Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Spoiler Guys Podcast: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

This week on the Spoiler Guys podcast we thought we'd offer you some Oscars counter-programming...then we saw Seth's performance. Ahem.

In any case, listen to our review on Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters please swing by iTunes (if you fancied leaving a rating or a few words, even better!) or stream below:

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Spoiler Guys Podcast: Lincoln

This week the Spoiler Guys request an audience with Honest Abe and his cinematic champion Steven Spielberg, to give them both a piece of our minds. For Marc Fennell, that means a reedit! But you'll have to tune in to hear why.

I'm also absolutely thrilled to share that the podcast hit #1 on the iTunes Australia Top 10 Tv & Film Podcasts! Knock me over with a feather! I'm so very chuffed - so thank you all for your support.

If you feel like sharing the love yet further, please head over to iTunes and leave a rating or a comment. And of course you can stream the podcast via Soundcloud below:

Monday, February 18, 2013

Slate Spoiler Special: A Good Day to Die Hard

Those of you who follow my shenanigans on Twitter will know that I've stolen back over to the USA (Hello from snowy Maine!). And on my trip to NYC, I had the great pleasure of catching up again with the singular Dana Stevens - Slate's brilliant movie critic.

We hung out at a recording of our friend Jesse Baker's brilliant new programme for NPR: Ask Me Another (the trivia night you could only dream of hosting yourself), then we set about recording ourselves. Returning to the studio at Slate, Dana and Chris Wade generously allowed me to gatecrash their Spoiler Special on A Good Day to Die Hard.

Yes, ok, I cheated on my Spoiler Guys, but just allow me to plead the postcode rule, alright? Plus, as I mention in the podcast, the Spoiler Guys are a shameless rip off of Dana's show!

Now the Australian release date isn't until, 21 March 2013, but don't let that stop you subscribing to Dana's podcast in iTunes, where you can catch up on old episodes, including the ones she and I have recorded together.

Many thanks again to Dana and Chris for having me, it was fabulous fun!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Spoiler Guys Podcast: Zero Dark Thirty

So I may have stolen away to the USA this month to visit family and friends. I'm currently in NYC, which makes this week's Spoiler Guys podcast on Zero Dark Thirty all the more pertinent.

Marc, Giles and I wade into the controversial waters surrounding the film's depiction of torture, as well as pondering why so many Aussies can be spied amongst Seal Team Six. I also manage to butcher poor Jessica Chastain's name (sorry again, Jessica!), as well as suggesting a rather off pieste correlation between Zero Dark Thirty and Joss Whedon's Serenity (really!).
Please subscribe via iTunes, where we have climbed the ranks to #5 in iTunes Top 10 TV & Film podcasts (huzzah!), or you can stream via Soundcloud below.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

*Closed* Giveaway: LORE Blu Ray

Wunderbar! To celebrate today's DVD, Blu Ray and digital download release of Cate Shortland's luminous Lore, I'm delighted to announce a give away!

Thanks to the Fabelhaft team at Transmission, I have five Blu-Rays (RRP $44.95) to send to five lucky film lovers.

Now I am unapologetically in love with Lore. You can read my Limelight Magazine review HERE, where I called the film "an unforgettable journey into the heart of Germany's dark past."

I also had the great pleasure of interviewing Cate Shortland and her lovely star Saskia Rosendahl for a Sydney Film Festival Apple Store Talk. You can take a listen HERE.

Or you can just take a read of the official synopsis:
Stranded with her younger siblings after their Nazi parents are imprisoned, Lore leads the remains of her family across war-torn Germany in 1945. To survive, the children must reach their Grandmother’s house in the North. Amidst the chaos of a defeated nation, Lore encounters the mysterious and intriguing Thomas, a young Jewish refugee. Unwanted, unwelcome, Thomas follows them and Lore finds her fragile reality shattered by feelings of both hatred and desire.
To live, she must learn to trust a person she has been taught to hate. And as the consequences of her parents’ actions and beliefs become apparent, Lore must also start to face the darkness within herself.

To win one of five Blu Rays simply email me (subject: Lore Blu Ray) with your name and address (Australian residents only - sorry!). Winners will be notified by reply. 

Spoiler Guys Podcast: Silver Linings Playbook

In the latest Spoiler Guys episode, I admit to watching too much In Treatment, I cop to a slight obsession with Lululemon, but mostly, I just have a lot of fun reviewing Silver Linings Playbook with Marc and Giles.

I'm also thrilled to announce that the Spoiler Guys have made the iTunes Top 10 TV & Film podcasts! Such amazing news! So thank you to all our subscribers.

 Please keep up the good work over on iTunes, or tune into the latest podcast below:

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

TheVine: Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Linings Playbook puts the “fun” in “dysfunction.”

And sure, that sounds glib, but actually, it’s a rather extraordinary achievement. Especially when you’re skirting on the edges of sanity. 

By detaching the family drama from the kitchen-sink, writer-director David O. Russell instead serves up a freewheeling and spikily energetic portrait of manic depression - and a few other pathologies besides. More incongruous still, the whole story is packaged as a romantic comedy. Call him crazy, but it works!

