• Susan May

What's on at the movies 25th August 2016?

So if you are in my Wonderful Readers' Club you will have received an early eCopy of The Troubles Keeper. If you are not, then it's not too late. Just join now on the link in this section.

Early response has been fantastic and I'm just waiting to hear what my rabid reader's think once they've finished. I'm nervously biting down my fingernails waiting.

If you love free stuff and want to check out my books for absolutely FREE, join my club and you will receive two free books, PLUS, and this is a great plus, this weekend I will be sending out an offer to receive an early readers' eCopy of The Troubles Keeper. To join just go here: Join me up!

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.

Film Blurb

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.


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.

Film Blurb

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.

Film Blurb

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.

Film Blurb

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



Australia's Southwest

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)



Date: Wednesday September 7

Time: 7:00pm