The Ladykillers (2004) Film Review

The Ladykillers

For me, I think this was one of the few Coen brothers films that I have never heard of (there are a few, but they have made just so many). It’s one of my less favourites.

There is an elderly black woman, Marva Munson (Irma P. Hall), highly religious, who lives in a large house with a ‘root cellar’ (a cellar with dirt walls). A very odd man, “Professor Goldthwaite Higginson Dorr, takes a room upstairs and uses the root cellar for rehearsals of his medieval music ensemble. Without the knowledge of Munson, they are not rehearsing but planning to rob a nearby casino, tunneling in from the root cellar. Things do not go well.

It’s an excellent cast, and some excellent, over-the-top character acting from Hanks and many of the others. The story is alright, although it really only kicks in for me in the last half an hour or so. I learned that this is actually a remake of a 1955 film featuring Peter Sellers – I want to check that one out.



Everyday Rebellion (2013) Film Review

Switzerland 118mins


Across the world, people are using peaceful resistance and protest to challenge injustices. Sometimes, they are very creative. A lot of the time, they are very annoying.

Or at least, that is how it appears in this film. Though I think that may have as much to do with the poor editing that allows scenes to run for far too long and jumps seemingly randomly from one country to another. Perhaps it is because I am not clear on the point of some of the causes. I found the documentary that screened at last year’s MIFF – 99% – The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film – was very interesting. It clearly outlined what Occupy was about. Everyday Rebellion seemed to me to be showing what people were doing but without a clear idea of why or what they want to achieve. I guess I just get frustrated with people screaming for change without any idea of how this change can be feasible. And if I see one more ‘human megaphone’ (a whole bunch of people amplifying one persons comments by repeating in a group) I may punch someone.

Clearly, not everything in the Human Rights Arts and Film Festival is for everyone.

Everyday Rebellion screens at ACMI on Sunday May 18 at 6pm. For more information, visit Tickets available at the ACMI box office or call 8663 2583.

Mr and Mrs Smith (2005) Film Review

mr and mrs smith

It will be the film always known as the one that brought Brad and Angelina together… or the film that split Brad and Jennifer up. It’s not that much of a shame, because it’s not a brilliant a film.

The premise? Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie play a husband and wife who are both assassins, though neither suspect the other. Then they both go out on the same kill and ruin the job for each other, and not long after that, they are both trying to kill each other.

What worked? The couple in therapy, bored with each other, then becoming attracted again once blood lust was in the air. The running and shooting and explosions were very good. The concept was pretty ace, and there was some awesome technology. It was fun, and I do like my action with some comedy, so tick and tick.

Enough Said (2013) Film Review


Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is a divorced woman who is kind of looking for love. Her work is as a freelance masseuse, lugging her table from house to house for work. At a party with her mate Sarah (Toni Collette) and Will*** (Ben Falcone), she meets a new client, Marianne (Catherine Keener) and then a bit later, meets Albert (James Gandolfini). Despite not feeling immediately attracted to this large man, she goes on a date, and pretty soon, things are going well. But the **spoiler alert** she discovers that Marianna is Albert’s ex-wife. Rather than informing either of this, she pretends that she doesn’t know, and uses Marianne’s complaining to define her relationship, and things get pretty nasty.

I can see why the film was as popular as it was, despite the really crap  poster. It was real; things like the first kiss between Eva and Albert is awkward, but in a real, romantic and lovely manner. I wasn’t over keen on any of it, really. There were funny moments, and I suppose the characters were mostly likable, but I just didn’t feel any real investment, and couldn’t care less about what happened to them. I wanted to; I just didn’t. But geez, it was nice hear Toni Collette speaking Aussie.

Enough Said was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical.

The Reader (2008) Film Review

The Reader

Germany, 1958. A teenager falls ill on the way home from school and is helped by a woman. He is quite ill, and kept in bed for several months. When he recovers, he returns to her with flowers and unexpectedly, they fall into a romantic encounter. They spend a summer together, with him reading to her between lovemaking, and then she disappears. He does not see her again until, as a law student, he attends a trial of a group of female SS guards who were charged with crimes committed during the war and she is one of them. He struggles to control how he feels about this; how he can reconcile the picture of the woman he loved with the actions she committed in her past.

As happens with me sometimes in films, one thing bothered me from the start and it took a lot of work for me to overcome it. That was, the accents. The film is set in Germany, but is an American made film. Consequently, it was not made in German; however, did everyone need to speak English with German accents? I had an issue recently with the mini-series The Spies of Warsaw for finding it difficult to know who was from which country, so perhaps it is contradictory of me to have a problem with this, but I do. I did eventually get over this.

I found this a very interesting film that raises a lot of questions and debate. When you get into a relationship or even just a friendship with someone, it is not possible to know their whole past. But when part of their past is as huge as this, how would you bring it up? How does a country that has been through the atrocities that Germany did during the war ever get past it? What happens to all of the soldiers, guards, whoever who committed the crimes after the war, and what about everyone else? This was a superb film, with strong performances, especially Kate Winslet as the lover/criminal, David Kross as the young lover and Ralph Fiennes as the lover as an adult.

The Reader won an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Kate Winslet) and was nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Achievement in Directing, Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay and Best Achievement in Cinematography.

Citizen Kane (1941) Film Review


Kane (Orson Welles) is a media magnate who, throughout his life, suffered a lot of gossip about his wives and his fortune, but few people ever really knew the real Kane. Now, upon his death, his story is being sought.

One of my mates recently said that Citizen Kane is not a very good film. What an outrageous comment – as outrageous as not liking Star Wars (and I may have jeopardized several friendships with that admission). I had to revisit the film to see whether this claim had any merit at all. Citizen Kane was known for several things. Firstly, it was the great work of filmmaker George Orwell, even though he was only twenty-three when he made it. Secondly, it pioneered film techniques that have been copied and developed ever since. Thirdly, it is studied by almost every film student and consistently ranks high in various best film ever made lists. All of this raised one further question; if a film was the best of its time, but some elements possibly don’t hold up over time, should it still rate highly? Or should we allow it to retire quietly, to be replaced by films that use similar or the same techniques only better?

For me, I think this one does hold up. It tells the story in a fascinating, non-linear fashion, leaving the audience knowing more than the characters. The range of techniques used only enhance the storytelling, and even though the acting is somewhat exaggerated, that really was the style of the time. If I were making a list of my top ten favourite films, it wouldn’t make it. And if I made a list of the top ten films which I consider to be best made, it still probably wouldn’t make it. But it is extremely good, and I expect that I will watch it again.


Citizen Kane won an Oscar for Best Writing, Original Screenplay and was nominated for awards for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Orson Welles), Best Director (Orson Welles), Best Cinematography, Black-and-White, Best Art Direction – Interior Decoration, Black-and-White, Best Sound Recording, Best Film Editing and Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic Picture.