Ladies in Black

When I first heard the title of this film I thought there was NO WAY I wanted to see a movie about funeral directors. Then I learnt that Bruce Beresford was the director and it was about women in the 50s working at a Sydney fashion department store called Goodes.

If you’re a fan of the old Mark Foys or the present David Jones Elizabeth Street store you will love this movie. If you’re a fan of 50s fashion you will drool over the fabulous dresses. If you’re a fan of Australian female actors you will love this film as well. The actress who plays the young ingénue is absolutely delightful.

Beresford has created a rather lovely backdrop of the Sydney of the 50s… ferries, trams, fashion etc but he does fall into some terrible clichés, the greatest of them being Europeans cultured:Australians ignorant. Scene after scene emphasizes this point till you wonder sometimes what was Beresford trying to achieve with this cliched view.

Some of the narratives in the film too are simply dreadful… one in particular about a super shy husband who is sexually incompetent, and another about a suave Hungarian who wants to marry an Australian girl even though they are all uncultured. Save me from this trash I thought.

But the film is also a love song to Sydney with some beautiful city and harbour views, and the women in the movie are all rather glorious… not so the men alas. There are some great anti-Melbourne jokes, very 50s, but we all know now that Melbourne is a super-fabulous city.

The final scene in the film is rather wonderful but is preceded by, once again, ignorant Aussies and sophisticated Europeans at a dinner party. And yet, I would recommend that you go to see this, not only to support Aussie film-making but also to see some great fashion and charming female performances. It’s possibly not a movie that many males will enjoy ….. unless of course you are European or a former window dresser.

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Jimmy Barnes: Working Class Boy

 

Flame Trees

Choir Girl

Cheap Wine

Breakfast at Sweethearts

Khe San

 

 

 

Many of us Baby Boomers would have spent our teens and 20s listening to these Cold Chisel songs… well I did… and often live. Jimmy Barnes was a magnetic performer and a great stage presence and as the subject of this documentary, he remains so.

This film looks at Jimmy’s life growing up in the slums of Glasgow with a brutal, alcoholic dad to his family’s move to Elizabeth in South Australia- another desperate neighbourhood.

We learn that at one stage in his life Jimmy was drinking up to 3 bottles of vodka a day but after learning of the deprivation and violence throughout his childhood, you can understand why.

This film is not about Cold Chisel so we don’t get to see the band performing but we do see Jimmy on stage with his daughter, Mahalia, as a backup-singer- (a little too often I’d say), but Barnsie remains a rather good singer… and he looks great as well.

There are a number of scenes in this film where it was impossible NOT to cry nor to admire the honesty and strength of Jimmy Barnes who made it through.

A very touching film that I would highly recommend.

 

 

Loving Vincent

Rather than go to the Van Gogh Museum here in Amsterdam, I went to this animated film about the artist instead. ~I missed it in Sydney and when I read that it was on at the Eye Cinema in Amsterdam I had to go. The Eye Museum, in many ways, is the Opera House of the Netherlands. It is a contemporary building set right on the harbour and is a must visit for anyone coming to the NL.

From the back of the station you cross a small road full of cyclists (who are all trying to run you over), (so cross when everyone else does) and catch the ferry across the bay. The ferry is free and takes less than 2 minutes to cross. The ferry, of course, is full of bikes crossing over as well. Once across,  walk to the left and there is this great building which is a film museum, active cinema as well as a restaurant with an amazing view. Sit and have a drink on the verandah as huge passenger ships, tiny yachts, long barges, ferries and tour boats glide by.

Loving Vincent is an amazing film- hand-drawn then animated by a team of artists. It tells the story of the last letter that Vincent wrote to his beloved brother, Theo, which was not delivered. The postmaster, who sat for Van Gogh, and was also a friend, asks his son to deliver this letter to Theo Van Gogh. As the son starts to look for Theo he starts to muse and then investigate Vincent’s death. Supposedly Vincent committed suicide but……

The story, in most ways, is unimportant; what is primary is the amazing art. The people in Van Gogh’s paintings come to life and are the characters in this film; the scenery and locations are mainly taken from Van Gogh’s paintings as well. It is quite thrilling to watch the film and note how many of his artworks you recognise.

This would be a great film to buy on DVD and you could watch it now and then whenever you need an art-fix while you play Vincent (Starry Starry Night) by Don McLean- which must be one of the most beautiful pop songs ever written.

And now some photos….

 

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The Breaker-Upperers

I went to this movie wanting to love it. I’d heard the stars (also directors) interviewed on radio and they were hilarious. And of course I love New Zealanders. Who doesn’t?

The Breaker-Upperers is a fabulous idea and I’m sure there are a number of people who could benefit from this service. There were some very funny breakups at the beginning…. short and sharp and they were great …  but as the film developed it took a turn which was a little darker…. well not really dark as such but tasteless in a bad way…. not a good way…. you know what I mean. Ha ha

The film then became more about the relationship between the 2 breaker-upperers, which was a touch tedious. I guess there’s only so far you can travel with one great idea. James Rolleston in the role of the footballer is excellent and he that I adore… Jemaine Clement, from Flight of the Conchords … makes a brief appearance.

