Archive by Author

Shame

25 Jan

By Lizzie Lamb of www.thechopbuster.com

  This film with its hit-list cast is generating the kind of buzz that makes me vomit in my mouth a little bit, and damn it all if I wasn’t a little biased by the Oscar-bait concept and title. But regardless of my utterly unfair prejudices, this film is very well done.

  We were fair warned of full frontal nudity and R-rated subject matter, which seemed a little OTT but that they seemed giddy at the prospect of Michael Fassbender’s wang and just couldn’t quite contain themselves. And not to trivialise a film that is both beautiful and harrowing, but what a wang it be. And the places it does go…

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  Sex addiction is a very modern sort of theme, and I’ve seen a number of films either directly about it or at least nebulously involved. And finally I have seen one that answers a question that has been burning in my mind since I first found out boners make boys feel nice. In an effort to avoid spoilers I’ll not say what that question is and how it is answered, but it’s nice to see Steven McQueen thinks outside the box (so to speak). And while I don’t wish to be fatuous in general, I feel an awful lot of reviews you’ll read will be dreary pieces of gravitas. THAT, my friend, is not fair to the gentle humour McQueen also represents. There is light in this dark world, it’s only made sadder that the leads aren’t cast in the glow.

  Now this is a serious film, as you’ve no doubt heard, so no dicking the toaster or secret diary of a call girl-esque fetish tourism. The title is apt, the Shame sits like a third character in every scene, squatting over any potential happiness Brandon and his sister Sissy (she’s hot for a reason) may dream of. The tension between these two is palpable, and I don’t mean that in a bullshit Brad-and-Angelina-punch-and-snog way, I mean these two characters are torn in so many directions that any semblance of stillness is just a thousand ropes pulling them tight. It’s electric viewing.

See?

   One could follow the trend and mention Carey Mulligan’s stirring take of New York, New York, but it’s easy to tug at the heart with a song. Frankly, it’s just the most potent example of McQueen’s long-take formula, and if I may I’d state an extended shot of Brandon jogging through the night streets of the song’s New York is what adds kick to the juice.

  This film is the devastating flipside to our hyper-sexualised culture, the sex becomes meaningless and titillation impossible. We know Brandon is a complicated creature, and McQueen respects his characters enough not to sensationalise their turmoil by exposing it. All we know is Brandon and Sissy are damaged people with surrogate tear ducts: Sissy her veins, Brandon his cock. The saddest moments in this film are orgasms, the deadest places are the most opulent, and the most happens at the slowest times. Well worth seeing, and if the Oscars were worth a damn I’d probably give a couple to this picture.

You will not find this guy on chat roulette.

In cinemas February 9

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DVD Review: Kill Arman

13 Dec

Yeah, this guy knows a good ass kicking.

There are worse ways to spend a mildly hungover Sunday afternoon than watching Kill Arman in its entirety. The series features our man Arman, a tailor and party boy who for reasons not gone into (presumably shits and giggles, which is reason enough for me) goes around the world getting eight colours of snot beaten out of him by genius practitioners of deadly fighting. He goes to South Korea, China, Japan, England, Cambodia, and a few other joints to enjoy his face-pummeling, and while I don’t envy the brain-kicking he routinely enjoys, everything else maintains a nice level of vicarious enjoyment. But aside from watching a comparatively tubby man getting punched to custard every few days and being physically humiliated by five year-olds hourly, there are thoughts to be provoked here.

Extreme Martial Arts were developed in nations with a combination of economic, environmental, and political brutality, combined with harsh authoritarian rule. While sometimes the social structures that birthed these fighting style shave themselves withered and decayed, they present the interesting flip-side to our current prevailing libertarian western idiom. If you are willing to submit to doing exactly what someone else says from a young age, and follow a rigid set of rules your entire life, you can achieve extraordinary things. Our mindset suggests this may not be worth the implied loss of free-will, that whatever super human feats your body may be coaxed into are not worth the resulting lack of individual identity.

