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BEN-HUR ✪✪ Opens August 23
Who didn't love the original 1959 Ben-Hur starring Charlton Heston? This is a weak copy of the original and while straight after seeing the film I gave it a pass. By the next day, I'm feeling less generous. Directed by Russian Timur Bekmambetov I should have known before I even saw the film it was going to be ill-conceived and barely a B film. He had a hand in production or direction of some films that landed on the bottom of my yearly lists of worst films ... like the real bottom. One of his films The Darkest Hour (my 2012 review here) was extraordinary in the poor quality of the CGI and direction and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter wasn't much better.
The first forty minutes is a complete yawn-fest while he attempts to set up the characters. If you can't do that in ten minutes then you have a problem with your script. It does improve once Ben-Hur is taken captive and the action heats up a little and it gets a move along. But then enters Morgan Freeman channelling Whoopi Goldberg in the hair department and we are all down hill from there into an attempt at Hollywood blockbuster treatment without the bang for your buck.
The Darkest HourIt's not the worst film I've seen this year. So this means Bekmamabetov is improving. I did suggest everyone send money to his scriptwriter so he could attentscreenwriter's school and learn something of value. It seems that perhaps Bekmambetov received some of the money and learned a couple of things (not a lot, but a couple). Why the studios keep giving him money and reasonable actors to make these messy films is beyond me. Go see it if you don't believe me, but I'd wait for video so you can fast forward past the boring bits and Morgan Freeman. That hair is ridiculous and I hate to say this but Jesus in this is pretty awful, too.
The epic story of Judah Ben-Hur, a prince falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother Messala, an officer in the Roman army. Stripped of his title, separated from his family and the woman he loves, Judah is forced into slavery. After years at sea, Judah returns to his homeland to seek revenge, but an encounter with Jesus leads him to the Crucifixion, where he discovers forgiveness and finds redemption.
DAVID BRENT: LIFE ON THE ROAD ✪✪✪ Opens August 23
I was a great fan of the UK version of the office so you count me as looking forward to this film. While I did find parts really funny, laugh-out loud funny, by about half way through I'd begun to feel uncomfortable. The character created by Ricky Gervais is someone we've all met, albeit his is mostly more over the top than average as he's supposedly playing to a reality show camera crew.
However, more than a decade on from the original UK series of three seasons ending in 2003, (not to be confused with the US series starring Steve Carrell), and the idea of laughing at someone and revelling in their self-obsession just feels kind of wrong.
In the film, David Brent spends all his retirement savings in funding an ill-conceived, last ditch effort at becoming a rock star and scoring a recording contract. It's an amusing set up, but as time goes on and he funnels more money into the ridiculous tour and his band talk about how much they dislike him and won't even allow him to travel on the tour bus he has paid for, you really start to feel terribly sorry for the guy.
As the credits came up, my husband, thirteen-year-old son, and I all agreed we felt a little depressed having watched his exploits. The film does have a quasi-happy ending, but by then we are feeling so sad for the guy and anyone in real life like him, it just doesn't feel like enough. And has he really learned anything from his experience.
It certainly may appeal to some , and may actually be a brilliant commentary on life and our incessant desire to be loved and appreciated, but I was feeling too sorry and sad to ponder it further.
Now working as a rep selling cleaning (and ladies personal hygiene) products up and down the country, David Brent hasn't given up his dream of becoming a rock star - or more specifically, singer/songwriter for fledgling rock band 'Foregone Conclusion'. As he assembles a group of mercenary session musicians, a talented sidekick for street cred and an overpriced yet underwhelmed tour manager, he embarks upon a self-financed UK tour coming to a venue near every major city near you.
FREE STATE OF JONES ✪✪✪ Opens August 25
Free State of Jones is a powerful, epic film about an interesting historical event of which I had no knowledge. Matthew McConaughey, as usual, delivers a great performance, but its not enough to make this film a must-see.
I would have preferred to watch it as a mini-series and sit comfortably on my couch. The ending felt a little rushed and the sixties period insert of the court trial showing us that nothing much has changed in the attitudes to racial discrimination just didn’t work and muddied the story. I think the film would have been tighter and shorter, (shorter would have been much better) if they had left that out.
The Americans do seem a touch crazy. First they have a civil war killing their own countrymen. Then they have a civil war within a civil war. Some strange ideals. Please no offence meant to my wonderful American friends.
