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A delicious look at white collar crime
Risk is all about the three principals. Guy Pearce is fast becoming one of Hollywoods coming men, Bryan Brown is one of Hollywoods long standing token Australians, while Claudia Karven is not so well known beyond Australia's shores, but locally is a polished regular of Australian film.
Pearce makes a wonderfully naive 'bleeding heart' whose presence triggers a long standing scheme of Bryan Brown's, fully at home in the archetypal brash Ozzie male. Claudia Karven plays the other half of the scam, bringing with it the naked ambition that any scam needs to be motivated, and ultimately unravel, as well as bringing significant sexual tension to the plot, which is just one aspect of the developing relationship between the three central characters.
The plot itself is nothing new, the combination of spin and setting perhaps is.
It suffers slightly from the 'recognizably Australian' syndrome which plagues some Australian films, with Sydney Harbor, and particularly it's famous bridge squeezed into shot, sometimes for no other reason than to show us, hey this is Sydney!
The direction works for me, the soundtrack is not intrusive, there's a Porsche featured, which always adds to the looks of a film for me, but also the two younger stars show themselves off attractively for the cameras.
But what really drives the film is the clash between Brown's ruthlessness, Karven's ambition, and Pearce's straight man role, all mixed in with a dollop of fear, greed and lust.
See it, you'll enjoy.
Cliched and unrealistic representation of a great original sea story.
I must admit I liked the film as I was watching it, but looking back later, its very cliched. The XO passed over because of a lack of leadership, the Captain who just manages to push the XO through the personal development door, plus quite a few other co-incidences of the highest order.
Plus it's was also unrealistic and unrepresentative. The original version had a British Corvette, not an American Submarine pull off the mission. Torpedos of that era were point and shoot weapons. The idea submarines would use them against submarines is like two people trying to shoot each other with pistols at fifty meters with blindfolds on. Any of those near misses with depth charges would have sunk a real submarine. While Condor reconnaissance aircraft could travel long distances they certainly couldn't be used to escort a german Destroyer alone in the Atlantic. And there were no Destoyers in the Atlantic, the german surface navy was impotently confined to local waters or the Meditterenean for the duration of the war, their escape routes effectively blocked by the geography of Scandinavian/Danish water and the Royal Navy, and by the narrow confines of the Gibralter Strait to the south. And submarines certainly didn't have radar in 1942.
Those annoyances beside, if you can suspend disbelief, then the sound quality is excellent and it looks good and it dramatic enough.
Otherwise, stay at home and rent 'Das Boot'.
Le Mans (1971)
Long regarded as the best motor racing film, it's aged very well for being almost 30 years old.
One problem which plagues motorsport films is appalling dialogue. The beautifully shot "Grand Prix" would have been so much better without it's plot, "The Racers" was moderately painful and the less said about "Days of Thunder" the better.
While still being fiction, "Le Mans" has a near documentary feel to it. Dialogue is at an absolute minimum. The biggest speaking part belongs to the circuit PA announcer. The second biggest belongs to Michael Delaneys Porsche 917.
Excellently shot film. The cameras catch all the angles of the picturesque Le Mans circuit, from the tremendous 340+kph, 4km long Mulsanne Straight, the Essess, the sweeps and twists through Arnage, Indianapolis & Maison Blanche. They had to enter their own car in the 1970 Le Mans race, Steve McQueen's own Porsche 908, to get the incredible on track footage. The two major crashes were staged with the assistance of the Porsche and Ferrari teams.
The film itself is a fictional documentary of the battle between the Porsche 917 and Ferrari 312P factory teams as the battle that most grueling of motor races, the Le Mans 24 Hour. The minimalist characterisation works in the film's favour, as it further highlights the confrontation. And in McQueen's character we get a hero that isn't a hero, plagued by a crash the previous year, and a hinted at triangle with the wife of a dead driver and the dead driver's team mate.
But above all the stars are the cars and the circuit.
Two Hands (1999)
An Australian Tarantino? No, better than that.
Two Hands is an Australian film, you'd be blind to miss that. The film is full of the broad Australian accent and mannerisms that are sometimes cliched and parodied by many (mostly by other Australians). But it'feels real. The locations are well depicted and shot, this is the 'underbelly' of Sydney.
The performances all come across as authentic, even the much maligned Bryan Brown looks and sounds the part, although admittedly the part isn't much of a stretch for him.
There are instant comparisons to be made to other 'hip' crime based films which Pulp Fiction brought into the limelight as a major genre. While in Heat the crims discuss electronic surveillence in out of the way locations and in Reservoir Dogs they organise in an abandoned wharehouse, in Two Hands they sit around a coffee table in a suburban house, pick the bank and sort out child minding arrangements. No-one trying to out-cool each other, no sharp repartee amongst the characters, and the film feels better for it. The lack of pretension is refreshing. The plot is excellently written, and watch for the ending.
As the add says - 'Bloody good film mate'
A great romp - but don't expect the revolution of Episode IV to happen all over again.
In 1977 the world sat and watched something truly revolutionary - a simple tale of good guys and bad guys, knights and squires, aerial and naval battles, and a damsel in distress (a princess no less) but in a Science-Fiction setting. The effects redefined what was possible, and what could be done, it's production was inventive and it struck a chord with the populace, thus was born the greatest motion picture phenomenon ever.
