In what is undoubtedly the best film about “domestic bliss” since Bergman’s Scenes From A Marriage, Andrew Haigh slowly dissects, roasts and finally skewers the whole notion.
Kate (Charlotte Rambling) and Geoff (Tom Courtney) are preparing for their 45th anniversary. They’re a genial, well-off, retired couple with a nice house in the country. Classical musical plays as they read intelligent books; Radio 4 (think Radio National) is on as they drive into their charming village. The perfect life…
Then, “There’s something I want to tell you,” Geoff says. And so begins an unravelling, mostly seen on Kate’s face, as the realisation dawns that everything they have has been built on a house of sand. Or melting ice, actually.
Both actors are fantastic, but Rambling especially – this is the most powerful performance of her long esteemed career. It’s just devastating throughout – right to the final scene as the screen goes black and the Moody Blues’ lyrics blasts out: “We’ve already said, goodbye…”
M from Feb 18.
★ Thanks to Madman Entertainment we have five double in-season passes to give away. See our Giveaways page for details.
Aaron Sorkin’s rapid-fire script is whip smart and director Danny Boyle serves up his usual snap, crackle and pop.
In the first of three symbolic product launches that frame this exhilarating psychodrama, Jobs (Michael Fassbender) is already aged 29, not so far removed from the West Coast ’70s drop-out scene that formed him.
So how did an acid-taking teen create the world’s most profitable and rapacious company in the history of capitalism, one that pays almost no tax here? Lots of secrets are revealed, but not the one the ATO wants to know.
M on now.
Straight-arrow types who get into the drug trade for one reason or another are a dime a dozen in fiction. But few dramas do the reverse and follow a successful drug kingpin tempted into going legit.
That’s the set up for an innovative new series from executive producer Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, which stars a magnificently muscled Omari Hardwick as James St Patrick, nicknamed Ghost, whose real business keeps getting in the way of running his glittery, high- end nightclub in New York’s trendy Meatpacking district.
There’s his hardcore partner to deal with, menacing Mexican cartel bosses, closing-in feds, an old flame who is more than what she seems plus most troublesome of all, his beautiful wife Tasha.
It’s not The Wire, though those perennial themes of power, sex, money and betrayal make it hard not to keep coming back for more.
MA15+ Season 1 is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Feb 3. $39.95 RRP.
Thanks to Defiant Screen Entertainment we have 3 DVD sets to give away. See our Giveaways page for details.
Our favourite TV drug dealers
Soon, when it’s all legal, drug barons will be boring men in the boardrooms of Big Pharma, their ‘crews’ the staff of Fortune 500 multinationals. And all of us through our super will have a financial stake in keeping people stupid, stoned and dead. Till then, we have more colourful heroes:
★ Walter White – Breaking Bad’s chemisty teacher turned drug lord is hard to beat. Here’s a how-to manual for all teachers no longer able to afford Inner West real estate.
★ Stringer Bell – The Wire gave us so many memorable characters and remains TVs most complex series – going further than any other crime drama in following what happens to drug money. (It goes into real estate, of course.)
★ Schapelle – The 2014 telemovie may have vanished but were you one of those outraged that corrupt brown people could treat an innocent white Aussie chick like that? Did you wrap your baggage in cling wrap? Go on, admit it…
★ James St. Patrick (Ghost) – Can a dealer who wants to go straight cut it in this esteemed company? See our review of Stan’s Power above, and enter our competition!
To say that the great veteran actor of Taxi Driver and Raging Bull is slumming it in Dan Mazer’s depressing comedy is beside the point. For years Robert DeNiro has shown he’ll do anything for a paycheck, and now he is simply shameless. Hopefully though, he did have a body double for that one brief close-up of his semi-erect Johnson…
Earlier on he’s sprung by his grandson Jason (Zac Efron) vigorously wanking to a porno on TV. His character’s name is “Dick” (subtle, huh?) and he shrugs off the interruption, politely greeting his guest while he finishes “taking a number three.”
That sets up the tone for the rest of the movie’s 102 minutes, in which “free-spirit” Dick shows uptight preppy Jason the error of his conformist ways while on a road trip to Florida. Where they inevitably end up in a Springbreaker-style bacchanalia, giving Dick plenty of time to leer at near naked girls forty years his junior.
Similar gags are repeated over and over, most of them racist, sexist, homophobic, all of them as lame as they are unpleasant. Though to its great credit, it contains no “number twos” – fast becoming compulsory in mainstream American comedies. If I could think of something else good to say about this one, I would.
MA15+ on now.
The Danish Girl
Speaking of Johnsons (sadly we were, just above), it’s the removal of one that is the subject of Tom Hooper’s impeccably tasteful biopic of Einer/Lili Elbe (Eddie Redmayne), one of the first people to ever undergo sex reassignment surgery. Not that we ever actually see the offending organ, this movie is way too aware of its Oscar potential to take any such risks. Though in one scene Einer/Lili does carefully tuck it between his legs while he tries on his wife’s underwear.
Maybe because it is so cautious, so polite, so pretty and everyone is so elegant and accepting of what must have been (this was the 20s) an utterly baffling scenario – the drama feels bloodless – like the bare bones of a story without the meat (sorry about the pun).
Redmayne is certainly pretty enough to play a woman– as good-looking as his wife Gerbe (Alicia Vikander), herself one of cinema’s most astonishing beauties. Sadly though, she’s not given much to do but be supportive, in love and shed tears on cue.
Before all the “confusion” they’re at it like rabbits (“Come back to bed, darling”) – always a sign that there’s trouble ahead for a marriage. The ever-dependable Matthias Schoenaerts turns up then to be by their side, here reprising his Farmer Oak (Far From The Madding Crowd) role. He’s strong, silent and handsome. And supportive… Redmayne’s acting – all coy and skittish with lots of downward glances has annoyed some critics, and fair enough, it is all a bit much… Nurse! The knife!
M on now.
Reviews: Russell Edwards