Directed by four-time Oscar (R) nominee Gary Ross and starring Oscar (R) winner Matthew McConaughey, Free State of Jones is an epic action-drama set during the Civil War, and tells the story of defiant Southern farmer, Newt Knight, and his extraordinary armed rebellion against the Confederacy. Banding together with other small farmers and local slaves, Knight launched an uprising that led Jones County, Mississippi to secede from the Confederacy, creating a Free State of Jones. Knight continued his struggle into Reconstruction, distinguishing him as a compelling, if controversial, figure of defiance long beyond the War.
HITCHCOCK TRUFFAUT ✪✪✪ ½ Opened August 18
I watched this film on a DVD screener since it didn't have a preview. Hitchcock is one of my heroes and an inspiration in my fictional work. I think I've seen all his films. This is a fascinating insight into the man talking frankly about his work as though its another day at the office. I'd like to get hold of the book written by Truffaut from the interviews.
However, I did find it a little dry and repetitive. While the interviews are fascinating, I think the documentarian probably hadn't plotted the arc of the documentary well. It's a touch meandering. Those who are obsessed with film and Hitchcock will still enjoy, as I did. I just think it could have been done better.
In 1962 Hitchcock and Truffaut locked themselves away in Hollywood for a week to excavate the secrets behind the mise-en-scène in cinema. Based on the original recordings of this meeting-used to produce the mythical book Hitchcock/Truffaut-this film illustrates the greatest cinema lesson of all time and plummets us into the world of the creator of Psycho, The Birds, and Vertigo. Hitchcock's incredibly modern art is elucidated and explained by today's leading filmmakers: Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, Arnaud Desplechin, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Wes Anderson, James Gray, Olivier Assayas, Richard Linklater, Peter Bogdanovich and Paul Schrader
CINEFEST OZ FILM FESTIVAL 2016
Date: Wednesday August 24 & August 28
Time: Various Times
Location: Western Australia South West Details and Booking
Set in the seaside centres of Busselton, Bunbury, Dunsborough and the Margaret River wine region, CinefestOZ premieres feature films and events in the region’s cinemas, wineries, small bars and galleries, making it a feast for the senses and an unforgettable five-day getaway.
With such a large score of Australian features, there will be an impressive group of esteemed industry professional accompanied the various films on offer. Heading the Film Prize Jury is acclaimed director Gillian Armstrong. Joining her in the festival experience is multi-award winning novelist, playwright, television writer, screenwriter and lyricist Ben Elton (Upstart Crow); comedian, screenwriter and director Tim Ferguson (Film Prize Finalist Spin Out); Cinesnaps Patron Myles Pollard (Drift); Logie winning actor Lincoln Lewis (Spin Out); actress, director and writer Matilda Brown (The Death and Life of Otto Bloom); actor and writer Matthew Whittet (Girl Asleep); actress Sara West (Bad Girl) and actor Aaron McGrath (Jasper Jones) alongside one of Australia’s greatest and most-loved actors Magda Szubanski. Plus many more!
Films screening include The Death and Life of Otto Bloom, Girl Asleep, Jasper Jones, Spin Out, Blood Father (Mel Gibson), Down Under
In 2015, CinéfestOZ highlights included:
Over 150 public screenings of Australian and French feature films, documentaries and short films
160 free community screenings
Film-related events, open to the public and ranging from Red Carpet premiere gala nights to intimate short film screenings in cosy bars
Forums with filmmakers and cast members through Q&As and ‘In-Conversation’ events
The $100,000 CinefestOZ Film Prize in 2015 attracted thirty-five entries of Australian features and documentaries and Putuparri and the Rainmakers was presented with the CinefestOZ Film Prize
Filmmaking workshops for public participation
Screen industry workshops held in conjunction with ScreenWest, Screen Australia and the South West Development Commission (SWDC)
READING CINEMAS ADVANCE SCREENINGS
BRIDGET JONES BABY
Date: Wednesday September 7
Location: Readings Belmont Details and Booking
Film season opens Thursday September 8
Gold Glass $28 General Session $10
After breaking up with Mark Darcy (Firth), Bridget Jones's (Zellweger) "happily ever after" hasn't quite gone according to plan. Fortysomething and single again, she decides to focus on her job as top news producer and surround herself with old friends and new. For once, Bridget has everything completely under control. What could possibly go wrong?
Then her love life takes a turn and Bridget meets a dashing American named Jack (Dempsey), the suitor who is everything Mr. Darcy is not.
