Movies – 232

Young & Beautiful

François Ozon’s films are always worth watching, and he’s given us youthful rebels (In the House) and sexually mischievous teens (Swimming Pool) before. But none quite like Isabelle.

Played by former model Marine Vacth, beautiful 17 year-old Parisian schoolgirl Isabelle casually rids herself of her virginity during a family beach holiday. And in the very next chapter of this four-part morality play, she’s donning her mum’s stilettos and silks and setting herself up as a pro. But why? Rebellion against bourgeois morality, Internet porn, or simply teenage boredom?

After one of her gigs ends badly, her deeply traumatised mother (Géraldine Pailhas) finds out and drags her off to a shrink. But despite sitting in on some sessions, we still learn little of her motives.

Tagged as an “unforgettable coming of age story” (yes, we won’t forget some scenes!) the main thing Isabelle learns is to always ask to be paid upfront. A valuable life lesson – this girl will go far!

R18+ from May 1.

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movies-the-doubleThe Double

Another adventurous role for Mia Wasikowska, but the real breakout performance here is Jesse Eisenberg’s, who finally gets to play someone other than his trademark fast-talking smart-ass.

He’s two people here; one a timid overworked office drone, the other, his exact physical replica, a charismatic go-getter who takes over his life.

Wildly acclaimed at Sundance, Richard Ayoade’s follow-up to his very impressive Submarine is sure to hit its mark with lovers of oddball Indies.

M15+ from May 8.

Thanks to Madman Films we have 5 double in-season passes to give away.
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movies-belleBelle

At a very young age, the illegitimate daughter of a Royal Navy captain is sent to live with her uncle, the Earl of Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) in Hampstead. There she grows up to become a beautiful young woman known as “Dido” (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and enjoys all the wealth and privilege the Empire provided its ruling class.

Trouble is, she was black, and the prosperity of that society was based largely on black slavery.

This is a true story told with great finesse. Amma Asante fleshes out the details of Dido’s extraordinary life as she faces hypocrisies and obstacles, and even plays a role in the nation’s politics.

It’s a beautiful and lavish spectacle, one with drama and heart, and no shortage of grand ideas on gender, race and class.

PG from May 8.

Thanks to Icon Films we have 5 double in-season passes to give away.
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movies-52Tuesdays52 Tuesdays

So what would you do if your mum decided she was a man? Well, Adelaide teen Billie (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) comes home from school one day and finds her mother (Del Herbert-Jane), with whom she shares a loving relationship, is now “James”, and within a year, provided the transgender process goes smoothly, will be “Dad”.

Billie goes to live with her real father, visiting James once a week, every Tuesday. And debut director Sophie Hyde’s groundbreaking doco-style drama was made just like that – in weekly segments – charting their eventful year. Billie at first seems to take it all in her stride, but really she’s just a confused 16 year-old with a confronting situation.

Coinciding with her mum’s reassignment, Billie is exploring her own sexuality, and is soon in trouble with her own way too explicit video diary. But what could have been a lecturing “issue movie” then goes in a surprising direction.

Offbeat for sure, but brilliantly crafted and deeply affecting – this is Aussie “quirk” as it should be – fresh, brave and strong!

CTC from May 1.

Thanks to Vendetta Films we have 10 double in-season passes to give away.
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Healing

movies-healingWithout the budget and clout of US blockbusters, most Aussie Indies end up competing with an increasing number of art-house releases and foreign film festivals for local screens. It’s a tough ask, and despite good reviews, many local filmmakers see years of work either fail to see a big screen at all or vanish quickly without trace.

That latter fate may await Healing, an interesting film that may have been better targeted for Sunday night on ABC-TV. Craig Monahan, who directed the tough award-winning The Interview a decade ago, has once again teamed Hugo Weaving and Tony Martin in a prison drama. Matt (Weaving) is a rural prison farm officer with a recent personal tragedy running a rehab program based around looking after injured raptors – beautiful, fearsome proud eagles, falcons and owls. When he enlists Victor (Don Hany), a recalcitrant convicted murderer with a bad reputation, he faces his toughest challenge ever.

This is based on a true story, yet while high on worthy themes like redemption and honour, somehow credibility is lacking. Maybe we’ve all seen too many fictional jail dramas and expect prisons to be harsher and tougher places – here even the thugs (a typecast Anthony Hayes) are polite to one another.

The camp is in a particularly attractive part of rural Victoria too, so appealing that you may well want to book a weekend away there. Just don’t expect breakfast in bed…

M15+ from May 8

 


 

Fading Gigolo

movies-fadinggigoloNeither Sharon Stone nor Sofia Vergara, playing attractive and wealthy New Yorkers, look like the sort of people who would need to pay someone like underemployed handyman and plumber John Turturro for sex. Yet that’s exactly the preposterous premise of Turturro’s satire of life in Brooklyn’s Jewish enclave.

No one will be surprised that Woody Allen turns up – in fact he has a leading role. Looking more and more like someone’s great granddaddy, he plays the septuagenarian pimp Murray. Who for no good reason we can think of, figures his best friend Fioravante (Turturro), in need of cash, can service the needs of his inexplicitly over-sexed dermatologist (Stone) and start a career as a gigolo.

Allen does his usual goofy self-mocking thing delivering his (yes, very funny) salacious one-liners with such glee that we almost forget how ridiculous this all is. When Vanessa Paradis turns up as a lonely widow needing more than Fioravante’s plumbing skills, the story at last takes a genuinely tender turn. But by then, we are confused.

Brooklyn in autumn does seem ravishing though, in fact its streets have seldom looked more sensational on film. Maybe that alone makes this curiosity worth checking out.

M15+ from May 1.

 

ReviewsRussell Edwards