Reviews*

American Sniper

When killing is a man’s talent, what effect does that have on the man? With 255 kills, American Sniper follows the real-life heroics of the most lethal marksman in US military history. Clint Eastwood has crafted his best cinematic achievement since Gran Torino, as he assembles an honest depiction of war, romance and the depression, which crawls up inside Chris Kyle. Bradley Cooper, almost unrecognisable, plays a much larger Chris as he packs on 40 pounds in preparation for the role. The raw war violence, which Eastwood has brilliantly illustrated, is high up in the ranks along with Inglorious Basterds...

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Amélie

Before Midnight

Before Sunset

Before Sunrise

Her

I regretted not writing a review for the Tree of Life (2011) when it came out, but to be honest I couldn’t even put words in a legible sentence to give the film justice. Each time I think of that film I just know it’s good but can’t express the way it makes me feel as a person. The beneficial fulfilment I have from viewing it so many times. It’s really weird talking about films that way, that they can have this very strong affect on a person. It’s ridiculous that made up people, characters, can make me reassess my...

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Saving Mr. Banks

I’m not too sure if I overhyped this film, or it was just not as magical as I had hoped. It’s difficult to explain. Here are two very magical people, Pamela “P.L.” Travers (played by Emma Thompson) and Walt Disney (played by Tom Hanks), and yet throughout the film I never really sensed any magic. But thats the point of the film, the same way that we wanted Walt (first name to distinguish between the man and the business) to gain the rights to the book. I’m not trying to dismiss any instance that this film is still in fact...

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The Spectacular Now

I watched this film from a conversation I had with a friend (below) regarding 500 Days of Summer, Ruby Sparks, Perks of Being a Wallflower, and The Spectacular Now, and how all four reflect different levels of storytelling. At the time of that conversation I had not seen The Spectacular Now, and to be completely honest I hadn’t really heard anything of it. I googled the film only to see that Shailene Woodley was starring in it – this meant one thing: I had to see it. @markbattistella THE SPECTACULAR NOW might be your cup of tea then (I liked...

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Warm Bodies

I liked this film. Hands down it is a film everybody should watch. Not because it displays amazing chemistry, or portrayal but because it is an amalgamation of many films over the times and how shifting the paradigm creates a wonderful new idea. Honestly, that is film at it’s infant form. Taking something old, reimagine it, and make people love or hate it. We can see this with reboots, and the beloved Avatar which is realistically Pocahontas. But I’m not here to argue about Avatar. I’m here to tell you that this is a great film if you want to...

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Cloud Atlas

When I saw this film I was amazed that somewhere, someone (in this case some people) still made intricate, multi-levelled, and both consumer (read Hollywood blockbuster) and acquired (read Art House) styled films. Not only does Cloud Atlas flesh open your eyes to societies, and the evolution of human life – both religious and scientific – but how we are linked from generation to generation, all over the world. It is simply a beautiful film which had the same effect that both 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Tree of Life did to me as a human. These are rare...

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This is 40

The calm before the F-bomb storm A disjointed film that takes you on a journey from nowhere to, well… nowhere. It’s supposed to be the sequel to the 2007 comedy Knocked Up and in some regards it is – same characters, universe, and timeliness. However, it seems to be more of an alternate universe than a continuation from its predecessor. We shift focus into the world of Pete (played by Paul Rudd) and Debbie (played by Leslie Mann) who are still together after the events of Knocked Up. Their children Sadie (played by Maude Apatow) and Charlotte (played by Iris...

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Wreck-It Ralph

“I don’t think you know how long everybody has been waiting for a film like this to be released!” Well that’s what I (and many others) said when we first saw the trailer (below). But was it going to be as awesome as we all hoped? A film full of nostalgic video games, that would appeal to our youth, our parent’s youth but still be relevant to today? HELL YEAH! When you watch it you will feel so… so… “UP, UP, DOWN, DOWN, LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT, B, A, START”! Okay, so it’s a pretty cool film with all the...

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Looper

Ugh, another time travel film. Well this may not have been my real first reaction, but if I had not seen the cast or trailer it most likely would have. Most efforts in time travel films end in our aspiration and dreams of what we can invent – the advancements in technology – but it gets boring when everything happens without any real processing. Time travel technology is right up there with film computer hackers. Twenty seconds during the leading officers spiel about kids and technology where the hacker is into the most top secret government agency. The sense of...

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Moonrise Kingdom

There is no doubt in the world that this is a Wes Anderson film. The visuals, themes, and actors that he has used over the years all return to allow us all fall in love with cinema (and youth) once again. And there’s nothing like it in the world – young love, first love. Once you’re in it, it’s gone only a distant memory hopefully being felt again. That’s what this film did to me – that notion of realising your passion – but more over provided me with the visual joy. The year is 1965, on a remote American...

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Get The Gringo

There’s something about late 80s, early 90s action thriller films that current times are missing. We are extremely focused on special effects, wide angles action, and turning everything into a comic book version of grittiness. I’m not complaining on the shift, but the move by many to imitate the style of Burton, or Nolan in terms of dark, crushed shadows, and psychological pasts of characters only seems to ruin their uniqueness from what we, as audiences, are used to – fun and clever films. Get the Gringo (a.k.a How I Spent My Summer Vacation), is a nice refresher from all...

