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31 reviews in total 
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2 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
Tear-jerker, and I don't mean that in a good way, 13 June 2009

It might draw some tears from some people, but not from me (and there are films that I cry in). It's the kind of tear-jerker that is meant as Oscar-bait.

This is your standard boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy finds her again. Oh, and of course the boy is good-looking. The girl is beautiful. Because they are moral and hard-working, they do well in life.

Yes, there are poor kids ripped off and abused by unscrupulous adults, but if you didn't already know that, you need to travel more.

I agree with comeau and khajoor; this is "third world pathos".

Stranger than fiction, 13 June 2009

There aren't that many Iranian films around, so I will see any that come my way.

From early in the film, it was clear that it wasn't about the usual Iranian social issues. Firstly, there was this cult of men called neophytes (the name suits their appearance) who are subjected to the usual fear, sleep-deprivation, and pain to ensure they continue to follow the Master. The Master is your stereotypical cult leader.

The cult lives in the poorest (oh God, let it be the poorest) area of the city of Mashad, in relatively salubrious and warm surroundings. Outside of the flickering firelight of the vaulted building which houses the cult, a seemingly endless number of starving prostitutes and their children beg and freeze and try to keep clear of the serial killer who is killing several prostitutes a day.

I could not get used to the filth, poverty and suffering depicted. In fact, it still disturbs me.

After the night-time dancing of the neophytes, a man and his belongings get off a bus. At this point, I was wondering if I was going to be able to follow it. Then I quickly realised that the man had come to town to solve the serial murders. (At least, I think that's what happened. Please don't anyone burst my bubble.) From this point on, the film is a standard murder mystery (albeit an Iranian murder mystery). Yes, the cult continues to feature, but don't they so often in a murder mystery? Some very unremarkable things happen, particularly around the police investigator, and you might predict the ending. In other ways, the film gets more and more bizarre.

When the credits revealed that it was based on a true story, that explained everything. For me, when something is stranger than fiction, that's because it usually isn't fiction. It really was a strange film, and I'm glad it was made.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
There's this guy that comes out at day..., 24 May 2009

When I was first told the premise of this film, I was interested. The whole world (read, everyone in the USA) has been turned into vampires except this one guy, who goes around hunting them. (He doesn't, necessarily - his interests are wider than that.) Unfortunately, the guy is Will Smith. Oh well, once you are comfortable and intrigued by the New York city landscape turning to wilderness, what you going to do? Will Smith (or a long list of stunt people, who were nominated for an award) rips around NYC in a 4WD/SUV with an intelligent dog and music blaring, ready to fire at anything that moves (bar some kind of antelope).

Robert Neville, this survivor, is so *methodical*. And his methods work. Also, he has so many personas. There is Colonel Robert Neville, doing his duty and saving his city. The flippant Robert Neville, flirting with mannequins. Scientist Robert Neville. Fit and careful Robert Neville, who makes sure he and his dog survive by following his own rules. There is scared Robert Neville, who I very much identify with. And of course, vulnerable Robert Neville.

The best thing about this film is that it is so SCARY. I seriously thought of not watching it, or at least lining my stomach with a glass of milk to prevent an ulcer.

Edit: I was told the novel was written 50 years ago, and I loved the concept, so I read it. I think the film is a fair if not superior adaptation. For example, I don't find the vampires in the book very scary. Robert Neville fist-fights a few of them at once, which he would not be able to do with the fast, strong vampires of the movie. Similarly, the vampires of the book know where he lives from the start, and can't get in the house. The technology in the book is old (eg a watch that needs winding, projectors instead of DVD players); if you had to be true to that technology, you'd end up making a period film.

9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Very thorough, 31 March 2009

I have just watched the most interesting and thorough *Hidden History of Australian Homosexuality*, which screened on SBS recently.

It started with the transportation of convicts from England to Australia, interviewing two male and two female academics who had researched the topic and really knew their stuff. At this point, the backgrounds to the interviews are black, and the interviewer is absent throughout the documentary.

The very early history (ie up to WWI) is illustrated with plenty of stills, and the occasional clip from a period film.

There is some really interesting documentation of homosexual culture from WWI onwards, particularly in terms of women, as they gained financial independence.

Other interviewees (eg David Marr and John Marsden to name just a couple) are called in to talk about the history of homosexual Australia in the 1950s when homosexuality was considered as evil as communism, and gay Australian men left Australia in droves.

For the 1960s, there are many witnesses to the budding gay liberation movement and the police brutality it attracted.

The film also documents the incredibly sad AIDS epidemic, the accidental/on purpose confusion between homosexuals and pedophiles on the part of Australian politicians, and the attempted vilification of Justice Michael Kirby.

For me, the documentary was missing the fun (albeit without rights) and celebration of the Sydney gay scene, for example Les Girls and the Erskineville Hotel, Oxford and King Streets, and more about the gay Mardi Gras. Then again, these things are mostly more 'present' than 'history', and many viewers would have witnessed them first hand, so fair enough.

Oasis (2002)
3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Not just a beautiful story, but an ugly allegory too., 1 March 2009

mitsounob from Yokohama, Japan commented that the director made this film about communication, among other things. That's what it was largely about for me too.