Bradley Cooper knocks it out of the park as the bi-polar former teacher in high pursuit of his new lease on life. After 8-months in a mental institution, Pat is champing at the bit to get back out into the world, win back his wife and thus achieve ‘Excelsior’. There’s just a small matter of a restraining order…but let’s not spoil why.

Pat’s parents Dolores (Jacki Weaver) and Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro) welcome him back to the family home with a wary optimism. They put up with his late night rants and daytime – garbage bag wearing - jogs around the neighbourhood, so long as he attends his sessions with Dr. Cliff (Anupam Kher). Though it soon becomes apparent that Pat isn’t alone in his ‘craziness,’ as De Niro delivers his best performance in an age as a painfully superstitious and obsessive-compulsive sports-fan.

Then, literally running into Pat’s life, comes Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a young widow and fellow troubled soul, who is searching for her own silver lining by way of a dance competition. After comparing pathologies, and pharmaceuticals, the pair strikes up a bargain, and thence the makings of this plucky romantic comedy.

Balancing tone with all the skill of a tightrope walker, O. Russell’s superb direction brings remarkable warmth and shades of humour to life’s inherent messiness. And the secret seems to be his uncanny ability to place his audience right into the laps of his onscreen family, without the faintest whiff of judgment or derision. It is the same coup he pulled off with The Fighter – where the action is so richly rooted within a working-class family – though, tonally, this story feels more akin to O. Russell’s 2004 existential romp I Heart Huckabees.

The real surprise, however, comes from leading man Bradley Cooper. For this reviewer, Cooper’s cat-that-got-the-cream routine has always proven more than a little off-putting. But in O. Russell’s hands, Cooper wields Pat’s manic enthusiasm with impressive skill. It’s certainly a career defining performance, and one that is matched step-for-step by the impossibly talented Jennifer Lawrence. Proving she can turn her hand to anything – from eating squirrels in Winter’s Bone to strident slutishness here – Lawrence even manages to effortlessly best De Niro in one of the film’s many fabulously dysfunctional scenes.

With such a strong cast, however, it’s a wonder O. Russell felt the need to close out the film with some comparatively trite and entirely superfluous narration. Presumably, it’s a holdover from Matthew Quick’s novel, yet the effect feels like fortune-cookie wisdom, which is a disappointing note to end on after the film’s fabulously dry humour, and absolutely brilliant dance climax. But this is a minor quibble in what is a sure-fire charmer.

Indeed Silver Linings Playbook is a film destined for compulsive viewing.

Published on TheVine
Australian release date: 31 January 2013
Listen to The Spoiler Guys review HERE

Monday, February 4, 2013

TheVine: The Guilt Trip

Here’s what you need to know about The Guilt Trip: this is not a Seth Rogen stoner comedy. This film is all about Barbra Streisand

I.e. This is a movie for your Mum.

Consider yourselves warned. For anyone going in expecting Pineapple Express or Knocked Up will be in for a rude shock, as Babs takes center stage in what is actually a largely delightful, if run-of-the-mill, comedy. And with expectations managed, it might just prove fun for the whole family.

The story is paper-thin: after tanking his pitch at Kmart, hapless scientist Andy Brewster (Rogen) is going on a cross-country road trip to spruik his organic cleaning detergent. Calling in on his long-widowed, entirely overbearing New Jersey mother, Joyce (Streisand), Andy makes the rash decision to bring her along for the ride. He regrets the invitation as soon as he extends it, but goes ahead with his mollycoddling sidekick, though he’s now driving 3000 miles in a shitty compact rather than the SUV he’d booked, and suffering through Jeffrey Eugenides Middlesex on tape (nb. actually a fantastic novel if you haven’t read it).

Cue various, conveniently-timed hijinks - as required by the road movie – as well as similarly telegraphed emotional turmoil, as Andy’s pitches continue to fail and Joyce’s meddling pushes him to breaking point. 

The question is: how’s the comedy?

Well, this is where expectations come back into play. Caustic, rude and crude The Guilt Trip most certainly is not. Hell, don’t even expect much wit. Rogen spends far too much time being the exasperated straight man to bring any real banter to the table, though when he does, you’ll certainly giggle. And while Streisand proves she can nag like an absolute champion, art threatens to imitate life where you start to tune her out. Fortunately, she’s just so darned watchable, so even if the yammering starts to wear thin, you never stop rooting for her.

Case in point: Joyce is given a preposterous set piece in a steak house, where she accepts a challenge to down a ginormous hunk of meat in under an hour. The scene is written and directed with all the alacrity of an infomercial, and yet somehow Streisand – through shear force of comedic will – salvages the scene. Some actors you’d pay to watch read the phonebook; turns out it’s worth paying to see Streisand eat a steak. 

Yes, director Anne Fletcher has one again saved the day with her casting. Her previous film, The Proposal (no, I’m not even going to mention the insufferable 27 Dresses), is far better than it deserves to be thanks to the crackling chemistry between Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. And although this is a step down from screenwriter Dan Fogelman’s recent success with Crazy, Stupid, Love, he too is held aloft by Streisand and Rogen’s naturally endearing qualities.

The biggest shame about this film is that they haven’t timed the release with Mother’s Day, because The Guilt Trip would make an amusing trip to the cinema with your Mum – where you could share a tub of popcorn…and a side of knowing eye-rolling.

Published on TheVine
Australian release date: 24 January 2013

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