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Like Crazy

As I was watching Like Crazy this past week, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a film I saw several weeks before – Hiroshi Ishikawa’s sophomore feature, Su-ki-da. There’s a scene in that film where the two leads, in their teenage incarnations, share their first kiss by a riverbank. It’s a beautifully directed scene which captures the tenderness and the fragility of young love. I bring this up because Drake Doremus’ long distance love story, Like Crazy, essentially takes the idea of young love and runs wild with it, navigating through all its “gory bits” as Felicity Jones’ character,...

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Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Sometimes memories fade away from us, and we try to bring them up again and again, only not to get the effect we were looking for. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, is unfortunately one of those films. Based on the novel by Jonathon Foer, we follow Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn) on his journey to discover the mystery that his father had “left for him”. So I emphasise the “left for him” because this film goes on for ages how it was left for him, and then it turns out it wasn’t. Now it’s not that films (or the book) couldn’t...

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Hugo

Hugo oozes charm from each and every frame but more importantly, as a lover of cinema and a great fan of Martin Scorsese, I found Hugo a genuinely touching film. For instance, the scene in which Georges Mêlées’ (Ben Kingsley) recovered films are given a public screening made me weep unashamedly with joy as Scorsese illustrated the charm and wonder of those early experimentations in cinema. I am not joking – I really choked up at that point. This is where the film is at it’s most personal, where Scorsese attempts to share the wonder of his childhood cinema experiences....

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Shame

Addiction is a terrible thing. It can ruin relationships and destroy any sense of connection that one may have had with the world around them. And while not everyone will know the extent of one’s addiction, it becomes obvious that this intangible condition will change a person and not for the better. Some of these addicted people may be completely oblivious to how much danger they are in but others are fully aware of the situation yet – despite knowing how much destruction their addiction may cause both onto themselves and onto others – wholly embrace it long enough until...

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Martha Marcy May Marlene

Martha Marcy May Marlene (MMMM) begins its theatrical run across select theatres in Australia this week but the film has been floating around the festival circuit for well over a year now after debuting at the Sundance Film Festival early last year to some very favourable and warm reception. I’ve had to hear how good this film was for over a year and was dying to see it. I had an opportunity to see it during the Melbourne International Film Festival some time last year but was late to the party as sessions for the film quickly became full. Yep,...

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Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Robert Elswit, ASC knows pretty pictures and excels particularly at shooting in large outdoor spaces. His filming of the city of Dubai, the floating shots of the Sahara that surround it, and the towering Burj Al Arab, are by turns sumptuous, magnificent, and awe-inspiring. Bangalore at dusk through Elswit’s lens is a wonder to behold. Elswit and IMAX is a recipe for a surefire visual orgasm. But Elswit knows how to frame people too. A two-shot is never just a two-shot with Elswit behind the camera. He makes us understand the relationships between the characters, and between the environment and...

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The Descendants

An opening sequence of a film is meant to capture you, grab you at the shoulders and shake you vigorously, yet still make you want to watch the remaining 115 minutes. The Descendants did exactly that with the opening monologue by Matt King (George Clooney), as you sit there and think for a second, “well yeah, I guess that’s true”. This film isn’t any different to your usual dysfunctional family, who happens to be in a pickle where some loved one is on the brink of death, while the main character has to stop being the reserved number two character...

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Jack and Jill

I want to like Adam Sandler, I really do. All he wants is to make us laugh and that’s a noble ambition. Underneath his struggle with angry neurosis and unrestrained rage that he tends to purport as the burden of the ‘everyman’, Sandler is really a pussy cat. Every Happy Madison production forcefully illustrates this myth. Sandler is good guy at heart and if he becomes violently enraged at someone it’s usually because they deserve it and if they don’t he really doesn’t mean to be like that anyway. The truth is that, like a naughty school kid, Sandler only...

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Hanna

With Hanna, Joe Wright claimed that he was influenced by the fairytales he read as a child, but while the fairytale references are (overtly) present, I suspect Wright owes more to Luc Besson than the Brothers Grimm. Hanna follows the journey of it’s titular child assassin (played by Saoirse Ronan, pictured above), a journey that largely consists of running as fast as she can from ruthless CIA director Marlene (Cate Blanchett), while trying to locate her father (Eric Bana). Ronan’s performance alone makes the film worth watching. She instinctively understands what viewers only realise later in the film: at its...

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Any Questions For Ben?

I highly recommend seeing this film – it isn’t your usual Australian film. It was different. Not in the sense that it was innovative or brought something new to the table in terms of filmmaking, but different for Australia. There were no outback scenes, hardship story lines of living in a desolate country with no water, and every second word wasn’t “mate”. This film was actually the opposite. It’s everything that an Australian wants to see in a film, to tell the world that this is unidentifiable to our homeland, but we’re damn good at making films! Well… almost. There...

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Howl’s Moving Castle

Old age, transfiguration, magic, and a heart warming love story. What else does someone want when they watch a film? Well if you’re Hayao Miyazaki then that’s all you need to make a highly crafted animation of Howl’s Moving Castle (2004). And for me, well that’s all I needed to have to relive and explore the great depths of our subconscious. The entire film revolves around the notion and representation of a heart. Do you follow it, or just do things to please others? Without one would you indefinitely turn into a monster, or can the symbol of a heart...

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