Infinitely Polar Bear
There’s a deeply troubling early scene in Maya Forbes’ drama about a dad with bi-polar disorder. Cam (Mark Ruffalo) is screaming, out of control, half naked while his wife (Zoe Salanda) is locked in the family car, trying to comfort their terrified, young girls. “Don’t worry,” she says. “Daddy would never hurt us.” Well, no, not a Hollywood star like Ruffalo! He plays one of his usual rumbled guys – unemployable, likeable but also just a bit mad. The story, set in 80s, is a surprisingly tough one, even for an indie. Cam is convinced he’s recovering from his breakdown and can cope, so when his wife has to go to NY for work, he’s desperate to prove, most of all to his kids who he loves, that he can look after them on his own. Yes he fails some early tests – dismally! But there’s plenty of humour here too, and mostly the darkness at the core of this story, which is based on the writer/director’s own family past, is replaced with laughter and tears. It earns them both, and the critical accolades it’s been getting in spades. M from Mar 26.
*Thanks to Icon Films we have 10 “buy one, get one free” passes to give away.
To coincide with the release of the challenging and heartfelt family drama Infinitely Polar Bear starring Mark Ruffalo and Zoe Salanda, everyone who enters our “two-for-the-price of one” ticket competition will also go in the draw for a family drama DVD pack. Courtesy of Icon Home Entertainment, this includes The Burning Plain (with Charlize Theron) The Beaver (Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster), Last Chance Harvey (Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson) and the lighthearted Dan in Real Life with Steve Carell.
For all these Giveways See our Giveaways page for details and how to enter
Love Is Strange
Relax… even though this about a same sex marriage, it’s not at all strange. Nor is it a political issue movie, bludgeoning us over the head with a “What You Should Think” message. George (Alfred Molina) and Ben (John Lithgow) are an aging gay couple who’ve been together for decades, but they lose their NY apartment after they get married. George posts honeymoon snaps on Facebook (Facebook! Foolish man…) and is sacked from his music teaching job at a Catholic school as a result. Ira Sach’s movie then follows the fractures, the sort that would happen with any couple facing stress and reduced to couch surfing with family and friends. And goes off on tangent into one of those family’s lives. It’s beautiful, sweet, lyrical and so utterly surprising… You might even cry. But if the sight of sagging bodies and grey bearded men snogging upsets, stick to 50 shades of hype. M from Mar 19.
Remember how utterly useless you and your pot-head mates were in the 70s? Watching Joaquin Phoenix as the permanently whacked private detective “Doc” Sportello in Paul Thomas Anderson’s inspired adaption of an unadaptable Thomas Pynchon novel may bring it all back. It’s set in 70s LA just as the stoner-age turned sour, paranoid and corrupt, and do not drive, operate heavy machinery afterwards or try follow the plot – it’s even twistier than The Big Sleep (which it oddly resembles). But this is just as good as that pulp-noir classic! MA15+ on now.
Fifty Shades of Grey
A big section of Sam Taylor-Johnson’s coy soft-core (no genitals, a bare glimpse of one Tasmanian map – more like NZ’s South Island anyway) has Ana (Dakota Johnson) and Christian (James Dorman) haggling over a contract. Maybe this is meant to turn-on lawyers. Terms and conditions need defining; what for example is meant by “the Submissive?” What is a “butt plug”? No media previews, so I was in a daytime public screening at Dendy Newtown with only two others in the cinema, both young women. Which suggests that in Newtown at least, everyone already knows what a butt plug is. MA15+
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them
Breaking up usually involves pain and navel-gazing, and there’s heaps of both in Ned Benson’s ambitious two films, here spliced into one cinema-friendly 123 minutes called Them. Original cut(s) were Her and Him, each one side of a separation. We first see Eleanor (Jessica Chastain) and Conor (James McAvoy) in one of those too cute scenes – they’re having a romantic dinner and giggling guiltily, decide to sprint without paying. Yes it’s supposed to signal they are free-spirited and in love, but since Conor actually runs a restaurant himself, wouldn’t even he think he was being a pain in the arse? Next scene, eight years on, both are moping, not coping and generally being a pain to those all around them. Mind you, I could watch Chastain (brilliant in A Most Violent Year too) read a telephone directory for 123 minutes and still love her. And Phew – there is more of Her than Him in Them. M from Mar 12. Exclusive to Dendy Newtown.
* Him and Her are available to rent or buy from March 12, exclusively for the first week on iTunes and Dendy Direct.
Kidnapping Mr. Heineken
A lawyer once told me that the reason so many crims end up in prison is that most of them are a bit stupid. That certainly appears to be a factor in Daniel Alfredson’s (he did two of the original Swedish Dragon Tattoo movies) account of the real-life kidnapping in the 80s of the filthy-rich beer baron Freddy Heineken. Oddly, two Aussies (Sam Worthington and Ryan Kwanten) are cast as the Ned Kelly-style crooks (are we being typecast?). We first meet them and their knock-about mates as building contractors applying for a bank loan to start a legitimate construction business. Denied, they turn to crime (as you do) and hatch an audaciously ambitious heist – actually it was the biggest Kidnapping job ever successfully executed. It starts to unravel as soon Freddie Heineken (Anthony Hopkins doing his usual thing) is nabbed – heck, who wants to deal with Hannibal Lector? Freddie is definitely hard work and the mates fall out, though most of tension in this truly quite incredible story drains away towards the end. Perhaps writer William Brookfield was too constrained by the predictability of the banal final act. We are now way too used to Hollywood-style masterminds getting away with totally unbelievable capers. These guys seem just like a bunch of dumb Aussies. M from Mar 12
Reviews – Russell Edwards