Movies – 229

Romeo & Juliet

After Baz ‘s version, there wouldn’t be much point in trying to capture the hip zeitgeist, or whatever it is that endlessly motivates new productions of Shakespeare’s plays. Downton Abby’s Julian Fellowes does the reverse, and despite taking quite a few liberties with the text, has made a faithful version that should attract both loyalists and a new and younger audience to this greatest of all love stories.

It’s gorgeously filmed in the real Verona and other Italian old cities, majestically scored (if a little incessantly) by Abel Korzeniowski, and impeccably acted by Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) and Douglas Booth (from nowhere – maybe a boy-band?). Paul Giamatti pops up as the friar, whose meddling should attract the attention of Verona’s coroner. As does Damian Lewis (Homeland) as Juliet’s dad – who really should be charged with child abuse.

M15+ Parental guidance strongly recommended: Contains sex (heaving bosoms), drug use (poison), street thugs (with swords) and suicidal themes. From Mar 27.

Thanks to Icon Films we have 5 double in-season passes to give away.
For details on how to enter, please see our Giveaways page.




GoT’s legions of fans won’t need any prompting to go see John Snow again, here transported from the frozen north to the warmer (much warmer, as it turns out) Roman city of Pompeii.

Kit Harrington plays Milo, a Celtic horsemen enslaved by the Romans and forced to fight in blood-soaked arenas for the amusement of a brutal elite. Where he just happens to meet the corrupt senator (Kiefer Sutherland) who years ago slaughtered his entire family. But not before patrician hottie Cassia (Emily Browning) catches sight of his six-pack (very impressive), and (blush) you can guess the rest.

Paul W.S. Anderson’s disaster epic doesn’t deviate too far from the sword and sandal formula, but does have those two very attractive stars, 3D and a powerful armoury of CGI. Useful for the fireworks we’re all waiting for and also for Roman history buffs. I don’t need to tell you the ending – you know what happens when the gods of Vesuvius take their vengeance. Well, you should.

CTC from Mar 20.

Thanks to Icon Films we have 5 double in-season passes to give away.
For details on how to enter, please see our Giveaways page.



movies-yellow-sunHalf of a Yellow Sun

Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave) is on his home turf here – in Nigeria just after independence. He plays a dynamic, hard-drinking political activist whose inability to keep his trousers zipped up doesn’t sit well with smart and sassy g-f Olanna (Thandie Newton).

This sweeping historical saga follows a number of characters, including Olanna’s wealthy sister (Anika Noni Rose) and the love of her life, an expat Brit writer. It’s unashamedly soapy for the first half – then abruptly changes tack as a brutal civil war explodes.

The tragic events in Biafra during the 60s are largely forgotten now, and this reminder is both timely and emotionally charged – as well as chilling. Biyi Bandele’s debut impresses too for its nod to the role Western oil interests played in all that strife.

TBC from March 27.

Thanks to Leap Frog Films we have 10 double in-season passes to give away.
For details on how to enter, please see our Giveaways page.




Last issue’s bicycle movie (The Armstrong Lie) was about a ruthless hypocritical cheat, but this rare and hugely enjoyable charmer from Saudi Arabia couldn’t be more different.

Pre-teen Wadjda (an appealing, Waad Mohammad) just wants to own a bike, something forbidden to girls in her country. So she scams, cheats and tries everything she can to… Hang on, isn’t that what Lance Armstrong did too?

Fortunately the feel-good spirit of Haifaa Al-Mansour debut film allows us to gloss over our feminist heroine’s actual tactics in winning this particular battle. Which stands in for all sorts of social ills and gender inequality issues in that repressive (yet curiously intriguing) country. It’s a lovely film, and like Wadjda, we want more.

PG from March 20.



movies-missing-pictureThe Missing Picture

In Annie Hall Woody Allen’s character drags his g-f to see the Holocaust documentary The Sorrow and the Pity. Which provokes her to complain, “I’m just not in the mood to see a four and a half hour documentary about Nazis!”

Despite this being a brisk 92 minutes, unfairly, that could be a common reaction to Rithy Panh’s inventive doco. The Missing Picture was nominated for Best Foreign Picture in the recent Academy Awards – so it should get noticed… but because of its subject matter, won’t, not nearly as much as it deserves.

Panh was just eleven years old when the Pol Pot regime came to power in Cambodia in 1975, and it proved so efficient in its murderous brutality that all pictorial records of what happened next were eliminated – except for its own propaganda of course.  And hence the title – just how do you show the unshowable? Panh’s ingenious solution has been to tell the story of his own extended family – all of whom died of starvation or exhaustion – with carved clay models, overlaid with fragments of that remaining footage.

It’s harrowing in the extreme, a work of extraordinary power and the propaganda footage is chilling and just incredible. And yet and yet…  It still offers too little in the way of explanation or context. We are left aghast, incredulous, “How was this possible? Why didn’t we act?” But unlike last year’s almost unwatchable The Act Of Killing, about a less known genocide in our backyard, this film is both audacious and uplifting. It’s a shame so few Australians will see it.

M15+ exclusive to Dendy Newtown from Mar 20.



ReviewsRussell Edwards


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