Film Reviews: April

wadjda

Wadjda (PG)

Directed by Haifaa Al-Mansour

Writer/director Haifaa Al-Mansour has made history with her first feature film. After attending an American university in Cairo and film school in Sydney, she’s made the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s first feature film. It is shot entirely in a country where cinemas are not permitted and women cannot vote, drive or interact with non-related males. Wadjda (Waad Mohammed) is a spirited ten-year-old girl living in the capital of Saudi Arabia. She lives with her mother who is preoccupied because her husband is looking for a second wife. Wadjda is entrepreneurial and rebellious but despite this, she is determined to buy a bicycle so she can race her friend Abdullah. This wonderful film follows Wadjda’s life and also exposes some of the restrictions the women of this country endure. Al-Mansour’s inside view shows how the women in Wadjda’s life, her mother and the school headmistress, impose the sanctioned restrictions. This is a must-see film.

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Chinese Puzzle (M)

Directed by Cédric Klapisch

Modern life can be complicated. Frenchman Xavier (Romain Duris) is in New York trying to write a novel. He has relocated because his ex-wife Wendy (Kelly Reilly) has a new partner and he wants to share time with his two children. He has also donated sperm to his best buddy Isabelle (Cécile De France) who is in a relationship with Chinese American Ju (Sandrine Holt). In order to remain in the United States, he marries the niece of a Chinese American taxi driver. Then, old flame Martine (Audrey Tautou) visits from France with her two children and rekindles their romance just in time for the immigration authorities to spring a surprise visit. New York is a marvellous background to the multicultural mess Xavier has found himself in. As his juggling becomes more and more frenetic, he is visited by the spirits of some famous philosophers who impart their words of wisdom so he can make all the pieces of his life fit together.

"only lovers left alive"

Only Lovers Left Alive (M)

Directed by Jim Jarmusch

Although Eve (Tilda Swinton) lives in Tangier and Adam (Tom Hiddleston) lives in Detroit, their vampiric love has lasted for hundreds of years. The audience is hypnotically drawn into their mellow lives that mainly consist of reading, listening to or creating music, dancing and wandering around deserted streets at night-time. Their biggest worry is sourcing their life-blood. Eve gets “the good stuff” from her life-long friend Kit Marlowe (John Hurt) while Adam has managed to bribe a doctor at a local hospital. Not much happens in this vampire romance until, half way through the film, Eve visits Adam in Detroit and her mischievous younger sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska) turns up to disrupt their tranquillity. Deadpan humour saturates every minute if this two hour film, with Swinton and Hiddleston as the perfect entwined lovers. They name-drop those who have left their mark and lament the ‘zombies’ who are contaminating their world.

The Lego Movie

The Lego Movie (PG)

Directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller

The Lego Movie cost $60 million to make the film and it made $69 million on opening weekend in US, so there’s going to be a sequel and the date of release has already been set for May 2017. This is an indication of how much work goes into creating a feature film that relies on little plastic blocks and also the popularity of the construction toy that has lasted for generations. Briefly, construction worker Emmet (Chris Pratt) finds a ‘piece of resistance’ and becomes an accidental hero when President Business (Will Ferrell) attempts to eliminate creativity from Lego Land. Helping him are Wyldstyle, that eighties something spaceman, Unikitty and Batman. Crammed with kiddy jokes and plenty of smashing action as well as adult satire, the 3D film is not actually made completely out of Lego blocks. Mixing Lego constructions with animation, everything is about this film is awesome – totally awesome.

Lezly Herbert

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