Indeed a social system that neglects orphans and poor children so thoroughly that their best option for survival is to enter a temple and be hit with sticks for fifteen years (but good sticks), could scarcely be considered amazing. Except that those kids can do amazing things, while those of us with happy childhoods are barely able to jog for our seat on an air-conditioned train. It is true any human being could be capable of the grueling physical development of young Shaolin students, but it is the centuries of method and study that have made this possible. And those centuries of method are characterised by a startling disregard for human life and the poor.

Also, breaking bars of iron with your head seven hours a day and running up and down mountains doesn’t leave a lot of time for your reading and writing and arithmetic and you know, fun.

And there it is.

The modern western martial art Arman learns is street warfare in America. This is ghetto-defence, another example of poverty and generally horrible ways of life resulting in being able to beat people up almost supernaturally. You could say it’s an argument for terrible lifestyles. Do we need one of those?

The rigidity of the structure of these Martial Arts is feared not just by us squishy whiteys, but also by the actual ruling systems of the countries they come from. Recognising the danger of groups of people single-mindedly dedicated to anything, many of these arts have been almost wiped out. The Shaolin School Arman visits has been forcibly moved from it’s temple by the communists and put it a rather hideous ‘modern’ concrete cell block. It is allowed to exist, but largely because Shaolin is now a source of national cultural pride. Bokator in Cambodia was almost completely destroyed by the Khmer Rouge, and all Martial Arts were banned. The ones that continued to thrive were similarly adopted by the state either as a display art, or a genuine military tactic. OR, they were entertaining as hell to watch, such as Boxing (which as a war weapon is pretty stupid, what with it’s gentlemanly rules and purely incidental killing blows). Frankly, the actual killing arts are considerably more respectful of the human form than Boxing. It’s like they just threw Boxing in there to embarrass Europe, and fair enough.

All in all, Arman doesn’t get very good at fighting. He doesn’t wind up hospitalised either, which is apparently only because the masters are pulling their punches. This is a noble code to live by, but if there’s one appetite this series whets without satisfying, it’s bloodlust. I kind of just want to see two Okinawa Karate masters beating the living hell out of each other. This is entertaining, a little superficial, and features a bunch of extremely decent tussles. Get amongst it.

Review: Toomelah

16 Nov

If there’s one thing I respect in film-making, it’s passion. Ivan Sen has something to show his audience, and whatever technical blips that may exist in this film he does exactly that.It is the kind of understated that can breeds two things of it’s audience: Boredom for some, and plenty of subtext for the read-too-much-into-thingers. For example, the lead character Daniel and the repetition of his name brings up a lot of associated images, which may or may not have been the intention of the director. Either way if you’re a pretentious twat you’ll have all the meat you can chew. Toomelah is an entirely sympathetic depiction of the settlement from which he came, and Sen does what more film-makers should be doing. He doesn’t just show us what cripples a community, tugging at our guilt strings and dragging us through the emotional mud.  He offers a solution to Toomelah, a way forward, something to do. This Aboriginal Mission, created by whites and neglected by the same, can turn itself around if it wants to.

As Daniel wanders around the rusted husks of cars, corrugated iron, hard-packed earth and mired shacks of his home, he is repeatedly asked where he is going. The answer is always ‘Nowhere’. It isn’t subtle, but it reinforces Sen’s themes effectively. Daniel is suspended from school for his inappropriate reactions in social situations. When you then see his father, former-boxer-current-methylated-spirit-drinker, and his mother, maternal but remote, and his silent Nan, and his equally silent Aunty Cindy, his surrogate family of wastrel dealers, his reactions are perfectly understandable. The contrast between Daniel and Tupac, the boy he threatens and eventually fights, like his newer home and his responsible and active grandmother, demonstrates that this is still a hierarchical  society.

It also mourns the subversion of traditions and social culture. The chauvinism runs deep, as does the respect for male role models. Daniel suffers from too strong a connection with men he shouldn’t be near, but isn’t able to get close to the female relatives who would protect him due to encroaching masculinity. As he spends more time with the small-fry drug dealer Linden and his cronies in a dilapidated caravan he learns about a man’s way of life in this mission, where being a bad guy is a noble thing. The wanna-be gangsters kick it up a notch after an old king-pin returns from prison, and expose themselves as foolish, addled, and very dangerous.As Linden and the boys sit around the fire talking they struggle to remember drips and drabs of their heritage, playing at traditions they don’t fully understand. Their culture has been lost to them by a stolen generation and a lost one, alcohol, prison and substances having long since taken their teachers and friends. Through acts of violence, degradation, depression and emptiness, Daniel comes to see that education and a true understanding of his culture are the only ways out of this place, and the only way to make it better should he stay.

