Movies – 243

Italian Film Festival 2014

Anyone who has sat through a recent Australian rom-com and left feeling underwhelmed or even annoyed (The Little Death), really should give one of the Laughing, Italian Style selections from this year’s Lavazza Italian Film Festival a go.

Try I Can Quit When I Want, (essentially Breaking Bad played for laughs), or University: More Than Friends, both starring this year’s festival guest Nadir Caselli. The cultural references may be unfamiliar to non-Italian audiences and the pace (you’ll need to read the subtitles quickly) may seem frenetic.

And yes, they are frivolous, breezy and unashamedly mainstream – but watch and listen: Here are filmmakers who know how to connect with their target audience. The Italian box office tells one story; the laughter you’ll hear in the cinema says the same thing. You’ll leave with a smile and feeling good.

Now why can’t our local moviemakers do that?

LIFF is on until October 12.

We’ve kept 5 double in season passes to the Lavazza Italian Film Festival from last issue to give away. Be quick for these! See our Giveaways page for details on how to enter.



movies-jungle-bookFlashback Films

The two-year-old I watched Frozen with clutched me in terror when the snowman turned mean – while I guiltily pondered the meaning of “parental guidance.” Sometime around three or four, kids figure out that it’s not real…

Til then, it’s just magic to share a cinema full of such innocence. Try it.

Flashback screens at Palace Norton St every weekend at 10.30 ($10 Full, $8 Club). The Jungle Book, Peter Pan and Babe are all upcoming treats.

More info:



movies-pulp-fictionVintage Classics at Palace Norton Street

“That’s thirty minutes away! I’ll be there in ten.” That was The Wolf (Harvey Keitel), and (can you believe this?) it was 20 years ago that Quentin Tarantino gave us those wild, sassy and profane lines that many us then knew by heart… “You know what they call a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Paris?”

Ok, I’ll stop, but isn’t it time you saw Pulp Fiction again on a proper screen?

You can catch up with Jules, Vincent, Honey Bunny and Mr Wolf again on Oct 5th at Palace Norton St when Pulp Fiction screens as part of their Vintage Classics season (every Sunday at 3pm). Tix are cheap, only $10 ($8 clubbies) and while you’re there, grab the flyer listing all the old cult classics in the season for the rest of the year.

“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go home and have a heart attack.”

Thanks to Palace Cinemas we have 10 double passes to any Vintage Classic session to give away.
See our Giveaways page for details on how to enter.



movies-advanced-style-2Advanced Style

Timed perfectly for the upcoming celebration International Day of Older Persons on Wednesday October 1st, this unique doco begins its season at Palace Norton St and Verona next thursday.

Advanced Style is a documentary that examines the lives of seven unique New Yorkers whose eclectic personal style and vital spirit have guided their approach to aging.

Based on Ari Seth Cohen’s famed blog of the same name, the film paints intimate and colourful portraits of independent, stylish women aged 62 to 95 who are challenging conventional ideas about beauty, aging, and Western culture’s increasing obsession with youth.

PG from Oct 2 at Palace Norton St and Verona.

Thanks to Madman Entertainment we have 10 double passes to give away. Send us a photo of anyone who fits the bill – older but beautiful. Could be your mum (or dad), any relative, a neighbour or even better, a selfie.
See our Giveaways page for details on how to enter.




movies-skeleton-twinsThe Skeleton Twins

Any movie that begins with a suicide attempt really only has one place to go, usually via a few detours. And so it goes, though The Skeleton Twins’ actually has two attempts, one by a LA actor/waiter Milo (Bill Hader), the other by his estranged twin sister Maggie (Kirsten Wigg) on the East Coast.

As in most North American kitchen sink dramas, Craig Johnson gives us middle class self-obsessed fuck-ups whose problems seem largely invented. Milo, who is gay, has failed in Hollywood, and while recuperating at his sister’s home, secretly looks up the high school teacher (Ty Burrell) with whom he’d earlier had a scandalous under-age affair.

