, Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) is beaten and the drug begins to seep into her system. It seems that the drug allows the human to access the 90% of the brain that they don’t use, and that makes you totally magic. And Morgan Freeman is in it.

I knew that getting past the “science” was going to be tough. It is not true that we only use 10% of our brains, and there is no way that we could function if we did. But I thought I might be able to let it go… I couldn’t. There are so many other ways this could have been written to make it less ridiculous and unreal, and to have to swallow Morgan Freeman’s scientist saying “oh, yes, 10%”. The action of the film was great, and I’m quite a fan of Scarlett Johansson, but this is not a great film.

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