Monday, January 31, 2011

True Grit

Reviewing a Coen Brothers film is usually an exercise in inventively arranging superlatives, and True Grit definitely doesn't break from the mould. Following up their terrifyingly impressive neo-Western No Country for Old Men, Joel and Ethan Coen have gone toe-to-toe with the genre god himself — John Wayne — with their remake of his 1969 Oscar-winning film. Both are adaptations of Charles Portis' novel, which sees a tough nut spinster Mattie Ross recounting her adventure as a 14-year-old girl when she stoically set out to bring her father's murderer to justice. Teaming up with a dubious drunkard of a US Marshall Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges), the straight-shooting teen (Hailee Steinfeld) sets her sights firmly on finding the killer Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin). But as Chaney is already being hunted by proud Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (Matt Damon), a precarious and unwittingly comedic trio is formed out in dangerous Indian Territory.

Adoring adjectives aside, let's just say that it's once again time to worship at the altar of the Coen Bros. Across the board, from casting to direction, to framing and editing, True Grit is master class filmmaking. Steinfield makes an astonishing film debut as the tenacious and dazzlingly litigious Mattie. It's a sight to see her diminutive figure in oversized clothes facing up to the likes of Bridges and Damon — themselves both in fighting fit form — and coming up trumps. But Bridges and Damon are similarly in their element on a production that exudes confidence, style and an infectious wit. As Rooster, Bridges can chalk up another winning character next to The Big Lebowski's Dude, while Damon is at his scene-stealing best, bringing his comedic chops and an incorrigible cowlick to his turn in spurs.

True Grit is a sparse and simple story, whose delights derive from its wondrously affected dialogue dancing on the tongues of its pitch perfect cast. This humour and familiar storyline makes True Grit a refreshingly accessible, as well as a surprisingly sentimental, addition to the Coen Bros filmography. The Coens are often maligned for not caring about their characters (a charge that makes for vigorous debate), but their affection for Mattie and her plight is unequivocal. If anything, the film's coda — drawn from Portis' text — is a tad overstated and perhaps even unnecessary. Yet as homage as well as an impressive addition to the Western genre, True Grit is ultimately a testament to the filmmakers' true love of cinema.
Published on Concrete Playground
Australian release date: 26 January 2011

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sheryl Sandberg: Keep your hands up, ladies.

Everyone, and especially every woman, should watch this TED talk by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

Note to self:
- Sit at the table.
- Don't leave (on maternity leave) before you leave.
- Make your partner a real partner. 

I know I'll be referring to this over and over throughout my life, so thanks to Kate for recommending this marvellous, inspiring speech. If you feel the same way, spread the word!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Life in a Day

You’ve got a hot date with YouTube. No, really. Come Friday January 28th at 12:15pm you need to have your popcorn ready to watch an historic cinematic event unfold: Life in a Day.

Produced by Ridley Scott (Alien, Gladiator) and directed by Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland, One Day in September), Life in a Day is a crowdsourced documentary which pieces together filmed experiences submitted by people around the world, to create a snapshot, a time capsule, of one day on earth: July 24, 2010.

This monumental undertaking will premiere at Sundance, and the entire event will be streamed live on YouTube. Only one Australian made the cut – this moving declaration by Ron hints at the thematic depths Macdonald is prepared to convey, but on the lighter side of life, the teaser below promises to put a big, goofy grin on your face.

So set yourself a reminder and tune in to see just how this cinematic experiment will play out*. A day in the life has never been so epic.

*Play along with the Twitter hashtag: #Lifeinaday

Published on Concrete Playground

Sydney Festival: The Red Shoes

If you ever fancied watching grown men cavort about on stage dressed in singlets and y-fronts the colour of dirty dishwater, then Kneehigh's rendition of The Red Shoes is just the ticket. Say what now? How do ratty undergarments factor in a Hans Christian Andersen fable about an ill-fated girl who is bequeathed a dazzling but rather dangerous set of shiny scarlet shoes?  Well, in the hands of Cornish troupe Kneehigh, it's all part of a stripped down palette that makes for some truly powerful theatre.

