Monday, April 27, 2015

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON


You can listen to a podcast review of this film here or subscribe to Bina007 Movie Reviews in iTunes.

Joss Whedon had an almost impossible task to pull of in his AVENGERS sequel.  He had to give enough time to the storylines and character arcs of all the major superheroes we've come to know and love in the increasingly complex Marvel Cinematic Universe.  He had to also make room for new additions - not one, but three bad guys, and a nebulous almost a-ethical good guy.  He had to create enough CGI heavy wow moments of action and stunts. But he also had to give the movie heart. And all this in just over two hours.

Monday, April 13, 2015

WOMAN IN GOLD


You can listen to a podcast review of this film here.

The Bloch-Bauers were a successful cosmopolitan Viennese family whose house formed a salon where one might meet Dr Freud or Arnold Schoenberg.  Gustav Klimt painted a portrait of Adele, the celebrated Woman In Gold, but this was confiscated by the Nazis along with many other works of art.  After the war the painting hung for decades in the Belvedere Gallery until Adele's niece Maria sued the Austrian government for its return.  Dispute instituting a restitution committee, the government was understandably reluctant to give up paintings which had, by then, become synonymous with Austrian culture.  The process was thus one that was obdurate and highly contested. 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

WHILE WE'RE YOUNG


You can listen to a podcast review of the film here.

WHILE WE'RE YOUNG is a funny, acutely observed and sometimes profound comedy from Noah Baumbach - the director behind FRANCES HA and, more happily, GREENBERG.  Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts play a forty-something couple alienated from their baby-obsessed peer group who meet and become fascinated by a twenty-something couple played by Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried. Hanging out with the seemingly-authentic fun-loving hipsters reinvigorates the older couple even as it further drives them from their old friends.  But soon the honeymoon is over as we learn that the gap between Gen X and Gen Y is wider than their years - it's the gap between a generation who learned about digital media as it occurred versus the digital natives - and this has a profound impact on every kind of basic world view and value that the two generations have.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

THE WATER DIVINER


You can listen to a podcast review of this film below:



THE WATER DIVINER is a brave directorial debut from Russell Crowe.  It tells the tale of a grieving father who journeys from Australia to Turkey to find the graves of his three sons, killed in the battle of Gallipoli four years previously.  In doing so he encounters a still highly contested and wartorn land, whether the men of the Imperial War Graves Commission has to rely on its former enemies, the Turks, to help them locate bodies on the field of battle.  And while World War One may be over, the war for the future of Turkey is only just beginning, with a nationalist uprising under Kemal Ataturk beginning, bringing with it a fierce debate over secular modernisation versus traditional religious values. 

Monday, April 06, 2015

INSURGENT


You can listen to a podcast review of this film below:



INSURGENT is the second instalment of the Divergent series based on the popular young adult novels by Veronica Roth.  I didn't review the first film even though I did see it on DVD. The movie just struck me as so derivative and banal and mechanical that I just couldn't be bothered. There wasn't anything bad about it per se - it was slick and well-acted for the most part - but there wasn't anything to get me excited either.  Sadly, that characterisation applies to the sequel too. It's well-made, well-acted for the most part, and full of great CGI action set-pieces.  But it's so mechanical, so derivative and so predictable that I found myself watching it in a rather mechanical way - utterly detached from the emotional journey.

CINDERELLA (2015)


A podcast review of this film is available below:



Kenneth Branagh's new live action version of the Disney's Cinderella is earnest and conventional and assertively traditional.  It hews so closely to the original in terms of plot, characterisation, costume and values that I can hardly believe they bothered to spend the money to remake it.  The resulting film is sumptuously designed and gorgeous to look at. The costumes are truly Oscar-worthy.  The acting is first-rate with Cate Blanchett's wicked stepmother and Helena Bonham-Carter's fairy godmother stealing the show.  But as much as I tried to look through the retrograde politics, I just couldn't.  That said, this movie has taken so much money, apparently people don't mind that.  Maybe Kenneth Branagh is right, and after all those post-modern fairytales there's an appetite for the traditional and unchallenging.  But I find it all rather sad.

Friday, March 20, 2015

BFI FLARE OPENING NIGHT GALA - I AM MICHAEL


I AM MICHAEL is a provocative screening choice for a festival that celebrates the LGBT community. This is because it doesn't tell a coming out story, but a going in story, based on the true-life case of Michael Glatze.  Michael (James Franco) was a seemingly happy gay rights activist and journalist living in San Francisco with his partner Bennett (Zachary Quinto).  But something about the death of his mother, his increasing panic attacks, and belief that opening himself up to religion had helped calm him, led him to renounce his homosexuality in order to be reunited with his mother in the afterlife.  He trained as a preacher, married a woman he met at bible camp (Emma Roberts) and continues in his new identity to this day.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

SUITE FRANCAISE


You can listen to a podcast review of this film below or subscribe to Bina007 Movie Reviews in iTunes:



In World War Two, Irene Nerimovsky penned the first two parts of a novel before being sent to her death in Auschwitz.  Sixty years later, her daughter discovered and published those two self-contained novellas as Suite Francaise and it became a literary sensation, perhaps more because of the romance of its discovery than the work itself.  We now have this movie adaptation of the book, focussing heavily on the second part - the love story between a French woman and a Nazi soldier- that starts with a depiction of the exodus from Paris that forms the first novella.