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Arts / Crooner’s story to open festival

“FROM Italy with passion” is this year’s slogan for the Italian Film Festival; an apt tag for a festival opening with a biopic about a Calabrian-Belgian crooner and ending with Sophia Loren in “Marriage Italian Style”. When I talk to 76-year-old singer, composer, accordionist and grandfather Rocco Granata by phone to Antwerp, I’m already humming […]

Review / ‘Tarzan’ (PG) ** and a half

JOSEF Stalin reportedly once said that Edgar Rice Burroughs was his favourite author. Burroughs’s eponymous hero of the African jungle has been around on paper since 1912 and in cinemas since 1918. He wrote 26 authentic Tarzan stories. This one, the first animation to reach the big screen, unfolds among concepts and ideas that didn’t […]

Review / ‘Night Moves’ (M) ***

MOTIVATED by confused environmental conscience, market-garden labourer Josh (Jesse Eisenberg), rich kid Dena (Dakota Fanning) and layabout Harmon (Peter Sarsgaard) are planning to make a significant statement about a dam wall that bars the spawning migration of cut-throat salmon while retaining water used to generate power that people use to run their iPads. That’s the […]

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

IN writer/director Yuval Adler’s feature debut, Israeli secret-service officer Razi (Tsahi Halevi) is running a mole in an extremist group – Hamas, Palestinians, whatever; the film from its outset presents difficulties understanding exactly which group is which in the conflict on the streets of Tel Aviv. Playing both sides of the fence, teenager Sanfur’s (Shadi […]

Review / ‘Into the Storm’ (M) *

STEVEN Quayle’s second feature (in 2011, I gave half a star to his first, “Final Destination”) “Into the Storm” cost $US50million and Americans have already paid twice that to see it. Others have described it as a “found-footage disaster film”. Every frame of it has been carefully staged. However, “disaster” hits the mark well enough. […]

Up to date Arab films throw light on complex world

THE Arab Film Festival Australia is upon us again, now in its 13th year, opening tonight in its Canberra edition and running to Sunday. The festival, founded in 2001, has seen over 23,000 through the doors to see Arab cinema from filmmakers in Australia, Lebanon, Egypt, Palestine, Iraq, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Syria, Jordan, France, Canada, […]

Review / ‘Magic In The Moonlight’ (PG) *** and a half

WOODY Allen’s latest film is a whimsical confection that Noël Coward might have recognised as reflecting his style – the upper classes at play, romance confronted with seemingly-insurmountable obstacles, witty dialogue, an exotic location on the French Riviera and reprising popular musical hits of its time (1928). And some lovely cars of the period, particularly […]

Review / ‘Felony’ (M) *** and a half

JOEL Edgerton gives a cracking portrayal of NSW Police Service detective Malcolm who has concealed his part in a traffic incident involving a child while driving home after a late-night collegiate drinking session to celebrate his surviving a gunshot and running down the shooter. The old-pals’ network has shepherded Malcolm through RBT. He knows he’s […]

Review / ‘God’s Not Dead’ (M) ***

IN the last couple of millennia, monotheistic religions have arisen, mostly based on books written long before science established knowledge’s superiority over belief. Talmud, Bible and Koran are all belief-based, each appointing its god as the only true one and declaring false all others. Much has happened since Martin Luther kicked the Reformation off with […]

Review / ‘The Inbetweeners 2′  (MA) *

IT takes a special kind of skill to confect and direct screenplays as unremittingly stupid, improbable, potty-mouthed, repetitively laboured, purportedly comedic yet so unfunny as both “Inbetweeners” and their 30 TV episode ancestors. Damon Beesley could probably retire young to enjoy a luxurious lifestyle on the profits of four louche lads from the Midlands who […]

Review / ‘Freedom’ (M)  ***

TIMOTHY Chey’s screenplay draws on verifiable historical characters for Australian Peter Cousens’ directing debut. In 1748, slave-ship master John Newton (Bernhard Forcher), after witnessing the abominable conditions for its human cargo, wrote the song “Amazing Grace”. Newton gave the bible his fiancée had given him to a slave child whose great-grandson Samuel Woodard (Cuba Gooding, […]

Arts / Festival asks difficult questions

WITH painful stories coming daily out of Gaza, approaching the eleventh 2014 Australia Israel Cultural Exchange Israeli Film Festival, raises a lot of questions – and most are being asked by the filmmakers themselves. The event, at Palace Electric Cinemas until August 31, includes different genres, ranging from short films and documentaries to full-length features. […]

Review / ‘The 100-Foot Journey’ (PG) *** and a half

TWO restaurants face each other on the outskirts of a French provincial town. Le Saule Pleureur (The Weeping Willow) has one star in “Guide Michelin” but Mme Mallory (Helen Mirren) is desperate for more. Ambition could not be made of sterner stuff. Or tighter discipline. Mme’s sous-chef in training Marguerite (Charlotte le Bon) is as […]

Review / ‘Begin Again’ (M) *** and a half

THE only expectation I had about Irish writer/director John Carney’s film was that I’d probably find the music not to my taste. And so it was. However, its music-making processes compensated. Gretta (Keira Knightley) enjoys writing songs that others will perform. Her musical collaborator and bed-mate Dave (Adam Levine) is about to stray. Her best-friend […]

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

FROM South Korean filmmaker Joon-ho Bong comes a futurist cinematic parable that refuses to compromise on its discomfiting bits (from the opening frame until about a minute before the final credits). In the 2030 decade, a botched attempt to halt global warming has led Planet Earth to freeze solid and dead. Around it, squillionaire Wilford […]