Anderson's fairytale is perhaps most beloved in film form, luminously adapted in 1948 by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. However this glorious feat of Technicolor - heralded by Martin Scorsese as "One of the true miracles of film history" - is summoned in the only faintest of echoes on stage, as artistic director Emma Rice and her company of stoic players pare back the story to something more akin to a stark and darkly comedic variety show. In fact the show begins well before its audience has even entered the theatre, as members of the striking, shaved-headed, scantily clad company wends its way through the milling crowds to play a tune or two in the Seymour Centre's shady forecourt. A blend of banjo, accordion, clarinet and trombone instantly evokes a rose-coloured Parisian evening; a wryly misleading ambience given the thematic depths soon to be mined on stage.

The show itself begins rather ominously - for those familiar with the story - with the company standing in cast iron buckets, washing their feet. The subsequent audience interaction (a threat of drenching) hints at the winking nature of the show's interactivity, and it's an atmosphere assumed and expertly conducted by ‘Lydia' the story's mouthy, frilly-wigged and faux-fur coat wearing narrator. Reigning high above the stage, Lydia does everything from casting the roles to (convincingly!) making the creaky door sound effects. She wisely gives the only female in the troupe (Patrycja Kujawska) the role of the tragic heroine, leaving the men to vie for remaining roles as her adopted mother, hard-hearted priest, smitten soldier and of course the dastardly shoemaker. And thus the story unfolds, where once the Girl ignores her mother and dares to wear her new red shoes in church, she is damned to dance and writhe until she can move no more.

With a beautiful live musical accompaniment, Kujawska simply shines as a striking mix of Samantha Morton and Sinead O'Connor, with a dash of Maria Falconetti's iconic Joan of Arc. In a perfect mix of sweetness and agony, Kujawska gives a gutsy, utterly entrancing performance that effortlessly translates the Girl's descent from seductive freedom to gruesome imprisonment. It's a testament to her spellbinding performance that it carries across the show's fun, vaudevillian interludes and through the tale's slightly overlong dénouement.

As confronting as it is comedic, The Red Shoes is certainly not for the faint of heart. The climax is more than a little nightmare-inducing, and yet, in a modern twist, the tale resolves with a literal and theological dressing down that is at once thought provoking and deeply moving. And so from a 19th century Dutch fairytale to a 21st century Cornish theatrical production, The Red Shoes continues to dance a dervish through the ages with a terrifying and inspiring vibrancy.

5 Stars

Published by Time Out Sydney
At the Seymour Centre until January 30

Thursday, January 27, 2011


This documentary comes with a warning label straight out of Fight Club: the first rule of Catfish is that you don’t talk about Catfish. Of course this makes reviewing Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost’s provocative and strikingly poignant documentary rather tricky, but it’s a cracking marketing campaign!
To skirt around spoilers, Catfish is initially the story of 24-year-old New York photographer Yaniv (Nev) Schulman, who is affectionately bullied by his brother into sharing the details of his budding online friendship with an eager young painter, Abby. What begins with a few watercolours in the mail ends up with Nev becoming Facebook friends with the whole family and, 8 months later, as a pretty full on virtual romance between Nev and Abby’s 19-year-old sister Megan. The relationship is conducted through flurry of phone calls and flirty text messages, before a few curious inconsistencies see Nev travelling cross-country with Ariel and Henry to meet Megan face-to-face.

In the wake of feted and infamous mockumentaries like Exit Through the Gift Shop and I’m Still Here it seemed inevitable that Catfish would face similar scrutiny. Queries about staged scenes on the one hand, and concerns about exploitation on the other will no doubt continue to dog the filmmakers, who, at this stage at least, are resolutely sticking to their guns. So your best bet is to give them the benefit of the doubt, and let any questions that the film might raise mingle with the reflexivity it evokes in every Facebook fanatic viewer.

