Son of Rambow (2007) Film Review


Joshua (Bill Milner) is a kid with a huge imagination being raised in a strict religious group. He is not allowed to watch TV or films, so when he ends up accidentally watching a pirated copy of Rambo in the shed of local bully Lee Carter (Will Poulter), his world is totally blown. Using his brother’s camera, Lee wants to remake Rambo. Between the two of them, they get a fair bit of the filming done. But then the flying dog gets away and their script becomes public, and suddenly they are having to involve others, and things start to go wrong.

Awesome. Two really strong leads in Bill Milner and Will Poulter lead a great story with quirk, heart and general aceness. It’s funny, it’s moving and it is totally and utterly worth a watch.



Finding Neverland (2004) Film Review

Finding Neverland

Sir James Matthew Barrie (Johnny Depp) is a playwrite who is no longer wowing the crowds with his work. Then he meets Sylvia Llwewlyn Davies (Kate Winslet) and her four lovely boys including young Peter (Freddie Highmore). Sylvia’s husband has passed away and, despite the misgivings of her mother, Mrs Emma du Maurier (Julie Christie) and his wife Mary Ansell Barrie (Radha Mitchell), she and her boys spend increasing amounts of time with James. As he plays make-believe with the kids, he is inspired and creates Peter Pan.

I cannot believe I have taken so long to see this film. It was wonderful – the fantasy sequences are so much fun, the story itself is moving, and I cried and cried and cried. How fabulous.

Finding Neverland won an Oscar for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score and was nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Johnny Depp), Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay (David Magee), Best Achievement in Film Editing, Best Achievement in Art Direction, Best Achievement in Costume Design.

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.



For Those Who Can Tell No Tales (2013) Film Review


Bosnia and Herzegovina 82 mins

While it feels like a documentary in many ways, For Those Who Can Tell No Tales is a fiction that is based on the real events of Kym Vercoe’s trips to Bosnia-Herzegovina. Visiting the stunning town of Visegrad in the middle of summer, Kym has an odd experience, and it is only when researching on her return to Australia that she discovers a very deep, dark and horrific secret. She is haunted by this, and eventually is compelled to return and see if she can put her own mind at rest.

This film is just so thought-provoking; how does a country that was torn apart by a war with atrocities that are unthinkable rebuild? It is a question that is so important to many countries around the world because of the continuing horrors that will leave many countries broken. It also raises the question of the place of the outside eye to judge. When you come to a country to holiday and visit, how much of the past should you know?

I felt that the film could have used a bit more work on the structure, most particularly the end. Although perhaps that is because these questions are too hard to answer, and any ending would have left me hanging.

For Those Who Can Tell No Tales screens at ACMI on Saturday May 10 at 6pm. For more information, visit Tickets available at the ACMI box office or call 8663 2583.

Light Fly, Fly High (2013) Film Review

India 80 mins


Thulasi is a poor, runaway girl born as a Dalit (untouchable) in India with little future other than marrying and continuing to live in poverty. One thing she has going for her, however, is that she can box. She trains at a girls boxing gym, but at 24, she has less than a year to prove herself. It is a race not only against time, but against the society she lives in and the corrupt men who run the sport.

It is a depressing film, there is no doubt about that. Every time it seems there is something that is working for her, something else steps in her way. Yet, there is something uplifting in her tale. Even when she seems to be beaten, she has a way of pulling herself up.

Light Fly, Fly High screens at ACMI on Sunday May 11 at 6pm. For more information, visit Tickets available at the ACMI box office or call 8663 2583.

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.

The Hunger Games : Catching Fire (2013) Film Review


Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) have to put on a show, touring the districts as the first ever joint winners of the Hunger Games. But it is not good enough, and Commander Snow (Donald Sutherland) needs to come up with another way to bring her down and quelch the uprisings that are happening across all districts. Gamemaker Plutarch (Philip Seymour Hoffman) comes up with the idea of a special Hunger Games bringing together old winners. With the assistance of Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) and Cinna (Lenny Kravitz), they enter the arena again. And what of her mother and sister, or her handsome friend Gale (Liam Helmsworth)? Well.

I was a bit worried about this film, having read and loved the book. Though I am more concerned about the next couple of films, because the books get extremely violent. I guess I just get so caught up in Katniss’s life that I bought everything; every moment, every emotion, every betrayal. Plus, because I have such a terrible memory for the books that I read a few years ago, I couldn’t remember exactly who did what. I kind of knew what was coming, but not properly. That was nice. One of the problems with these series that happen over a matter of years is that you are just left hanging. I want the next two movies NOW. I can only hope they have more equally ridiculous jumpsuits.

On The Waterfront (1954) Film Review


Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) is an ex-boxer thug working on the docks, blindly following the instructions of his older brother Charley (Rod Steiger) and the dock boss Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb). Then he meets Edie (Eva Marie Saint), the sister of a man who was found dead. Terry knows who was responsible, but it is only after falling for Edie and meeting with Father Barry (Karl Malden) that he starts questioning his life and his role within the organization.

Marlon Brandon really was a fabulous actor. Not necessarily in everything, and not necessarily all the time, but it is in a film such as On The Waterfront that he really stands out; especially against the more theatrical acting of most of the rest of the cast, the acting style typical of the day. There were a few parts in the film where the swelling music was a bit heavy-handed, but again, that may come down to the time of the film.

On The Waterfront won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Marlon Brando), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Eva Marie Saint), Best Director (Elia Kazan), Best Writing, Story and Screenplay (Budd Schulberg), Best Cinematography, Black and White, Best Art Direction – Set Decoration, Black-and-White and Best Film Editing and was nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Lee J. Cobb), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Karl Malden), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Rod Steiger) and Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture.


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.

In the Heat of the Night (1967) Film Review


Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier) is passing through a small town in the deep South of the United States in the 1960s the night a murder and robbery has taken place. As an unknown black man sitting at the station, he is immediately considered the prime suspect and arrested. When the senior officer Gillespie (Rod Steiger) discovers that Tibbs is a police officer, he reluctantly lets him go, but upon discovering that he is a homicide expert, he drags him in to assist. Both men have prejudices that they need to face, but Tibbs also must try to stay alive in a town that has young men rushing out in gangs to beat him to death.

How depressing. To think that places like this existed, that whole towns could have this type of attitude and for it to be acceptable. I know the world is far from perfect today. We still have racism and attacks and all kinds of nastiness. It was a great film, and while I hope that this specific situation is no longer, it is still worth watching.

In the Heat of the Night won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Rod Steiger) Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium (Stirling Silliphant), Best Sound and Best Film Editing, and was nominated for Best Director (Norman Jewison) and Best Effects, Sound Effects.