This is now the fourth movie (or the first) some 22 years later, effects are still stunning - and still the best ever seen, but the same old plot devices are growing a little tired. It's a fantastic romp - you'll enjoy every minute of the film - although it does get a little tedious around the Tatooine bits.
Several movies have been borrowed from - the pod race is lifted straight from Ben Hur, the closing scene is lifted directly from Star Wars: A New Hope.
It's great fun but don't expect the revolution of A New Hope all over again.
The Craic (1999)
A fun film, with jokes a plenty, just don't look for a cohesive plot.
So one of Australia's best stand up comics has made a movie, and I'm not surprised with the result. The movie is peppered with winning one liners and funny characters. Some of the scenes are almost skit in nature, not surprising as half the cast are veterans of Australian skit television. The parody of "Perfect Match" is well worth a look. Don't expect too much from the film, there is a plot, but it sometimes plays second fiddle to the scene, and in the end isn't really resolved to any satisfaction. Jimoein plays basically himself, an Irishman lost in Australia. So he comes across as genuine in the part, as does his team mate. Notable members of the cast is Charles 'Bud' Tingwell's crusty old farmer and his hatred of Cane Toads and Crows. The two SAS soldiers, played by Bob Franklin, Jimoein's partner in crime from his old TV show and Colin Hay, best known as front man of the legendary 80's rock band 'Men At Work' are excellent, playing straight men in the light comic relief. The soundtrack is excellent 80's Australian, and of course with Colin Hay in the cast the credits roll on a great acoustic version of 'Down Under'. The major drawback is that the plot seems only there to link the jokes. Go see it to have fun and don't think too hard.
Babylon 5: In the Beginning (1998)
Essential viewing for fans of the TV series, but still enjoyable for those who haven't seen Babylon 5 before.
All stories have a beginning. The five year TV tale of Babylon 5 did not however begin with the first episode. This story told in semi-autobiographical form by one of the TV series' main characters sets the scene for what would become the TV series storyline. Babylon 5 has consistently shown what can be done in the science-fiction area with intelligent writing, a good cast, and a decent budget for special effects. This is no exception, the acting is its usual standard - with particular mention to Peter Jurasik, always excellent entertainment in the form of Londo Mollari. The effects are of the same standard as the TV series, still the benchmark of computer animation for the small screen.
Most of the principals of the TV series are there - although some are reduced to almost cameos. The plot line is somewhat disjointed, but that's offset by the way it is told by Jurasik's Londo Mollari. The individual scenes are just long enough in most cases to carry the plot and allow the actors scope, while still making sure that those who watched the series find out the pasts of all the characters, although Garibaldi is conspicous by his absense.
For those who want a rollicking good tale of heroism, triumph, tragedy, humour and big explosions, then this is a movie for you.
Babylon 5: Thirdspace (1998)
A forgotten artefact half the size of the station casts a threat over the galaxy.
A full length film set outside the story 'arc' of the TV series, but still within continuity. The special effects are the best that television can produce - a Babylon 5 hallmark. The plot however is slightly plodding. Not quite enough story ideas to sustain the plot. The never ending fistfights on the station contrast the brilliant special effects battle outside the stations hull. For fans of the series there are some nice touches, but it can be watched without knowledge of what's gone on before, although no time is spent on establishing the major characters. The major cast are all comfortable with their roles and it shows, the acting is good for this style of film. A fantastic looking and sounding film but slightly slow in parts.
A Western in kilts. A beautifully shot epic, of the likes the world had not seen for some years.
A well, acted and well paced movie, such that you don't notice its near 3 hour length. The real strength, though, is its visual imagery. The blood and gore of the battlefield, the glorious Scottish highlands, the medievel castles and villages.
Gibson thoroughly desrved the Oscar for best director, the imagery and camera work is stunning. While the direction itself is not innovative it is far more than merely effective. The battles are well depicted, using thousands of extras. A personal highlight is the depiction of the battle of Stirling as for the first time in living memory cavalry is defeated by infantry.
The dialogue feels great to listen to, and the plot is cohesive and flows well. While the movie could quite easily down without the Princess sub-plot - it does add to the feel of the movie.
Mel Gibson takes the lead role with a fire that was absent in some of his other historical work, for me the pick of the acting is Angus McFadyen as Robert the Bruce, the young would be king torn between yearning to follow William Wallace into the teeth of hell, and the brutul common sense of his ailing father. A young man yearning to be a warrior while being forced to become a politician. Also veteran British actor Patrick McGoohan is a joy to watch as King Edward the Longshanks. A character to love to hate.
While filmed as an epic not all epics live up to the tag. This movie is an epic in every way.
C'était un rendez-vous (1976)
No dialogue, just the squeal of tyres and the roar of the engine. Breathtakingly insane.
The most famous motoring footage of all time, or more perhaps infamous. A breathtakingly insane sprint across Paris in a Ferrari. Claude Lelouch has gone for the minimalist approach in the documentation of 'the bet' as legend puts it. No dialogue, no plot, just the sights and sounds of a headlight's eye view of Paris early in the morning as Lelouch tries desperately to traverse the Paris CBD in under 8 minutes. The boy racer in everyone will enjoy the enthralling ride - equal to any racecam footage modern motorsport provides - the roar of a 60's Ferrari - to the enthusiast a sound now made mechanically impossible by noise regulations. While Lelouch desperate flinging of the car through Paris is a joy, half the fun is the reactions of pedestrians, animals and other vehicles as Lelouch thunders through.