This is a quiet, contemplative film, and powerful in it’s immersion in the invisible heart of modern Australian Society. The fact that this even is Australia seems to be belied by the use of subtitles, acknowledging that to the audience this may as well be a foreign country. I’d heartily recommend dragging any racists you may know to this film. If they feel no pathos for the hopeless plight of the people, or admiration for the young ones who could break the cycle, then resume smacking them around.

 

Lizzie Lamb, www.thechopbuster.com

Fear of a Brown Planet Interview with Aamer Rahman

7 Nov

Talking with the dude on the right

I am speaking with one half of Fear of a Brown Planet Aamer Rahman! So, Hi Aamer!

Hello How’s it going? The sun’s shining out here, I’m in the South-East so y’know.

Oh! Well it’s HORRIBLE in Brunswick so.. Anyway, your success so far is in the comedy circuit and so forth and indeed your current dvd release Fear of a Brown Planet available through madman has focused largely on racial humour, the muslim angle obviously being very pertinent in the current climate and so on.. do you ever just want to make dick jokes?

No.

Never?

No. No! No. I mean, y’know, there’s no shortage of dick jokes, you know what I mean, there’s nothing really unique about it. I haven’t heard a unique dick joke in a long time. Really, for us, it’s the fact that we try to write comedy that we grew up listening to and that is kind of relevant for us and kind of… well, it’s not really out there right now, do you know what I mean? And it’s not that we’re trying to purposely go out and fill a gap it’s just we happened to conquer it.

And I suppose shows like Fat Pizza fill that dick joke gap anyway..

Yeah I guess we’re a little bit different to Fat Pizza and that kind of show!

You’re the very opposite ends of spectrum.

Yeah, exactly.

This release is obviously just stand up through and through, would you be considering in the future a segue into film production? Something sort of Four Lions’y for the Australian idiom?

Oh, definitely! We would love to, I mean yeah, I mean you know like a lot of comics start off doing stand up and then go into acting, and writing, directing, and the thing about stand up is that it makes you both a writer and a performer and gives you more flexibility. Yeah, a film is definitely something that we’re interested in.

Would you be sort of thinking in the TV direction first, or short film or would you just be wanting to just plough ahead, go straight into a feature-length number?

I think… I think we just want to try anything and everything. You know what I mean? You can’t really afford to only have one thing you’re going for, because you know the chance of things happening are so low, there’s so much competition, that you really have to have a few ideas happening at the same time.

Have you got any?

Yeah! Well we’re definitely writing stuff for TV at the moment-

Nice.

-But, yeah you’re always thinking of new stuff. That’s just, y’know, getting it down on paper and getting it to someone.

Speaking of which, obviously with the stand up writing process, a lot of people find that fairly mystifying, and think you just ‘get up and be funny’. What is your method for getting the comedy out there?

For me, the majority is just word for word stuff that I’ve said, you know, stuff from the community. I don’t really try to make up crazy stories and you know things like that I just talk about things that have actually happened to me and it just sort of writes itself.

Is it an actual pad and paper writing process or do you improvise the jokes?

No, right now I’m ‘writing’, but I never actually write down a joke, like word for word. Most comedians back stage have a set list just like a band, of bits and jokes that they’re going to do.

And that will be an interesting change for you when it comes to TV writing, because now you’ll have to actually write it out.

Comedy… it’s really just going with an idea, freestyling it or just, riffing on stuff. I mean, film and TV writing is so much more disciplined, you literally have to write out word for word EVERYTHING that is going to be said and done…

And you wish you could just write direction: Improv here or something..

Exactly! It is a much more involved process. When you’re doing comedy you just say to yourself ‘oh I’m going to do it like this’ and someone says oh that’s really funny and then you just go up and do it… But when you’re pitching TV you can’t just say oh we want to make a really funny TV show, this and this, please just give us some money and we promise it’ll be funny.

