In the acclaimed 2008 crime epic Gomorrah, Matteo Garrone depicted contemporary Italian life as something close to Hell. In Reality, which at least is much lighter, he takes us to much the same place.
First to a grotesque and overwrought wedding party in Naples, and later to a grimly over-bright mall, where hopeful (and basically hopeless) contestants to a Big Brother reality show are being auditioned. The central character is Luciano (Aniello Arena), a lively fishmonger and part-time scam artist. At the wedding he encounters Enzo (Raffele Ferrante) a Big Brother contestant who has become a national pop culture hero. Luciano becomes totally obsessed with becoming a cast member on the show himself – an ambition that skews his perceptions and leads to madness.
Garrone has excelled himself here, his big scenes are dazzling, funny and fantastically bizarre – it’s impossible not to use the word “Felliniesque.” A prize winner at Cannes in 2012, Reality is the sort of film that sticks in your head for days – like a vivid and hyper-real dream you wish you could forget.
M15+ at Chauvel Cinema from July 4.
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Man Of Steel
For Russell Crowe so loved his world, he gave his only son – the impossibly chiselled Henry Cavill. Who would look right at home on the cover of GQ, but his exact mission on Earth is somewhat confusing. Kansas is destroyed in a tussle with Krypton warlord Zod (Michael Shannon), then New York in surely that city’s most spectacular (certainly its loudest) 3D obliteration ever.
Fortunately the Daily Planet’s HQ is spared for when Superman (now Clark Kent) finally discovers his purpose – to be print journalist! What a career choice in 2013! At least there won’t be a sequel.
M15+ on now
We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks
How should we assess the WikiLeaks debacle now? The Julian Assange fan club may prefer to wait for the forthcoming fictionalised version starring Benedict Cumberbatch.
Prolific doco maker Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room) was not granted an interview, though he has plenty of rarely seen footage of the great man at work. Gibney lets him speak for himself.
Initially he appears as enamoured by Assange’s self-appointed role as many of us were, and he does maintain an even-handed approach throughout. But the hubris that emerges is not always pretty. The words of so many estranged colleagues do make us wonder, as do the very murky details of the Bradley Manning affair – and then there’s the real-world consequences of the leaks.
This is a timely account of a courageous outsider, an erratic and foolhardy man who dived into the deep end of the pool. Then stayed in, way, way over his head.
M15+ from July 4
Everybody Has A Plan
Maybe everyone does have a plan, though Augustin (Viggo Mortensen, a long way away from Aragorn) doesn’t appear to have a clue what he’s doing.
Fleeing from a middle class marriage and prosperous career as a Buenos Aires pediatrician, he takes the place of his suicidal and terminally ill twin Pedro (Mortensen again) in a rag-tag river town – only to find himself ensnared by his brother’s criminal past.
Other existential thrillers (Antonioni’s The Passenger) have explored this terrain before, and lovers of moody, beautifully filmed but ponderously impenetrable mysteries will find much to enjoy and puzzle over.
Though debut Argentinian director Ana Piterbarg has left most of the work to us. We may look into that murky river water, and see nothing.
MA15+ from June 27.
Reviews – Russell Edwards