New movies this week

Hits & misses at inner west cinemas

Opening this week 06.04

The Country Doctor

Former doctor turned film director Thomas Lilti was nominated for a César for the hospital drama Hippocrates, and he’s on familiar turf in his third film. It’s an affectionate and moving story of a much-loved small town GP Jean-Paul (François Cluzet) who discovers he has a serious illness that will force his retirement. His replacement (Marianne Denicourt) is both new to general practice and rural life, and much of the film’s gentle humour is about her dealing with aggressive geese, farmyard mud and the quirky/cranky rural folk with an array of trivial and serious problems. No bulk-billed 5-minute consultations here, apparently! But nothing is  overplayed or milked for sentiment, in fact most of the scenes are disarmingly charming – and the warmth and goodwill just goes on building.  The relationship between the two doctors, at first wary and tetchy later evolves into something else, and by the final scene, which (really!) is a walk into the sunset while Nina Simone croons something utterly enchanting, all but the most hard-nosed cynics will have been thoroughly won over. I was ready to throw away my Medicare card and head to the nearest French Embassy. Do they accept Australian refugees? Please… M from Apr 6. ★★★★

Dance Academy

We first find Tara (Xenia Goodwin) the young dancer whose dreams were shattered by injury at the end of the much-loved ABC series, at the Opera House. But she’s serving “rich old people” their drinks in the bar, not performing on stage for them… 18 months after we left the gang, Jeffrey Walker’s movie-length version reunites them all in NYC, still facing the same YA issues. It’s a largely successful update, and its legions of young fans will be more than happy. Tara’s back story is deftly but briefly sketched, the others’ not so – mostly we’re expected to know what’s what, but newcomers won’t have much trouble. And will find plenty to enjoy too – maybe after the nastiness of Black Swan and grunge of Flesh and Bone, the optimistic spirit and sanitized world (and language) of these young millennial dancers will seem refreshing. For an Australian movie, it’s certainly novel! The naughtiest thing that happens is (trigger alert!) one of the girls farts in bed. PG from Apr 6. ★★★


By the time I forced myself to sit down to warn Ciao readers about this dismal comedy, I realized I didn’t need to… Its Rotten Tomatoes critics’ rating was a predictably rotten 18%, and press reviewers everywhere where looking for new words for “cheap, mean-spirited, joyless and pointless.” (I’m cheating there and simply quoting Filmink. Why bother going to any effort when the director and star Dax Shepard so clearly hasn’t?) Chips is a remake of a cheesy 70s TV series no one can now remember, and Shepard is teamed with Michael Pena, a macho undercover FBI agent called “Ponch”. Both are motorcycle cops in LA, and it’s a mismatched bromance, sort of – a spectacularly mirthless one with (admittedly spectacular) silly stunts and a useless plot. But maybe he knows something I don’t? At my preview, not a media one, I was sitting near a fairly large woman who got through several buckets of popcorn and a bag of cheerios in between near continuous loud guffaws. She particularly liked the near wall-to-wall dick jokes, the cringe-worthy gay-panic ones, the excruciatingly extended gag about anilingus, whenever Ponch perved at the buttocks of women in tight pants (cue close-ups) and the scenes which (hilariously!) involved sexual encounters with big unattractive women. She loved it all. What would I know about what makes people laugh? MA15+ from Apr 6. 1/2 star

Reviews: Russell Edwards