New movies this week

Hits & misses at inner west cinemas

Opening this week 20.04

Berlin Syndrome

Have there been too many movies about girls kept captive by horrible men? Do we really need another? In her third film as director Cate Shortland has taken quite a risk with her feminist art-house fan base by diving head first into this gruelling and thoroughly over-worked genre. The Somersault and Lore director does give it a dreamy, woozy and decidedly audacious twist, and it certainly looks fantastic (with Melbourne often standing in for GDR Berlin, amusingly for those of us in Sydney). Teresa Palmer too, as the lonely backpacker Clare who too innocently hooks up with the wrong sort of German (Max Riemelt), gives a stunningly brave performance, which includes some graphic sex scenes. There are strong hints of the director’s previous troubled sexuality and coming-of-age concerns but once Clare’s captivity has been set-up, the fixed restraints of this genre prove as restraining as the walls of her locked-in apartment. The audience has little to do but plot the mechanics of her way out. They may well feel a bit short-changed. MA15+ from Apr 20. ★★★1/2


Their Finest

Nothing wrong with fake news, provided it’s for the right cause. There wasn’t much doubt about that early in WW2 when British forces were in retreat and its cities bombed. Into the fray steps novice scriptwriter Catrin (Gemma Arterton), a young woman recruited by the British Ministry of Information film division to add “slop” (meaning women’s interest lines!) to their propaganda efforts, usually ridiculously OTT films which, in the interests of morale, played laughably loose with any distressing facts. Despite the blokey workplace culture she finds herself in, she proves rather good at it, and before long even her cynically dismissive boss (Sam Claflin) is going all soft and gooey in her arms. Rather more difficult to handle are the normal wartime dangers and some of the egos of actors in the film they’re making about Dunkirk, particularly that of Ambrose Hilliard (Bill Nighy), an ageing matinee idol annoyed at being cast as an elderly drunk. It’s both fun and surprisingly touching as director Lone Scherfig (An Education) quite deftly combines tragedy, comedy and romance in a delightfully unpredictable package. Altogether, a jolly good show! M from Apr 20. ★★★★



Garance Marillier stars as Justine, a bright, shy young vet student and vegetarian who is forced to eat a raw rabbit’s kidney during an undergraduate hazing ritual at a French college – with unfortunate results. Before long she has an uncontrollable taste for meat, any meat, and the gruesome scenes that follow are not for anyone who needs trigger warnings for anything “offensive” (and possibly vegetarians). Actually, the most shocking scenes are not the predictable ones of cannibalism, but the unexpected surprises director Julia Ducournau springs on us. Like Justine’s rash-affected skin being peeled off by a doctor, the dissection of a dog in the classroom and the disastrous Brazilian waxing job her sister tries to perform, which (and I can 100% guarantee this!) is totally impossible to watch. The reputation of this masterful and stunning reinvention of the horror movie is fast gathering pace. Amazingly, it’s only getting a few Sydney screen this first time around (Dendy Newtown is one). But as an instant cult classic, it’s sure to stick around. It certainly will in your head. R18+ from Apr 20. ★★★★1/2

We have ten double in-season movie passes to Raw to give away. Details here


Going in Style

Could Hollywood ever send Morgan Freeman (again playing a silky-voiced saint), everyone’s favourite senior citizen Michael Caine and lovable old grump Alan Arkin to prison? It’s no spoiler to reveal that Zach Braff (Garden State) doesn’t whack these cuddly old duffers and amateur bank robbers into Rikers in his remake of a 1979 classic – despite the zealous sleuthing of a local Brooklyn cop (a smirking Matt Dillon). A lot of plot time is spent building up a rationale for their heist. Banks are bastards, the GFC wiped out their pensions just as off-shoring did their previous job security, so capitalism has failed, see – which means breaking the law is morally ok – got that, your Honour? These three reliable  troopers and can be expected to make the best of any B-grade material (sadly, they do, constantly), and admittedly there are some genuine laughs here. Going in Style does score on that level, and (God bless!) we’re spared the obligatory Viagra jokes. There’s only one about incontinence too and that’s directed at a banker, not one of the old codgers. Small mercies, at least. M from Apr 20. ★★1/2


Table 19

A common criticism of Hollywood comedies is that they are “written by a committee” and Table 19 certainly feels like that. It stars Anna Kendrick as a wedding guest relegated to sit with the “randoms” – the sad ones invited out of politeness – and Wyatt Russell (Kurt’s son) as the best man and unlikely object of her affection. Lisa Kudrow and Craig Robinson, usually in better films, also turn up – plus several more actors seemingly there because they’ve had funnier but similar comic roles before (ExtrasSteven Merchant and Grand Budapest Hotel’s Tony Revolori). Director Jeffrey Blitz has ticked lots of boxes in the casting, but was the committee asleep when all those lazy jokes were slipped in? The falling off a log one – really? And those tired old-stand-bys – the snozzled mother of the bride and the pot-head granny? Eventually the table 19 misfits get to one of those inevitable clichés – where everyone smokes dope and decides they’re not losers at all but uniquely fascinating people. A point so banal it could only have been thought of by a committee with way too much access to California’s plentiful medical marijuana. M from Apr 20. ★★

Reviews: Russell Edwards