Meanwhile the hopelessly promiscuous Maggie is being dishonest with her husband (Luke Wilson) about wanting kids. But humping a scuba instructor (Boyd Holbrook) seems particularly pointless, as does that fact that he’s supposed to be an Aussie (the actor isn’t, and does a very bad accent).

The two leads are well-known US comics. Their sparring is funny and dark, and their scenes together crackle with barbed wit as their troubled past is revealed in measured-out doses. But that’s the problem, it is so crafted… The story can’t breath – it’s a bit like watching plot points on a graph.

M from Sept 25.



movies-bearsLand of the Bears 3D

The Kamchatka Peninsula is that big chunk of land on the far north-eastern Russian coast, a fantastic wilderness, now becoming very a mecca for cashed-up adventure travelers. Largely unknown to the rest of us, it’s the home to 300 active volcanoes and thousands of wild bears.

The shots captured in Guillaume Vincents astonishing nature doco are jaw-dropping, just stunning in 3D, and about as close-up as this armchair adventurer ever wants to get to these grizzlies. How did they do that?

The bears look magnificent but they’re aggressive and grumpy – that is their nature, they are solitary creatures and their survival is precarious. They have to look after themselves at the expense of others – except for their young cubs. They sleep for eight months, wake up hungry and grouchy, then spend four months feeding on the abundant migratory salmon trying to store enough fuel to last the long dark hibernation ahead.

Only the inexperienced young males allow themselves to be distracted by the lady bears. But no time for that, guys… Stay on the job!

CTC from Sept 25 at Dendy Newtown.


movies-little-deathThe Little Death

Josh Lawson certainly takes risks in his writing and directorial debut. ”Rape me…” one of his lead characters (Bojana Novakovic) in this rom-com purrs to her beloved (Lawson), “ I want you to rape me.”

Now if you spot a difficulty here, you will not be alone. Rape is not funny or romantic – not even remotely, and inherently problematic for any comic scriptwriter. It’s supposed to be this woman’s secret fantasy, but any way of treating it as a joke will be like tap dancing on icicles. And sadly, Lawson isn’t too good on his feet.

Supposedly lifting the lid on the sex lives of normal people in suburban Australia, just about every story misfires. Apart from the cringe-worthy rape sequences there’s a husband who drugs his nagging wife (Lisa McCune) in order to have peaceful sex (against her will?) while she sleeps, and a wife (Kate Box) who is aroused by her man’s tears, so goes out of her way to inflict pain on him. Then she gets her rocks off – really! Didn’t any of these people consider therapy?

The nasty undertones in all of these stories are underscored by a creepy-looking new neighbour, who keeps knocking on their doors to introduce himself and announce (as he is supposedly required to by Australian law) that he is “a registered sex offender.” Laugh! I nearly did the first time, but by the sixth time that gag was rolled out, I was ready to renounce my Australian citizenship.

The very game actors make the best of this dodgy material, but look –  did we really need another excuse NOT to go to an Australian movie? Josh Lawson, what were you thinking?

MA15+  from Sept 25.


movies-immigrantThe Immigrant

At first glance James Gray’s The Immigrant looks like a polite history lesson. Then it throws us into the sewer. This is a far more sordid version of the usual rose-tinted immigration story – the one your nonna told you!

Just off the boat, corrupt immigration officials shunt penniless Ewa (Marion Cotillard) into the clutches of a crooked showman and pimp played by Joaquin Phoenix. No shrinking violet herself Ewa does some swift calculations about her new situation, and later Jeremy Remmer turns up as a magician who may, or may not be able to help.

Unfortunately there’s something about Cotillard’s wide-eyed performance that doesn’t quite work here, and so much of the (frankly, ridiculously melodramatic) story depends on her performance – her vulnerability, beauty and ability to make saps of these two men.

Phoenix is better, awesome as always, and kept from overpowering everything else, at least till the explosive end. The last scene is a bravura flourish, one that almost – but not quite – saves the movie.

M from Sept 25 at Palace Norton Street.


Reviews – Russell Edwards

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