Comedy is an excellent medium for the expression of ‘dissenting views’, but a lot of stand up artists, particularly in America, are starting to get in trouble for things that they say. Have you ever feared this sort of media backlash?

Aaaahhh, not really because the things that I’m saying that are negative.. I’m not going to say something like Michael Richards, I’m not just going to say any old thing and then regret it… anything I get criticised for I’m willing to stand by.

No Tracey Morgan-style gaffs…

Yeah, but I guess no one ever really plans it, no one ever really thinks that they’re going to end up doing something like that so, y’know… Hope not!

It is a danger of improvised comedy, your mouth can run away with you and then Oh no! Someone recorded it!

Exactly, and now in the age of You Tube there is no way to hide after you’ve done something like that.

Risky! But if you’ll stick by what you say then the media can’t really hurt you?

No! no.

Fear of a Brown Planet’s success in part rests on providing a relatable voice to a culture a lot of white people recognise, but don’t actually have an experience of. Do you think your comedy narrows or widens the gulf between concurrent cultures?

Umm…. I don’t know! I’ve never thought of it that way!

Complicated, isn’t it?

I don’t think it necessarily widens or narrows anything, I think it’s just.. ummm.. I mean you know I wouldn’t say it brings people together or keeps people apart, I think people.. the thing about pop comedy is it’s kind of open, if people like it they’ll go to see it or buy the dvd or whatever… So I think the audience just goes to something that hasn’t been said for a while. And that is how everyone comes to it, people from all backgrounds really. We bring those people together in one place but they’re already together in a sense, you know what I mean, there are a lot of people who already think like that. But our comedy has never been ABOUT that, it’s not for bringing out new ideas or making people think a different way. It’s really FOR people who are already in tune with that kind of thing at the time.

You draw attention to it at the beginning of your show: how many people here are white? And there is a proper mix of people, in spite of  the us-and-them nature of the jokes, which I suppose does show humour itself is universal.

We always rely on having a mix of people in the audience, that’s how it’s designed and that’s how it works best really.

Any shows soon?

We’re taking a pretty long break, doing some writing projects right now.

But people can watch the DVD. First release?

First ever DVD release!

First of many?

I hope so!

Lizzie Lamb, www.thechopbuster.com

The Triangle Wars: St Kilda VS Mall

7 Nov

See?

The thing about documentary-making is, it is rife with bias. It has to be. And sometimes, as with Rosie Jones’ The Triangle Wars, the truth slips over your agenda like a lycra glove: it fits whatever you need it to, as long as you have the footage.

This is the story of the proposed super-mall development in the St Kilda triangle. For this reason alone, even Sydneysiders or (question mark?) Adelaiders are going to feel a distinct lack of connection with this offering, but they would find it interesting. This is a film for Melbournites who are interested in the physical heritage of their city, and hippies who hate malls. Don’t get me wrong: Malls suck, but if you’ve ever been to St Kilda on Saturday night, so does it.

Unchain St Kilda is an organisation started in 2007 by a series of St Kilda stereotypes: A French Photographer, the needle-thin and artily-austere mother of a NIDA graduate, University professors, Artists and Restaurateurs, all wearing designer spectacles and those clothes they sell in Toorak for a million billion dollars made to look like rags. Understandably, they don’t want the St Kilda esplanade blocked by 8 Cinemas, 5 levels of parking and 180 terribly plebby shops. They aim to get the Council not to approve it by any means necessary, up to and including getting elected into said Council. Corruption is on the wind with an asinine developer sliding dusty twenties into senior-management’s back pocket and walking away whistling.

Steve is an evil developer. You can tell. You can tell by his teeth, which could have been scripted. You can tell by the many shots of him in public meetings leaning against a wall and having an awful lot of nefarious facial expressions. You can tell by his flippancy, his arrogance, and what seems to be an incredible cultural stupidity. Sometimes he is right: a public action group does not necessarily reflect the will of the public. Except that Unchain St Kilda DOES. It is hard to say if Mr Milligan knew he’d come off as such a stereotype of the goonish, insensitive and blinkered iniquitous tycoon.