I'm thinking mainly of the scene where Jong-du and Gong-ju are both at the police station. When Gong-ju is being asked for her account of the incident, her sister keeps speaking for her. The policeman doesn't give Gong-ju time to speak for herself. One of the most difficult scenes for me is when Gong-ju repeatedly bashes herself against the cabinet to try to get somebody to listen to her. Similarly, her brother, when trying to reach a "settlement" with Jong-du's family, speaks for Gong-ju. When talking about how traumatised Gong-ju has been, he says, 'Just look at her'. As if she could never enjoy physical love.

This brings me to the second theme of the movie, as far as I am concerned. The world is set up for people with a certain range of abilities. Which means that people who fall within this range can exploit people who fall outside of them. Which is exactly how Gong-ju and Jong-du are treated by their families.

Jong-du is the fall guy for his brother, who has a family and a career and can't 'afford' to do time. To add insult to injury, Jong-du gets out of jail to find that his brother has moved, without leaving a forwarding address! Gong-ju's family similarly exploits her. Jong-du and Gong-ju are fairly forgiving of their families' despicable behaviour.

My final comment on this film is that Gong-ju and Jong-du know their place in the world. They know not to even bother trying to convey the truth. In fact, I get a fleeting, disturbing feeling that their families are the only people whose behaviour towards them is a true and honest symptom of how the world really works.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Rich story-telling, 20 November 2008

This is such a rich story that it could entertain and succeed in several ways, depending on your point of view. It's a story about old age, about family relationships, and wise characters who know when to stay quiet.

For myself, it was a story of how children can trick you, or charm you, or drag you kicking and screaming out of your comfort zone. And where did they learn to do all this? From none other than ourselves, when we did it to them. Still, they seem to be so much better at it than us; our comfort zones are so much more rusted into place.

Just an observation: Why are middle-aged heroines in French films so often called Helene?

The Magician (2005/I)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
I loved this movie., 12 November 2008

The only reason I am not giving it 10 out of 10 is that I got a couple of the characters mixed up at one point (the sequences are shown out of chronological order). It is also true, as other reviewers have pointed out, that the film gets a bit talky in the middle section. It is as if Ryan gets a bit seduced by his own script-writing. Well, it is hard to cut out writing.

To my mind, the strength of this movie is the characterisation. Scott Ryan is a marvelous character - the antithesis of the wine-drinking, PC, environmentally-conscious middle-class intellectual elite of the Howard years. His accent is broad, he likes his 'chewy' and his 'Big M'. I was transfixed by the way he drank his McCoffee all up while seeming to wince with every mouthful.

I don't want to make this a long boring review so I'll just make some final last observations: the crew double as cast in most if not all cases; stay for the end of "I'll Be Gone" by Spectrum and one last out-take after the credits are finished; Ryan has clearly been influenced by *Pulp Fiction* (and why not?).

Noise (2007/I)
A film for lovers of Australian cinema., 21 September 2008

This was one of those films that, if you are Australian, makes you feel at home in it. A nice change from watching the British murder mysteries on the ABC, the European homicide series' on SBS, or the hour-long American homicide dramas on the commercial channels, all of which seem to compete to horrify the viewer.

Horrifying the viewer has its own genre - it's called horror - and *Noise* isn't in it. *Noise* is unmistakably a drama, although the use of sound in the movie does serve to highlight (and overturn) conventional use of sound in cinema. Hence all the awards given for the sound.

I loved the main character, particularly his motivation for being a cop. I think I understood his heroism at the end, even though it wasn't spelled out. I wouldn't have minded if all the unknowns had been solved at the end, but as it was, I thoroughly enjoyed the journey. Especially because it involved Nicholas Bell.

PS. I think this film aptly portrayed the range of uniformed officers in Australia.

Terminus (2007/I)
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Watch it twice., 15 September 2008

This film is a family favourite. Even though it's quite scary, and a little violent, my three-year-old is happy to watch it multiple times, from the safety of Mum or Dad's lap. Even on days when we don't watch it, she is comforted that 'monsters' can only go at walking pace, and you can always outrun them, if need be (this is confirmed by the monsters on *Doctor Who*). I think my young daughter continues to watch *Terminus* because she wants to understand the dream scene.

For myself, the 'monsters' in this film remind me of Mr Pump, the golem in Terry Pratchett's novel *Going Postal*. Golems can only go at walking pace, but they can go forever, without eating or sleeping, and they will catch you. For my partner, they remind him of 'machine spirits' in the role-playing game *Shadow Run*.

There are a couple of reasons to watch this short film twice: Certain motifs reappear, allowing you to have a go at working at why these 'machine spirits' are taking over the city. Also, the title of the movie gains added meaning, as you speculate on what happened to the concrete pillar monster's previous subject, and what the title actually refers to.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Really fun., 15 September 2008

It looked like the cast and crew had a great time making this movie, and the fun is infectious. The costumes must have been a lot of fun to work with, particularly for Leonor Watling (playing the lead character) who was extremely flattered by them despite rushing around dressed up as nine months pregnant.

I didn't see this as a period film at all. For me, it was a film about people in love with people outside their own marriage. Hardly an issue confined to early last century, but setting it ninety years ago heightened the comedic aspects of having to cover it up.

I also saw it as a gay movie. My gaydar went off as soon as Olivia started talking about her husband's enormous penis.

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