Reviews

4 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
10/10
Earthy, Visceral, Transcendent Love
17 June 2017
This review does NOT contain spoilers.

How do you review a film that leaves you speechless? I'll try my best for this magnificent film recently shown at the Sydney Film Festival to two sellout screenings.

Rarely does a film do such an amazing job at saying so much with so little script. There were probably only 100 lines of dialog but the film conveyed feelings that would be hard to convey in a 500 page book. The cinematography easily filled the gap as the actors executed their craft to perfection. The movie pulled me in and I was totally mesmerized by the story. It was so genuine that you felt as if you were there with them.

Johnny Saxby (played by Josh O'Connor) is stuck in a life of isolation and debilitating loneliness on a Yorkshire sheep farm. His father Martin (Ian Hart) is sick and no longer able to contribute any meaningful labor to help on the farm. The grandmother (Gemma Jones) does everything she can to care for her ailing son Martin while trying to keep her grandson Johnny from going completely off the rails. When lambing season starts Johnny is incapable of handling the workload on his own. To fill the gap the family hire a short term farmhand (Alex Secareanu) to assist Johnny with the work. A visceral "tug of war" starts immediately between the two men in every area of their lives: physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual. It is indescribable and can only be experienced by watching the film. I've never seen it done so well. It is amazing to see a production unfold where the screenplay, cinematography, acting, and landscape conspire so perfectly to tell a story. This is a movie for any adult - regardless of personal attributes or orientation - and captures what it means to be human.

This film is storytelling unbridled. Hiding nothing, the audience was treated with intellectual respect, and there was not a pandering moment to be seen. Regardless of who or what you are, this film will stir up emotions you had forgotten you even had. I highly recommend this rare and special film.
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The Wise Kids (2011)
10/10
Amazing, Wise and Authentic
27 February 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I was able to see this deeply moving picture at a film festival in Australia. Rarely do films touch upon the human spirit in such a real and raw way while maintaining a gentle quality. This amazing film somehow managed to hit upon some very real issues of faith in a way that were both authentic and unique.

A group of high school students who are members of a church youth group are preparing to begin their adult lives. They are in the process of figuring out who they are and why they believe what they do. Where does ones faith come from? How do parents and churches influence those who grow up in a faith community? What happens when kids observe that the real world does not always gel with everything that was taught? What happens when a person who is a dedicated Christian is also comfortable and honest about their personal discovery that they are also gay? Can a person have a crisis of faith, and that crisis lead to a new and better understanding of God? These are some of the questions that are explored in the film. I've never seen anything like the subject matter covered here.

Layered upon the backdrop of the kids in the youth group are the struggles of the youth pastor and his wife -- portrayed in a way that will move anyone with a heart to tears. Their storyline is an amazing revelation of the pain and suffering that happens when a church's doctrine is not based upon the reality of the human condition. It was riveting.

This movie shows that life is not one big "get out of jail free" card for Christian high school students. Their problems may be different to their secular counterparts but they are none- the-less real. This movie shows good and decent kids dealing with the real world situations that their pastors and parents would rather not discuss. They are wise because they deal with the reality of the world through logic and reason instead of through man made doctrine. The subject matter is brave.

This movie pulled me into its center. By the end I cared deeply for every one of the characters -- all for different reasons. It is a profoundly humanizing movie full of believable characters.

If you have been looking for something touching and rare, I would highly recommend this film.
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9/10
Both Funny and Deeply Moving
22 February 2012
I recently viewed this beautiful movie at a film festival in Sydney, Australia. I think its message will stay with me for a long time.

While the story is rich and multi-layered the primary storyline is about a mother of two sons who seems lost in a world of observing the world through the filter of a past betrayal and loss. A filter she sees everyone and everything through. In an attempt to fix her life (and everything in it) she hires a soccer loving Norwegian au pair and heaps upon him the responsibility to repair her world. The ramifications are many! Every action of this hired "magic bullet" make him either an angel or the devil in regard to her expectations.

It is a low budget film but there is not a hint of compromise anywhere. The high quality picture is always in focus, the sound quality is even and clear, and the editing seamless. The writing and directing are world class. The actors are all amazing and well suited for their roles.

The genre is "universal" and hard to classify. This quirky film has the American Midwest humor of "Fargo," the soccer teambuilding skills of "Guys And Balls," the community spirit of "As It Is In Heaven," and the serious elements of "The Lost Language of Cranes."

If you are looking for something different and wonderful, I would highly recommend this film. It's amazing.
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Ciao (2008)
10/10
Gentle, Heart Warming, and Believable
23 February 2009
I recently saw 'Ciao' at a film festival in Australia and it turned out to be one of my favorites. I think it beautifully captured the cautious and quiet interactions we have with people who we barely know and who are from another country and culture. It was also a wonderful example of how we relate to another person who was unknown to us yet deeply loved the same person that we ourselves have loved. The common ground that two people have when they have both independently loved a third is thoughtfully explored.

This movie is for those who love to think about (and ponder) dialog. It is also for people who enjoy a solid script delivered by actors that quietly deliver the goods. To me it was both believable and possible, which made it even more endearing. I was afraid that the film was going to go in a predictable direction and have a Hollywood style ending but this temptation was (thankfully) resisted. Instead the audience was provided with a very moving, heart warming, and realistic conclusion. I felt the movie was full of meaning, but you had to be listening and patient. The movie was about the journey of two people who shared common ground and the connection between them because of it. I recommend it highly.
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