Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Film Reviews

Iron Lady

A beautiful and affectionate look at arguably one of the world’s toughest women. Now in her dotterage this Phyylia Llyod film tells the story of Margaret Thatchers life, her family life, political ambition, career, historic legacies and late life illnesses.

Told from Thatchers perspective through a series of flashbacks brought on by the strongly hinted at but never named onset of dementia, this depiction gives the Iron Lady, much like Wizard of Oz Tin Man, a heart. It shows the personal determination and emotional struggle of Brittain’s only female Prime Minister during her 11 years leading the country though its most difficult post war period.

People around the world will politically disagree with the historic facts and events which shape this story. But the historic events are not the story, they are merely the vehicle for provide a glimpse at the humanity of the person, the woman, at the centre of it all.

Hollywood superstars run the risk of not being able to transcend the role. Think Brad Pitt, when was the last time you saw a film in which he starred where you stopped seeing Brad Pitt and started to see the character. Meryl Streep achieve this transition from actress to former Prime Minister in the opening scene of the film and takes the audience with her until to closing credits.

Although the audience would benefit from knowledge of the historic events included in the screenplay it is not necessary to be scholar of history to enjoy this film.


Spoiler alert, the opening sequence of stunning imagery and equally brilliant orchestration whilst seemingly meaningless at the time do actually tell the entire story. The images will seep back into consciousness randomly throughout the movie leaving the viewer with an-unnerving sense of déjà vu.

If the title is not already a give away, this is not the normal feel good tripe released by Hollywood in time for the Christmas season. In fact is it is a deeply troubling story of depression, family and paranoia with a hint of science fiction.

As someone who would normally run a mile to avoid a movie starring Kirsten Dunst, I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of her performance in this award wining film, written and directed by Lars von Trier.

Whilst the overall plat and performances are compelling there are some big wholes in the story telling requiring the viewer to fill in sometime complex gaps. Told in two distinct parts (Titled “Part One: Justine” and “Part Two: Claire”) Melancholia tells the story of two sisters and their battle for mental and physical survival in the context of a dysfunctional extended family. The two parts of the movie, although containing the same characters are almost two distinct stories. Told in chronological order the former informs the latter with very few cross overs, referencing or call backs.

Definitely allow time for a coffee and a chat at the conclusion of this emotionally compelling piece of cinema.

A great, multi award winning British sitcom. Cringe-worthy at its worst disarmingly honest at its best. The sharp and poignant storylines, dialogue and acting have made this series a modern day cult classic. Unfortunately it has not faired well in moving from a 30 minutes-per-week to a 97minute feature film.

Like Melancholia, the whole story is foretold before the title screen, unlike Melancholia there are no twists, turns, symbolism or ambiguous imagery. Disappointingly The Inbetweeners set up the entire highly-predictable story within the first 3 minutes with no hint of twists, turns or symbolism for the remaining 94minutes. The only surprises (and the only laughs) were just how disgusting some of the visual jokes and displays of genitalia were.

A half hour of clever lines and teenage angst stretched to over 1½ hours just makes for a long and uncomfortable afternoon in a cinema. This film relies way to heavily on the dedication of its television audience and the reputation of the series.

The only thing I was in between was deciding to walk out of the theatre or just turning to the person sitting next to me and recapping ever aspect of the carbon tax debate that occurred between Australia’s political parties throughout 2011 – it would have been a lot more entertaining that anything happening on screen.

If you have not seen this movie as yet, wait for it to come out on DVD and then see if it comes in a free start up package when you upgrade your television or home entertainment system.

The story line…and there is no spoiler alert necessary as it is in no way original…four awkward misfitting teenagers go on holiday looking for sex and find love in the most unexpected places.

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