Rosie Jones knows her tropes, and she’s pretty lucky to have found them all wandering around Acland Street in berets waving placards. Former Mayor Janet Cribbes comes off pretty damned pernicious as well. Slow-motion candid shots of a person laughing at a party always look evil if juxtaposed with something bad happening: it’s a scientific fact. Former Councillor Dick Gross (honestly) is a garish clown with a desperate need for attention. This makes him come off as ridiculous, comic relief even. The silent former CEO of the Port Phillip Council David Spokes also comes off incredibly malignant and without uttering a word or making a single facial expression. This is either sublime manipulation of three years worth of footage or the former Council were actually a pack of utter bastards (with the exception of Judith Klepner who opposed the development).

Sad abuses of power aside, this film is a heartening display of the grass-roots democratic process: if the people really really REALLY don’t want it, you can’t force them to have it. Serge Thomann, Anna Griffiths, and their ilk struck a rather splendid blow to slow the homogenising of Melbourne, and for that I can only applaud them.

-Lizzie Lamb

The Eye of The Storm: You get Big Stars ’cause they can pull a lot of weight

17 Aug

Geoffrey Rush's nose was nearly upstaged by a well-placed purple wig. But they can laugh about it now...

Review by Lizzie Lamb 

  Film-makers directing Geoffrey Rush seem to have difficult time resisting using his voice for their introductory narration. Quills, Oscar and Lucinda, Harvey Crumpet, and now The Eye of The Storm, all feature his unflappable Aussie gentility, flopping its way across the initial vignette. This recitative assures the audience that yes, this film has Geoffrey Rush and his nose in it. He promises to be excessively theatrical and have a lot of fun. Enjoy!

I shouldn’t complain, and I don’t. We here in Australia are lucky to have our own Gerard Depardieu, an ubiquitous actor whose name represents quality in a touch-and-go, small industry. Rush’s turn as Sir Basil and his co-Executive Producer credit with fellow stamp-of-approval and co-star Judy Davis, guarantee a degree of sympathy and interest from overseas.

    And this film of Patrick White’s novel is a good use of that clout. Thoroughly entertaining and pleasing to the eye it’s a film heavily based in its 1970’s context, yet timely in the way of all insightful cinema. The storyline is steeped in themes that will be instinctively familiar to Australians: a ‘classless’ society; the constant effacing of the individual for their ‘set’; the cracks in the façade of civilisation; the basic destructive power of what cannot be said. That makes it sound less droll than it actually is.

   The central trio, ailing matriarch Elizabeth (Charlotte Rampling in fine form, her ostensibly successful, but fundamentally hopeless children Princess Dorothy (Judy Davis) and Sir Basil, stagger under the burden of wealthy expectations. The children have returned from their cosmopolitan, but unsatisfying lives in Europe to their Sydney Family Seat to watch mother die. The children are neurotic, miserable, and oppositional (to everything).

   The psychological idiosyncrasies of these characters are perfectly matched by their physical ones. Sir Basil is a classic ham, so Geoffrey Rush lets loose with the scenery chewing (as well as actual chewing) doing a slightly Aussie Falstaff impression. Dorothy is as bird-like and startled as they come, sexually repressed but with hidden reserves of fortitude.

   It knows how to lighten the mood too. Basil’s chickeny avoidance and bin-scabbing habits of food and sex, and Dorothy’s desperate French exclamations and fraught behaviour, and Mother’s sexual frankness all make for a damn good time. And supporting these three are the mainstays of their privileged existence: the lawyers, maids, nurses and caretakers who do the real work that allows these three to indulge in their ‘White People Problems’. And because Australia is a classless society, no-one is allowed to mention the discrepancy of letting someone wipe your bottom but not letting them date your son. And the supporting cast of Nurses Mary (staid) and Flora (sexy), the family lawyer, their Nazi-persecuted housekeeper and peripheral servants, allow the aging heirs of the Hunter family to live in perpetual childhood: in the world of the rich, you only become a grown-up by dead men’s shoes.

