The January Man (1989) Film Review


There is a serial killer haunting New York. The Mayor is at the end of his wits, and insists that his Police Commissioner, Frank Starkey (Harvey Keitel) gets his brother Nick (Kevin Kline) back on the case, despite him being dumped publicly from the force years previously for some scandal. Then there his dumped love affair with Nick’s wife, Christine (Susan Sarandon), the new relationship with the much younger Bernadette Flynn (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) who, just to add complications, is the mayor’s daughter. And how wonderful to see the recently passed Alan Rickman as the hilarious artist friend.

Is there such a genre as romantic comedy crime thriller? Because that’s what this is – silly, romantic and yet it’s still a suspenseful, serial killer thriller. It’s wonderful, and ridiculous, and makes me want to see Kevin Kline more and more and more. I love him. There is one scene in the film that is most odd. I didn’t think Harvey Keitel was really acting all that much, but in a conversation between him and Kevin Kline, it seemed as though they were both in different scenes altogether, having different conversations. So extremely odd.


Ping Pong Summer (2014) MIFF Review


US 92 Mins

It’s 1985. Rad Miracle (Marcello Conte) is on his summer holidays, trying to avoid his family and meet girls. First, he meets Teddy Fryy (Myles Massey), an African-American kid from Baltimore who shares his love of rap and breakdancing and they become tight. Then, he meets his crush, Stacy Summers (Emmi Shockley), a local girl addicted to slushies – with additives. But to gain her heart, he thinks he needs to beat local bully Lyle (Joseph McCaughtry), flanked by hilarious bully sidekick Dale (Andy Riddle) and there’s only one way to do this. Ping Pong.

I loved this film so much. It’s a hark back to days of holiday friends, being trusted to be away from the temporary family home for hours at a time, walkmans and teenage crushes. I think it really works so well because all of those cheesy lines that the audience roars with laughter at were really the expressions that we wanted to use (and often did use); and we were laughing with familiarity and love. But some of those lines are truly magnificent, and a mash-up of lines from Dale alone is certainly warranted (come on, Internet. Bring it on!).

If you ever felt like you were doing the worm and wondered what you really look like – check out this film. Chances are, you were just like Rad Miracle.

Ping Pong Summer is screening at 1:30pm on Sunday August 3 at Hoyts and at 6:30pm on Monday August 11 at the Forum. Book tickets at MIFF or call 9662 3722

Robot & Frank (2012) Film Review


It’s not too far into the future and there are robotic helpers all over the place. Frank (Frank Langella) is a man growing older and is starting to get a bit confused about things. His son, Hunter (Peter Sarsgaard), sick of having to visit every week unsure of what state he will find Frank in gets Frank a helper robot. Frank is initially against this, but discovers that the robot is able to assist is a manner unexpected to all.

Any film about dementia is bound to be tough in some way or another. The exploits of Frank with his Robot are sweet and entertaining, but still allow the gentle tragedy of his situation come through. I’m trying hard not to say much about the story, as the story is delightful, especially if you don’t know where it is coming from or going to.

Arbitrage (2012) Film Review


Robert Miller (Richard Gere) is a very rich businessman. He’s just turned 60, has a lovely family and seems to have it all. But, of course, it is not all it seems. He is having an affair and the family business that he is trying to sell is in a poor financial state. Then, when attempting to sneak away for a romantic weekend with his mistress, he has a car accident and she is killed. He flees the scene and hopes to get away with it. Then Detective Michael Bryer (Tim Roth) appears and things heat up for Miller.

This film is really half a film. There’s nothing all that new about the plot – someone very wealthy is in legal trouble and has to do things to get out of it. Just when it looks like he is stuck, he wriggles out of it.  But then, surely, the rules say that there needs to be another conflict, or another problem. The film just didn’t quite work. It just didn’t bring what was needed to the table. Though I must say, Richard Gere was fabulous.

Richard Gere was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture.

Witches of Eastwick (1987) Film Review


I have such a soft spot for eighties films with effects that, at the time, were totally cutting edge. This and Beetlejuice and two of my all-time favs.

Alexandra (Cher), Jane (Susan Sarandon) and Sukie (Michelle Pfeiffer) are three women whose husbands have gone (dead, divorced and deserted) living in the small town of Eastwick. After drunkenly describe the perfect man for them, a mysterious character appears in town; Daryl Van Horne (Jack Nicholson). Rich, talented and totally repulsive. He manages to seduce the three and before they know it, the whole town in talking about them.

It’s funny, it’s clever, it’s gross and it’s magnificent. The absolute height of eighties comedy. (Actually, that’s a big call. There are a lot that fit into that category. But it’s definitely up there!)

The Witches of Eastwick was nominated for Oscars for Best Sound and Best Music, Original Score.

Cloud Atlas (2012) Film Review

Screen shot 2013-09-23 at 2.25.41 PM

Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Ben Wishaw, Susan Sarandon, Hugh Grant. Directed by Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski. For many, this list alone would be enough to make it worth seeing Cloud Atlas. For others, it is having read the novel by David Mitchell (I believe it is not that David Mitchell). Still others would have seen the trailer and been amazed at the sheer scale of the project.

I think it is impossible to summarise the plot in any simple fashion. It covers a multitude of characters over time, place, even on different planets. The characters are linked, although it is not always clear how or why. It’s pretty fascinating to see how the story has been created.

I must admit, I started watching expecting that I would hate this film, and hate it a lot. That’s certainly where I started. There were snippets of plot introducing characters but then flitting away before I had the chance to find out much about them. The amount of prosthetic work and make-up was annoying, and I’m not really a massive fan of fantasy as a genre. Once I had committed to disliking the film, a strange thing happened. I started to really like it. A lot. I let go my previous convictions and just enjoyed it for what it was. And it was good. Not brilliant, but a good, solid fantasy film. Though I did wonder about the Hugo Weaving character that was an awful lot like Old Gregg from The Mighty Boosh… anyone who can explain that to me, I’d be greatly appreciative.

As has often happened for me, this has inspired me to read the book, although I think I need some time between watching the film and reading the book.

Jeff, Who Lives at Home (2011) Film Review


There’s a guy called Jeff and he lives at home. That much is clear. Jeff (Jason Segel) is in his late-twenties and spends his time watching Signs (the 2002 M. Night Shyamalan film) and smoking dope. He is convinced that he is on the earth for some greater purpose, much to the despair of his mother (Susan Sarandon) and his brother, Pat (Ed Helms).

It’s fairly ridiculous, really. However, the last ten minutes or so blew me away – I guess I’d been lulled into such a state of boredom that when something actually happened, I got a bit too excited. For most of the film, I couldn’t really see the point of the Susan Sarandon sub-plot.  In fact, even looking back, it’s not really necessary. Plus, Ed Helms really annoyed me. He’s fantastic in The Office; an over-the-top character blends in there. This film seemed to generally be pretty realistic, and his portrayal of Pat for much of the film didn’t blend well. It was only in the final sequence that I really believed that Pat could have been a real character, and not simply comic relief.

Jeff, Who Lives at Home is a great title, but not a great film. Worth watching, but not really worth going out of your way for.