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Arts / The ‘Competition’ heats up

PACKED with Canberra talent, the new feel-good, full-length musical, “The Competition”, is to be finally released publicly on December 11. Finally, because for director and screenwriter Simon Weaving the process of getting together a full-length feature film has been tough. Scripted in 2009, “The Competition” was shot in 2010 and has been in post-production since, […]

Review / ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay 1′ (M) ***

PITCHED at young adult audiences, the film of Suzanne Collins’ futurist political fantasy pseudo-science-fiction novel basically bored me in the same way as does listening to Tony Abbott and his coterie of Ministers. That doesn’t deny that its plot, adapted by Collins and moulded into a screenplay by Peter Craig and Danny Strong, made me […]

Review / ‘The Dark Horse’ (M) **** and a half.

REMEMBER “Once Were Warriors” (1994)? Or “Boy” (2010)? When Kiwi filmmakers get their creative teeth into a tough topic, the result can be, often is, a shattering experience for filmgoers. Chess as a spectator sport ? You’d better believe it. James Napier Robertson’s film begins with Genesis Potini walking aimlessly in the rain. Seeing a […]

Arts / Love and other bruises

THE 9th “Windows on Europe Film Festival” showcases 16 new films from the member states of the European Union, many to be seen in Australia for the first time. Mathieu Ravier, the festival’s French-Australian programmer, has chosen to begin his “fabulous festival” unconventionally with a documentary, Johannes Holzhausen’s “The Great Museum”, described as “an elegant […]

Review / ‘The Drop’ (MA) *** and a half

THE sheer cinematic quality of director Michael Roskam’s second feature augurs well for his future. Written by Dennis Lehane adapting his novel “Animal Rescue”, “The Drop” is modern film noir that commands respect equally for form and content. Tom Hardy plays Bob, a gentle fellow who tends his cousin Marv’s (James Gandolfini) Brooklyn bar, one […]

Review / ‘Let’s Be Cops’ (MA) half a star

THE essence of comedy pits straight man against fall guy. Luke Greenfield’s film may be billed as comedy but a small audience representative of a range of age groups laughed little during the screening when I watched it. Its only clever element is the way Greenway’s screenplay makes the fall guy behave like he’s straight […]

Review / ‘Interstellar’ (M) ** and a half

THERE’S much brouhaha and conjecture going on about how Christopher Nolan’s 169-minute futurist astrophysical space-travel climate-change fantasy polemic will fare at the next Academy Awards. Leading the cast, Matthew McConaughey is Cooper, widowed former spacecraft pilot turned corn farmer. Late in the 21st century, when Earth is beset by drought, famine, land deterioration and pessimism, […]

Arts / When the Queen came to town

ONE of the highlights of the enormously-popular British Film Festival will be “When the Queen Came to Town” by Canberra’s Wildbear Productions. Directed by Maurice Murphy and narrated by Bert Newton, the new doco provides a remarkable snapshot of pre-TV Australia when the young Queen visited the antipodes in 1954. It mixes professional cinematography in glorious […]

Review / ‘Kill The Messenger’ (M) ***

THE source for Michael Cuesta’s film is Gary Webb’s 1996 articles in the “San Jose Mercury” telling how the CIA set in motion the 1980s crack cocaine epidemic by importing planeloads of cocaine into the US to finance the Nicaraguan Contras. Why did the articles not generate media frenzy? Because concurrently with Webb’s articles, Monica […]

Review / ‘The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet’ (M) *** and a half

IN this charming little odyssey written and directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet from a novel by Reif Larsen, 10-year-old TS (Kyle Catlett) leaves the family ranch on the crest of the Rocky Mountains near the Canadian border to travel to Washington DC to receive a prestigious prize from the Smithsonian Institution. His family doesn’t know where […]

Review / ‘Pride’ (M) *** and a half

REMEMBER “Brassed Off” and “The Full Monty”, films in which British underdogs confronted crisis and the establishment with novel solutions to current industrial problems? Weren’t they great fun? So is Matthew Warchus’ film of Stephen Beresford’s screenplay about one oppressed minority joining forces with another in 1984. In London, working out of a bookshop run by […]

 First prize for Ronin Films doco

THE latest feather in the cap of Canberra’s ever-classy Ronin Films is news that the company’s film “Message from Mungo” was first prize winner in the special category of “Promotion of Indigenous Recognition,” announced last Friday night at the United Nations Media Awards in Melbourne. The documentary, eight years in the making, traces the historic […]

Review / ‘Living Is Easy (With Eyes Closed)’ (M) ***

THE main element of the title of Spanish filmmaker David Trueba’s prize-winning film begins the second stanza of “Strawberry Fields Forever”, which John Lennon composed in 1966 while tripping on substances. The title’s parenthetical part offers several possibilities from which filmgoers may choose a purpose. One is the obstinate determination of Antonio (Javier Camara) who […]

Review / ‘Hector and the Search for Happiness’ (M) ***

THE box office will determine whether this German/African co-production, the first film based on one of Francois Lelord’s novels about small-scale hero Hector (family name not stated), has the grunt to initiate a series. Since its August release, IMDb users have rated it 7 on a scale of 10. It arrived in Australia with little […]