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The Trip to Italy (2014)
Back on the road with Brydon & Coogan...
Over one of the many delicious meals, the duo discuss movie sequels and how Godfather 2 is always used as an example as an improvement over the original. Well, the same can be said about The Trip To Italy, a slight improvement over The Trip (2010). Maybe it's the picturesque backdrop, or maybe we know what wonderful verbal diarrhea to expect from the duo, and maybe it's the slight detail to the food being prepared. Whatever it is, it all falls into place with a very thin plot line that keeps it strung together for those who want a storyline in their movies.
The versatile director, Michael Winterbottom, does his usual magical observational style as we plod along with the zany duo through the many amazing Italian landscapes and succulent food, as well as conquering the beauty of the opposite sex. But it's the constant raving of the manic Brydon that either annoys or entertains you. Like Coogan, we either roll our eyes or go along with Brydon's buzzing lips. Ultimately, it's all about friendship and how far we set our boundaries with those around us. With this duo, there seems to be no boundaries (beside a sexual one which they do playfully discuss), and amongst all the humorous chatter and ego stroking with tongue firmly placed in cheek, there is that very underlying emotional depth and human vulnerability that Winterbottom keeps perfectly under the radar.
Packed to the Rafters (2008)
Keep deleting it...
Ten years ago I came up with the idea of an elderly couple who manage to get their life back, but one by one, their thirty-something-year-old children move in back home and create chaos. I pushed the idea around for ten years to various TV networks and funding bodies. About a couple of years ago I even came close to shooting a pilot. But now that someone has beaten me to getting this story idea to air, I might as well not even bother to ever resurrect the project. The only similarity to my story is the premise, but at least mine had an edge. This was bland TV. Froth with bubbles. In the end I found it to be pretty bland and very predictable (maybe because I knew what was to come because I had the same idea). I might need to watch a few more episodes to allow the characters to grow. But for now, I think it has to try that little bit harder to keep my interest!
Save Your Legs! (2012)
I don't like cricket... I LOVE IT!
A third-rate suburban cricket team make their dream come true when they get to tour the mad- cricket-loving country of India for a game of cricket or two. But as usual, when you get a group of Aussie males together, anything and everything can and does happen in this sometimes hilarious comedy. There are also a few surprises along the way in the story department which didn't make it overly cliché like a lot of Aussie films tend to be when they attempt to be quirky or funny.
What saves this film is a great cast, (even from the supporting talent), who play a bunch of lovable and rogue characters. Writer Brendan Cowell perfectly captures the male bonding Aussie humor and does a better job in performance. Stephen Curry does a stellar job as the mad cricket lover who has to come to terms with reality, and Damon Gameau is always good value.
An entertaining Australian movie that will gradually gain a cult following as more cricket loving fans get to watch it on cable TV or DVD over the coming Aussie cricket summer of 2013 and 2014.
L'histoire de Richard O. (2007)
Is Sex Addiction bad for your health?
In this quasi-art-film that plays like a voyeuristic soft-porn is a story about a sex addicted man called, Richard O, played brilliantly by the great and versatile French actor, Mathieu Amalric. The sex scenes are pretty hardcore, some erotic, some confronting, and some just plain weird, but fascinating to watch! These confronting scenes didn't seem to scare Mathieu Amalric, who was so convincing as the tortured slave to sex. In this day and age, sex can be found almost anywhere, most notable on the internet, and it was something that this film did not look into. Maybe the director didn't want to go down that path which would open up another can of worms. Instead it looked into how a lost, wandering soul, can find solace in the pleasures of sex. How the act of sexual fantasies can be a perfect distraction from the harsh realities of life. Not recommended for the weak hearted, or the narrow-minded. But worth for the performance of Mathieu Amalric.
J. Edgar (2011)
Eastwood's romantic political epic.
Clint Eastwood is a master in cinematic storytelling. Not in the sense of giving us a cinematic experience in the tradition of a Christopher Nolan or Spielberg film, but in the art of storytelling, pretty straightforward with a powerhouse script. In this instance he was let down by the script which boarded on a Douglas Sirk sought of melodrama, and as if it was directed by John "Pink Flamingos" Waters who attempted to go straight. Not that there is anything bad about that, in actual fact I enjoyed it in the same vain as that other camp classic MOMMIE DEAREST (1981).
DiCaprio's performance was sublime, perfect for such a melodrama. Under the ageing make- up he reminded me of Jon Voight, (the performance did have a Jon Voightness about it). Even when delivering those corny lines, DiCaprio excelled, even more with the homosexual aspect that was played out brilliantly by all without it being too obtrusive.
To add to the campiness was the ageing make-up. It was distracting at first, but I soon settled into the high camp melodrama about a brute who did some good along the way, but as with all great historical figures, they have some kind of attachment with their mother.