But do go to see it. It’s a clever, likeable and often funny film…… just don’t go with too high an expectation, Tim.

I’ve added the trailer but I wouldn’t watch it myself as it gives away too many of the jokes and much of the plot!!

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKVhDbe9VOo

The Guilty

We were all rather excited to see this film because it’s Danish…. and we were right in our expectations.

A young policeman sits with headphones on, at a computer. He’s answering emergency calls from people who have had bad reactions to drugs, others hurt in accidents or muggings, or the victims of petty crimes.

He is on this desk job instead of investigative policing as he has been taken off the street while he awaits a trial for a crime he committed in the course of duty. We don’t learn what this is until the very end of the film.

He is bored, angry and irascible and responds to many of the calls with a cruel insouciance until a sweet-voiced woman calls. Hello Sweetheart she begins and thus we are lead into a terrible crime and a gut-wrenching chase through Copenhagen to …………………   Not going to tell you!

Go see The Guilty as it is a remarkable film full of tension, loss, sorrow and humanity. Jakob Cedergren is the star and he’s fantastic in this role. Need I say more?

 

 

The Insult

Set in Beirut this film is an allegory for the terrible religious wars that have beset the Lebanon for over 50 years.

A team of workmen is repairing the streets of a Christian area in Beirut when the foreman is doused with water from an illegal pipe jutting out from a balcony. He is furious and confronts the owner of the flat who then insults him. The foreman is Palestinian and it seems that Christian Lebanese do not hold Palestinians in high regard.

This insult leads to a court case then further insults and violence and further court cases. During the hearings we learn a significant amount about the competing groups in the Lebanon as well as the complex characters and experiences of the two protagonists. Like in every good film, nothing is, as it seems— there are always more layers under the surface.

This is rather a wonderful film in many ways although it does get a little didactic but there are also some very funny, bitter-sweet moments. The Insult gives us an historical overview of the conflicts in the Lebanon but after watching this film, you realize that peace in the Lebanon is almost insurmountable— but I guess we can always hope.

Overall this is a gripping, thought provoking film with 2 wonderful lead actors. A must see I would say.

 

American Animals

 

I wanted to like this film .… I was tired, it was late and an enjoyable film would have made my night complete after dinner and a drink with the lovely Sheena at the Sheraton.

Well it was a little funny for a while, but to be honest I really don’t want to see a movie about a bungled robbery ever again… even if the robbers are nice young men.

Nothing planned, nothing gained        and despite the few screwball scenes where they prove how amateurish and naïve they are, this to me came across as a boy’s own film… teenage boys perhaps.

The only significant female role in the film was the middle-aged librarian. This film didn’t offer much to me at all and I was sorry I stayed till the end. Luckily I caught the bus straight away and was home in 10 minute. That my friends, was the best part of the night.

Juliet Naked

 

 

Another funny film taken from a book by Nick Hornby who writes mainly about men who are more interested in music than their romantic lives. Often these men are emotionally immature and lack commitment.

Duncan, one such character, is partnered with Annie but is more in love with an old rocker, Tucker Crowe, who made his last album 20 years ago. Duncan is convinced that he will resurface and produce a masterpiece. He runs a blog dedicated to Crowe and considers himself an expert on Crowe’s life and music.

When Annie reads another fulsome review on Duncan’s blog, she posts a very satirical response of her own under a pseudonym, and to her complete surprise, receives an acknowledgement from the singer himself, agreeing with everything she says.

This is a very enjoyable movie with some very funny lines, great music and quirky characters. Go to see it, you will walk away feeling good and as you know, there’s nothing wrong with that!! Ethan Hawke plays Crowe so another good reason to see Juliet Naked.

 

 

One Day

 

One Day traces 24 hours in the life of a young middle-class mother of 3, Anna, and the relationship she has with her husband. Boring you may think .…. anything but I would answer. The film is delivered in a naturalistic, unhurried manner and will, without doubt, resonate with anyone who has raised or is raising children.

There is tremendous tension in the film even though much of the action is crowded with the mundane routine of a very stressed mother as she deals with the coughs and colds, tantrums, the picking up and the dropping off of children at kindergarten and school, the losing of uniforms and musical instruments and more. The tension comes through an affair that the husband might be having with Anna’s friend, Gabi. This is signalled right at the beginning of the film so it isn’t a spoiler.

The children are delightful, the family relationships loving and authentic and the performance by the lead actor, Zsofia Szamos, is outstanding. This is a debut film by Hungarian director, Zsofia Szilagyi and it is the best of the movies I have seen so far at the film festival

West of Sunshine

 

I try really hard with Australian films to see the best in them …. but this was impossible to do during this film, West of Sunshine.

A desperate knockabout separated father with a gambling addiction has to find a way to pay back a large debt to some heavies and at the same time look after his young son for one day during the school holidays.

The film is about that day as the father works, gambles, delivers goods for his job then drugs for a friend all while his child of angelic looks and middle-class accent waits in the car.

This is a terrible film, with no point to it, no saving grace, full of clichéd characters and ethically corrupt. I really shouldn’t have bothered reviewing this. See it but be warned!