Grand Cinemas Grand Day
Date: Sunday August 28th
Time: ALL DAY
Location: Grand Cinemas Warwick Details and Booking
Film season opens Thursday September 8
Gold Glass $28 General Session $10
Grand Day is all day on Sunday the 28th August at Grand Cinemas Warwick and tickets are $8 for all members. We will be hosting fun activities for patrons all day
Readings Belmont Secret Life of Pets Family Fun Day
Date: Sunday 28th August
Time: Activities from 9.30am for the fun. Film starts 10:30am
Location: Readings Belmont Details and Booking
For their fifth fully-animated feature-film collaboration, Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures present The Secret Life of Pets, a comedy about the lives our pets lead after we leave for work or school each day. Comedy superstars Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet and Kevin Hart make their animated feature-film debuts in The Secret Life of Pets, which co-stars Ellie Kemper, Lake Bell, Jenny Slate, Bobby Moynihan, Hannibal Buress and Albert Brooks. Illumination founder and CEO Chris Meledandri and his longtime collaborator Janet Healy produce the film directed by Chris Renaud (Despicable Me, Despicable Me 2), co-directed by Yarrow Cheney and written by Brian Lynch and Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio.
REVELATION PERTH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
Presents AUSTRALIAN REVELATIONS
Date: Monday 29th August
Time: 6:30 pm
Location: Backlot Cinemas Details and Booking
Revelation Perth International Film Festival in association with Cinema Australia proudly present a celebration of Australian film - past present and future - through its program of monthly screenings with Australian Revelations.
August's film is the WA premiere of Downriver http://downriverfilm.com/
A young ex-con encounters secrets from the past and danger in the present when he returns to the rural Australian community to discover the truth behind a crime he supposedly committed when he was a child.
Official Selection: Melbourne Film Festival Official Selection: Toronto Film Festival.
Preceding Downriver is the locally made - and WASA nominated - short film Outline.
KINGSGLAIVE: FINAL FANTASY XV SCREEN EVENT
Date: Saturday 27th August
Time: 2:15 pm
Location: Luna on SX & Luna Leederville Details and Booking
KINGSGLAIVE: FINAL FANTASY XV features stunning animation, with near photorealistic attention to detail and an exciting blend of sci-fi & fantasy elements.The magical kingdom of Lucis is home to the sacred Crystal, and the menacing empire of Niflheim is determined to steal it. King Regis of Lucis (Sean Bean) commands an elite force of soldiers called the Kingsglaive. Wielding their king's magic, Nyx (Aaron Paul) and his fellow soldiers fight to protect Lucis. As the overwhelming military might of the empire bears down, King Regis is faced with an impossible ultimatum - to marry his son, Prince Noctis to Princess Lunafreya of Tenebrae (Lena Headey), captive of Niflheim, and surrender his lands to the empire's rule. Although the king concedes, it becomes clear that the empire will stop at nothing to achieve their devious goals, with only the Kingsglaive standing between them and world domination.
MET ENCORE: TOSCA
Date: Saturday 27th & Sunday 28th August
Location: Luna SX & Luna Leederville Details and Booking
Running Time 218 mins
TOSCA— Puccini’s enduring favorite, starring an exceptional trio of singing actors in the leading roles, features acclaimed American soprano Patricia Racette as the ultimate diva, Floria Tosca, in Luc Bondy’s production. French tenor Roberto Alagna sings Tosca’s lover, the painter Cavaradossi, and Georgian baritone George Gagnidze is the corrupt, lustful Scarpia. Italian maestro Riccardo Frizza conducts Puccini’s sweeping, dramatic tale of murder, lust, and political intrigue.
Puccini’s timeless verismo score is well served by an exceptional cast, led by Patricia Racette in the title role of the jealous diva, opposite Roberto Alagna as her lover, Cavaradossi. George Gagnidze is the villainous Scarpia. (originally transmitted live on November 9, 2013)
Kenneth Branagh Theatre Live
ROMEO & JULIET LIVE
Date: Saturday 27th & Sunday 28th August
Location: Cinema Paradiso & Windsor Cinema
Readings Cinema Belmont (tickets $20)
The Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company Live cinema season continues with a new vision of Shakespeare’s heartbreaking tale of forbidden love. Branagh and his creative team present a modern passionate version of the classic tragedy.
A longstanding feud between Verona’s Montague and Capulet families brings about devastating consequences for two young lovers caught in the conflict.
Reuniting the stars of his celebrated film of Cinderella, Kenneth Branagh directs Richard Madden and Lily James as Romeo and Juliet and Sir Derek Jacobi as Mercutio.
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