A somewhat interesting melodrama, (and an educational one), that in the end to me seemed like a romantic movie between a brute and his sidekick.
La stanza dello scirocco (1998)
Room of the Scirocco sizzles.
A romantic fable set amongst the Fascist reign on Sicily during the Second World War, were a noble house catches fire and a dead body is discovered. The authorities believe it to be the body of the Marquis of Asquafurata, but the personal Butler who survived the fire has a few surprises up his sleeve. One of them is to give the house to a local peasant couple so that the fascist can't get there hands on it. But our so-called Butler falls for the wife and into fairy floss we go. Charming tale that gets sillier towards the end but lucky it didn't go for too long, plus the performances from the vintage lead actors give it that extra special boost. Along with the exquisite music and cinematography, this is a solid camp classic melodrama that is worth a look if it ever pops up on cable TV. Lucky enough, in Australia we have WORLD MOVIES, a cable network that screens foreign movies that would never ever be seen anywhere else, even released on DVD in this country.
The View from Greenhaven (2008)
Never too old for a second chance in life...
This production was part of the Project Greenlight Australia (PGA), and the last one made under that banner. The previous Greenlight Aussie Project movie was the neat little thriller, Solo (2006), and it enjoyed a modest release compare to this production which was ignored on its initial release. I entered the PGA and only managed to make it in the top 100. As usual a losing competitor would expect the project that did win to be lame, no matter what. In this instant I was very impressed with THE VIEW FROM GREENHAVEN, a very cute warm and heartfelt film about giving yourself a second chance in life regardless of age.
Chris Hayward was perfect for the role and took it on many levels. Wendy Hughes was on par and the rest of the acting troupe was up to scratch. On many levels this reminded me of a Frank Capra film with the many eccentric and lovable characters that give the story that extra boost. Maybe a longer runtime and better script structure would have strengthen the supporting characters and more importantly given more credibility to the main characters.
A very enjoyable movie with some wonderful moments let down by some bland moments.
I Love You Too (2010)
Lessons from Peter Dinklage...
I found the sub-plot of the character, Charlie (played by Peter Dinklage), to be more interesting than that of the boring main characters. I'm not sure if it was the story of Charlie's life, or the way that Dinklage portrayed the character. But Dinklage's performance, mannerisms and emotions where underplayed to perfection that I was hooked in by him, while the other characters just lost my interest for the lack of realism and depth. The only time those Aussie actors seemed decent was when they were sharing the scene with Dinklage.
There were highlights in the film thanks to Peter Helliar's comic script, but a majority of the actors let it down. The direction was of interest, capturing moments in clever camera framing (or was it the camera operator/DP?). Maybe a few rewrites of this, and perfect casting, would have given it justice. I wonder if the Yanks, or the French, can turn this into an interesting remake?
The Deadly Companions (1961)
Time for a remake...
An early effort from Peckinpah who was just getting himself out off the television mentality of cheap filmmaking. The story was the only saving grace, but under the modern direction and rewrite this film could make for a great remake. Can you imagine if Taratino got his hands on this? And the delicious dialogue he would create between the down-trotted cowboy who after accidentally shooting a boy, escorts the dancehall grieving mother across the deadly Apache country to bury him. Even the Coen brothers would create a visual delight in telling a story with a few twists and hidden character agendas. Or is it time for a Western from Clint Eastwood, and maybe he would focus on the moral issues and redemption this story carries. Most difficult of all will be the handling of the Native American Indian. Will the modern storyteller keep the Apache as a savage or show that it was the White Man that made them savages? Regardless whoever remade this film, the potential is there, and I'm sure if Peckinpah had the chance and the budget, his remake would have turned this into a masterpiece.
Super 8 (2011)
It had all the elements, but...
It began as an entertaining movie with lovable and heartwarming characters, but it got sillier as it attempted to search for an ending. There were plenty of ways for the storyline to thread through, but the wrong path was chosen and after all that wonderful and playful built up, it fell flat on its face.
The most enjoyable aspect of the movie was the kids making the super 8 zombie film (I did it back in the late seventies). While all the madness was occurring around them, they persisted in trying to complete this film, utilizing the chaos. It was fun to see the shenanigans the kids got up to make such a film and what goes on behind the scenes of movie making is just like the grown-up world of filmmaking. The teenage love interest on the set was also a pure delight.
The other interesting aspect of the film was the distrust of the military, who mislead & jeopardized a peaceful town for their own interest. The same as today, but with the media taking on the role.
Production values where of the highest order, enhancing the visual story telling. It's just a shame that not too much thought went into the last act of the screenplay. But overall it was fun and worth munching on popcorn while watching it.