The true, almost nightmarish beauty of Catfish is the all too crystal clear mirror it holds up to its audience. In what could easily be called The Social Network 2.0, this documentary questions the nature of friendship in the digital age and the lengths we go to for tangible human connection. And for all the filmmakers’ youthful bravado, the answers Nev finds are an all too human jumble of awkward, uncomfortable and deeply affecting realities; truths that will leave you pondering just how fragile and fragmented we are in this small, virtual world of ours.

Published on Concrete Playground
Australian release date: 26 January 2011

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Another Year

Mike Leigh (Vera Drake, Happy Go Lucky) has done it again. With his singular, devastatingly incisive view from the kitchen sink, Leigh has stuck at the very heart of what it is to experience love, loneliness and that benign jealousy that comes from witnessing contentment. To set the scene Leigh calls on his  Vera Drake lead Imelda Staunton, who in harsh close up delivers a powerfully raw performance as a woman seeking a cure for insomnia, yet one resolutely unwilling to broke any psychological inquiry. This stunning, severe prologue calibrates the film’s emotional barometer as Leigh navigates humanity’s highs and lows with a clear and compassionate eye.

Divided into the four seasons, Another Year centres on the unadorned but happy marriage of Tom (Jim Broadbent) and Gerri (Ruth Sheen), who have a warm relationship with their grown son Joe (Oliver Maltman) and a modest garden allotment in which they routinely potter about. They'll often invite friends over to share in their bounty, which is how Mary (Lesley Manville) and Ken (Peter Wight) feature in their lives. But as easy-going and well rounded as Tom and Gerri are, Ken and especially Mary are not. Theirs are lives of silently screaming desperation, which throws Tom and Gerri’s happiness into brutally sharp relief.

Given a firm foundation by Broadbent and Sheen, Lesley Manville absolutely steals the show. It's an extraordinary, transfixing performance, not unlike a car crash at times as Mary runs roughshod over boundaries in an attempt to bask a little longer in the warmth of Tom and Gerri's (and even Joe's) affection. The film is often like being trapped at the most painfully awkward dinner party, which is the source of as much dark humour as pathos.

So while outwardly it might seem like not a lot goes down in Another Year, Leigh's unobtrusive filming reveals volumes about the nature of friends and family. Part cautionary tale (heaven forefend that you’re a 'Mary'!), part heart-warming tribute, Leigh has weaved together this patchwork of personalities and masterfully crafted Another Year into one of 2011's cinematic gems.

 Published on Concrete Playground
Australian release date: 26 January 2010 

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Fighter

Ok now, what is it with Christian Bale starving himself for roles? Playing a crack addict ex-boxer, he’s not quite as emaciated as he was in The Machinist, but not far off. Then again, he’s just taken home the Golden Globe, so he must be doing something right. Sharing this golden glory is a very deserving Melissa Leo, who plays the ferocious matriarch Alice Ward in this true story that was simply made for the silver screen.

With big hair and broad accents, the working class Ward/Eklund clan of nine (!) lay all their hopes at the feet of boxing half-brothers Dicky Ecklund (Bale) and Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg). As the erstwhile town hero, the ‘Pride of Lowell,’ who once went toe-to-toe with the Sugar Ray Leonard, Dicky may be the aforementioned skeletal shadow of his former self, but that doesn’t mean he’s done hogging the spotlight. On the contrary, this larger than life character sucks all the oxygen from the room as his younger brother struggles to make his own way in the brutal world of boxing. Their inevitable fraternal falling out is helped along by Micky’s strident, scrappy girlfriend Charlene (Amy Adams), yet Micky must ultimately decide who he wants in his corner for his world title bout.

As a boxing film and family drama, The Fighter doles out just what the doctor ordered. It’s astutely crafted, superbly acted and surprisingly funny alongside the requisite training montages and thickly applied themes. In fact in many ways, the film is akin to its lead actor Wahlberg: solid, committed and with just enough spark to ward off the blandness.

