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Dreamy and heartfelt
This might be my favourite movie. Watching it is like bedding down with a homemade blanket and staring into a winter's fire. The atmospheric photography, shimmering score and languid pace combine to gently massage the mind and transport you to a dreamy and affecting place. Heidi's story, a girl navigating the emotional terrain of love, friendship and human behaviour is authentic and believable. Heidi may not be very smart but by the end of the film she achieves a measure of wisdom that opens the door to adulthood. The film also has plenty to say about the sex, forgiveness, the bonds that shackle and the bonds that bind. The acting is outstanding, Abbie Cornish gets everything right, she's simply mesmerising and this really is one of the great Aussie performances. A lot of people found this film boring and over-rated so it's definitely not for everyone. Myself, I couldn't ask for more, it's an experience to savour again and again.
Animal Kingdom (2010)
Great crime story
After his mother dies, 17 year old J comes to live with his estranged grandmother and uncles, a family of felons. He enters the animal kingdom of suburban crime and stumbles through a minefield of sociopaths, cops and lawyers, all claiming to protect him. J soon learns though that trust means nothing when people are desperate.
This is a dramatic, well-made film that haunts the mind. Highly cinematic, meticulously crafted, thrilling and poignant in equal measure. The director emphasises realistic dialogue, multi-dimensional characters and underplays violence. Still, the film is palpably tense, there are scenes that will leave you shaking, even where there is no bloody payoff. As the body count builds even a car slowly reversing down a driveway becomes a menacing sight. The ending is satisfying.
The film is very well acted, young Frecheville keeps it natural and holds his own amongst titanic performances from veteran Aussies. Mendelsohn as Uncle Pope is particularly brilliant, dressed at Christmas from Lowes, this dorky suburban thug bullies the weak (including his passive younger brother Darren, unhappily entrenched in a life he cannot escape from), and who's confrontational behaviour springs from a deep well of paranoia. His maladjusted moral compass so skewed he frequently crosses into psychopathic territory. And yet he remains all too human, he's a mundane monster. Weaver too, leaves a memorable impression, where revelations abound in the film's third act.
My only complaint is that I would have liked to have seen a courtroom scene that is left to the imagination, we see corrupt police in action, why not a demonstration of hypocrisy in the justice system too? But this is a minor whinge in the grand scale of this ambitious story.
Latter Days (2003)
A compendium of cliché
This film was well-meaning enough but acting, writing and direction were generally below par. Mormon mum looked to be the only 3D human in sight and her scenes had some of the dramatic power that the rest of the film lacked.
I watched this with a close friend and he loved it, so you never know, this might be the film for you. But all others beware, it was like a daytime B movie with firm buttocks.
There are much better gay themed films out there, go and see Hedwig and Angry Inch, or better yet Muriel's Wedding, the greatest gay story of them all!