   There are constant reminders to the flaws in their pretty world: blotches, spots, scars, and cracks mar any potential perfection. Often films will project a world that is either exaggeratedly attractive, full of soft hues and peachy light, or a harder, darker, GRITTIER version in aggressive shadows and stark light. Fred Schepisi does no such thing, creating instead a world that looks spot-on: the colours, lighting and tones all depict that elusive feeling of disappointment with the ordinariness of luxury. It’s the feeling you get when you see an opulent, glossy picture of your hotel room, and then arrive to find it’s just a generic room with a tiny fridge and UHT milk. The only safety against disappointment is having the means to do whatever you want. Mother knew it, and over the course of her death her children appreciate it too.

  I’m not saying this is a message of great relevance to the rest of us un-monied sods, but it is an entertaining journey into a foreign but strangely familiar land.

  Plus, y’know, Geoffrey Rush is in it.

In Cinemas September 15

MIFF 2011 Film Review: Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure

5 Aug

Shut Up Little Man is a particularly pertinent picture in this day and age. Focussing as it does on one especially convoluted instance of Intellectual Property Law and its hazy grip on reality, it is telling of the current climate for any artistic-renegade wannabes. Lesson to be learned: don’t be a hypocrite.

The matter in question is the series of audio tapes called ‘Shut Up Little Man’, recorded by Mitchell D and Eddie Lee Sausage, but spoken by Peter Haskett and Raymond Huffman. These two drunks had their arguments recorded without their knowledge and it became the prototype for viral media way back in the 80s.

The tapes are interesting enough, but I have to commend the film makers here with their skilful crafting of the material. At first everything seems to be fun and games, all freedom of information and found-object artistic justification. But as it goes on you subtle begin to feel contempt for these people, their lust for credit and admiration. The guys who recorded the tapes retroactively claimed ownership of something they didn’t in fact ‘create’, and generally behaved like small-fry record company sleazebags in the process. The clever thing here is we see that transformation, all the better the revile the suckhole of depravity the concept of ownership in Art has become.

Watching Eddie gloss over the question of how he ethically justifies selling copies of Peter and Ray’s Death Certificates is worth the price of admission alone. You’ll laugh, and then you’ll be a little disgusted, and then you’ll think.

7/10

by Lizzie Lamb

Film Review: The Beaver: 90 minutes of rich people crying

28 Jul

Fact: Real Beavers are more entertaining than this movie.

The Beaver, as a notion, confused me slightly. The pitch sounded like what could at one end of the spectrum be a Farrelley Brothers-esque joyous romp in gross idiocy, or a Coen Brothers joyous romp in clever lunacy. What I got instead was neither, which should teach me never to have expectations. But then again, while this film was neither of these things, it wasn’t something else either. This film, when I wasn’t too busy rolling my eyes or squirming to notice, was very very sincere. It was about a man talking through a beaver puppet, and was not even remotely funny. That marketing error is mistake number one.

Mistake number two was Jodie Foster thinking anyone would care about Walter Black(Mel Gibson)’s personal journey, or any of his family members. Here is a group of people who live privileged, white, upper-middle class existences. They have ironic jobs like ‘Roller-coaster Engineer’ (ooooh, is that, like, a metaphor?) and ‘Toy Manufacturing Mogul’. They are Super-hot valedictorian gifted artist head cheerleaders. They are super intelligent gifted writers with mystique. They are adorable blonde haired ragamuffins who are undemanding and sweet natured. They live in houses with marble kitchens, heated swimming pools and his ‘n’ her’s Mercedes. Oh, and did I mention they’re all depressed? And have identity crises? And just can’t bear the tortured pain of being white and wealthy in the western world? And nobody takes their pain for serious because they’re rich and white and educated? Poor dumplings! Little snootchie! There there.

Walter Black has approximately five minutes of misery time, in which he runs a toy company he inherited (something established early that he was not in fact qualified for or capable of) from his father. Walter wants to kill himself because he is super-depressed. Maybe this is justified, maybe not. All the film seems to be saying at this point is WAH! WAAAAAH! JUST BECAUSE I HAVE EVERYTHING ON A PLATTER DOESN’T MEAN I HAVE TO BE HAPPY! WAAAAAAH! Which yes, I agree Jodie, mental illnesses like depression can effect people entirely across the socio-economic strata. Why though Jodie, why are we supposed to be interested in this guy? Just because he’s depressed? And he’s a father? Is this an everyman story? Your conflict COULD have come from doing the same thing, but with a guy wherein it actually MATTERS if he shows up to work. We’d see him struggle with being forced to keep it together, a journey that really matters. Instead, Walter is indulged endlessly by a bunch of saps with his signature on their paycheck.