It’s Bale who brings all the bells and whistles to the film with his obnoxiously over the top performance, while Leo quietly steals her scenes out from under him. Adams is somewhere on the sidelines, furiously attempting to rough up her peaches-and-cream persona, and mostly succeeding. And though The Fighter is obviously a passion project for Wahlberg — himself one of nine children and a long time friend of Ward’s — he wisely doesn’t compete with Bale’s pyrotechnics, focusing instead on getting ripped and getting thumped.

Similarly, director David O. Russell (Three Kings, I Heart Huckabees) seems to have reigned himself in. This is his third collaboration with Wahlberg and yet he too appears to be playing second fiddle to this compelling true, albeit largely overwritten, story. But despite the fact that most of the edges have been buffed out — even with the presence of a crack addict — The Fighter still has enough grunt make it a hefty cinematic contender.

Published on Concrete Playground
Australian release date: 20 January 2011

Sunday, January 23, 2011

One for the Road - Tiny Dancer

Next month my museo friend Mike Rosenberg, AKA Passenger is going on an Australian tour with Old Man River.

This is the genius promo video for their One For the Road Tour

And the Almost Famous original for comparison :)

The tour runs from February 9 - March 6 - check the Facebook page for more details.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Starlight Cinema

For those on the northside of Sydney, the Starlight Cinema is summer's cinematic staple. It might not have the location bragging rights of the Moonlight or the Open Air Cinemas, but North Sydney Oval does have the grandstand as a handy wet weather option should summer storms conspire to scupper your evening.

This year's line up is also something to crow about. The programme says it's going for theme nights, such as: Action-Packed Wednesdays, Comedy & Adventure Thursdays, Fun & Romance Fridays, Big Movie Saturdays and Young & Free Sundays. But gimmicks aside, you just need to look at the line up to start plugging dates into your 2011 diary. Titles like The Social Network, Toy Story 3, Easy A, Made in Dagenham and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows have already made the Concrete Playground cut this year. Similarly Black Swan, Boy, The Kids are All Right, Despicable Me, The King’s Speech and Somewhere are firm favourites, while Breakfast at Tiffany's never gets old, especially on Valentine's Day.

So if you happen to be behind on your film watching, or simply fancy revisiting some of your cinematic highlights from 2010, then North Sydney has just the spot, under the stars.

The Starlight Cinema season runs from 19 January - 5 March 2011 

Published on Concrete Playground

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


This film should come with a two-drink minimum. Seriously, anyone who can sit sober through this garish and ridiculously long (119 minutes) train wreck must have taken leave from their wits. Even with a couple of beers under your belt, it’s highly likely Christina Aguilera’s acting will have you eyeing the exits. As Ali, an insipid small-town-girl-with-stars-in-her-eyes, Aguilera resolutely proves that she shouldn’t quit her day job, but then again the girl certainly has stage presence and no one can say she doesn’t have a gob-smacking set of pipes.

Moving to La La Land, Ali tries in vain to peddle her singing talents, before ending up waiting tables again, though this time in Tess’ (Cher) cavernous and financially strapped club. There she lusts to be on stage, learning all the routines and appealing to Tess and her partner in crime, Sean (Stanley Tucci) every chance she gets. Of course she ends up in the spotlight, which sets up a lukewarm love triangle between her engaged roommate Jack (The OC bad boy Cam Gigandet) and Marcus (Eric Dane) who essentially plays a richer version of his Grey’s Anatomy McSteamy.

At it’s best, Burlesque plays like an extended version of Moulin Rouge!’s Lady Marmalade music video, except the latter was better directed. And it probably had more to do with actual burlesque than the watered down Pussycat Dolls routines this film offers. In fact, despite Aguilera’s voice and the mildly diverting girls mincing around in tiny, sparkly outfits, Burlesque’s entire routine is remarkably forgettable.

