Jasper Jones ✪✪✪½ Opened March 2
I held fears that this film would not be great as it lost in last year's Cinefest Oz Festival to Girl Asleep, which I thought was extraordinarily amateur. However, what a surprise this one is the winner!
Great performances by the young cast alongside the veterans as well as an excellent, moody, screen adaptation from a book. This is Australian cinema showing what it can do. Also filmed in Western Australia. Yay, our industry here is growing.
In the dead of night during the scorching summer of 1969, Charlie is startled when he is woken by local mixed-race outcast Jasper Jones outside his window. Jasper leads him deep into the forest and shows him something that will change his life forever, setting them both on a dangerous journey to solve a mystery that will consume the entire community. In an isolated town where secrecy, gossip and tragedy overwhelm the landscape, Charlie faces family breakdown, finds his first love, and discovers what it means be truly courageous. Stars Angourie Rice, Hugo Weaving, Toni Collette, Levi Miller.
Alone in Berlin ✪✪✪ Opened March 2
I hate to say this but while this film is reasonably interesting, I don't believe there is enough drama in the true story to make a thrilling screen story.
We've enjoyed some fabulous and heart-breaking films on the history of WW2 from many perspectives, most notably Son of Saul, which is probably one of the most masterful pieces of cinema you will see. Of course, Emma Thompson and Brendon Gleeson I could watch simply doing their washing up, but the source material, and I hate saying this because these people were still brave and their story is tragic, is not strong enough for this cinematic piece.
Based on the international best-seller by Hans Fallada (Every Man Dies Alone), ALONE IN BERLIN shines the light on two ordinary German people who made an extraordinary impact.
Berlin, 1940. Working class couple Otto and Anna Quangel (Brendan Gleeson and Emma Thompson) receive the news that their only son has been killed on the battlefield. Already disillusioned with The Führer and The Fatherland, the loss of their son proves the tipping point and Otto begins a campaign of civil disobedience, writing messages on postcards that urge fellow Germans to resist the Nazi regime.
Anna soon partners with Otto and together they covertly distribute hundreds of postcards, left in stairwells and mailboxes across the city. At the head of the Gestapo force trying to track down the dissenters is Escherich (Daniel Brühl) who faces enormous pressure to find, stop and bring the traitors to justice.
Acting alone in their unique attempt to turn the tide on German support for the Third Reich, this unassuming couple’s sacrifice became an important element of the German Resistance. "... it's the performances of Brendon Gleeson and Emma Thompson that ensure we'll never forget the bravery of Otto and Anna." CHICAGO SUN-TIMES
Miss Sloane ✪✪✪✪✪ Opened March 2
Well this one snuck under the radar. I hadn't heard anything about it and, in fact, in Australia it wasn't going to get a wide release, although last minute they've gotten the film into a few more cinemas. Why the brilliance of this film isn't being shouted on every billboard is beyond me. This is smart screenwriting, powerful almost exhausting-to-watch acting, a drama that is also a thriller and an exposition, and a story that will leave you debating what happened and why and what did you miss.
Director John Madden (2nd Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Debt, Captain Corelli's Mandonlin, Proof) makes some very smart choices in his scenes and editing. I'm going to look out for his future projects. This is a confident director who knows his stuff. First time screenwriter, young Jonathan Perera, bravo. I'm watching you as well.
Jessica Chastain deserves an Oscar nomination for her performance, which probably won't happen because the Oscars are now too far away. Shame. Go see this. You will love it and the story will make you question who runs the country. Although we probably understand how lobbying works, this shines a spotlight onto the game. If you loved Spotlight, The Big Short, Steve Jobs and The Social Network this is the film for you.
In the high-stakes world of political power-brokers, Elizabeth Sloane (Jessica Chastain) is the most sought after and formidable lobbyist in D.C. Known equally for her cunning and her track record of success, she has always done whatever is required to win. But when she takes on the most powerful opponent of her career, she finds that winning may come at too high a price.
Logan has received rave reviews from most of the reviewers. It's middling to okay for me. I found the story plodding in places, interspersed with some good action and some over the top violence, especially delivered by, and to, the young child star. I'm glad they are retiring Logan. There is nothing more to say. Borders on boring for me. Fans will probably enjoy, I suppose.
It's 2029. Mutants are gone--or very nearly so. An isolated, despondent Logan is drinking his days away in a hideout on a remote stretch of the Mexican border, picking up petty cash as a driver for hire. His companions in exile are the outcast Caliban and an ailing Professor X, whose singular mind is plagued by worsening seizures. But Logan's attempts to hide from the world and his legacy abruptly end when a mysterious woman appears with an urgent request--that Logan shepherd an extraordinary young girl to safety. Soon, the claws come out as Logan must face off against dark forces and a villain from his own past on a live-or-die mission, one that will set the time-worn warrior on a path toward fulfilling his destiny.. Stars Patrick Stewart (Charles Xavier) Stephen Merchant, Hugh Jackman.
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