Saturday, April 30, 2011

Slate Spoiler Special: Cave of Forgotten Dreams

***Update: Australian release date 22 September 2011
Click HERE to read my interview with cinematographer Peter Zeitlinger, and HERE to hear me review the film on 702 ABC Sydney.

During my recent trip to New York I had the great pleasure of meeting up with Slate's brilliant movie critic Dana Stevens to attend a special Q&A screening of Werner Herzog's new documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams.

It was a pinch-me-is-this-real kind of night, and one made all the more marvellous by the fact that Dana and I got to geek out over the film while recording a Slate Spoiler Special together.

You can read Dana's beautifully penned review HERE and download the podcast HERE.

Last year Dana and I 'spoiled' Get Him To the Greek (read more HERE), with me on the phone in Sydney and the clock ticking over past 1am. So what a treat to sit in Slate's studio with Dana. Fingers crossed I'll be back there again one day!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

BAFTA Arvo Tea

Where I had coffee this afternoon.

With the absolutely delightful Francine Stock.

Yup, no big deal. Nope, not geeking out in the slightest.

Friday, April 22, 2011

BBC Visitor

So something pretty shiny happened today: I went into the BBC Broadcasting House to chat with Francine Stock on her wonderful Radio 4 Film Programme. (Yes, of course I nabbed my visitor pass as proof!) It was such a delight speaking with her, and I'll be sure to link to the podcast when it goes live. In the meantime, you can subscribe to The Film Programme HERE - and you definitely should!

Now that's what I call the perfect Easter present - have a great long weekend everyone!

Monday, April 11, 2011

DVD: Please Give

Nicole Holofcener's peculiar brand of comedic, upper-middle class miserablism finds a pitch-perfect setting on the streets of New York. Once again proving her mastery of the ensemble cast, Holofcener has gathered the likes of Oliver Platt, Rebecca Hall and Amanda Peet, alongside her cinematic staple Catherine Keener, to play out a neighbourly charade.

Kate and Alex (Keener and Platt) make a morally questionable living running a furniture store stocked with antiques they’ve bought on the cheap from grieving relatives. Their wealth has also allowed them to purchase the apartment next door, currently occupied by a wizened old crone, Andra (Ann Morgan Guilbert), for whom they must impatiently wait to pass away before they can begin their dream renovation. Andra’s two granddaughters (Hall and Peet) meet Kate, Alex and their spotty teenage daughter, Abby (Sarah Steele), for a birthday celebration, after which their lives become more intimately connected.

Please Give takes its place in Holofcener’s filmography (Walking and Talking, Lovely & Amazing, Friends with Money) as another shrewd, strongly written, female-driven dramedy. Relationships, death, guilt, money: Holofcener takes pretty much everything you’re not supposed to talk about at a dinner party and spins it into a ruefully awkward, bone-dry comedy. And don’t go expecting a rosy Hollywood ending either, for what Holofcener serves up instead will surely set chins wagging as you leave the cinema.

Published in Concrete Playground
Please Give is now available on DVD

Friday, April 8, 2011

DVD: Fish Tank

Andrea Arnold may currently be adapting Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, but the Academy Award-winning director has already etched her own canonical cinematic work. Thematically, visually and viscerally, Fish Tank is a remarkable achievement; a coming-of-age story that puts a contemporary and gendered twist on the Angry Young Men oeuvre of 1960s British Cinema.

Fish Tank is the story of Mia (Katie Jarvis), a 15-year-old tearaway rattling around the rusty cage of council estate Essex. A powder keg of attitude and hormones, the only thing that keeps Mia sane is hip hop dancing and drinking cider. But when her pretty young mum Joanne (Kierston Wareing) brings home Connor (Michael Fassbender), Mia is soon warily enamoured of his kindly consideration and driven to distraction by his beautiful physique.

In what is tantamount to a dance of young lust and devastating naïveté, Arnold’s camera bears witness to Mia’s transformation as well as her entrapment. While the symbols of her captivity are perhaps a little overplayed, with Jarvis, Fassbender and Wareing Arnold achieves an utterly mesmerising pas de trois. Indeed, Jarvis is a force of nature in her debut role, while Fassbender effortlessly balances a palpable sexuality with warm, fatherly concern. Combined, it’s a potent, unforgettable mix and one that Arnold corrals into her striking and seductive crucible, the fish tank.

Published on Concrete Playground
Fish Tank is now available on DVD

Thursday, April 7, 2011

On Tour

Yes, this is why I've been tardy with my posts.

A very dear friend's wedding whisked me off to Dubai, where three days of absolutely stunning, Indian-inspired festivities certainly left an impression.

Now I've travelled on to London to stay with a pair of my favourite people, indulge in delicious food (plus a cooking lesson or three) and bask in friends, coffee, culture and (you better believe it!) London's spring sunshine.
Enjoying an afternoon coffee at Monmouth

Next, it's off to Amsterdam for the weekend, followed by New York and finally my beloved Deutschland. But never fear, there promises to be some film surprises along the stay tuned!

And in the meantime, here's a quick rundown of what got me through the punishing flight schedules:

Life as We Know It = a surprisingly good plane film. There was (slightly) more depth to it than I'd originally dismissed it for, plus enough colour, movement and aww shucks moments to be sufficiently distracting.

The Romantics (aka. my unwitting Josh Duhamel double bill) = Rachel Getting Married meets The Big Chill - Lite. Unimpressive, distractingly edited and - considering the subject matter - actually quite dreary. Though Katie Holmes does manage to show a little spirit, it's no Pieces of April.

Jack Goes Boating = utterly charming and an instant favourite. Call it the jet lag, but I found the tone of these two odd-bods finding romance echoed Griff the Invisible. Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Ryan are pitch-perfect, though I found the countervailing thread of the best friends' (wonderfully portrayed by John Ortiz and Daphne Rubin-Vega) marriage unravelling a little forced.

Tangled = the perfect plane film. Hilariously fun and bursting with energy, which is such a shot in the arm after hours and hours (and hours!) of cramped and uncomfortable sitting. I've already raved about this marvellous film, so anyone holding off because it's an animation or the Rapunzel story must rethink immediately!

Red = shameless fun. I enjoyed this retired spy romp on the big screen (Bruce Willis stepping - guns blazing - out of a spinning car is just genius!), but after extensive delays on an already rudely timed flight (2am!), the action, guns and Helen Mirren combo were a sight for bleary eyes.

Last but not least, I spent a fair bit of time trying to stifle my laughs through some episodes of Community. I'm a recently new and totally evangelical convert to this genius comedy, but out of respect for the sleeping passengers around me, I eventually forced myself to switch it off. Holding back belly laughs was starting to look like I was convulsing.

What films have helped you through the tedium of long haul flights?
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