So, mistake number three. You’ve given us a rich guy with everything, who might like to kill himself. Instead, he starts talking through a beaver puppet. Brilliant! Now he can say whatever he likes! And what does he like to talk about? Why, the fact that he has a puppet on his hand, that’s what! There is a lot of incendiary talk from the beaver about slashing and burning and rubble. There was comic AND dramatic potential in that. So what do Walter and the Beaver do? Why they do some woodworking with their neglected blonde child, is what! Heartwarming stuff. There’s a bit of psychobabble about starting again and erasing the past, and Walter apparently needs the puppet to do it. This is accepted by everyone immediately. The older son sulks about it for a while but mostly he’s thinking about himself. Mostly, everyone just thinks about themselves. The audience mostly thinks about lunch.

So then a bunch of stuff happens, and while it is theoretically very touching and junk, it still sounds like a bunch of people stamping around banging the pots of their misery. Mel Gibson does a good job with his acting, I can’t deny that. But this mess can’t be saved by performances. If you want a make a comedy, make it funny. If you want to make an art film, make it deep. If you want to make a weepy, make it sad. And if you want to see a film that plays like a streak of noisy beige against a cinema wall, see The Beaver.

In Cinemas August 4. If you care.

(By Lizzie Lamb, www.thechopbuster.com)

MIFF Review: Bunce + The Guard

28 Jul

Drinkin' Milkshakes, takin' names.

I struggle to think of a way to describe The Guard that doesn’t make it sound like a Gaelic Paul Blart: Mall Cop, and that isn’t right.

A small town Irish cop Gerry Boyle (Brendan Gleeson) who may be very very smart or very very stupid foils a drug smuggling operation. Plus Don Cheadle is there. There’s your basic plot. The beauty here is in the details, but frankly I would spoil it for you if I divulged a single one.

Instead, be satisfied that this is a character film, all about Gerry, and he is a lovable rogue of the old school. He’s a secretly competent oaf and endearingly brusque, also gross, surprising, and rather naughty. He has the upper-hand of the underestimated, and when bigger fish come to his pond, he holds his own. This film is a really funny, brilliantly-timed galloping romp and unless you are ethically opposed to fun you will have it if you see it.

It screens along with the Stephen Fry short Bunce, which is a sweet little picture of Fry’s school days. His addiction to sweets (I know how he feels) is his downfall. It’s cute to see a perspicacious baby-Stephen, and cuter still to see Fry play his erstwhile headmaster. I wonder if he felt a degree of closure getting to pretend to cane his younger self? I hope so.

MIFF 2011 Film Review: SUBMARINE

24 Jul

Judging by the packed crowd for Richard Ayoade’s directorial debut Submarine, I don’t really need to write a review. As I left the cinema about fifty people were lined up on Russell Street, switching on their phones. Everyone of the people I passed was saying ‘Yeah, just got out of Submarine, it was great!’ Needless to say, if someone suggests you see Submarine and you’re concerned it won’t live up to the hype so you jump online and read a review: stop being a chump and go see the damn movie.

Oliver Tate is a precocious fifteen year old with a self-obsession to rival Narcissus. His social ineptitude is not total however, given his ability to achieve certain primary goals for young teenage boys in the arse-end of Wales: getting a girlfriend, and convincing her to have sex with him. He is sort of like (Peep Show‘s) Mark Corrigan as a teen, but thanks to Ayoade’s skillful direction, it doesn’t come off as Old Hat when Oliver starts doing very carefully thought-out but incredibly stupid things in the name of familial harmony.

Richard Ayoade doesn’t just do a great job with cartoonish nerds. His writing gloriously portrays all the stilted freaks, his understanding of awkward people is total. Character humour is sadly lacking in so much gross physical comedy these days, and Submarine manages to skirt the line and have both: Paddy Considine’s be-mulleted psychic ninja being a standout example.

But don’t take my word for it: take everyone else’s.

9/10

by Lizzie Lamb (www.thechopbuster.com)