Published by Street Press Australia
Burlesque is currently screening in theatres

Monday, January 17, 2011


We all grew up with the Brothers Grimm fable of Rapunzel’s long tresses and her handsome rescuer. And while following the general gist, Tangled sees our fair maiden and her valiant hero get a 21st Century overhaul, complete with gumption, sass and comical animal sidekicks. Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) is no shrinking violet, instead she’s full of passion, whimsy and she’s deadly with a frypan, while her ‘prince’ Flynn Ryder (Zachary Levi) has been reinvented as a thief and all around lovable rogue. The evil Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy) gets a similar facelift (in many senses of the term), refashioned as an animated Mommie Dearest, but even she can’t compare with the scene stealing horse Maximus. Yes, helmed by the team behind wonder dog Bolt, so it’s no surprise that they give a lot of airtime to the noble palace steed, though fortunately to hilarious effect.

With a dash of Indiana Jones added to the musical mix, a lot is riding on this suped-up version of Rapunzel. It marks Disney’s final foray into the realm of fairytales (though perhaps, like Tinkerbell, if we clap loudly enough the fables will return). But in marking the end of an era, Tangled also paints a picture of what we can expect from future Disney fare: inventive action, characters laced with enough irony for adults to giggle, and a leaf or two borrowed from the Pixar playbook of superb 3D craftsmanship. So yes, if Tangled is anything to go by, Disney’s future is looking very bright indeed.

Published by Street Press Australia
Tangled is screening in cinemas now
You can also click HERE to see me talking about Tangled on The Movie Club.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Alexandre Desplat

I've just spent a delightful hour listening to WQXR Movies on the Radio, in which host David Garland featured the amazing work of Alexandre Desplat.

Desplat seems to be the man behind every film score that captures my attention (just look at his staggering filmography!). A quick look back at my film reviews, and yup, I've highlighted Desplat's work in The Ghost Writer, the latest Harry Potter and of course The King's Speech, the soundtrack to which I've been listening to non-stop. And after loving every song featured on this program, I'm sure a few other Desplat soundtracks will soon be added to my iTunes.

You can stream the radio show below, or via the website. Enjoy!

Thanks to Dana Stevens for sharing (and live tweeting!) this wonderful link :)

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Short film meets the sea for another year with the 20th annual Flickerfest, and this time they're boasting a pithy tagline: May the Shorts Be With You!

Yes, pack a Star Wars inspired pun or two for your trip to Bondi Pavilion and get in amongst the creative force of the world's premiere short filmmakers. Whittled down from a record 1793 entries, this year’s 100 strong programme looks set to be a stunning way to kick off your cinematic new year.
Amongst the Australian entries for the Academy Award accredited festival is the World Premiere of The Telegram Man. This World War II drama stars Jack Thompson, Gary Sweet and Sigrid Thornton and takes the similar point of view as the recent American tale The Messenger. Brendan Cowell fronts another World Premiere film, Bee Sting, about a father and son falling for the same woman, while audience will get the chance to experience Ariel Kleinman's superb submarine drama Deeper Than Yesterday, which won prizes at both Cannes and the Sydney Film Festival.

Another prize-winner at Cannes, Serge Avedikian's animated Chienne d'Histoire is part of the an impressive international line up, which also includes the recently Academy Award shortlisted Ana’s Playground and the Sundance selected Echo. Magnus von Horn’s Echo — about two boys facing the consequences of their crime — is screening as part of the festival’s Spotlight on Poland, which includes Bartek Kulas’ Polish vision of a character from a Nick Cave ballad, Millhaven.

Other programme highlights include a selection of environmentally conscious shorts screening as part of GreenFlicks, as well as documentaries, comedy shorts, the Flicker Kids specials and of course the Star Wars Tribute. The 1977 classic spoof Hardware Wars is a must-see (it's even George Lucas' favourite), while another affectionate tribute, Star Wars Retold, lets someone who has never seen the film take a crack at recounting the saga.

As ever, Bondi is only the first stop in Flickerfest's national tour, so this great selection of shorts will be with us for quite a while after all.

Published on Concrete Playground

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Open Air Cinema

This post was published on Concrete Playground prior to the advanced ticket sales. Nb. Limited tickets can be purchased at the gate each night. It's definitely worth trying your luck!

Oprah and U2 might have been in town, but you'd better believe the hottest tickets up for grabs now are for the movies. The Open Air Cinema certainly pulls rock concert figures, selling 30,000 in the first hour last year and exhausting advanced tickets completely within 12 hours.
So you'd better be on your toes today as this year's line up is set to impress. A gamut of Oscar favourites are heading to Mrs Macquarie's Point, with Darren Aronofsky's exquisitely terrifying Black Swan, David Fincher's Facebook fable The Social Network and the compelling true stories currently bowling over critics: The King's Speech and The Fighter.

Other films befitting the stellar surrounds include David Michod's crime epic Animal Kingdom, James Franco's gobsmacking performance in 127 Hours, the pitch-perfect family dramedy The Kids Are All Right and Christopher Nolan's mind and architecture-warping Inception.
Then there are those films most compatible to the event's well stocked bar and gourmet food. These include Cher and Christina Aguilera's opening night number Burlesque, Ange and Johnny's high gloss travels in The Tourist, as well as the array of comedies like Ben Stiller's The Little Fockers, Morning Glory, and Vince Vaughn's latest, The Dilemma.

36 nights of film in arguably Sydney's most envy-inducing location 3 IF you can score some tickets! 9am Thursday 15 December: you know what you need to do.

Open Air Cinema season runs from 12 January - 19 February 2011

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Trailer: Catfish

If this film isn't on your radar, it needs to be. But, that's all you need to know. As the synopsis warns:

The less you know about Catfish the better. Whatever you learn, don't give away the ending to others. To spoil this movie is unforgiveable. It's unlike any documentary you've ever seen before.
It starts out with New York photographer Nev Schulman, filmmaker brother Ariel and friend Henry making a film about an 8 year-old girl named Abby from Michigan, who painted an immaculate picture of one of Nev's photographs. The painting is mailed to Nev, and soon a friendship is born. Nev starts talking to Abby's mother, Angela, and her half-sister Megan. They all have Facebook pages, and soon Nev begins Facebook relationships with all three. His friendship with Megan, a pretty blonde twenty-something, escalates into sexually charged exchanges, and he starts to really care for her. What happens next is a sheer surprise and this funny, clever and loveable little documentary becomes a fascinating, breathtaking, heartbreaking, edge-of-your-seat look at human nature in our digital age. The internet-Facebook-iphone world we've built for ourselves will never look the same again.

Australian release date: 26 January 2011

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Sartorialist

I'm a huge fan of photographer Scott Schumann and his digital alter ego The Sartorialist. His blog is a daily go to for me...yes, even this uninspired jeans and t-shirt uniformed film critic. So I was pleasantly surprised to see our worlds combine a little with this stylish short documentary:

To join this digital park bench filled with beautiful pictures of wonderful people, do yourself a favour and add The Sartorialist to your Google Reader, or if you're old school I can even recommend his book!

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Movie Club: Tangled

It was a delightful animation double bill last time I joined Michael Adams and Chris Murray on The Movie Club. I've already posted our episode on Megamind so now it's time to swoon over Disney's Tangled.

Click HERE to see the episode, and if you need confirmation that Disney is indeed calling it quits on fairytales, then see THIS article from the LA Times.

Tangled is now screening in Australian cinemas.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Posters: Black Swan

I've already raved about the poster and trailer for Black Swan, but will you just LOOK at these beauties by La Boca! My fave design/crafty goodness blog Love You Big (by one of my favourite people) has already featured these and I just had to spread the love.


In other news, I've already filed my review of Black Swan, which will be published in an upcoming edition of The Big Issue, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Morning Glory

You just need to take a look at the pedigree of Morning Glory to know what you're in for. It's directed by Roger Michell (Notting Hill), written by The Devil Wears Prada and 27 Dresses scribe Aline Brosh McKenna and produced by Mr. Felicity himself, J.J. Abrams. And indeed, the result feels remarkably like a mashup of all of these titles; a paint-by-numbers rehash that almost manages to be so much less than the sum of its parts.

Perhaps that’s not entirely fair. Morning Glory (and no, there is no pun intended with the title) kicks off with promise (no pun intended here either). For one it’s lead by the impossibly endearing Rachel McAdams (The Notebook), whose big, bright eyes and infectious enthusiasm positively leap off the screen. She is workaholic morning producer Becky Fuller, who gets retrenched instead of promoted from her New Jersey job and winds up securing a hospital pass of an executive producer spot for a flagging national morning news show, Daybreak. Full of vim and vigour, Becky launches herself into the role, and lays her hopes of revitalisation on securing the talents of former news anchor and heavyweight Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford) to co-host with bubbly, if heavily medicated, ex-beauty queen Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton). Let the hilarity and colourful montages ensue.

But wait, what about a love interest? Cue Patrick Wilson (Hard Candy), collecting a paycheck as the cute co-worker who teaches the plucky Becky that there's more to life than work. Yes, it's that blatant. Tack on a clumsily written father complex so Becky and the cantankerous Mike can have a heart-to-heart and Morning Glory starts to wilt in front of your eyes.

There must have been serious problems along the way because this film feels like it's been edited with a hacksaw. Continuity is all over the place and some dodgy ADR smacks of last minute rewrites. It's a shame, because for all the predictability because elements of film had such crowd-pleasing potential. McAdams is delightful, and Keaton could have been if someone had given her more to do. As the network boss, Jeff Goldblum wrangles the most laughs, while Ford elicits a few chuckles as he grizzles through his lines 'Get off my lawn' style and Wilson is entirely wasted, relegated to twinkling eyes and white teeth.

If you manage your expectations, Morning Glory is an adequately diverting way to escape the summer sun for a couple of hours. But for those still basking in the glittering promise of new years resolutions, this film's ham-fisted flaws will be enough to ruin your chi.

Published on Concrete Playground
Australian release date: 6 January 2011

Morning Glory - Trailer A - Paramount Pictures Australia
Uploaded by Paramount_Australia. - Check out other Film & TV videos.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Top 10 of 2010

Happy New Year Blogosphere!

I hope you've all had bubbly and fun-filled New Years Eve celebrations! I'm still recovering from a night at The Rocks, sipping Chandon and reveling in Sydney's bombastic fireworks with some of my best friends. So while we wait to see what 2011 has to offer, let's look back at the cinematic best of 2010.

For a second year, the priceless Matt Ravier has polled Sydney film critics and compiled the best of Australia's theatrically released and unreleased movies. What took out the top spots? Head over to A Life in Film to find out.

And here my picks, with links to my reviews where possible, as well as a quick blurb rounding up the year (read: trying to cram in as many of my film favourites as possible).


  1. Toy Story 3
  2. The Social Network
  3. Animal Kingdom
  4. The King’s Speech
  5. The Kids Are All Right
  6. Blue Valentine
  7. The White Ribbon
  8. Fish Tank
  9. Exit Through The Gift Shop
  10. Cairo Time


  1. Black Swan
  2. Bill Cunningham New York
  3. Babies
  4. Hesher
  5. Howl
  6. Last Train Home
  7. How I Ended This Summer
  8. Cyrus
  9. Restrepo
  10. If I Want to Whistle I Whistle
As a critic who detests giving star ratings, ranking these lists is tantamount to torture. This year felt particularly anxiety inducing as a hefty number of films worked their magic on me. Considering Up trumped my list last year, it’s probably no surprise to see Pixar take line honours once again. I am however, quietly pleased to see a trio of female filmmakers make my list; with various iterations also including Debra Granik’s masterful Winter’s Bone and Sophia Coppola’s enchanting (and divisive!) Somewhere. So too Australian films, with the epic Animal Kingdom and exquisite The King’s Speech representing on a list that could also have included The Waiting City and special mention for Animal Logic’s mind-blowing efforts with Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole. While across the Tasman, Taika Waititi’s charming Boy absolutely deserves consideration, but in the end, my pure love for Patricia Clarkson won out. Meet you in Cairo.

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